Fleishman unveils new practice with credibility debate

WASHINGTON: Fleishman-Hillard held a panel discussion exploring "What's Next for Corporate America?" last week to kick off its new corporate-credibility advisory practice.

WASHINGTON: Fleishman-Hillard held a panel discussion exploring "What's Next for Corporate America?" last week to kick off its new corporate-credibility advisory practice.

Leon Panetta, former chief of staff to President Clinton, former member of Congress, and current member of the board of directors of the NYSE, serves as chairman of the new practice. He was joined at Washington's Mayflower hotel for the panel discussion by former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, president and CEO of the Association for Investment Management and Research Thomas Bowman, and former senior counselor of the SEC's division of enforcement Eugene Goldman, among others.

The new practice brings together leaders from Fleishman's financial communications, public affairs, corporate reputation, and internal communications groups to help clients conform to the new standards of the post-Enron environment. Peter Verrengia, East- ern region president, is overseeing the day-to-day operations.

"You can't legislate honesty, but you can't ignore dishonesty in the marketplace," Panetta told PRWeek. "For that reason, we have got to try and improve the checks and balances that make sure (executives) recognize their first responsibility is to investors."

"Reputation does matter," added regional director Paul Johnson. "It does sustain a company over the long-term when times are good, and when times are bad companies that are doing good things should talk about it. And companies that aren't should think about it."

The agency's new practice aims to help clients reinforce an image of credibility by focusing on issues such as corporate governance, financial reporting, investor relations, public affairs, and regulatory relations.

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