Steinhardt on PR: All Wrong


According to legendary stock investor Michael Steinhardt, Warren Buffet is the world’s greatest PR man. And if you think about it a bit, he may be right….but for the wrong reasons.

No question, Buffet is a really good communicator. The best in finance, by far. His annual report commentary may be the most read and discussed CEO letter to the shareholders viewed anywhere. And he has formed a unique relationship with CNBC Squawkbox commentator, Betty Quick. It seems that he is on the show every other week. So maybe Steinhardt is on to something?

Nah, he is the same old PR basher as the rest of the misinformed masters of Wall Street. Steinhardt’s reference was not related to how well Buffet communicates, but rather how well he regularly fools people. In effect, Steinhardt is equating PR not with how well people get their message across, but how self serving people can be.

Steinhardt is complaining, among other things, that Buffet has given his money away too late and to the wrong charity—Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In his eyes, this means Buffett shouldn’t be seen as a wonderful person for giving away over $20 billion. Give me a break. He also has other issues with Buffet. Only Leon Cooperman of Omega Partners stood up to Steinhardt and called him out for his “inappropriateness.”

My language is stronger. For someone so bright, Steinhardt is just another ignorant fool showing complete lack of understanding of what PR is about. By continuing to equate PR with some of the worst human principles, Steinhardt falls in line with all the others who look for cheap hits at the expense of an honorable profession.