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Bad PR Took Down McKinsey Chief
O'Dwyer's Public Relations News O'Dwyer's Public Relations News
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Thursday, February 25, 2021

Kevin Sneader
Kevin Sneader

Bad PR took down McKinsey chief. The management consultant's 54-year-old leader Kevin Sneader is the first global managing partner since 1976 not to win a second three-year term. Blame it on a litany of reputational crises.

The once-prestigious McKinsey agreed this month to pay $574M to settle lawsuits in 49 states over its work for Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin painkiller.

For Purdue Pharma, McKinsey drew up a marketing plan “to turbocharge” sales. It was a case of putting profit over people’s lives, said Colorado attorney general Phil Weiser.

Sneader was not in charge of the management consultant when it took on the Purdue account 15 years ago. The same applies for McKinsey’s controversial work for South Africa, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

But he was the person in charge when the Financial Times delivered another body blow to the firm’s image with a Feb. 23 commentary called: “It needs to change its culture: is McKinsey losing its mystique?”

Laura Empson, author of "Leading Professionals," wonders if the vote against Sneader was “a ritual sacrifice to appease the bad PR,” or a sign that the partners are pressing for reform.

Either way, McKinsey now has an opportunity to clean the slate.

Bruce Harrison, the “Dean of Green” who died Jan. 16, received a proper send-off in the Washington Post on Feb. 21 for his role in developing “sustainable communications,” which seeks consensus and dialog among corporations and activists to address environmental programs.

Rutgers University professor Melissa Aronczyk wrote that Harrison started to realize that compromise was the key in settling complex environmental issues after his all-out attack on Rachel Carson’s 1961 “Silent Spring” expose of toxic pesticides—on behalf of the chemical industry—drew a fierce counterattack.

Harrison, who went on to represent polluters such as BP, General Motors and Monsanto, learned that Corporate America’s knee-jerk reaction of blaming the burden of government regulation for all of its woes was increasingly tone-deaf.

He worked to position corporate environmentalism as a pragmatic alternative to heated rhetoric, “The industry’s ongoing quest for “balance”—an equal consideration of economic growth alongside environmental protection—was Harrison’s bread and butter,” wrote Aronczyk.

She would counsel the Biden administration—as it works to reverse the environmental rollbacks of the Trump White House—to follow Harrison’s path and work for compromise with its adversaries.

Aronczyk is co-author with Maria Espinoza of the upcoming book, “A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of American Environmentalism.”

Hard-core Trump supporters are flocking to Fox News' competitors, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll.

The study found that 73 percent of Trump voters watching Fox believe Joe Biden “stole” the election. That compares to 90 percent at One America News Network and 92 percent at Newsmax.

The poll found bad news for the GOP.

Fox viewers are more loyal to Trump than the Republican party by a 51 percent to 37 percent split. At Newsmax it’s 72 percent to 28 percent, and at OANN it’s 80 percent to 15 percent.

If Trump forms his own party, he would gain the support of 70 percent of Newsmax watchers, 65 percent of OANN viewers and 41 percent of Fox fans.

And the Democrats would benefit from the break-up.

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