Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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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.


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Making Filet Mignon Out of…


Man sits down with 15 friends at a fancy steak joint and dons a wool cap. Management gives him the boot, saying hats in their restaurant are uncivil attire. Even with a $2,500 bill, man is treated like chopped liver.

This is where the food fight gets juicy. Turns out he’s being treated for cancer and the hat was keeping his head warm. Insulted, and rightly so, his buddies pull out their phones and start tweeting away. They slice the restaurant to shreds.

Rather than ignoring the swelling ranks of angry customers (and future customers), Morton’s Steakhouse in Nashville makes a quick, 21st century recovery — they turn a disaster into an opportunity by donating $2,000 to St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital on behalf of the scorned diner. Oh, and they’ve even offered to underwrite a cancer fundraiser. Nice recovery, Morton’s.

Professor PR is impressed. Aren’t you?

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One Hot (Maybe) Strategic Mess

“You can watch that performance and think that’s a hot mess,” she said. “But it’s a strategic hot mess. … If I wanted a raunchy sex show, I wouldn’t have been dressed as a damned bear.” So says Miley “Twerker” Cyrus in the New York Daily News.

Give me a break.

Miley is now spinning that this was a PR ploy to game-change her brand from innocence to “inner bad b-tch.” 

Since the VMA performance, Cyrus broke off her engagement to Liam Hemsworth, posed topless for Rolling Stone, got “Rolling Stone” tattooed on her feet, admitted to smoking marijuana, spanked a twerking little person onstage and bended over onto all fours so that a monkey dressed as a cowboy could hop on her back.

Weeks after the VMA Awards, Miley is still all over the news, and has definitely exposed her inner bad b-tch. So I guess you could say her strategy was a success. Did she sell any more records, get cast in any new movies, find a new beau? Time will tell. But in the process she sure did trash her reputation. And I mean trash.

So, take it from Professor PR: Whatever you do, don’t ever try rebranding á la Miley. Promise? Or you could end up nothing more than just a piece of garbage.


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How to Get the Wrong Kind of PR


Let me see if I have this right:

1)      Hundreds of bratty kids break into a private, vacation home, party like there’s no tomorrow, do thousands of dollars of damage, and Tweet their pix.

2)      Seeing the photos on Twitter, the shocked homeowner calls the local sheriff, who shuts the place down.

3)      The parents of the bratty kids are now threatening to sue the homeowner because their precious babies might now not get into college.

4)      Huh?

Naturally, the media is all over the story and the PR for these kids just gets worse and worse. Parents, take it from Professor PR, you want to drop it. You are doing your children no favor by keeping them in the news. I know, it’s difficult to walk away. Media attention is just so darn alluring. But keep your eye on the prize: college. And from now until acceptance, keep a low profile.

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Mommy, I Need New PR

Years ago, when my daughter was just a few months old, I was doing the new mommy juggle. You know, diaper changes, late-night feedings, walking the cranky little monster around the block, answering a few emails. Okay, scratch the emails. We didn’t have email back then. Heck, I don’t even think we had fax machines.

One thing I can tell you I wasn’t doing was worrying about my PR team. Life was pretty simple.

Woe to today’s celebrity diva. She’s got so much on her mind, like, “When is this damn weight gonna come off already, so the paparazzi don’t snap a shot before I can sell the cover shot to People for a gazillion dollars?”  Or, “Can I just take a stroll to Starbucks looking like the exhausted mother I am without every Tom, Dick and Harry taking a photo on their smart phone? Geez.”

But, alas, times have changed. Poor Kim Kardashian needs a new PR flak so she can distance herself from her krazy kinfolk. One sis with a drug beat hubby. Another sis blowing air kisses into her iPhone video while driving. Yet another sis stripping down to her skivvies to show off her curves. Oh, and her mom, the Big K, talking sex tapes with Big Bruce. I mean, c’mon, what’s a girl gotta do to protect her image around here?

Kim, I have to admit, Professor PR is proud of you. You are definitely doing the right thing. Protect your brand at all costs. You’re already heading North. It’s definitely better than heading South. Business is business. Families are complicated. Your family is, well, I don’t know a word for your family. Are you guys even human anymore? Or just walking ATMs?

Yes, protect your brand, absolutely. Otherwise, the rest of us will have to collect unemployment since there won’t be anyone nearly as interesting to skewer.

I take that back. I’m twerking on Miley. Now, THAT’S a girl with a PR problem.


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Stand (Way) Out in the Crowd

Standing out from the crowd in a unique way not only is a smart business move but it’s also a surefire strategy to entice the news media. Take New York real estate broker Christopher Burnside of Brown Harris Stevens. Guys like him are a dime a dozen. But when selling the Hamptons to his upscale clients, he goes to great heights, and I mean great heights.

Burnside charters a four-seater Cessna and takes to the sky, thereby creating an unusual bond, a lasting memory, a compelling story, and for him, hopefully, a big fat real estate sale. Not surprisingly, The New York Times was right up there in the clouds with him.

The next time you’re thinking about getting your name in the press, consider something unique. That’s what people want to read and that’s what the media wants to write about.

Read more.


Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

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