Sunday, April 07, 2013

SKDKnickerbocker back in the news; chief-of-staff in NYC office was FCR flack; firm produced misleading Atlantic Yards brochures

News that Audrey Gelman, spokesperson for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (and occasional actress on Girls) is going to the consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker reminded me to take a look at the firm (previously known as Knickerbocker SKD) and its multiple Atlantic Yards connections, producing propaganda on behalf of the project and hiring a former Forest City Ratner flack..

The NYC chief-of-staff

The Chief-of-Staff in the New York City office is Loren Riegelhaupt, famously known for saying:, on behalf of Forest City, "When it comes to sharing information with the public and governmental bodies, there’s no such thing as too much, as far as we are concerned." DDDB went to town on the developer's consistent violation of that pledge.

From the SKDKnickerbocker web site:

Loren is a communications veteran specializing in directing corporate communications, crisis management and public affairs campaigns. Throughout his career, Loren has successfully delivered multifaceted national and regional campaigns by uniting and managing community leaders, elected officials and the media behind his clients’ missions and objectives.

Prior to joining SKDKnickerbocker, Loren served as Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), one of the largest development companies in New York and owner of the NBA Nets franchise. As part of his duties, Loren handled all external communications for the multibillion-dollar firm. He also managed the development and implementation of the multi-year integrated public affairs campaign for the Atlantic Yards project resulting in multiple positive editorials in the New York Post, Daily News and New York Times.

Loren has worked in public relations for more than 10 years serving as a public relations, crisis management and public affairs consultant, advising and leading clients facing regulatory, legislative and public interest issues. Most prominent among Loren’s efforts was Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) campaign against the proposed New York Jets football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan.

Loren is a graduate of Colgate University, where he earned a B.A. in English in 1997.
Previous coverage



As I wrote 5/10/06, Forest City Ratner's recent reality-bending brochure was the equivalent ofs a political campaign, produced by KnickerbockerSKD, which has worked on political campaigns and strategic communciations for major players, including Mayor Bloomberg. After all, why would the third page of the flier (right) offer a distorted fisheye photo, implying that the 8.5 acres of railyards constitute the majority of the 22-acre site.

And just as newspapers like the Times regularly evaluate political commercials (including those by this firm) for accuracy, they should do the same for such developer p.r.. They didn't, and they haven't.

The only previous acknowledgement of the consultant's role was a 10/14/05 article by the New York Times, headlined To Build Arena, Developer First Builds Bridges, which stated:
Forest City Ratner also contracted with Knickerbocker SKD, a media consultant, to produce two promotional mailings, each going to more than 300,000 households in Brooklyn.
That's strategy, not analysis.


There was no attempt by the Times to evaluate the content of those mailings, though the first one, especially, was deeply deceptive. For example, the flier (right) quoted gushing praise for the plan attributed to the New York Times, as if it were the newspaper's editorial voice, rather than identifying it as a statement from then-architectural critic Herbert Muschamp.


Firm history


In a 1/7/02 New York Observer article headlined "Cuomo Gets Young Turks For 2002," WNYC's Andrea Bernstein reported that Josh Isay had formed a firm with Dan Klores--founder of the dkc firm handlings p.r. for Forest City Ratner.


KnickerbockerSKD emerged later, and an April 201 merger produced the new firm.
The 2/22/11 profile in Capital NY, How former liberal operative Josh Isay became the default paid-media guy to the New York establishment,stated:
Both the corporate and the political clients ostensibly benefit from the same essential asset: Isay’s knowledge of how reporters, politicians and regulators process information.
Here's the bottom line regarding Isay's choice of political clients, which likely applies to corporate clients, as well:
Certainly, he will not feel constrained by any sense of partisan duty. (As one of Isay's consultant friends put it, "Josh is highly motivated by making profit, which is fine.")
As I wrote 10/16/06, there was another connection: Belated Boyland filings show she outraised Montgomery, used same firm as Ratner.

Overdue campaign finance filings from 18th Senatorial District candidate Tracy Boyland, who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent (and Atlantic Yards opponent) Velmanette Montgomery, show that the former City Council member, despite a candidacy launched two months before the September primary, indeed raised more than the $100 she reported at election time.

Was Boyland, in fact, the "Ratner candidate," as some charged? Not exactly, but there were some signficant intersections. As predicted by a source in the Crain's Insider, Boyland indeed used the same consulting firm--Knickerbocker SKD--that FCR uses for its deceptiveAtlantic Yards mailers. (As noted, Boyland told the Brooklyn Papers that she's friends with FCR's Bruce Bender, a former top City Council aide.)

Boyland spent $37,000 on Knickerbocker SKD's services. The candidate, who made virtually no publicly scheduled campaign appearances and avoided questions from reporters and newspaper editorial boards, inundated voters with mailings and also had campaign workers put up numerous posters and hand out literature outside polling places.

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