Scandal At Tiffany’s: Employee Charged With Stealing $1.3 Million In Jewelry

tumblr_m7lel3nWek1rze4iko1_500During a company-wide inventory review, Tiffany & Co. discovered $1.3 million in jewelry had disappeared. While company spokespeople are refusing to comment at this time, the FBI has charged former Vice President of Product Development, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, with the crime for which,if convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison. Here, Zintro experts in public relations discuss how this scandal will affect the company’s reputation and future performance.

Glen Stone, a public relations professional with expertise in integrated communications strategies, believes “The impact on the company will depend on many factors. Some of which -such as the truth to the accusations, any weaknesses in security, earlier suspicions or ignored evidence, etc.- are beyond the control of Tiffany’s crisis communications team.” “Given whatever the facts are,” concludes Stone, “all that Tiffany & Co. can hope to do is limit the damage through effective issue management: acknowledging responsibilities, apologizing to any affected stakeholders and providing clear evidence of actions being taken to prevent a recurrence.”

Hugh Taylor specializes in marketing communications and feels “This situation has many things wrong with it from a PR point of view. When [he] was a PR Manager at Microsoft, [they] prepared crisis messaging in advance. The press statement for employee theft needs to be ready before there is any accusation of misconduct. Then, if there is a problem, the client can go into crisis mode and start communicating without wasting time and getting caught flat footed. If you’re responding after an arrest has been made, you’re way too late.”

According to Taylor, “In the best case scenario, you would issue a statement to get out ahead of the story; indicating that this employee has been terminated, that the company is cooperating with law enforcement and so forth. The [company] should be advised to include other stakeholders, such as shareholders, customers and other employees, in its messaging. If the loss is finite, indicate so. For a company the size of Tiffany’s it’s really not that big of a dollar amount. The main thing is to present the company as responsible and reactive.” Taylor adds that “If it’s too late and the arrest has been made without any comment from the company, it’s time to issue a statement. It doesn’t have to be a whole big press conference. It can just be a statement made on behalf of the company, indicating that the matter is being investigated.”

By Gabriela Meller

Zintro has experts in every industry sector, across every job function, in every geographic region. Recently, some of the following topics have seen inquiry activity: