Thursday, June 30

ABC: Avoiding Big Controversy?

Is this the beginning of the end of reality show mania..? Or does this mark a new turning point in the marketing thereof?

ABC's new reality series "Welcome to the Neighborhood" is apparently no longer welcome to a time slot. The network has pulled the show just days before the debut, despite several weeks of heavy promotion.

The concept -- three white Christian families in Texas pick their new neighbors -- was apparently too offensive to too many. The seven families vying for the new home included an Asian family, a African-American family, a Hispanic family, a gay couple with a black child, a Wiccan family, a family of tattooed and pierced Republicans, and a poor white family. In addition to all of the stereotypical comments that ensue, conservative Christian groups are assailing the show for making all of them look like bigots.

All I can say is... what a way to generate buzz for placing it on the fall schedule. Nothing makes people more curious than what they can't see.

6 Comments:

At 7/01/2005 03:50:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

What, no Jews? Then, hilarity would have ensued.

 
At 7/12/2005 11:28:00 PM, Anonymous RPS said...

A family of Canadians would have been fun. Although all that polite-ness would have been a ratings-killer.

For which the Canadian family would have apologized, and politely moved back home.

 
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At 10/10/2005 12:32:00 PM, Blogger startonline said...

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Wednesday, June 29

Swimming with the Sharks

How do you fend off a shark attack?

Forget hitting it on the nose... apparently, you spin it to death.

An article in the Tallahassee Democrat features a swarm of tourism officials trying to undo the damage of shark attack headlines.

Here's a summary of what they have to say:
"We'll be beefing up (beach) patrols because we've got this big festival coming up," -- Paula Pickett, Gulf County Director of Tourism.
That's reassuring.
"We've got a strong volunteer fire department and beach and rescue (members) with jet skis and boats." -- Pickett
At least I won't bleed for very long.
"Instead of looking for kids misbehaving, we'll have an extra eye of caution in case of additional shark attacks." -- Pickett
You're more likely to drown, or get caught in an undertow.
"You're going to see sharks, but we were looking for swarms of shark," -- Gulf County Sheriff Dalton Upchurch, commenting on an aerial view.
How many does it take to bite me, exactly...?

"It's so rare for something like this to happen. I don't think it's going to hurt (business) at all." -- Lizzette Dearinger, property manager.
No siree... (whistling past the graveyard)
"I think what it will do is help raise awareness that, when swimming in the ocean, you need to be cautious," -- Vanessa Welter, PR director for Visit Florida.
You don't have anything to worry about, except far all the things responsible people ought to worry about.
"It's not a public swimming pool. It's an environment with large animals." -- Welter
Stay home, or go to the "Y", you pansies.
"They are very rare in the state of Florida," -- Pat Smith, corporate communications director for Visit Florida
In Florida, your chances of becoming shark-bait are very low...
"We basically want to remind people to take safety precautions, but Florida remains a safe and secure destination." -- Smith
...but out in the ocean, you need to be careful.

See how ridiculous things can get after awhile? Pat answers and reassurances don't soothe any nerves when they are in conflict with each other. All of these spokespeople have similar goals, but their messaging doesn't reflect that. I'll say this... your reputation is at a much greater risk of being damaged by mixed signals than by a Great White.

1 Comments:

At 7/08/2005 11:38:00 PM, Anonymous Eric Eggertson said...

It all reminds me of Toronto worrying about tourism while they had a health crisis to deal with during the SARS outbreak. Just as they got their messages all lined up, the World Health Organization announced it didn't recommend travel to that city. Hmmmm. It's hard to generate tourism traffic under that kind of advisory...

 

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Tuesday, June 28

An open letter to Richard Scrushy

Dear Mr. Scrushy:

Congratulations on beating the rap in your $2.7-billion accounting fraud trial. That is no mean feat.

However, there are a lot of people who are coming to terms with your acquittal, not ready to attach "innocence" to your name. Just ask Michael Jackson, who beat his charges, but was labelled as a "probable pedophile" by one of the twelve who set him free.

So, here are some things I recommend you do to repair your public image:

1) Be Gracious. Avoid speaking ill of anyone who wished you the worst. Keep the focus on you and your family. And take a vacation.

2) Don't storm the citadel at HealthSouth. Yes, it's your baby. Yes, as far as the law is concerned, you've been vindicated and have every right to reclaim your office. Don't. They will make your return ugly. Express your relief that HealthSouth is on better financial footing. You can go home again, but don't sour your public persona by running back inside today. That would look too greedy.

3) Do not cancel your "Morning Viewpoint" show. Too many people saw this show as a transparent ploy to recast your image. Prove them wrong.

4) Re-invest in the community. Yeah, a lot of organizations were quick to pull your name off those schools and buildings and streets and libraries that carried your name. That's not what you need to re-approach. Let your next wave of philanthropy be quiet -- let word of mouth carry the day. As long as you don't appear to be "buying" good will, you'll succeed. You lost a lot of people at once, you need to get them back one at a time.

As I write this, you are already putting some of this advice to use. I heard you say something to the effect of "We give all the glory to God, who gave me and my wife the strength to endure this torture..." It's not enough to say the right things... you've got to live them over time. Just use the same discipline you did in the pre-trial phase.

Just be content to re-cast a new legacy. Leave the old one behind. There was too much baggage there anyway.

Trying to be fair, your pal...

Ike.

(p.s. -- some of my friends reading this may have other advice for you too. They'll add it to the comments section.)

5 Comments:

At 6/28/2005 02:13:00 PM, Blogger Peter Himler said...

I think your advice is sound. What intrigues me is what forces led the jury to acquit this man? As you know, I wrote about his overtly public campaign to vigorously defend his honor. You chimed in by citing the cable TV show he started, etc.

Is this a a good strategy? Would Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski have been acquitted had he followed the same path to shaping the court of public opinion? Food for thought.

 
At 6/29/2005 06:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I understood was this: The jury didn't find him "innocent", they found him "not guilty". They said that the prosecution put together an aweful case full of holes and discreditable (?) evidence. The jury just couldn't find that whole "beyond reasonable doubt" thing.

What I *think* is this: Scrushy's got alot of money stashed with alot of people. These people just, quite simply, paid the jury off.

 
At 6/29/2005 08:53:00 AM, Blogger Ike said...

You're certainly entitled to your opinion. And that's something Richard Scrushy will have to make peace with -- that a sizeable population will neither trust nor like him.

It shouldn't change the things he needs to do from a public image perspective.

 
At 7/01/2007 08:28:00 PM, Blogger Chuck Gallagher said...

While every media outlet is reporting that HealthSouth's founder, Richard Scrushy, was sentenced to six years and 10 months in Federal prison for bribery, there many looming questions that will likely be overshadowed by numerous shouts of judicial victory. As a high profile case, keep in mind that Scrushy was acquitted of a $2.7 billion accounting fraud trial in Birmingham. Following his acquittal, Scrushy proclaimed his innocence in the face of prosecutors who were none to happy.

Immediately there were cheers of judicial joy shouted all over the internet. Scrushy finally got what he deserved stated one blog with no apology for the gleeful tone. It seems that people easily find joy in another's trials. Funny, but focusing on another trials often keeps the focus off of our own issues and the pain of true human growth.

I feel for Scrushy. I know what he has been through and I know what its like to walk into Federal prison. Although in Scrushy's case he was immediately taken into custody - something rarely done in a white-collar crime case. Scrushy has exchanged a life of prestige and power to living in a place void of most worldly distractions. But, prisons are places where real personal changes can occur. Certainly, over then next five years or so, Mr. Scrushy will have time for meaningful self-evaluation.

On a crisp October day in 1995, I took 23 physical steps… opened a door… and began a new experience that was life-changing. Thinking back 12 years ago, I would never have considered that I, a competent, well educated man, would be sitting in prison. That was a life educational experience where I learned, really for the first time, that there are consequences to every unethical choice we make. Though one might think that we can avoid the consequences, the reality is that they are unavoidable and certain. We just don't know how or when we will face the inevitable.

Prison time gave me the opportunity to focus on "choices." Every choice has a consequence. The consequences are inescapable. They can be negative (prison for example) or positive and we, through the choices we make in life, control the outcome. Scrushy controlled this consequence he is now facing. He might have felt that he dodged the bullet when he avoided the first possible conviction, but the consequences of his unethical actions did yield a result.

Today, Scrushy will wake up each day and be counted - known as a number - and will occupy his time working and reflecting. He will be denied the simple pleasures that we take for granted. And, he will learn to regret those choices that he will recall often - the choices in life that earned him this privilege.

But, is there life following prison? Once again from personal experience I found the answer is yes! However, it is without doubt a function of the choices you make. Never forget, every choice has a consequence. We can make from the trials of life what we want. We all journey through life struggling to find some meaningful purpose to our earthly existence. Through this we all make choices and mistakes. From time to time we may receive help along the way and if we are really fortunate we might have the insight to "pay it forward" and help others.

As a former CPA, through a series of bad choices or serious ethics lapses, I became a white-collar criminal. Now, I am a sales executive in a publicly held company (something highly unusual for a convicted felon) and an international motivational speaker. I now take the time to review my lessons from prison and write about those experiences so that others may gain benefit and perhaps learn from the experience of others. Some of us learn lessons the hard way. Yet, through sharing the experience of my incarceration and return to productivity, others have stated that they've been able to look at their choices in a different and more productive way.

I learned a lot in prison. Mostly I became aware that success is not defined by our material possessions, but rather how we can help others. Through the Choices Foundation, which I founded, and my speaking and writing, I find today that helping others is a joy. People often ask, looking back, what I think about my time in prison. My response, "Best thing that ever happened to me." While I won't make the choices that would send me back (I didn't like it that much), I gained great insight while there and know that there is life following prison.

Perhaps, over time, Mr. Scrushy will learn through careful insight that following his time in prison he will emerge stronger and able to be a powerful voice of hope. Meanwhile, let us not forget that his family is experiencing pain, and perhaps we can remember them as they face new trials of their own.

 
At 11/23/2010 09:31:00 PM, Anonymous cialis said...

Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites

 

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Scrushy walks

Let the PR punditry begin.

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So far...

...not guilty, through the first dozen counts...

...and not guilty through the rest as well.

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Scrushy verdict coming

The corporate fraud trial of HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy is over. Verdict at 11:30 Central.

I've said before that he has to win in court, and in the court of public opinion.

We'll see if he beats the first to have a chance at the second.

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Monday, June 27

No post today...

...had to take my little girl (Laura) to the emergency room. They did a spinal tap, and the results were good. No red or white counts at all, so meningitis and its nasty cousins are seemingly out of the picture.

We're keeping our fingers crossed for the blood culture. There's a follow up appointment tomorrow, and we ought to be in the clear.

Thanks, and keep checking this space. I'll get back to blogging later in the week.

2 Comments:

At 6/28/2005 01:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know!
What is going on with her???

 
At 6/28/2005 01:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry...that was me, Aunt Rachel

 

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Friday, June 24

The PeTA principle...

“A crisis is a violation of your organizational vision.”
-- Overdrive, Michael Silva and Terry McGann
That's one of the best definitions of a crisis I've ever seen. If you want to see crisis management in action, pay attention how PeTA spins its way out of its current mess.

The organization has staked its mission on animal rights and humane treatment. Now, two employees at the PeTA national headquarters have been charged with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty, and eight counts of illegal disposal of dead animals -- in a shopping center garbage bin.

As bad as that sounds, this admission from organization president Ingrid Newkirk might raise a few eyebrows:
"PETA has never made a secret of the fact that most of the animals picked up in North Carolina are euthanized."
Statistics show that from 1998 through 2003, PeTA actually euthanized a higher percentage of its animals than nearby branches of the SPCA.

Newkirk is already aware of the potential for negative press, considering how this seems to go against everything the group is for:
"It's hideous... I think this is so shocking it's bound to hurt our work."
You would think there would be a response or a rebuttal on the PeTA website. I found nothing -- and that's a big mistake.

2 Comments:

At 6/26/2005 09:59:00 AM, Blogger Peter Himler said...

For an organization as PR-savvy as PETA, I'm surprised that it does not have its internal ducks in order. Actually, I'm not. Most activist NGO's are focused on generating media coverage through high-profile external activities, e.g., throwing blood at fur shows and the like. Few take "organizational communications" seriously, and are thus at risk, as evidenced by the PeTA incident you so astutely cite here.

 
At 6/26/2005 03:52:00 PM, Blogger The Dating Doctor said...

Thanks for your blog! It is a great outlet from a long day at work!

Keep spreading the good word!!!

-- Kara

 

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Thursday, June 23

What's worse than a TV sweeps piece?

How about a TV sweeps piece that links you to profiting from the sexual exploitation of children?

That happened to Yahoo!, which until recently allowed just about anyone to create a chat group. Until recently, when the company took the heat for allowing groups like:
  • 9-17-Year-Olds Wantin' Sex
  • Younger Girls 4 Older Guys
  • Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys
  • Girls 13 And Up For Much Older Man
  • Girls 8 to 13 Watch Boys (In A Particular Sex Act)
Ouch.

Not only are the offending chatrooms down -- so are all user-created chat areas, along with the ability to create new ones. Yahoo!'s spokesperson said they were closed for improvements and to ensure compliance with Yahoo!'s terms of service. That spokesperson did not mention anything about the $10,000,000 suit filed against the portal, which profited on the sites by selling ads. Users had to click through spots for Pepsi, T-Mobile, State Farm, Georgia-Pacific and others just to get to the chatrooms in question.

The real sting here, aside from the additional bad press the lawsuit will slowly bring, is that Yahoo! had been handed a rather large petition last year asking for the rooms to be shut down. The $10-million suit only represents a fraction of the $205-million Yahoo! made on advertising, but does not count the loss of many key advertisers who bailed to dissociate themselves.

This is why PR people need to be invited to the big table. Not to make the big decisions, but to advise the powers-that-be of the consequences of their actions (and inactions.)

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Wednesday, June 22

Too funny not to share...

My wife hates surveys. I don't mind them so much.

Back when I worked in television, I was disqualified from most of them anyway. So while Brenda watched the AFI Top 100 Movie Quotes, I picked up the ringing phone with "Gallup" on the caller-ID. (Kudos to them for being up-front about it.)

After the obligatory demographic information, I was asked some questions about my employment.
"Do you work for an ad agency or marketing firm?"
No.

"Are you directly related to anyone who works for an ad agency or marketing firm?"
Again, a no... but I figured the next one would hone in on me and knock me out of the survey.

There was no additional disqualifier.

So I ended up answering a bunch of questions about retailers -- specifically Target and Wal-Mart.

I guess it never occurred to anyone to ask if I had written anything about retailers in the recent past. Bloggers get free reign!
"Do you recall any news stories about Home Depot within the last four weeks?"
No.

"Do you recall any news stories about Target within the last four weeks?"

No.

"Do you recall any news stories about Wal-Mart within the last four weeks?"

Well, as a matter of fact, I do recall a story I saw on the internet about a bill in the Ohio legislature that would give women the right to breast-feed in public, and the bill is a direct result of a woman who sued Wal-Mart after being tossed out of the Lebanon, Ohio store eight years ago.

"Excuse me, sir... I'm trying to write all this down."
I also remember seeing a story about a Wal-Mart ad executive who was pushing a vote to expand a Flagstaff store into a SuperCenter, and he published an ad comparing a "no" vote with book burning, but he used a stock photo of a Nazi book-burning, and he resigned.
Yeah, I actually recited all of that from memory. I'll bet someone flags my survey response. But that wasn't my favorite answer of the night.

I was asked to rate the stores in various categories from a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree."
"Use any number between 1 and 5 -- how would you rate the statement 'Wal-Mart makes contributions to the local community'?"
Any number?

"Any number."
(I am such a nerd...)

Based on the question selection, my gut tells me it's Wal-Mart doing the market research. Which they had better be doing, now that they are talking to the press and everything.

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Tuesday, June 21

Update: Kraft cleans up its recipe

The link to the Kraft foods site for the raped chicken recipe has finally been pulled.

Took 'em long enough.

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Milking bad press

Bad press happens. You deal with it and move on with the job of protecting your institutional reputation.

What you don't want to do is let things devolve to the point where you become a media whipping boy, constantly re-living your mistake.

A Wal-Mart in Lebanon, Ohio is still being trotted out as the "art" for pieces about public breast feeding, eight years after the fact. Ohio's legislature is batting around a bill outlining the rights of lacto-Americans, and the mom who claims she was kicked out of the store eight years ago is the inspiration for this bill. (By the way -- she lost her suit against Wal-Mart.)

Still, Wal-Mart -- the last time I checked -- does business beyond the Lebanon city limits. Savvy PR types would remind the reporters involved of any and every policy improvement since 2000. Anything to get Wal-Mart's name out of this controversy. Anything less makes them look like a bunch of boobs rubes.

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Monday, June 20

Deserted Isle?

Where I live, Natalee Holloway is a local story. We've been saturated with the coverage of her disappearance, as well as all of the rescue and search efforts. When the media scale went multi-national, Aruba had a small window of opportunity to gird against the backlash.

Now Aruban businesses and residents who rely on tourist dollars are getting concerned about the publicity and its effect on the economy.

Aruba's Chamber of Commerce (or equivalent) needed to be out in front of this situation, making sure there were plenty of experts who could explain the differences between the U.S. and Aruban justice systems. They still need to be out in front, using the internet to be a resource to all of those outsiders who have a stake in this case, or might one day consider vacationing there.

If it's happening, I don't see it. And as much as I am online, if I don't see it, it's not enough.

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Attack off the track

NASCAR might be 500 miles of left turns, but at least it's NASCAR.

The IRL and F-1 circuits aren't even on the lead lap.

Open-wheel racing has slipped greatly to NASCAR, because it has not generated the personalities.

Enter Danica Patrick.

The 23-year-old phenom put the Indianapolis 500 back on the map this year just by qualifying. She finished fourth, and became the first woman ever to lead the race. No fluke. (Her FHM photo-shoots didn't hurt, either.)

This is just the kind of good publicity that could spark new interest in Indy Racing. When asked if she'd ever jump to Formula-1, she said it would just take a sponsor.

Enter F-1 president Bernie Ecclestone.
"She did a good job, didn't she? Super. Didn't think she'd be able to make it like that," Ecclestone answered to a gathering of reporters.

Before leaving, Ecclestone then offered his thoughts of women joining men on the racetrack.

"You know, I've got one of these wonderful ideas that women should be all dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances," Ecclestone added.

What was he thinking? The split between IRL and F-1 nearly destroyed open-wheel racing, and neither is strong enough to risk stupidity. Is this Ecclestone's way of drafting behind the new leader? Was this just a ploy to remind the sports world that there is in fact another racing organization?

It's not like he had a lot to lose. F-1 carries a more global audience, and that attitude isn't as likely to hurt him.

But still...

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Friday, June 17

Accentuate the Positive, European Edition

Keep it simple, stupid.

If you're key messages won't fit on the back of a business card, then you aren't focused enough on the point you'd like to make.

Maybe that is why the proposed European Union constitution went down in flames in France. It turns out the thing runs 448 pages.

French politicos who were trying to win passage sent a copy to every French voter. (We mail stuff that big all the time in the U.S. -- but they are filled with pictures and smell like perfume.)

Some of the EU Proponents thought it was a bad idea to send out that many copies. They were right. But they were also wrong to insult the electorate.
One crucial mistake was to send out the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter, said Mr Giscard.

Over the phone he had warned Mr Chirac already in March: "I said, 'Don't do it, don't do it'".

"It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text".
Even if you were going to read the thing, do you think you'd be sympathetic to the cause of someone who smacks of that much elitism?

The first mistake was tactical. The second mistake was insensitive, and will ultimately be harder to overcome.

1 Comments:

At 6/18/2005 12:13:00 AM, Anonymous Jp said...

What, did they look to Roy Moore for advice?

"Only someone as learned as me could understand the arguments I would make..."

 

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Thursday, June 16

Not everything is bigger in Texas.

Short, sweet, and to the point.

Sometimes the bluntest messages are the most effective.

Take as case in point this message from the president of Texas A&M.

Seems a former faculty member spouted off with a theory that the World Trade Center towers did not collapse on their own, but were brought down by a planned demolition by the Bush Administration. Dr. Morgan Reynolds had also served in the Bush Administration -- as an economist in the Department of Labor.

Once Dr. Reynolds ties to Texas A&M surfaced, the school acted promptly to define his status as Professor Emeritus, and point out that he didn't even have an office there:
"The American people know what they saw with their own eyes on September 11, 2001. To suggest any kind of government conspiracy in the events of that day goes beyond the pale.” -- Dr. Robert M. Gates, President, Texas A&M
Complete disassociation. It looks like the Aggies PR department has been taking notes from the lingering controversy at the University of Colorado and statements made by Professor Ward Churchill. Churchill is accused of academic fraud, plagiarism, misrepresenting his Native American heritage, and misconduct. (He said the victims of 9/11 deserved what they got, because they were "Little Eichmanns".) The CU PR department is now looking at a massive overhaul.

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Wednesday, June 15

Image is everything, but it isn't the only thing.

"It's not enough to be liked by good men -- you must strive to be despised by bad men."

Confucius was a Sheriff and a Guru, but he didn't pander to people who didn't matter to him. These days, we are so obsessed with perception that we can forget the goal.

I some cases, like the Natalee Holloway disappearance that has Aruba's image at stake, perception can become reality.

In other cases, like the 1964 slayings of three civil-rights workers in Mississippi, there is justice to be served.

When outcomes are more nebulous, like the US Senate apologizing for decades of ducking anti-lynching laws, your pragmatic side can start to ask if you're just inviting additional complaint and scrutiny.

In some scenarios, you just ignore public opinion entirely. Some GOP senators are now questioning the value of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, strictly because it is becoming more a PR liability than a proven one.

In all four of the above, those crafting the key messages must take into account that their strategy -- be it capitulation, defiance, or perserverance -- hits only the approprate target.

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Monday, June 13

Michael's First Post-Verdict Bungle?

Did Michael stop and wave at his adoring minions, who were releasing doves to the sky?

No.

Did Michael take to the microphone and plead with the world to let him resume his life?

No.

Instead, he piled into a caravan and booked it to Neverland.

If pictures are worth a thousand words, then nothing screams "guilt" like a slow-speed Bronco chase. (Was Al Cowlings driving?)

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Well, we know who speaks for MJ.

The jury.

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Michael's mouth

Everyone who is speaking for Jacko, please holds your arms out wide.

(Raymone, you can put your arms down.)

What a Shakespearean mess. Michael Jackson fired his spokeswoman, Raymone Bain. Sure, she doesn't carry the same firepower as the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. But publicly firing her might not have been a great move. It fuels public notion that MJ and his camp are in disarray.

I don't know that I buy the theory that the lawyers had her canned to maintain distance and respect for the gag order. It smacks of the kind of chaos one would create as a diversion, so reporters will have something else to talk about besides Jackson's guilt or innocence.

Reminds me of an old legal saying: "When the law is on your side, pound the law. When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If neither is on your side... pound your fist."

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Sunday, June 12

Watch your on-line presence

Stuff like this needs to be moderated.

Seriously -- where are the keyword filters to ensure this kind of thing doesn't cause a PR headache?

Or, for the highly cynical... how many people think someone at Kraft dreamed this up as a way to generate web traffic through viral marketing?

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Friday, June 10

Arlene.

Have a safe weekend everyone... especially those in the South, about to get another good drenching.

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A Bentonville blunder

"The number of days it took Wal-Mart to botch its new proactive public relations strategy."

"What is Thirty-three."

"Correct."

"I'll take "Self-inflicted Public Relations Nightmares" for $800, Alex."


You don't have to be a Ken Jennings know-it-all to recognize a bad idea.

After waking from decades of PR hibernation, it took Wal-Mart less than five weeks to stumble across a PR disaster. (At least one of its own making.)

A Wal-Mart PR manager has now resigned, after taking out a controversial ad in an Arizona newspaper. It was part of an informational campaign to answer opponents a Flagstaff Wal-Mart expansion.

The ad attempted to draw a parallel between book burnings and the prevention of free commerce. The accompanying text read:
"Should we let government tell us what we can read? Of course not . . . So why should we allow local government to limit where we shop?"
That's a fairly complicated message to attempt given the short-attention span of our culture. The problem is that no one realized the picture was from a Nazi book-burning. No one, except the Arizona Anti-Defamation League.

Not only has the executive responsible resigned, but the firm that produced the ad severed its retainer with Wal-Mart.

Here is a link to a .pdf of the actual ad.

This is especially foul because Wal-Mart turned a corner in both proactive and reactive PR messaging, holding a press junket on April 5th of this year. It didn't take long for the rookie mistake to emerge.

(By the way... Wal-Mart spent nearly $300,000 on that Flagstaff campaign, just to add a grocery section to one of its stores. Apparently, they spent just enough. The ordinance limiting Wal-Mart's expansion was overturned by two percentage points.)

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Thursday, June 9

You've got to spend a few billion...

...to make a few trillion.

Just a quick link to projections about how businesses are trending on spending.
"Web development, combined with public relations, will capture $100 billion of the one trillion dollars earmarked for marketing expenditures in 2005, according to research firm Blackfriars Communications. The company's new report evaluates marketing budgets by industry."
Interesting that PR and "web development" are intertwined in that report. Could it be because there will be a lot of overlap in those categories? There sure are more and more job opportunities for corporate bloggers.

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Wednesday, June 8

Mixed signals

Television stations love to hype their weather coverage. Nothing says "promo" like viewers who say "Channel ## saved my life!"

In my years of tornado chasing, I had more than a few people who noticed the irony, that while my station's weather department was telling people to take cover, my news department was plotting my intercept course with the funnel.

Well, a similar type of incongruence has led to a public squabble in Tampa. WFLA News Director Forrest Carr is now the ex-News Director, and he says it's because there was no station hurricane plan.

Carr claims he got frustrated with General Manager Eric Land, because WFLA had no back-up plan and no evacuation plan for the next hurricane that threatened. Carr says he was canned after asking if this was a violation of evacuation laws, which Land perceived as a threat.

Of course, Land claims this is a personnel issue, and he can't comment on it. Sure makes him look bad, along with owner Media General. (So much for "on my side.")

Still, there is a narrow window of opportunity here for the station to do a little good PR. A lot of public information, followed by a recounting of WFLA's own plan will do wonders.

After all... you'd hate to see in interview after the next hurricane with someone in a body cast, who says "If Channel 8 wasn't taking it seriously, why should I?"

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Tuesday, June 7

Update...

In San Fran, even fumbles have aftershocks.
What did they know, and when did they know it?

As chronicled on last night's "Outside the Lines" on ESPN, a lot of the heat directed at the San Francisco 49er's over their media training video has to do with timing. Apparently, the top brass had known about the video for months with no repercussions.

Uh oh.

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Mr. and Mrs. Stiff.

What a pair of whiny-pants.

Brad and Angelina don't want to talk about their relationship while out promoting their new movie. Instead of politely declining to answer questions, they use legal muscle. You can't even get into the room to ask a question unless you sign a document promising to only ask about their movie. (Unless you want to talk about their globe-hopping charity and politics.)

The "contract" goes so far as to promise legal action if any of the interviews are used in an unflattering manner.

I guess it's hard to promote "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with words like "homewrecker" being bandied about.

1 Comments:

At 7/01/2005 02:18:00 PM, Anonymous Stephanie Lamar said...

All I have to say is this:
Why is homewrecker such a bad word?

And this:
Why is everyone acting so suprised? Remember Woody Allen? He was banging his own daughter under his wife's nose but everyone wrote that off as "Oh, that's just
Woody." Why? Because he's a man? Because he's weird? Because he's ugly?

I think Angelina, if she is indeed a "homewrecker," is "homewrecking" in the most decent way she could. She's not trashing Jennifer Anniston in public and is avoiding overt PDA with Brad out of respect.

Plus, Brad Pitt is so hot, can you blame her?

 

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Monday, June 6

Loose ships, credit slips.

Tightest ship in the shipping business? Four million people might beg to differ.

CitiGroup now admits that personal information on 3,900,000 consumer lending customers is now floating around somewhere.

Unlike other security lapses, this doesn't involve an internet transfer. Instead, Citi was sending a physical tape with the data to a credit bureau.

And UPS, which ships 14-million packages a day, just happened to lose this one.

Citi is doing its best to point the finger at UPS, even going as far as releasing a statement that is tantamount to a pink slip:
"We deeply regret this incident, which occurred in spite of the enhanced security procedures we require of our couriers," Kevin Kessinger, executive vice president of Citigroup (Research), said in a statement. "Beginning in July, this data will be sent electronically in encrypted form."
While this looks really bad for UPS for the time being, let's put this in perspective.

First of all, this is not another one of those stories about an internet breach or a computer virus or a phishing scam that has put your personal financial information at risk. No one (as far as we know) set out to procure this stuff. It's just lost.

Second, the odds of someone stumbling across the tape who can recognize what it is and have the appropriate equipment to read it is fairly small.

Third, has it occurred to anyone that maybe CitiGroup might be just a little behind the times here? Running large chunks of data through a sneakernet? I'm sure a secure intranet connection would be faster, with more frequent transfers. (I'll bet a dedicated fiber line directly to Experian would be cheaper than this PR headache will be.)

I'd like to know how many other outdated and inefficient measures Citi takes with regards to my profile. Is the electronic transfer going to be any safer? Isn't the use of couriers supposed to keep the hackers at bay? If electronic transfer is safer, then why has Citi been hoofing it? If the relative shift in safety is unknown, then why issue an immediate policy change? If one method is clearly safer than the other, why haven't they been using it? If not, then why suddenly switch?

I know what Citi is trying to accomplish in retaining consumer confidence. But its actions come across as rather rash, especially when placed under responsible journalistic scrutiny.

Maybe it's time to break down and buy identity theft insurance.

2 Comments:

At 10/04/2005 09:59:00 AM, Blogger ebgcommute said...

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At 10/07/2005 02:59:00 AM, Blogger ebgcommute said...

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Friday, June 3

Scouting the Truth

It's interesting to see how the slowly brewing Boy Scout recruitment story gets played out in local territories across the nation.

As we have talked about before, scout regions in Birmingham and Atlanta have been under federal investigation for inflating the numbers of minority members. (There was a special grant for recruitment in the inner cities.)

While the news out of Atlanta doesn't look good, different areas are taking divergent tacks in their spin. For instance, scout leaders in Washington, DC are denying there's a widespread problem. A spokesman in New Hampshire is telling local media they are conducting an independent audit to determine if there is a discrepancy.

You could make arguments either way. The DC posture is one of assurance that there is no local wrongdoing. The NH position seems wishy-washy on the surface ("We don't know if we're in compliance,") but actually follows through with a demonstrable action. In the end, the NH strategy comes off a bit stronger, in my humble opinion. There's also a chance that the DC statement will boomerang and haunt the leadership, should any type of financial question arise.

One is the bolder statement today. The other is the safer tomorrow. In your own dealings, choose the time frame that best fits your strategic goals and needs.

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Thursday, June 2

Good idea + Bad execution = Ugly headline

(In the spirit of the Deep Throat revelations, we'll call this "Golden Gate-gate".)

In past articles, I've commented on the growing media savvy in the sports world. NASCAR drivers, hockey players, and many others have sought specific training in learning how to deal with the media.

No one wants to be the next Latrell -- or T.O. -- or Jimmy the Greek.

Smart organizations are being proactive about coaching off-the-field behavior and on-the-record interviews.

Now, they ought to take a cue from the San Francisco 49er's and be smart in executing that plan, too. (Smarter than the team's ex-public relations director.)
In the video, public-relations director Kirk Reynolds cavorts with naked strippers, spoofs gay marriage and interviews then-team trainer George Chung, who does a parody of a Chinese accent.
Unfortunately, Reynolds works in one of the most diversity-sensitive zip codes on the planet.
The footage was enough for Doris Y.S. Owyang, a Chinese-American lesbian, to declare the end of her status as a lifelong 49ers fan.

"I'm mad. Did the civil rights movement never happen in this country? Have we struggled for equal rights for nothing when a professional football team that has fans in all these communities makes fun of the homeless, the mayor, gay marriage and Chinese."

Owyang was incensed by scene in which Reynolds interviews a character called Suck Hung (played by Chung), who speaks in an exaggerated accent while translating a Chinese newspaper story.
Imagine the firestorm that would have erupted had there been significant Asian and gay populations in San Francisco. Oh wait. You don't have to! Quick action on the part of the 49er's may deflect a lot of the heat onto the "rogue agent" who did this on his own... but you know those wounds will be ripped open after the is tape goes public. You know it's eventually going to leak to the internet. I'm betting by Monday.

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School daze

Most public relations problems are the result of a mistake or a miscommunication.

Every so often, you run across an example of a blunder that makes you wonder: "What were you thinking???"

A middle school principal in Georgia is playing damage control, after denying a visit from a U.S. Marine who wanted to thank a class who wrote him while he was overseas.

So far, her backtracking and explanations have not been consistent, and she's digging herself into a bigger hole.

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All's fair in love and war...

...unless you're the 900-pound gorilla.

The Wal-Mart bashers are out in force, and this time they are crying foul that the retailer would dare stoop to spending big bucks on "reputation management." (After all, they ought to be using that cash to give employees better benefits, and raises so they can afford to shop at Target.)

I'm not the only one who's been watching the awakening of the giant. Peter Himler has his take on a burgeoning double-standard in his "The Flack" blog.

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