Hey, there. So, I understand that there's been a lot of turnover in your job lately. In the very likely event that you get fired before you finish reading this, I hope you'll be so kind as to mark your place so that your successors can pick up reading where you leave off. Thanks.
I'm writing to let you know that I understand how hard it is to be you. It seems like the AMPTP goes through PR firms faster than Nick Counter goes through wolf-headed walking sticks. It must be very dispiriting to know that you are facing a task that not even Hill & Knowlton wanted. Nikki Finke reported that the AMPTP had hired H&K, the company responsible for defending Big Tobacco in the 1950s. But two days ago, H&K called Nikki to deny they had any relationship with the AMPTP. So what that tells us is, H&K would rather admit to working for a carcinogen than for Nick Counter.
In the few minutes you've been on the job, I bet you've already realized what an uphill battle you're facing. The media have been reporting all week about how your client is losing the PR war. Read this piece from yesterday's LA Times for example:
As the strike has dragged on, studio executives have become increasingly worried that their side has been drowned out by relentless pickets in Los Angeles and New York. The writers' blitzkrieg has triggered a heated debate within the alliance about how to burnish its public image.Or listen to this story from NPR.
Over the weekend, [Barbara] Brogliatti told alliance chief negotiator Nick Counter that she was stepping down from her day-to-day job as chief spokeswoman.
Brogliatti, a former Warner Bros. executive, has been consulting for the alliance and will stay on as senior advisor. The alliance is in the process of hiring a replacement.
Whomever is hired faces a formidable task.
All that talk is quite flattering to us, but we don't pay much attention to it. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Your PR problem isn't us. It's the AMPTP.
We're not some crack team of PR geniuses, we're just a bunch of volunteers. All we've done is tell our story. All we've had to do to "win the PR battle" is get the facts out there. Every bit of PR we've done has said the same thing -- "All we want is a fair deal."
Unfortunately, your client's story can be summed up in one word: GIMME. And that's not even a word, it's more of a pig-like grunt.
That's a very tough story to sell. I'm not sure there's a PR person in the world who could do it. Our proposals are so reasonable, and your client's are so "sensationally wrong" as the New Yorker's tv critic put it, that your client can't open its mouth without digging itself a deeper hole.
That's why the AMPTP had to have a media blackout. Hiding was the only option. Coverage of the negotiations only hurt your client because even slight scrutiny shows us being rational and the AMPTP, you know, grunting. The blackout would take the public heat off your client and toy with the writers' emotions, weakening their resolve to stand firm.
Except that didn't happen. Even with a blackout, the story of a fair deal was beating GIMME. The writers didn't back down.
So, perhaps in frustration, someone working for your client said, "Wait, let's lift the blackout and announce a bold New Economic Partnership. The name alone will wow 'em. It'll be a huge and insulting rollback, but if we smile hard enough, no one will notice!"
You're cringing, I know. Everyone noticed. And this is the mess that's been left for you to clean up. You now have to deal with the revelation that your client was negotiating in bad faith. Your client wasn't just wasting our time, they were putting more and more people out of work, hurting thousands of families and costing the LA economy millions rather than give us a fair deal.
It's now clear to the whole country -- and increasingly, the world -- that it would be easier and cheaper to negotiate honestly. How can you explain the fact that the AMPTP quite possibly has already lost the conglomerates more than they would have to pay if we got every single thing we're asking for?
As I said, I feel for you. I bet you're wishing you could punch the dolt who fed all that nonsense to Nikki Finke about a sweetened, comprehensive new media offer coming out. They built up all this excitement, then offered shit and called it a sundae. It would be funny if it weren't so shameful. With the blackout lifted, the facts of what's happened will only spread further and further, and the outrage will grow.
That is, unless you do something about it. That's what you've been brought on to do. And because I'm a nice guy, I'm going to tell you how to do it.
Tell the AMPTP to make a fair deal.
It really is that simple. Tell them to hold their noses and actually negotiate. Tell them that the longer they drag their feet, trumpet fake proposals and spend more money fighting a deal than a deal would actually cost, the deeper a hole they dig for themselves. The only way out of this mess is for the conglomerates' CEOs to step in and say, "Enough. Wasting a huge amount of money to save a tiny amount of money is not good business, it's idiocy."
My friend, if you can do that, you'll be a hero. You'll be acclaimed from every corner of the industry. You will have literally saved the future of not only thousands of working families but of the conglomerates themselves. The companies and the workers can get back to figuring out the digital future of entertainment together instead of letting someone else do it without us.
And the icing on the cake? It'll be Nick Counter who gets fired this time, not you.