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VICE Discovers the Ethical Perils of Corporate Sponsorship

VICE-logo

Looks like the cool kids sometimes get tripped up on ethics, too.

According to reports posted earlier this week, VICE — the very organization that inspired Edelman to make a call to defend itself for working on sustainability projects while representing clients who deny climate change — has occasional brushes with conflict-of-interest problems.

A post on Gawker and one on Capital New York both demonstrate how VICE editors worked to squash stories that could have reflected badly on corporate sponsors and/or media partners.

This is really a classic PR/media condundrum.

SPOILER: It’s about the money.

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What Would Bill Do? Insights on the Week’s News from Media Coach Bill McGowan

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Readers may recall that, back in April, we had a couple of very informative conversations with author and Clarity Media Group founder Bill McGowan, perhaps best known as the media coach for top executives at Facebook, NBCUniversal and Airbnb.

In what will become a regular feature on the blog, Bill gave us his take on three recent controversies that made headlines this week — and the communications strategies behind them.

Think of it as a “comms week in review.”

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Press Release Alert: Rev. Al Sharpton Got A Birthday Call From Hillary Clinton


Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist and MSNBC host, turns 60 this Friday so he threw himself a birthday party at the Four Seasons last night. And the guest list includes some notable names: Spike Lee, Sen Chuck Schumer, Mayor Bill de Blasio Aretha Franklin and BET CEO Debra Lee among them.

One of the names not on the list was Hillary Clinton. But don’t worry folks. The Rev’s birthday wasn’t ruined by her absence. Indeed, she did call to send her regards. And we got the scoop from Rev. Al himself, who issued a press release with the news.

“A half hour before going on his MSNBC show PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Rev. Sharpton received a call from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who wished him a happy early birthday (Sharpton will be sixty this Friday),” it reads.

#Blessed

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US Vets Sound Off on Fox News Anchors for ‘Boobs on the Ground’ Remark

bollingLast week, Fox News tore into President Obama for what they called a “latte salute,” the fact that the President was holding a coffee cup as he saluted troops while deplaning from Marine One. “Show the respect; salute these guys,” said Eric Bolling, incensed over what he called an “arrogant” display. (Wonder how he felt about this.)

But shortly after that, on the same show in fact, when the network was reporting on the UAE’s first female fighter pilot, Major Mariam al-Mansouri, going into battle against ISIS, he said, “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?” His colleague Greg Gutfeld continued, “Problem is, after she bombed it she couldn’t park it.”

Jon Stewart went Kanye cray on them, and rightfully so. (Greta Van Susteren also criticized her colleagues.) And in this case Bolling did say sorry for his sexist remark, though he did it in the most sexist manner possible: “I got home and got the look so I apologized to my wife and I apologize to you.” Nagging ladies, even the one I’m married to, don’t get jokes! So much word vomit from this guy.

But actually, the troops — both men and women — weren’t too happy about Bolling’s offensive comment either. And they wrote an open letter to express their disapproval.

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Bad News for Journalists and PR: Coffee Is Terrible for Productivity

coffeeJust when you thought all was right with the world and your local barista got your order right (you know the one)…

A grande extra hot soy with extra foam, split shot with a half squirt of sugar-free vanilla and a half squirt of sugar-free cinnamon, a half packet of splenda, all in a venti cup. And fill up the “room” with extra whipped cream with caramel and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. 

…turns out that coffee might not be the world’s second greatest beverage after all.

It’s no secret that hacks and flacks alike are terribly addicted to coffee, but now a study tells us that coffee may be the worst thing for productivity.

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Stephen Hayes of FOX News Added to Homeland Security Terrorist Watch List

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The goal of any president these days is to stop giving fodder for headlines to whichever network dislikes your party most. When you mess up, those adversely minded broadcasters make it last for a week. When you say something wrong, their ears perk up because it’s time to remind the world of your foibles.

The administration may have had nothing to do with this latest news, but someone has just given FOX News something to discuss until the War on Christmas begins in late November — one of their own was placed on the Department of Homeland Security’s Terrorist Watch List.

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The New York Times Agrees: Shonda Rhimes Not An ‘Angry Black Woman’

shonda_rhimes2-620x412Here’s a topical reminder that words matter on the editorial side, too. Twitter blew up — as it tends to do — this weekend thanks to a New York Times profile of Scandal /Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. Why? Here’s the lede by Alessandra Stanley:

“When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called ‘How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.’”

Get that? She’s black, she’s angry, and yet she somehow manages to get away with it.

It’s not that Stanley wanted to insult anyone. In the next paragraph, she writes: ”Ms. Rhimes, who wrought Olivia Pope on ‘Scandal’ and Dr. Miranda Bailey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ has done more to reset the image of African-American women on television than anyone since Oprah Winfrey.”

That point is settled. But Rhimes took issue with Stanley’s piece, and today NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan agreed.

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FOX News’ Tucker Carlson Suspects Kids Are ‘Learning Too Much’ in School

tucker-carlson-1024x682Someday, somehow, someone is going to invent a mute button just for certain “journalists.” If you have ever doubted a need for such a Rube Goldberg device, read this story, brought to you by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

As he took his frequent seat on FOX & Friends, Carlson began discussing the usual suspects — ISIS, the economy, Obama’s birth certificate — then took an abrupt detour, careened off the road, and ranted against the U.S. education system, public school, and the teachers in it.

Because if you want good PR mojo, attack the teachers. It’s right up there with harassing the elderly and making fun of someone’s mother. The unbelievable video is after the jump, along with his explanation. Read more

Illinois TV Anchor Courageously Shares Brain Cancer News with Viewers

Dave-Benton-Cancer-VideoIn the wild and wacky world of public relations, those who stand out often do so by creating great relationships with media types.

Understanding that, if you know anyone with PRSA Chicago, IABC Chicago, or even the College of Media for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaignplease pass this story along!

Why? Dave Benton at WCIA-3 (CBS) out of downstate Illinois in Champaign is easily one of the most courageous media personalities to come across in a long time.

Learn why after the jump. Read more

Journalists: Proudly Keeping Starbucks Open All These Years

another-coffee-funnyWe love our friends in the media, at least most of us. That said, it’s nice to clue into what drives them to make good news and what drives them bat-ess-crazy.

It’s not easy being in the media, regardless the position or the medium. The glamorous life is comical to most and unattainable by many. However, without them, where would we be, right? Understanding that, the next time you are out and see a Starbucks, you may want to stop in for a $50,000 gift card or some such.

According to a recent survey, and this article from TVNewser in the friendly confines of the mediabistro nation, few media types will refuse that kind of gift.

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