When I was a child there was the expression from bullies, “Your ass is grass.” I never quite understood the logic. I assume it meant that the other person would mow you down. For a while it seemed that the New York Stock Exchange was about to mow down it’s former CEO.
I was reading a story in PR Week about Richard Grasso (former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange) and his public relations strategy. A plan that included saying almost nothing to the media as he was being sued to return his $139.5 million retirement package. (Note to NYSE, I’d be happy with just the $ .5 million part, so consider me for CEO down the road).
His only major “comment” to the media during the case was providing an op-ed piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal. His publicist, Eric Starkman, felt that with the wave of negative publicity against his Grasso, there was no way to turn the tide…until the case was played out in court, and not the court of public opinion.
It worked. Grasso kept the money and get the last laugh with that piggy bank breaking retirement plan (my dad got a nice pin after 35 years at the American Can Company and a reasonable retirement package).
This makes me smile because, while agencies like ours love to help our legal clients win in the court of public opinion, sometimes you can win by keeping your mouth shut.