CEOs Still Need Convincing that PR is Valuable

After the Exxon Valdez spilled almost 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in 1989, Alan Hilburg, who was then running his own reputation management firm, got a call from an Exxon communications exec asking for his services. Hilburg, now president-CEO of Porter Novelli Consulting, recalls telling the executive that he would agree only if he could meet with Exxon's CEO. No way, said the contact. Then forget it, replied Hilburg, who has spent the last 25 years dealing with CEOs on crisis management and crisis litigation. A few weeks later, however, Hilburg got a call back from Exxon saying he could in fact meet with Exxon's CEO (as well as the CEOs from the other major oil firms since the Valdez incident had quickly grown into an industry-wide crisis).

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