Not being in Chicago, I was only vaguely aware of the hot topic in Chicago-land–emptying and reselling graves. Ragan Communication’s PR Junkie has an interesting article on the owner of the cemetery, Perpetua, and their response to a very serious reputation crisis. Clearly they had the lawyers in charge. While the statement provided was very good (good job Focus), the fact that it came so long after the crisis erupted essentially negates any benefit from the statement. And frankly, saying there will be no more statements because the president was involved in the legal action, undermines the message significantly. I can imagine the battle Focus had over that one, but they lost. No, they didn’t lose. The CEO lost and Perpetua lost. What good is it to win the court case and lose the battle in the court of public opinion. Given their lateness to the communication game, their only real strategy option was communicate, communicate, communicate. There can be no legal justification–unless the CEO is afraid of jail time or a massive fine and is willing to sacrifice the company to protect himself.
I guess there is a sense of relief that some of the same mistakes continue to be made. Our work is not yet done.
Final note–Attention all cemetery owners. Expect contacts from your local media and maybe investigations by local activists, bloggers, etc. Afterall, if they can do this in Chicago, why not your home town? How will you prove no graves are being robbed and resold?