Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


January 2008
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Archive for January 23rd, 2008

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor

I was just reading issue #382 of the Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week written by Joan Stewart. Tip #2 was titled, “Don’t Make a Deal Like This One” and related a story about a hospital’s attempt to negotiate an exclusive arrangement with a local TV station for all health related news. The ethical issues raised in that instance were pretty clear since there were several other competing medical facilities and resulted in the resignation of the news director in protest.

That story got me to thinking about how we work with the businesses and communities that fund and support our economic development programs. While the ethical questions raised in the “Don’t Make a Deal” article are fairly obvious, the ones we face are (usually) more subtle.

For example, the community or region you represent has several financial institutions and not all are financial supporters of your organization. If you give clients contact info related to local financing do you list everyone or just the ones who are members of your corporation? A quick answer might be, “You dance with the ones who brought you” but if the county or city you represent is also giving you financial support (and they usually are), then how do you justify excluding others who are members of that political or business area?

Here’s a suggestion: Be totally open about your relationship with the businesses you are listing. For example, “The following financial institutions are actively supporting our efforts to bring new businesses to our community: then list names and contact info.” And then add this line, “Additional financial resources are available through (List names only, no contact info.)

This whole dance is very tricky and you are bound to tic someone off somewhere along the line… a matter of fact, I guarantee it. But the guidelines I suggest are these: “Do my efforts provide the best service to my client” and “Is it fair to all involved?”

I’ll close for now by imagining Alfred Hitchcock saying the following, “And now a word from our sponsor.”