I won’t pretend to be a public relations expert, but I’m pretty sure that having your CEO run away from a reporter and then locking the reporter in a room isn’t going to be on anyone’s list of PR best practices.
That’s what reportedly happened last week in Washington.
According to this account, reporter Mike Elk tried to ask Honeywell CEO Dave Cote a question — off-point for the event, which was called “Revitalizing America: Encouraging Entrepreneurship” — about labor issues at a plant in Illinois and the reported release of uranium into the atmosphere by a non-union engineer. As a widely seen video shows, Elk had the microphone ripped from his hands.
What we don’t see, but that Elk has recounted, is how his pursuit of Cote resulted in a kind of chase that ended with a Honeywell executive, External Communications Director Rob Ferris, locking out the reporter.
“Ferris barricaded me in the room for several minutes and afterwards had the Capitol Police detain me. They released me after 10 minutes when they realized I had done nothing more than try to follow a CEO down a hallway,” said Elk, who this week indicated he wants to press charges against Ferris for his treatment.
Honeywell has denied Elk’s version of the events.
The company said in a statement: “Mr. Elk’s unprofessional behavior at the ‘Revitalizing America: Encouraging Entrepreneurship’ summit in Washington, D.C., disrupted what was supposed to be a positive and open forum on important issues facing our nation. … His account of the subsequent events is inaccurate and other claims are without merit.”