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Archives: June 2009

Michael Jackson’s Former Publicist Michael Levine Incurs Fan Wrath Over Opportunistic Pitch


About an hour after first reported the news of Michael Jackson’s death yesterday, PRNewser received the following statement from Michael Levine, founder of agency Levine Communications Office:

As someone who served as Michael Jackson’s publicist during the 1st child molestation incident, I must confess I am not surprised by today’s tragic news. Michael has been on an impossibly difficult and often self-destructive journey for years. His talent was unquestionable but so too was his discomfort with the norms of the world. A human simply can not withstand this level of prolonged stress.

The Twitter reaction to the statement has been overwhelmingly negative. As Four Corner Communications founder and president Drew Kerr noted on his blog:

Instead of doing the classy thing and taking the high road, he belly-flopped right into the mud. Wow. Couldn’t the guy just stick with nice things to say about his former client instead of playing backstabbing armchair shrink?

Nonetheless, Levine certainly achieve his goal of getting some ink, as the statement was picked up by the Associated Press, NPR and Perez Hilton, among other outlets. Levine has not responded to a PRNewser request to elaborate on his comments as of the time of this post.

Wired Editor Chris Anderson Apologizes for Plagiarism, (Some) PR People Try To Hide Delight


Wired magazine Editor Chris Anderson – known in PR circles not only for his role at the magazine – but also for his infamous PR “blacklist,” admitted this week to lifting many passages of his soon to be released book “Free” from Wikipedia. Virginia Quarterly Review first noticed the similarities, some of which were copied word for word.

Anderson’s explanation hinged mostly on a gray area involving the citation process for Wikipedia and he admitted that several passages were not cited. “That’s my screw-up and I totally take the blame for that,” he told The New York Times.

Jeremy Pepper, POP! PR Jots blogger and Manager, Public Relations at Boingo Wireless said Anderson did the “stand-up PR move – even if he black lists us. He took full responsibility for his actions, and did not pass the buck to anyone else. That speaks volumes, and while I think he should have won the fight with his editor (he’s write on the citations), he took the responsibility of his actions. It’s a rare trait in today’s world.”

Not everyone completely agrees. RLM PR CEO Richard Laermer told PRNewser, “…this mistake is, in my not humble opinion, fairly colossal-and common. Found research does not make a point. And I’m sure if we went further into the points Mr. Anderson made in his book we’d find a lot of other stuff that came from sources that were, yep, cut and pasted.”

We’re curious to hear your take on things. From a PR perspective, did Anderson handle this in the best manner?

Shoot Dunk the Messenger


Press Secretary to the President (or PS2POTUS) Robert Gibbs took a bath last night due to the ace throwing arm of Bill Plante of CBS News.

The dunking tank at the White House luau is just another way the Obama administration is bringing humor and humility to its relationship with the 4th Estate.

[via Fishbowl DC, photo from Mark Knoller's Twitter feed]

Google’s Byline Search a Boon to PR

Our newest sister blog Baynewser, explains this morning that Google News now has byline search functionality.

This is a big development for anyone responsible for media relations. Since Google came on to the scene, many of its products and approaches to information have helped PR people do their work–especially Google News and Google Alerts–and have in turn, quickened reaction time and made monitoring and client reporting easier, and cheaper.

Looking at a journalist’s byline history is an obvious strategy, yet it’s continually something that gets public relations people in to trouble. When pressed for time, account executives give in to temptation and skip their Lexis-Nexis research (an expensive product) and begin blasting out pitches. I’ve always argued that PR isn’t deteriorating, just that journalists now have new steam valves in which to out bad pitching and pushy publicists, seen in the early Tweets of AdWeek’s Brian Morrissey, for example.

Startups such as PRMatchPoint and HARO have taken different approaches to reducing PR spam.

Like the classic NBC PSAs say, “the more you know”.

Older companies like and services like Lexis, Profnet, Cision, and Vocus may see their subscribership deteriorate–even though they’re constantly improving and innovating–as Google and others develop free products.

Byline history was available on Google News all along, though not hyperlinked, and not available in search window functionality. The former allows you to track a journalist even if they change jobs. The tea leaves get harder to read if you choose to do an Archives search.

Information on how to use Google Byline and a screenshot (courtesy of BayNewser) of a typical search are after the jump:

Read more

Experts Give Failing Grade to Gov Sanford Presser, with a Chance of Book Deal


South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford illustrated to the PR world again yesterday that politics is the wildest and wooliest area of communications, and many in it are in great need of expert council.

PRNewser solicited analysis of the elements of Sanford’s press conference, including style, substance, delivery and length. Only one expert gave him a passing grade, barely. None were fans of the length, details of his state of mind, and lack of preparation, though one found him attractive.

Agency head Dorothy Crenshaw called it a study in narcissism, and that it made John Edwards’ confession look like a masterpiece of self-restraint and candor. Attempting to compare the level of drama with the Real Housewives of New Jersey, Crenshaw settles on Evita, “you know, crying & Argentina”.

Top crisis guru Eric Dezenhall went with nuts & bolts advice–get off the stage, achieve the goal of making the situation less bad.

Andy Plesser went the post-Blago route, and found Sanford’s performance excellent…if he wants a book & movie deal.

Fraser Seitel, the man who literally wrote the book on PR, grades it an N/A in the wake of such a huge lie.

Jay Strell graded on a curve, giving the “biblical” meltown a D–no message, no clear idea of audience, an unforgivable dereliction of duty to voters

Full responses are after the jump:

Read more

Detroit Agency Catches Twitter Imposter


Suburban Detroit agency Tanner Friedman caught rival firm Marx Layne squatting, impersonating and defaming the newer firm on Twitter. Tanner Friedman filed a federal suit against “John Doe” to compel the Twitter company to give up the IP address of the Tweeting bandit.

There is bad blood between these two firms. As can happen when an employee leaves to start their own firm, Matt Friedman lured four clients away from Marx when he left. The situation is likely intensified by the regional nature and intense competition for business in the recession-crippled market. Both have auto industry related accounts among other areas of overlap.

Tanner Friedman launched their real agency Twitter account yesterday with “Yes, it’s really us”. Not surprisingly, Marx Layne’s account carried no mention of any of this.

Crain’s Detroit Business’s For Immediate Release blog has been covering the story since the nasty Tweeting began in March.

[Rock 'Em Sock 'Em gif via SuicideBots]

The Ticker: The Economist, Filtering Facebook, We’re All In This Together…

Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone: We Have Not Hired “Any PR Company”

[Twitter co-founder Biz Stone]

A post on Adrants covering the Cannes Lions festival caught our eye this week. Specifically, when blogger Angela Natividad wrote, “This year was the first year Cannes recognized PR’s role in getting a brand message across, so PR people just about creamed themselves getting here. Even Twitter’s PR folk, Hill & Knowlton, couldn’t help but say something smug about it before passing the mic to Biz Stone this afternoon.”

Twitter? PR folk? Hill & Knowlton? This was all news to us so we did some investigating. Reached for comment, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told PRNewser, “Hill and Knowlton invited me to speak at their session-Twitter has not hired them nor have we hired any PR company.”

The session Stone speaks about was a Tweet Up hosted by Twitter and H&K at the festival. If anything H&K is trying to get the most out of the connection, and we can’t blame them. An agency blog lists both company logos with the copy: “Joining forces at Cannes.”

Charolotte Otto Retires from P&G; Hassall Promoted to Top PR Spot


Proctor & Gamble (NYSE: PG) announced the retirement of Charlotte Otto, 55, after 33 years of service to the company, the last 13 as global external relations officer.

Christopher Hassall, 55, moves in to her spot from his post as North American VP, corporate communications & reputation.

P&G owns just about every household brand you can think of, Crest, Gillette, Dawn, Pampers, Ivory, Tampax, Vicks, Mr. Clean, etc etc etc.

Otto is a fixture in high-level corporate comm as the description of her in PRWeek’s 2007 influencer rankings shows (she was 3rd), “she oversees PR for 22 billion-dollar brands. She is a thought leader who helped give every PR pro the ammunition needed to walk into the C-suite and say, ‘PR is as effective as advertising, and I can prove it.’”

Under her watch, research was done at P&G to show that PR could be measured, and that it is actually equally or more effective than advertising. She’s also an Arthur Page Society Hall of Famer, which is like being the top Stonecutter in this business.

Hassall brings international experience to the job, with brand work in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He built cause programs in China including the P&G Hope Schools, and personally led P&G’s relief program following the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Mashable’s Pete Cashmore: “We Look at the Sites That Are Sent to US, and If They’re Good, We Cover Them”

Thanks to the Mashable team for being patient as PRNewser took some time before posting this video today with site Founder Peter Cashmore, shot at New York’s Internet Week earlier this month.

Mashable is a must read for not only social media savvy PR pros, but professionals from all industries looking to get the latest social media news. It has grown immensely with an audience of almost two million unique monthly visitors according to Compete. It is ranked among the top 10 blogs in the world according to the blog ranking service Technorati.

In this interview, Pete talks to PRNewser about how PR pros can best work with the staff at Mashable, what kind of stories have been resonating with readers, and what publishers including Mashable are doing to boost reader engagement.