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July 14, 2010



By Greg Hazley

Respected entertainment PR pro Howard Bragman, appearing on CNN, praised Mel Gibson's publicist (Rogers & Cowan's Alan Nierob) for essentially saying nothing at the moment about the actor's incendiary voice recordings berating his wife.

"When I have to tell clients to shut up it's the single hardest thing I have to do," said Bragman.

Bragman, who admits he doesn't know Gibson well but calls the mogul one of the "biggest buttheads around," also talks about why a PR pro would continue to represent a person who's done something some people might consider reprehensible:

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Thinkman2 (7/15):
What will be the lesson out of all this for those preaching professional ethics? Any client for a price? We have already seen this in other cases. Gibson, reportedly worth close to a billion bucks, will get along in life despite his lack of character, and there will be those chomping at the bit to collect some of that dough. No doubt these and other pages will be filled for a few days or weeks with what this big mouth and small ethic should do to recapture his place among nicer people. If it could be done for Gadaffi, why not Mel?

Veep (7/15):
Howard's showing more restraint than most in his assessment. Interesting that he's both openly gay and Jewish, a lifestyle and religion Mel hasn't exactly embraced in his tirades.

Gibson has flown off the handle before and the second (third?) time around is much harder to come back from.

Mike Paul, the Reputation Doctor, MGP & Associates PR (7/15):
In my opinion, Howard is giving poor crisis PR advice here by differing to the attorneys to lead in this case and ask Mel to keep quiet. Not a smart move.

It is our job to represent the client in the court of public opinion and in best giving advice for his reputation, which is in crisis. It is our job to find the happy medium where a comment will not hurt him in the court of law, as we help him in the court of public opinion.

Anyone with the proper experience in crisis public relations knows that. It is those who do not have enough experience in crisis PR who utter inappropriate advice like this. Sadly there are many without proper crisis PR experience doing so.

Those of us who have strong litigation support PR/crisis PR experience in dealing with very public cases at the national and global level would never agree with Howard's advice.

Joe Honick, GMA International Ltd (7/19):
Mike Paul has disappointed me for the first time in memory. He is a top performer in the area of crisis management. However, here the tone of his comments is that anyone and everyone, regardless of disgraceful actions and performance, is entitled to ethical public relations counsel, as if this were guaranteed as part of the Miranda rights.

Under such rules, standards or whatever they are, there would seem to be the need for some review of all the ethical stuff we read and hear. I do understand that everyone constitutionally is guaranteed counsel and representation when called before the bar of justice for alleged crimes.

I may have missed the PR part and wonder if it is the universal case that EVERY potential client is acceptable.

Wes Pedersen (7/19):

Can Mel Gibson be saved? Perhaps, but at this point he's messed himself up so badly his career may well be ruined. The PR procedure is: Keep him quiet for several weeks. Send him to church, a marriage counselor, the AA, and a rage-control teacher. Keep him off the highway because he is dangerous there. Don't let him respond to any media questions, even those who promise gentle treatment. (The media, of course, will be watching for any movement that can be presented as reversal to mean-bastard role.) It will take time, but ultimately he can venture out into decent society again, showing the type of credentials that made Tiger Woods's emergence in public possible. (O'Dwyer readers may wish to go back into the files to see this writer's recommendations re Woods -- recommendations that proved to be precisely the formula used by the golfer. Identity: Wes Pedersen

The PR path here is akin to that followed by Tiger Woods: He remains silent as he returns to church, becomes a devotee of AA meetings, sees a marriage counselor and a rage counselor, and avoids contact with the press that will have his home staked out as never before. Ultimately, Gibson can return to a society perhaps willing to forgive (though they couldn't with Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle). He will, of course, never play Jesus again.

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