Jamie Ramos

Jamie Ramos looked out her window at the early morning sky and gazed the small crowd below. The words and pictures on their posters were pretty tame this time she thought. The last protest group used pictures of tarred lungs, corpses, and other graphic photos to show the effects of smoking on a person’s internal organs. Their words were also hateful, so much so that the employees at the Unified Tobacco headquarters were afraid to walk in and out of the main building. Those who normally took smoking breaks on the back patio decided to skip the break and eat something instead at the company subsidized cafeteria. By midday, Unified hired extra security to escort employees in and out of the building to ensure that protesters followed the state guideline of stating at least 15 ft from the company entrance. The media picked up on the story and the photos and it caused quite a stir in the national press.

At least this protest group seemed fairly reasonable. Late yesterday, a state court provided a reduced judgement to the family of a lifelong smoker, now deceased. This meant that unified was going to owe millions less than originally expected. The length and stress of the lawsuit had taken its toll, especially on top management, although all employees were certainly learning of a huge settlement, and then continuing on with the appeals process, emotions were wearing thin with the continued criticism.

Jamie wondered what this day would bring. As the manager of the community relations, her job was to represent Unified in the community, manage the employee volunteer program, create a quarterly newsletter, serve on various boards related to social welfare, and community needs. The company’s foundation donated nearly $1.5 million a year to charities and causes. Over one-quarter of its employees volunteered ten hours a month in their communities.

Jamie reported to a vice-president and was pleased with the career progress she had made since graduating from college 8 years earlier. Although some of her friends wondered out loud how she could work for a tobacco company, Jamie was steadfast in her belief that even a tobacco firm could contribute something meaningful to society. She had the chance to affect some of those contributions In her community relations role.

Jamie’s phone rang and she took a call from her vice-president. The BP indicated that, although the protestors seemed relatively calm this time, he was not comfortable with their presence. Several employees had taped signs in office windows telling the protestors to “Go Away”. Other VPs had dropped by his office to discuss the protest and thought that the responsibility for handling these issues fell to his group. He went on to say that he needed Jamie’s help, and that the assistance of a few others, in formulating a plan to (1) deal with protest today and (2) strengthen the strategy for communicating the company’s message and goodwill in the future. Their meeting would begin in one hour, so Jamie had some time to sketch out her recommendations on both issues. What would you do?

  • _______________________________

Jamie has been asked organize a meeting to discuss the protest, strengthen community relations, and ensure the company’s message is conveyed to the public.

1. What specific advice would you offer Jamie as preparations are made for the meeting?

2. What items would you include on the agenda?

3. Who would you invite to the meeting? Explain your answer stating why.

4. Discuss the media coverage and potential long-term implications of the coverage.






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