Media maven

PR expert draws on law and political experience

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Blending a trifecta of legal, regulatory and political experience with his passion for working with the media, Daniel Cherrin is a public relations consultant whose PR firm — North Coast Strategies in Royal Oak — helps clients develop relationships with key decision makers in government, the community, and in the media.

“I created North Coast Strategies to be a public affairs plus public relations consultancy that’s reflective of America’s North Coast,” Cherrin explains. “It’s not a law firm — I’m a public relations professional who just happens to be a lawyer. My legal background and experience as a lawyer and lobbyist gives me a unique background in the industry and allows me to work well with other lawyers who may need public relations counsel for their clients or themselves.

“I’m really interested in supporting attorneys and their clients in protecting and enhancing their reputation, and I’ve developed a document to help guide attorneys in this effort.”

Cherrin’s firm represents clients in a variety of industries and specialty areas, ranging from local governments, homeland security, health care, defense, higher education, economic development, trade and transportation. Clients include the University of Toledo, University of Windsor and Wayne State University School of Medicine; border crossings such as The Detroit Windsor Tunnel and a cross-border ferry between Ontario and Ohio; an 1800 MW off shore wind project; The Ann Arbor Art Fair; Starfish Family Services; Fritz Enterprises; athletes, actors and more.

Despite its small size as a boutique consultancy, North Coast has a big reach and represents organizations nationally such as: Guardian Industries, The New York Times, Vistage International and Cassidy Turley, a national commercial real estate firm. 

In a particularly interesting case, North Coast was retained by a defense contractor that had been made aware of a provision in the Defense Authorization Bill prohibiting the sale of scrap metal once F-14 fighter jets were destroyed.

“At the time, the House passed their version of the bill and the Senate version was reported out of committee,” Cherrin says. “Through a number of meetings in Washington, Arizona and Michigan, we were able to amend the Defense Authorization Bill in Conference Committee, within just three months of being retained, to not only allow for the sale of the resultant scrap, but also to permit for the destruction of the tools and dies to create the parts.”

Cherrin also is an expert in crisis management — expertise he learned on the front lines in Detroit. In 2008, Detroit interim mayor Ken Cockrel — handed the reins in the wake of Kwame Kilpatrick’s resignation — appointed Cherrin as communications director and press secretary for the City of Detroit. As the lead spokesperson and brand builder following a tumultuous period in the city’s history, Cherrin helped restore integrity back to the office of mayor and trust back to Detroit government. 

Cherrin created, implemented and expanded strategic communications strategies for Detroit and prepared speeches for the mayor, including the inaugural address, State of the City, the mayor’s annual budget message and many others; advised and created strategic communications plans for a number of city departments, including the Detroit Fire Department, Municipal Parking, and the Department of Public Health & Wellness; and provided media training to city officials and introduced social media networks to the city for the first time.

He led the city’s communication efforts for a number of international events on behalf of Detroit, including The NCAA Final Four, North American International Auto Show, Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, Motown’s 50th Anniversary, Recycle Detroit, Detroit’s Spring Clean Up, and Angel’s Night.

Cherrin appeared in local, state, national and international media ranging from The Detroit Free Press, Associated Press, Sky Television (UK), National Public Radio, Dutch Public Radio, Central China Television and The Wall Street Journal, and a number of non-traditional as well as community newsletters and faith-based media. He helped reporters gather information for stories, ranging from the automotive crisis, economic stimulus, expansion of Cobo, bond swaps, the budget, and public health outbreaks such as H1N1.

Cherrin earned his political chops with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan, a major he says gave him a front row seat to learning the backstory to history.

“Studying political science is the same as studying current events or better yet, being an eye witness and at times a participant in making history,” he says.

Law was clearly in his DNA — his father and uncle are lawyers, as are his brother and cousin. After graduating from Michigan State University College of Law and spending three years clerking for three different labor law firms, Cherrin practiced no-fault litigation for a year.

But his real passion — and the reason for attending law school — was to become a lobbyist.

“Working for a small law firm I was given the opportunity to argue cases before the Court of Appeals and before various circuits,” he says. “While I enjoyed being an advocate, I did not like the forum and sought opportunities to be a bit more creative in how I advocate. An opportunity opened up to become the lead federal lobbyist for the Detroit Regional Chamber and I jumped at it.

“I actually recall sitting at the Starbuck’s downtown, waiting to start a job as a lawyer at a downtown firm, but calling the Chamber to see if they would extend an offer. They did and I never ended up starting at the other law firm. Working as a lobbyist, I would often represent the Chamber in the media to help advocate our position, so my practice evolved to becoming an advocate in the legislature, Congress and before the media.”

When Cherrin left the Detroit Chamber, he joined a venture capital firm that gave him the opportunity to start his own PR firm. Cherrin also is a certified mediator — helping others to find “consensus through chaos,” as he terms it.

“When people are involved in crisis or controversy, I can help each party find clarity through their concerns and help lead them to a mutually satisfying resolution,” he says. “Despite there being a number of attorneys who are not interested in resolving their client’s cases through mediation, there’s a crowded field of mediators who include a number of former judges that are selected over others.”

So Cherrin decided to focus on what he knows best — politics and policy.

“In a number of states, policy disputes and multi-party disputes are resolved through public policy dispute resolution — so I’m working with the State Bar of Michigan in raising awareness about the opportunity to use dispute resolution to resolve a number of public policy disputes or using facilitation to help create solid public policy.”

A native of Southfield, Cherrin later moved to West Bloomfield and currently lives in Huntington Woods with his wife, Marni, and the couple’s two daughters, ages 9 and 8, and their 6-year-old son.

“While I enjoy spending all of my time with my family, I also likes to show my children that it’s extremely important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and give back to the community in a variety of ways,” he says. 

To that end, he runs and competes in races throughout the spring and summer and volunteers on a number of boards, including the MS Society of Michigan, Urban League of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan Political Leadership Program, and Detroit Jewish News Foundation. He also is a member of the State Bar Representative Assembly and chairs the Executive Leadership Committee for the Michigan Society of Association Executives.