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Archives: September 2012

‘Today’ Show Producer: Leave Matt Lauer Alone!

NBC’s perennial ratings champion “Today” recently made some fairly big changes by pushing old hand Ann Curry out in favor of fresh-faced Savannah Guthrie. Amazingly, the world continued to turn.

But there’s a bit of tension over at 30 Rock these days, because “Good Morning America” has finally started to beat “Today” in the ratings after a nearly unbroken 16-year streak playing runner-up.

Right after the switch, media gossips began to wonder whether “Today’s” biggest star (apologies to mid-day drinking aficionados Kathy and Hoda) was behind the change. Even Al Roker came down on Ann’s side by accusing Matt of “throw[ing] one of us under the bus.” Leave it to the New York Post to come up with a fitting nickname for “Anchor Animal” Lauer and accuse him of being too demanding on set. Juicy!

Well, in an apparent attempt to control the rumors and counter the negative press, executive producer Jim Bell gave interviews to both The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times “Media Decoder” blog this week.

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Will Bad Piggies Be as Addictive as Angry Birds?

Angry Birds is one of the most successful mobile game apps ever invented. More than 1 billion downloads across all digital platforms can attest to its global popularity.

Now Rovio Entertainment, the company behind Angry Birds, hopes to follow that success with Bad Piggies—a game that extends the brand by allowing the pigs, which were limited to target status in the first game, to seek revenge on their beaked assailants.

These must be exciting times for Rovio’s PR experts, but the act of creating a mobile video game app that connects with the public in a big way is a game in itself—a game worth millions and millions of dollars. Rovio’s PR team must be asking themselves what, exactly, causes some video games to resonate with the public while others disappear with little notice. Is it the challenge? The creative marketing campaigns? Could it be the quirkiness, characters and design? Read more

Corporate Tweet Fight: AMC vs. Oreo

We’ve recently written a good bit about Oreo’s masterful use of social media. The “Daily Twist” campaign is a great way for the cookie giant to get topical by jumping on trends like Gay Pride and the Mars rover story while attracting a lot of attention with its robust Facebook presence.

Today brings the tale of a rare, if lighthearted, social media misstep by Oreo. Yesterday the company’s consistently cute Twitter feed posed what could have been a great customer-engagement question: “Ever bring your own Oreo cookies to the movie theater? #slicksnacker”. This message, complete with too-cute hashtag, is both on-brand and a little naughty—nearly everyone has snuck food or drink into a movie at some point, right?

Good show, Oreo. But the social media pros at AMC Theatres noticed the tweet too—and saw an opportunity to poke a little fun. AMC’s feed re-posted the message, adding “NOT COOL, COOKIE.” Nice way to co-opt another brand’s style without really insulting or attack them. Oreo responded with “Fair enough, @AMCTheatres, but don’t hate the player, hate the game :) ”. A little cliche, but it will do.

This is a fun story, and it reminds us of the right way to do corporate social media: with personality. This little interaction made it very obvious that there are real flesh-and-blood humans operating these feeds, that they value audience interactions, and that the guys responsible for social media at AMC are on top of even distantly related trends. This might explain why AMC has nearly three times as many followers as Oreo, no?

Is the ‘Worldwide Bacon Shortage’ for Real?

According to a big PR alarm sounded by the UK’s National Pig Association trade group (a real thing, we assure you), the globe will soon undergo a major pork shortage. Non-Kosher disaster ahead!

Well, right now the problem really stems from an overabundance of pig meat on the market. Porkocalypse, or Aporkalypse if you will, will happen due to a drought in the UK that has pushed the cost of corn and soy feed up, forcing farmers to slaughter more of their pigs, flooding the market with sausage and driving the price of pork down around the world.

The shortage story seems to be part of the trade group’s campaign to get supermarkets and other distributors to pay UK pork farmers more for their products with scare tactics—but it hints at a serious potential problem.

Once the price of pork goes down, it is almost certain to bounce back up—thereby raising the cost of all related consumer products and potentially damaging the global economy.

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PR War: EPA Links Fracking to Water Contamination

We recently told you about the PR war over fracking (or hyraulic fracturing), a process that utilizes large volumes of high-pressured water, sand, and chemicals to fracture shale rock deep underground in order to extract the natural gas locked beneath it. In short, the oil and gas companies doing the fracking claim it’s completely safe, while citizens of towns being “fracked”, grassroots coalitions, social media campaigns, filmmakers and even some A-list celebrities insist it’s a dangerous, poorly-regulated process with the potential to contaminate land, ground water and air.

Well, in news that has dealt a major blow to the arguments of the energy companies and will undoubtedly force the PR professionals handling those companies to scramble for a positive spin, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has officially and scientifically linked fracking with underground water pollution, concluding that contaminants found in central Wyoming stemmed directly from fracking practices in the area. The study found that the contaminants included at least 10 compounds known to be used in fracking fluid–and that these chemicals had most likely seeped up from gas wells.

Not only do these findings create some obvious PR issues for the energy companies, but they also directly contradict several arguments that they’ve been using to assure the public that the process is safe.

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PR Stunt: Activists Sink Amazon Bestseller with Fake Reviews

We’ve written a good bit about the use and abuse of fake “user reviews” recently, and we couldn’t help but share this bizarre story of a “crowdsourced” effort to sink a certain Amazon bestseller—all organized and executed by people who hadn’t actually read the book in question.

The reason for this anti-PR stunt is a little unusual. The book, titled “Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It“, is by (almost) all accounts a well-researched tome that traces the history of the AIDS epidemic, the effect of Western colonialism on its gradual spread and the potential for the West to curtail it via international policy. The book also happens to contain a section on the importance of male circumcision as a preventive measure used to reduce HIV rates in certain Western African countries. (Multiple studies have shown the practice to lower HIV infection rates by as much as 70%.)

Here’s the catch: a small and extremely devoted group of activists really hate circumcision for some reason. At their most extreme, they compare the practice to female genital mutilation (a custom unfortunately common in some societies that is in no way similar to male circumcision), arguing that it violates the rights of newborns and that all studies extolling its health benefits are junk science.

They get into some conspiracy theories and vaguely anti-Semitic themes as well, but we won’t elaborate on those here. Let’s just say their efforts remind us of Scientology’s ongoing war against psychiatry or the activists who continue to claim that childhood vaccines cause autism.

So a group of these anti-circumcision activists organized a smear campaign on the book’s Amazon page:

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Launch and Expand Your PR Career

Over the last decade, we’ve seen an unprecedented surge of interest in public relations that has created an incredible abundance of PR jobs in firms, corporations, non-profits, and consulting. But what are the key skills every PR firm is looking for?

With Mediabistro’s online “Public Relations” course, you’ll earn a certificate in PR while learning how to break into the business, enhance your skills, and develop PR programs. You’ll also find out everything you need to know to get that all-important first job. Read more

Showtime Blew Up Grand Central This Morning

Your editor and his neck-beard somehow managed to survive Dexter’s operating table.

…or would have, had your brave editor not completed a successful wiretap and helped the CIA’s intelligence unit foil the terrorists’ plans (or something like that).

Showtime is on a roll. Coming off a huge night at the Emmy Awards, the network did its best to promote its two biggest titles in Grand Central Station this morning with an unavoidable exhibit called “The Showtime Experience.”

Highlights from the event, which filled the southern Vanderbilt Hall, included a “Homelandfaux polygraph, a collection of “Dexter” fan art, and a table of complimentary pastries from the excellent Magnolia Bakery (samples included “blood spatter” cupcakes and randomly delicious sugar cookies).

All in all, we have to say this was quite a well-designed event. Bravo, Showtime: This is what a little bit of critical acclaim and a whole lot of money can get you.

We don’t generally like to play favorites (yes we do), but we will give “Homeland” two enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s really quite good!

Check out more pics below.

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Roll Call: Ogilvy PR, Sunset, Bloomsbury and More

Ogilvy PR/Chicago has appointed Heather Wilson executive vice president and director of the agency’s Chicago Corporate Group. Wilson joined the company on September 17, moving from Weber Shandwick where she ran the West Coast corporate and crisis management practice in Los Angeles. In her new roll, she will focus on brand positioning, financial communication, litigation support, crisis management, government relations and media strategy to solving complex issues facing multinational corporations and crafting integrated campaigns that deliver business results. (Release)

Pete Beatty has been promoted to senior editor at Bloomsbury. He comes from Bloomsbury Press, where he’s been working with Peter Ginna since 2008. Lea Beresford, who joined Bloomsbury as editorial assistant in 2011, has been promoted to editor at the Bloomsbury imprint. (Publishers Weekly)

Maili Holiman has been named the new creative director of SunsetHoliman comes to Sunset from the George Lucas Educational Foundation, where she had been creative director of the foundation’s magazine — Edutopia — since 2009. Prior to that she was art director at Wired and Readymade. (FishbowlNY)

Andy Sareyan, president of National Journal, is stepping down and Bruce Gottlieb is set to take his place. Gottlieb had been Senior VP of Corporate Strategy. He has also written for Slate, The Atlantic, NYT magazine, and The New Republic, and was the former Chief Counsel at the FCC. (FishbowlDC)

Angelo Lomonte has been named SVP, managing director, at KSL Media. He had been director of media strategy, marketing & advertising at Cablevision. (mb)

Ian Robinson has been named creative director at Ebony. He had been design director at Spin. (mb)

Tom Arnost has been named EVP and chief revenue officer at Telemundo Station Group. He had been on numerous boards and managed a private investment portfolio focused on the media industry. (TVSpy)

The Ticker: NFL Referees; Barnes & Noble Nook; Halloween Bump; TV in the U.S.; Wells Fargo