‘”What are you going to do about all this bad Press,”‘one of The Brats asked me this morning,’ starts an entry in Ed’s diary, referring to the 20-something year-old super-sharpies who monitor his company for its private equity owners.
‘”What bad Press?” I asked.’
‘”Wake up Ed,” replied The Brat, “it’s all over the business and trade press. They’re asking, What’s wrong at the company? Why have the former CFO and CLO been reprimanded by their professional bodies? Why has the COO been accepting bribes? Is this a systemically corrupt company? Just what we need ahead of an IPO. Sort it”.’
‘”How?” I asked.’
‘”C’mon. Hold a press conference. Do some interviews. Put the word around. Move it”.’
A few days later Ed’s diary entry reads. ‘Held a press conference today. One journo oik has the cheek to ask me if I’d ever offered or accepted a bribe.’
‘Certainly not”, I told him.’
‘”Then who paid for the ski lodge in Courchevel for the wife of one of your customers?” asked the oik – God knows where he got this entirely accurate info from.’
‘That was an unfortunate misjudgement by one of our distributors,” I told the oik, “we had an investigation and it’s been properly dealt with.”‘
‘Is the distributor still one of your distributors?” asked the oik.’
‘”Yes”, I said.’
‘”Then how can you say it was properly dealt with?” asked the oik.
‘Our PR man whispered frantically in my ear, and I told the oik. “There’s lots of confidential stuff involved, can we bring you up to speed on this after the press conference?”‘
‘Fortunately the journo, probably sensing an exclusive, agreed. The PR suggested we tell him it can only be sorted from our Nassau office and would he come out there at our expense, first class, and stay a few days. Bring his wife along perhaps.’
‘The press are hell, but they can be diverted, suborned, flattered and rendered ineffectual, thank God’ Ed confides to his diary, ‘roll on my $25 mill.’