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Scandal

LIVESTRONG Rides with PR for a New Horizon

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A few things in this world have been marketed so seamlessly that consumers cannot think about one without the other.

There’s Disney and Mickey Mouse. Nike and Jordan (or Tiger). Volvo and Safety. Starbucks and Coffee. Susan G. Komen or Mary Kay and the color pink.

Branding is very successful when done right, which is why “staying true to the brand” is vital. And then there was LIVESTRONG. It was a global phenomenon because of an amazing story, a charismatic individual, and a yellow bracelet. Yeah, those were the days.

This week, the Austin-based cancer advocacy organization is looking to do it again with true PR strategy, but can they without … that guy?

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Jury Rules Against Former Anheuser-Busch Comms Veep in Equal Pay Case

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Surprise, surprise: Jill Abramson isn’t the only woman in a prominent executive position who *allegedly* received less money than her male predecessors.

In a case that should draw the attention of all who work in corporate communications, a jury ruled that Francine Katz, who was promoted to VP of comms and public affairs at Anheuser-Busch back in 2002, did not receive unfair wages due to the fact that she happens to be a woman.

For the record, Katz strongly disagrees.

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HGTV Ditches Plans For New Program After Website Reveals Hosts Are Anti-Everything

benham brosPerhaps hoping to avoid a Duck Dynasty controversy remix, HGTV has decided to dump its plans for a new show hosted by twin brothers David and Jason Benham after a news story revealed anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-choice statements.

The series was to be called Flip It Forward. The Benhams were going to help families buy a fixer-upper home and give it a redesign with a little bit of sibling rivalry tossed in for good measure. The show was announced last month.

However, the network got wind of a story that appeared on Right Wing Watch revealing that “at least one of the Benhams” is “a dedicated right-wing activist in the mold of his father, Flip Benham, who has headed the abortion-clinic protest group Operation Save America ever since it split from the militant anti-choice group Operation Rescue.”

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Monica Lewinsky Says Her ‘History’ Stopped Her From Getting Comms Jobs

monica lewinskyWell this is a blast from the past if there ever was one! Monica Lewinsky swept onto the Internet today with a preview of the Vanity Fair article that the magazine will be releasing digitally on May 8. And there are already some interesting bits in there about her life in the 10 years since we all became familiar with her name and her blue dress.

First, and perhaps this shouldn’t be shocking, but she’s 40 years old! In the minds of people who remember her from her days as the infamous intern, the thought of her aging that much just seems strange. But even now, the humiliation she must’ve felt (and had been made to feel) is palpable.

“”[T]hanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet,” she writes.

When she talks about the relationship with President Clinton, she has a perspective that has clearly also come with time:

“Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”

The brand stuck so much, in fact, that it prevented her from getting jobs later on. Among them, jobs in communications and branding at charitable campaigns.

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Los Angeles Times Writer ‘Screws’ Up Reporting Job for a Source

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We understand. Before the fall, you just get crapped on.

Meet Jason Felch. 

He was a star investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times. A guy whose credits stood on their own. That is, before he was “dismissed” after editors discovered he had an inappropriate relationship with someone who was a source for a front-page story that the newspaper says contained an error.

A double screw job, me thinks… *golf clap*

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Bode Miller Defends NBC Reporter After She’s Slammed for ‘Tone-Deaf’ and ‘Shameful’ Interview

After becoming the oldest medalist in Olympic alpine history, Bode Miller found himself in an interview with NBC reporter Christin Cooper, who questioned him repeatedly about the death of his brother, and how that loss has shaped his experience at the Olympics. While such personal questions are often asked of athletes in this type of situation, Cooper seemed not to take any of the hints that her line of questioning was pushing Miller into an extremely emotional state, and she failed to let up until he had broken down into tears, hidden his face, and had been rendered speechless.

The scene sparked an angry outcry from fans and journalists alike, who felt Cooper lacked tact and sensitivity. The AP’s David Bauder, for instance, called the interview “tone-deaf and cruel, and short-circuited the thoughtful, intelligent perspectives Miller had started to offer until he couldn’t talk anymore,” and The New York Times‘ Richard Sandomir wrote that “Cooper and NBC lacked the sensitivity to know when enough was enough.”

In a classy and kind response to the uproar, Miller himself took to Twitter to thank his fans for expressing their concern for his well-being, but also to defend his interviewer.

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Here’s How NOT to Respond to a Copyright Issue: Magazine Sends Photographer Profanity-Laced, Threatening Email

We’ve been following Adweek‘s coverage of a he-said-she-said fiasco too bizarre to be ignored, and now that both parties have provided the news source with conflicting statements, the behavior of the magazine involved seems to have gone far past questionable and has entered the realm of actively self-destructive. In fact, if PR failures were presents, this debacle would be the gift that just keeps on giving.

Kathy Shea Mormino, who runs the popular backyard chicken website The Chicken Chick, says it all started when a fan alerted her that one of her copyrighted photos appeared on Survival Magazine‘s blog and Facebook page. As the magazine had not asked her permission to use her photograph, Mormino says she sent a Facebook message and an email to the publication, explaining the situation and requesting that her image be removed. When the magazine did not respond to her messages or take down the picture, Mormino filed a copyright infringement complaint with Facebook, which led the social network to remove the photo from the magazine’s Facebook page.

The magazine’s response to Mormino’s actions shocked her so much, that she shared it (along with the below screenshot as proof) with her fans on her own Facebook page, saying, “THIS is the email I just received from Survival Magazine. What on earth is WRONG with some people?!”

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Woody Allen’s Publicist Strongly Denies Abuse Allegations

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Allen’s wax double wins the creepy contest

Only one thing is certain: Woody Allen has had a rough few weeks.

As we begin to recover from our shock over the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, we can expect to hear a lot more about the other story that rocked the entertainment world last week: the newly resurfaced allegations that Allen abused partner Mia Farrow‘s adopted daughter more than 20 years ago—when she was only 7 years old.

Dylan Farrow’s open letter, published by The New York TimesNicholas Kristof, went into graphic detail about the allegations, which first surfaced during Allen’s very public separation from Farrow. As Kristof himself reported, the public’s response was mixed:

One woman is definitely not thanking him: Woody Allen’s publicist Leslee Dart.

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The PhDs of Financial Scandals: Power, Hubris and (Billions of) Dollars

Citibank Game Final2Current financial scandals may be more complex and less glitzy than Wall Street crimes of the 1980s, but they involve similar underlying factors, according to two noted authors. Power, influence, egos, and hordes of money still play significant roles. Wolves still prowl Wall Street these days, though their fur has changed.

Bryan Burrough, co-author of Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, and William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, spoke at a Museum of the City of New York event earlier this month to discuss changes in Wall Street culture and offer comments on the evolving cast of characters.

Press Coverage and Politics:
Press coverage has been hindered by complex “Wall Street jargon”, said Cohan. Financiers “created a black box so that fewer reporters can cover the subject since terminology is so foreign.” Financial reporting isn’t an area that can be easily added as a specialty.

The political climate also factors into today’s situation. “The public resents that bankers got bailouts for problems they caused and everyone else got bupkis”, said Cohan. He lamented the “symbiotic relationship between government and Wall Street and the revolving door” of former government officials joining financial firms.

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MWW Campaign Plays Starring Role in New Christie Controversy

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A new week brings a new scandal for New Jersey governor Chris Christie just as his epic and (arguably) successful apology marathon fades from the headlines.

At the center of said controversy lies a campaign created by Jersey agency MWW, which will now play a role in an ongoing audit by the federal government. Why? Because the money that paid for the “Stronger than the Storm” campaign came from the feds, and its purpose was to help the state recover from Superstorm Sandy by encouraging tourists to visit the damaged shore.

Back in August, Democratic Jersey rep Frank Pallone argued that the money actually served, in part, to promote Christie himself in an election year. Surprise surprise: the governor’s moment of weakness turned out to be the perfect time for HUD to begin investigating whether the campaign amounted to an improper use of taxpayer funds.

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