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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Roose’

SeaWorld Finally Confirms a Blackfish Backlash to Investors

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SeaWorld has been very insistent in its messaging since CNN’s Blackfish expose surfaced with variations on “The documentary is skewed and it will not affect our business in any way.”

Despite this claim, the company and its firm 42West launched an aggressive campaign to counter the film’s influence and we posted extensively.

Time has revealed some small cracks in the  facade: Southwest Airlines, for example, recently ended its 26-year partnership with the resort while maintaining ties through the Southwest Vacations unit.

Today, however, the company officially changed its tune in a telling press release.

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Q&A: Separating Business from Personal Politics

In case you missed it, venture capitalist/Silicon Valley money guru and Y Combinator founder Paul Graham–who helped startups like Dropbox and Airbnb achieve their impressive valuations–received a bit of negative attention from others in the tech scene over the past week for tweeting news stories about the Gaza conflict currently dominating headlines around the world. Here’s an example:

The tweets didn’t go over well with some Israeli members of the tech world. VC and sometime TechCrunch writer Roi Carthy wrote a blog post protesting Graham’s tweets and announcing his decision to stop working with Y Combinator in Israel. He spoke to Kevin Roose of New York magazine and compared Graham’s actions to those of Brendan Eich, who resigned as CEO of Mozilla after reports revealed his donations to the anti-gay marriage Prop 8 campaign:

“Due to mandatory army service, the tech industry and the army in Israel are intertwined…If you don’t recognize that, you shouldn’t be doing business with Israelis.”

The question: how can executives and other public figures avoid this potentially toxic meeting of politics and industry thought leadership?

We spoke to Stan Steinreich, CEO of Steinreich Communications, for his take.

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‘Distruptive’ Startups Refine Their Strategies for Working with Regulators

airbnbAirbnb’s executives have decided that the free market doesn’t trump the law and that the rules do apply to them after all.

The details have been reported elsewhere, but the decision is a big deal for startups (and their investors/promoters) that might eventually run up against those pesky things we call legal regulations.

The big questions to be answered–and the ones that most concern these startups’ advisory and PR teams–are “how should ’distruptive’ businesses be regulated” and “what’s the best way for them to work within/around existing regulations?”

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Yes, Wall Street Still Has a Big Perception Problem

Got 15 minutes to spare? Listen to this NPR ”Planet Money” clip in which New York magazine financial writer Kevin Roose gives us a hint as to why the insular world of big finance no longer appeals to Ivy League MBAs as much as it used to. In short, The Social Network is this generation’s Wall Street.


Roose says:

“The sex appeal is in Silicon Valley now. It has the…cultural cachet that Wall Street used to have…the tech industry is making things…”

That’s a key insight: tech makes things while Wall Street “re-bundles” things—at least according to popular opinion.

Younger bankers want to change all that. While all evidence indicates that the old generation is perfectly fine with being feared, the new generation “wants to be loved.”

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Can Bad E-Mail Etiquette Make for Better Pitches?

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According to New York magazine econ writer Kevin Roose’s new LinkedIn Influencers post, the answer is “probs :-/”

Roose begins by writing that Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel‘s casual emoji email response to Mark Zuckerberg didn’t just make him look “arrogant”. It also clarified that this was a conversation between equals: no “”Hope all’s well” or “love your company”—just a simple “Thanks :) would be happy to meet.”

The point is that Spiegel, in his own way, played hard to get and made himself more appealing by dialing down the excitement most startup CEOs would feel after receiving an email from the guy who founded Facebook. Instead of waxing reverent, Spiegel addressed Zuckerberg like he was just another West Coast tech guy in his 20s. Oh, wait…

It’s the rare exception that proves the “adopt a formal tone in business comms” rule, but Roose notes that it can also apply to PR pitches.

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Will Instagram’s New Messaging Service Be a Useful Promo Tool?

In a direct attempt to fight off challengers like Snapchat, Instagram announced today that it would launch a new “direct messaging” service that allows users to send pics to one another. New York mag’s Kevin Roose writes that it means you can now “annoy specific, targeted friends with your brunch Instagrams“, but there might be a little more to it than that.

The feature would have been its own app, but parent company Facebook wanted to empower users to share images, aka “moments”, without adding them to the main feed or downloading any completely new apps. Our first thought was that we could use the new feature to send this image of a perfectly named but sadly defunct local business to the very few people who would appreciate it.

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But then we realized that everyone loves I Want a Breast Pump, because “It’s Doubley Good!!!

Seriously, though…

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Do Tech Blogs Give Free PR to Silicon Valley? Valleywag Says Yes.

A couple of months ago New York magazine’s economics writer Kevin Roose asked whether tech journalists are generally afraid to write “objectively” and/or criticize their subjects. In other words, do the sites reporting on Silicon Valley residents—from Google-sized giants to tiny dorm-room startups—simply rework press releases penned by the companies they cover?

Interesting question; for one site, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

In a New York Times interview, blogger Sam Biddle of Gawker Media’s “tech industry gossip dartboard” Valleywag states that his goal is to make light of the digital world’s “lack of self-awareness” in the midst of so much overwhelmingly positive publicity. He specifically says that many other sites “[do] the bidding of the industry” they cover by hyping every single product rollout as the greatest thing since electricity and refusing to cast any related “thought leaders” in a less-than-flattering light.

Sounds a little dramatic, but he may be onto something here…

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Why Yahoo’s Summly Acquisition Was a PR Stunt

Photo via Suzanne Plunkett/REUTERSYou may have heard today that Yahoo, which is in the midst of trying to “sex up” its brand image, just bought Summly, a “news summary” app created by a 17-year-old British kid named Nick D’Aloisio, for a whopping $30 million. But was Yahoo really expanding its product portfolio, or was the company just buying a bunch of good publicity? We’re firmly in the latter camp — and we’ll explain why.

The real value of this app has to be less than the selling price, especially when it faces competitors like Pulse, Flipboard and Pocket. But the move scored the company a first-page New York Times story with the headline “He Has Millions and a New Job at Yahoo. Soon, He’ll Be 18.” Compelling, no? He’s bold, he’s young and he’s a millionaire with his own Wikipedia page. He certainly doesn’t sound like the typical Yahoo user — and that’s the whole point. New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose notes that the last acquisition to get this much media hype was Facebook buying Instagram for a whole lot more money.

So it’s all part of Marissa Mayer‘s carefully planned image makeover.

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Will Facebook’s ‘Graph Search’ Affect PR Campaigns?

Facebook Graph Search Mark ZuckerbergExcuse us for being a little skeptical about the relevance of Facebook‘s new “Graph Search” function, presented to reporters yesterday by the company’s communications staffers on demo stations that New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose calls “PR Borgs.”

Seriously, though: Why would we want to search for “pictures that my friends took in Canada” or “dentists’ offices where my friends have checked in” or “single women in Park Slope who know one of my friends and like Game of Thrones“? (OK, that last one might make sense if we were still single.)

The more we think about it, though, we feel like graph search–which really needs a new name, BTW–could infringe upon the territory of other social networks, primarily LinkedIn, Foursquare, Yelp, dating sites like Match.com and the big one…Google.

What does this mean for the PR world?

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A Brief and Terrible History of Black Friday

Black Friday We know, we know–we too plan to jump out of the nearest window if we have to hear the phrase “Black Friday” one more time. But as we scrolled through our news feed this morning we grew curious: what is the history of this horrible retail plague that empowers stores to sell lots of stuff by driving people up the wall with anxiety? And how did it come to haunt us so?

According to various trivia sites, the earliest roots of this sociological nightmare may lie with the very first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, held on the Friday after Turkey Day in 1924. Wait, you mean the shameless commercialization of the holiday season began with…a shameless commercialization of the holiday season? Color us shocked!

Retailers weren’t satisfied with these blatant promotional extravaganzas. Why? Well, once upon a time, Thanksgiving always fell on the final Thursday of the month. That Thursday sometimes occurred during the fifth week of November, leaving stores with fewer days to promote their Christmas sales.

So what did they do? They corralled their lobbyists, who convinced then-President Franklin Roosevelt to move the official date up one week. The change was more controversial than you might expect; citizens protested, and the United States essentially celebrated two Thanksgivings until Congress passed a law right after what must have been a very frustrating Christmas in 1941, officially changing the date to the fourth Thursday in November.

By the time the 60′s rolled around, Black Friday had already turned into something approaching the freakout we know today, but the name doesn’t refer to that dark holiday cloud that arrives each year to herald impending doom.

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