From the archives bad image tampa publicist glenn selig steps in gas near me app

Editor’s note: Former WTVT-Ch. 13 reporter and anchor Glenn Selig was among 22 people killed in an attack Sunday in a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was well known in the Jewish community and in the Tampa public relations scene. In 2007 his journalism career ended and his new one began in public relations. Former Tampa Bay Times TV/Media Critic Eric Deggans profiled Selig and the work he did for high-profile clients like Rod Blagojevich and Casey Anthony in 2009. This story was published on Feb. 16, 2009.

For some public relations professionals, it would be a horrifying prospect: sitting in a New York hotel room watching David Letterman carve up a client on national television with lines like "The more you talked … the more I said, ‘Well, this guy’s guilty.’" Especially if that client is sitting next to you.

But Tampa publicist and crisis manager Glenn Selig sounds almost giddy when describing the Feb. 3 scene where he and impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich reviewed his Late Show performance. He’s convinced that the smooth-talking politician won over some folks in an audience hooting for his humiliation.

"This was the most anticipated interview … and I think he enjoyed it," said Selig, who had been hired weeks before as Blagojevich weighed going public to counter prosecutors’ allegations that he tried to sell Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. "You can’t control what Dave is going to do, but you can control how you react to it."

Selig, 41, is a former Tampa TV journalist whose company, the Publicity Agency, boasts a client roster filled with the kind of newsmakers he used to cover. Besides Blagojevich, he represents Drew Peterson, a retired suburban Chicago police officer whose fourth wife disappeared and whose third wife’s death has been ruled a homicide. Selig also briefly advised the attorney representing Casey Anthony, who is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of toddler daughter Caylee.

His journalism career ended abruptly — Selig was fired by Fox affiliate WTVT-Ch. 13 in 2007 after the company learned he had started a press release-writing business without permission. (Selig said he never took on a customer he might cover as a journalist.)

"In a way, you’re covering the big story in reverse," he said. "There are famous people who know me. … I remember the first time my phone rang and it was Matt Lauer on the phone. Sean Hannity called. Wolf Blitzer called. … (And) I know what tomorrow’s big story is going to be, because I’m in on the decision."

Selig said Rivera was trying to pressure Blagojevich into an interview and dismissed Grace as unfairly biased. "The media has a responsibility to present a story fairly and objectively, (but) they attack as if the guy is already guilty," he said. "That saddens me."

Peterson already had an awful public image, behaving oddly during interviews about his missing 23-year-old wife and attempting to participate in a dating contest overseen by a Chicago shock jock. Selig met with the retired officer in Orlando, weighing whether his potential client was misunderstood or someone looking to bamboozle the world.

"Do I know whether he did it or not? No, because I wasn’t there," said Selig, who eventually brokered interviews with NBC’s Today show and the Associated Press emphasizing Peterson’s parenting skills. "Do I believe he did it? No. And because no one else knows, either, he needs to be presumed innocent. … It’s a noble cause to defend someone’s image in the court of public opinion."

Tampa public relations professional Lisa Brock said publicists can hurt their own credibility by taking on too many clients who seem arrogant or fame-seeking. "There are people who only care about the spotlight and not the reason why it’s shining," she added.

Brock said such high-profile cases can spark fees topping $2,500 per day, jump-starting a publicist’s Rolodex. But clients can be unpredictable: Peterson, 55, made headlines for planning to marry 24-year-old Christina Raines, who called off the engagement in January, saying it was a publicity stunt.

But Raines backtracked, appearing on NBC’s Today show Friday with Peterson; the report also said Peterson hoped to develop a book or reality TV show deal. "She announced their breakup on a morning show … so it became important that they set the record straight," said Selig, who arranged the interview after the two reconciled.

Selig’s hire puzzled journalists, who wondered why an official facing impeachment in Illinois would enlist a Tampa-based guy representing a man who police say is a suspect in his wife’s disappearance. (Peterson has not been charged in that case or in the homicide of his third wife, and has denied wrongdoing.)

"It seemed like the last thing a person who was insisting on his innocence would do," said Eric Zorn, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. "(But) once you have Blagojevich determined to do this, well, (Selig) booked him on all these shows and not one of them was a disaster. So I think Blagojevich got what he wanted out of it."