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Reputation Management

Read the note at the end on Pseudonyms
Background: Jay Penske is the owner of Penske Media which aims to be the information resource for industry trade news about Hollywood, Television, Movies, Music and Performing Arts. He owns Variety and Deadline.com; the latter is the leading Blog about Hollywood News and Gossip. Penske acquired Deadline.com from Nikki Finke for millions of dollars (believed to be $9 or $10 million). Finke is frequently considered the most feared woman in Hollywood and makes Hollywood executives and publicists shake with fear if they earn her ire.
When Penske bought long time print Tabloid “Variety,” Finke assumed she would play a role in the management and operations of this longtime trade magazine. Penske kept her out of it and Finke is “unhappy” about this to the point where she was written critical posts about Variety on Deadline.com.
This summer, there were multiple stories breaking that Finke was either being fired from Deadline.com or wants to resign. Penske maintains his media company has a contract with Finke through 2016 and they intend to honor the contract. Both Finke and Penske denied that Finke was leaving and, weeks later, Finke gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal suggesting that the most honorable thing for Penske to do is give her back Deadline.com. Deadline.com is worth far more now that Penske owns it, but will likely lose value if Finke leaves because her nastiness draws significant web traffic.
While Finke is feared in Hollywood and referred to as Deadline.com’s “Viper in Chief,” she also, allegedly, suffers from Agoraphobia, a fear of being in crowded public spaces. Few people have even seen Finke in recent years. Finke is 60 years old and also owns NikkiFinke.com. She has been unsuccessful in finding funding needed to buy Deadline.com back. Jay Penske is in his early 40s but many consider him “green” when it comes to being in media and is agreeable to selling for the right deal but shows no signs of wanting to part with Deadline.com.
Some background links to review:
https://twitter.com/NikkiFinke
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323893004579057311417605016.html
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-nikki-finke-penske-20130918,0,7495067.story
http://www.vulture.com/2013/09/nikki-finke-deadline-situation.html
http://www.thewrap.com/media/column-post/shocker-jay-penske-fires-nikki-finke-deadline-hollywood-94906
The Assignment
You are a communications consultant; you have been hired by either Penske Media or Nikki Finke (pick one). Your assignment is to draft an analysis of this situation, outline options that exist for your client, and recommend a course of action. Once your recommendation is established, offer possible scenarios on the outcome – a best case scenario, what you believe will be the other side’s response, and a worst case scenario.
What you’re writing is a strategic plan. The format is:
• A situation analysis
• A summary of what you believe is in your client’s best interest
• A summary of three to five key options
• A recommended course of action (this can be several steps; you don’t have to get into specific detail here but make the case for a direction to take).
• An analysis of best case scenario, what’s likely to happen, and worst case scenario.
• Last paragraph should be a request to meet and review the recommendations and make a decision.
This strategic plan can be as long as you need it to be. Try to keep it to less than three pages but not fewer than two pages. In the real world, you might be part of a team that develops this document and in the real world, you’ll have hours and not days to complete this sort of assignment. I strongly encourage you to work with a classmate and peer-edit each other’s work and reality-check each other’s ideas