FIRE STOPPER

By Cheryl Meyer – The Daily Deal, July 14, 2002

SEC after your hide? For a fat fee, PR guru Michael Sitrick just might be your man

American corporations today are in crisis, with many companies facing a fusillade of charged and public faith in business leaders sinking to its lowest levels since the Great Depression. Enter the fine art of “crisis communications,” in which public relations pros tend to the interests and reputation of clients facing scrutiny from the media, shareholders or other quarters.

Perhaps the field ‘s top practitioner is Michael Sitrick. As founder, chairman and CEO of Sitrick and Co. Inc., in Los Angeles, he’s made a speciality of doing damage control for a range of celebrities and even the Catholic Church.

Sitrick declines to disclose his current clientele, but since founding his firm in 1989 he has represented Global Crossing International Ltd. After its bankruptcy, Exxon Mobile Corp. after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Food Lion Inc. in its battle with ABC over alleged health violations and WellPoint Health Networks Inc. in its botched 1995 merger with Health Systems International. Recently, Sitrick also advised on of Global Crossing’s likely bidders, Los Angeles buyout firm Gores Technology Group.

As a 55-year-old former reporter, Sitrick’s forte is helping clients accentuate the positive, no matter how dire the situation or negative the press coverage. His firm, staffed by former journalists from The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and other media outlets, offers more than the standard PR duties by stepping in just when a deal is about to be announced or when a client is in trouble.

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