Many firms conduct surveys and issue releases summarizing them hoping for the maximum press coverage. Grant Thornton is one of the “best” at it.

On August 19, Grant Thornton issued a press release entitled,“Grant Thornton Optimism Index Drops to Lowest Point in 7 years.” On September 10, Grant Thornton issued a press release entitled “Executives Say Corporate Responsibility Can Be Profitable.” On September 12, Grant Thornton issued a press release entitled “Grant Thornton LLP Survey Finds that Manufacturers Credit Corporate Responsibility with Enhancing Profitability and Business Strategy.” On October 22, Grant Thornton issued a press release entitled “National Survey Finds Strong Support for Government Regulation of Companies’ Environmental Impact.”

That’s quite impressive, but maybe a bit misleading. There weren’t four different surveys. There was only one. Grant Thornton just repackaged the results with a different focus each time, making no reference to the earlier press releases. The survey of 510 business executives was conducted by BusinessWeek Research Services in partnership with Grant Thornton from June 21-29, 2007.

Interestingly, the survey was entitled “Corporate Responsibility: Burden or Opportunity?--Grant Thornton's 15th Business Leaders Survey.” It looks like Grant Thornton is trying to extend, so far to two months, the maximum likelihood of coverage of the survey results. I wonder what percentage of those 510 business executives would agree with me that it’s a great case study for “corporate responsibility,” the overriding theme of the survey.
The text follows of an e-mail I received commenting on my column from last week entitled “To Spin a Silver Lining,” which was about the HealthSouth Corporation’s (HS) $440 million tax recovery from the IRS for overstatements of taxable income, which HS indicates is attributable to financial fraud perpetrated by members of prior management.

“I work at HS, and yes, I agree they should be proud.
Accountants had to go over millions of documents and computer entries in order to reconcile the ‘errors’ (fraud) perpetrated by the former administrative personnel.

“They collectively spent thousands upon thousands of hours of diligent detailed work to uncover the wrong entries and replace the correct figures.

“This was a tedious, time consuming task, and  those at HS are proud of the way it was done. They are also thankful for the legal system that allows reimbursement of overpaid taxes, whether those overpayments were in error or fraud.

“Proud because most of the business community and big-wig know-it-alls had relegated HS to the ‘crapper’...

“But, we survived.”


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