WASHINGTON: As the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) moves through the liquidation of Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities, it is enlisting its PR firm, The Hastings Group, to help with communications in the high-profile case.
SIPC acts as a trustee or works with court-appointed trustees to recover funds from failed investment institutions. SIPC president, Stephen Harbeck, told Bloomberg Television recently that the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities could take months to sort out. Bernard Madoff was arrested on December 11 and faces federal charges that he allegedly operated a Ponzi scheme that could cost investors $50 billion. The list of affected investors is broad.
“Our role is to help the SIPC explain where the process stands at any point,” said Scott Stapf, senior partner at The Hastings Group. He said the normal communications course for a liquidation involves numerous announcements at various stages of the process to alert the media and investors of where things stand. The Hastings Group has handled PR and investor education efforts for the SIPC for eight years.
“Most of the information that we handle goes through the media to investors,” he said. “It's a completely different proposition where you put out a front-end release and two or three days in a row, you're fielding inquiries. It just involves scaling up the efforts.”
The Hastings Group has worked on an ongoing education campaign involving PSAs and paid advertising to drive awareness of SIPC's existence and purpose. Creating public awareness is central to the firm's work with so much attention focused on this case, and the information that will come from further investigation.
“From our standpoint, the goal is very simple,” said Stapf, “to make sure the media and, beyond the media, investors know what SIPC is and how and why it has intervened in the Madoff situation. Our goal is to avoid a situation where people are coming to us asking what's going on. We want to get to them first.”