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Posts Tagged ‘MTA’

Broadway Publicist Makes Light of Typo in PR Win

We all know how important copy editing and fact-checking can be to PR departments; last week we ran a story about a single error that cost New York City’s MTA a quarter of a million dollars.

But sometimes little mistakes can turn into PR wins. Case in point: When Village Voice columnist and theater expert Michael Musto attended the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, he noticed that the playbill incorrectly credited lead actress Sigourney Weaver with an Oscar for her role in the sci-fi classic Aliens.

After Musto posted the mistake on his Daily Musto blog, he received a perfectly phrased email apology from the show’s publicist Rick Miramontez, who works for top Broadway firm O&M Co. In explaining his error, Miramontez wrote:

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Government Gone Social: Even the Feds Use Arrested Development GIFs Now

Today in This Guy Has a Pretty Cool Job News: on Monday we reviewed Newark Mayor Cory Booker‘s suggestion that politicians should act more like PR pros with the ultimate goal of engaging their constituents via social media and interactive town hall meetings rather than just hiding behind lecterns and tired press releases.

In addition to having a nice beard, Justin Herman runs social media at the U.S. General Services Administration’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government. This moniker may read as a joke to cynics, but Herman, like Booker, clearly believes that a more engaged government is a more effective and efficient government–and that politicians and administrators are mistaken if they see Twitter and Facebook as mere “announcement platform[s].”

Sound familiar?

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MTA Press Release Hypes Org’s Fierce ‘Storm-Fighting Posture’

This week we told you that no, the press release isn’t dead. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority sort of proved our point today with a “Superstorm Nemo” release that goes to great lengths to explain how the incredibly awesome MTA is so on top of things this time, you guys (and that they won’t screw up royally like they did in 2010).

Beyond claiming that “The MTA network has assumed a storm-fighting posture in response to the severe weather forecast”, the release also takes time to hype its “fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment.”

Now, we don’t want to give anyone the impression that this release stands as an example of great writing or anything–the rest of it is mostly boilerplate stuff about how subway and bus service might be a little less convenient than usual this weekend due to all the ice and snow and notices reminding drivers to “operate at reduced speeds due to wet roadways”. But that first sentence did get our attention. Cheeky!

So if you’re going to issue a press release on behalf of an organization famous for bureaucratic inefficiency and poor customer service, you might want to slip in at least one clever phrase to make sure that it’s not too terribly dull.

The Dream Is Over: San Francisco Bans Public Nudity

Photo via Associated Press This week in Local Government Relations: The times, they are a’ changin’–or are they? Just as the Seattle Police Department learned to love its citizens’ newfound embrace of a certain forbidden substance, the City of San Francisco‘s Board of Supervisors made an effort to curb the endless love-in by banning public nudity via a razor-thin 5-4 vote.

Has the decision divided Bay Area residents? Of course it has. Did dozens of advocates immediately stop in their tracks and strip down in protest? Of course they did.

As we learn more, we’re a little surprised by the depth of the City of Love’s long-term “live and let live” relationship with those who have no problem letting it all hang out. According to various reports, city dwellers will no longer have the right to “[lounge] nude in the city’s plazas, [parade] up and down city streets sans pants, or [ride] subways and buses bare-bottomed”. Wait, you mean they could do that before?!?! Apparently Rice-a-Roni wasn’t the only San Francisco treat!

City Supervisor Scott Weiner (tee hee) introduced the ordinance in what seemed like an attempt to counter complaints from local business owners about a surge in “habitual nudists” flaunting their flesh in the city’s infamous Castro district–but he noted, to opponents’ surprise, that “The dominant demographic expressing concern is gay men”. Based on the close vote and the immediate public outcry, we’d say the city has a bit of a public relations problem on its hands–and we anticipate weeks of futile protests punctuated by gratuitous flashing sprees.

Public nudity remains legal in the state of California as long as it isn’t deemed “lewd or offensive”, though we’d say that wording allows for a bit of a slippery slope…and we wonder how the act of dropping one’s drawers constitutes “free speech”. The fact that “…preschoolers can still go bare, women can still go topless and public nudity will continue to be allowed at events permitted by the city” also diminishes the power of the protesters’ point, doesn’t it?

A final note to the City of New York and the MTA: thank you for not letting people ride the train nude. Improv Everywhere‘s “No Pants Subway Ride” already shows us more than enough skin. Read more

Did Time Warner Turn Hurricane Sandy into Good PR?

Time Warner Cable New York City Hurricane Sandy is already old news to most Americans, but it’s still a big deal to thousands, if not millions, in the northeast. Some entities (like the MTA) managed to turn the storm into a PR win, and the much-hated Time Warner Cable now appears to be one of them.

It was a multi-step process: First Time Warner deployed mobile power stations around New York City in order to “allow people without power to charge up their phones, use our WiFi”, etc. Then its reps announced a plan to “automatically credit many” area customers who lost power during the storm, effectively paying them back for service they didn’t receive. Some customers whose accounts weren’t caught by Time Warner’s technical sweep may need to call the company in order to receive their credit, but the vast majority of accounts will be credited automatically.

This week brings more encouraging news: The cable giant and several other companies sponsored food trucks that continue to visit the storm’s hardest-hit areas, delivering free grub to those left without power and/or shelter. Selections include pizza, cheese steak and souvlaki–we approve of their taste in comfort food even more than their humanitarian efforts!

We’d love to hear more customer service stories. Has the company made good on its promises? Can a fickle public forgive Time Warner?

Hurricane a Big PR Win for…The MTA?

Yes, we’re still a little overwhelmed by all the Sandy stories, but we’d like to bring you another example of a brand that scored a PR win during the storm. This story is even more relevant because the brand in question, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), has a generally terrible reputation–the public almost universally sees it and the crucial service it provides as a necessary evil (again, we don’t have any nifty links, so readers outside the NYC area will just have to trust us on this).

And yet, a very interesting Buzzfeed piece reveals the organization’s up-to-the-minute social media documentation of the Sandy crisis and the public’s overwhelmingly positive response.

The MTA’s official Twitter feed, @MTAInsider, quickly provided information on service outages and changes well into the night each day this week, posting helpful resources like a constantly updated subway map. The feed also reported on less popular developments, like the fact that the group’s previously waived fees would go back into effect tonight at midnight. Even more impressive were the feed’s many links to the revealing, horrifying and sometimes beautiful photographs featured on its Flickr stream (with accompanying video clips).

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Anti-Islam Subway Ads: PR Fail?

In the wake of another wave of violent protests at US embassies in the Middle East, we hesitate to touch what will almost certainly continue to be one of the most volatile political issues in the world.

That said, we have to wonder about the wisdom of a series of ads created by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative that are set to appear on the New York City subway system next week.

The ads, which read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad,” were initially rejected by the MTA for containing “demeaning language.” The group refused to rewrite the ads and took the MTA to court–and in July a federal judge ruled that the MTA’s decision not to run them had violated the AFDI’s First Amendment rights.

The ads are now scheduled to appear at ten NYC subway stops next week. Controversy is sure to follow, because the message on the ad can very easily be read to apply to all Muslims–and calling one’s opponents “savage” is never a wise way to start a mutually respectful conversation. In fact, the line was adapted from an even more inflammatory quote by anti-Communist writer and antisocial personality Ayn Rand, who wrote, “The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures…savages who don’t want to use their minds.” Sounds a little…problematic to us, no? We can certainly see why that quote would upset some people.

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