Friday, September 14, 2001

America Attacked

Honolulu Advertiser halts
note-writing campaign
built on attacks

Associated Press

The publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser stopped sales representatives yesterday from writing thank-you notes to advertisers mentioning the terrorist attacks after a Star-Bulletin reporter posted a copy of the directive on his Web site.

A memo suggesting the notes was written by an Advertiser sales manager who "felt that it would be a nice thing to do, not thinking on a broader basis of what the perception of it would be," said Mike Fisch, publisher of Gannett-owned Advertiser.

The sales manager and his supervisor drafted a memo directing sales representatives to send 10 handwritten thank-you notes to their top customers. The memo, which suggested phrases specifically mentioning the attacks, was distributed without the knowledge of Fisch or the vice president of advertising, he said.

Star-Bulletin reporter Burl Burlingame said he received a fax of the memo Wednesday morning and posted it on his Web site. Former Star-Bulletin reporter Ian Lind also posted it on his site, and a link to that site was subsequently posted on a media trade Web site.

Fisch learned of the memo after receiving a call yesterday morning from a reporter in Los Angeles.

"We met with our sales staff at 9 a.m. and expressed the concern that this is something that we should not have been doing," he said. About six letters were sent out Wednesday, he said.

"It was done with the right intent. It was not part of a sales strategy," Fisch said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

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