Grasso, Langone differ in PR paths for NYSE trial

NEW YORK: Richard Grasso, the former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and Kenneth Langone, former head of the NYSE's compensation committee, have chosen starkly contrasting styles of PR counsel to guide them in the run-up to their October trial concerning the legality of Grasso's huge pay package.

NEW YORK: Richard Grasso, the former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and Kenneth Langone, former head of the NYSE's compensation committee, have chosen starkly contrasting styles of PR counsel to guide them in the run-up to their October trial concerning the legality of Grasso's huge pay package.

Langone, who is charged with misleading the compensation committee about Grasso's pay, has pursued a more visible strategy. He is represented by DC-based McCarthy Communications.

"We've been aggressive not only in getting our message out, but also aggressive in enforcing journalism standards in the way those facts are covered," said Jim McCarthy, president, asserting that some news outlets are "acting in a terribly irresponsible fashion" by "hyping" the story.

Grasso's approach has been muted. In the spring of 2004, PRWeek confirmed that Grasso was being represented by New York-based Starkman & Associates. Calls to agency president Eric Starkman were referred to one of Grasso's attorneys, Gerson Zweifach, who did not respond to requests for comment.

Asked to confirm that Grasso is still a client of S&A, Starkman said, "We don't discuss who we do work for."

Harlan Loeb, who heads Financial Dynamics' litigation practice, is not working on the Grasso case, but is intrigued by what he called the "most significant executive compensation-related trial" ever.

"[Grasso] needs to be prepared to make a clear, articulate, and resonant statement about his position in the case," Loeb said. As to whether he has done so successfully, Loeb added, "The jury is still out."

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