Regan’s greatest show
There is a principle of public relations thinking that you want to maximize positive exposure for a client and minimize negative coverage. Then there is the old adage, which had more currency in the early days of PR, that it doesn’t matter what is said about you as long they spell your name right.
Put George Regan in the second camp. The bad boy of Boston PR has not only helped fuel coverage that put his client, Suffolk University, in a bad light, his firm has itself become part of the story — and not in a particularly good way. But he doesn’t seem to be shrinking from the spotlight.
Regan finds himself in the middle of the recent showdown involving a botched plan by the chairman of the university’s board of trustees to fire Suffolk president Margaret McKenna. After meeting with broad pushback from the university community and broader civic leadership, the board instead agreed to a plan under which McKenna leaves by the fall of 2017, but so does board chairman Andrew Meyer. The agreement also calls for a long overdue reworking of the board’s bylaws to limit its meddling in the day-to-day operations of the university.
Regan, a Suffolk grad, has had a long relationship with the school, and has enjoyed what some view as an unhealthy degree of influence over its doings. His firm, Regan Communications, has been Suffolk’s paid PR outlet for years, and Regan is said to be close with many members of the Suffolk board of trustees, including Meyer. A Regan vice president, Julie Kahn, is on the board, though she has said she will leave the board when her term expires in the spring.
McKenna, on the job for only seven months, was set to end Regan’s lucrative contract with the school (the Globe reported that Suffolk paid the firm $294,000 in fiscal year 2014). Some speculate that played a role in the board’s plans to push her out. Board members say they were motivated by concerns over her fiscal stewardship of the school and management style.
On Wednesday, the Globe and Herald both reported that McKenna informed Regan Communications that Suffolk was severing its ties with the firm.
But Regan is hardly going quietly. In a statement to the Globe, he said, “President McKenna has chosen to blame me for her contentious relationship with the board, rather than acknowledging her own indefensible actions as the true reason for the board’s deep and valid concerns for her ability to lead the university.” He told the Herald his firm had taken Suffolk from “an also-ran school to top tier.”
A Regan spokesman took a swipe at Suffolk spokesman Greg Gatlin — a former Regan employee (and Herald reporter) — in a Joe Battenfeld column in yesterday’s Herald. Battenfeld says the firm claims it has a contract with Suffolk and may fight the dismissal, “triggering another potentially nasty public war.”
Which means it is likely not the last we’ve read about Regan and his dustup with Suffolk’s president.
As for the old PR saw about only caring that they spell your name right, Michael Turney, a retired professor of communications at Northern Kentucky University, writes that there is no definitive evidence of who originated the phrase. His research narrowed it down to Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Tammany Hall pol “Big” Tim Sullivan, and circus impresario P.T. Barnum. He concludes that the most plausible of these is P.T. Barnum, “the most outspoken and the most self-deprecatingly cynical of the four.”
Speaking of less than flattering public imagery, the Globe’s Shirley Leung today laments the state of things at Suffolk, spotlighting the “mutual destruction” of McKenna and Meyer, “complete with the school’s outside PR honcho George Regan playing the cockroach that possibly survives it all.”
Lawmakers hear testimony on an initiative petition that would mandate better living conditions for farm animals. (MetroWest Daily News)
New Bedford police, firefighters, and paramedics responded to five heroin overdoses in five hours Wednesday, saving each victim with a dose of Narcan. The victims included a 62-year-old man who had to be revived twice last fall with a shot of the overdose-reversing drug. (Standard-Times)
New Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia is thwarted once again as his proposal to use Community Preservation Act funds to replace the roof on the aging police station is rejected by the Community Preservation Committee. (Herald News)
Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo chafes at the terms of the city’s deal with Mohegan Sun, which prevents the city from negotiating with Wynn Resorts in next-door Everett for mitigation payments. (CommonWealth)
Steve Wynn remains bullish on his planned Everett casino. (CommonWealth)
The US Defense Department plans to invest $265 million in MIT’s Lincoln Labs at Hanscom Air Force Base. (The Sun)
Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he will assume the title of state education commissioner as a way to sidestep legislative opposition to his preferred choice. (Governing)
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders go at it in Milwaukee, with the Globe’s James Pindell zeroing in on their clash over who has been a better ally to President Obama. Scot Lehigh thinks Clinton had the better night. (Boston Globe)
Donald Trump criticizes Pope Francis for his planned Mexico border visit. (Time)
Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign pulls a biting attack ad on Sen. Marco Rubio because one of the actresses in the fake focus group has appeared in a number of soft-core pornography films such as “Carnal Wishes” and “Insatiable Desires.” (Buzzfeed)
Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, a Hillary Clinton supporter, says Massachusetts Republicans are cringing over Donald Trump’s success. He also predicts Bernie Sanders will do well in the Massachusetts primary. (State House News)
Tom Finneran says he’s more of a feminist today than Gloria Steinem or Madeleine Albright. (GoLocalWorcester)
Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas says Gov. Charlie Baker showed his loyalty by endorsing Chris Christie in the New Hampshire primary. The Globe’s Frank Phillips has a different take.
Longtime Republican operative Eric Fehrnstrom explains why Elizabeth Warren has held off any endorsement of Hillary Clinton. (Boston Globe)
Clinton supporters have launched a 501(c)(4) nonprofit aimed at increasing voter registration and voter protection efforts among blacks and Hispanics. (Associated Press)
Undercover filmmaker James O’Keefe, who specializes in heavily edited “gotcha” videos aimed at targets such as ACORN and NPR, sends his crew out to vote illegally in New Hampshire to show how easy it is to commit voter fraud. (National Review)
Pioneer Institute releases a report on what it calls “middle cities” — 14 Gateway Cities with economic challenges — and says “data-driven policies” are needed to stem the decline in education and development. (The Enterprise)
The Essex Tech School Committee in Danvers censures its former chairman for aiding the former superintendent in wrongdoing. (Salem News)
Fitchburg school superintendent Andre Ravenelle wins recognition from Boston-based Mass Insight Education for his work to encourage more students to take AP courses that will put them on track for success in post-secondary schooling. (Sentinel & Enterprise)
The United States is not the only country struggling with low math scores as a new report shows many countries making little headway with some even regressing. (U.S. News & World Report)
The state’s three dental schools have agreed to begin teaching their students more about pain management and the responsible use of painkillers as part of the effort to stem the opioid crisis. (Boston Globe)
A Herald editorial applauds the MBTA move to consider privatizing some services.
About two dozen people show up at a Weymouth meeting to protest proposed T fare hikes. It was the last public hearing on the proposals. (Patriot Ledger)
Einstein was right. (New York Times) The news about gravitational waves was actually broken by a sheet cake. (Washington Post)
An auction run by the region’s power grid operator yields plenty of electricity (and three new power plants that run on natural gas and oil) for 2019-2020. (CommonWealth)
Plymouth, Marshfield, and Duxbury will split about $1.8 from a federal grant for coastal projects to shore up protection against battering storms. (Patriot Ledger)
National Grid workers vote to authorize a strike as their contract expiration date nears. The workers complain the company is outsourcing too much work. (Masslive)
Notorious Boston drug kingpin Darryl Whiting, serving a life sentence in federal prison, asked a federal judge yesterday to release him from prison under new sentencing guidelines. (Boston Globe) Globe columnist Adrian Walker says that would be nuts and that Whiting should stay behind bars forever.
The Herald’s “Three Stooges” headline pretty much sums up the story of a trio of idiots who held up a Dorchester convenience store while all wearing GPS ankle bracelets tracking their whereabouts courtesy of the state constabulary.MEDIA
Harvard Business Review has seen a 21 percent increase in paid circulation since developing a website in 2010 to complement its monthly print magazine. (Boston Globe)