Lloyd Blankfein is starting to worry about his legacy.

The 55-year-old chief executive of Goldman Sachs three-plus years into his tenure recently turned to a Texas corporate p.r. firm to buff the image of the tarnished Wall Street powerhouse.

Turning to outside consultants to gauge a firm's "perception in the marketplace" is unusual for the 140-year-old firm. But that's what you do, even if you are Masters of the Universe, when the national and international media accuse you of engineering and profiting from a back-door rescue of AIG, of using cash from a taxpayer bailout and cheap Federal Reserve financing to help finance lavish bonuses, and taking down the entire Greek economy.

Blankfein took the step of using the fancy p.r. firm, Public Strategies, sources say, because he feels Goldman has successfully weathered a storm of controversy by trimming the overall compensation pool to 36 percent of revenue and must now work to undo the damage.

Public Strategies, headed by Dan Bartlett, a confidant of George W. Bush and Karl Rove, is already on the case. Earlier this month, Goldman clients and Wall Street analysts starting filling out an exhaustive, online questionnaire seeking to pinpoint exactly what people thought of Blankfein's firm.

One question wanted survey participants to compare Goldman to other Wall Street banks and names rivals JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Bank of America, Citigroup and Barclays. Respondents were asked to fill in blanks from least favorable to most favorable.

"For the first 139 years it wasn't that relevant to us to explain ourselves," Blankfein told Fortune recently. "And now it became very relevant and the press did an important thing for us, they pointed out to us that that was a deficiency in our strategy, not to reveal ourselves . . . I'm just trying to take pains, which we should have done all along, to make sure that people understand what we do in the world."

Sources point out that Goldman has used Public Strategies before, at least to consult on a specific, one-off deal basis.

The move to help re-burnish the image of Goldman may be tied to Blankfein's roots in workaday New York. Born in The Bronx and raised in a Brooklyn public housing project, Blankfein, the son of a US Postal Service clerk, became one of the most powerful and highly compensated people in finance.