Center P.R. chair’s firm threatens critic with ‘slander’ suit
Updated: February 10, 2014 at 2:02 pm
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Originally published: Feb. 8, 2014, 4:05 p.m.
Updated: Feb. 10, 2014, 1:59 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A public relations firm co-owned by LGBT Community Center of Charlotte public relations chair and board member Patrice Shannon today threatened an online critic and consulting industry colleague with a “slander” suit.
The legal threat came during an exchange on the social media site, Twitter.com.
ModernSouth, a Durham-based consulting firm, initially “tweeted” some thoughts regarding the center’s current financial status and governance concerns. The center is currently facing down potential closure, with only about $6,000 on hand and lingering concerns over board accountability and leadership.
“Sad but interesting story on #nonprofits w/ weak board leadership and lacking accountability,” ModernSouth tweeted, following up with other thoughts in several other messages, “Sounds as though the @GayCharlotte Ctr. is potentially too broken to repair in current form. Would recommend new board, new governance rules, transparency, & immediate responsiveness for @GayCharlotte. Nonprofits inherently rely on the generosity of others; a nonprofit that’s not responsive to key constituents will fail.”
ModernSouth, whose principal is Virginia Fitt, then connected Shannon and her firm to the controversy.
“And @dropanchorbrand cilents [sic] should be concerned by this disastrous communication,” the firm said.
It was that tweet which garnered near-immediate response from Drop Anchor Branding, which responded, “The community center is not a client of ours. Any further slander of our business will result in legal action.”
“Clients of @dropanchorbrand should DEFINITELY be concerned. Threatening legal action over tweet is bad PR,” ModernSouth replied.
The exchange continued briefly, with several other responses and thoughts from ModernSouth.
Drop Anchor Branding concluded their exchange, saying, “Patrice is on the board as a volunteer only trying to better her community. Know the whole story before you comment.”
Fitt declined to further elaborate with qnotes on her Twitter messages, saying they speak for themselves and accurately represent her personal views on non-profit strategy.
Drop Anchor Branding’s two tweets in the conversation were later deleted.
Shannon initially declined to comment on Saturday as she prepared for a center fundraising event, but issued a short statement Monday.
“I have been a volunteer board member at the Center for 2 months,” Shannon said in an email. “I am appreciative of all interest in the success of the Center, and will continue to volunteer for its benefit and that of the Charlotte community.”
A screenshot of the conversation on Twitter appears below. Click to open in new window and enlarge.
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About the author: Matt Comer was the editor of QNotes, first hired to serve in the role in October 2007, with his tenure ending August 23, 2015.