Seventh Generation & Jeffrey Hollender: A Case Study in Online Crisis Communications - A blog by Lynn Anne Miller
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The announcement, on November 10th, came eight days after the news broke on Marc Gunther’s blog, more than two weeks after employees were informed that the board had “decided to end the company’s employment relationship with Jeffrey…without cause” and a week after Hollender himself posted the news onhis FaceBook page, along with a link to the Fast Company story about his firing.
I know the PR people at Seventh Generation. My firm did some work for them, and thanks to my personal blog, I was Seventh Generation’s guest at Expo West, where I met Jeffrey Hollender and Chuck Maniscalco. I suspect the PR professionals and their Agency of Record knew the right thing to do: announce Hollender’s departure with the same straightforward talk made famous by Seventh Generation’s annual Corporate Consciousness report and in keeping with the company’s commitment to being “the most trusted brand of household and personal-care products for a healthy home.”
But instead, the announcement was delayed for two weeks while scores of blog posts, news articles, and tweets from the most well regarded voices in the sustainability and CSR worlds relayed the story. There was much speculation about the “real reasons” for Hollender’s ouster. Many, sounding shocked and angry, expressed doubts about Seventh Generation’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.