February 8, 2012; Source: Boston Globe | Last month, the NPQ Newswire took note of the boneheaded move of the executive director of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, who tried to dodge a reporter’s question about executive salaries. The CEO, Nancy Brennan, meant to contact her PR consultant to ask about techniques for potentially avoiding the request she received from the Boston Herald. To her dismay, she learned that she had sent that e-mail not only to the PR person, but also to the Herald reporter asking the questions.
An e-mail “oops” moment if there ever was one.
But the errant e-mail only hardened public attitudes—among both citizens and government officials—that the Greenway Conservancy hadn’t been quite on the up-and-up in responding before that time. The initial governmental questions about past expenditures and salary levels at the Conservancy have led to more.
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Finally, as a step toward some damage control, the nonprofit Conservancy adopted a new transparency policy. The board chair, Georgia Murray, Bottom of Form
explained that the policy is “to really say we’re endorsing a total culture of transparency at the Greenway, from the staff to the board to everyone who we work with…we want the first reaction to be, ‘How can we get you information?’ not, ‘What do we have the right to withhold?’”
The Boston Herald, which broke the story about the errant e-mail, seems less than convinced about the Greenway. Its most recent story noted that the Greenway has three outside publicists on contract, one of them a former Boston Globe reporter, amounting to “one flack for every five acres” of the Greenway.
The Greenway’s PR people will have to work overtime to deal with this organization, especially in light of the less than credible apologia issued by Brennan, who claims that she wasn’t trying to avoid releasing salary details, but simply trying to determine whento release the information. Read the excerpt from the e-mail cited in our newswire on the Greenway here and tell us if you buy Brennan’s explanatory pivot. —Rick Cohen