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Posts Tagged ‘White House’

The White House Just PR Failed All Over Itself

The competition for “most counterproductive comment made to the media” during this whole shutdown saga is over, and it’s not even close: some super-genius “anonymous source” from the White House supposedly told The Wall Street Journal last night that:

“‘We are winning…It doesn’t really matter to us’ how long the shutdown lasts ‘because what matters is the end result.’”

Face, meet palm. President Obama is supposed to be the best poker player around, yet someone in his administration just showed their hand, like, big time. Secretary Jay Carney quickly moved to counter the comment, but you guys are supposed to be on message!

Here’s the runner-up, coming from a North Carolina representative who was all gung-ho for the shutdown until she wasn’t:

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White House Taps Baltimore Ravens to Promote ‘Obamacare’ Enrollment

Don’t worry, your ears are fine—that click-clack you’re hearing is the sound of a thousand conservative bloggers registering their disapproval of Super Bowl champions the Baltimore Ravens.

Today the White House and the state of Maryland announced plans to use the champs to promote the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. More specifically, the team will work to encourage MD residents to enroll in the statewide health insurance exchanges that serve as one of the central pillars of the law.

The administration first aimed to get the entire National Football League to collaborate on a promotional campaign, but the organization (wisely) chose to sit that one out due, no doubt, to the corrosive power of partisan politics. Individual teams, on the other hand, can do as they choose and the league will support them.

So how will this new partnership work?

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Yes, The White House Is Full of Sci-Fi Nerds

The press, which happens to consist of a bunch of nerds, gave President Obama a bit of flack today for supposedly confusing the Star Wars “Jedi Mind Trick” with the Star Trek “Vulcan Mind Meld”, thereby creating the “Jedi Mind Meld” meme during a speech on some extremely important topic that we’d rather not think about right now. But the White House communications team was more than ready:

Hey Oreo, looks like the folks in government know a thing or two about “real-time marketing”. And yes, the “mind meld” URL does link to a page detailing the President’s deficit reduction plan. The team may not have been as quick on the draw as Han Solo or the cookie guys, but they did paint their sci-fi critics as “a bunch of stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herders.”

ASGK Acquires Plesser Holland

ASGK Public Strategies

ASGK Public Strategies, founded by former White House advisor David Axelrod and Eric Sedler, has acquired most of Plesser Holland Associates. New York-based boutique Plesser Holland was founded by former Rubenstein exec Andy Plesser in 1992. Plesser’s longtime right hand Kent Holland became a partner in 2005.

Plesser launched a video blog and consultancy called Beet.tv in 2006, while Holland relocated to Washington, DC to focus on the core PR offerings for existing clients in the higher education, financial services and technology sectors.

ASGK  Managing Partner Eric Sedler said, “Kent’s exceptional media relations skills and client base were very attractive to us. We saw lots areas where Kent could enhance our firm’s work.”

The terms of the deal are undisclosed. Holland becomes Managing Director; he will continue to manage the accounts absorbed by ASGK including CNET, the Villanova School of Business, and Butler University.

(Disclosure: The author was employed by Plesser Holland from 2000-2006.)

Mayors Against Illegal Guns Launches ‘Demand a Plan’ Campaign

Mayors Against Illegal GunsThe social advocacy organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Meninio, has launched a new PR campaign via social media in an effort to push American politicians to pass gun control legislation. The group also released a petition this week urging Americans to “join more than 750 mayors and 750,000 grassroots supporters to demand that President Obama and Congress step forward with a plan to end gun violence” on a national level.

The three main objectives of the Demand a Plan campaign are:

  1. Require a criminal background check for every gun sold in America
  2. Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  3. Make gun trafficking a federal crime, including real penalties for “straw purchasers”

Like most modern advocacy campaigns, this one gets creative with social media:

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Quotation Approval: PR No-No or Standard Practice?

Media personalities have made a bit of hay this week over the fact that the White House requested and received the right to review and approve of all the quotes that appeared in Michael Lewis’s upcoming Vanity Fair article on the president and his team.

Sounds like a media scandal, right? Well, not really. According to The New York Times columnist David Carr, quote approval is nothing but standard operating procedure–and it’s hardly limited to the world of politics. Subjects ranging from Wall Street super-bank CEOs to Silicon Valley tech pioneers and even startup managers have grown used to getting their way when it comes to press coverage. According to Carr and his colleagues, key contacts now expect “the kind of consideration that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.”

In other words, journalists may have trouble accessing important figures unless they agree to this new kind of relationship, quotation approval rights and all. The practice may clash with classic journalistic ethics, but it’s part of the media landscape now. The Times claims that it will begin pushing back harder against this sort of behavior among its reporters, but from where we sit it looks a whole lot like everyday SOP.

We can only assume that this practice occurs at all levels of the PR industry. When does it become an ethical problem?

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It’s Official: Rahm Emanuel Does NOT Like Nickelback

In a moment of clarity crucial to our nation’s past, present and future, a spokesperson for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel (you know, Ari Gold’s brother) stated that the former representative and White House Chief of Staff does not, in fact, enjoy the musical stylings of Canadian pomp rock kings Nickelback–despite nasty rumors to the contrary.

A tenth-grade math teacher protesting Emanuel’s current standoff with Chicago-area teachers got a little creative with his signage this week by outing Rahm as a secret Nickelback fan, but the mayor’s spokeswoman Tarrah Cooper responded to area blog RedEye’s request for clarification with a single word: “No.”

We’ve yet to receive word on whether Mr. Emanuel sees Avril Lavigne as a real 1977-style punk or a manufactured teeny-pop poser.

UPDATE: The national debate has officially returned, as all semi-coherent conversations eventually must, to the late 90’s. The teacher responsible for the sign in question has now changed his message to accuse Emanuel of liking the world’s second least favorite band, Creed.

“Green” DC Lobbying Firm Suddenly Loves Biofuels

One unspoken law rules the PR industry: the client’s interests always come first. And if the interests of a certain client happen to directly contradict the interests of a former client? Well, that’s just the way the game is played.

Still, we can’t help but feel a little awkward when reading about the recent adventures of Washington, DC lobbying firm The Glover Park Group. Why? Because the group, which was founded in 2001 by a team of White House veterans, made a name for itself in 2008 by creating a media campaign aimed at the ethanol industry in the interest of persuading the government to eliminate certain tax benefits that heavily favored the producers of ethanol, aka grain alcohol, aka corn. In case you haven’t heard, corn equals big money and big politics in those heartland “swing states” you hear so much about—which is why no politician in his or her right mind will risk inducing the wrath of big ethanol.

But Glover Park recently performed what we like to call “a complete 180” by signing on to perform PR work for The Renewable Fuels Association, a government lobbying group that represents…you guessed it, the ethanol industry.

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Tech and Govt. Vets Form Dream Team Firm

Big names, big news: Eastwick–a tech communications agency that helped build some of Silicon Valley’s biggest brands over more than two decades in the business–has officially launched a new independent consulting firm called SocialxDesign (read “Social by Design” or “SxD” if you don’t feel like typing it out). The firm’s prime movers comprise a team of PR industry veterans whose resumes run from the offices of scruffy tech start-ups all the way to the White House and the State Department.

New firms open every day, but SocialxDesign is different: Led by Eastwick CEO Barbara Bates, White House PR man Toby Chaudhuri and Deloitte vet Giovanni Rodriguez, SxD describes itself in a press release as “a new strategy consulting firm focused on helping businesses, government agencies and NGOs remake themselves for the socially networked economy” by expanding services, reducing costs and creating real-world value within their respective markets. The group lists its three primary services as “Discovery, Design and Delivery” while throwing in a few key phrases like “quantitative audit”, “strategic positioning” and “technology implementation.”

Sounds good, but what does it mean?

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President Uses Twitter, Breathes Oxygen Like Other Humans

In case you wondered how the world’s most visible face interacts with the followers of his office’s official Twitter feed, the White House has released this in-no-way-heavy-hitting video documenting a few moments in the life of @WhiteHouse. While we can’t pretend to be terribly impressed, we will admit that the President is a bit more…intimate than many other prominent tweeters.

No word on whether the intern/PR rep/spambot who usually mans the feed will ever get his or her moment in the sun.

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