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Posts Tagged ‘David Petraeus’

‘Me Walls’ and Vanity License Plates Reflect Personal Brands

Having a active presence on the latest social platforms is the main focus for many self-promoters. But ‘me walls’ and vanity license plates have been around far longer than Facebook posts and Twitter handles. They offer creative personal branding options for car owners and execs with corner offices.

‘Me walls’ “display photos of a person posing with President X or foreign leader Y,” according to Mark Leibovich, author of the recent best seller, This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral – Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking in America’s Gilded Capital. He was referring to the decorated office walls of Washington D.C.’s power players, but the term also applies to the corner offices at PR firms, corporations, sports agencies and Hollywood studios.

For top-level executives who aren’t stuck in cubicles, floor-to-ceiling exhibits include impressiive photos, exotic travel souvenirs and trophy cases. ‘Me walls’ offer a chance to show off one’s accomplishments and high profile contacts in a personalized setting. They’re the visual equivalent of name-dropping, also serving as conversation-starters for visitors. Since scandals can arise at any time, rotating displays are preferable. Photos of David Petraeus and Lance Armstrong were likely replaced this year, for example.

Vanity license plates: Car owners willing to pay the Department of Motor Vehicles an extra fee have the opportunity to convey their essence in fewer than ten characters. Back in New York, while wandering around locally, we spotted some catchy career-related plates. These may belong to editors, pr execs, techies, financial speculators or sports enthusiasts: MR EDIT, SPYNDOC, RISK MAN, SURFR GRL.

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7 Tips for Your Next Big Apology Tour

Last week brought news of disgraced general/CIA chief and potential presidential candidate David Petraeus‘s first post-scandal appearance. Petraeus used a speech before a University of Southern California dinner honoring the military to effectively begin his apology tour. We and everyone else in PR are obsessed with damage control, and we feel like Petraeus got it right. Now we’d like to take a moment to relay seven lessons from recent scandal-wracked personalities who didn’t quite get it right.

1. Make it public — but not too public: Whoever told Arnold Schwarzenegger that appearing on every interview show ever to talk about his affairs and his out-of-wedlock child while simultaneously hawking his new book was very wrong.

2. Be humble. Seriously: Jonah Lehrer didn’t get the message that being a public intellectual does not allow you to avoid taking the blame for your own failings by over-intellectualizing the whole thing and pontificating about the why and the how. “I need rules because I don’t trust myself to not be arrogant”? Come on, man.

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Oprah Uses Apple iPad to Endorse Microsoft Surface

Oprah WinfreyThe public understands the challenges of brand consistency in the digital age. With so many distractions unfolding so continuously and quickly, it’s easy to go off message or reveal a failure in a brand’s promise or values.

Just as that dangerous mix of human fallibility and technical reliability brought former General David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell down like the Hindenburg, so online PR campaigns can self-sabotage when technology exposes the contradictory actions of CEOs or employees.

Take Oprah Winfrey, for example, who recently tweeted glowing reviews naming Microsoft’s Surface tablet as one of her Favorite Things 2012, thereby giving the tablet an important and powerful endorsement in an intensely competitive market category.

It’s Oprah, after all, and she’s (still) one of the most important personalities in America. We can only assume that Microsoft was ecstatic about the praise from Ms. Winfrey. The company was also probably just as surprised as everyone else to learn that the tweets were sent from an iPad, the Darth Vader to Microsoft’s young Luke Skywalker.

What was Oprah thinking?

Is this a PR crime on par with BP’s gulf oil spill? Of course not. Is it hilarious? Absolutely. It’s also a PR setback for both Oprah and Microsoft because of the innate “stink test” the public exercises in moments like these.

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Petraeus Scandal’s Third Wheel Played Politics, Ran a Shady Charity

David Petraeus and Jill Kelley courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Last week we updated you on the juiciest available details regarding the David Petraeus scandal; most of these revelations involved a Tampa, Florida-based socialite named Jill Kelley, who seems to have played the role of third party spoiler in this twisted romantic tragedy.

As the controversy grows into every tabloid writer’s dream scoop and the media subjects Mrs. Kelley’s life to a far greater degree of scrutiny than she ever expected, a few interesting details have come to light.

There’s quite a bit to sort through: First of all, Mrs. Kelley has an identical sister named Natalie Khawam. The two enjoy participating in Florida politics, raising money for charitable causes…and racking up combined debts of approximately $7.6 million! Mrs. Kelley is currently “mired in lawsuits from a string of banks”, and Ms. Khawam declared bankruptcy earlier this year after engaging in a court battle over custody of her son and receiving character testimony from both General Petraeus and top Army General John Allen (who seems to have developed an amorous interest in her sister that included hundreds of not-so-discrete emails).

Another mini-scandal: Petraeus helped Kelley earn a gig as “honorary” consul to South Korea, but Kelley reportedly dropped the first part of her fake title when socializing—and this weekend the New York Daily News ran a story alleging that she tried to turn the unpaid position into a big-time score by enticing businessmen with her fictional connections to South Korea’s president.

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Spin the Agencies of Record

TobleroneAfter a review, McGarryBowen‘s London office acquired the global advertising account for Toblerone, the renowned candy brand. WPP’s Ogilvy managed the account previously, and—even thought it will no longer handle the Toblerone account—it will continue to work for a new company, Mondelez, established by the division of Kraft Foods into two separate entities.

Jill Kelley, the Florida woman catapulted into fame upon being identified as the person who triggered an FBI investigation that exposed CIA Director General David Petraeus‘ extramarital affair, has hired the crisis firm Smith & Co., based in Washington, DC. Though Smith & Co. refused to comment, both USA Today and Fox News reported that Ms. Kelley and her husband, Scott, hired Smith & Co.’s founder, PR maven Judy Smith, and attorney Abbe Lowell.

WISE PR, based in New York City, has added several new clients to its roster: Control Group, an NYC-based innovation strategy firm; Spruce Media, the leading provider of enterprise-class marketing solutions for Facebook Ads; Yieldex, the leading provider of inventory and revenue management solutions for digital publishers; Dynamix, a provider of dynamic creative engagement, optimization and personalization technology, and Spindle Labs Inc., a developer of new search technology to help people discover social content.

Puma Combines Modern, Retro Technologies to Entice Customers

A rotary-style phone wasn’t the device that led to the unraveling of the David Petraeus ‘Spyfall’ affair, but talking the old-fashioned way certainly would have been a wiser choice than communicating by email.

The retro bright red phone shown here isn’t intended for illicit correspondence–it’s a platform designed by Puma to entertain and inform the brand’s customers at select retail locations worldwide.

Adam Petrick, Puma’s senior global head of brand management, explained how Puma sought to “make our stores more like our brand” during a presentation at the ANA Mobile Marketing conference on Wednesday in New York.

According to Petrick, Puma is an “irreverent challenger brand that makes high performance sports products” and retains underdog status when competing with giants like Nike and Adidas. Still, the company’s association with Olympic gold medal-winning Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has certainly aided its marketing efforts.

In order to gain traction in the retail realm, Petrick and Puma tried to “instill a sense of fun in our use of technology”. Here’s a sample of the company’s in-store gadgets and their attention-getting names:

Unsmart’ phones: According to Petrick, the classic red rotary phones like the one pictured above are simply there to “make customers smile”. When visitors pick up the receivers, they hear short audio clips on various topics (not clandestine messages or instructions to report to secret locations).

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The Petraeus Scandal Just Got a Lot Juicier

General David Petraeus and Paula BroadwellWow, that was fast: the adulterous duo of Gen. David Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, just turned into a love triangle–or is it a pentagon? Whatever shape the scandal eventually takes, its fallout already extends to the top ranks of the US military.

Let’s play catch-up:

The primary reason the whole story came to light was an FBI complaint filed by Tampa resident Jill Kelley. We’re not quite sure what Mrs. Kelley did, but we do know that Mrs. Broadwell (who was having an affair with Petraeus at the time, remember) regarded her as some sort of threat, emailing her repeatedly about her work as a “social liason” to Florida’s MacDill Air Force base in what some classified as an aggressive and accusatory tone.

Kelley was so disturbed by the messages that she reported them to the FBI; things quickly started to unravel. Petraeus appears to have broken up with Broadwell once he heard about these interactions, but the damage had already been done.

After the FBI gained access to Broadwell’s email account, they uncovered the relationship between the biographer and her subject. According to the latest revelations, they also stumbled upon a very large series of email exchanges between Kelley and General John Allen, the top commander of US/NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Seems like quite a few people had more than a casual interest in Mrs. Kelley.

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BREAKING: CIA Director Petraeus Resigns Over Affair

David Petraeus CIADavid Petraeus, a respected military leader who many saw as a very strong contender for President of the United States in 2016, just experienced the worst kind of PR scandal: He resigned today from his post as head of the CIA, citing an extramarital affair.

Petraeus, a four star general and nearly 40-year veteran of the US Army, came to great national prominence while leading the multinational force in Iraq from 2008-2010 under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Sources say that Petraeus met with Obama yesterday to tender his resignation and that the CIA’s acting director, Mike Morrell, will soon take his place. His letter:

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA.  After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.  Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.  This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.

As I depart Langley, I want you to know that it has been the greatest of privileges to have served with you, the officers of our Nation’s Silent Service, a work force that is truly exceptional in every regard.  Indeed, you did extraordinary work on a host of critical missions during my time as director, and I am deeply grateful to you for that.

Teddy Roosevelt once observed that life’s greatest gift is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.  I will always treasure my opportunity to have done that with you and I will always regret the circumstances that brought that work with you to an end.

Thank you for your extraordinary service to our country, and best wishes for continued success in the important endeavors that lie ahead for our country and our Agency.

With admiration and appreciation,

David H. Petraeus

Yet another promising career seems to have been cut tragically short by personal misconduct. We wish we could draw a PR lesson from this scandal, but beyond the obvious we have very little to say.

Report: Gen. Petraeus is ‘Master of Spin’

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A day after Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was removed as America’s top military commander in Aghanistan due to damaging statements made by him and his staff to Rolling Stone, some in the media have noted that McChrystal’s replacement, Gen. David Petraeus, won’t make the same mistakes.

In The Daily Beast, Ellen Knickmeyer calls Petraeus a “master of spin,” and notes his PR savvy:

He may not be gregarious but Petraeus wields a bony and ascetic charm which he combines with practical intelligence. And, unlike McChrystal, Petraeus has an unfailing grasp on his own spin-gifting reporters and analysts with bits of information that further his military points of view, and dashing off flatteringly fast responses to their emails.

Meanwhile, as TVNewser notes, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera seemed to blame the Rolling Stone reporter for this whole situation, not McChrystal and his staff.

Former national security analyst KT McFarland was on the segment with Rivera, but didn’t agree. “I’ve been a government official and you have to assume [what you say] will be repeated, twisted and everything else. You have to be very cautious,” she said. Petraeus “never would have made those mistakes,” she continued. Video at TVNewser.