A Peek Inside “The Fixer’s” Toolbox
Michael Sitrick ’69’s Client List Has Included Weinstein, Vick, Exxon
When the world’s most famous people and corporations need help defending their reputation, they often call in “The Fixer.”
Michael Sitrick ’69 has made a career of navigating public relations crises—whether he’s representing Harvey Weinstein, Michael Vick, Paris Hilton or Exxon.
“Even if you don’t know his name, you know his work,” The New York Times wrote this summer.
Sitrick will talk about how he approaches that work in strategic communications in a public discussion with Merrill College of Journalism Dean Lucy A. Dalglish at 4:15 p.m. tomorrow in Knight Hall’s Eaton Theater.
His philosophy has long been to gather facts and get in front of a story. “No comment” is not an option.
“If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you,” Sitrick wrote in a recent column for Townhall. “The controversy and conversation will rage on with or without you.”
And while Sitrick acknowledges his job is to control that narrative—he’s written two books with titles that succinctly describe his strategy: “Spin” (1998) and “The Fixer” (2018)—Dalglish said he has credibility with the journalists who have needed to work with him.
“He’s a fearless advocate for his clients, but has a reputation for telling the truth,” she said.
Sitrick, whose wife, the former Nancy Eiseman, graduated from UMD’s College of Education, started his career out of Merrill College as a reporter at the Washington Star, Baltimore News American and WSID Radio.
He transitioned into public relations and, in 1989, founded Sitrick and Company in Los Angeles. Now, the company has offices in L.A., New York, San Francisco, Boston, Denver and Washington.
Its website touts headlines describing Sitrick as “the Winston Wolf of Public Relations,” for the Harvey Keitel character in “Pulp Fiction” (Fortune), and “The Flack for When You’re Under Attack” (Forbes). His clients are typically from the world of business, but have also come from sports, entertainment, religion, academia and politics. (One recent company client is former Papa John’s chairman John Schnatter.)
“He went west and created a niche crisis communications group that has allowed him, for decades, to have a hand in shaping so many high-profile news stories,” Dalglish said. “There’s much for journalists, strategic communicators and others to learn from hearing about his method.”
The discussion will be followed by an audience Q&A, then a reception. All are welcome. To attend, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.