Photograph by Frank Curran

The scene: The Union Wharf office of George Regan, the president of Regan Communications Group and long-ago press secretary to former mayor Kevin White. His dog, Brother Bailey, named after former Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey, is up on the table in one corner and 400 pictures, most of them of Regan alongside friends and famous people, cover every inch of every wall.

Where do you get your news? I get up around 5, take the dogs out, then I check TV and radio, the Globe, the Herald, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Post, the Daily News, and sometimes the Miami Herald.

How do you take your news, electronically or in print? I read everything in hard copies. I’m looking for potential new business. If someone’s got a problem, let’s go for it.

Fewer and fewer people are consuming news the way you do. Is that good or bad for someone in your business, whose job is influencing how events are covered? Internally, I go crazy. Everything is so immediate now. It’s whatever you get in a headline on social media. But it could be good for us. Absolutely. The danger is if there’s a bad headline, we’re screwed, dead on arrival.


Your company does public relations, government relations, media training, marketing, and video production. What is it you specialize in? I’m a really good strategist. I learned that from Kevin White. You don’t really learn that at BU or Suffolk. I excel at dealing with crises and problem-solving. Restaurant openings are not really my thing.

Speaking of crisis management, you’ve got one on your hands with your fight with Suffolk University President Margaret McKenna. Where does that stand?  It’s still ongoing. We’re only in the sixth inning.

Will you win? It’s not about winning. It’s saving the school. They made a horrible decision. Marty Meehan was their choice to lead Suffolk and three days before the announcement, UMass came roaring in the door and he took that job. The air was out of the balloon of the trustees and they really didn’t have the stomach for another search. They talked to Korn Ferry, the headhunter, who said there’s no one else out there. The only one that’s been vetted is Margaret McKenna. So they held their noses and went with Margaret McKenna. There’s a lesson in that. They paid a price and the school has paid a price.

Just when things seemed to be quieting down, your lawyer sent a demand letter to McKenna and Suffolk’s executive board alleging, among other things, that the school illegally broke its contract with your firm. Was it wise to keep the dispute going? I owe that school and that woman has no right being the leader. That’s why I took a very public stand. I learned that from Kevin. If you’ve got a mouth, use it. It gets me in trouble, too.

Did you release the demand letter to the press? No, I did not.

Did McKenna release it? I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m told she released it. [Suffolk’s spokesman says the school did not release the letter].

If she released the letter, what does that tell you? That she’s pretty good. She gets it. She’s a tough lady.

Her PR person, Greg Gatlin, used to work for you, right? Yes. Sometimes people forget where they came from. I think he thinks he came over on the Mayflower and had a window seat.

But isn’t he just doing his job now that he’s working for McKenna? Yeah, it’s fine, but I’m a little disappointed in him. That’s Greg. I don’t lose any sleep over it.

You said the last time you met McKenna in person was just before Christmas at Davio’s, where you and your staff presented your PR plan for the coming year to McKenna and John Nucci, the senior vice president for external affairs at Suffolk. What happened at that dinner? She basically said at that dinner, do you want to be on my team or Drew’s team? [Drew is Suffolk board chairman Andrew Meyer.] She thought I was the vehicle to get rid of him. She knew that I knew Drew very well.

Why do you think she wanted Meyer gone? She wants to get rid of him because he has a strong voice, too.

How did you respond? I told her she was delusional to think we’d get involved. When you’re the president by default, you have to understand that. She knew at that point where our allegiance was. She saw it as either her or him. It had nothing to do with the school. It was all about her.

Was there any followup to that meeting? I got a call from Nucci. He said Carol Streit, who is McKenna’s chief of staff and has a personal relationship with her, had asked him to call me and get me to revisit the Drew issue, to get him to step down from the board. I told John absolutely not, it’s not going to happen.

How do you think this will end? I don’t know what’s going to happen. She’s made a lot of enemies unnecessarily. The board really wanted this to work. They really did. I remember the day after the announcement [of McKenna’s appointment], Drew called me and said the press was good, I can get back to work now. The second day she’s pulling down pictures of trustees at the law school. The second day.

13 replies on “One on One with George Regan”

  1. Ok, here you have a paid consultant saying stuff that makes it seem like he is the boss and has a say in how Suffolk runs. HE IS A CONSULTANT. He might be a fixture, but HE IS A CONSULTANT. He should have been fired years ago. He is also no Kevin White (he is a name dropper too).

  2. As for the pictures of the Board – it was stupid. Think about it: The Board comes marching and sits in front, across or near their picture!! The real issues are: 1) The University has too much debt and its rating is just about junk; 2) It has too small an endowment, much of which is collateral; 3) It has burned they 5 Presidents in just over 5 years: 4) It paid former President Sargent the fattest salary of any college in the Nation and had offices for him at 51 State Street; and 5) it’s tuition undermines the purpose why I attended and graduated from Suffolk. Regan should realize that future customers are looking at how he has played his hand and would be reluctant to engage his company.

  3. 1. Disappointing that the only substantive reason articulated for the board’s anger and actions are the taking down of their portraits. One has to presume that these portraits were commissioned with student tuition dollars and are certainly not just cause to launch a public campaign that is undermining the university’s stability and reputation.

    2. On the one hand, Mr. Regan claims that he has a valid PR contract to represents Suffolk’s interest and also stated that he “owe[s] Suffolk”, yet he continues to be the leading public cheerleader disparaging it’s reputation and threatening its stability.

    3. In this context, it is important to remember that Mr. Regan has received substantial tuition dollars for his services, and his continued trashing of the institution in the media has necessitated the hiring of a competitor public relations firm (rasky baerlein), which also has a substantial contract paid by student tuition dollars.

  4. Such a psycho. Does he have any grasp of reality at all?! Or any concern for what he’s doing to Suffolk? McKenna is that school’s only hope right now and the board should be on their knees begging her to help them and not sue them and Regan for slander. And OF COURSE he released the letter!!! Absurd. Retire and go soak up some more Florida sun, you leather-faced hack.

  5. How can it be that the leader of one of the largest PR firms in the country is so amazingly inept at performing the very work his empire is built on? I feel like I am reading the ramblings of a contemptuous adolescent who throws things up in the air to see what sticks; what a way to conduct your own public relations.

    Notice, too, how there’s no sustenance to his allegations. Are portraits really the reason that this whole thing happened? Come on. And how curious that he says “it was either her, or him.” Clearly, Regan holds that same logic true to himself.

    Short of blackmail or some other illicit means, I can’t see how any Regan client would want to keep this clearly troubled man’s services.

  6. This guy is a self-centered piece of work stuck in the past. Reminds me of old relics who stare at old, faded photographs longing for the days of bad cocktails, stale cigar smoke, and bamboozling. Now that he has nothing left, and let’s be clear, he has nothing left, he’s taking down whatever and whoever he can with him. This is so disappointing to see the head of an actual company SO out of touch with society.

    Plus, who still reads the print edition of a newspaper? Come on.

  7. I used to think Bruce Mohl was a real journalist, but this Q&A indicates otherwise. Did Regan write up the questions for this piece so he could continue to spread lies and innuendo on the Suffolk issue? And I guess there’s no fact checking anymore — if GK says it, anyone will print it these days. A sorry state of affairs.

  8. Regan mentions that Meehan was their man and thy lost him, and that they should have re-opened the search. Ok, what does that tell you? It tells me that good people took a pass on applying for the job, or the Suffolk leadership thought the fix was in with Meehan and it wasn’t. In either case, the path goes back to an institution led by crappy leadership – which became evident in this mess – AGAIN.

    Regan is shooting himself in the foot. He clearly believes he is a powerbroker, but unless he has compromising pictures and videos of his clients, his business will gradually evaporate. He thinks he is too important, but he isn’t. No company wants a consultant who thinks he is more important than they are.

  9. I don’t understand how Marty Meehan was pursued by both UMass and Suffolk University. Meehan spent 8 years as Chancellor at UMass Lowell achieving the following: 1) a 29% four year graduation rate which means 71% of students enrolled in a full-time, four year degree program at UMass Lowell do not have Bachelor’s Degrees at the end of four years; 2) UMass Lowell has 10 new buildings added to the UMass bond debt where interest only payments are scheduled for years to come; 3) existing UMass Lowell buildings have $593 million in deferred maintenance that “must be addressed” with 60% of that backlog representing “immediate needs… critical facility subsystems… HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, building envelopes and roofs have already failed or are functioning at greatly degraded efficiency at great cost that will continue to increase;” 4) newly created administrative positions outpaced new faculty even though “Enrollments grew more than 48% between 2007 and 2014 and are projected to grow 4% this Fall;” and 5) there was a $217,000 theft at UMass Lowell systematically occurring during most of the 8 years Meehan was Chancellor with the investigation ending in May 2014 but the public didn’t find out about it until a few days before Christmas 2015…six months after Meehan became UMass president. All Meehan did at UMass Lowell was build a house of cards. And what was one of the first things Meehan did when he walked into his new office? The new UMass president gave $20,000 raises to highly paid staff members already making two, three, four, five and even six times the median household income in this state.

  10. Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” For years there were rumors and whispers about how mean, petty and unprofessional Regan is. No need to listen to rumors anymore – listen to the man himself.

    He disparages a former colleague. He reveals his client’s confidences. I am not sure why anyone would work for him or retain his services.

  11. Why would I use a PR firm…that If I cut ties with him…would turn around and sue me….after all the money he has made with them.

  12. This article is not helping Mr. Regan’s case or reputation. But in the end, Suffolk suffers the most damage. The entire board should be dismissed and replaced.

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