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Warren Buffett: Protecting Berkshire Hathaway’s Reputation Is “Top Priority”

via Twitter

via Twitter

Warren Buffett sent his biennial memo to staff members, outlining the “succession planning” for Berkshire Hathaway and other items of importance. The top priority on the list “trumping everything else, including profits — is that all of us zealously guard Berkshire’s reputation.”

Buffett makes it clear in the memo that while money will come and go, the company’s reputation can slip away and never recover.

“We can afford to lose money — even a lot of money. But we can’t afford to lose reputation — not a shred of reputation,” the memo reads.

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Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on January 27 at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media companies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

FedEx Didn’t Deliver Your Gift? It Might Be On the Side of a Colorado Highway

FedEx (along with UPS) took steps this year to avoid the debacle of 2014, when many people didn’t get packages they’d hoped to be opening on Christmas Day. Both delivery services laid down the rules about last-minute shipping, placing restrictions on retailers so they wouldn’t be overwhelmed by package deliveries and improving systems for moving packages from place to place.

“Surging online shopping over the holidays fueled by offers of free shipping and deep discounts tests the limits of the infrastructure—planes, trucks and sorting hubs—used to deliver the gifts to tens of millions of homes in neighborhoods from Miami to Seattle,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

But it looks like FedEx is being undone by an issue that has nothing to do with online shopping or retailer promises. Read more

Can SantaCon Reform Its Drunken Rep?


If you live in or around New York City, you know what SantaCon is: an annual holiday tradition in which a bunch of people set upon the boroughs dressed in Santa costumes getting progressively more drunk and gross as the afternoon wears on. Perhaps you’ve woken in the morning to a puddle of vomit on your front stoop, a care package from a pub crawling St. Nick who doesn’t know his limits.

This weekend, the organization behind this yearly bacchanal sought to take the first steps to dispel this reputation with a press conference on Saturday morning reaffirming what SantaCon is really about: a protest against the commercialization of Christmas. Really? Had no clue. Thought it was always just a chance to get your drink on while wearing a costume, like Halloween but a couple months later. So what’s this protest you speak of?

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5 Important Things PR Is Not

what is prFrom agency to agency, professional to professional, definitions of this glorious industry differ almost daily. If you ask people to define PR, the answers you get will be more all-over-the-place than those submitted in response to you “is reality TV scripted?” survey.

So people disagree about what PR is. But the more important query to remember during these days of evolution may concern “What PR is NOT.

After the visions of sugar plums and jolly fat men fade from your head, 2015 may be the time to definitively answer the big question — but we have to start with a negative.

Hopefully, this week’s edition of “5 Things” can be a small gift for those who struggle to define what their business does. Here, then, are five classifications that definitely don’t apply to the communications industry.

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ICYMI: The Mormon Church Loves #BeardShaming

Brigham-Young-BeardsEvery religion includes some fashion oddities: Old-time Pentecostal women still make their own clothes that look like tablecloths, many Muslim women have to wear the headscarf, Catholic women choose to apply their makeup in the liquor store in case they see someone they know, etc.

The Church of the Latter-day Saints, however, is in the midst of a communications breakdown based on an outdated fashion faux pas. No, not the “holy underwear” – that’s haute couture. We’re talking beards.

The #BeardShaming is so bad that on Utah campuses of higher education that campus police are actually on the prowl for order of the coif.  Read more

Rolling Stone Revises Apology as Backlash Against its Handling of Rape Story Grows

A Note to Our Readers | Rolling StoneIn order to change the current culture and systems that allow colleges and universities to systematically fail victims of sexual assault in the name of self-preservation and rosier PR, many things must take place — not the least of which is the spreading of awareness of such egregious failures through deep-digging, responsible journalism. It’s for this reason that Rolling Stone‘s recent article “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” was so explosive; it’s also the reason that the magazine’s bad-to-worse handling of the story has caused such a massive firestorm.

A few weeks after the magazine published its account of “Jackie’s” brutal assault by seven members of a UVA fraternity, some discrepancies in the details of the student’s story began to surface. In response, Rolling Stone posted a statement on Friday, signed by managing editor Will Dana, which admitted, “there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account,” and then added, “We have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.”

This “apology” didn’t sit well with many readers, as it seemed, rather than taking responsibility for its own failure to fact-check, the magazine was effectively placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of a possible trauma victim. The backlash was swift, and many took to Twitter, using the hashtag #IStandWithJackie to call out the magazine, pointing out that trauma victims often misremember details, and that this didn’t necessarily mean her story was fundamentally untrue.

Rather than further apologizing for its tone-deaf apology, the magazine responded by quietly deleting its statement and publishing an updated version the next day. The new version explains the editorial choices in greater detail and puts the responsibility of fact-checking and well-rounded research back on its own plate. The statement reads in part: Read more

5 Experts on Defending a Brand’s Reputation After a Data Breach


Massive data breaches have become an expected holiday season event. This week, a BuzzFeed contributor listed the 10 biggest “hacks” of 2014 (eBay, the USPS, etc.), and the bad publicity stemming from these security failures can be especially damaging during the year’s biggest shopping period.

Retailers have different approaches in defending their reputations after these breaches. Target, for example, sent its CEO to CBS to call the trend “an industry issue” while its CMO displayed its social media “war room” on CNN. Home Depot blamed Microsoft Windows, and other retailers have pointed fingers at credit card companies themselves for failing on the security front.

The question, for retailers and the PR firms/internal teams telling their stories to the public is: what’s the most effective way to balance transparency regarding data security with the need to protect one’s reputation among a skeptical public?

Five industry veterans give us their takes after the jump.

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Netflix, NBC Dump Bill Cosby Projects Amid Rape Accusations

bill cosbyThe allegations of rape and sexual assault against Bill Cosby keep coming. With each new accusation, it became harder and harder for Netflix and NBC to stand by the projects they had in the works with the comedian. Netflix decided that it would be best to postpone the planned launch of its comedy special Bill Cosby 77, which had been planned to go live the day after Thanksgiving.

Just this afternoon, NBC announced that it too will pass on a planned sitcom with Cosby.

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New Haven, Connecticut Has a ‘Perception Study Task Force’

new havenToday we learned, via Jim Romenesko, that the city of New Haven, Connecticut (home of Yale University) has created its own “perception task force” created to “plant feel-good stories in the media” and downplay area crime problems.

From the original story in the New Haven Independent:

“The task force meets approximately once a month to discuss the results of studies about what people think about downtown New Haven…The task force is new; the studies are not.”

The issue is that local news just keeps running crime stories, despite the fact that Mayor Toni Harp recently held a press conference to announce decreases in crime from 2011-2014. So the task force aims to “develop a stable of positive City focused stories to funnel to media to discourage” all that sensationalism.

But isn’t the work of securing media placements and improving reputations better suited for a public relations firm than the mayor’s press office?

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Women Are Still Buying into the NFL

NFLDespite all the talk of the NFL’s domestic violence problem and the reputation issues it faces among female consumers, the league’s business seems to be doing quite well, thanks.

According to a recent report on team jersey sales released by the Dick’s Sporting Goods chain, “Ladies Love Football” (yes, that’s the subtitle of the report). While the site doesn’t include specific numbers, it tells us that the sport and its merchandise are more popular than ever before among American women. The top-selling jerseys so far this season all belong to quarterbacks:

  • The Broncos’ Peyton Manning
  • The Colts’ Andrew Luck
  • The Browns’ Johnny Manziel

As The Washington Post told us almost two months ago, women make up 45 percent of the NFL’s fanbase — and they’ve become its “most important demographic.”

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