News Corp.‘s PR response continues with the addition of Steven Rubenstein to the public relations effort. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rubenstein was brought on board in the middle of last week. He’s known for his work with celebrities like Robert De Niro and David Letterman, who he worked with after the talk show host had been blackmailed over adulterous relationships with co-workers. And Rubenstein already works with a News Corp. property, The New York Post.
It was announced last week that News Corp. had hired Edelman for help with the scandal. On The Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz also suspects that Matthew Freud, who’s married to Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth, may also be providing PR advice, although, Freud has said he no longer works with the company.
The scandal continues to produce an unrelenting stream of shocking news impacting not just News Corp. itself, but also those who have any degree of association with the company.
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It’s Rubenstein’s city, we just live in it. The most Manhattan-y of all PR firms put out their annual holiday video today, highlighting glitzy client work, non-profits, museums and awards including Cirque du Soleil, NYC Ducks, John Jay Justice Award, Madame Tussaud’s After Dark, the Tribeca Film Festival, the Lasker Awards, Autism Speaks, MoMA, the New York Observer, the TIME 100, Russian Tea Room and Rock-related work including the Race to the Top of the Rock, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
How much of an agency’s revenue should come from digital? Did social media win Barack Obama the presidency? How will the financial industry remake itself in the midst of massive scandal and meltdown? These were just some of the questions debated last night at “The Business of PR” panel discussion hosted by The Economist at the 92YTribeca in New York.
“Your life is more and more on the record if you’re someone of interest, and that’s just a fact of life,” said Penn, in regards to new media. “There is much more engagement than ever before with bloggers, journalists,” he said. In terms of CEOs or politicians who once thought that they could ignore one or two detractors, “that just can’t exist in this environment.”
Ruder Finn’s Bloomgarden disagreed, and stated, “You can ignore people.”
Click continued to read the complete recap and view PRNewser’s video interview with Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn.
Is Nikke Finke Hollywood’s most powerful scribe? Certainly many in the industry seem to think so, and she has been the center of feature stories in both The New York Times, and now The New Yorker, whose sub-head today reads: “Why Hollywood fears Nikki Finke.”
Her Deadline Hollywood Daily blog has become Hollywood’s “most dreaded news source,” as executives fear being labeled “one of the most kiss-ass incompetents to run an entertainment company,” as Finke once described NBC Universal C.E.O. and president Jeff Zucker.
It’s not surprising that there was a lot of PR influence in her New Yorker feature. Says Finke:
…I wasn’t the only one able to knock out a lot of negative stuff in the article without even one lawyer letter, email, or phone call. I witnessed how The New Yorker really bent over for Hollywood. NYC power publicist Steven Rubenstein succeeded in deleting every reference to Paramount’s Brad Grey. Warner Bros and Universal and DreamWorks and William Morris/Endeavor and Summit Entertainment execs and flacks and consultants also had their way with the mag. (They were even laughing about it. When I asked one PR person what it took to convince Tad to take out whole portions of the article, the response was, “I swallowed.”)
While Finke’s response may be entertaining, our question is: What story, especially a feature story of this caliber isn’t manipulated in some way? Read the full New Yorker profile here, and Finke’s response here.
Last night on the “Late Show,” host David Letterman revealed that he had affairs with staffers on the show and that someone had tried to blackmail him for $2 million to keep the story secret. That someone is a CBS News “48 Hours” employee, Robert J. Halderman, who is currently under arrest.
Tom Keaney of Rubenstein handles all PR for Mr. Letterman. He has not returned calls as of the time of this post. A CBS spokesperson toldThe Hollywood Reporter, “Mr. Letterman’s comments on the broadcast tonight speak for themselves.” Of course, we’re curious to see what you think on how it was handled. Was it best to do it on the show with laughs?
Howard Bragman, chairman of agency Fifteen Minutes, and a well respected crisis PR counselor who has worked with clients including Monica Lewinsky‘s family, Ed McMahon and Paula Abdul, told PRNewser, “There is not a good way to do this, there are ‘less bad’ ways to do this.”
“You look at your options and you’re on CBS so you’re not going to do it with Barbara Walters, you’re not going to go on “The Early Show,” of course you’re not going to go on Leno,” he said. “Why not do it where you’re most comfortable, where you’re surrounded by people that care about you?”
Despite the many ways this story can play out, Bragman insisted that Letterman only has to speak publicly once. “He’s David Letterman, he doesn’t invest a lot of time in being up front on good news, bad news or otherwise. His ratings are good. Tonight there will probably be a big boost in his ratings. We live in a world where there is a lot of crisis. There are so many, that they tend to go away and they have a half life of a fly. I always tell people, ‘once you say it, shut up.’ Rubenstein is a great firm, I suspect he’s in great hands.”
UPDATE: A press conference with Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau began at 11:30am ET. TVNewser has more.
UPDATE 2: Rubenstein’s Tom Keaney tells PRNewser that Rubenstein President Steven Rubenstein has represented Letterman “even longer than I have.”