The Opportunity

Attorney Lee Burdick was the former legal advisor and chief of staff of disgraced San Diego Mayor Bob Filner during his nearly nine months in office in 2013. In 2016, Lee authored a behind-the-scenes account sharing the political, moral and financial lessons she learned from the former mayor’s sex harassment scandal and downfall.  Having stayed at her post to protect her staff and maintain the office’s progressive political agenda until Filner’s resignation, Lee sought to share her story to answer the question that continued to dog her three years later: “How do we keep this from ever happening again?”

The Solution

(W)right On started by targeting local media that had covered the Filner story most closely to let them know that the book was coming. They were provided advance copies of the book under embargo and interviews were lined up for the date that the embargo would be lifted. Lee was able to provide firsthand accounts of her time in the Mayor’s Office and shared her lessons in the book. In addition to edited interviews that were broadcast on television and radio, full-length interviews were made available online. Lee also authored an article for Voice of San Diego that shared how she went from public servant to pariah. Using her integrity and professionalism as a foundation, (W)right On developed a multi-layered narrative targeting journalists, columnists and bloggers for coverage. As the local media awareness grew, we transitioned Lee to a presence with the national media, including an open letter she penned to Donald Trump’s sex harassment victims published by the Huffington Post.

The Results

“The story and subsequent coverage has been emotionally freeing,” Lee said. “This process has taken an incredible weight off my heart—there’s a sense of relief and liberty for me as I move forward with landing my next great opportunity and pushing the book nationally.” 

“Bob Filner’s Monster: The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn from It” has been well received by readers and journalists alike. The initial media strategy amassed placement in publications which boast a combined 57.5 million monthly views, with (W)right On securing coverage in nearly every print and broadcast outlet in San Diego—including The San Diego Union-Tribune, Voice of San Diego, 10 News (ABC), CBS News 8, NBC 7 San Diego, KOGO-AM and KPBS-Midday and Evening Edition, LGBT Weekly and SDGLN.com. Traffic and visibility continues to increase as we transition to a focus on a national presence.

Reactions from readers of her Voice of San Diego article showed that her message has been received:

“Props to Lee Burdick for being a strong, smart woman who fought the good fight. Strong women who speak up tend to get bashed in our society.”

“…the agenda you describe is long overdue and tremendously appealing and I can fully appreciate the strong draw it would have on someone like you who could make a difference in advancing those causes.”

“If there is anyone who did not deserve what happened to her, it is Lee. As a Port Commissioner, she attended public outreach meetings and listened carefully to every word members of the public spoke and did her best to represent the public during her tenure on the board.”

Conclusion

(W)right On Communications has shown with this program that it can influence the public’s perception of even the most controversial and loathed subject matter through the use of traditional, non-traditional and social media.