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Posts Tagged ‘Manti Te’o’

Jonah Lehrer Can’t Save His Reputation Now

Jonah LehrerAt first the Jonah Lehrer plagiarism story may feel a little too “inside the media” for its own good–but it’s a very relevant case study for anyone involved in PR and reputation management.

In short, Lehrer was a promising essayist/journalist/public speaker whose career crumbled after a few investigative writers discovered that he had not only copied and re-printed sections of his own work (which were published by different companies, thereby violating copyright laws) but also copied from other blogs and completely invented elements like quotes from Bob Dylan.

Now for the lesson in crisis comm: Lehrer’s first response to the controversy was denial. He eventually admitted to plagiarizing himself and inventing the Dylan quotes and lost his various media gigs, effectively killing his credibility. Today brings news of the first step in his rehabilitation campaign: he was hired to speak on his own misdeeds at a Knight Foundation journalism conference in Miami.

The journalists on Twitter aren’t having any of it, though.

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Burger King’s Biggest Fan Has Funeral His Way

Death is serious business. So any brand that becomes part of a funeral has clearly made an impact on someone’s life–for better or for worse.

Now the public must decide how it feels about Burger King being part of the funeral procession and burial ceremony for David Kime Jr., who died recently at the age of 88 in Pennsylvania where he lived (and regularly ate WHOPPER JRs). In fact, Mr. Kime was such a loyal fan that his local BK made 40 of the sandwiches for his funeral procession, including one that was set on his coffin and lowered into the earth where it will presumably sit unchanged for thousands of years.

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Katie Couric Scores Manti Te’o Interview (They Share a Publicist, BTW)

Katie Couric Manti Te'o InterviewSo Manti Te’o, who most Americans believe to be a big old liar, visited Katie Couric‘s office for his first official post-scandal interview, set to air tomorrow. While we’re interested in the fact that he admitted to “briefly” lying about the fake dead girlfriend hoax for six weeks after learning that he’d been duped (yeah right), we’d like to examine the “Inside PR” aspects of the story.

We love Katie and all, but no one would call her a sports journalist–and we don’t feel like the scandal is quite big enough to justify a trip to Oprah-land (though the Te’o family apparently considered Oprah and Dr. Phil before settling for Couric). So how did she score this top interview? Well, the fact that the two parties share a publicist certainly didn’t hurt. That’s right–Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies (MediaBeat interview after the jump) now performs crisis comms/damage control duties for both Couric and Te’o, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Te’o chose Couric over both Oprah and ESPN.

Is this standard operating procedure? Or does it raise even more questions about the players involved in this sordid tale?

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PR Fail: Oprah Interview Hurt Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong We know, we know: you’re sick of hearing about Lance Armstrong. Trust us, we are too. Still, we thought we’d take a minute to report the results of the latest polls, because they reveal a couple of interesting things that happen to give us a bit of pleasure via schadenfreude:

First, people were actually growing more sympathetic toward Lance before Oprah indulged him:

  • Last October, 49% of Americans thought he should have to forfeit all his Tour de France medals.
  • That number had dropped to 37% a couple of weeks ago.
In other words, he was doing alright because, despite the fact that many people had begun to realize that he is a lying douche, some still wanted him to win in the end. But now? Not so much.*

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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