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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Bloomberg’

Can Mike Bloomberg Really Take on the NRA?

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has a lot of money and he’s very passionate about gun control.

This is nothing new.

His advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety is, however–and this week the group launched its first campaign:

It’s a powerful PSA, though the fact that comments on the YouTube clip have been disabled hints at the considerable communications challenges ahead.

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Bloomberg Will Never, Ever Report on Mike Bloomberg

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“So a priest, a minister and a rabbi walked into a bar…”

We get the whole “avoiding a conflict of interest” thing, but it’s a little tough to report on business without mentioning one of the world’s biggest businessmen, no?

Since its founding in 1990, the Bloomberg media company has held itself to a policy strictly forbidding any coverage of its owner, soon-to-be-ex New York head honcho Michael Bloomberg, beyond “a limited exception for covering Mike’s official actions as New York’s mayor”. This is the equivalent of Fox News refusing to report anything related to Rupert Murdoch, and it’s quite unique among media entities.

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Media Relations 101: Don’t Call Anyone ‘Racist’

Tomorrow marks the party primaries in New York City’s mayoral race. You can be forgiven for not caring if you don’t live in the Big Apple (and even if you do!), because Anthony Weiner‘s epic, face-first fall from grace seems to be the only thing anyone’s talking about.

Until now, that is.

Over the weekend current Mayor Michael Bloomberg—lover of bikes and hater of soda—made a classic media relations error by letting his outspoken character get the best of him. In an otherwise  solid interview with Chris Smith of New York magazine, Mike accused his least favorite mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio of running a “class-warfare and racist” campaign.

The word would be inflammatory enough on its own, but de Blasio is a white man married to a black woman with two bi-racial children who have been very visible throughout his campaign.

This story illustrates a very simple media relations no-no for figures who rely on the public’s approval: never call anyone a racist.

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Mexico Isn’t Buying Coca-Cola’s ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ Spin, Either

It’s not just Michael Bloomberg, guys—our neighbor to the south doesn’t seem fazed by Coke‘s latest “soda can be part of a healthy, active lifestyle” message either.

As Coca-Cola looks to offset diminishing American sales by targeting other areas, public advocacy organizations within Mexico are running PSA campaigns designed to warn the public about the dangers of soda consumption. It’s especially relevant this summer: Mexico, which is second to the U.S. in soda consumption per capita, surpassed us in June to become the most obese of the world’s major economies.

See a pattern developing here?

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PR Win: Bloomberg’s Sign-Language Specialist Becomes an Advocate for the Deaf

Hey, remember Lydia Callis? Sure you do—she became an instant YouTube celebrity last October for her repeat appearances at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s side during Hurricane Sandy. Her animated sign-language style and the obvious passion she poured into her job endeared her to millions; she even inspired a Saturday Night Live skit.

So what’s she doing now? She’s parlayed her fame into a new role as an advocate for the deaf in New York. Right now she’s leading sign-language tours at New York Public Library, but her ambitious goal is to make more Americans aware of the challenges their hearing-impaired neighbors face every day. It’s a real problem—deaf customers recently filed a lawsuit against Starbucks for discrimination at the coffee shop’s Manhattan branches.

Speaking to the New York Times about the media frenzy, she said:

Seriously, when is this going to die down? Wow, people just really don’t know much about the deaf community.

Lydia knows of what she speaks: while she is not deaf, her mother and three siblings are, so ASL was her first language. Seems like she’d make a perfect advocate, no?

Here’s the clip in case you forgot:

Study Links Soda to 25,000 U.S. Deaths Per Year; Industry Strikes Back

And now for some serious news: a large-scale study conducted by Harvard University‘s School of Public Health and the American Heart Association and released this week links sugary beverages more explicitly than ever before to mortality due to diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. The soda industry barely finished celebrating its recent victory over New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s proposed big serving ban, and now it faces an even bigger PR challenge.

Some details: The study, completed over a five-year-span with data collected during the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, found a “causal” link between soda consumption and 180,000 deaths around the world in the year 2010. That total includes 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 deaths from cancer.

While Caribbean/Latin American countries had the highest rates of death by soda, researchers tied the fizzy stuff to 25,000 yearly deaths in the United States alone. The study’s lead author Gitanjali Singh says that he thinks “cause” is an appropriate word in this case. The soda industry, of course, does not — and they want the public to know it.

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Hip-Hop Mogul: Turn In Your Guns and Get Free Beyoncé Tickets

Something tells us this wasn’t what Michael Bloomberg had in mind when he started the “Demand a Plan” campaign–but it has potential. Hip-hop mogul Michael “Blue” Williams, whose clients include Cee-Lo and Outkast and who doesn’t claim to be the world’s best manager despite choosing the Twitter handle @TheBestManager, has proposed a campaign called “Guns for Greatness” designed to reduce the number of firearms on New York streets by offering “mentorships” and free Beyoncé/Jay-Z concert tickets to anyone who turns his weapons in to the police department.

Sure, it sounds a little ridiculous at first, but according to a letter Williams sent to the NYPD earlier this week, he’s already three quarters of the way toward his goal of raising $100,000 to fund the initiative.

Beyoncé, Jay-Z and the NYPD have yet to sign off on the proposal, but top cop Ray Kelly did tell the New York Daily News that “We want to get as many guns off the streets, and if this works, we’d like to support it.”

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Mayor Bloomberg’s Newest Target: Styrofoam

In our last post, we discussed brands whose names have become synonymous with the products they offer (even when other companies sell similar or identical products). Styrofoam (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical) is one of those brands–and we have a feeling the company’s PR department, if such a thing exists, isn’t too happy with the latest news about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Seems that Mayor Mike (also known as El Bloombito) might take steps to ban Styrofoam cups and containers in all city businesses as part of a big recycling initiative. You’re probably aware that Styrofoam has a bad reputation due to the fact that it does not decompose and is considered by the FDA to be a “a possible human carcinogen”. Many products containing “expanded polystyrene”, the most environmentally unfriendly element in the mix, weren’t created by Dow at all–but people still refer to them as “Styrofoam.”

In fact, if you Google the word you’ll probably see a whole lot of petitions like this one urging companies, particularly restaurants, to stop using the stuff. It’s a bit of a branding conundrum.

Some recycling providers are trying to change the public’s perception of the white stuff by offering “Styrofoam recycling” services (not sure how that would work), but Bloomberg is hardly the only city official considering a ban–the city of San Jose, for example, recently considered banning any food products containing expanded polystyrene.

Complain about “nanny state” Bloomberg all you want–but it’s hard to argue in favor of an unhealthy product with a terrible reputation.

NY Soda Ban Opponents Bring Race Into the Debate

In case you hadn’t heard, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg won his battle with “big soda”, banning extra-large servings of sugar water via a unanimous City Board of Health vote. The ban will take effect in March, but this doesn’t mean the conflict is over–far from it. See, Coca-Cola may admit to making Americans fat, but the world’s biggest brand will continue to fight for its right to sell ridiculously oversized portions to anyone who cares to buy them.

Now comes the next phase–and big soda chose a very interesting PR approach this time by enlisting the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation to argue against the ban on racial terms. During the first courtroom arguments in the class action suit filed against Bloomberg and the city, representatives from these organizations argued that the ban would disproportionately “hurt small and minority-owned businesses while doing little to help health” and placing said businesses at a further disadvantage when compared to their larger rivals. Of course, soda also plays a crucial role in boosting obesity rates within minority communities, but we’ll just forget about that for now.

Here’s the real shocker: these groups don’t just receive lots of donations from Coke, Pepsi and other soft drink brands; they also give them awards for outstanding “corporate leadership”. This isn’t to say that social advocacy groups should be immune to the usual lobbying nonsense, but the completely unsurprising revelation does damage the credibility of this particular PR initiative while simultaneously diluting the larger and far more important mission of these civil rights advocacy groups. It’s very unfortunate.

One thing that does really bother us about this ban: it will exclude 7-Eleven, home of the famous “Big Gulp”. Why? Because, for some reason, the city can’t legally regulate convenience and supermarket chains (which are slowly smothering its classic bodegas). That’s just dumb.

Gabby Giffords Starts ‘Responsible Solutions’ Gun Control Initiative

Former Arizona Representative Gabby GiffordsWe’ve recently posted on the PR components of our nation’s latest debate over gun control. Topics include the NRA‘s media strategies and a new campaign from Michael Bloomberg‘s advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which made waves with a viral video featuring A-list celebrities voicing support for the group’s “DemandAPlan” initiative.

Today brings news of another related campaign, this one created by the American politician who has the most direct experience with real-world gun violence. Exactly two years ago, former Arizona representative Gabriel “Gabby” Giffords was shot in the head by a mentally unstable individual who also killed six bystanders and wounded 12 others.

Giffords’s group, called Americans for Responsible Solutions, officially launched this morning with a web page and a USA Today op-ed. ARS hasn’t outlined many specific proposals, but its stated goal is to “launch a national dialogue and raise funds to counter influence of the gun lobby” in order to encourage Congress to pass relevant laws.

Like all things related to gun control, this initiative won’t advance without controversy: a Connecticut politician already took to her Facebook page to decry a recent visit by Giffords and her former astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, to family members of Sandy Hook shooting victims.

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