Editorial: Cancer, infidelity and a PR windfall

From afar, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani might look like a nuclear meltdown in progress. He has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, his marriage is crumbling in the most public way imaginable and the deadline looms for him to announce whether he’s going to challenge Hillary Clinton for the vacant New York Senate seat.

From afar, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani might look like a nuclear meltdown in progress. He has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, his marriage is crumbling in the most public way imaginable and the deadline looms for him to announce whether he’s going to challenge Hillary Clinton for the vacant New York Senate seat.

From afar, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani might look like a nuclear

meltdown in progress. He has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, his

marriage is crumbling in the most public way imaginable and the deadline

looms for him to announce whether he’s going to challenge Hillary

Clinton for the vacant New York Senate seat.



A soap opera? Sure. A PR mess? Not by a long shot. In fact, Giuliani’s

PR strategy might just be one of the boldest and savviest ones in recent

memory. Rudy Giuliani, derided by critics and even admirers as an

unfeeling jerk, has somehow become a sympathetic figure.



At the press conference during which he announced that he has cancer,

Giuliani gave the public one of its first glimpses of him as anything

other than an aggressive, unflappable workaholic. He subsequently

admitted that Judi Nathan, his regular companion at high-profile public

events, was a ’very good friend’ (has any other modern-day politician

admitted marital infidelity in such a brazen manner?), then mournfully

announced the end of his marriage days later. All the while, he

deflected will-he-or-won’t-he questions about his political future by

saying that his personal problems, specifically his kids and his health,

come first.



In doing so, Giuliani came across as Rudy the Human Being rather than

Rudy the Politician or Rudy the Bully. And this humanity, this tacit

acknowledgement that he doesn’t exist on a loftier moral plane, could

well be the missing piece to his image puzzle. When added to his track

record as a crime-fighter and the driving force behind one of New York

City’s best economic eras, it makes him a much more formidable candidate

than he was.



Whether he runs for Senate is almost a moot point right now. Rudy

Giuliani, however he emerges from his current predicament, has added a

human dimension to his image.



Headaches behind the Lycos deal



Meanwhile, outside of Gotham came news that Internet portal Lycos has

agreed to be acquired by Telefonica of Spain in a dollars 12 billion

deal that would combine Lycos with Terra Networks (Telefonica’s Internet

arm) and partner the duo with German media titan Bertelsmann. It marks

the first purchase of a US Internet company by a European Internet

access provider.



While the business media spoke about the inexorable march of media

convergence and marveled at the opportunities inherent in the deal - for

example, Bertelsmann’s CDs could be downloaded through Telefonica

cellular phones in Europe - the most intriguing issue in our minds is

this: how will three companies, each with distinct national cultures, be

integrated? Bringing two US-based companies together is tough enough

from a communications perspective, but this should prove to be a

Herculean task for the PR and IR pros who have to assuage the concerns

of employees, investors and the media.



’The risk with every merger is that you’re bringing together a number of

players with different backgrounds and agendas,’ said one observer.



What’s more, Lycos is dealing with a relatively new PR firm, as

Shandwick won the business just two months ago. How do you say ’leverage

synergies’ in Spanish?



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.