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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Generating Publicity

Note to P.R. hounds out there: promote your news items before they happen, not after. Journalists hate to be late and if you're perceived to be old news, you may never get to be news at all.

A week ago I noted a suit by a former Playboy "guest relations coordinator" for alleged sex and age discrimination. Now, a full week after the suit was filed, a press release appears touting it.

Now I realize this could have been an accident. Maybe someone forgot to put out the release the week before. It doesn't matter. Most reporters, if they think about doing a story, will stop if they see that it's already been reported.

Unless ... wait for it; let the suspense build ... there's something NEW in the press release.

Never let it be said that I'm not here to help you lawyers out there. (OK, you can say it, but you can't mean it.)

Fortunately, that Playboy plaintiff press release got into my hands (actually, into my computer) and I can see a way to fix it. Put the last paragraph on top.

Here's what it said:

"At this time, it is unclear if there is any connection between the termination of Ms. Lewis and her previous employment by Ms. Hefner, who Mr. Hugh Hefner has recently filed for divorce from after over ten years of separation."

Oh? Tell us more....

No, I take that back. Please don't tell me any more. I really, really don't care. But I know there will be certain media outlets that will care deeply.

Shenanigans with the ex-wife? A vendetta perhaps? Civil war at the mansion?

Redo that release and get it out to the people who care.

You don't need to know anything. Just speculate.

By the way, there's also a mildly interesting legal question here. The lawsuit featured causes of action for gender and sex discrimination. There was no mention of worked-for-the-ex-wife discrimination.

Should there be a protected class of persons who have associated with an ex or soon-to-be-ex spouse?

Once gay people finally get their rights, this could be the next civil rights frontier.

MORE IRRELEVANCE. By contrast, the lawyers for Trust Company of the West know how to generate news coverage. They got the technique right (whether they meant to or not).

TCW filed a 39-page complaint against its former chief investment officer, a guy named Jeffrey Gundlach, for allegedly making off with proprietary information and client lists to start a rival company. TCW said it fired Gundlach after he disparaged the company, made unreasonable demands and threatened to walk off with key employees.

And then the suit notes that after it fired Gundlach, "it discovered inappropriate contraband in his TCW offices, consisting of marijuana, drug paraphernalia ... and a collection of 12 sexual devices, 34 hardcore pornographic magazines and 36 hardcore sexually explicit DVDs and videocassettes."

But who's counting?

The porn and drugs are mentioned twice in 39 pages. They have nothing to do with the guy's firing or what he's being sued for. Now see if you can find a news story that doesn't mention porn and drugs.

My favorite news report is on CNNMoney.com. The headline is: "Star fund manager in pot-and-porn dispute."

This is brilliant publicity generation.

By the way, the second mention of the pot on page 23 of the suit is my favorite: "TCW discovered glass jars, plastic containers and baggies containing green leafy substances and seeds, some explicitly labeled marijuana...."

You don't want it getting mixed up with the oregano.

The suit, by the way, mentions that TCW paid Gundlach $134 million over five years, so, I'm guessing, he was doing something right for a while there.

If you've got a guy worth $134 million, should you complain, after the fact, that he had some grass and porn in his office?

They might want to consider supplying some grass and porn to their other execs.

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