Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Goldman's PR Offensive: What's in it for Them?

Once upon a time I called Goldman Sachs to see if I could get cooperation for a story I was working on. Goldman was not the subject of the story, but played a role. The spokesperson's response was enjoyably candid: "What's in it for us?" The answer was no.

These people are sweethearts and always have been. It surprised me that Matt Taibbi's "vampire fish" article, flawed as it was, received such an unfavorable reception from the financial press, given the storied arrogance of this company.

Today I read about the Goldman Sachs "$500 million and an apology" p.r. offensive with that question in mind. What's in it for them?

Obviously nobody over the age of seven is going to believe that there is any sincerity affixed to the aforementioned apology. And that $500 million is as crass a p.r. maneuver as one can find.

So why engage in an insincere p.r. maneuver and give an "apology" that is absolutely meaningless--particularly since CEO Lloyd Blankfein didn't specify what exactly he was apologizing for?

I'm honestly flummoxed. It won't placate anybody. It won't satisfy anybody. And as for those "small business owners" that $500 million is going to benefit: does anyone truly believe that Goldman gives half a hoot about them?

A page one story in the New York Times, perhaps, so as to divert attention from this kind of thing?

Won't work

It was, in short, a waste of money. But Goldman can afford it.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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