Blackstone’s Missed Opportunity

The Blackstone Group has a love/hate relationship with the press. It loves seeing its name in print, but often hates the other words surrounding it (particularly things like “locust,” “collusion,” etc.). 

But Blackstone had a perfect opportunity to get even with its media critics – if only it had been creative (and perhaps mean) enough.

For each of the past two years, Blackstone has invited a select group of financial journalists to attend a fancy dinner with almost all of the firm’s managing directors. It’s the same sort of event that Blackstone president Tony James used to host while he was with DLJ, and the only rule is that all conversation is “off-the-record.”

So here is what I retroactively propose Blackstone should have done:

  • During his welcoming remarks, Steve Schwarzman should have asked everyone to place their cell phones and Blackberries on the table in front of them. He then should have had someone quietly lock the doors (including bathroom doors).
  • Then Schwarzman should have let slip that Blackstone was planning to go public. And perhaps looked a bit regretful after doing so (even shooting James an “oops” sort of face).
  • And then the kicker: Make ‘em squirm. Keep talking about anything and everything. Don’t let anyone get the news to their editors – but keep those cellphones within breathing distance. Nothing – and I mean nothing – bothers a reporter more than being unable to report/repeat a big piece of breaking news. Oh, and remind them that everything that was said is obviously off-the-record…

Just thinking out loud, of course…