CLS Strategies 10 Questions: Bob Chlopak

February 22, 2016

CLS Strategies 10 Questions: Bob Chlopak

Name: Bob Chlopak
Title: Founding Partner, CEO
Time with CLS: From the Beginning

1. In your career, what is the best advice you’ve been given?

My father rose up through the ranks to run a privately held business. He told me that his biggest regret was not taking the risk of launching his own business. He said that if I ever had the chance to create my own business, I should do so. Twenty-four years later, still working in the business I created, I am very glad that I took his advice.

2. If you weren’t in the PR industry, what would you be doing?

Have done might be more appropriate in my case. If I had more talent I would have tried to play baseball, or given my interest in the law, I might have practiced law rather than spend my time communicating about legal cases.  

3. What is your favorite PR failure? (i.e. Pepsi Syringe, Tylenol Recall)

This is not really a PR failure but is a great story about success and failure. We once worked for the fresh poultry producers to try to change a USDA rule that basically allowed poultry producers who froze their chicken to sell it as fresh. We recruited famous chefs. We had people bowl outside the Capitol with frozen chickens to demonstrate they were rock hard frozen. We had a terrific Fresh vs. Frozen ad campaign.  And we persuaded regulators to change the rule so consumers would have clear labels so they could choose to purchase fresh or frozen chicken, and would know what they were getting. Our client thanked us for our work and ended our contract.  Shortly thereafter in the middle of the night, a Senator with strong ties to frozen poultry producers attached a rider to an appropriations rule that killed the change in the rule that we had fought so hard, and successfully to win. Our client should have followed the sage advice of Yogi Berra who once said “it ain’t over till it’s over.”

4. How did you get started in PR?

After years of working in politics, I joined a firm that did both political campaign media and PR and found that my skills were transferable, and the PR work did not require as much travel, sleeping on couches and floors, and crazy election schedules. 

5. What has been a highlight moment in your career with CLS thus far?

There have been many, but I will give two examples that are perhaps the most satisfying because of their importance. The first is when we helped the Red Cross manage the crisis facing the organization following 9/11. We helped guide the Red Cross  as they shifted their policy to ensure all of the money collected in association with the attacks went directly to help victims of 9/11, rather than reserving funds for future acts of terrorism. The decision and our work to communicate it generated editorial praise such as “The Red Cross Gets It Right,” and the appreciation of families of victims, public officials, and more. 

The other campaign I am very proud of is our work to persuade the U.S. Congress to pay its billion dollar debt to the UN and fully support the institution – a decision which came at a time when there was a real risk of the U.S. walking away from the UN and seriously weakening its ability to provide peace keeping and life saving humanitarian support.  

6. What is your favorite movie?

When Harry Met Sally

7. What is your favorite sport? Sports team? 

Baseball and the NY Yankees

8. What is your favorite DC monument?

Lincoln.

9. What was the last book you read?

Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford, which is not about the law but was written by the former New York Times Brooklyn federal court reporter. It’s a great read.  

10. Dog person or cat person?

Definitely a dog person. I am the proud owner of a seven year old Goldendoodle, Maggie.

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