Even hardened PR veterans like myself and my co-workers sometimes see a PR disaster that leaves us speechless. This debacle with Whole Foods‘ CEO posting about the competition on financial message boards is one of them. Let’s just say I don’t envy the PR and IR folks in their headquarters this week. Whole Foods has built up some really good PR goodwill over the years including a CEO who is open with the media and corporate policies that have had it named Fortune magazine’s “one of the best places to work” a few times. This goodwill will come in handy during the next several weeks. But this event also has shown the dangers of dissing a publication. Business Week‘s blog about the event shows the danger of cutting off a key press outlet. Apparently Mackey was unhappy with something Business Week wrote a while back and put the publication on the black list for interviews. Needless to say, Business Week is not being particularly supportive of Whole Foods today.
We’ve had clients in the past who want to cut off relations with a publication after a story or set of stories they have issue with have run. Our counsel, when it is a publication key to your business, is to try and keep the relationship alive. Work through the issues and, if need be, limit access with executives until the situation is solved. But cutting off a publication is a dangerous move. You never know when you might need them to get your message out.