Management: Too Much Flak Downs a Flack

Public relations powerhouse Hill & Knowlton boots its overbearing boss in a bid to restore its own sullied image

It was the beginning of the end for Robert Dilenschneider when the Hill & Knowlton chief executive rose to give a pep talk to his 30 senior executives at New York City's Lotos Club last winter. "Our women," declared the boss of the largest U.S. public relations firm, had been insulted by bad language used by an executive from McDonald's, a prospective client. As a result, Dilenschneider boasted, he refused to accept the fast-food giant's business, even though he was awarded the account. "We didn't know whether to laugh or cry," recalls a top official who attended the dinner. "It simply...

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