Category Archives: PR School

Conscious Wordsmithing

Boy, have you ever seen a logically considered, earnest public statement blow up so ferociously in a celebrity’s face?

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin could have issued a very straight forward press release announcing their decision to divorce. You know what it sounds like, something along the lines of:

“We are announcing after ten years together we have decided to separate and divorce. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain caring friends with great love and admiration for each other, and of course, our children remain our primary focus. We respect that you allow us our privacy at this time.”

Nothing to laugh about there. The statement gets right to the point. That’s the way it should be.

But I guess when you name your children Apple and Moses, and your lifestyle blog is called Goop, “conscious wordsmithing” is your trademark.

Thus, the press and the rest of the blathering word is having a field day with the Paltrow-Martin marriage dissolution explanation, which goes like this:

“It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. While we love each other very much, we will remain separate (and) consciously uncouple.”

Go ahead, google those last two words. You’ll find an avalanche of commentary, much of it spoofing the message. A married friend on Facebook attached an article from the LA Times, with her comment, “As opposed to ‘unconscious coupling,’ which is how a lot of people end up in the state of marriage. Not speaking first-hand, of course … I was in a semi-alert state.”

At any rate, the moral of the story is: by all means, do consciously wordsmith your message…but don’t overthink it. Get to the point, and keep on the straight and narrow so you don’t land up in a big bowl of goop.


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Today’s Lesson

How many times have you heard someone comment, “I never stop learning.” Technology moves fast, and we owe it to ourselves to keep up with it. In looking back at my career on one side or the other of the media profession, I can’t help but laugh about the days before the fax machine.

Flash forward and here we are in the 21st century, thick in the middle of the social media revolution. I know, some of you still don’t get it. But guess what? It’s not going away. Do yourself a favor and spend 15 minutes a day giving yourself an education. Here’s a good start: an article from Mashable describing eight brands that have found success on Facebook…and what we can learn from them. Read the article.

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Go to the Head of the Class

Was Khloe Kardashian’s wedding to Lamar Odom the real deal? Who knows, but regardless, it was one hell of a publicity stunt, that’s for sure.

Give those kids an A! Let’s face it: this girl has no discernible talent, yet she has managed to build a brand for doing nothing. The Kardashians should write their own PR textbook. I’d make it required reading.


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Page Six…Like Eating Cotton Candy

I don’t remember exactly when I became addicted to Page Six in the New York Post, but like cotton candy, it’s just too delicious to give up. Sometimes, they get their facts mixed up, but who doesn’t? Today, I read an interesting item about how to “plant” a client in Page Six. The advice is the same for any client you’re pitching, er, planting: it’s got to be newsworthy and exclusive. I’m always amazed that publicists don’t even know the basics. Weren’t they paying attention in class? Click here to read the article from PR Newser at

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PR Pickle for Bachelorette

Ed, you horndog! You proposed to Jillian on national television with a $60,000 ring from celebrity jeweler Neil Lane but you left not one, but two unsuspecting girls behind, both of whom claim to have slept with you while you were off romancing The Bachelorette. What were you thinking?

Sure, maybe that’s par for the course for a single, young professional hanging out in Chicago, and lord knows, I met enough of them back in the day, but this is reality TV! Did you think no one would notice? Did you think your jilted lovers weren’t going to go straight to Us Weekly with a day-by-day, minute-by-minute email trail of lies?

Take it from Professor PR, here’s what you need to do: Go back on national TV and be honest about who you are: a 30-year-old, red-blooded American male who fell in lust with three different woman more or less at the same time. Is that a crime? Of course you are sorry you hurt all three, but if you want to keep Jillian and make it to the alter next year (and that million-dollar television payout), you’d better pull out all the PR stops, publicly and privately.

And please, could you lose those green, Richard Simmons shorts? Now that’s bad PR.

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You Mean We Actually Have to Talk?

The invitation, by e-mail, was clear. “You are cordially invited to Protocols NYC, an off the record, no tweeting, no blogging, no photos, salon.” What did they expect guests to do with themselves?

So begins Allen Salkin’s piece in today’s Styles section of the New York Times. It makes me wonder: what if, 30 years ago, when I met my blind date for our first meal together, we needed to set down that rule before our wine and cheese picnic by the Charles River in Boston? Would we have paid attention to each other instead of our cell phones? Would we have been so busy seeing what everyone was talking about online that we wouldn’t have given the date 100%? Would there have been photos that could have embarrassed us years later?

Today, you need to be aware of your online brand image — your personal PR. Prospective employers, in-laws, and spouses are essentially private detectives, so it’s important to monitor how you are perceived, online and off. Think you know what Google says about you? It changes daily so check it regularly.

Oh, one more thing before I forget: Happy 30th Anniversary, blind date. I’m so glad you called me. I kinda wish we had some photos of that picnic by the Charles!

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Barack’s Beer Party: Bust or Buzz?


THE SCOOP, as reported by Henry J. Pulizzi, Wall Street Journal:

“Hoping to quell a controversy that has triggered racial tensions and distracted the public from his agenda, President Barack Obama hosted the eagerly-awaited White House happy hour with African-American Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the police Sgt. James Crowley, the white officer who arrested Mr. Gates two weeks ago…None of the men made comments to the media, but appeared to be chatting amiably. Their beers were served in mugs, making it impossible to discern what brands they were drinking.

“The so-called Beer Summit attracted intense interest, despite the silence of its participants. Cable news networks ran countdown clocks ahead of the event (my emphasis)…Shortly before the happy hour, Mr. Obama poked the media for its obsession, saying he is ‘fascinated with the fascination’ over the event.  ‘I noticed this has been called the beer summit,’ Mr. Obama said after a meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  ‘It’s a clever term, but this is not a summit, guys, this is three folks having a drink at the end of the day and hopefully giving people an opportunity to listen to each other.'”


Yea, right, just a drink at the end of the day. But once he stuck his foot in his mouth with his earlier comments at a primetime news conference, chastising the Cambridge, Mass., police for ‘acting stupidly’ (and intensifying the controversy that stemmed from Mr. Gates’s arrest at his home), the President had a PR choice to make: do nothing and let it go or turn it into a Kodak moment.

Google “Obama Beer Summit” news and you’ll find nearly 7,000 articles written about it as of this posting. And that’s not counting Facebook, Twitter, and blog postings.


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