Doug Simon spoke with Michael Zeldin in preparation for Truth on Trial: Implications for Communicators, the third installment in a series of events looking to get a conversation started about truth and communication in today’s political, business and social climate. Michael Zeldin is a CNN Analysts and internationally recognized financial crimes expert. He’s a board member of the Association of Certified Financial Crimes Specialists, as well as a member of the American Bar Association and International Bar Association.
Doug: Michael Zeldin is a veteran of truth on trial and legal analyst for CNN. In these roles he’s at the intersection of many of the issues dominating coverage today. Thanks so much for joining us.
Michael: My pleasure.
Doug: So as part of the media do you ever feel pressure or are you encourage to create conflict with some of the panels you’re on and make sure there’s a competitive environment to help drive ratings.
Michael: No not at all. In fact in my tenure with CNN the guidance has always been a family based have a point. Did you articulate that point of view to inform our audience. There was no effort to be theatrical to drive discord when no discord existed.
Doug: Let’s look at PR people communicators within brands within nonprofits. How do they need to be acting with the legal teams that these organizations have the best outcomes.
Michael: So there are two different ways in which it arises in the ordinary course where there is no controversy. I think that the PR people. Can effectively work not siloed in PR but not embedded in the general counsel’s office though message that they want to convey should be I think reviewed and approved by General Counsel’s Office and they don’t say anything that will get the company in legal trouble In times of crisis when your boat hits an iceberg then the PR people and the general counsel people really need to be embedded in a single team like a little attorney client privilege and other things that could be waived in such a singular team. But I think that that crisis management message has to be very closely coordinated between legal and public relations.
Doug: And we increasingly in the political sphere we’ve seen lawyers almost taking on the role of spokespeople for their clients. Might that happen within the brand environment as well and could that be some cause for concern or a positive development.
Michael: Well I don’t think it’s necessary in a well-baby environment where there is no illness that we’ve seen to treat. I think that the PR professionals are really quite capable of dividing the binding message with c suite people with you know sort of review finally by counsel before it is made public. It’s just that crisis area where I think a different modality needs to be followed.
Doug: Awesome. Thanks so much for your time. We really enjoy it and appreciate it.
Michael: A pleasure.