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Shoot the Messenger

Golden State Warriors’ Owner Goes Maybe-Racist, Blames Siri

NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors

Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Meet Peter Guber. (And yes, his name is pronounced the way you think…more on that in a moment.)

He is Chairman, CEO, and founder of Mandalay Entertainment, a motion picture company that has racked up more than $3 billion and 50 Academy Award nominations. Dude’s got skills.

Goober Guber is also the owner of the Golden State Warriors, and is now part of some unfortunate NBA owner company. He recently joined the ranks of Donald Sterling, formerly of the L.A. Clippers, and Bruce Levenson, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks, as a maybe-possibly racist.

But save the #PRFail; he blamed auto correct, so it’s all good.

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

Bill-McGowan1

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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Apple Revokes Top Euro Computer Mag’s PR Accreditation

Computer Bild is one of Europe’s biggest tech publications. It’s also responsible for a #bendgate or, as they call it, “bentgate” iPhone 6 video that’s been viewed more than half a million times over the past week.

Apple’s response to the video yesterday confirmed everything our inside source told us about their PR practices in September: the company revoked the magazine’s accreditation.

Here’s the video, which is really not as bad as the one everybody passed around when the phone first launched:

It’s in German, but you can see from the screenshot below that the folks at Bild were able to slightly bend the phone with considerable effort.

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Bill Simmons Proves That ESPN Protects Its Image, Not Its Journalism

bill simmons podcastBill Simmons, aka “The Sports Guy,” who is easily one of the most popular people at ESPN now faces a three-week suspension for criticizing his bosses.

In case you haven’t already read it three times, here’s the statement that earned him all that time off:

“I really hope someone calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I said about Roger Goodell because if one person says that to me, I’m going public,” Simmons warned. “You leave me alone. The Commissioner is a liar and I get to say that on my podcast.”

The less-responsible Stephen A. Smith got one week for saying Janay Rice had provoked her own beating. Simmons made a stand, pointed a finger in his bosses’ direction, and got three weeks.

Fair? Nope. Retribution? Yup. Outcry? Definitely.

But what does this say about the ESPN organization?

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Burson-Marsteller Suffers Backlash Over Tunisian Government Contract

BM_WorldLogo100

Someone who was employed by Burson-Marsteller in 2011 made a very ill-advised statement.

That was the primary conclusion drawn from 5W PR founder Ronn Torossian’s Friday New York Observer op-ed, which ran under the URL “the Muslim Brotherhood’s new PR agency rejects Israel” and led to inflammatory headlines like this one from Arutz Sheva:

boycoot

To clarify, the word “boycott” means “a punitive ban that forbids relations with certain groups, cooperation with a policy, or the handling of goods [produced by that group].” On its website, the publication ran with the more accurate “U.S. PR Giant Refuses Israel as a Client, Works for Brotherhood.

Damage done, though.

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John Boehner: ‘Unemployed People…Don’t Think They Have to Work’

boehnerIf you ever had any doubt that the primary job of our current and future Congress is to look out for the little guy, may we present exhibit A: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate is 6.2 percent, which amounts to 51 million people currently out of work and unable to support themselves. No one except those 51 million individuals knows how they landed in such an unfortunate predicament, and the reasons are legion: cutbacks, loss of revenue, unpleasant bosses…the point is that people are out of work.

Yet Speaker Boehner seem to have access to insights unavailable to the rest of us mere mortals: last week, he told a crowd at a conservative think tank that unemployed Americans just don’t want to work; they’d rather “just sit around.”

Remember that this man has a driver, a government salary, and a book deal.

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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

Journalist Reveals Ketchum’s Suggestions for Discrediting Him

Ecuador2In case you missed it, Bloomberg Businessweek published an intriguing story yesterday by veteran journalist Paul M. Barrett that ran with the headline “What It’s Like to Be Attacked by Putin’s Flack.

The “flack” in question is Ketchum — more specifically D.C.-based partner Kathy Jeavons, who “heads both the Ecuador and Russia accounts” for the firm.

For the record, Jeavons did not personally attack or even contact Barrett. But a source did forward him a talking points document that the firm wrote for Nathalie Cely, Ecuador’s ambassador to the United States. The doc included both well-stated observations about Ecuador’s history with Chevron and suggestions for casting doubt on the credibility of Law of the Jungle, Barrett’s upcoming book on the lawsuit that accuses the company of abusing its relationship with the people of Ecuador.

One such suggestion: use friendly media outlets to raise doubts about whether Barrett ever actually visited the country or met the individuals he interviewed for the book.

We spoke to Mr. Barrett today for more information.

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Former NSA Chief Compares ISIS Air Strikes to ‘Friends with Benefits’

nsa_logoOne of the fundamental tactics for any flack is writing talking points ahead of interviews. This isn’t purely “spin”, by the way — but clients do sometimes get skittish during on-the-air talks. The prep sheet, then, is like a security blanket minus Elmo.

Because of that perfunctory aspect of PR, it’s always easy to tell which clients don’t have proper talking points. When it happens, you sometimes hurt for the spokesperson (a little).

At other times, though, you laugh so hard that you pee (again, a little).

The latter happened when former NSA and CIA major domo Gen. Michael Hayden went viral for all the wrong reasons while discussing ISIS and air strikes.

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Anatomy of a Twitter Apology: DiGiorno

ICYMI, DiGiorno broke what looked like a long winning streak on Twitter late last night with this one:

DiGiorno

The hashtag marked a collection of statements from women who had been in abusive relationships explaining why they did not leave their significant others. The point of the trend was to counter the unfortunate narrative holding that Ray Rice’s wife was somehow responsible for the incident that got him fired yesterday.

DiGiorno rightfully got a lot of very negative attention for a painfully insensitive message, but the brand’s social media manager also did a very thorough job of apologizing after the jump.

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