So you’ve heard about the dentist who illegally killed a lion in Zimbabwe, right?
Walter Palmer somehow found a firm to represent him as his name trends all over Twitter and the general news media, and pretty much everyone has identified Minnesota’s J. Austin & Associates as the shop he hired after the London Telegraph identified him as the man behind the death of Cecil.
Here’s the statement J. Austin released on his behalf to the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.
I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.
I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have.
Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
As many, many others have noted, the hunters tried to destroy the collar after killing Cecil. And Palmer has NOT always practiced his hunting “responsibly and legally”: in 2006, he admitted that he lied to federal authorities about where he (illegally) killed a black bear. He could have faced up to five years in prison for the offense.
J. Austin & Associates (Twitter here) has not issued any statements about its newest, most infamous client, and Palmer himself has shuttered his business and referred all media inquiries to the agency.
The question is: why would the firm agree to take on such a client and what, if anything, can it do to help him? PR Week asked a few experts who seem to think that the assignment is a very difficult one…and members of one PR Facebook group have been nearly unanimous in stating that they would not accept his business.
Even Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t feel anything resembling empathy for the guy:
— PETA (@peta) July 29, 2015
The “hunters” who helped Palmer kill Cecil face charges in Zimbabwe. And it will be tough to defend someone who at least 23,000 people think should be extradited, no?
Oh, and Palmer also paid a fine to settle sexual harassment charges back in 2009.
We can safely say that J. Austin is very glad at this moment that it does not have a Facebook account or a Yelp page.
No controversy is complete without a probing question from one Nancy Grace:
— Nancy Grace (@NancyGraceHLN) July 29, 2015
Unfortunately, this piece of sound advice comes far too late for Palmer:
Perhaps it would have been advisable not to go hunting in the first place… https://t.co/hUKpB4b7YT
— PRWeek UK (@prweekuknews) July 29, 2015