PR Spinning and Wall Street

Wall Street and Broad Street

I had lots of great feedback and advice from my friends about my blog (although most people thought I should shorten it, which left me a bit crushed – hence my recent silence). I even had an offer to “redesign” it – please note the new look. So thanks to all!

Great piece in the New York Times this weekend about the Public Relations profession. It quoted Lloyd Blankfein the CEO of Goldman Sachs on his efforts to manage the company’s public profile through the economic meltdown. The story reported on a speech in which he referenced, with disdain, advice he had received from various image consultants, reputation managers, and public relations advisors : “Some people come in and say, ‘you are doing too much. Don’t say another word.’ Other people say we should get on the talk shows.”

Reporter Graham Bowley went on to note that these are unusual times for Wall Street. Where the titans were once virtually invincible from public opinion, the rage over recent abuses is costing them big-time.

Bowley took the brief to some of Manhattan’s top PR advisors. Once again the opinion covered a wide range:

  • Apologize – admit you were wrong;
  • Others disagreed;
  • Take out ads, hold news conferences, Rubenstein opined;
  • Does anyone really believe anything they read in ads?;
  • Give back – donate to worthy causes;
  • Will this appear a transparent ploy and beg more questions about the use of public funds;
  • Require mandatory employee volunteerism;
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate about their valid role in the economy;
  • Reduce compensation packages;
  • Now there’s a thought;
  • Ignore the whole thing.

Why is it so difficult to come up with a single answer to the problem? It is because people still think the public relations profession is about spin and easy answers. Also, they want metrics – this and this equates to that. As I said in an earlier blog, the profession is getting better about measuring, but the truth is that the practice is still more art than science. Frequently there is no “one answer” and certainly no “one size fits all.” The important thing is to decide on a strategy and move in a direction, not sit about sinking in the controversy.

I am always offended by people that think you call in the PR people to pick up a paint brush when they are covered in ****. Any good professional will always tell their client “do the right thing.” It all falls out of that single insight.

Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011 in Reputation Management


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