OLD Media Moves

Goldman Sachs PR and the business journalist

February 10, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

Gary Silverman of the Financial Times writes about the retirement of Lucas van Praag, the longtime head of public relations at Goldman Sachs, and what this might mean to business journalists who cover the Wall Street bank.

Silverman writes, “It is not unusual for veteran financial reporters in New York to find themselves trading old Lucas war stories. We all seem to have them.

“The perils of the Lucas-era public relations strategy at Goldman grew evident during the financial crisis. If the people at Goldman were as smart as Lucas had made them out to be in the boom, it stood to reason that they understood what was going on during the bust. This caused more conspiratorial critics to ask whether Goldman was some sort of bloodsucking undersea creature that fed off disaster.

“Fending off such allegations proved torturous because it pushed Goldman to do things that weren’t in its old PR playbook – like apologising or acknowledging error. The squirming of Lucas grew so public, he became the subject of derisive articles in publications such as New York magazine, which catalogued the ‘most withering rebuttals’ of a man it called ‘cocksure, weary and exasperated at having to explain the simplest of concepts to idiots.’

“The search for a replacement suggests Goldman is looking to turn over a new leaf in its dealings with the public. According to the Financial Times and other news organisations, the bank has been considering a former US Treasury aide, Jake Siewert. If he signs on, it will represent the latest example of a trend on Wall Street to replace old-style PR advisers of the Lucas sort – many of them professional raconteurs, with a variety of real-life experiences – with recruits drawn from government departments in Washington.”

Read more here.

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