Monthly Archives: March 2011

Cookbook Author Eats Crow

Sometimes, there’s really not much you can do but eat crow. That’s what The Barefoot Contessa did to salvage her reputation after twice denying a sick boy’s Make-a-Wish desire to meet the cookbook author.

Last week the Contessa, a.k.a. Ina Garten, was called out by for the snub. An avalanche of criticism poured forth, particularly after a spokesperson for her said she receives hundreds of requests each month to support charities and couldn’t possibly help all of them.

The negative PR has been relentless, however, the Professor says it’s time to throw her a bone. She has reversed course and invited six-year-old Enzo Pereda to visit her show.


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Palmer Trinity Book Fair

Alan Cheuse, the book commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered for more than two decades, kicks off Palmer Trinity School’s 20th Annual Book Fair Week, with a lecture on Monday, April 11. For more details, click here.

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Court Cares

The YWCA Court Care Cocktail Party, chaired by Gerald I. Kornreich, is one of my favorite annual fundraising events because the funds raised are dedicated to day care centers in Criminal Court and Family Court. A third center is slated to open this year. This year’s event will be held Thursday, April 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Sabadell Financial Center, 30th Floor, 1111 Brickell Avenue, Miami. A $60 donation will be accepted at the door, or online.

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From Housewife to Mogul

Let’s raise a glass to New York Housewife Bethenny Frankel on today’s announcement that her Skinnygirl Margarita brand has been sold to Fortune Brands, Inc. Though the terms of the sale were not disclosed, it’s a safe bet to say that Bethenny is truly the breakout star of the “Housewives” reality television franchise.

Launched just 18 months with limited distribution, according to the Wall Street Journal, Skinnygirl Margarita has become one of the largest ready-to-drink cocktail brands on the market. Plans are underway to expand and introduce other low-calories drink under the label.

Diet alcoholic beverages have been around a long time, but Bethenny tapped into a key market segment that she personified. (I prefer Tanqueray and tonic on the rocks, but then again, I’m not skinny, although I can see the attraction). What I find so fascinating about reality TV stars is that they don’t apologize for being celebrities based on absolutely nothing. Last night, Kendra Wilkinson, one of Hugh Hefner’s “girls next door” was introduced on Dancing with the Stars as “Reality Star.”

Like Bethenny, Kendra has built her own brand. Just say “Kendra” and we all know who you’re talking about. But unlike most of the genre’s most recognized names, Bethenny Frankel can now add “successful businesswoman” next to her name. We haven’t seen the last of this skinny mogul.

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It’s About Time

Here’s a hot topic within the communications industry (and I’m including advertising, marketing, PR and social media, which are tripping all over each other): the adoption of a code of ethics. The Institute of Advertising Ethics today released the following set of eight principles. I think it’s time we professionals step up to the plate.

  • Advertising, public relations, marketing communications, news, and editorial all share a common objective of truth and high ethical standards in serving the public.
  • Advertising, public relations, and all marketing communications professionals have an obligation to exercise the highest personal ethics in the creation and dissemination of commercial information to consumers.
  • Advertisers should clearly distinguish advertising, public relations and corporate communications from news and editorial content and entertainment, both online and offline.
  • Advertisers should clearly disclose all material conditions, such as payment or receipt of a free product, affecting endorsements in social and traditional channels, as well as the identity of endorsers, all in the interest of full disclosure and transparency.
  • Advertisers should treat consumers fairly based on the nature of the audience to whom the ads are directed and the nature of the product or service advertised.
  • Advertisers should never compromise consumers’ personal privacy in marketing communications, and their choices as to whether to participate in providing their information should be transparent and easily made.
  • Advertisers should follow federal, state and local advertising laws, and cooperate with industry self-regulatory programs for the resolution of advertising practices.
  • Advertisers and their agencies, and online and offline media, should discuss privately potential ethical concerns, and members of the team creating ads should be given permission to express internally their ethical concerns.

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Bite-Size Journalism

Thanks to a well-placed article in today’s New York Times, I discovered a news product that is exactly what I’ve been looking for in today’s overloaded information society. It’s called The Week, a compilation of 100-word news bites rounded up from other international news organizations. What’s not to get excited about finding something to read that hits the sweet spot between headline news and Time magazine?

The formula is apparently working because the news magazine is growing (and earned a $4 million profit last year). In addition, traffic to its web site hovers at one million monthly visitors, although my hunch is today’s article will result in a readership spike.

So what will you find in the magazine? Excerpts from a variety of news articles and opinion columns on each topic, plus film and book reviews and obituaries (I confess, I am a big reader of obituaries). And there’s a section called “Best Properties on the Market.” How fun is that?

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Beware the Spider Web

With three hit movies already in the can, and a fourth announced to debut Fourth of July weekend, 2012, there was no reason not to think that “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” on Broadway wouldn’t be anything but a huge success. Never mind that Bono and The Edge wrote the music and lyrics, and Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor was positioned at the helm.

But the injury-plagued $65 million musical just couldn’t get past the relentless bad press, despite the show’s efforts to stem the bad PR, and now it looks like the spider has woven yet one more layer: Taymor is out, the show will be shut down for several months, new songs will be written, and a new director, “The Boy From Oz” director Philip William McKinley, will take over.

Will “Spider-Man” recover? Only time will tell. But from the Professor’s perspective, the show made smart PR moves by confronting its problems publicly and finding solutions. This is classic crisis communications strategy: acknowledge the problem and tell the public what you plan to do about it.

True, it took a long time to put the strategy into place, which is a no-no, but it’s said that Taymor resisted outside help.

Something tells me the story won’t end here. What do you think? Did Spider-Man spin the story correctly? Will the spider web continue to grow?

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