In The Inbox Today: Bizarre Hoax Email Sent From Radio Advertising Bureau President-CEO Jeff Haley's Account

Posted by: Jon Fine on January 15, 2009

Around 5 PM Eastern time today my colleague Tom Lowry and I received a particularly incendiary email, which bore the return emailaddress of Radio Advertising Bureau President-CEO Jeff Haley.

It began with the attention-grabbing headline:
“CONFIDENTIAL AND MEANT FOR RAB EMPLOYEES ONLY.

DO NOT SHARE THIS INFORMATION OUTSIDE OF THE ORGANIZATION”

It went on to announce that three top RAB executives, all male, were going to be immediately “relieved of their duties,” listed their salaries, and went on to explain, in decidedly unsparing language, why this was happening. One reason given: organizational sexism resulted in outsized salaries for male executives.

Said email, several RAB-ers say, is a hoax, and was not written by Haley but rather by someone who apparently hacked into his account. The three executives named in the email—Mike Mahone (EVP-services), George Hyde (EVP-training), and Dave Casper (SVP-internet Services)—are, in fact, decidedly still employed by the RAB.

Given that it’s a hoax, I am refraining from going into greater detail about its contents. (The email listed salaries for the executives but I am not repeating that information, as I cannot immediately confirm it. UPDATE 1/16: Actually, Andrew Hampp at Ad Age confirmed the salaries.)

The real question, though, is this: who on earth would want to hack into the CEO of the RAB’s email account, in order to lob such arguments?

I am frankly totally baffled, but maybe someone else has any notions. Do you?

I am told the RAB will be issuing a statement shortly, and I will post it here once the organization does.

UPDATE 6:45 PM: According to an email from Haley, said email came from an employee who was laid off, although the RAB statement posted below suggests that may jsut be suspicion at this point.

Full statement from RAB follows after the jump:

STATEMENT FROM RADIO ADVERTISING BUREAU

January 15, 2009, 6:30pm

Today, the Radio Advertising Bureau announced the difficult decision to eliminate five people’s positions, reflecting the challenges of the current economic environment. In a malicious attempt to damage the organization, someone accessed the email account of RAB President Jeff Haley, generated a false memorandum filled with factually inaccurate and malicious accusations designed to embarrass and damage the Radio Advertising Bureau. This fraudulent memorandum was then widely distributed to employees, business associates and members of the news media.

The Radio Advertising Bureau is conducting an investigation into how this occurred, and who perpetrated this misinformation. We will explore any and all remedies to ensure that the individual, most likely a terminated employee, accepts responsibility for this damaging act.

The content of this fraudulent memorandum is entirely baseless. The RAB is proud of its inclusive track record, and will not be bullied by the cowardly acts of an individual who chooses to make anonymous false accusations. We regret any embarrassment or difficulties that this act of vengeance has caused for our employees and former employees.

The following email is the actual email that was distributed to all employees:

All –

I want to let you know that effective today the RAB exercised a 10% reduction in staff in response to the current economic environment and its impact on our 2009 budget. In addition we will institute an immediate hiring and salary freeze until such time that conditions permit a different consideration. These decisions were not easy to make and in no way reflect upon the performance of the RAB or any one of our highly valued colleagues. It is a simple necessity of our times that our organization shape itself to meet the needs of its members in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Rather than share the specific details of each staff change I would ask that you spend some time with your manager over the next few days to learn how the changes affect your role and share how you think we might be able to better serve the industry during these tough times. I thank you for your input. Today is a time for us to appreciate the service our departing colleagues gave to the RAB and to wish them well in their future endeavors. Tomorrow is the chance for us to shape our organization for the future success of Radio and our members.

Thanks,

-Jeff

Reader Comments

Don

January 15, 2009 9:49 PM

While I value the friendship of my friends in "the industry" I am shocked if not stunned that more of them haven't seen this serious shake-up coming and are reacting so negatively and hurtfully to what has clearly been a job-clearing-brawl on the Street and in media/newspapers.

It should have been painfully clear to the 5 members of the RAB that their jobs representing a failing industry HAD to be in jeopardy. They do not produce any "good" in the economic sense of the word and live on the good will of their members.

The fact that BW chose to remark on the absolute esoteric-ness of such an email yet the hacker apparently felt such a move would be recognizable to anyone who received such a response goes to show the level of disconnect between what the rumored RAB employee thought of their job and what the rest of the world thought of their job, in other words:

"What's the RAB?"

To those of you working in media think tanks, lobbyist firms, law firms, free weekly newspapers, newspapers, magazines, investment banks, mortgage industry firms, car loan industry firms, car companies, car parts companies and anyone who works in brick and mortar retail:

Please do not cry to us when the inevitable happens. Protect yourself now by getting a job in a more stable industry, don't hack into your bosses account afterward, that's pitifully sad (and illegal).

Post a comment

 

About

The media world continues to shapeshift as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. On this blog, Bloomberg Businessweek will provide sharp analysis and timely reports on the transformation of this constantly changing terrain.

Categories

 

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!