Category Archives: PR Commentary

From Hero to Zero

Full Disclosure: I was born and raised a Jersey girl. I haven’t lived in the state since Bill Cahill held the top spot. But until yesterday, I was enamored with Gov. Chris Christie. Not so much anymore.

The big PR question: can he repair the damage?

Professor PR would give the governor an “A” for his television performance, though it was twice as long as it needed to be. He took responsibility and was contrite. I had no problem with him saying he felt sad rather than angry, although we all know he has to be plenty angry. It goes without saying I’d love to be a fly on his wall.

What I like about Gov. Christie is his Jersey “every man” appearance and demeanor. He’s not super slick and bourgeois. He tells it like it is. (That’s a Jersey trait). He makes me want to believe that he’s telling the truth. He came across earnest and genuine. (Another Jersey trait). These are all good PR moves.

But, wow, let’s face it, he’s really in a pickle. Because now the U.S. Attorney of New Jersey (Paul Fishman to the rescue) is going to get into the act and the rule of law will rule, not the rule of PR. With a timeline of events that makes Swiss cheese look rock solid, Gov. Christie is going to have absolutely no wiggle room.

A hero last September, now a big, fat zero less than 500 days later. All for what?

Take a look at The New York Times editorial. It’s excellent.

Image

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Netflix is the New Black Indeed

In an earlier blog post more than a year ago, I was extremely down on Netflix and thought they had blown it by fiddling around with their pricing structure.  But boy do I have egg on my face. According to a recent story in The New York Daily News,  1.3 new U.S. subscribers signed on during the third quarter alone, helping the company post a 22 percent increase over its third-quarter number last year. No surprise then, after that data was announced, the stock soared 10 percent.

Why the love affair? I think it’s pretty simple, since I am one of those fans with a mad crush. First of all, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards are both first rate shows with excellent actors, writing and production. And second, what I really love about these shows (and Netflix in general) is the ability to watch them anytime, anywhere, in any environment.

My location of choice is the treadmill. I hang my iPad in front of me, pop in a set of earphones, and I’m off and power walking for the next 50 minutes or so while enjoying top-notch entertainment. The calorie burn and cardiovascular workout are icing on the cake. I’m actually disappointed when the episode ends.

Now that I’ve blown through my two favorite shows, I’ve started downloading movies and other television shows. I mean, really, how great is that?

With its recent, multiple Golden Globes nominations, Netflix is definitely on to something new and exciting. It just shows that a brand can overcome a stumble when looking at the world through a new color lens.

OraNGE

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Move Over, Oscar

I’m the first one to admit I’m a filmaholic, and have been mesmerized by the annual Academy Awards since I was very young. But let’s face it, the televised show is beyond boring.

Luckily, the cultural arts today have blossomed in every direction. One of my clients is The Cleveland Orchestra Miami, now in its sixth season in sunny South Florida. On March 2 and 3, the ensemble will perform at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Perfoming Arts of Miami-Dade County. The show promises to be spectacular. Reporter and critic David Fleshler, writing for South Florida Classical Review, interviewed soprano Dawn Upshaw, who solos in the Miami premiere of Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov’s Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra. He includes a sample of her exquisite voice in his article.

So while Oscar will always hold a special place in popular culture, much like cotton candy, it’s never too late to expand one’s artistic palate. A good place to start is right here. Tickets are still available. Call (305) 949-6722 or buy online at the Arsht Center.

The Cleveland Orchestra

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You’re Fired!

Ah, the verbal tap dance. You’ve got some negative news to distribute but you want to think ahead. Are your being dishonest if you want to sugar coat it?

Even the most seasoned executives now and then stay true to their authentic selves and bark the truth. That’s what happened when Yahoo chief executive Carol A. Bartz blasted an email earlier this week to her 13,400 underlings bluntly stating, “I’ve just been fired.”

The Professor asks: was it the right thing to do? Could she have instead followed the more acceptable route of ex-honchos  by demurely stating that she was stepping down to pursue new opportunities, or leaving the company to spend more time with her family?

Let’s face it: we all know an executive has been fired when these standard lines are sent via press release to the media, so why not just own up to it and call a spade a spade. The public appreciates honesty, and respects individuals who can hold their head high.

But the rules are different in the corporate world.

Will the future of Yahoo be affected by this unexpected drama? Probably not. Will Ms Bartz find another job? Hard to say. Corporations rarely like this kind of indiscretion, with good reason. Controlling the script is paramount; impulsive outbursts are rarely tolerated.

It will be interesting to see where the former Yahoo CEO lands, and whether the next time around she’ll slip on her tap dancing shoes.

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Let Them Eat Cake

What was the Mayor of my hometown thinking when he asked the Cake Boss to make dessert for the city’s 150th birthday celebration this weekend…instead of going to any number of local bakeries?

Vineland, New Jersey’s “Cake War” has been grabbing the media spotlight this week, rightly so, because bad PR moves like this one are, um, baked to perfection for today’s easy access to public discourse. Residents and former residents alike are cooking up a commentary storm on Twitter, Facebook and other digital media outlets.

Apparently, the food fight has been resolved and the local bakers have been invited to display their tasty wares alongside the Boss. Like the wacky King Mango Strut in Coconut Grove, which started as an alternative to the Orange Bowl parade in downtown Miami and today is a beloved annual tradition, let’s hope the good folks of Vineland can figure out how to turn this lemon into lemonade, year after year after year.

NEWS FLASH: The Daily Journal is now reporting that the Mayor crumbled and cancelled the Cake Boss. Overlooking your local businesses, especially for an occasion such as this one, is always a recipe for disaster. Too bad the City couldn’t figure out how to turn this fiasco into a sweet PR opportunity.

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Jane Fonda Dumped by QVC

Jane Fonda claims QVC dumped her due to political pressure over an incident that happened 40 years ago. Huh? Can’t you come with a better excuse than “we change the schedule all the time?” More details at TMZ.com

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Will the Real Story Please Stand Up?

Usually, PR professionals and journalists like to keep to one story. But sometimes, as was the case this past week in Pakistan, there simply is no way to get all the facts 100% correct the first time around. As New York Times reporter Elizabeth Bumiller points out in her May 5 article, the account of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s home was hastily told, and as a result, changed from day to day.

As a result of Twitter, Facebook, and other real-time technologies, there is enormous pressure today to produce a constant stream of news. Those of us who were awake Sunday night, watching TV or connected online, learned something big was going to come down, so we stay connected. And we’ve remained connected to one of the biggest stories of the past decade. This means we want to be constantly fed with new news. So journalists — and the White House — felt compelled to give us something…anything, to keep us satiated.

In hindsight, was it a mistake? Is it difficult to re-tell a story when so many key pieces have changed? In general, I would say yes. Best to get your facts lined up correctly the first time around. Does the White House deserve a pass on this one? Absolutely, but the public will tolerate only so many different versions. Let’s hope a definitive story emerges soon.

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