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Public Affairs

Dr. Oz Gets a Warning About His Weight-Loss Recommendations

dr. oz showDr. Oz made an appearance on Capitol Hill yesterday, appearing before the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Senate subcommittee and it didn’t go well.

The hearing was focused on the promotion and false advertising of weight loss products on Dr. Oz’s show. The chairwoman of the committee, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, had a serious issue with the products that Dr. Oz has recommended because of the lack of strong science behind them.

“Your credibility is being maligned by fraudsters and frankly being threatened by the notion that anybody can take an itty-bitty pill to push fat out of their system,” said Sen. McCaskill. She also reminded him that he’s a doctor in addition to a celebrity personality, so he has a responsibility to the public.

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Would Better Marketing Help Solve the Student Loan Crisis?

college students walkingStudent loan debt has ballooned to $1.2 trillion, a figure that many say is not only stopping borrowers from purchasing things like homes and cars, but is also hampering the economic growth that comes with those sorts of purchases.

Yesterday, in an effort to try and tackle the problem, President Obama signed an executive order that would cap student loan payments for five million people at 10 percent of their income. There is also already on the books a pay-as-you-go repayment option that is income-based and dependent on when the loan was taken.

“Income-based repayment should prevent many student loan defaults, because borrowers don’t have to make payments if they’re not making money. But the enrollment process right now is complicated and can be hard to navigate. Some policy experts think that income-based repayment should be the automatic way to pay back a student loan,” says Vox.

While there are larger issues wrapped up in all of this, Derek Thompson at The Atlantic notes that these pay-as-you-earn options are good ones. But there aren’t nearly as many people enrolling in them as there should be. Part of the problem: a lack of marketing.

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THIS JUST IN: Cannabis Sales Creating Some High Times for U.S. Business

THIS JUST IN 2If you watch the news, you may recall there was this mild kerfuffle about legalizing the hippie lettuce.

And in Seattle and Denver (where they smoke so much weed that with a good southern and western front, the entire state of Idaho is baked for about 10 days), it was permitted.

People were happy rolling more joints than burritos. Hipsters would sit on the City Hall steps in makeshift Hookah lounges. And the police would just mosey on by, while considering a trip to get some waffles from some reason.

Then, this report from the Marijuana Business Daily (yes, that’s a thing) offers some reasons on why marijuana may be legalized nationwide in a couple of years. In fact, 8 billion of them. Read more

Mayor Rob Ford: When Bad PR Turns Into Reality TV Gold

Rob-FordOn the off-chance you have been stranded on a deserted island or binge viewing on reality TV, you may not have been granted the pleasure to be introduced to Toronto Mayor and professional crack smoker, Rob Ford.

Here he is pictured bringing sexy back … and front … and all around.

Canadian politics is surprisingly comical. First, Rob Ford holds a press conference about his warm pipe ways, then does a media tour about how he has changed his ways, bull rushes a co-worker on closed-circuit TV, yet is still out painting the town a beer-stained tee shirt taupe.

All of this scorched earth behavior hasn’t kicked him out of office with a gavel sticking in his maple leaf. In fact, the city digs him. American talk show hosts love him. And now, reality TV wants a piece of him. 

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7-Year-Old Skewers LEGO For Not Including More Girls

LEGO_LogoRemember when LEGO came under fire for its LEGO Friends line, a collection geared toward girls (finally!), but which abandoned adventurous themes for a pastel color palate, taller and slimmer female minifigures, and cliche female-friendly scenarios like a suburban home, a beauty parlor and a horse stable? Well, despite the toy line being slammed as sexist and pandering (even spawning a hashtag movement to #LiberateLEGO), it has become a huge success.

But not all little girls are satisfied with the domestic-themed options the toy company offers them, and one little girl in particular has decided to make her very dissatisfied voice heard.

Seven-year-old Charlotte took it upon herself to write a strongly-worded letter to LEGO, criticizing the toy company for making more “boy people” than “lego girls,” and for sending boys on fantastic adventures while relegating girls to the mall and the beauty parlor.

The letter read in part:

“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

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Does Detroit Need PR More Than Ever?

hello_from_detroitThe housing market? Dead. The automobile market? Bailed out. More than 680,000 resident? And dropping fast. The mayor? In prison. The planet’s most popular rapper from this place? Off the market (again). The city? Legally bankrupt.

This is your Detroit, America, and it is about to close shop and file Chapter 9 protection, becoming the largest U.S. city to accomplish such a feat. Bravo?

Thanks to Judge Steven W. Rhodes, Detroit has been ruled insolvent — broke as hell, in layman’s terms — because the 18th largest U.S. city can’t pay its debts, as in an ironic $18 billion. Public pensions will be reduced. Some debt will be paid off … eventually. Essential city services will be restored to (and this is a quote from the Judge) “tolerable.”

That’s the hope and prayer that has befallen this once great city. Question: Is this a job for PR?

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U.S. Army Col. Lynette Arnhart: ‘Use Average-Looking Women’ for PR

say whatBe … all that you can be. In the Ar-r-r-my.”

When it comes to public relations, that famous slogan only applies to women who are a whole lot of ugly—at least according to U.S. Army Colonel Lynette Arnhart and her embarrassing internal email, which leaked all over Politico yesterday.

Col. Arnhart thinks pretty women with fresh makeup on deployment aren’t portraying a proper image for a national communications strategy. This internal email was sent to two people, one of which determined the email would be best served if sent to everyone in his network. That guy is Col. Christian Kubik, chief of public affairs for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

The forwarded email (below, and verbatim for those scoring at home) was preceded by a personal note of his own: “A valuable reminder from the experts who are studying gender integration — when [public affairs officers] choose photos that glamorize women (such as in the attached article), we undermine our own efforts. Please use ‘real’ photos that are typical, not exceptional.”

The email that incited this response after the jump

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Bay Area Changes In The Years Following The Events That Inspired The Film “Fruitvale Station”

Earlier this week, I had the chance to see an advanced screening of the film Fruitvale Station, a dramatic telling of the real-life events that led to the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant by police officers shortly after the San Francisco Bay area rang in the New Year in 2009. Powerful and devastating, a quick scan of the theater lobby after the movie finished clearly demonstrated the effect it had on viewers. It was a sea of puffy eyes and balled up tissues.

Director Ryan Coogler, himself a 26-year-old from the East Bay area, does a masterful job of showing you that while not perfect (the film notes that Grant spent time in prison, for instance), he was a man looking optimistically to the future whose life was senselessly cut short. You’d have to be heartless to walk away from the movie without having six different kinds of feelings, all of them leading to at least one shed tear.

So enough gushing about the film… Well one more: See it! It’s great! And your whole summer movie-going itinerary can’t be popcorn movies. Really, pass on The Lone Ranger, which looks terrible, and watch this instead. I got the idea from a screening buddy to take a look and see how Bay Area police and other groups have responded to the incident in the years since.

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Cities Worldwide Address Urban Issues Using Digital Technology

New Yorkers have often heard about Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveling domestically and overseas to meet with city leaders to compare notes on urban innovation projects. On Monday during the first day of Internet Week, representatives from a dozen cities around the globe, including New York, convened on the Mayor’s home turf.

The officials appeared at the symposium to describe their initiatives for improving their residents’ lives using digital technology. These represent quality of life and business issues rather than the most pressing urban problems. Each speaker was allotted only ninety seconds, so here’s a brief snapshot:

New York City: Last year the Big Apple launched its Made in NY website to promote local entrepreneurship. Since then they’ve expanded the effort with increased access to workspaces, partnerships with academic institutions as well as other programs and competitions to assist startups.

Boston: launched its Street Bump app, a citizen enabled sensing device for potholes. This project was introduced following extensive road construction, including the Big Dig tunnel project that lasted several years and took its toll on locals’ automobiles.

Philadelphia: The PHL program is a social enterprise partnership with funding from Michael Bloomberg. The civic challenge asks entrepreneurs to identify, select and pilot new programs that solve a host of local issues.

Chicago: Mayor Emmanuel’s ‘Broadband Challenge’ is aimed at improving the city’s fiber network by offering free wi-fi and low cost connectivity. The process even involved updating the sewer network infrastructure.

Quebec City: The Canadian city has its own social network and also has the capability for residents to send personal text messages to help with snow removal. That way they don’t ended up stranded in their cars during snowstorms.

Ottawa: The Canadian city encourages citizen engagement and government transparency. Through an open source website, the public has access to all data. The Apps4 Ottawa open data contest rewards developers who create the most valuable uses and visualizations of the open source data.

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NYC Faces Backlash for PSAs ‘Shaming’ Teen Parents

We think you’ll agree that everyone wants to reduce teen pregnancy rates. But some citizens and advocacy organizations aren’t too happy with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s Human Resources Administration‘s latest attempt to dissuade teens from becoming parents with a bold new PSA campaign that seems to leverage the power of shame.

The campaign consists of posters like the one to the left that pair photos of distraught infants with harrowing facts like “90% of teen parents don’t marry each other”. Each poster encourages viewers to text HRA to learn more and offers “games” that allow users to follow pregnant teenage couples and answer questions like “my GF is pregnant! Prom is coming up and she’s not going, should I stay in or go to prom? Reply ‘promyes’ or ‘promno’”. It’s a sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure for the at-risk teenage set. User engagement, calls to action–seems like it could make for effective advocacy PR.

Planned Parenthood is not amused, however.

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