Crisis Management

Leaked Catholic E-mails Discuss Priest Scandal

The email correspondence of Los Angeles' Roman Catholic cardinal as he struggled to contain a scandal over child-molesting priests was broadcast across the city after copies of his correspondence was leaked to radio station KFI-AM's popular talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou.

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Spirits Crisis Controlled

PR Week describes how the Distilled Spirits Council, an alcohol industry trade group, handled a "crisis" when the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) released a study claiming that children consume 25% of alcohol sold in the US. "Such a study could do irreparable harm to the alcohol industry," says PR Week. DSC pored through the raw data used in CASA's study, rerunning the numbers "in hope of finding some miscalculation" and ready to jump if there was a mistake.

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Andersen Holds "Spontaneous" PR Stunt

A flashy publicity stunt outside a Houston federal courthouse accompanied accounting firm Arthur Andersen's not guilty plea to Justice Department obstruction charges. "As Andersen pleaded not guilty inside the courtroom, outside the firm launched a public relations blitz designed to portray government prosecutors as overzealous and heartless to the plight of its 28,000 U.S. employees," USA Today's Greg Farrell reports.

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Crisis Managers Keep NBC in High Spirits

NBC has hired a PR firm that specializes in crisis management to help deflect mounting criticism over its decision to carry hard-liquor ads. Shepardson, Stern & Kaminsky will help the network fend off criticism from groups like the American Medical Association, which recently ran a full-page ad in the New York Times, saying that NBC has "let down America's children."

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Enron Whistle-Blower Offered Lay a PR Plan

"Sherron Watkins, Enron's VP of corporate development, who in August predicted accounting scandals would destroy the company, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 14 that she offered a PR campaign to former chairman Kenneth Lay," O'Dwyer's PR Daily writes. "In her Oct. 30 memo to Lay, the former accountant said she outlined for him ways to handle the PR crisis and urged him to lay the blame on the company's then CEO Jeffrey Skilling and CFO Andrew Fastow. 'I was providing this to Mr.

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The Skewering of Skilling

Last week, PR industry pundit Fraser Seitel opined that former Enron CEO Ken Lay made a PR blunder by refusing to testify before Congress. "You should answer every question squarely and straightforwardly. Duck nothing," he advised. This week he thinks that Lay's partner in crime, Jeff Skilling, also blundered by the way he did testify.

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Helping Oppressed Corporations Fight the Mighty Activists

Nick Nichols, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Nichols-Dezenhall Communications Management Group, Ltd., has a book out titled Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to Fight and Survive Attack Group Shakedowns, which purports to offer advice for the once-proud corporations hunted into near-extinction by the overwhelming power of left-wing activists and their allies in the anti-corporate media.

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Pity Poor Enron

M.A. Shute, a former staffer from the Hill and Knowlton PR firm, orchestrated the tearful media interview of Linda Lay, wife of embattled former Enron CEO Ken Lay. The Lays are trying to portray themselves as victims rather than villains in the company's financial collapse. According to PR pro Jeremy Garlington, however, putting the wife in front of cameras is a "flawed media strategy." It was a mistake, he says, to claim that the Lays are "on the verge of financial ruin ...

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Accountants Hire PR Help

PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has hired Omnicom's Clark & Weinstock "as the Enron bankruptcy has 'put an unprecedented focus on the accounting profession and its self-regulatory system.'" PR Week reports AICPA has retained the Weiser Group in Chicago "to help in its effort to restore faith in the auditing and accounting system." Meanwhile, according to O'Dwyer's PR Daily, one of Anderson's PR flacks has taken issue with an National Public Radio

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Enron Scandal Has Andersen Recruiting PR, Lobbyists

PR trade publication The Holmes Report writes: "Accounting giant Andersen--the former Arthur Andersen--is reportedly looking to recruit crisis management and other communications experts as it faces mounting criticism for its role in the collapse of Enron." Anderson has already hired the Virginia-based firm Hartz Consulting and retains Ketchum as its PR agency of record. But the company is expected to enlist more PR consultants as it faces Congressional investigations, a federal criminal inquiry and lawsuits from shareholders.

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