Thursday, June 30, 2005
I know I sound a bit anachronistic, but today's story in the New York Post about the new breed of "paparazzi" out east (i.e., the Hamptons) speaks volumes about the sad state of celebrity in which we live.
These aren't the kind of stalking paparazzi Ron Galella first made famous with Jackie O., or the present day versions who give the Lindsay Lohans of the world a run for their money. Rather, these are a new breed of FAUX-paparazzi who have no US, People or Star Magazine from which to earn a respectable wage acting disrespectful. Their source of income: the owners of the clubs-of-the-moment. Their photo subjects: nobodies wishing to be somebodies!
"There are grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it."
--Wm. Shakespeare, Richard II
Posted by Peter Himler at 8:38 PM
The lure of TV exposure, no matter how deleterious to one's persona, is strong indeed. I've never understood why one would agree to rehash on national TV his or her misdeeds as a means to re-build a broken image. Take, for example, the latest example of a celebrity low-life who has been awarded a TV show. Landing this new starring role wasn't based on musical talent, but rather on jail time served, drug use and wife-beating. (No Tara, not you.) When will we see Joey Buttafuoco and Jennifer Wilbanks sharing a house on the beach in prime time? I guess this is what America craves, and thus what TV programmers are happy to serve up.
Posted by Peter Himler at 1:06 PM
The New York Yankees organization is never bereft of drama. The latest involves one of the Bombers' high-paid stars Gary Sheffield. What are the PR implications here?
Well, the Yankees floated the notion that Mr. Sheffield was potentially up for grabs by the team's crosstown rival, The Mets. Sheffield, not wanting to be traded from his high-profile squad, took the ball into his own hands. During a media interview, he warned prospective suitors that there would be "repercussions" should he be acquired. The Times called it a "calculated attempt" to silence trade talks. I call it good old fashioned PR.
Posted by Peter Himler at 12:24 PM
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Talk about bolstering one's celebrity through non-conventional means. Actress Jennifer Tilly, sibling to the once better known Meg Tilly, tried her hand at Texas Hold 'Em, and walked away with $158,625 at the Ladies World Series of Poker. She beat out 600 other women.
This may be good news for Jennifer, but it also bodes well for the game to have a bona fide movie star, albeit a B-lister, in its rank & file. Not that poker needs much help. Shares of Partygaming PLC rose 11 percent on their first day of trading on the London Stock Exchange, putting the online gambling company's value at a cool $8.5 billion.
Posted by Peter Himler at 8:47 AM
Too Much to Swallow
Filling in for the indomitable Stuart Elliott on The New York Times ad beat, consumer products reporter Melanie Warner, who made a name for herself at Fortune magazine, reports on the continuing woes of the world's third largest ad/marketing conglomerate Interpublic Group. Unfortunately and erroneously, she listed as part of Interpublic's holdings IPG's main competitors' Omnicom and WPP, the industry's number one and two conglomerates.
Let's see how long it takes for this to be corrected on The Times's website.
Posted by Peter Himler at 8:19 AM
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Fascinating to learn from Gawker, which learned from E&P, which learned directly via cell from Timeswoman Judith Miller about her efforts to "publicize" her case in the court of public opinion via a new personal website (as opposed to a blog). It's clear that Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wasn't pleased by the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the Plame blame case. Still, I wonder how much latitude the newspaper-of-record will give Ms. Miller, who's facing jail time, to make her case. I suspect as much as she wants.
Posted by Peter Himler at 7:45 PM
The day's biggest news stories tend to be those whose headlines have the least amount of equivocation: Scrushy Acquitted, Wal-Mart Heir Killed, U.S. Helicopter Crashes... So last month's news that Viagra may cause blindness naturally garnered its share of engorging coverage, including on this blog.
Yesterday Pfizer issued findings that showed no causal relationship between its popular little blue pill and vision loss. The media pick-up this time, while substantial, wasn't nearly as headline-grabbing. Shouldn't there be some kind of Newtonian law requiring commensurate coverage? After all, the drug's maker suffered material loss from the initial reports and lackluster vindication. Just a thought.
Posted by Peter Himler at 7:07 PM
In a previous posting on this blog, I reported on the insensitivity of the Gold Star Mothers organization for having refused to admit a non-U.S. citizen Mom whose son was killed in Afghanistan (See "Lead Star Mothers," 5/31.) Apparently pressure from the court of public opinion prompted the group to change its mind. Common sense prevailed.
Talk about going out with a bang! Yesterday's Supreme Court rulings are front page news across America today. I'm tempted to write about the conflicting opinions on the Ten Commandments, since the spinners and sinners in Texas will certainly make hay out of their "victory," but I found the court's opinions in the Grokster and NCTA cases of greater interest, if not relevance to those of us attuned to the issues surrounding consumer access to digital content.
I don't profess to be an expert on the myriad nuances involved in either case, but I do know that those who create content, whether it's delivered in the form of an MP3, AAC, MPEG, JPEG, WAV, or DOC, deserve to have that content protected. The ruling against file sharing software companies Grokster and others will help further this principle, though probably not eliminate the practice. There are too many forces at work to keep the lawyers at the media/entertainment companies busy for the foreseeable future.
On the NCTA victory, I'd say that the cable companies have bigger fish to fry given the deployment of fiber into consumers' homes by Verizon and SBC to name just two. I know The Times reported that SBC is slow in its delivery-by-fiber programming plans, but it will happen eventually, and then just maybe the price we pay to watch TV will begin to follow the pricing trends for the hardware on which we watch it.
Posted by Peter Himler at 8:01 AM
Monday, June 27, 2005
No. I'm not obsessed with Tom Cruise, just with the manner in which his sister (or whomever) conducts his PR. Now I realize that confiscating all guests' cell phones and pocketbooks at the multiple "War of the Worlds" premier events seems a bit draconian. (How many premieres can a movie have anyway?) The official explanation: to prevent scenes from the sci-fi film from being pirated.
While this seems plausible on the surface, I suspect the real concern lies in the piracy of unapproved Tom 'n Katie images. This comes on the heels of Mr. Cruise's PR reps requiring journalists to sign agreements to avoid certain lines of questioning during the film's press junket.
The efforts to overtly manipulate journalists rubs me the wrong way. What's sad is that too many members of the fourth estate will agree to a little manipulation in exchange for access to an "A" lister.
Posted by Peter Himler at 8:56 PM
Saturday, June 25, 2005
The folks at Hong Kong Disneyland prudently decided to take their specialite de la maison shark's fin soup off the wedding banquet menu at the amusement park. The head of the park explained: "Striking the right balance between cultural sensitivities and conservation has always been our goal..."
I would opine that pressure from one of the more effective non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the World Wildlife Fund, actually sunk the daily special. Don't underestimate the power of NGO's! Edelman's Trust Barometer found that public trust is higher for NGOs than for politicians, business leaders and the media. Trust means influence.
Now what do to about Japan's whale sandwich? It too will discover the teeth of some NGO or another.
Posted by Peter Himler at 10:07 AM
Deploying Condoleeza Rice on behalf of New York City's no holds barred attempt to land the 2012 Olympic Games could backfire on several levels. First, The AP reports that Secretary Rice will come to New York to make the rounds of the network talk shows and appear at a downtown rally. Wouldn't she be more effective sitting down with the BBC, CNN International and some Asian media outlets? Secondly, Ms. Rice's presence in New York will not exactly pass peaceably. Expect protesters who will detract from the primary message of the day. And finally, but most importantly, the PR tactic to use Ms. Rice as a weapon of mass seduction may very well be viewed as manufactured - especially since the President begged off getting involved. This effort could produce the opposite effect with the IOC selection committee, which will be sensitive to the perception that it is being played or worse, politically pressured.
Posted by Peter Himler at 8:25 AM
Friday, June 24, 2005
"You Can't Handle the Truth!"
Matt Lauer, you're my hero. While every other TV personality -- from Oprah to Billy Bush -- has coddled Hollywood's #1 movie star, the co-host of NBC NEWS's "Today" show stepped up to the plate this morning to take Tom Cruise to task for his warped perspective on the use of anti-depressants to treat depression. Scientologists, take that!
It's about time a real news person didn't cower at the "command & control" star for whom most everyone else in the "news" biz has caved to interview "guidelines" to gain access. I guess Tom's sister -- his new publicist -- must have forgotten that "Today" is and always has been a division of NBC News.
Matt Lauer, your star is rising.
Posted by Peter Himler at 2:06 PM
Thursday, June 23, 2005
How could you not love Oprah Winfrey? She is a show business icon who has made an extraordinary contribution to all our lives and the lives of the less fortunate.
However, as her recent Parisien provocation points up, she's also a major prima donna who uses her celebrity and national television platform as a bully pulpit.
If you missed this one, Oprah stopped by the Hermes store in Paris to buy a gift -- after the store had closed and while it was setting up for a private PR event. She insisted on shopping, but was rebuffed. Someone floated the notion that this was a bias incident ("Page Six?"), which set off a firestorm of controversy. Oprah has now threatened the folks at Hermes with an on-air castigation once the show returns from hiatus in September. Under this threat, Hermes had no choice but to issue a very public apology.
Not nice, Oprah. However, if the allegations of racial bias have any veracity, Hermes, shame on you too.
Posted by Peter Himler at 1:13 PM
I love "Page Six's" obsession with PR types. Nary a day goes by when some celebrity spokesperson or PR party planner isn't quoted or outed in the New York Post's must-read gossip column. Today's column had three items with a PR spin to them. "Fatty Follies" featured a stunt by a PR guy named Andy Morris, Hermes' PR-conscious apology to Oprah for not letting her shop off-hours was another, and a third about a PR man named Scott Widmaeir who is hosting a thank you party for John Kerry. Finally, the paper featured a stand-alone story outing ad-man Donny Deutsch's firm's involvement in the Snapple PR meltdown this week.
Richard, thanks for all the attention, but no thanks.
Posted by Peter Himler at 12:46 PM
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
The latest revelations about DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff combined with the eye-opening report on the unusual growth of Mr. Abramoff's chosen profession will ignite a firestorm of interest in the enigmatic art of public affairs lobbying. Will John McCain do for questionable lobbying tactics what Elliot Spitzer did for corporate malfeasance? Stay tuned.
Posted by Peter Himler at 9:49 PM
You may remember him as the heavy-handed money-man in the uncomfortably real reality series "The Restaurant" featuring the petulant pan-handling chef Rocco Dispirito. Jeffrey Chodorow agreed to sit down with The New York Times "Dining Out" section to talk about his growing empire. Why I ask?
Accompanied (and prodded) by his publicist, Mr. Chodorow struggled to convince the writer that he in fact is a "foodie," and not just the money man who once served time in prison. One line: "...sounding vaguely distressed as he picked at a dumpling with a fork. "You know how they say, 'I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body?'"
This obviously was an attempt for Mr. Chodorow to either feed his ego, be taken seriously and/or mend the reputational hit he took with "The Restaurant." It didn't work, in spite of the nice things respected restaurateurs Drew Nieporent and Danny Meyer had to say. If only they were the only ones quoted, this story might have satiated Mr. Chodorow's appetite for positive attention.
Posted by Peter Himler at 3:02 PM
It didn't matter that the pink gooey liquid melted all over 17th Street and that New York City's bravest and finest were called in to keep order and clean up. Because The New York Times mentioned the name of the new Snapple flavor in its coverage, this ill-conceived "publicity stunt" was likely deemed a success by its organizers. (The AP wasn't as effusive in its report.) Now what can Radio City do with its August snow event to generate this kind of coverage for its Christmas Spectacular? Yesterday's Rockettes' tryout was a start.
Posted by Peter Himler at 10:42 AM
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
With all the polling, posturing, polishing and positioning, it all comes down to the politician's puss according to a new study reported in today's New York Times. Huh? Do you mean all those pricey political pundits should give their prospective partisan pols serious face-time before signing on? It all seems so gladwellian to me. Blink meets Botox.
Posted by Peter Himler at 6:57 PM
"This is a book full of blatant and vicious fabrications contrived by someone who writes trash for cash," Philippe Reines, Clinton's press secretary, said yesterday.
Now I ask: does a quote like this help or hurt Hillary? Former (esteemed) New York Times Magazine editor Ed Klein, a big deal in the Abe Rosenthal-Arthur Gelb era at The Times, has written his fifth book in nine years. It's apparently a less-than-flattering take on New York's junior senator. It also is en route to garner its share of media attention given the author's once solid pedigree, not to mention the vitriol with which Sen. Clinton's press secretary has condemned it.
As a PR advisor faced with the prospect of a client being raked over the literary coals, the question of whether to go on the offensive is never an easy one. Just ask Steve Jobs, whose very public condemnation of his unauthorized biography thrust that book into the national headlines, and no doubt on to bigger book sales.
Posted by Peter Himler at 2:43 PM
Monday, June 20, 2005
Is there room for another all-business news channel...this time from Fox? The Wall Street Journal reports today that plans are proceeding to debut this CNNfn replacement during the first half of 2006. Business news TV programming flourished during the dot-com bubble, but its true cable origins were with pioneers ESPN "Business Times" and the Financial News Network in the eighties.
Even with the dot-com bubble bursting and CNNfn shuttering, TV business news coverage thrives. This is in spite of CNN and FNC's monied personalities Lou Dobbs and Neil Cavuto, respectively, forsaking their business-reporting roots for hard news. (Who could blame them given all the attention their cable news counterparts received during the last presidential election?)
Broadcast TV has taken the lead with the long-running "Nightly Business Report" on PBS, and the nationally syndicated programs Business Week TV and Wall Street Journal Report. Now, I ask, why is business news reporting missing from virtually every local broadcast affiliate? Maybe a daily "Business Celebrity Justice"-type segment would make it viable? There are certainly a plethora of stories in this genre from which to choose.
Posted by Peter Himler at 11:53 AM
Eric Pfanner, the advertising columnist for the International Herald Tribune (whose by-lines are increasingly seen in IHT's sibling paper The New York Times) writes about the effort by Bob Geldof and company to "make poverty history." In an earlier posting, I observed how Mr. Geldof's latest fund-raising concert extravaganza, "Live 8," would have a hard time overcoming its celebrity underpinnings to allow his relief message to resonate. (See May 31 post.)
I was thus pleased to see Mr. Pfanner's IHT piece in today's Times in which he reports on the new public service campaign that has been launched to re-direct focus on the global concert's philanthropic message. Let's hope the campaign has sufficient media weight to overshadow the free media's likely obsession with Live 8's celebrity quotient.
Posted by Peter Himler at 10:32 AM
Friday, June 17, 2005
Product placement in TV programming is not a typical tool in the average PR person's toolbox. That tactic usually comes out of a company's ad/marketing budget. Should PR people be cognizant of its function? Yes, just as we should know about advocacy or issues advertising when traditional PR fails to take hold.
Writing for Business Week, after a relatively lengthy stay as media reporter for Ad Age, Jon Fine reports on marketers' efforts to infiltrate newspaper and magazine copy with paid, unflagged product mentions.
The analogy doesn't work for me. It's one thing to pay for a placement in "The Apprentice," but I assure you that "NBC News with Brian Williams" won't stand for it. Same goes for the magazines of Conde Nast and Hearst. However, if one were to correlate editorial coverage and advertising spend at the glossies, it's no secret that a linkage exists. CN's Vanity Fair even created a paid editorial look-a-like party photo section to appease its advertisers. The lines continue to blur.
Posted by Peter Himler at 11:07 AM
The news cycle is 24/7. It's been this way for quite some time. The explosion of cable channels, websites, niche magazines, and a (still) thriving print and online newspaper business have combined to shorten the news cycle (not to mention the attention spans of news consumers). We're cognizant of the initial headlines, but rarely learn about a story's resolution.
Case in point: the Wall Street Journal yesterday reported on how the NBA (and others sports leagues) have publicly touted their levying of fines on misbehaving NBA stars, only to have the bad boys eventually (and quietly) be let off the hook.
I can think of countless other stories whose quick disappearance from the news radar hold much greater consequences for our society. Take for example the infamous Downing Street memo. News of it popped, then disappeared, and has now re-appeared in the mainstream media.
How did this happen? I believe the citizen journalist movement (i.e., 10 million+ blogs and counting) breathed new life into this story. Hence, we, as PR practitioners, must pay heed to the enduring powers of the blogosphere as we formulate our (formerly) top-down media strategies.
Posted by Peter Himler at 9:13 AM
Who's the publicist for the King Tut exhibit in L.A.? Wow! For an art exhibition that is essentially a re-tread of an earlier one, the amount of top-tier media coverage has been impressive (and unusual) to say the least. From ABC and CBS News to Newsweek, NPR, CNN, The New York Times, National Geographic, and multiple wire service stories thrown in, Tut is everywhere.
L.A. can be a decent media market, especially for "back-of-the-book," e.g., entertainment, cultural, or lifestyle stories. Borrowing a page from that city's biggest industry, the L.A. office of Chicago-based PR firm Golin-Harris has capitalized on Tut's existing strong brand awareness to make the sequel a boffo hit. Kudos all around.
Posted by Peter Himler at 8:18 AM
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Find several name and face-recognizable celebrities, gather them at a live event, make it available to consumers via a broad and web-cast, and voila! You have the making for a story. In this case, it is the 10th anniversary of Amazon (sponsored by Chase).
Most anniversaries go unnoticed by the media. They are mostly non-events that happen every day for some enterprise or another. So how does one embellish an anniversary so that it generates news coverage?
I remember working on the 75th anniversary of the Miss America Organization. We gathered Miss Americas for each of the last seven decades and posed them before a multi-tiered anniversary cake. Great pic! Inexpensive too. On top of that, the MAO folks decided that they would put the very un-PC swimsuit competition up for a viewer vote in the first hour of the ABC telecast, dangling the possibility that it wouldn't take place in the broadcast. It did.
The news today that Amazon would celebrate its 10th anniversary with a live concert featuring the ubiquitous Bob Dylan, Norah Jones and Bill Maher -- now there's a triple non-sequitor for you -- struck me as odd. What do these three celebs have to to with Amazon? Hmmm. Let me think. Dylan's book was an Amazon best-seller. Nora's CD, the same. But Bill Maher? He has a new book about to be released -- also available on Amazon. Works for me.
Posted by Peter Himler at 3:57 PM
This was a home run. Even the boss looked pleased in the news pictures. After all, building a new stadium nowadays can be a somehwat dicey, if not pricey affair -- especially in this city. Wasn't it interesting how news of Bruce Ratner's new Brooklyn home for the Nets popped in the media in the immediate aftermath of the west side stadium debacle? Coincidental? No way. In our business, timing is everything, and the strategists reasoned that Messrs. Silver and Bruno couldn't put the kabash on two stadiums in one week.
Wishing to get some of that action, George Steinbrenner let loose his own auspicious plan for the Bronx, which smartly included a preservation-type message to neutralize the historical landmark, baseball legacy crowd. The coverage had something for everybody. It was unanimously glowing -- expect perhaps for the Times's architectural critic -- a transplant from the L.A. Times. Expect less glowing details to emerge in the coming months. A story that sounds too good to be true probably is.
Posted by Peter Himler at 2:51 PM
I am a big fan of PBS. My children were reared on it, and the longer-form "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" gives the day's top stories their just due. Also, let's not forget about "Antiques Roadshow" or "Live from Lincoln Center." It is therefore discomforting for me to think that the network's budget -- and thus its programming -- may be cut as a result of partisan bickering.
Today's front page story in the New York Times touts the revelation that the head of the CPB paid two "lobbyists" to advance his agenda. The description of the hired guns as "lobbyists" doesn't appear accurate. Merriam-Webster defines lobbying like this: to promote (as a project) or secure the passage of (as legislation) by influencing public officials.
The two men in question did not appear to attempt to influence public officials to help the passage (or defeat) of legislation. One was analyzing program content, and the other was assessing the position of a congressman on a piece of legislation. Perhaps it's mincing words (what would Bill Safire or Bill Moyers say?), but since no contact seems ot have been made between these two men and any lawmaker's office, the term doesn't exactly fit. Public Affairs strategists or PR advisors may be more apt.
Posted by Peter Himler at 10:33 AM
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Oil, fast food and even tobacco do not hold candles to big pharma when it comes to the number of battles being waged on a multitude of fiscal, ethical and regulatory fronts. It is therefore especially noteworthy to read today that Bristol-Myers Squibb, no stranger to crisis control (which drug company is?), plans to voluntarily forego all director-to-consumer advertising during the first year of a new drug's release.
This is a bold move by a major player, and will no doubt be viewed by the industry's chorus of detractors as a PR ploy to soften industry criticism. Frankly, I think it's smart. The industry would prefer to self-regulate how it markets its products than have the terms and conditions be dictated by the government. A win-win. Now let's see what Michael Moore's (suddenly under-the-radar or tabled?) next project "Sicko" will have to say.
Posted by Peter Himler at 3:05 PM
Today's Washington Post news story (as opposed to opinion piece) by Paul Farhi highlights the ideological struggle to ensure that the "news programming" produced by the publicly funded Public Broadcasting System is not biased in any way. There are many layers to this story and conflicting measures for resolution, e.g., greater transparency of production decisions, editorial ombudsman, more diversity of overall programming on the network, funding cuts, etc.
I took interest in the issue of how a program is labeled. Is it news or opinion/commentary? A new poll says that most Americans believe that Bill O'Reilly is a journalist akin to let's say Jim Lehrer or Bob Schieffer. Granted, the topics each cover frequently overlap, but that's where the similarities end. (The PR profession has similar issues in how it labels advocacy groups, but that's another posting altogether.)
From The Post piece:
'Atlas and Rosenstiel differed on how a provision requiring the labeling of commentary or opinion might be applied on PBS programs. Rosenstiel said a program such as "The Journal Editorial Report" -- in which conservative editorial writers from the Wall Street Journal discuss the news -- would need to be labeled. But Atlas said: "That's an interesting question. We've looked into that. The name spells out that it's opinion, so it's already labeled. But if there's a perception that the name doesn't make that clear, we'll look into it further."'
Posted by Peter Himler at 8:56 AM
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
It's 94 degrees and humid in New York today.
In 1997, BP CEO Sir John Browne delivered a speech in which he broke with the oil industry to acknowledge that global warming is an issue with which we all must contend. At the time, he probably didn't know the degree to which his radical stance would transform the image of his company, let alone his own. At the time, no other major oil company admitted any possible role in global climate change. Most belonged or funded organizations that fought the notion that big oil contributes to this problem. Many have since come around, but not the world's largest -- Exxon Mobil.
Today's Wall Street Journal highlights the stalwart policies of the recalcitrant Exxon and its long-time CEO Lee Raymond, who steadfastly refuses to acknowledge any human culpability in global warming.
How does this affect the perception of the company? For the financial community, all of whom read the Wall Street Journal, Raymond's position will probably be seen in a positive light. After all, being a good environmental steward can be costly.
For BP, doing good has translated into doing well. Take notice, Mr. Raymond.
Posted by Peter Himler at 3:51 PM
New York Times scribe Caryn James astute observations in today's paper about "staging celebrity in Buzztown USA" gives Hollywood's spin machine more credit than it deserves. In her piece, Ms. James attempts to reconcile how movie stars' pre-release off-screen shenanigans help or hurt the film's box office prospects. She speculates that some of the advance media buzz may be PR-orchestrated.
Was Russell Crowe's phone-throwing tantrum calculated? Was Steven Spielberg's high-profile cancellation of the Japanese premiere of "War of the Worlds" designed to generate advance buzz? And what about the aberrant behavior of the aforementioned film's megastar fawning on Oprah over his film's co-star (and recent convert to his religion)?
Yes, Ms. James is right to recognize the influence a publicist holds in organizing the "command and control" interviews and advance press campaign such as the photo layout with Brad and Angelina in the new issue of W.
Still, between today's unprecedented numbers of papparazzi, the proliferation of gossip and celebrity news in the mainstream media, and the myriad blogs, the ability to command and control is significantly diminished. Managing the inadvertent "buzz" an unscripted star may generate is increasingly the calling of today's entertainment publicists.
Posted by Peter Himler at 10:55 AM
Monday, June 13, 2005
The Michael Jackson jury may have ruled that the world is safe for the Gloved One, but the powers that be in China have put the screws in Microsoft to ensure that the world is not safe for phrases like "democracy," "human rights" and "Taiwan independence." The Redmond, WA company has agreed to expunge those phrases from its new MSN portal in China, or at least the sections where visitors can post comments or start their own blogs.
If Microsoft thought its changed HR policy toward gays was a sticky wicket, just watch this story reverberate in the blogosphere. The company's corp. comm. department is no doubt thinking it through right now...as the first AP story just crossed the wire. One possible out? The company is not alone in its acquiesence.
Posted by Peter Himler at 7:34 PM
OK So the verdict is in. You are the Gloved One's PR counselor. What next? Should his public posture be one of relief, glee or anger? What about media interviews? Who among the insiders on Mr. Jackson's team will be the first to acquiesce to the promises and come-ons of network TV producers or talent coordinators? Hell! Who am I kidding? The on-air hosts themselves are working the phones to land a notable from the defense team. If access is granted, how best to set the terms and conditions of the interview?
Here is a plan:
1) Issue a written statement expressing relief, gratitude AND anger that "something like this could have gone this far at great taxpayer expense. We're not the victor but the victim."
2) After a day or so, when the dust has settled, grant Mr. Mesereau the latitude to do some media interviews -- after all, he deserves it -- but again, with pre-arranged rules for engagement ("les regles du jeu").
3) As for Mr. Jackson, my recommendation is that he pull a Brian Wilson , avoiding all interviews and disappear for a while, immersing himself in his work -- out of the public eye.
4) At the right moment a year or two from now, Mr. Jackson emerges triumphantly with a commercially viable product, all the while taking extra caution to avoid the bizarre behavior that precipitated these proceedings in the first place.
5) Start the 2007 comeback tour in Europe...or better, Asia.
Posted by Peter Himler at 5:39 PM
Why in the world would the 9/11 widow on Long Island ever agree to publicly share the most unsavory details of her life since that fateful day? Yesterday's New York Post cover story in which Kathy Trant disclosed how she burnt through the millions she collected following the death of her husband, a $135,000-year trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, made Imelda Marcos's conspicuous consumption look tame. (Think boob jobs, exotic vacations, home remodeling, expensive jewelry, Botox and many shoes...of the Carrie Bradshaw variety.)
She says she consented to the interview to teach people a lesson. "It's disgusting. I'm ashamed of it," she said, adding she hopes that telling her story will help others with the same problem.
I don't know about you, but my only take-away from this piece was anger and pity. My advice to Mrs. Trant: follow in the Runaway Bride's footsteps and check thee into a hospital for psychoanalysis. Who knows? It may ultimately get you a book/film deal and an appearance on a network morning show.
Posted by Peter Himler at 12:13 PM
Respected broadcast journalist Ted Koppel's op-ed in today's New York Times on the perils of the Patriot Act seemed unusual for the simple fact that Mr. Koppel is still a newsman (as opposed to a news commentator). Where is the line anyway?
Granted, he did announce plans to step down from his perch at ABC News "Nightline," and thus perhaps feels emboldened to play the public pundit. Like Bill Moyers before him, Mr. Koppel's impending escape from his journalistic shackles will no doubt result in more public speaking and guest appearances in print and on the talk show circuit. A run for public office? We'll see. More fodder for the liberal media conspiracists? Likely.
Posted by Peter Himler at 9:08 AM
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Serving as the primary conduit between a newsmaker in the news and the throngs of reporters clamoring for any new story angle can be a thrilling experience for a PR spokesperson. Most, I dare say, would even take on a client gratis if it meant more time in front of the cameras. (Sounds a little like trial attorneys, huh?)
Case in point: today's news that Michael Jackson's spokesperson has been let go - likely at the behest of the Gloved One's lead attorney who didn't "authorize" anyone to hold a news conference without his blessing. PR people and lawyers often find themselves at odds over how to manage the court of public opinion.
Anyway, Mr. Jackson's spokesperson denied being told to beat it. She's either in a "never can say goodbye" mode or wants to hang in long enough to deal with the unseemly allegations about her "client" that appear in the new book written by Mr. Jackson's last (and long-time) spokesperson Bob Jones? My prediction: she'll stay, but without pay.
Posted by Peter Himler at 6:33 PM
Friday, June 10, 2005
Two stories of late have caught my eye: the first involved the public relations executive from the San Francisco 49ers who thought it was a good idea to use prostitutes in a player training video to showcase the machinations of the news media. The second involved a senior PR executive for Wal-Mart Stores who used an image of Nazi book-burning in a print ad campaign to make his point on a local real estate issue.
Both efforts were ill-advised, and wound up costing each executive his job. Rightfully so.
Public relations is more than just "smiling and dialing" the media to secure coverage of one's company or client. Those who have risen to the senior ranks of our industry have developed over time a set of instincts for what's right and what's wrong, what to say and do, and what not to say and do. It seems so simple, but you'd be surprised as evidenced by these two giant PR missteps.
Posted by Peter Himler at 11:14 AM
I know this headline may be too doom and gloom for many of you weaned on Big Bird and friends, but the news today that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's budget may be cut from $400 to $300 million will no doubt have PBS supporters up in arms. "Sesame Street" and other PBS children's programs are directly affected. Is it a partisan effort to ferret out (sorry, Elmo) what many believe to be a "liberal" bias in PBS programming? With not one, but two ombudsman identified to assess this, we'll find out -- hopefully in less time than it took the Justice Dept. to deduce that the FBI screwed up in its pre-9/11 duties to protect our country. But I digress.
Back to Elmo. I can't exactly tell you what behind-the-scenes maneuvering will take place to restore the anticipated loss in funding. Suffice to say, however, the lobbying on the Hill has already started.
Posted by Peter Himler at 10:23 AM
Today's reported bump in the road toward resolving a patent lawsuit, said to have been settled last March, has Blackberry users everywhere -- 3.5 million of them -- in a dither over the fate of their fine tethered friend. It seems that someone -- blame the lawyers -- floated the notion that Research in Motion, Blackberry's parent, would pull the mobile mail market leader from the U.S. market, even with Microsoft's menacing machinations, if this legal action isn't resolved. A PR ploy to propagate public panic? Probably.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
About a year ago, I set out to create an entirely different blog that would deal with the radio wasteland that exists today on New York's (and most major markets') terrestrial radio dial. XM and Sirius are smart to capitalize on the news that perennial oldies station WCBS-FM has shuttered its programming in favor of "Jack S**t." So smart that their respective new ad campaigns to lure disenfranchised listeners have themselvescreated news.
There are 76 million deep-pocketed Americans born between 1946 and 1964. It's incredulous to me that the keepers of the terrestrial radio dial don't recognize this demographic, nor the plethora of marketers trying to connect with them. Think of the marketing budgets for Lipitor, Levitra and Rogaine, and you'll get where I'm coming from. One day I'll revisit the other blog, or perhaps create a podcast.
Posted by Peter Himler at 1:29 PM
After overcoming their own unwanted headlines, the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have once again assumed their leadership roles not only in the African-American community, but nationally and globally as well. So it perplexes me to think about what they hope to gain by rushing to the "Gloved One's" side to lend support in advance of what may be Mr. Jackson's conviction for child molestation.
Being a true friend is one thing, but even the ubiquitous Elizabeth Taylor all but abandoned ship when details emerged about the crimes of which the financially strapped Mr. Jackson is accused. In fact, Ms. Taylor seems lately to have gone batty. Speaking to Vanity Fair, she rationalized, "People don't realize that Michael isn't just wearing all those military insignias to make a fashion statement. He's studied the ways of war and he's ready to conquer his foes and turn California into the State of Neverland."
I wonder what a conviction for this most heinous crime will mean to the fortunes of the two righteous reverends? Was the fleeting media attention worth the reputational risk?
Posted by Peter Himler at 11:47 AM