Rosanne Cash, Donald Trump’s Latest Nemesis & Lessons in PR From Tina Brown’s Landlord

Lunch At Michaels

LunchAtMichaelsWe missed Judy Collins by a day, but I spotted Rosanne Cash deep in conversation with bookseller-to-the-1-percent Glenn Horowitz. While the celeb wattage at Michael’s was uncharacteristically low today (hunky actor Chris Pine’s dad was there, though), the usual suspects — all stars in their own lives, don’t you know — were out in force making the Wednesday lunch scene to see and be seen.

I was joined today by Tom Goodman, founder of Goodman Media International, the New York City-based public relations firm he founded in 1996 after 20 years in corporate PR for CBS, ABC and J.Walter Thompson. Just before hanging out his own shingle, he toiled as head of communications for CBS News and CBS Inc. “I was out in the Westinghouse merger,” Tom told me, between bites of chicken paillard. “The timing was perfect — and so much of life depends on luck and timing.” Don’t I know it. “I had some good contacts at CBS, and they helped so much.” I bet. He started with three very high-profile clients — British Airways, Sony and MSNBC — and since opening his office (which now has very swanky digs with a stunning view of Times Square) has “represented every major network and cable network at one time or another.”

Diane Clehane and Tom Goodman
Diane Clehane and Tom Goodman

I met Tom (where else?) in this very dining room and have always been impressed by the diverse roster of machers, moguls and media mavens his firm represents. His staff of 25 handles the media relations, social media, product launches and event publicity (among other services) for media bigwigs like PBS and Reader’s Digest, iconic institutions and organizations, including The Hospital for Special Surgery and Joe Torre‘s Safe at Home Foundation.

He recently opened a Boston office and is “talking to someone” about doing more business in Los Angeles. “One-third of our business is media, one-third is nonprofits and one-third is professional services,” he told me. The Goodman media team also have their share of glitzy accounts. They handled the launch of three Harry Potter books, rolled out the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book for 12 years and were “the agency of record” for Grand Central Terminal’s 100th anniversary. A quick check of the company’s Facebook page revealed this week’s big project: unveiling this year’s Hess Truck (which Tom toted to our lunch for a bit of show and tell) for the holidays. The iconic toy is 50 years old (!?) and to celebrate, the PR plan for the long-time client included an appearance on the Today show.

“For me, it’s all about relationships,” said Tom, pointing out that he met Jack Kliger at Michael’s and was promptly hired to work with both TV Guide and Maxim when Jack was helming the magazines. “I love that part of the business and how everything always comes back around. You have to be nice to everyone because you never know where someone is going to wind up.” While he takes his relationships with clients seriously, he is just as committed to hiring the right people for the firm. As the first line of defense for all new hires, when he meets a candidate, he told me: “The first thing I ask myself when interviewing someone is, “Are they nice people? Will they fit into the culture?” He leaves digging into the details of someone’s qualifications to the rest of his team. In fact, he described his management style as decidedly hands-off: “I mostly stay out of the way.”

For the man who got his start in PR as Peter Jennings’ publicist, the opportunity to work with clients “doing meaningful work” is an irresistible draw. “We don’t get distracted working with individuals,” he explained. He pointed to his firm’s work with Cablevision’s Lustgarten Foundation as among his most rewarding projects. Goodman Media does, however, work with one person, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who signed with the firm right before the Aaron Sorkin film The Social Network premiered. “He didn’t know how he was going to be portrayed. He watched the movie for the first time with [Goodman Media staffer] Sabrina Strauss and said it was surreal. “We still handle interview requests for him.”