Famed litigator David Boies and his firm, Boies Schiller & Flexner, are currently living a legal, ethical and PR nightmare. News broke this week that Boies and his firm, while representing disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, hired a security firm to uncover “dirt” about Weinstein’s accusers and The New York Times journalists in an attempt to stop the publication of negative stories about Weinstein in The Times. That alone is ethically questionable, but the fact that The New York Times was also a Boies Schiller client elevated this to an entirely new level of crisis, and ultimately resulted in The Times firing Boies Schiller.
Corporate crises are inevitable. But the way companies respond to them can have a huge impact on how long they last and how much reputational damage they inflict.
“Laugh, and the world laughs with you.” It’s not just a piece of wisdom from the 19th Century poet Ella Wheeler; it’s a lesson in crisis management.
During and after a disaster, effective corporate communications can mean the difference between becoming a hero or a zero in the public eye. In the aftermath of this past week’s devastating Hurricane Harvey, many Houston-area companies stepped up to the plate in a big way, striking all the right notes, while some crashed and burned.
It’s difficult to pinpoint just one thing Anthony Scaramucci did to seal his fate in his short stint as the White House communications director. After all, there’s so much to choose from. So many titillating quotes, so many headlines and so many new phrases coined in his brief tenure (“White House Chaos” being one of the more mundane). “The Mooch” became the news story for 10 days — and that, above all else, is the primary reason for his downfall. His biggest mistake was in violating the No. 1 rule for all spokespeople: Don’t become the story.