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Roll Call: Edelman, Ruder Finn and The Digital Consultancy

Edelman has named Stephanie Lvovich global chair of its Public Affairs practice, effective October 13, 2014. Lvovich, formerly executive director and global chair of the food and consumer products practice at APCO Worldwide, will lead the firm’s global Public Affairs practice, which encompasses over 275 professionals worldwide. She will be based in the firm’s London office. At APCO Worldwide, Lvovich led the creation of and managed APCO’s global food and consumer products practice. She also oversaw international accounts for major food and consumer products companies including the Coca-Cola Company, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Mars Incorporated, SABMiller and many others. Lvovich also built and managed APCO’s business development function for Europe, India and the Middle East and helped support business and client expansion, particularly in the Gulf region. (Release)

Ruder Finn, Inc. announced that it has hired Peggy Walsh as its global chief financial officer. With 20 years of experience in business operations and finance, Peggy will oversee finance for Ruder Finn’s 12 offices across the U.S., Asia and the U.K. Peggy is coming to Ruder Finn from Ketchum, where she spent 15 years, most recently serving as Senior Vice President and Director of Finance and Operations. Walsh’s hire comes in light of Ruder Finn’s ongoing growth surge, with the agency’s key focus areas – Health & Wellness, Corporate & Public Trust, Technology & Innovation, and Consumer Connections – all growing. (Release)

The Digital Consultancy announced that Greg Verdino will launch and lead its North American office. In his role as managing director, Verdino will build upon The Digital Consultancy’s client-proven methodologies to deliver the comprehensive, impartial strategies that global organizations need in order to thrive in a constantly evolving digital economy. Verdino joins The Digital Consultancy after nearly 25 years working at the forefront of marketing, media and technology change. His career has included time as executive vice president of strategy at social business firm Dachis Group, chief strategy officer at pioneering social media consultancy crayon, and vice president of emerging channels at Digitas. His experience also includes seven years in senior marketing, sales and general management roles at a variety of technology startups, as well as agency stints at Blau Marketing Technologies, Wunderman and Saatchi & Saatchi. He most recently ran his own consulting practice, advising organizations in the media, healthcare, retail and public sectors on digital strategy, marketing, and transformation. (Release)

The Ticker: Budweiser on the NFL; Facebook ‘Best of’; Attack of the YouTube Stars; And More

How Did Apple’s U2 Freebie Go So Wrong?

u2 lpApple and U2 have been dealing with negativity over the past week or so all because they gave users a free copy of the band’s new album “Songs of Innocence.” What gives? Don’t people like a freebie? Don’t people like U2?

The “gift,” as the band tweeted, went to 500 million users automatically at a cost to Apple of what some have estimated $100 million. I argued here that the band was upstaged by Apple’s other announcements from the September 9 event. This is the first U2 album in five years and — yes I’m biased because I have a soft spot for the band — but this is a big deal. It deserves its own fanfare.

But it looks like the situation is even worse. People were really upset by the move.

First off, some people with questionable taste just could bear the idea of the album being on their devices. Some have moved on to other bands and can’t be bothered while others, just to annoy us with their annoying youth, say they’ve never heard of U2. Lies!

But the answer might sit more squarely in the word that Slate used to describe the marketing ploy: creepy.

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LaForce+Stevens Talks Tying Scandal to Fashion on Social

Kerry-Washington-Scandal

A question for PRNewsers: are you excited that Scandal is coming back? And would you like to feel closer (in a fashion sense) to everyone’s favorite professional fixer, Olivia Pope?

The Limited hopes that the answer to both of those questions is “hell yes”, and they’re getting help from Manhattan firm LaForce+Stevens in promoting the fashion brand’s new partnership with the ABC drama. So far, the campaign and its well-fit coats have earned coverage via The New York Times, People, Forbes, Entertainment Tonight and others, so we’d say the collection is heating up.

We spoke to Megan Brown (follow her on Twitter), who manages digital/social at the firm, for more on the campaign and Kerry Washington herself.

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Thailand Prime Minister’s PSA: Country ‘Not Always Safe for Tourists’ After Murder

Ao_Thong_Nai_Pan,_Koh_Phangan,_Thailand_02-2003Yesterday our friends at Skift revealed that media coverage doesn’t necessarily inspire tourists to pick certain travel destinations. On the other hand, extremely negative coverage would definitely influence our decision not to visit certain locales.

Times have been tough for Thailand’s tourist industry ever since its May 22 coup. Turns out that martial law makes it hard for tourists to purchase travel insurance — so the number of visitors to Thailand dropped more than 10 percent during the first eight months of 2014.

That’s quite a drop a country whose tourist industry makes up about 10 percent of its economy, but it wasn’t a lethal drop. After all, adventure-seeking tourists were still free to travel sans insurance, and plans were in the works to lift martial law in the country’s more leisure-inclined, less revolutionary areas.

However, following news of the murder of two British tourists earlier this week, Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha is accurately acknowledging “all sorts of consequences” for Thailand in the future. Read more

E-Cigarettes Are Making Their Way To a Theater Near You

ecigTobacco companies haven’t been able to purchase product placement in movies for two decades. (Though there have been plenty of characters who have puffed on a cigarette, but no deals allowed.) However, those rules don’t apply to e-cigarettes, which have seen a spike in popularity. Estimates say that, since 2005, e-cigarettes have become a $3 billion business with 450 brands in the industry.

So it stands to reason that these brands would be looking for ways to market themselves. And product placement has become, increasingly, a marketing path that many companies, even unexpected ones, want to take. The question is how long before e-cigarettes are facing the same restrictions that traditional cigarettes are.

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CBS Obeys Twitter, Agrees to Drop Rihanna from Thursday Night Football

CBS made a wise move last week by announcing plans to suspend for one week (sound familiar?) a Thursday Night Football intro segment including a performance by Rihanna and a comedy segment featuring Don Cheadle.

Early this morning, the pop star let everyone know how she felt about the decision:

This development really had nothing to do with penalizing Rihanna or diminishing her star power, but CBS heard that tweet and responded.

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Walmart Comms VP to Resign Over Fake Resume

David TobarIn a peculiar story, David Tovar has announced his plans to resign from Walmart after spending more than eight years in various top PR roles at the big box chain. The reason? He was less than honest about his (alleged) status as a college graduate.

Tovar’s name isn’t new to us or our readers: he’s been a popular speaker at industry events like The Holmes Report’s 2013 Global Summit and PRSA’s recent corporate comms conference. He also made headlines by doing things like boycotting The Huffington Post over its “unfair coverage” of his employer, “fact-checking” an unflattering New York Times op-ed, and admitting that the Waltons sometimes have trouble keeping their shelves stocked.

In other words, he’s bolder than your average corporate communications executive — especially when it comes to massaging the truth about his background.

He tried to explain things to CNBC today.

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Pope Francis Marries 20 Couples So They Won’t Be Shacking Any Longer

pope-vatican

In the past, our fearless leader at PR Newser suggested that Pope Francis has solidified his position as the Patron Saint of PR (though he has not ascended). And with all due respect to the now canonized Saint John Paul II, the Catholic Church desperately needed some good mojo.

And then the white smoke appeared introducing the world to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who later changed his name to Francis.

He has embraced the Twitter, left the grandiose Popemobile for a leisurely walk, proclaimed the Internet to be  a gift from God, scored his own weekly magazine, stated that no one should work on the Sabbath (yeah right), and excommunicated the Mafia.

But what he did over the weekend may have the Catholic Church looking as progressive as a non-denominational community picnic.

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Former NSA Chief Compares ISIS Air Strikes to ‘Friends with Benefits’

nsa_logoOne of the fundamental tactics for any flack is writing talking points ahead of interviews. This isn’t purely “spin”, by the way — but clients do sometimes get skittish during on-the-air talks. The prep sheet, then, is like a security blanket minus Elmo.

Because of that perfunctory aspect of PR, it’s always easy to tell which clients don’t have proper talking points. When it happens, you sometimes hurt for the spokesperson (a little).

At other times, though, you laugh so hard that you pee (again, a little).

The latter happened when former NSA and CIA major domo Gen. Michael Hayden went viral for all the wrong reasons while discussing ISIS and air strikes.

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