Lorillard secures NBA pro for its PR

GREENSBORO, NC: Steven Watson has moved from the Miami Heat into the tobacco fire.

GREENSBORO, NC: Steven Watson has moved from the Miami Heat into the tobacco fire.

GREENSBORO, NC: Steven Watson has moved from the Miami Heat into

the tobacco fire.



Watson, formerly VP of broadcasting and communications for the NBA

franchise, has been tapped by Lorillard Tobacco Company to helm its new

external affairs department.



Lorillard’s new communications focus begins, not surprisingly, only

weeks after the company was socked for dollars 16.25 billion in damages

by a Florida jury. ’Because of the increasing complexity and the number

of issues in which we are involved, it is most appropriate and timely

that we create this new department of external affairs,’ said Lorillard

president and CEO Martin Orlowsky in a statement.



For Watson, the move to Lorillard marks a return to the public affairs

arena. He previously served as a GOP communications operative in the

Reagan administration and during two presidential campaigns. ’There’s

more need for corporate communications now than ever before, given the

number and complexity of issues in the public domain,’ he said.



In addition to starting a PR department from scratch in an industry

under siege, Watson will manage state and federal legislative affairs as

well as media relations. He will also oversee Lorillard’s Youth Smoking

Prevention Campaign.



Asked if the industry is in a no-win position with its community

relations efforts, Watson responded, ’Eventually, public opinion will

change. I think that once Lorillard’s story gets out, people will become

more accepting of the company as one that’s trying to make a safe, legal

product.’



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