Some may wonder why Bill de Blasio flack Lis Smith’s personal relationship with a certain former Governor and NY Attorney General is an issue for the mayor-elect of New York City. Public relations executives have to be trusted by the press and trusted advisors to their charges. And yet, it has been reported HERE that Mr. de Blasio was blindsided by Smith’s relationship with Eliot Spitzer. If de Blasio cannot trust her to be honest with him, it is logical to say that it would be difficult for him to entrust her with his own public image and her relationship with journalists.
Given their roles, senior-level flacks are privy to a lot of information on behalf of those for whom they speak. You have to trust that your communications officer, as he or she is often the first line to handling your own or your firm’s reputation with the public.
The lesson here is that it’s important not to lie, whether to your boss or to the media. Good flacks do not lie to reporters but respect and navigate the relationship, providing honest answers and giving details when possible. Now De Blasio needs to consider his own level of trust with his chief spokesperson as well as how reporters and the public will view her honesty with them.
Melissa F Daly has 20 years of financial communications experience, with a special focus on key message development and media relations around critical issues. Melissa formed MFD Communications after spending three years at Goldman Sachs as Vice President, Corporate Communications. Prior to that, she was a Director at Brunswick Group, a London-based financial and business communications firm. There, she spearheaded its financial services business in the US, managing communications for hedge fund, private equity, insurance and traditional asset management firms. Melissa also worked at Fred Alger Management, The Hartford and Lipper in communications and media relations roles and has frequently appeared on CNBC and CNN as an industry commentator. Her experience spans across business sectors and continents.