Why He Left Goldman Sachs, and Why They’re Not Worried

 Why He Left Goldman Sachs, and Why Theyre Not Worried

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) to Goldman Sachs.

Breakups are never easy, and today sees the publication of a very long breakup letter. Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story is a memoir written by former Goldman employee Greg Smith. It follows up on Smith’s poison pen editorial of the same name, published in The New York Times in early March 2012. The consensus? Goldman Sachs’ board members can sleep easy.

Greg Smith used to be in equity derivatives sales. In upper management, he earned a more than respectable living of around $500k. Disillusioned by the alleged cynicism and hypocrisy of a culture that did not put clients first (supposedly referring to them as “Muppets”), Smith became more and more disenchanted, so goes his narrative, until one day the moral bankruptcy of the firm caused him to quit.

With Smith receiving a reported $1.5 million book advance for a memoir about his time at the firm, Goldman Sachs was presumably worried. But his former employer is now indicating that Smith’s memoirs are not as damaging as originally expected. Some of his reminiscences may not be pretty, but there’s nothing illegal or that surprising about them. As for Smith’s credibility, it seems GS has had its own well-executed PR plan to raise a cloud over their ex-employee’s widely reported griping.

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Goldman Sachs’s softly-softly response in advance of publication.

The PR Takeaway:  Say what you need to say once, and then let others do the talking. In advance of Smith’s book launch, Goldman Sachs made available its 18-page internal report on Smith’s allegations to newswire Bloomberg.  The report reveals that prior to resigning, Smith allegedly wanted a 100 percent pay raise, was denied a promotion, and may not have been long for the firm. The report’s contents were widely repeated – not by GS, but by the media. The nagging doubt is now that Smith may have just been a disgruntled employee. No on the record comment from Goldman Sachs, but a volte face from the very media that covered the story in the first place. Now that’s effective PR.

To read more click here.

What’s your opinion of Greg Smith’s book, and Goldman Sachs’s response? Give us your PR Verdict!

People! Why Not Speak Clearly?

sounbite1 People! Why Not Speak Clearly?

The PR Verdict: “C” for the use of metaphors and analogies in PR.

Is no one else annoyed by the sound bite that means close to nothing? Yesterday the Wall Street Journal canvassed the usual cabal of M&A bankers for their market outlook on mergers and acquisitions activity.  Of note was their endless use of metaphors and analogies to illustrate simple concepts and trends.  Weirdly overdone.

One of the vogues in PR and media training is to encourage clients to drive home key points by way of illustrative metaphors.  Color your sound bites with analogy and metaphor!  You can’t help but be quoted!

It seems bankers have taken this to heart.  By way of explanation one advised “we need a couple of people to jump into the bath and say the water isn’t cold in here.”   Others added, the European economy continues “in emergency care on life support”, the “seeds of recovery have taken root” but it will be a while before the market is “going pedal to the metal.”  Enough!

The PR Verdict: “C” for the use of metaphors and analogies in PR.  Yes it has its place but what about stating something clearly and unequivocally?

Ideas have their own power.  Metaphors and analogies don’t always need to be used to support an idea.  Besides, the word on the street is that when the balloon goes up there will be blood on the floor, as the use of the metaphor withers on the vine.  See?…We hope we made our point clearly.

For a copy of the WSJ article click here.  (available only to WSJ subscribers)

Is Gordon Gekko The Right Man For The Job?

gordongekko3 Is Gordon Gekko The Right Man For The Job?

The PR Verdict: “A” for a launch that wouldn’t normally generate this much attention.

The FBI isn’t normally associated with successful product launches but it seems to have outdone itself with the use of the classic PR strategy: the celebrity spokesman.

Yesterday’s media was saturated with the news that actor Michael Douglas has been enlisted to deter securities fraud and step up snitching on insider trading. The campaign, including public service announcements, has the former Wall Street Gordon Gekko, warning that “the movie was fiction but the problem is real.”

The FBI got the placement they needed. Front page of the WSJ, extensive coverage in the financial media and saturation in the social media space. The launch was topped off with an announcement that the FBI is actively building cases against 120 individuals.  It seems the snitch hotline is working.

The PR Verdict: “A” for a launch that wouldn’t normally generate this much attention.  From content, to placement, to the call-to-action (snitch on insider traders), the message was clear and unequivocal.

There is something compellingly ironic about Michael Douglas being the key spokesperson against Wall Street foul play.  In press interviews around the launch, Douglas mentioned that since the film originally came out, bankers and traders continue to walk up to him in Manhattan and congratulate him as Gordon Gekko, like a modern day hero. Douglas said he is still surprised by their reaction. Don’t they realise Gekko was the villain in the movie? The campaign couldn’t be coming at a better time.

To read more about the FBI program click here and to see Michael Douglas in public service click here.