Reputation Management

Fighting back against a "corporate assassination"

Client:

A CEO of a Fortune 100 company.

Overview:

In a stunning and unexpected move, a major U.S. corporation called its chief executive officer to a board meeting and fired him for cause. Initially, the board gave no reason for the firing in a scene that was described as a "kangaroo court." Subsequently, the board listed a number of specific reasons, among them information that prompted speculation about an alleged affair with a direct report female at the company, misuse of a corporate jet, improper stock trading and a host of other allegations. The firing made national news.

Strategy and Plan:

A decision was made to refute the charges and defend the CEO's reputation as an individual who had taken the company from Fortune 284 to Fortune 83 in seven years. During an intensive two-month period, N&A staff went toe-to-toe with print, broadcast and online journalists covering the story and was on call seven days a week. Time after time, it was necessary to "take off the gloves" with reporters who were being fed information that questioned the integrity of the ousted CEO. Legal and communications efforts were closely coordinated.

Results:

Media statements from the CEO cast immediate doubt on the board's flawed decision-making process. Consistently, the dismissal was positioned as a "corporate assassination." With a well-executed crisis management effort, our client mitigated attacks on his reputation and, in the end, won a large financial settlement in arbitration.