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Posts Tagged ‘Mother Jones’

Obama Administration Hires Top McDonald’s Flack to Turn the Public Against McDonald’s


“Sit down and tell me what you really think about the minimum wage…”

Here’s a “Sounds Boring, Actually Quite Interesting” news nugget: the Obama administration has hired a former McDonald’s flack to fill a senior PR role in the Labor Department.

Why is this story worth a closer look?

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Butterball’s Non-Response to Thanksgiving Abuse Controversy

Butterball TurkeyButterball pretty much rules the turkey game. Millions of Americans will eat its products this week (and, thanks to the magic of leftovers, next week too). The company also scores high marks when it comes to PR. Its famous Talk Line, staffed by graduates of Butterball University, grants cooking advice to millions (the team receives 12,000 calls on Thanksgiving day alone).

And yet, when it comes to more controversial matters, the company’s PR team has a whole lot less to say. Last week, an animal rights group called Mercy For Animals began a campaign against Butterball. The group comes armed with a hidden camera video depicting some violence perpetrated against turkeys at Butterball facilities, and they’ve launched a website called ButterballAbuse to publicly shame the company into adopting more humane practices (the company’s PR manager claims that Butterball maintains a “zero tolerance policy for animal abuse”).

A recent investigation by the perennial muckrakers at Mother Jones found a company understandably reluctant to discuss the abuse issue–or much of anything else. A reporter for the magazine peppered a couple of company spokespeople with basic questions about sales totals and the age of the average Butterball turkey before asking about their planned response to the MFA campaign and inquiring about the use of growth enhancers in the company’s birds. She received no response beyond a scheduling excuse and a reference to the official policy statements.

We understand Butterball’s desire to avoid controversy during its most important sales period–and we know that no one expects its turkeys to be “organic” or “free range” or even “grain-fed”. Still, we wonder whether this non-response is appropriate for a company that claims to be “ready and excited to tackle any challenge you throw at them.”

Is silence always the best response to an unflattering question?

Message Management 101: Is Any Event Truly Private?

You may have heard that Mitt Romney ran into a big PR problem this week. More accurately: someone recorded the presidential nominee at a private fund-raiser in May saying things that his campaign managers would never, under any circumstances, allow him to say in public–and eventually released it to an editor at Mother Jones, a storied opposition magazine. We wonder if his PR team could have prevented this blunder.

Romney’s thought crime? Expressing contempt for those who receive government assistance in any form and/or pay no federal income taxes. Romney told donors that said individuals are essentially moochers who will never “take personal responsibility” for their own lives. (We should note that this group includes nearly half the citizens of this country and many of the Americans who will vote for him in November.)

Despite the fact that Romney clearly believes what he said, his words were never meant for public consumption; the incident is somewhat similar to then-candidate Obama’s notorious 2008 statement about working-class Pennsylvania voters “clinging” to the safety of guns and religion, but it’s also larger in scale—and it reveals a key challenge for PR professionals representing public figures like Romney. The question: Is any event truly “secure”, or must a client always carefully watch what he or she says to avoid slip-ups like this one?

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