While Insider Trading Probe Brews, Goldman’s Blankfein Faces the Media

Was it a coincidence this week that earlier this week Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein gave his first interviews to the media in two years—while in California the SEC was investigating a senior Goldman employee for insider trading?

If the Goldman Sachs PR machine is worth its salt, they would be connected, since it sounds like the California case—in which San Francisco-based managing director Matthew Korenberg is accused of giving Galleon hedge-fund traders advance notice of pending healthcare deals—sounds pretty serious and could possibly implicate other Goldman Sachs senior employees. So perhaps that’s one of the reasons Blankfein went before the media this week.

The CEO was downright humble when appearing CNBC and Bloomberg TV. On Goldman’s tainted public persona, Blankfein said, “we haven’t gotten everything right in how we deal with the public.” When asked about now-former employee Greg Smith’s famous op-ed article in The New York Times, Blankfein said he was caught off guard, but “we’ve gotten used to surprises and we’d knew we’d have to grapple with this.” And despite the numerous fires that Blankfein has had to deal with while on his watch, the man actually loves his job and wants to stay (or so he says): “My plan is, this is a terrific job, it’s interesting, you get to be in a lot of different industries… I get to hang around with some of the smartest people, and deal with great clients around significant problems that have a lot of consequence for the world,” Blankfein told CNBC.

From what I’ve learned in interviewing top crisis experts for PR News, there are two ways to go when navigating a potential PR firestorm: circle the wagons and let your spokesperson do as little talking as possible, or have your leadership get out among the people and let them know that despite the current challenges, it’s business as usual. That seems to be Goldman Sachs’ tack, at least for the moment.

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