5 PR Tips for Martin Shkreli AKA the 'Most-Hated Man' in America
Former pharmaceutical company CEO, Martin Shkreli can't seem to help himself.
Shkreli is the 32-year old one-time Wall Street wunderkind who went on to launch a couple drug companies and was subsequently dubbed the "Most-Hated Man" in America a few months ago when he jacked up the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent.
Since then he's been busy self-immolating.
Consider that within the span of 60 days he publicly lamented the fact he didn't raise the aforementioned drug price higher; had a federal indictment handed up against him for securities fraud as well as engaged in Twitter throw downs with all comers including hip-hop artist Ghostface Killah.
Bombastic GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump seems milquetoast by comparison.
Shkreli's latest shenanigans occurred when he testified before a congressional committee on drug-pricing practices where he refused to answer questions, on the advice of legal counsel, and instead exercised his constitutional rights against self incrimination.
Despite some of Shkreli's head-scratching, jaw-dropping antics, there are some critical reputation management lessons to be learned from his ongoing personal implosion.
1. Get a new attorney.
Shkreli's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has a strong track record of legal success; however, he did not serve his client well during their visit to Capitol Hill. For example, during the middle of congressional questioning---completely ignoring parliamentary procedure---Brafman stood and demanded from the gallery to be recognized by committee chair, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
The chair immediately rejected Brafman's request and instructed the counselor to take a seat.
Following the hearing, Brafman then held an impromptu news conference where he said the following, "Mr. Shkreli is not a villain, he's not a bad boy, at the end of the story, he's a hero."
A hero? Really? That level of hyperbole would be laughable if it wasn't so absurdly offensive to bona fide heroes such as our military service personnel or firefighters.
Brafman should go.
2. Stop all social media interactions.
After Shkreli's appearance before the congressional committee he tweeted the following:
What's even harder to accept is that Shkreli felt compelled to tweet anything while facing a federal criminal indictment, or that he was publicly commenting at all after repeatedly pleading the Fifth Amendment before congressional leaders.
For his own sake, he needs an indefinite social media hiatus.
3. Get a body language coach.
Seriously, get a body language or physical acting coach.
Despite Shkreli's decision to not answer questions posed by the congressional committee yesterday, his body language and non-verbal cues screamed contempt at the lawmakers. Shkreli's perma-smirk, eye rolls, inappropriate chuckles, heavy sighs, closed body posture and indifferent eye contact could only be interpreted as disdain for the proceedings.
While lawyer Brafman tried to dismiss and explain away his client's unspoken middle finger to the congressional panel as merely "nervous energy" -- Shkreli's aforementioned tweet confirmed his derisive attitude toward the group of lawmakers.
If nothing else, this guy needs some kind of body language coaching before his federal trial begins.
4. Grow up.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of Shkreli's persona is his unabashed immaturity.
The enemies he's making at every turn are powerful. The circumstances in which he's embroiled are incredibly serious. The consequences he faces are real.
However, his attitude toward it all is childish at best. Unfortunately, maturity seems to be a glaring deficient of this man-child.
This is the easiest thing that Shkreli could do. He should apologize to alienated patient groups. Apologize to the congressional committee members. Apologize to the public for creating such an unsavory spectacle.
Regardless of how badly individuals behave, genuine contrition goes a long way in the court of public opinion and sometimes can even carry over into the court of law---especially during the sentencing phase. It's safe to say that he'll need as much goodwill as he can muster if legal proceedings don't go his way.
While apologizing might be the single smartest thing Shkreli could do---it looks like smarts are in short supply based on his pattern of petulant tomfoolery.