It’s safe to say PR and legal teams aren’t always on the same page, especially in a crisis. Good PR pros push to get information out and put their clients in front of the media when things so south, while the legal team reaches for the gag. So it was unusual (and refreshing) to see San Francisco’s Sam Singer take publicity-loving attorney Mark Geragos out to the woodshed this week with a lesson in effective PR.
Geragos is representing two brothers who were with the San Francisco Zoo tiger attack victim when he was killed in December. Singer was recently brought on by the non-profit group that runs the zoo. [Gerago$, incidentally, $aid he was retained to repre$ent the intere$t$ of the brother$, which may happen to include litigation against the zoo.]
After Geragos said zoo officials were slow to react to the tiger’s escape, Singer offered this on-the-record pearl to reporters: “Anything that a defense attorney says has to be taken with not a pinch of salt, but a ton of salt.”
Singer also is being credited with getting shady details about Geragos’ clients out to the national press, which has covered the mauling story with much enthusiasm. The San Francisco Chronicle noted that Singer is “widely considered” to be the source of a New York Post story that reported Geragos’ clients were in possession of slingshots at the time of the tiger attack. The news that police said they found an empty vodka bottle in the brothers’ car has also turned up in several articles.
Geragos, the PR tables turned, is outraged that the information was covered and is threatening to sue Singer. “[Singer] is spreading stories to anyone who will write them," he told the Chronicle.
Someone needs to tell Mark that's the job description for a good PR pro.
It’s also what Geragos did when he told the Chronicle on Jan. 2 that his clients sought help for 30 minutes before zoo officials called 911. As Singer mused after the attorney produced that nugget of information: “[It’s] highly unusual that [Geragos] is the only person who has the facts, when the San Francisco Police Department hasn't even completed its investigation.”
The garrulous Geragos may have finally met his match.