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Posts Tagged ‘Howard Kurtz’

Politico Defends Its Own Pay-to-Play Publicity Game as ‘Transparent’

Carousel_MP_POLITICO_sign_v6_960_481_40In the year’s most “Inside Baseball” story, Erik Wemple of The Washington Post claimed that the popular D.C. “Playbook” email newsletter published by Mike Allen of Politico basically amounts to a bunch of reprinted press releases.

Want your business to earn positive press in a thread read by thousands of political insiders? No problem—just fork up $35,000 to spend a week sponsoring the newsletter and Allen will make sure to mention you in a completely uncritical way. He might even bring your name up later in order to highlight your own publicity campaigns and link to your PSA-style videos because he’s such a nice guy.

This isn’t a completely new story, BTW: back in 2010 this blog reported on the ease with which one may be featured in the site’s fluffier “Click” section.

When Wemple’s report surfaced, Politico CEO John VandeHei called it “nonsense”—and Howard Kurtz gave editor-in-chief John Harris an opportunity to elaborate on that statement on his Fox News show this week.

Harris’ defense was a bit…garbled.

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Herman Cain Aided By Media’s Disregard for Bialek/Allred Presser

Photo: AP

Who would’ve thought after Weinergate, the Craigslist Congressman, and other recent political scandals that we would still be talking about Herman Cain as a presidential candidate the day after a woman, Sharon Bialek, appeared at a press conference with none other than Gloria Allred to air awful allegations of sexual harassment against him?

Perhaps to answer that question, we can start with the way the media covered the press conference, which was basically to not cover it at all.

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Jay Carney to Brian Williams: ‘Close Hold: We Got Bin Laden. Tell No One.’

While some have questioned White House Press Secretary Jay Carney‘s job performance in the last few weeks, he was certainly very clear when communicating with one of the nations’ most well-known reporters on the Bin Laden news.

Politco’s Playbook provides us with this nugget from an upcoming story by Howard Kurtz in Newsweek.

“[NBC 'Nightly News' anchor] Brian Williams … was in his Connecticut kitchen … when White House spokesman Jay Carney called to say he should get to the chair: ‘Close hold: we got bin Laden. Tell no one.’ Williams threw on a suit, wiring up his earpiece to save time. He raced his Chevy SUV to Manhattan, shaving with an electric razor on the way…

Here’s an interesting follow up: how many other journalists got the direct call from Carney, versus a mass message, or a call from another member of the White House communications team?

‘Adweek’ Digital Editor Brian Morrissey on Moving to Digiday: ‘I Wouldn’t Have Left ‘Adweek’ to do the Same Thing in a Different Place’

Brian Morrissey, digital editor for Adweek, made waves last week when it was announced he’d be leaving the trade publication after more than six years to join Digiday, an upstart trade media and events company as editor-in-chief.

In some ways, the move is a trade media equivalent of what we’ve seen in the last year with well-known journalists such as the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz, who left the newspaper to join Tina Brown at the Daily Beast.

PRNewser spoke with Morrissey this week for his first interview since the announcement.

We’ll start with the question many folks are probably interested in: why did you make the move?

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Revolving Door: 10.7

Here are this week’s PR and media highlights from mediabistro’s Revolving Door Newsletter:

Howard Kurtz has been named Washington bureau chief at The Daily Beast. He had been media reporter at The Washington Post.

Charlyne Mattox has been named staff food editor at Real Simple. She had been associate food editor at Everyday Food.

Edmund Andrews has been named managing editor for economics, taxes, and budget at National Journal. He had been senior Washington correspondent at The Fiscal Times.

Anne Michaud has been named interactive editor/opinion at Newsday. She had been editorial writer there.

Click here to receive’s Revolving Door Newsletter via email.

Dan Abrams On His Agency: Don’t Call Us A PR Firm


NBC chief legal analyst Dan Abrams — who has also launched a blog network and digital consulting firm in the last year — spoke with CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” hosted by Howard Kurtz in an interview that aired this weekend.

Kurtz asked Abrams about a number of topics in regards to his career and the media industry, including the launch of Abrams Research, his consulting firm. Abrams was quick to point out that it’s not a PR firm, exactly. From the transcript:

KURTZ: You also have a public relations firm. And now you’re advising big corporate giants like Coke and GE on social media.

ABRAMS: Yes. It’s not really a PR firm. What it is –

KURTZ: I don’t want to be charged for this advice. What do you tell them?

ABRAMS: Yes. No, I understand. I understand. What it is, it is a digital media firm.

ABRAMS: So, basically, we’ve seen that we know how to build traffic, for example, on the Web sites. How do you get people to stick around?

There are little tricks of the trade, et cetera.

We’re just applying those tricks now for businesses and saying to them, hey, you want to keep people in your universe online? Here are some things you can do.

You want to build traffic on your Web site? You want to keep people there? Here are some things that we think that you should do.

So that’s now the exclusive foray of Abrams Research.

In a brief discussion with an Abrams Research consultant this past fall, this PRNewser called the company a PR agency, and was quick to be corrected that Abrams Research is a “media strategy” firm.

It’s not surprising that the agency faces the challenge many other digital shops do these days, in terms of defining where they fit into the marketing landscape and what they actually do. Watch Abrams on “Reliable Sources” here.

Former Obama Healthcare Comms. Director Linda Douglass: Reporters and Sources More “Wary Of Each Other” in Digital News World

Linda Douglass, who previously worked as the communications director for the Office of Health Reform at the White House and has also worked as Barack Obama’s traveling press secretary, recently joined The Atlantic as vice president of strategic communications.

Yesterday she spoke was a guest on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” to talk about the move and going back and forth from journalism to PR. Douglass was also previously an ABC News correspondent. In her new position, she will also be involved with newsroom activities, which Kurtz asked about.

From the transcript:

KURTZ: But if you’re helping to shape the newsroom, could anybody be skeptical and say you’re bringing some kind of pro-Obama agenda?

DOUGLASS: What I’m doing is bringing decades of experience in journalism and in communications to try to rebuild this operation and see where people get their news, who they believe, who they trust –

KURTZ: You’re so experienced, you just deflected my question.


KURTZ: All right. Let me move on. When you were in the middle of this health care fight, which seemed to go on forever, were you disappointed by some of the reporting you saw?

DOUGLASS: Well, you know, everything has changed so much. I was — of course I was disappointed, but you’re always disappointed no matter which side you’re on. And the thing I –

KURTZ: What disappointed you?

DOUGLASS: Well, what I saw on all sides was that reporters are under so much pressure now, you know, to report something every 15, 20 minutes. I mean, when I was a reporter, you had a deadline once or twice a day.


DOUGLASS: So they’ve got…

KURTZ: So everything gets thrown up online.

DOUGLASS: Everything gets thrown up online. Everything is news, no matter how small or trivial. Any little trivial thing can go on and on and on. But they’re under pressure from their editors to churn information out.

The government officials or the campaign officials are trying to tell their own story and they’re under pressure with these waves of news that are pouring over them all the time. And what I think is unfortunate is that it’s harder and harder for reporters and government officials to trust each other. You don’t have the time to develop those relationships anymore and there’s so much pressure and they’re so wary of each other, as they should be, naturally, that it’s very hard for that trust to be built, which occasionally will exist with reporters on beats with a government official.

So what did reporters that Douglass pitched while working on health-care reform say to Reliable Source’s Howard Kurtz when he came calling to get background on her?

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Gibbs on Authorized Leaks: ‘On Occasion We Want to Get Ahead of What the News is Going to be That Day’

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Howard Kurtz yesterday, where he spoke about a variety of media and PR related topics from playing the “media game,” to authorized leaks to Twitter.

On the media “game”:

KURTZ: Now, this amuses me, because you guys play the game. You put people out on the shows. You talk to bloggers. You have anchors and correspondents in for off-the-record lunches.

So you’re a willing participant in that news cycle.

GIBBS: Well, you either have to participate in it or you’re at the mercy of it. I will say I’m always amused when I turn on the television, and two people are at the same location but in boxes that make it appear as if somehow they don’t just not subscribe to what the other one believes, but they’re physically separated from any common viewpoint.

KURTZ: “The Hollywood Squares.”

GIBBS: I think the president believes, having traveled around this country for so long now, that there’s far more that unites us than divides us. That the truth is what makes really good television are not two people that are at the end of a four-or-five-minute segment going to come to an agreement, but at the end of the four-or- five-minute segment are, you know, maybe 30 seconds away from doing each other bodily harm.

On the news cycle and authorized leaks:

KURTZ: A couple of weeks ago, “The New York Times” had a front- page story about the president about to announce that day — the next day — a new policy on offshore oil drilling. It says, “Unnamed officials who agreed to preview the details on conditions that they not be identified.”

That’s would I would call an authorized leak. Why is it in the White House interest to give one news organizations a story before he makes the announcement?

GIBBS: Right. It’s interesting.

You know, we talk about the news cycle. And if you think about it, what it used to be maybe 10 years ago or 15 years ago.

You’d say the news cycle lasted, you know, several hours — six hours, eight hours. The news cycle now is continuous, right? Every reporter, quite honestly, is a wire reporter, because, immediately, their copy goes up on the Internet, the AP wire, cable television. So –

KURTZ: And we all blog.

GIBBS: Right. And Twitter and all that sort of thing. So –

KURTZ: So you need to get out ahead of that cycle?

GIBBS: This thing — the news cycle starts at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. It lasts probably until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. It sleeps only a little bit before it all starts again. And on occasion we want to get ahead of what the news is going to be that day by letting folks know.

On Twitter:

KURTZ: Before I let you go, you recently joined Twitter.

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Dan Lyons: Head of Apple PR Told Newsweek Not To Hire Me


Most PR pros — especially those in tech PR — know that Apple runs a very tight ship when it comes to marketing and communications.

This weekend’s iPad launch was yet another example, as the company received around the clock, mostly positive media coverage of the hype surrounding the new product.

However, an interesting tidbit from the weekend’s iPad coverage comes from Newsweek tech reporter Dan Lyons, who also pens the “Fake Steve Jobs” blog. Lyons said on CNN’s Reliable Sources, hosted by the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz, that the head of Apple PR told Newsweek not to hire him. From the transcript:

KURTZ: I just want to follow up on something you said. Apple executives went to “Newsweek” and said don’t hire this guy, Dan Lyons? We don’t like he writes this fake Steve Jobs — they tried to block you from being hired?

LYONS: Their head of PR told my predecessor, Steven Levy, to pass word to the powers that be at “Newsweek” that Apple wasn’t happy with the idea that they were going to hire me. Yes, that happened. And apple plays this game. I mean, notice who got iPads and who didn’t get iPads. Notice who got access and who didn’t.

And the other interesting thing here when you’re talking about the media and Apple is that, you know, the media — “The New York Times” was on stage with Apple, with Steve Jobs, at the announcement of the iPad, right? “TIME” had to have Stephen Frey, an actor, write about the iPad because their tech editor is running their iPad, their iPad development team.

So, the media in this case has really gotten in bed with Apple. And yes, it does raise questions about, how do you cover something when it’s your own business, in a sense, you’re covering?

Read the full transcript here.

‘Game Change’ PR Surge Continues


“Game Change” doesn’t just sizzle, it’s sizzle-mean. Subtitled “Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the race of a lifetime” the book by TIME‘s Mark Halperin and New York‘s John Heilemann is running the table with a roll-out of very damaging, and blog-able anecdotes from the 2008 presidential campaign trail.

Yet the real story is what “Game Change” reveals about the modern Washington press corps, the debate of which should keep the book on the bestseller list for awhile.

HarperCollins farmed out some of the PR work to Kate Pruss Pinnick of the book specialist firm Shreve Williams.

More after the jump.

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