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How Bad Was Uber’s ‘Apology?’

You all saw Uber CEO Travis Kalinick‘s version of an “apology” earlier this week. We gave the company’s official response to its SVP of business’s “we will DESTROY you and your family” threat to Pando’s Sarah Lacy a D+ for minimal effort, and Lacy herself agreed, telling CNN that the company needs “accountability.” We take that to mean actions rather than empty words, but today a Bloomberg report covered by Mashable strongly indicated that the guilty party, Emil Michael, won’t be going anywhere.

Today our friends at Fast Company gave us their hot take on the story, and it’s quite amusing. Take it away, Jason Feifer:

Have to agree with him here: an apology made via a series of tweets reads, “do I REALLY have to do this?”

We have no idea what additional steps the company will take since Kalanick has been silent over the past couple of days. In the meantime, we’ll make a point of NOT waiting for more expert commentary from one Ashton Kutcher.

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YouTube Food and Lifestyle Personalities Share Branding Tips

YouTube Truvia Baking Contest Final“Mix, taste, frost, yum and done” – those were among the steps that a contestant used to bake brown sugar cupcakes. She was competing at an event this week to be a baking star sponsored by Truvia, a natural sweetener. Four YouTube food and lifestyle stars judged the desserts and offered insights on how they each rose to video fame.

While the baking techniques were straightforward, the path to becoming a YouTube sensation isn’t as clear cut. As moderator and YouTube beauty channel host Rachel Talbott noted, it takes time. As the judges concurred, it also takes resourcefulness and an ongoing, concerted effort to stand out from the crowd. The panelists included:

Byron Talbott: professionally trained chef, Byron Talbott channel
April Moore: online foodie, mom and lifestyle expert with 3 YouTube channels
Gaby Dalkin: cookbook author, food/lifestyle writer, What’s Gaby Cooking channel
Joanne Ozug: recipe developer behind Fifteen Spatulas channel

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White House Expands on Anti-Sexual Assault PSA Campaign

The mid-terms may have turned decisively against the Obama administration, but that doesn’t mean that any of its initiatives — the ones that don’t require congressional approval, at least — will slow down.

One of those initiatives is the “It’s On Us” PSA campaign that aims to encourage Americans to take action to prevent sexual assault. The first spot in the series appeared in April, and a second one, created by ad agency Mekanism and promoted by Sunshine Sachs, hit our inboxes back in September. The second chapter featured an all-star cast of celebrities calling upon the public to take a pledge and make a “personal commitment to help keep women and men safe.”

The newest video is less impressive in terms of its cast but more direct with the message:

We like the work, which keeps things simple and direct in aiming at a very specific audience.

But we do wonder whether — as in the case of the recent NFL-approved anti-domestic violence PSA — this important message will go unheard amidst the politics-as-usual noise.

The Only #AlexFromTarget Lesson Worth Learning

Here’s a super-quick clip from Fast Company in which Senior Editor Jason Feifer explains the only real lesson brands can learn from Alex and the brouhaha that followed his viral breakthrough. Stick with it for a minute:

Unlike Dorothy, most people on the Internet have no interest in seeing the man behind the curtain. We literally DO NOT CARE.* We also don’t appreciate brands claiming ownership of things they didn’t create, which is why Target’s hands-off approach works in this case.

*This statement might not apply to trade bloggers, but who pays attention to them anyway?

Can ‘Weird Al’ Save Radio Shack? Can Tim and Eric Save Pizza Rolls?

DISCLAIMER: We still have a huge soft spot for “Weird Al” Yankovic. We lost track of him in the 90s, but your editor is not in any way ashamed to admit that he still knows ALL the words to “Fat” and “Eat It” (and most of “Dare to Be Stupid”). “Word Crimes” was the best thing we’ve seen/heard from him in years.

That said, the question posed by Radio Shack‘s choice of Yankovic as its new spokesman is, “How can a fading brand reassert its own relevance?”

Here’s the new ad, created by our friends at Austin agency GSD&M, that launched this morning:

It’s funny, but the ending joke illustrates the problem: when you think of Radio Shack, what do you think of beyond batteries? Cords? Earbuds? iPhone cases?

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Eric Schmidt Finally Explains How Google Works

The animated video that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt shared on (of course) Google+ this morning is really a piece of content marketing promoting his new book How Google Works, written with the help of advisor/former SVP of Products Jonathan Rosenberg and Director of Executive Communications Alan Eagle.

A more appropriate title might be “How Business Works in the Age of Google.” Still, it’s a useful clip that reinforces some lessons crucial to both communications teams and their clients. And it’s short at just over three minutes.

The video confirms a few things we know:

  • Influencers are everywhere
  • Truly “smart creative” ideas win the day
  • Businesses and agencies alike need to facilitate a culture that encourages risk-taking and “innovation”

For PR, the key message is to be nimble: the act of relying on any rigid business plan or the words of a single, big-name advisor will probably not help a given company or agency achieve its goals. Sharing, communication and consensus are key.

What do we think?

Disney PR Vet Shares Secrets: Sex, Drugs, Porn Stars, Etc.

Today in Books We Will Not Read news, a veteran of Disney’s corporate communications department turned memoirist/founder of his own agency lived a fairly wild life in Hollywood.

That’s really the sum of the story here as broken by The Hollywood Reporter: Josh Sabarra, who founded Beverly Hills firm Breaking News PR, just released an e-book called Porn Again.

The idea behind the pun is that Sabarra was a 31-year-old virgin who was corrupted by the entertainment industry. Here’s a trailer from “the gay best friend you always wanted” complete with details about his addiction to plastic surgery:

A bit more after the jump.

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Consultant Caught Telling Energy Execs to Play Dirty If They Want More Fracking

simpsons fracking1Looks like Richard Berman, founder of Berman & Company, a consultancy in Washington DC, got “Romney’d.”

Berman spoke to a group of energy executives at an event in Colorado Springs back in June. During his remarks, he told the executives, they can “either win dirty or lose pretty,” attempting to persuade them to fund an advertising and PR campaign, Big Green Radicals, to the tune of $3 million. For this campaign, Berman was looking to humiliate environmentalists and their celebrity friends with bits of dirt thereby turning the tide in favor of oil and gas companies. Among those in the room were Halliburton and Devon Energy.

“This is an endless war,” he said. “And you have the budget for it.”

And how do we know these comments were made? Because one of the execs in the room didn’t like it. So he recorded it. And gave it over to The New York Times. Busted!

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‘Dumb Ways to Die’ Does Halloween

On this Throwback Thursday, here’s a new campaign from the team behind one of our favorite PSA series: “Dumb Ways to Die.”

This one is interesting in that it’s not a standalone piece: it’s “interactive” in allowing users to make a Choose Your Own Adventure-style decision: trick or treat? Here’s the intro:

Tricks and treats below.

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Hotel CEO on Airbnb: ‘We Wish We’d Thought of It’

Well, yeah. If you have any hospitality or “sharing economy” clients, you’re going to want to check out this interview with Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce, which ran on Bloomberg yesterday.

Given the fact that Airbnb recently decided to change course and (sort of) “play nice” with New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, this looks like a “next step” in the conversation between traditional service providers and their “disruptors.” In that story, an Airbnb spokesperson said “We need to work together on some sensible rules.” Flash forward to yesterday:

(If you can’t see this video, you might need to click the top link. It’s being difficult.)

A key quote:

“We love this new collaborative approach…and we’re trying to figure out how to take advantage of it.”

Sounds like capitulation, doesn’t it?

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