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Paula Deen Cooks Up Some PR, Launches Her Own Network

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These people are the ones Paula Deen is totally banking on for PR-ofit

ICYMI: Despite her soulful appeal and her habit of cooking with fat, grease, and butter, Paula Deen wasn’t the most sensitive celebrity when it came to non-white people. To wit, she made an enemy of (most of) America, lost her Food Network affiliation, lost dozens of endorsements, and kissed most of her credibility goodbye.

She did, however, keep a surprising number of her fans. So, following a failed ‘Today Show’ apology, Paula Deen drifted into the easy bake oven in the sky…or so it seemed.

Now she’s back, y’all — and she’s hoping to cash in with a new paid venture.

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Uber Offers Taxi Drivers a Ride to Their Own Protest

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This morning we read news of the massive traffic-blocking protests that have greeted most-expensive-startup-ever Uber as it tries to conquer Europe. VentureBeat just shared the company’s response: ferrying angry London taxi drivers to their own event while adjusting its policies to make nice.

“Riders won’t pay any additional charges, while Uber caps the commission drivers must pay at 5%…Uber says its 5% commission is the lowest in the city.”

So how much is the 12,000-strong protest damaging the company’s business? This headline pretty much says it all:

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Probably not the intended result…

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5 Important Lessons for Your Tech Startup’s PR Launch

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Today we bring you a guest post from Kristen Tischhauser and Chathri Ali, co-founders and managing partners of talkTECH, an L.A. and Chicago-based communications/business development firm serving “innovative, emerging brands and new-to-market products.”

This post is presented by AirPR, a technology platform to increase PR performance. The San Francisco-based technology company is passionate about using data to show the true impact and value of PR.

We, as humans, are impatient. We don’t like to wait; we want what we want and we want it now. That’s why when launching a new tech startup, it’s smart to take a deep breath and make sure that the PR trigger isn’t pulled too quickly. As the famous saying goes, you never have a second chance to make a first impression.

Entrepreneurs put countless hours into perfecting our product or service, yet too many get excited to launch and do so before they are truly ready. A launch is not idea generation. We’re past the stage of throwing something out there to see what sticks. Instead, we want the masses to welcome us into their lives all the while wondering how they ever lived without us. This only happens if the proper steps are taken to ensure a successful launch.

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‘Distruptive’ Startups Refine Their Strategies for Working with Regulators

airbnbAirbnb’s executives have decided that the free market doesn’t trump the law and that the rules do apply to them after all.

The details have been reported elsewhere, but the decision is a big deal for startups (and their investors/promoters) that might eventually run up against those pesky things we call legal regulations.

The big questions to be answered–and the ones that most concern these startups’ advisory and PR teams–are “how should ’distruptive’ businesses be regulated” and “what’s the best way for them to work within/around existing regulations?”

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Airbnb Goes Grassroots With ‘Us vs. Them’ Damage Control Campaign

We might almost feel bad for Airbnbairbnb thanks to its appearance in an endless stream of negative headlines if the company–and its ideological partner Uber–weren’t also responsible for so many think pieces about “the sharing economy.”

If the news is so bad, then why is the company’s estimated value somewhere around $10 billion–which is, as The New York Times reminded us today, more than the total worth of Hyatt Hotels Corporation?

The answer, as far as we can tell, involves the appeal of staying somewhere for cheap and a strategy focused on casting the company’s legal struggles as a case of “The People” versus “The Man”–said man in this case being New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

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PR Is Essential for Startups…or Is It?!

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These guys (don’t) get it…

Many professional communicators will argue that every single worthwhile startup needs some public relations assistance by default–but some ambitious tech entrepreneurs disagree!

Shocking, we know. A recent point/counterpoint in the digital pages of Fast Company makes clear that this debate will continue for some time.

Earlier this month, entrepreneur Stephen Robert Morse wrote a piece titled “Why Your Startup Shouldn’t Hire a PR Firm.

The article understandably sparked a bit of controversy; some key points–and today’s rebuttal–after the jump.

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Bad Headlines Keep Coming for Airbnb

airbnbA PR pro in Manhattan wanted to make a little money while out of town over a recent weekend, so she “rented” her apartment to a woman claiming to be an active service member who just wanted “a place to hang out before she got shipped out.”

The rest of the story is, at this point, predictable: the publicist got a call from the cops after a man who was visiting her apartment for a “massage” slashed the woman paid to provide it; on re-entering her abode, she found the telltale signs of illegal activity.

One anonymous sex worker (aka the world’s most reliable source) told The New York Post that “It’s more discreet and much cheaper than The Waldorf.”

So it is. The point here is that Airbnb’s promise comes with some very unique challenges.

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Startups Like Airbnb Are Getting Better at Addressing Viral Scandals

airbnbAllow us to overgeneralize in writing that tech startup founders can sometimes come across as…what’s the word…aloof. Arrogant. Condescending.

Maybe all that adulatory media coverage goes to their heads. The point, as Valleywag reminds us every day, is that they don’t always respond to challenges in the most effective or sympathetic way.

Yet a PandoDaily post this week argues that companies like Uber and Airbnb are getting better at crisis communications, and we have to agree.

You probably read the viral story about one Airbnb client whose apartment served as the set for a “XXX Freak Fest” (NSFW). Rather than dismiss his complaint as the cost of doing business, the company changed his locks, paid for his hotel stay and wired him thousands of dollars to cover the literal clean-up cost.

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Time to Leave Your Agency? PR Vets Discuss the Challenges and Rewards of Going Solo

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We hope you didn’t miss our piece on breaking into fashion PR last week, but we have to confess that we left some of the most interesting parts out.

Beyond the great stories about graduating from crazy internships to working for designers and brands, we saw a trend emerging: two of the three industry veterans we spoke to went from jobs at major firms to running the show as independent consultants—and the third started her own agency.

Laura Hall’s resume reads like a PR “who’s who”: she’s worked for Burson-Marsteller, MSL Group, FleishmannHillard, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Weber Shandwick.

Impressed yet? So are we.

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Airbnb Offers Journalists Solutions to Their #SochiProblems

We’ve covered a weighty topic or two today, so we’ll end the week on a lighter note: as Brian Morrissey of Digiday noted this afternoon, the famously responsive Airbnb decided to make the most of the many journalists documenting their terrible experiences with Sochi hotels by doing that thing they do and directing them toward alternatives in the area.

It started last night with this announcement:

The company’s social team followed up by interacting directly with those journos in need of a better place to rest:

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