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Archives: October 2012

Chrysler CEO Contradicts Romney Outsourcing Ad

We’re all a little obsessed with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy right now, but our last post reminded us that there will be an election one week from today—and that its winner will be the nation’s next president.

The latest election-related PR news centers on Ohio, a land forever competing with Florida for “most important state in the nation” status. Here’s our (very quick) summary of the moment’s hottest topic:

The 2009 government bailout of the auto industry affected an estimated 1 in 8 Ohio natives’ jobs, and Mitt Romney understandably wants to convince these voters that President Obama didn’t help them out at all (and encourage them to forget that he wrote an op-ed arguing against government intervention on the auto industry’s behalf).

In an effort to turn the issue to its advantage, the Romney campaign created an ad playing off Chrysler/Fiat’s plans to begin manufacturing more of its iconic Jeeps in China, which happens to be the world’s fastest-growing automobile market.

The ad implies that these new overseas manufacturing operations will come at the expense of American jobs and vaguely pins responsibility for the supposed job loss on President Obama. The general response within Ohio has been swift and decisive—nearly every significant local paper (even those papers whose editors endorsed Mr. Romney) questioned the ad’s accuracy  this week. Some pundits now speculate that the campaign’s bold move could amount to a PR fail.

Today brought the most decisive statement on the issue to date:

Read more

To Vote or to Play Halo 4? That is the Question.

Picture this: It’s the morning of Election Day, and young people all over America wait in a long line, falling all over themselves in anticipation. These citizens are eager to commit their time to securing the future of the American people–and perhaps that of the entire human race. Valiantly they prepare to reach the head of the line, take a deep breath, and exercise their rights as free persons to purchase Halo 4 and fight a race of aliens bent on destroying the universe.

Yep. Totally what our forefathers had in mind.

In the last few days you’ve heard a lot about campaign ads swaying (or failing to sway) potential voters, and you’ve probably even seen reports of Hurricane Sandy affecting campaign plans and (possibly) the election itself. But a current poll on video game site IGN got us thinking about a factor we hadn’t previously considered — will the release of Halo 4 on Election Day actually keep loyal gamers from casting their ballots?

The post on IGN reads:

“It’s easy to joke that Halo 4 will disrupt the vote, but because it’s one of the most popular entertainment properties of all time, it’s worth considering it as a serious point of concern. So we want to know: Who are you, are you voting, and is Halo 4 more important to you than the election?”

Good question!

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PR Fail: American Apparel’s ‘Hurricane Sandy Sale’

The hipster dud makers and serial perverts who run American Apparel are no strangers to controversy and bad PR–the company’s former rep recently published a cute book titled “Trust Me, I’m Lying”, and his thesis seems to be that bloggers, reporters and other media personalities are just as dishonest as he is.

The company made another dubious promotional decision yesterday by advertising a 20% off “Hurricane Sandy Sale” for email subscribers living in areas affected by the storm. The message encouraged customers to stop by local branches “in case you’re bored” so they can save a couple of bucks on cheap, LA-made t-shirts guaranteed to fray at the seams within six months.

This characteristically insensitive email blast inspired a stream of outrage on Twitter, with many users promising to boycott the chain and its silver leggings once and for all.

But will this stunt really hurt the company’s reputation–or its sales numbers? We somehow doubt it.

We can’t expect much in the way of respectable behavior from American Apparel, which has grown into a big brand by creating a series of NSFW ads that feature everything from grandmas in tights to bottomless porn stars while brazenly dancing along the line between clever and creepy. And we just don’t think this newest spat of negative publicity and online outrage will do much to damage what has proven to be a very resilient business. If CEO Dov Charney has his way, AA could even manage to escape nine straight quarters of losses and multiple bankruptcy scares to become a profitable company again.

But mark our words: getting out of the red won’t make American Apparel any less sleazy.

Social Media Spread Fake Hurricane News, Pics

We’ve all heard about the power of social media to bring people together and help spread information quickly, especially during crises like the deadly storm that struck the Eastern seaboard yesterday, causing multiple casualties and untold billions in property damage.

Twitter was, of course, awash in updates last night as Hurricane Sandy struck–and for breaking news, the service was quicker and in many cases more helpful than more traditional news feeds like those on the New York Times and CNN websites. Co-founder Jack Dorsey went so far as to tweet:

But yesterday’s perfect storm also reminded us of social media’s dangers: many users both intentionally and accidentally tweeted fake photos and misleading news “updates” during the storm. Seen that crazy image of ominous clouds building behind the Statue of Liberty? The flooded McDonald’s? The scuba diver in the Times Square subway station? The shark swimming along a suburban main street? All fake.

In a few cases, this fakery could have placed real people in real danger.

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The Ticker: Hurricane Sandy Devastates; World Series; Google Tablet; Letterman & Fallon Man Up

PR Jobs: Offerpop, ABRAMS, DeVries

This week, Offerpop is hiring a director of content marketing, while ABRAMS needs a publicist for its children’s books division. DeVries Public Relations is on the hunt for a beauty account executive, and Rubenstein PR is seeking a vice president of of medical public relations. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

Find more great PR jobs on the PRNewser job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented PRNewser pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

Taylor Swift’s Next PR Move (Why Can’t We Let Teen Stars Grow Up?)

We know it’s hard to let go. The public loves its pop stars.

We, the public, feel that entertainers like Taylor Swift belong to us, to our families and to our Rockwellian image of what a young American woman should be: smart, pretty and forever 17. Sure, it’s unfair, but we don’t care; “the public” does not subject itself to petty concerns like ethical consistency. We’d never criticize our own daughters or nieces for growing up, but Taylor Swift? How could she?

Swift doesn’t just boast legions of young fans who idolize her; she also attracts a large adult demographic more interested in glorifying youth itself. To disillusioned grown-ups, being young like Swift means being unbridled, healthy, passionate, and open to everything that a bright new world can offer. The reality of being young, of course, is different–while it may at times prove sublime, the act of becoming an adult remains fraught with disappointment, divorce, bulimia, bullying and acne (the horror!).

Swift, now 22, just released “Red,” her fourth album. It is, of course, a departure from her previous albums, the first of which reached our impressionable ears just six years ago. But will we accept it? In a fascinating application of herd mentality, young and talented female artists like Swift often encounter a public backlash when they move into adulthood.  The public feels–despite all logic–that the artist they learned to love as a precocious teen has somehow betrayed them by becoming an adult. Read more

The Communist Party Guide to Damage Control

We’re going to make a somewhat bold assessment: If the People’s Republic of China weren’t a one-party country, the ruling Communist bureaucracy’s PR efforts would not be particularly effective. Party spokesmen (and they’re always men) have no discernible sense of humor, and they aren’t too skilled in the art of nuance–their public proclamations have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

An interesting study in Communist Party PR unfurled this week. For the past year or so, Chinese politics has revolved around the sort of organized transfer of power that occurs once every decade; most observers believe that current President Hu Jintao will hand the reins off to his VP, Xi Jinping.

The transfer, already plagued by the arrest of top official Bo Xilal and his wife on charges of fraud and murder, ran into even more controversy thanks to a recent New York Times expose focused on the finances of prime minister Wen Jibao‘s family–a proudly humble clan that has somehow managed to accumulate billions of dollars in assets over recent years via assorted business alliances.

Like the Wen family’s finances, the Party’s damage control plan is all over the map: First censors blocked web access to the Times site throughout China; then they scanned the popular Chinese Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo in order to scrub all references to the number 2.7 billion (the supposed financial worth of the PM’s family). After relying on the government to implement a “nothing to see here” approach, members of the Wen family pivoted, directly addressing a story that they’d previously tried to erase and threatening legal action against the Times for reporting on “corporate and regulatory records” that were available to the public. What’s more, the family never directly addressed any of the story’s particulars–and the Times report did not allege any sort of illegal activity.

This completely ineffective response to the scandal hints at the complexity of Chinese politics: in an unelected government, public perception is invaluable because brute force can only accomplish so much.

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Lena Dunham’s ‘First Time’ Obama Ad Raises Eyebrows

Lena Dunham hopes young women will heed her advice before embarking on the journey that is true womanhood by losing their virginity–their voting virginity, that is.

In her now-viral pro-Obama video, Dunham reminds newly of-age girls that their first time should be with the right guy–an amazing guy, one who “cares whether you get health insurance, and specifically, whether you get birth control”. She assures us in her believable, girl-talky tone that her first time was “amazing”, and as she went to the voting booth, “pulled back the curtain, and voted for Barack Obama“, she knew she had crossed a line in the sand, transforming from a blushing girl to an empowered woman.

A clever double entendre–but not everyone is amused.

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National Weather Service Storm Announcement Was Way Over the Top

We understand that the communications pros at the National Weather Service have a challenging and largely thankless job: convincing barely-interested Americans to pay attention to dangerous weather systems and respond accordingly.

Their jobs are especially important at a time like this: Hurricane Sandy is about to slam into New Jersey, and its aftermath won’t be pretty: Governor Chris Christie stopped begging Bruce Springsteen to hang out with him long enough to tell residents that they should prepare to go without power for 7-10 days, adding (with his trademark understatement), “Don’t be stupid, get out.”

OK, we get it: this is a big deal. The NWS knows that people don’t generally like to pack up and flee their homes, and we don’t doubt that some hard-headed New Jersey residents will stay put no matter what. Still, we wonder whether the tone of the service’s Sunday evening message was completely appropriate. Here’s the passage that raised some eyebrows (bold text ours, all caps theirs):

2. IF YOU ARE RELUCTANT TO EVACUATE, AND YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO RODE OUT THE `62 STORM ON THE BARRIER ISLANDS, ASK THEM IF THEY COULD DO IT AGAIN.

3. IF YOU ARE RELUCTANT, THINK ABOUT YOUR LOVED ONES, THINK ABOUT THE EMERGENCY RESPONDERS WHO WILL BE UNABLE TO REACH YOU WHEN YOU MAKE THE PANICKED PHONE CALL TO BE RESCUED, THINK ABOUT THE RESCUE/RECOVERY TEAMS WHO WILL RESCUE YOU IF YOU ARE INJURED OR RECOVER YOUR REMAINS IF YOU DO NOT SURVIVE.

Well, that was certainly blunt. Since Buzzfeed won’t tell us whether we should be outraged by this insensitive gut punch, we’re stuck between freaking out and following New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s more measured suggestion:

We’ll get back to you when we figure it out.

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