AT&T and Novartis doing damage control in light of Michael Cohen deals

After paying historic sums to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in exchange for administration access, the companies now seek to downplay the alliance. Here are some key takeaways.

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AT&T and Novartis want to put the toothpaste back into the proverbial tube.

The companies made financial arrangements, through Donald Trump’s longtime fixer Michael Cohen, to curry favor with the newly installed Trump administration, one devoid of traditional D.C. lobbying ties.

Now, with Cohen under investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, the companies are backtracking, removing executives who brokered the deals and apologizing to employees and customers.

Along the way, they’re delivering positive and negative examples of crisis communication.

A party line

AT&T’s current CEO wrote a note to employees admitting that the deal with Cohen was a mistake—an internal memo that quickly found its way into public circulation.

The New York Times wrote:

“Our company has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons these last few days and our reputation has been damaged,” Mr. Stephenson wrote in a memo to employees. “There is no other way to say it — AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.”

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