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Posts Tagged ‘liars’

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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Something Smells Fishy at ‘Shark Week’

The latest chapter in Discovery Channel‘s scaly salt-water empire Shark Week, breaking ratings records with a mixture of legitimate science and horror since 1987, raised some eyebrows back on land.

Seems that the “documentary” Megaladon: The Monster Shark That Lives played fast and loose with the facts while producers hoped no one would notice.

In case you were never a 12-year-old boy, the megaladon was a prehistoric creature with teeth the size of a human hand which, as you may surmise from the special’s title, may still be alive and terrorizing the world’s oceans today.

Fans of accuracy in media will be disappointed to know that this is not even remotely true. The big deal, really, is Discovery’s failure to include a “none of this is real, BTW” disclaimer beyond a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it notice aired during the last minutes of the show calling it a “film” based on “legend.” Quite a few people fell for this nonsense, too: if you believe the channel’s super official megaladon poll, only 21% of viewers think the shark is definitely extinct. (We wonder how they feel about Bat Boy.)

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Don’t Count on BuzzFeed Sponsored Posts to Win the Millennials

The chattering classes were all abuzz yesterday about a sponsored post on everyone’s favorite site to visit for kitty pic listicles and condescending literary rants. (Wait, what?)

Here’s the story: In an amusingly blatant attempt to push its talking points to those young folks who will determine the future of politics in this country, conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation illustrated its distaste for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, with BuzzFeed‘s trademark combination of one-liners and GIFs.

OMG CUTE LOL! But will it work?

We say meh. :-/

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Naked Juice Bares All in False Advertising Settlement

Naked Juice bottle Today in Put Your Clothes Back On news: we can add Naked Juice to the quickly growing line of foodstuff brands settling class-action lawsuits over deceptive health claims. Parent brand PepsiCo clearly missed the message about transparency being the best PR practice around, effectively admitting in the settlement that its “all natural” marketing claims are less than 100% accurate.

We’re not talking pasteurization here, people: the smoothie fakers include such “unnaturally processed and synthetic” ingredients as zinc oxide, ascorbic acid, and calcium pantothenate, all of which sound better suited to a meth lab than an orange grove (insert your Breaking Bad shout out here). In fact, that last one is derived from formaldehyde, to which we say: ewww, man. Ewww.

The juice may taste good, and it’s a hell of a lot healthier than much of the stuff we shove into our faces on a regular basis, but it’s hardly the “freshest” or the “purest” thing around, no?

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PR Disaster: Notre Dame Star Manti Te’o's Fake Dead Girlfriend

Mani Te'oIt was every sports journalist’s dream story: Promising college senior, Heisman trophy runner-up and near-certain first round NFL draft pick Manti Te’o suffers the deaths of his grandmother and his beautiful, supportive girlfriend within 24 hours–just before dominating the field in his team’s upset victory and continuing his streak as one of the nation’s most promising college football players. His heartbreaking tale of grief and victory quickly spreads beyond the world of sports.

One problem, though: it wasn’t true.

Deadspin broke the astonishing story yesterday as a web of complex lies promoted by some of our most respected publications began to unravel and the damage control campaign began.

A summary for those who haven’t been following: Manti Te’o is a gifted football player and devout Mormon from Hawaii who claimed, via his Twitter feed and various public statements, to have developed a relationship with a woman known as Lennay Kekua who he supp0sedly met after a 2009 game between Stanford and his team, Notre Dame. She had a Twitter account with which Te’o frequently interacted, expressing his love and encouraging his fans to follow her sister (both fake accounts were later deleted).

Then came the news that, right after the (real) death of Manti’s beloved grandmother last September, Kekua passed away from leukemia approximately a month after suffering a serious car accident. Manti doesn’t attend her funeral because she had insisted that he not miss a game. South Bend Tribune fleshed out the story through interviews with Te’o before Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS, the New York Post, The Associated Press and pretty much everybody else in the media world reported on it. Someone set up a charity in Kekua’s name. Manti Te’o was an American classic: the tragic hero.

And then things began to fall apart.

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UPDATE: Elmo Accuser Recants

Elmo Sesame StreetLooks like Elmo should be back to work soon after all: Only a day after beginning procedures to charge puppeteer Kevin Clash with having improper relations with a minor, his accuser has recanted and agreed to abandon the allegations altogether.

According to the law firm that planned to represent the man (who shall remain unnamed), “he wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship. He will have no further comment on the matter.”

Of course Clash expressed relief through a spokesman, and Sesame Workshop responded in turn, stating, “We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode”. It would seem that the organization’s reported investigation into the matter was not simply an attempt to “discredit” the accuser after all.

Sometimes the threat of a lawsuit is just that–and nothing more.

Hyundai and Kia Issue Debit Cards to Solve PR Crisis

Buying a car is a major purchase. When selecting the best make and model, consumers factor in various elements, from style and color to gas mileage. In fact, with gas prices rising and environmental concerns growing, fuel economy can be the determining factor.

You can imagine the PR dilemma Hyundai and Kia face after admitting they overestimated the fuel efficiency of 900,000 cars. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered the discrepancy, reporting that gas mileages were inflated by 1 or 2 mpg in most cases but up to 6 mpg in some.

This is not the sort of news that Hyundai and Kia can simply spin away–every time customers fill up their tanks and scoff at the numbers racing skyward at the pumps, they’ll remember being misled. Hyundai and Kia, Korean automakers and siblings, claimed that the mistake was due to “procedural errors,” which is both dismissive and ambiguous enough to infuriate any consumer who paid tens of thousands for one of their products.

So what are Hyundai and Kia doing to assuage the situation? They’re reimbursing consumers by giving them debit cards filled with a monetary amount they’ve based on a confusing formula that accounts for the customer’s location, driving habits and fuel prices in their region. The companies claim that they will refresh the cards as long as affected customers own the cars. Oh, and they’ve added a 15% “bonus” to compensate for any inconvenience.

You know what else is inconvenient? Having to plan your unnecessarily complicated budget around yet another card in your wallet.

Will the 15% “bonus” be enough to buy the public’s goodwill? We’ll be watching as Hyundai and Kia explore just how much money it costs to keep consumers from rebelling.

More Charges Filed in Penn State Case

Another chapter in the long, sundry case of Penn State and Jerry Sandusky further emphasizes the challenges faced by Edelman PR, La Torre Communications and the institution itself as all work to restore the school’s previous reputation for greatness in both sports and academics.

Unfortunately, this latest update will undoubtedly inflict more damage on the school: it concerns staff attempts to cover up, deny or, at the very least, minimize the scandal. Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly just announced charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, endangering the welfare of children, and failure to report suspected child abuse against former University President Graham Spanier.

That’s quite a list–and we didn’t even mention the additional charges brought against the school’s former athletic director and vice president of business and finance, both of whom await trial in January.

Spanier’s greatest offense? After stepping down, he claimed that no one had ever mentioned the possibility of ongoing child abuse during his time at Penn State–but the email trail told a very different story.

Penn State’s board members and PR reps have been wishing Spanier would slink away and disappear for some time: first they argued over whether he’d resigned on his own volition after “going rogue and altering a press release that had been a collaborative effort”, and then he participated in this very ill-advised interview for some unknown reason.

Penn State and its PR organizations will never have to defend Graham Spanier again. Unfortunately, the law is far from done with him–and his case will expose the public to yet another angle on a tragic tale that can never be untold.

Chrysler CEO Contradicts Romney Outsourcing Ad

We’re all a little obsessed with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy right now, but our last post reminded us that there will be an election one week from today—and that its winner will be the nation’s next president.

The latest election-related PR news centers on Ohio, a land forever competing with Florida for “most important state in the nation” status. Here’s our (very quick) summary of the moment’s hottest topic:

The 2009 government bailout of the auto industry affected an estimated 1 in 8 Ohio natives’ jobs, and Mitt Romney understandably wants to convince these voters that President Obama didn’t help them out at all (and encourage them to forget that he wrote an op-ed arguing against government intervention on the auto industry’s behalf).

In an effort to turn the issue to its advantage, the Romney campaign created an ad playing off Chrysler/Fiat’s plans to begin manufacturing more of its iconic Jeeps in China, which happens to be the world’s fastest-growing automobile market.

The ad implies that these new overseas manufacturing operations will come at the expense of American jobs and vaguely pins responsibility for the supposed job loss on President Obama. The general response within Ohio has been swift and decisive—nearly every significant local paper (even those papers whose editors endorsed Mr. Romney) questioned the ad’s accuracy  this week. Some pundits now speculate that the campaign’s bold move could amount to a PR fail.

Today brought the most decisive statement on the issue to date:

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Social Media Spread Fake Hurricane News, Pics

We’ve all heard about the power of social media to bring people together and help spread information quickly, especially during crises like the deadly storm that struck the Eastern seaboard yesterday, causing multiple casualties and untold billions in property damage.

Twitter was, of course, awash in updates last night as Hurricane Sandy struck–and for breaking news, the service was quicker and in many cases more helpful than more traditional news feeds like those on the New York Times and CNN websites. Co-founder Jack Dorsey went so far as to tweet:

But yesterday’s perfect storm also reminded us of social media’s dangers: many users both intentionally and accidentally tweeted fake photos and misleading news “updates” during the storm. Seen that crazy image of ominous clouds building behind the Statue of Liberty? The flooded McDonald’s? The scuba diver in the Times Square subway station? The shark swimming along a suburban main street? All fake.

In a few cases, this fakery could have placed real people in real danger.

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