Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Fund
Firestone Natural Rubber Company was singled out in an
article in Ethical Corporation as an
example of how not to do media
communications after company President Dan Adomitis appeared on CNN to respond
to claims that they abuse workers’ rights and use child labor on their rubber
responded to the article stating, “I did use the expertise and counsel of
outstanding media relations professionals to prepare me for that
CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE AND ADOMITIS’ LETTER HERE!
Keep reading the see Dan's letter.
-Firestone Natural Rubber Company President Dan Adomitis
Dan Adomitis’ policies on the Firestone rubber plantation in Liberia result in child labor.
Does his labor force look safe, efficient and skilled to you?
I find it interesting that you use the interview of me on CNN International in your article “Strategy & Management: How to work with the media to drive your message home, effective communication techniques for companies.”
The fact of the matter is I did use the expertise and counsel of outstanding media relations professionals to prepare me for that interview. However, the interview on CNN International’s program “Inside Africa” misused what I said.
Using a colloquial expression that it takes “perhaps a couple minutes” to tap a tree and turning it into a literal mathematical equation is ridiculous. It was wrong and leaves viewers with a false impression.
Had they asked, I would have provided CNN specific information for the purpose of determining the typical work day. In fact, it only takes seconds for Firestone employees to tap a tree. These are professionals who do their job safely, efficiently and with great skill.
Immediately after CNN International aired this interview, we contacted the producers to question why a colloquial expression was presented as an accurate mathematical equation. CNN International did not reply to Firestone’s inquiries.
You use this interview as an example of mishandling the media, calling it “Firestone’s big screw up.” Yet, none of your tips actually address what really happened. Perhaps in your next article, you could address what steps to take when you are prepared for a media interview, a reporter or producer twists what is said (in the production booth after the interview) leaving the wrong impression with the audience, no opportunity to respond on camera, and then fails to correct the story when they are provided the facts.
I understand your need to introduce your article with an interesting scenario, but next time, please get the facts straight before printing. You can start by visiting www.firestoneliberia.com.
Daniel J. Adomitis
President, Firestone Natural Rubber Company