Scott Sobel was recently quoted in The Boston Globe
Media & Communication Strategies in the News
Coming Clean ASAP
By Stephanie Steinberg - August 1, 2012
Scott Sobel, president at Media & Communication strategies, quoted in the Boston Globe about crisis management in the age of social media:
When most everyone can access news from their phone instantaneously and, thanks to Twitter, offer endless streams of speculation and judgment, crisis management teams are no longer spending days or weeks crafting the perfect response to news of scandals or even embarrassing photos. The only way to tamp down the roar of social media is to issue a statement as quickly as possible, PR experts say.
That rapid transmission of information has forced some media relations teams to prepare for bad news before it happens. Scott A. Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies based in Washington D.C., said his crisis management firm performs "reality audits" and devises responses to hypothetical situations.
Sobel, who has clients ranging from politicians, celebrities, lawyers, and doctors, said responses are more "seamless" if firms plan ahead.
"It's [like] trying to rip a Band-Aid off quickly as opposed to letting it linger and a wound get infected. . . . There's less damage, and it's cost-effective because you're not fumbling around and making the situation worse," he said.
In the case of Stewart, Sobel said it's possible her PR team knew about her affair with the "Snow White and the Huntsman" director and already had a prepared statement ready to go. Publicists know that a young celebrity relationship won't last, he said.
"What's the likelihood given the history of those kinds of folks and that age group that they're going to end up getting married and will have five children," he said. "Somebody is thinking in the back of their mind, 'Gee, what if this goes south? What do we do?' "
Scott Sobel was recently quoted in Bloomberg.
Spirit Flouts Unwritten Washington Rule by Badmouthing Regulator
By Andrew Zajac - Jan 30, 2012 12:00 AM ET
Most U.S. airlines quietly complied with U.S. rules that took effect Jan. 26 requiring them to include mandatory taxes and fees in published fares.
Spirit Airlines (SAVE) took a different approach, obeying the rule while issuing a press release and an e-mail to customers criticizing the U.S. Department of Transportation and a U.S. senator who struck back at its comments.
The ferocity of Miramar, Florida-based Spirit's offensive, which included a red-exclamation-pointed ad on its website accusing the Transportation Department of forcing airlines to "HIDE taxes in your fares," startled some communications experts who said it violated a tenet of doing business in Washington.
'Zero' Risk Seen
Spirit Chief Executive Officer Ben Baldanza, in an telephone interview, said the broadside carried "zero" risk because it has sued the transportation department to get the new rule thrown out.
That's not necessarily true, said Scott Sobel, president of Media and Communications Strategies LLC, a crisis communications firm in Washington.
"There's a big difference between going through a system, like in a lawsuit, and criticizing a regulator outside those channels," Sobel said. "It's always risky to criticize government regulators outside the expected channels."
Scott Sobel was recently quoted in The Christian Science Monitor.
As Ted Williams, the 'man with the golden voice,' heads off to celebrity rehab in Los Angeles, his whirlwind rise and fall is a cautionary tale for corporations and media who fell in love with his story.
From rags to riches to rehab: Is there a lesson in Ted Williams story?
Ted Williams was the feel good story for the New Year – a down-on-his-luck, homeless man whose elegant announcer’s voice, discovered in a viral video clip, gave him a second shot at midlife success.
Not only did he have multiple job offers, but Kraft took him on as a macaroni and cheese spokesman and a mortgage company offered to pay for a house.
But now, with the announcement that despite his claims of being clean and sober for two years, he has not mastered the drug and alcohol problem that put him on the street, he becomes just the latest celebrity – if newly minted – to enter a private rehab facility in Los Angeles.
Top 6 most triumphant stories of 2010
The course of action was disclosed in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw on his syndicated talk show that aired Thursday. Mr. Williams’ appearance on the show followed an altercation Monday with his daughter that involved the police.
The journey from panhandling on a Columbus, Ohio, street corner to media darling and now fellow resident-with-the stars in a private treatment center spanned less than two weeks.
The speed at which this rags-to-riches-to-rehab scenario played out leads to the question, what sort of fallout does the “man with the golden voice” leave in his wake?
Cautionary tale for companies, media
This is a cautionary tale for both the media and the companies that jumped on the Ted Williams bandwagon, says marketing and branding expert David Johnson.
“Corporations will probably be a little less likely to leap right into the next opportunity,” he says, but it’s more telling for what it says about today’s media environment. “We are in a 24-hour race for the big stories,” he says, “and the sort of journalistic due diligence that might have rounded this story out is fading as fast as yesterday’s snow story.”
There isn’t the culture or patience to dig into stories any more, says Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies in Washington.
“This is just another example of the dumbing down of journalism,” says the former newsman who says he has no compunction about pointing a finger at the media for their role in this story. “We live in a competitive, 24/7 rush to get the story on the air, no matter what,” he says and today’s journalists, “don’t have the time or – unfortunately – increasingly, the inclination to do the simplest kind of due diligence.”
As for the companies that have hitched their wagon to the Willliams star, the best move is to resist the impulse to move as quickly as they did in the first place says Gene Grabowski, a senior vice president at Levick Strategic Communications in Washington.
“If Williams moves into the light and heads straight into a rehab program and does well,” he points out, “there could be a great well of support for any company that hangs in there with him.”
Challenge for corporations
Maintaining ties with troubled celebrities presents a challenge for many image-conscious corporations, says Michelle Randall, the principal of Enriching Leadership International, a global management consultancy.
A firm would be much better off working with Williams, she says, rather than bowing out when he is perceived to be less than the perfect Cinderella media story.
“It takes culturally agile leadership in order to meet people where they're at in all their humanity – whether squeaky clean hero or starry-eyed addict wanting to recover,” she adds.
For the moment, however, Kraft Foods seems content to have ended that relationship.
Lynne Galia, a spokeswoman from Kraft Foods, said in an email that “Ted Williams completed his work for us last week, and we think he did a great job. We hope the best for him.”
Mac Strategies is Official Public Relations Agency Sponsor of new D.C. Campaign
Leading Law Firms Join with Access to Justice Commission to Launch Raising the Bar in D.C. CampaignCampaign is crucial to closing the justice gap for indigent D.C. residents;
Washington, D.C. – December 14, 2010
Columbia Access to Justice Commission to launch a new campaign to increase financial support for D.C. legal services organizations. The Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign, which has been endorsed by the D.C. Bar and the D.C. Bar Foundation, urges firms of all sizes to donate a certain percentage of D.C. office revenue annually to local providers. Firms committing .11 percent of revenue will be honored at the Platinum level, and firms committing .09 percent and .075 percent of revenue will be recognized at the Gold and Silver levels, respectively.
“District law firms are the most generous in the nation in terms of providing pro bono and financial support for the poor,” said Andrew Marks, a partner at Crowell & Moring who is a member of the Access to Justice Commission. “However, far too many of the most needy in our community are navigating the justice system alone, even when their most basic human needs are at risk. More support from the private bar is vital to filling what is becoming an appalling justice gap.”
The recession has dramatically increased the need for legal services while drastically shrinking the capacity of the legal services network to meet those needs. In 2009 alone, the local legal services network lost more than 25% of its revenue, causing it to shed 12% of its lawyers and nearly 40% of critical non-attorney staff. This alarming contraction has coincided with a surge both in the demand for services and the urgency of the legal problems faced by poor District residents.
“The recession has taken a terrible toll on communities living in poverty,” said Peter Edelman, Chair of the Access to Justice Commission and a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “Families that were already struggling have been battered by unemployment and foreclosure levels not seen in several generations. There is more homelessness, more hunger, more family violence and fewer safety nets for those who are in need.”
Legal services organizations provide critical interventions to help families who are in legal crisis. By averting evictions, securing protection orders for domestic violence victims, ensuring that disabled individuals and children access available benefits programs, and helping low-wage earners to maintain employment, D.C. legal services providers help vulnerable District residents to secure their most basic human needs.
A Leadership Circle of eight leading law firms – Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP; Covington & Burling LLP; Crowell & Moring LLP; DLA Piper LLP; Jenner & Block LLP; Sidley Austin LLP; Steptoe & Johnson LLP; and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP – has enthusiastically stepped forward to launch the campaign. “This is an important, and long overdue initiative,” said Frank M. Conner, III, Managing Partner of DLA Piper LLP’s Washington D.C. office. “Since 2001, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Initiative has provided guidance for firms in establishing pro bono hours targets. Until now there has not been any comparable guidance for monetary donations.” “Because the model is based on revenue,” added Timothy C. Hester, Chair of the Management Committee of Covington & Burling LLP, “firms of all sizes can aspire to the Platinum level. We hope this encourages wide participation from a broad spectrum of firms, from the smallest to the largest in D.C.”
Firm leaders recognize that a strong legal services network is pivotal for firms’ pro bono efforts. Roger Warin, Chair of the Executive Committee of Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, explained: “Our pro bono program relies on a vibrant legal services infrastructure to screen and identify meritorious cases, and work in collaboration with our attorneys. If the valuable work of these organizations is eliminated or diminished, the Washington community will lose not only the essential services provided by these organizations themselves but also thousands of donated hours provided by the private Bar.”
Leadership Circle firms have pledged to donate at the Silver level or higher in 2011 and have joined in an open appeal letter to the entire law firm community. “We are confident that many firms will be moved by this Campaign,” said R. Bruce McLean, Chairman of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. “As lawyers we share a unique obligation to ensure equal access to justice. For most of us, this commitment is more than a matter of ethical obligation – it is a matter of principle.”
For more information, or to join the Campaign, please contact Jess Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, at (202) 344-4441, firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Survey: Clients Value Flexibility, Senior Counsel of Boutique PR FirmsLong-term relationships common among PR Boutiques International clients
Washington, D.C. – November 22, 2010 – A new survey of boutique public relations agency clients around the world finds that the specialized, focused services of senior practitioners is a common thread driving the hiring of such firms, regardless of today's economic climate.
Public Relations Boutiques International™ (PRBI), released the survey, completed by clients of PRBI's 29 member agencies. The agencies, which operate in 11 countries, span the globe from Argentina to South Korea.
"The survey results confirm what our clients and members have long told us anecdotally,” said PRBI president Bill Cowen, CEO of Metrospective Communications, Philadelphia, Pa. “Our firms provide a level of service that's unmatched by much larger agencies because of the decisions PRBI principals have made about their approach to the business."
He said boutique agency principals intentionally structure their firms to enable senior practitioners to have regular involvement with clients, bringing more experienced teams to client engagements. "Our firms are boutique firms because the agency principals want them to be," Cowen added. "And as the survey shows, our clients value this approach."
Survey respondents ranked flexibility, ability to meet deadlines, level of service, quality of strategic counsel and return on investment as the top five benefits of their boutique PR firm relationships.
While media reports have suggested that boutique firms have become more attractive options because of cost considerations in the current economy, Cowen said the PRBI survey found that clients made conscious decisions to hire boutique firms long before the economy became an issue.
"Among the clients responding to the survey, more than 80 percent have been working with a boutique firm for one to three years, and nearly 30 percent have been working with their current boutique firm for longer than five years. This proves the staying power of the boutique agency model,” said Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies LLC, a local PRBI Member firm.
"I have worked in a management consultancy," wrote one PRBI client, "So I know that exceptionally talented people can be found in boutiques."
"We could not do what we do without our boutique team," wrote another PRBI client.
About PR Boutiques International:
Public Relations Boutiques International™ (PRBI) is an international network of boutique public relations firms. The principals of member firms are experienced practitioners who have held senior positions in large PR agencies and/or corporations but now put service first and work directly with clients. PRBI member firms excel in meeting a huge range of client needs in a large number of industries, including corporate public relations, consumer PR, health care PR, investor relations, crisis management, business-to-business PR, economic development PR, not-for-profit, academia, government, financial, technology, legal, multicultural and international PR and investor relations. Member practitioners have won the highest levels of professional awards, with qualifications ranging from PhDs to former top journalists. They also represent memberships in the most noteworthy international public relations and business associations. For more information, visit http://www.prboutiques.com.
About Media & Communications Strategies:
Media & Communications Strategies, LLC handles high-profile crisis communications, including government, media and litigation public relations for national and international clients out of Washington, D.C. Visit www.macstrategies.com to learn more.
Public Relations Boutiques International
Media & Communications Strategies, LLC is a founding member of Public Relations Boutiques International with strategic partners worldwide.
Visit www.prboutiques.com to learn more.
Media & Communications Strategies, LLC Wins Prestigious Bull Dog Award for ‘Best Response to Breaking News
Honored for firm’s IRS vs. UBS Swiss Bank Accounts: When Tax Evasion Escalates to International Dispute PR Campaign
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2010
Washington, D.C. – Media & Communications Strategies, LLC recently won the 2010 Bronze Bull Dog Award for Best Response to Breaking News nationwide. The firm was recognized for stellar positioning of a major U.S. tax law firm as the “go-to” firm for both the media and UBS account holders who needed assistance working with the IRS when the tax evasion controversy made international news in 2009. During the course of the public relations campaign, the law firm went from having a handful of UBS accountholders as clients to landing more than 300 clients in less than a year.
“It’s wonderful to receive an award that’s highly coveted in the public relations and communications industry because of its extremely high standards. We strive to reflect such standards when clients hire us for breaking news scenarios or more ongoing reputation management initiatives,” said Scott Sobel, president, Media & Communications Strategies, LLC.
Judged solely by leading journalists, the Bull Dog Awards is the media industry’s highest honor, recognizing excellence in media relations and publicity. Campaigns are evaluated based on creativity and originality, strategic brilliance, extraordinary execution, quick turnaround, and results.
Media & Communications Strategies, LLC will be recognized alongside other winners this month at the Bull Dog Reporter’s Media Relations Summit 2010 in New York City; entered into this year’s Hall of Fame; and acknowledged in the Bull Dog Reporter’s Daily Dog, the industry’s largest trade.
Visit www.macstrategies.com for more information on Media & Communications Strategies, LLC. The Washington-D.C. based firm is also a founding member of Public Relations Boutiques International, a worldwide collaborative network of PR firms, currently made up of 29 agencies in 11 countries.
Ted Leonsis talks “Business of Happiness” with MAC StrategiesApril 2010
MAC Strategies and other Greater Washington businesses gathered at a special breakfast with Ted Leonsis, author of the new book The Business of Happiness: 6 Secrets to Extraordinary Success in Life and Work, held by the Board of Trade. Leonsis described his rise in the tech industry, ventures into the sports and media industries and his commitment to public service. Leonsis also spoke about his belief that happiness invariably leads to personal and business success.
Scott Sobel talks philanthropic decision-making with Ted Leonsis
Ufuoma Otu discusses with Leonsis about D.C. area non-profits close to his heart
Tiger Woods Ventures Back into the SpotlightFebruary 2010
MAC Strategies executives were tapped to comment on Tiger Woods’ first press conference since the November 2009 scandal that threatened his career and rocked his personal life.
February 19, 2010
Scott Sobel was featured on News Channel 8’s Let’s Talk Live Click Image to watch Video
February 18, 2010
Ufuoma Otu was interviewed on NBC Washington’s Night News
Scott Sobel was recently quoted in The Baltimore Sun about the conviction of Baltimore's Mayor.
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Dixon's effect on city's rep? That jury's still outDecember 7, 2009
Conviction seen alternately as stain on Baltimore, blip on public's radar
Not long ago, Baltimore's tourism bureau invited public relations guru Richard Laermer to town for a pep talk.
"I said 'good job,' " recalls Laermer, who was impressed with the group's effort to let the world know Baltimore had changed and that it was time to "Get in on it."
But when he heard Mayor Sheila Dixon was convicted of embezzling gift cards for the needy, his first thought was: Baltimore's back to square one. "I thought about all those people and how they must be sitting there going, 'What the hell?' All that work tossed away."
Like many in the image-is-everything world of PR, marketing and branding, Laermer thinks Dixon - who early in her term made invigorating tourism a personal priority - has ended up harming Baltimore's national reputation.
News of her conviction landed last week in hundreds, if not thousands, of media outlets - grabbing headlines in everything from USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal to NPR and CNN. She even got a ribbing from Jay Leno.
"It's such a pathetic, petty crime and this is the mayor for crying out loud," says Ariel Ozick, CEO of Wired Rhino, a reputation management company. "If this was a city with a great reputation, it would be bad, but take a city like Baltimore that is already on the ropes, and it just makes the whole image of the city look a lot worse."
Back in the summer of 2007, the newly elected Dixon was traveling alongside executives of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, helping to wine, dine and otherwise charm decision-makers into choosing Baltimore for their lucrative annual meetings. Now, Laermer thinks the organization needs to immediately erase the mayor's welcome video from its Web site.
BACVA President Tom Noonan declined a request for an interview, except to say in an e-mail message, "Visit Baltimore will continue to sell our great city and the record pace that we have established over the last three years."
In the same breath, people are comparing Baltimore with tainted places such as Detroit, where Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was embroiled in a sex scandal, and Illinois, where Gov. Rod Blagojevich was forced out of office after accusations surfaced that he tried to sell President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.
"Baltimore is too small to weather this kind of scandal as well as, say, a New York or Chicago," says Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies, in Washington. "This kind of conviction certainly hurts the city's reputation and its ability to be seen as a reliable business culture."
Don Miller, who heads the public affairs division of Harrison Leifer DiMarco Public Relations in New York, and who specializes in crisis management, says just one political scandal can wreak almost limitless damage.
And such negativity, when connected with a place, he says, has a way of working itself deep into the public mindset. He points to Brookhaven, N.Y., which after several scandals in the 1990s, can't seem to shake the nickname "Crookhaven." And he notes "Tammany Hall" and "Boss Tweed" from late-1800s New York, still conjure images of dirty politics.
But not everyone in public relations sees Dixon's transgression as a permanent black eye for Baltimore. In fact, because so many politicians are being caught philandering or stealing or bribing, she becomes only the latest entry on a growing list.
"Unfortunately, the mayor is not the first, or second, or 10th mayor, nationally, to be found guilty of committing a crime, and won't be the last," says communications strategist Matt Eventoff, with PPS Associates in Princeton, N.J.
Furthermore, in a 24-hour news cycle, where good and bad stories fly at people faster than balls from a batting machine, this particular item about Dixon probably won't stick in anyone's mind, says Bill Cowen, a professor and director of Villanova University's public relations program.
"Audiences are so message-saturated right now, it's sometimes questionable what is retained," Cowen says. "Baltimore had so many good things happening ... it takes more than one news piece to affect that."
Some public relations experts say the impact on Baltimore's reputation will have a lot to do with how the city handles itself in the coming days and weeks.
Daniel Cherrin, communications director for the mayor who succeeded Kilpatrick in Detroit, knows something about trying to restore the public trust.
Because of the disgraced Kilpatrick, Cherrin says, Detroit lost conventions and saw its bond rating fall. If Dixon truly has Baltimore's best interests at heart, he says, she would pack up her desk.
"For the city to move forward, something needs to happen," he says. "You cannot conduct the business of the city with this cloud over it. It takes strong leadership to say enough is enough and move on."
Gerald Patnode, a former Baltimorean who coordinates the marketing programs at York College of Pennsylvania, agrees that Baltimore could come out of this relatively unscathed - but only if the city's power brokers step up ... to get Dixon to step down.
"She has to go away to help clear the air," he says. "As long as she stays in office, that can do nothing but hurt the city."
Scott Sobel was recently quoted in Advertising Age about AT&T's lawsuit against Verizon.
When should you sue on a competitive claim?November 09, 2009
There really are just two instances that call for the courts, according to Marc Hausman, CEO of Strategic Communications Group. One occurs when a larger player faces a serious competitive threat from an innovative but smaller, less well-financed rival. A suit can stop the latter fast in its track because it doesn’t have the deep pockets to defend itself. Legal action is also warranted when a company wants to call attention to an issue so important that litigation is the only venue that can attract any real mindshare.
Legal recourse could also be an option when a brand has to defend its reputation, and wants to make a statement that sends a message not only to customers, but vendors, regulators, and the government, said Scott Sobel, president of Media and Communications Strategies. But avoid suing on an issue that could potentially call attention to your weakness, as AT&T did.
Also be careful not to file a frivolous suit, Mr. Sobel said. “Suing for the sake of suing is a bad idea; it sends a message that you’re litigious, petty and you don’t have the consumers’ interests in mind.”
Copyright 2009 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Rail disaster put communicators’ crisis plans to the testJune 25, 2009
Ragan Communications, Inc.
By Jessica Levco
With D.C. mayor’s office at the vortex, how did the various entities fare in the wake of the rail collision?
Our nation’s capital is no stranger to dealing with calamities. From the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon to the recent shooting at the Holocaust Museum, crisis communicators can learn a lot about how D.C. handles a disaster.
When two Metro trains collided this week during evening rush hour, it was time for the city to go into crisis mode—again. Crisis communicators chimed in and analyzed how the D.C. mayor’s office and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) have been dealing with the situation. Norissa Giangola, who specializes in crisis communications at Coqui Communications, says that in a disaster, "people want to know that that people are being taken care of and that authorities are in control."
Soon after the collision, Mayor Adrian Fenty was at the scene and talked to the media. He scored points with crisis communicators simply by being present. "He responded as quickly as possible," say Chris Brown, a communication consultant based in D.C. "To get from the mayor's office downtown to the Northeast side as fast as he did was hard to do. When he got to the scene, he was accessible."
Do you have a crisis communication plan?
This is a cogent reminder for all communicators: Now is the time to start planning for your own crisis, advises Gerard Braud, a crisis communication expert.
"Crisis communication plans can be written on a clear and sunny day, when you don’t have anxiety,” Braud says. “The worst time to plan for a crisis is to start planning in the middle of one."
Here’s the four-step method Braud uses when advising his clients on developing a plan:
Vulnerability assessment. List everything that could conceivably go wrong in your organization, such as: fire, explosions, accidents, or employee misbehavior. Start writing up your plan.
Conduct a writing retreat. This is the time to write templates for each possible crisis scenario. Go through an approval process of the plans with supervisors.
"When you’re in a crisis, you don’t have time to write for scratch,” he says. “Even for the best writers, it takes about a half-hour to do a press release. You don’t want to start with a blank piece of paper."
Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies LLC in D.C., gives the district a 'B' for its handling of the crisis.
"They covered all of the usual suspect PR bases and made the mayor and others available for reassurance and to answer some questions and express condolences," Sobel says.
How could the city have earned an ‘A’? Well, Sobel would like to see these questions answered:
- How could this have happened, and what measure did you (do you) have in place to make sure this kind of tragedy doesn’t happen again?
- Will city representatives be available in person to answer questions by riders?
- Why isn’t there a city-sanctioned Web site that gives real-time information about a fast-changing situation?
Even though these questions haven’t been answered yet, the mayor’s office and WMATA were able to communicate to passengers in a variety of ways.
WMATA frequently posted press releases on its Web site about the collision.
The WMATA has an eAlert system where people can sign up to receive e-mail or cell phone messages about delays in service. Passengers were notified about the Red Line incident.
Braud applauds WMATA’s use of the eAlert system. "Anytime you can capture the e-mail addresses or cell phones of potential customers, you can communicate a crisis, but you’ve only got about 140 to 160 characters to do it in," says Gerard Braud, a crisis communication expert.
Stephanie Partridge, who lives and works in D.C., signed up for the Alert DC! messaging service at https://textalert.ema.dc.gov/. She received this text, along with several e-mails throughout the day about the collision.
Metro reports that 2 train collided and one train is on top of the other train. Metro reports massive injuries at this time. The green line and the red line are affected. Further information to follow.
"The alerts also let me know about the road closures associated with the gunman at the Holocaust Museum a couple of weeks ago,” Partridge says. “When I’m at work, I don't watch the news or listen to the radio. These alerts in my Inbox are my connection to what is going on."
WMATA has a Twitter feed, which also updated passengers about the collision. Here’s an example of a tweet:
Red Line: Disruption at Fort Totten in both directions. Trains are turning back at Fort Totten & Silver Spring due to a situation out.
But Brown says WMATA should have let people know it was a fatal collision.
"On Twitter, they always called it a disruption or a train experiencing technical difficulties," Brown says. "There was a sense that people were being lied to. It felt like they were masking the truth of what actually happened."
Even though the mayor’s office is handling the messaging of the collision, there is nothing posted on the mayor’s main Web site. Instead, there’s information posted on another site.
"The mayor's office should’ve had a front page announcement on its site," Giangola says. "People need to know what's happening, especially for victims of the families, and where they can get assistance."
How WMATA spread the news
Following is one in a series of press releases that theWashington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority issued on its Web site to inform its riders and the public at large. Two six-car Red Line trains collided at 5 p.m. today, Monday, June 22, resulting in six fatalities, including a female train operator. There were also several injuries, many serious, according reports from the scene. This is the deadliest accident in Metrorail’s 33-year history.
Metro officials recommend that people avoid the Red Line the remainder of Monday and Tuesday, or expect significant delays as the area of track involved in the accident will remain closed to train traffic.
Trains are operating between Glenmont and Silver Spring Metrorail stations and between Shady Grove and Rhode Island Avenue Metrorail stations for the remainder of the day.
Free shuttle buses are operating between Silver Spring and Rhode Island Avenue Metrorail stations to help customers get around the incident.
Metro officials are working hand-in-hand with the National Transportation Safety Board. People who believe that their relatives may have been on board the train can contact Metropolitan Police at 311 to find out which hospital they have been taken to for medical assistance. A family reunification center has been established at 501 Riggs Road, NE, in Washington.
"This is an incredibly tragic day and our hearts go out to the families of those who suffered fatalities and to those whose loved ones are injured," said Metro General Manager John Catoe. "We are committed to investigate this accident until we determine why this happened and what must be done to ensure it never happens again." Metro officials do not yet know the cause of the collision and are not likely to know the cause for several days as the investigation unfolds. Both trains were on the same track headed toward Shady Grove Metrorail station, according to preliminary reports. The female operator was on the trailing train. The only other time in Metrorail's history that there were customer fatalities was in January 1982, when three people died as a result of a derailment between the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian Metrorail stations. The only other time that Metrorail had a collision was in 2004 when two trains collided at the Woodley Park/Zoo-Adams Morgan Metrorail station, in which there were some minor injuries.
Media & Communications Strategies LLC Lands Two Hermes Creative AwardsJune 23, 2009
Award-winning Public Relations Boutique Recognized for Crisis Communication and Media initiatives
Media & Communications Strategies, LLC has received two prestigious Hermes Creative Awards for its 'Saving American Manufacturing' campaign in which it utilized comprehensive communications tactics to protect the interests of a U.S.-based hand truck manufacturer almost forced out of business when an international competitor lied to and received an incredibly low tariff from U.S. trade authorities. The Hermes Creative Awards recognize outstanding work in the marketing and communication fields.
"I believe these awards honor the fact that we go on a mission for our clients and leave no stone unturned in helping them achieve their goals," said Scott Sobel, president, Media & Communications Strategies. "Our communications campaign was geared to protecting the interests of our client and, to an important degree, the interests of U.S. hand truck manufacturers operating in a global environment,"
The firm's Platinum award, Hermes's most prestigious, was for Crisis Communications. The second award was the Gold in the Media Response category. Platinum Winners are recognized to be the most outstanding in terms of quality, creativity and resourcefulness. Gold Winners exceed the high standards of the industry norm.
More than 3,700 entries from throughout the United States and several countries were judged by Hermes officials in several categories for the 2009 competition and awards are presented to the most outstanding entries in the competition.
Administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, the Hermes Creative Awards, is a majestic symbol of the ancient Greek messenger. In Greek mythology, Hermes is also the Olympian god of orators and wit, of literature and poets, and invention and commerce. The Hermes Award is sculpted and cast by the Entenmann-Rovin Company of Los Angeles, the same craftsmen that produce the Golden Globe Awards.
Both Hermes awards continue an award-winning streak for Media & Communications Strategies. This year alone, the firm received other prestigious awards including two legal public relations awards of distinction from PR News for Crisis Management and Crisis Response and Media Relations during Litigation or Crisis.
White and Case's Hands-Off Approach to Scandal Has PR Tongues WaggingMay 22, 2009
Ten years ago, it would have been no more than the stuff of law firm gossip.
But in the age of e-mail, blogs and text messaging, the story of a messy affair between a Miami corporate attorney and a married mother of four has spiraled into a much bigger headache for the century-old law firm White & Case.
First came mass e-mails from the woman's husband detailing liaisons between his wife and an associate in the firm's Miami office. Then the lurid e-mails landed on a popular legal blog where more than 100,000 people have viewed them.
The associate's name is not being published by the Daily Business Review. He did not respond to a phone message by deadline Monday or an e-mail sent Friday to his law firm address. A home phone number listed in the blog material for the associate is not accepting incoming calls, and a cell number reaches a recording saying it is not a working number.
For White & Case, the unwanted publicity raises a question all law firm managers and public relations professionals should consider: If an employee's dirty laundry gets a public airing, how can a law firm respond to minimize the damage?
Asked about the matter, White & Case spokesman William Sancho in Miami offered a brusque "no comment."
Hours later, an official firm statement came out: "This is a personal matter for the individual involved, and we cannot comment on it."
Todd Templin, executive vice president of Boardroom Communications in Plantation, Fla., said he would have counseled the firm to take a different approach.
"I would make it clear the actions of the attorney are an embarrassment to the firm, and I'd make the point that they are not indicative of the values and quality legal work that the firm is known for," he said.
It's something crisis management professionals often refer to as "getting in front of a story."
"If you don't tell your story, someone else will," explained Chris Marlin, who heads the Miami office of Sitrick & Co., a public relations firm specializing in crisis communications. "It's rare that ignoring a situation that is as open and notorious as this gets you any benefit."
But Marlin, an attorney who used to manage litigation for a Fortune 500 company, also had some comfort for New York-based White & Case.
"As a former in-house lawyer who regularly procured legal services, this would not have affected my decision to hire one firm over another," he said. "This sort of gossip has much more resonance in legal circles than it does in client circles."
The negative publicity on the blogosphere comes on the heels of a lengthy New York Times article describing deep layoffs at White & Case and portraying the venerable Wall Street firm as "an endangered species."
While that piece undoubtedly reflects the firm's more pressing concerns, it's not the one that has law firm tongues wagging all across town.
By now most South Florida lawyers have likely heard the smutty saga of "Miami White" and "SexyLexus," as the lovers were dubbed by the Web site Above the Law. The husband described his wife as a porn star, but she responded on the blog, "It's a camera-site. That is all it is. I am not in contact with anybody, there is no contact between me and anybody on that camera-site." She also said she has been separated for a year and is planning a divorce.
The e-mail also has been widely circulated in South Florida legal and business circles, through a viral series of forwards.
According to the e-mail, the purported husband of "SexyLexus" was in Canada for weeks launching a new business, far from his wife and their four children under 6.
When he returned, he found text messages suggesting his wife was carrying on multiple affairs, including one with the White & Case lawyer.
"When you decided to start sleeping with my wife while I was out of town over the last few weeks (May 27 - June 7, 2009) you threatened my way of life, and you really hurt a lot of people," one e-mail stated.
In a subsequent e-mail, the man said his wife appeared on a pornographic Web site and met fans for sex.
"Can someone at White & Case please help me and talk some sense to your colleague?" he wrote.
Two postings about the alleged affair on Above the Law generated about 130,000 page views and nearly 400 comments, according to blog editor Elie Mystal. They received more than 28,000 views on the New York gossip site Gawker.
Even the Wall Street Journal's generally highbrow Law Blog linked to the entries.
The Miami office of White & Case has grown to roughly 90 attorneys since opening in 1987 and is known for corporate, banking and project finance work in Latin America.
While clients probably won't bolt over the "Miami White" scandal, it hardly projects the image of stability and discretion most law firms work hard to cultivate, said Jonathan Groner, a law firm public relations consultant in Washington.
"Any law firm these days, just like any corporation, needs to protect its reputation," he said.
Still, one public relations specialist who did not want his name used said he "wouldn't argue very hard" for issuing a public statement.
"This has nothing to do with White & Case, and it's not necessarily something that deserves their comment," he said.
Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies in Washington, said he advises clients to be prepared with a "holding statement" to show the firm is aware of a bad situation and in control.
"The worst thing that a firm could do is ignore this kind of issue or any crisis and hope it goes away," Sobel said.
"Clients come to you to handle their most delicate issues," he said. "If you're not handling your own delicate issues well, why would a client hire you?"
What follows is an e-mail being sent by the husband of a woman who allegedly had an affair with a White & Case associate in Miami to lawyers at that firm. The e-mail has been widely circulated in business and legal circles in South Florida and through several popular national blogs.
Families, wives, young children are valuable things. I work hard to take care of my family -- a wife, 4 small children under the age of 6. It is the most valuable thing in the world to me.
When you decided to start sleeping with my wife while I was out of town over the last few weeks (May 27-June 7, 2009), you threatened my way of life, and you really hurt a lot of people -- most notably the lives of my 4 very young children.
You are a securities lawyer at White & Case, so you know how to do due diligence. Perhaps you thought it was clever or fun, but attending a school recital with my wife who you've just met and started sleeping with over the last few weeks is extremely poor judgement. Sleeping with other mens wives, is alone, perhaps the poorest taste and the worst judgement all on its own. It implies a very low moral character. Perhaps you wish to plead ignorance, but a simple search on my name on the internet would indicate that I take a great deal of pride in my family. But after reviewing the text messages between you and my wife it would appear that you did the due diligence, that you knew she was spending the summer with me in Canada starting last week, and that we had small children and you were jeopardizing my family with your actions.
I have tried to contact you numerous times this week to address the situation and ask you to step aside ... to let me address the issues now faced in our house. I have contacted your mobile at [deleted] and your house at [deleted] but you are too much of a coward to answer. You need to be made aware of your actions and the consequences they bear.
What follows below are the text messages of your affair over the last few weeks as it unfolds. I would like to especially thank those at St. Stephens Episcopal School that watched this unfold at the school concert last week, and did nothing to alert me or defend my family. That is certainly a church and a school I want my children to grow up learning from. You have all seen me drop my kids off and pick them up there every single day for the last year. Did you think to mention anything when I showed up there last Monday June 8 at my kids ceremonies? You know how important they are to me.
And for all of you that think running around with other mens wives or husbands behind their spouses backs is acceptable behaviour -- recognize that there are consequences and that many of us that will fight for our families and ferociously defend our home and children.
Times have been tight since the recession hit. My wife has been home alone for 28 days in May of 2009 when this timeline starts. I am up in Canada starting a company, working very long hours and sending everything home to make ends meet. [My wife] is sending me nice messages every day, encouraging me to do well and to hurry home so we can all be together as a family. The business is going well, and I've almost caught up on the past bills in less than 30 days since starting the company. I have been working 7 days a week 15 hours days in Calgary. Now we are planning to rent a cottage near Toronto so we can spend the summer together as a family while I open up the Toronto market. I come home -- unannounced on Sunday June 7 and on Monday June 8 to make final plans and get passports for our 4 young children... I find her recently discarded blackbery phone in a drawer and plug the battery in. Here is what I found.
[The sender attached a lengthy exchange of text messages ostensibly between the wife and several men.]
Media & Communications Strategies Joins International PR GroupFebruary 5, 2008
Public Relations Boutiques International (PRBI) has been created in reaction to a global marketplace’s demand for more seasoned and hands-on public relations counselors at firms with international PR expertise. This demand prompted12 PR “boutiques,” from around the world, with an impressive range of virtually all public relations capabilities, to join forces and take advantage of new business opportunities. DC-based Media & Communications Strategies, LLC is a founding member. Clients will benefit from very high quality service while enjoying the most competitive prices. The boutiques will benefit from having a high-quality network they can rely on to partner with on behalf of their clients.
PRBI’s founding members are located in six strategic countries and 14 cities.
The firms and locations include: Bridge Global Strategies, New York City; CampaignTeam, Sussex, U.K.; CJSW - Public Relations & Communications, Seoul; High View Communications, Toronto; Japan Public Relations Institute, Tokyo; Lang/Pan/Chan Public Relations, Los Angeles (headquarters), Shanghai and Beijing; Marx Communications, Trumbull, Conn.; Media & Communications Strategies, Washington, DC; Metrospective Communications, Philadelphia; Scott Phillips & Associates, Chicago; Shira Miller Communications, Atlanta; and Weisberg Communications Company, Salt Lake City.
Lucy Siegel, president and CEO of Bridge Global Strategies, New York, who was elected president of the group for its first year, noted that PRBI offers clients several advantages over both large multinational PR firms and other networks of independent public relations firms. “First, we are all senior counselors and offer clients the benefit of years of experience and expertise in our fields. Most of us have worked for large agencies and mid-size firms and know how business is done there. We left to start our own businesses because we enjoy hands-on work with clients and staff, not going to management meetings all day and crunching numbers for quarterly profitability reports. We believe clients of large agencies lose an incredible amount by having only junior, unseasoned people working on their accounts day-in, day-out. What’s more, the billing rates are often breathtakingly high. As boutique owners, we’re in business for ourselves and a small group of employees, not a distant group of management and shareholders.”
Added Bill Cowen, the group’s vice president and president of Metrospective Communications in Philadelphia, “Large agencies will talk about their ‘wholly owned networks’ as if that is a big plus, but actually the people in those networks have often never met each other or worked together. We know each other better than the people in those ‘wholly owned networks,’ since we get together with each other on at least an annual basis and have regular conference calls. And we are already collaborating with each other and working together on a number of different levels. The staffs at big conglomerates are obligated to use the offices in their networks to execute client work, no matter how ill- or well-suited each office may be to a particular client project. We have no such constraints. We’re free to go outside if the network member in a particular city doesn’t offer whatever we feel a client needs for a particular PR program.”
Siegel noted there are other networks of independent public relations firms, both in the United States and in other parts of the world, most notably in Europe.
Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies in Washington, DC noted, “Where we differ is in the size of agencies in our network and the average level of experience of the people actually providing client service within the agencies.” He observed that, “Most of the other networks have larger mid-size agencies as members, agencies with 25, 50, or sometimes even 100 employees. It’s almost impossible for the senior executives at those agencies to do much client work. They’re too busy managing people, selling more business to feed them, and working on financials to do that. You can’t blame them – that’s just the way it is in a larger company.”
PRBI will increase its membership to fill geographical gaps that will help provide seamless client service to an ever-expanding marketplace. “We will not rush to fill those gaps, however,” emphasized Siegel. “Our bylaws require that each new member be approved by every other member, and we are placing the bar high for approving new member applications. We are all acutely aware that the members we vote to accept now are the people we will rely on later to help us serve our clients.”
Other officers elected by the group for the first year included: Secretary: David Watson, president of CampaignTeam, Sussex, U.K.; Treasurer: Ann Gallery, president of High View Communications, Toronto; and Member at Large: Nancy Choi, CJSW Public Relations & Communications, Seoul.
Scott Sobel quoted in The Washington Post.January 6, 2009
Speaking about Steve Jobs and his statement to the press concerning his health issues:
"He's walking a fine line here," says Scott A. Sobel, president of Media and Communications Strategies, a D.C. firm that often deals with high-profile clients. "There's a big difference between saying, off the cuff, 'Hey, I'm going to be fine,' and saying something that satisfies all the legal and ethical details that are required but that could still be seen as being misleading." In publicly traded companies, Sobel adds, these little notes are "vetted by the legal department." view the full article