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Cavalry PR Co-Founder Howard Breuer quoted in LAW360 on asset activism and Donald Trump

Wallace Global is a progressive investment fund that adheres to principles of “asset activism” — a far cry from the large, publicly traded companies that are the bread-and-butter of large law firms.

“In this case, Wallace Global promotes itself as a leader in the ‘asset activism movement,’ meaning they’re trying to appeal to the most left-leaning and activist-leaning investors and potential investors, and that will translate to cutting ties with firms like Morgan Lewis,” Howard Breuer, co-founder of Cavalry PR, said.

“Any other fund claiming to be part of this same movement or that’s trying to appeal to the same investor demographic is scrutinizing its relationships in the same way and is likely to follow Wallace Global’s lead,” he added.

https://www.law360.com/articles/909859/client-pushback-over-trump-no-skin-off-biglaw-s-nose

Client Pushback Over Trump No Skin Off BigLaw’s Nose

Law360, New York (April 4, 2017, 8:21 PM EDT) — Despite the highly publicized and scathing letter sent to Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP last week by a client kicking the law firm to the curb over its representation of President Donald Trump, BigLaw firms are not likely to start sweating their ties to Trump anytime soon.

The media hoopla surrounding the March 28 letter from Wallace Global Fund co-chair H. Scott Wallace eviscerating the law firm for “enabling” alleged conflicts of interest through its tax advice to the president has raged over the past week, but experts say Morgan Lewis and other law firms that represent Trump don’t have too much to worry about when it comes to pushback from clients.

Law firms that have represented Trump include Morgan Lewis, Jones Day, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP and Arnold & Porter LLP.

In general, large law firms represent a number of people and entities that could potentially be seen by certain clients as morally reprehensible, including white collar defendants, corporations accused of fraud and tobacco companies, but that doesn’t mean they should or will be boycotted, according to Kent Zimmermann, a consultant with Zeughauser Group.

“Everybody has a right to representation under our system. I think that’s a strength of our judicial system and society and I think it’s a slippery slope to start to criticize law firms based on their client lists,” Zimmermann said.

He added that, as someone who is not a Trump supporter, he wouldn’t be eager to represent the president, but “I think law firms have a duty collectively, as a profession, to make sure everybody has representation.”

Whether or not the criticism of Morgan Lewis is appropriate, there’s no indication that the type of activism Wallace Global Fund engaged in will become commonplace.

Wallace Global is a progressive investment fund that adheres to principles of “asset activism” — a far cry from the large, publicly traded companies that are the bread-and-butter of large law firms.

“In this case, Wallace Global promotes itself as a leader in the ‘asset activism movement,’ meaning they’re trying to appeal to the most left-leaning and activist-leaning investors and potential investors, and that will translate to cutting ties with firms like Morgan Lewis,” Howard Breuer, co-founder of Cavalry PR, said.

“Any other fund claiming to be part of this same movement or that’s trying to appeal to the same investor demographic is scrutinizing its relationships in the same way and is likely to follow Wallace Global’s lead,” he added.

But the buck will likely stop at small and privately owned clients, according to Mark Jungers, co-founder of Lippman Jungers LLC.

“No large, public client is going to make a decision like that,” Jungers said. “I don’t think they’re under enough pressure to distance themselves from the administration.”

In fact, some corporations’ interests align with the policies of the Trump administration, he said.

“These are sophisticated businesspeople and I think they’re going to make business decisions. Using the best law firm is a good business decision, regardless of who their other clients are,” Jungers added.

Morgan Lewis’ representation of the president and the publicity it has received as a result could also end up helping the law firm, according to Hugh Simons, a legal industry consultant.

“I think the net effect might actually be positive for Morgan Lewis because they gain more from the fame and notoriety than they lose from those who find it reprehensible,” Simons said.

Additionally, working with the White House, regardless of who is in office, is still a ticket to business and prestige, said Allan Ripp of Ripp Media.

Members of the current administration will move on to new jobs in a few years, taking general counsel positions with major clients or landing at prestigious law firms, and having those relationships is “golden,” Ripp said.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a mass defection, or a tipping point,” he said. “The agendas of major corporate clients are still consistent with many of the things the administration is trying to do — growth, jobs, tax rates, rolling back in regulations — they want as much help as they can get.”

Additionally, the Wallace Global Fund paid Morgan Lewis just under $80,000 for legal services in the most recent fiscal year, tax records published online by The American Lawyer show, a drop in the bucket for a law firm like Morgan Lewis.

“It’s not like Goldman Sachs is leaving,” Jungers said. “Law firms don’t even like $80,000 clients because they create conflicts. These law firms are built on representing clients that give them millions of dollars a year worth of work.”

According to Ripp, unless there’s a major crisis of some sort caused by Trump that would precipitate impeachment, law firms are likely to proceed as they have with past presidential administrations — representing leaders of all political stripes in a variety of matters.

–Editing by Pamela Wilkinson and Catherine Sum.

At Netflix, a slide into arrogance was a slide towards disaster

GINA KEATING

As a journalist, I always dreamed of being in the “war room” when a major corporate PR disaster went down. A fly on the wall, I would finally see how some companies correctly assess what went wrong while others worsen the debacle by refusing to admit the mistake.

In my book, Netflix: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs, I analyze a major PR blunder that torpedoed Netflix’s share price by nearly 40%, lost it a million subscribers, and sent CEO Reed Hastings into hiding from the media for a year.

In 2011, Hastings announced that Netflix would raise prices by nearly 60 percent and split into two web sites – Netflix for streaming and Qwikster for DVDs by mail.

Consumers were so angry that Hastings eventually canceled the split-off and apologized. The damage to the company’s reputation took two or three years to repair.

Here’s some lessons learned that I sometimes share with Cavalry PR clients:

1.       Hastings did not to listen to his customers and his PR team. Hastings later admitted sliding into “arrogance” on the basis of his past successes in prioritizing optimization over customer preferences. He decided that customers didn’t need an explanation as to why the plan ultimately would be best for everyone.

2.       Honest is best. After news of the price hike leaked out on social media, Netflix’s PR team wanted to explain to customers that the company was losing money on DVD by mail because of postage-rate hikes. Instead, Hastings told them to downplay the price hike as “less than the cost of a latte per month.” This in the middle of a recession.

3.       Don’t get defensive. Rather than admit his mistake, Hastings wanted to refocus customers on his split-off plan. Unfortunately, customers hated the idea and they let him know in angry comments on the Netflix site and his Facebook page.

4.       Make your apology at noon in the public square. Hastings posted the apology video on YouTube at midnight on a Sunday. The financial press was livid and, right or wrong, scented a cover up.

Saturday Night Live, the late night talk shows and bloggers were swift and ruthless in their parodies and scorn. Just months after he was named Fortune Magazine’s Business Person of the Year, Hastings had to severely curtail his media appearances.

 

Cavalry PR team member Gina Keating is a PR and marketing specialist, investigator, journalist and author. She is based in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Trouble With Tears in a Media Interview

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TIFFANY BERG COUGHRAN

We’ve all become emotional when sharing a traumatic experience. We become weepy, our breathing changes, and before we realize it, we are inadvertently blowing snot bubbles as our shoulders give way to deep heaving. In that moment, our story becomes trapped; seeming to fight its way out of our body in blurts and broken sentences.

High emotion and tears may be warranted given tragedy, loss and grief. They reflect great depth and can move a viewing audience to action. However, tears, when displayed in the extreme, may have the exact opposite effect.

Firstly, tears interrupt the flow of the important content you are sharing. With each sob, sentences are abbreviated, facts are omitted or brushed over, and significant details may be garbled, making interview footage unclear or unusable save short snippets.

Secondly, it is difficult to maintain eye contact while crying.  Focusing on a camera while sobbing, wiping one’s tears with tissue, or looking down to avoid personal vulnerability, make the process of crying while being interviewed a challenging combination.

Lastly, crying creates a distraction from the topic at hand. In extreme cases, an emotional breakdown on camera may become its own headline. If an individual is overly dramatic or theatrical, even if unintentionally, it may prove to be damaging.

When being interviewed, find a balance between sincere emotion and sobbing. Displayed sparingly, tears can compel empathy from a viewing audience and give depth to effective, concise responses to the media’s quest for perspective.

Tiffany Berg Coughran is a PR and marketing professional, author, grief counselor and “charity addict” who has mentored many speakers, authors and celebrities on media protocols. She provides PR and crisis management with Cavalry PR.

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