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Posts Tagged ‘Lance Armstrong’

Top 7 ‘PR Case Study’ Names We Never Want to Hear in 2014

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You may have missed it (lucky you), but lots of PR-ready news stories went down this year. Some were ridiculous, some were inspiring, some were cringe-worthy “teaching moments” and some were held up as “let’s figure out how this person got so successful so we can quantify it” case studies. We posted on every one of them at some point, and for that we offer our profoundest apologies—but they were trending at the time, and this is how the blog game works.

Here’s the point: after performing some in-depth research, we decided that 2013 gave us more than enough news and analysis regarding these seven people, and we’d prefer to hear absolutely nothing about them in 2014. In fact, we think we can distill the “lessons” learned from each case into a single sentence.

Click through for what we hope will be one last glimpse at those who have (almost) nothing to teach the rest of us.

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More Lance Armstrong Fail: He Offered Rival $100,000 to Throw Race

lanceCalamitous falls from grace in sports are unfortunately commonplace.

There was Pete Rose’s gambling and A-Rod incessant whining, Tiger’s addictive philandering and Michael Vick’s dog killing, Aaron Hernandez murdering and Kobe Bryant’s alleged pillaging. It happens every year, as it seems.

These darlings of the media are given spotlight, fame and a truck load of cash for playing a game. So, of course, they start jonesin’ for more and think they are incapable of being caught doing no wrong. Such is life for these insipid athletes who need to spruce up their image by taking advantage of others.

And then there is the dingleberry in the roto-rooter of humanity, Lance effin’ Armstrong. (Technically, I think that is his legal middle name.) And wait until you hear this…

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A-Rod Follows Lance Armstrong and Takes the Easy Way Out

How much do you love me? A couple of months ago we gave Yankees slugger/celebrity boyfriend/yacht enthusiast Alex Rodriguez some totally unsolicited advice about the best way to deal with the steroid controversy threatening to ruin his already soiled career.

Now we have to wonder whether A-Rod even read our little blog post, because we’ve seen a glimpse of his role model and it looks a whole lot like pre-Oprah Lance Armstrong.

He decided to turn the tables on his accusers by filing suit against both Major League Baseball for “slandering” him with a world-record 211 game suspension and his team’s physician for “misdiagnosing” a hip injury in an attempt to prevent him from playing.

That’s a devilishly brilliant and completely unbelievable scheme right there.

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New York Magazine Interview Reveals Oprah’s Rebranding Secrets

This week New York Magazine published a revealing interview with Oprah Winfrey, reigning queen of reinvention. It specifically dealt with how she saved her OWN Network, which looked like a big bust as recently as mid-2012.

Oprah’s partnership with Arianna Huffington, which led to “HuffPost OWN”, wasn’t enough to immediately rescue the floundering ship, but OWN finally became profitable this summer as its ratings jumped more than 60%. Well-hyped interviews with Rihanna and Lance Armstrong helped, as did Tyler Perry‘s soap opera The Haves and the Have Nots, but many still wonder how she pulled it all off.

Here are some key revelations from the woman herself.

On dealing with “no”:

Oh, I hear that all the time.

 On the challenges of choosing the right people to manage OWN:

What didn’t feel right from the beginning was, “Who are we going to get to do this? Because I have a full-time job.”

When I first suggested [network presidents] Erik and Sheri, [the idea] was not welcomed with open arms…I’d never done cable, and they’d never done cable.

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American Public to Soccer: Now Is Not the Time to Take a Dive

Most kids in high school know one thing: the good looking girls like the popular guys, and if you’re on the football team—yes, American football—then you’re doing okay with the ladies. Meanwhile, the rest of us turn to unhealthy habits, The Catcher in the Rye, and hanging out in poorly lit parking lots.

Over the years, however, the sport of soccer—yes, European/South American/African/Asian football—has been making inroads with the American public. But it feels like it is taking forever. Seriously. Just when it appears the American public is finally going to fall in love with soccer, something weird happens. The public gets cold feet. The public backs away. It refuses to commit, and runs back to the stable, familiar, good-looking NFL and its bazillions of dollars and father who is a rich doctor and drives a Lexus. Poor soccer is left at home, brooding on the couch, devouring ice cream with its bare hands.

The American public loves a winner, and soccer hasn’t been able to throw itself that raucous champagne-drenched party for champions that the good-looking girls need in order to be popular.

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‘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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The PR Police Power of Self-Awareness During a Pot Festival

Effective PR requires two critical elements: knowing your audience and the ability to accept reality. Too often brands, celebrities and companies misidentify customer sentiment and lose any opportunity to create good will by being tone deaf, arrogant, or dishonest. (Or, in the case of Lance Armstrong, all three.)

So kudos to the Seattle Police Department, which—as we reported last week—implemented a uniquely audience-specific, creative and realistic Twitter campaign in anticipation of last weekend’s very public Hempfest. The celebration came on the heels of a ruling that legalized marijuana in the state of Washington last fall.

Knowing the penchant stoners have for snack foods, the Seattle Police Department handed out 1,000 free bags of Doritos sporting stickers informing participants that they shouldn’t drive while high or give weed to minors and—oh yeah—don’t forget to have fun, either. This isn’t polished marketing Geico green lizard PR. This is true public relations outreach. Here is the message the Seattle PD conveyed: We get you. Read more

What A-Rod Should (But Probably Won’t) Do

Today in Ridiculously Overpaid Athletes Are People Too news, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is the latest beefed-up domino to fall in baseball’s ongoing steroid scandal. MLB commissioner Bud Selig decided to make an example of “Captain Rodriguez” with the longest suspension in the history of America’s Pastime.

The MLB Players Association appealed the decision on behalf of A-Rod, who is the only one of the 13 accused players to fight his suspension. Quite telling that the other 12 immediately ‘fessed up, isn’t it? The ensuing legal back-and-forth ensures that he will be able to wear a Yankees uniform for the rest of the season (which won’t last very long, considering the Bronx Bombers’ current 56-55 record).

PR to the rescue! According to The USA Today, Berk Communications President and “A-Fraud” publicist Ron Berkowitz posted a since-deleted tweet on Tuesday that read a little, shall we say, combative.

Hello Chicago!!! Lets do this!!! #fighting

—   Ron Berkowitz (@ronberk1) August 5, 2013

What was that all about? Well, in what one reporter called “an exceptional lack of self awareness,” A-Rod told the media “I’m fighting for my life,” strongly implying that Major League Baseball has it in for him. Poor guy.

So what will he do? And what should he do?

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Niche Marketing Sends Nike Sole Searching

Chances are you, or someone you know, owns a pair of shoes. Now consider there are currently about 7.078 billion people on earth. That’s how big and lucrative the shoe industry is, and for decades Nike has been at the forefront of shoe sales.

But times changed.

Nike’s original young demographic grew up and had its own kids. Spokesman Michael Jordan retired… twice. Competing brands gained influence. Technology turned the world inside out, and the public began consuming information a la carte instead of off the menu of mainstream television networks and newspapers.

Instead of being a lumpy, amorphous, loosely-defined mass of humanity, the public became a collection of niches. This may be a welcome development if you sell horse magazines or pirate-themed paper plates, but for Nike this changing reality is a big challenge. To reach customers Nike must exploit every channel from Twitter and Facebook to Youtube and traditional television, and it must do it in a way that resonates with the various sensibilities of different niches of people.

That’s hard to do.

Instead of courting famous athletes like Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong (look how well that turned out), Nike should exploit the new niche reality by going directly to its source: customers. The future of Nike’s brand shouldn’t focus on how far someone can jump from the free throw line, but on health, competition and style—the core interests of its dynamic target demographic.

Or it should go back to selling the original Air Jordans. Those are timeless.

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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