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Gawker

Fired Fox Flack Paid $8M to STFU

BrianLewis1Back in August we reported on the problematic firing of Brian Lewis, head of PR for Fox News and longtime confidante of network chief Roger Ailes. While the storied flack initially had only good things to say about his former employer to sister site TVNewser, the picture quickly got ugly. Lewis hired former Donald Trump attorney Judd Burstein, who earned his pay by uttering this classic line:

“Roger Ailes and Newscorp have a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the truth about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis.”

We LOL’ed at the use of the man’s name three times in the same sentence.

General consensus held that Ailes suspected Lewis of leaking information to media sources, and today someone actually did leak some inflammatory news to Gawker: seems that Fox paid its former rep a total of $8 million in “hush money” to avoid a costly lawsuit.

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Don’t Try to Pay Gawker to Place Your Clients’ Links

shutterstock_123477490-1Former PR professional and reigning purveyor of righteous indignation Hamilton Nolan has a message for “stealth” marketing firms: how dumb are you, again?

In short, an agency specializing in SEO sent him a series of emails “bribing” him to insert clients’ links into his totally unrelated Gawker posts in order to push their names up higher in Google search results.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, but we are a little shocked by the marketer’s insistence and his willingness to provide links to clients’ content when he should have known right away that Nolan would shame him in public by reprinting all of his emails.

Of course PR would never do such a thing, because it’s strictly the domain of “shady” marketing firms and we have ethics. But this would technically qualify as paid media…

We wonder about the real-world value of links placed in posts like this one, which just happens to be a helpful list of marketing tips that somehow did not include our wise headline.

Was $80 really the best they could do? Nick Denton should take that offer as a personal insult.

STUDY: People Aren’t Getting Self-Handsy During the Holidays

Jerking off all time lowYesterday, we brought you a story about PS4 and its latest “partner” in providing kids an ultimate gaming experience. And as filthy as I felt writing that thing, would you believe I found more?

Although I had to filter for images and stories with extreme heedfulness, would you believe the people that brought you free videos of BBWs doing the Harlem Shake on an actual Globetrotter have a real study out?!

Get this: According to the Pornhub “study,” no one is stuffing their turkey, yanking their mistletoe or putting a cornucopia on their Yuletide log during the holidays, if you know what I mean.

Hey, this is real news, flacks. I just report it!

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Man Buys House Next to Ex, Goes ‘Bird’ Watching

The BirdIf ever there was an #HOAFail, this story from the Detroit Free Press (via the greatness of Gawker) would be it.

For apartment dwellers, HOA means “home owners association,” and the ne’er-do-wells who run these Gestapo units feel like they run your entire street with rules, regulations and guidelines on how to park your friggin’ car when it is raining outside. That’s important because I would like you to meet Alan Markovitz, 59, a Detroit strip club owner and obviously someone with way too much money on his hands.

Markovitz accrued his mishandled fortune opening strip joints along Detroit’s noted “8 Mile.” And yes, I’m still waiting on Eminem to rap about this fool, because he has ample reason. His ex-wife, Lea Tuohy, whom I’m certain is probably an …coughex-stripper… aspiring Internet entrepreneur or …coughshook her groove thang for money… real estate agent, lives in a posh area of Detroit called Bloomfield Hills. Tuohy’s daughter, Lenka, tweeted this gem, which has since been deleted.

Alan and Tiffany are the best neighbors but ew who does that lololol #psycho

That picture is Markovitz’s backyard. He moved next door to his ex-wife, and erected a $7,000, 12-foot-bronze middle finger facing her bedroom. And yes, it is spot-lit at night for a nice evening effect for the wayward boaters who stroll by as well.

And nary a word from the HOA. Who says living in gated communities takes the fun out of life?

Do Tech Blogs Give Free PR to Silicon Valley? Valleywag Says Yes.

A couple of months ago New York magazine’s economics writer Kevin Roose asked whether tech journalists are generally afraid to write “objectively” and/or criticize their subjects. In other words, do the sites reporting on Silicon Valley residents—from Google-sized giants to tiny dorm-room startups—simply rework press releases penned by the companies they cover?

Interesting question; for one site, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

In a New York Times interview, blogger Sam Biddle of Gawker Media’s “tech industry gossip dartboard” Valleywag states that his goal is to make light of the digital world’s “lack of self-awareness” in the midst of so much overwhelmingly positive publicity. He specifically says that many other sites “[do] the bidding of the industry” they cover by hyping every single product rollout as the greatest thing since electricity and refusing to cast any related “thought leaders” in a less-than-flattering light.

Sounds a little dramatic, but he may be onto something here…

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Florida Gov Bought a Rescue Dog for His Campaign, Then Replaced It

Politics is a slick business. We know this, you know this…everybody knows this. But a little bit of investigative reporting by the Tampa Bay Times that exposed a few poorly planned moves on behalf of Florida governor Rick Scott reveals the kind of weird PR that we’ve unfortunately come to expect from our elected officials.

Mr. Scott wanted to improve his image in the eyes of Florida voters during his gubernatorial campaign, so he bought a rescued Labrador retriever. After he won the election, he did what any responsible dog-lover would do: he returned the lab to its previous owner. Wait, what?

Scott didn’t just buy the dog:

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Is ‘$100 PR’ For Real?

Yesterday Gawker‘s Hamilton Nolan took the opportunity to give free press to a barely believable project called “$100 PR“–and to provide our entire industry with a bit of good-natured ribbing. While we dispute the idea that the business at large is “desperate for money”, we agree that $100 PR warrants another look.

Created by Laurena Marrone, a PR pro “with over 20 years of diverse experience” that appears to include a lot of music promo work (and the founding of Grit), this “new and extremely unique boutique” firm claims to serve “those who have a need to get the word out about any newsworthy product, service, or event, but cannot afford the high costs of most firms”. Hmm…

According to this guy, $100 PR gives clients “professional PR for your artist, event or venue for 100 bucks”. $100′s own description of its services is fairly straightforward. They include:

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Gawker Hates Girls (Which Sponsors Its Site)

HBO's Girls sponsors GawkerThis morning our sister site FishbowlNY brings news that star/writer/maestro Lena Dunham of HBO’s Girls doesn’t approve of Gawker’s recent decision to post a leaked copy of her entire book proposal (which netted her a nice $3.7 million dollar contract). We wonder why that might piss her off…

Now Dunham’s lawyer and Gawker’s editors seem to be playing a game of cat and mouse. The site appeased the star by removing the majority of the text, but its editors chose to leave twelve lines up. Why? Well, in addition to explaining the legal complaints against the site, they’ve used each preserved line as an excuse to make fun of the woman who wrote them, taking her to task for her “nauseating and cloying precociousness”, among other things.

It’s a big bitch-fest made all the more amusing by the fact that Dunham’s show is currently sponsoring the site. Mixed messages!

Yes, this is a bit of New York “inside baseball” media news, but we thought it would be a good opportunity to make a point: your sponsors don’t have to love your brand as long as you have the same audience. And no matter how much smack Gawker talks about Dunham and her show, the two properties have more shared fans than either would like to admit.

Lesson: every brand that didn’t make its fortunes insulting people should go out of its way to play nice with its sponsors.

MSG to Employees Stranded by Sandy: Come in or Lose Vacation Days

We’ve read plenty of reports about companies using Hurricane Sandy as a promotional tool; but how are managers behaving? We assume that they’ve all been understanding and respectful of their employees during this extremely trying time, right? According to Gawker, the answer is a resounding no.

Managers at the Madison Square Garden company, a massive conglomerate including the New York venue itself as well as the Knicks, the Rangers, the MSG TV network, and several other venues, sent each of its thousands of employees an email message that will not earn the company any PR plaudits.

(When reading this message, remember that the island of Manhattan essentially still has no power below 34th street, which happens to be the very spot where Madison Square Garden is located–and that all traditional forms of transit have yet to return to operational status in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.)

A quick summary: The company understands that travel to and from the city is extremely difficult and time-consuming right now, and managers know that many employees are currently without power–especially those that live in New Jersey. But (and it’s a big but)…

“We recognize that many employees are impacted by the transportation issues as well as a lack of power, and that some are even dealing with personal damage and health issues. In the event that you need to make the personal decision that you are unable to come to work, you will need to notify your supervisor and take a personal or vacation day to cover the time off.”

In other words: Suck it up and get the hell out here or you’ll lose your days. How will you do it? Surprise us!

Will this be a big PR issue for MSG?

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Progressive Responds to Controversy, Still Looks Very Bad

We aren’t privy to all the sad details of the growing Progressive Insurance PR scandal, but we can give you the basics as reported so far:

  • Progressive customer Kaitlyn Fisher died in a tragic 2010 collision
  • The other driver was ruled responsible; his insurance provider immediately settled for a very small sum in keeping with his policy
  • Because the other driver was “underinsured,” a special clause in Kaitlyn’s policy required that Progressive also pay the difference between his total and hers
  • Progressive refused to pay the full total due to Kaitlyn’s estate, forcing her family to take legal action (recent graduate Kaitlyn had considerable student loans due at the time of her death)
  • Under Maryland law, the Fisher family could not sue Progressive directly; their only option was to sue the responsible driver and then use the judgment as leverage against the company
  • The driver was deemed negligent; during the trial, he was represented by Progressive’s own lawyer.

Sounds like a big headache, huh? It gets worse: Read more

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