NEW YORK: Cell phones, beepers, and BlackBerries were in overdrive
last week as Manhattan media folks wondered whether PR maven Lizzie
Grubman could be headed to jail.
The 30-year-old founder of Lizzie Grubman/Peggy Siegal PR is accused of
screaming obscenities before purposely reversing her father's Mercedes
SUV into a crowd of people outside Hamptons nightclub the Conscience
Point Inn on July 7.
Grubman, who posted a $25,000 bond, claims the incident was
accidental, but already she's been slapped with a $30 million
lawsuit (with more expected).
By midweek, research firm CARMA International counted at least 50 press
stories about the incident as far away as England and Canada.
Crisis PR expert Howard Rubenstein was hired Sunday to handle the huge
number of calls. Ironically, Rubenstein also represents the New York
Post, which has given the story front-page - and critical - treatment
four days running.
Grubman has refused to speak directly to the media, except for a short
statement on Monday night to disperse media crowded outside her Upper
East Side apartment.
Rubenstein said, "I spoke to her, and she wanted to say she regretted
what happened, and I told her to go and say that."
However former New York Post editor Lou Colasuonno said he never would
have advised an emotional Grubman to make that statement. Colasuonno,
partner at Westhill Media Strategies, said, "For me, that was an
absolute no-no. To make specific comments could jeopardize the legal
Grubman is expected back at work this week. But one celebrity publicist
wondered how events might affect the business, which has revenues in the
region of $1.5 million. "Lizzie's business is events. How can she
do the job if she's going to be keeping a low profile?"
The issue has put PR under the world's spotlight, and has elicited
feelings of schadenfreude from an insatiable media. Louise Cassano,
president of the PR Professionals of Long Island, made the issue the
main topic at a board meeting Tuesday when she said, "Lizzie is not
representative of the profession or the hardworking and ethical
individuals who get there on their own."
A senior PR chief who represents numerous A-list celebrities added, "I
think it does hurt the profession. Describing her as a leader in the
field is not accurate."
- See Editorial, p. 6.