Jacko's publicist talks to PRWeek as prosecutors set media ground rules

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Santa Barbara law-enforcement officials laid down media ground rules during a press conference today in the Michael Jackson child-molestation case, promising equal access for all press outlets while at the same time imploring reporters to abide by the process outlined. At the same time, Jackson's personal publicist was conferencing with other members of his team on strategy for handling the emerging scandal.

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Santa Barbara law-enforcement officials laid down media ground rules during a press conference today in the Michael Jackson child-molestation case, promising equal access for all press outlets while at the same time imploring reporters to abide by the process outlined. At the same time, Jackson's personal publicist was conferencing with other members of his team on strategy for handling the emerging scandal.

Stuart Backerman, Jackson's publicist, has released statements to the AP and through PR Newswire. Asked if he is working with outside PR help, Backerman told PRWeek, "At the moment, no, but who knows? That might change." He added that he was in the middle of discussing future plans for handling the case with Jackson's other advisers. For Santa Barbara officials, the message was a plea for media to back off. "We just can't have our switchboards taken down by press inquiries," said Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon Jr., asking media to refrain from calling with interview requests. He added that although all the "major" news and morning shows had been calling, "the sheriff and I are not doing any TV shows." Sneddon said that information will only be given out during press conferences and releases via the Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's websites, and through the Sheriff's Department press information officer Sgt. Chris Pappas. Sneddon also commented on coverage of the case so far, saying, "I couldn't resist the temptation to watch a bit of this coverage last night on TV." Responding to the information in that coverage, Sneddon refuted press reports that the timing of the search at Jackson's Neverland Ranch was tied to the release of his new album.

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