How to Take On A Media Giant

 How to Take On A Media Giant A golden rule of corporate PR? Threatening to sue a newspaper or media outlet is a waste of time. Even trying to intimidate through an endless volley of legal letters usually backfires. Unless you can call out a media outlet on its polices and procedures, complaining about perceived unfairness usually falls on deaf and everlastingly hostile ears. Which is why Bloomberg’s recent misstep with Goldman Sachs makes interesting reading.

Bloomberg, a robust news organization, prides itself on high standards and journalist integrity, but is now wiping egg from its face following the admission and subsequent apology that its journalists had access to certain client information from its terminals ubiquitous on every trading floor. This included user’s login information and other general details including help desk inquiries. Bloomberg issued a quick apology and swiftly announced changes in procedure. It has since stressed that at no time did reporters have access to trading and monitoring systems or to clients’ messages to one another (the stuff that really matters).

When Goldman Sachs, routinely held accountable in the public eye, discovered that its employees were being monitored by Bloomberg journalists with access to private data, a formal complaint was made. This must have the been the gotcha moment. No news organization likes to be accused of an ethical breach and this was one case where Goldman could flex its own muscle and claim the moral high ground.

The PR Verdict:  “A” for Goldman Sachs for scoring a public and ethical win.

The PR Takeaway:  Integrity is the Achilles’ heel. No doubt Goldman Sachs has previously had its fair share of battles with Bloomberg but complaining to news organizations about bias and unfairness rarely works. This time it was different. A bruised eye for a leading news organization and a PR point for Goldman Sachs for starting a news cycle debate about journalist integrity.  When there is a breach of procedure any PR is on firm ground to go ahead and complain. Choose your battles wisely.


Is It Tough For You To Get By On $350K Per Year?

andrewschiff Is It Tough For You To Get By On $350K Per Year?

The PR Verdict: “D” for the PR who slipped up.

Pity poor Andrew Schiff who is Communications and Marketing director at Wall Street brokerage firm, Euro Pacific Capital. He recently leapt to unwanted fame following a Bloomberg article about how smaller bonuses are leaving Wall Street workers strapped for cash. The article has made him the new poster boy for Wall Street being out of touch.

The article disclosed Schiff’s salary of $350K and a bonus over $50K. This doesn’t put him anywhere near the top league of Wall Street heavy hitters but it does place him in the top 1% of earners. Living in 1200 square feet in a rented apartment in Brooklyn, with two children at pricey private schools, he observed there isn’t a lot of spare change left in the Schiff household at month’s end. Schiff’s point was his lifestyle is at variance with the routine description of Wall Street excess.

The PR Verdict: “D” for the PR who slipped up.  Ouch! Unfortunate to have made this gaffe, given Schiff’s job as PR and Marketing head.  Next time, before any interview, formal or informal, agree the ground rules.

No doubt Andrew Schiff was pleased to help out a journalist at Bloomberg. Why not? But next time, before answering, make sure the ground rules of the interview are pre-agreed.  In this case the interview should have been ‘on background’,  i.e. the journalist can use the quotes but not attribute them to Schiff directly. Far better for Schiff’s comments to have been attributed to “a Marketing Director at a Wall Street firm”.  Though cumbersome and bureaucratic to agree Ground Rules before every interview, it inevitably saves later heartache.  Sometimes it really is worth going back to first principles.

To read the original article click here. For the fall out click here.

How would you grade Schiff’s comments and his subsequent interviews to follow up media. Go ahead and grade him:

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