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Posts Tagged ‘The Huffington Post’

Lambert, Edwards & Associates Releases Time-Lapse ‘We Moved’ Video

We generally don’t think too much of “we got a new office” press releases unless that office happens to be ours, but we have to say Lambert, Edwards & Associates of Detroit chose a creative way of publicizing its recent move with this time-lapse video, which doubles as a love letter to the city:

And someone earned a mention on The Huffington Post too…

Pretty Much Everybody Published Malaysian Government Propaganda

Well, this is certainly NOT a case of earned media: this week a Department of Justice filing covered by BuzzFeed revealed that the current Malaysian government hired PR firms to pay opinion writers at various publications throughout the United States, encouraging them to write op-eds denouncing their primary opponent.

The main purpose of the articles, published by magazines and websites ranging from The National Review and The Guardian to The Huffington Post, was to distinguish current Prime Minister Najib Razak from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim by claiming that he is a moderate Muslim while Ibrahim is a militant Islamist. (Note: according to advocacy groups like Amnesty International, Razak’s government also has a long history of human rights violations like restricting freedom of speech and religion and executing political enemies. They also jailed Ibrahim on what many saw to be “trumped up” charges.)

This was perfect subject material for writers who wanted to push the message that moderation is the only way for Islamist political parties empowered by the recent “Arab Spring” movement to engage with the rest of the world. One of the writers even told BuzzFeed today that “It was actually a fairly standard PR operation”, though he lost his column after the relationship was revealed.

We’re not particularly familiar with Malaysian politics, but the fact that these op-ed writers didn’t feel the need to reveal the backers who were paying them to voice specific opinions is a perfect example of why “PR” is a bad word for many people.

Lance Armstrong’s Confession: A PR Win for Oprah?

Lance ArmstrongIn a breaking story that will surprise very few, sources close to Lance Armstrong confirm that he used his exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey (taped yesterday) to admit that he took illegal, performance-enhancing substances throughout his cycling career–and that he plans to testify against officials who “encouraged” the practice.

Even as Armstrong confessed to what pretty much everyone suspected, he also seems to have hedged a bit, using the “everybody was doing it” defense to argue that he was not, in fact, a doping “ringleader”. Given his extremely aggressive PR efforts in denying all relevant accusations for years, we’re not quite sure anyone will buy that line–but he clearly made a strategic decision in the interest of saving what’s left of his multimillion dollar reputation. By testifying against others involved in the scandal, he hopes to overcome his lifelong ban from competitive sports so he can continue to compete in “triathalons and running events” while raising money for his charity.

This is obviously a big story, and some within the industry see it as a major PR win for Oprah, whose influence has been slipping of late as her OWN Network struggles to gain viewers and seeks media attention via moves like a partnership with The Huffington Post. Oprah clearly aims to make the most of the interview–she’s splitting it into two parts, and directly after its conclusion she tweeted:

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Adventures in Marketing: Doritos and Taco Bell, BFFs

Dorito's Taco BellWe usually love the idea of two complementary brands coming together and doing great things, but when we first heard about the ongoing collaboration between Doritos and Taco Bell, we were a little skeptical.

We understand that these leaders in the “corn-based foods with ridiculously high levels of saturated fat” market appeal to the same audiences (namely drunk college kids and adults in a rush), but we wondered if a taco served inside a big Dorito dusted with nuclear red “cheese” would be a little too much.

We were very, very wrong: The Doritos Locos Tacos quickly became the best-selling item in the history of the Tex-Mex chain, which got mouths watering again this week with a Facebook post sort of announcing the pending release of the Cool Ranch version. We still can’t quite get over the fact that this simple post got 120,000 likes, 11,500 shares, and more than 8,000 comments.

The Huffington Post recently attempted to discern exactly why this co-branding exercise worked so well, and we have to agree with most of their points:

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Walmart Boycotts HuffPo for ‘Unfair’ Coverage

Walmart–no stranger to bad press–made a rare PR decision to cease all communication with a major news outlet, announcing that it will no longer provide comment to The Huffington Post.

The retailer’s VP of communications, David Tovar, said in a statement that Walmart “made a decision not to participate in Huffington Post articles going forward due to the one-sided reporting and unfair and unbalanced editorial decisions made by Huffington Post reporters and editors”. Huffington Post’s executive business editor, Peter Goodman, accused Walmart of making a “false” assertion, and said he “can’t recall another company cutting off access in this fashion.”

Here, via Business Insider, are five specific reasons Walmart gave for its decision:

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Execs’ Anti-Obama Rants Hurt Restaurant Brands

Papa John's CEO Several men who work as managers and CEOs of chain restaurants don’t much care for President Obama’s signature health insurance law—and they haven’t been shy about letting everyone know it via their respective media megaphones.

Their outrage may have something to do with the fact that chain restaurants, despite employing millions of Americans, very often do not provide health insurance for their workers. While these men have every right to voice their outrage, a recent YouGov BrandIndex report implies that their opinions may be hurting their brands.

Examples from the past month:

  • An owner of several Applebee’s branches claimed that “…we won’t build more restaurants. We won’t hire more people” due to the additional costs of insuring employees via “Obamacare.”
  • A south Florida man who runs several Denny’s and Dairy Queen locations discussed his plans to add a 5% surcharge to all orders in order to cover the anticipated cost of the legislation, telling customers that “if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare.”
  • After reports led some to believe that Obamacare would force him to close stores, fire workers and raise prices, Papa John’s CEO (and major Mitt Romney fundraiser) John Schnatter recently took to The Huffington Post to clarify his statements on the matter, writing that everybody just needs to calm down because all of his restaurants plan to “honor the law.”

There’s little doubt that these statements paint the men who made them as jackasses, yet the YouGov brand report hints that the damage runs deeper: these execs’ anti-Obamacare rants have led the public to lose respect for their brands.

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Soviet-Style PR: Firm Plants Positive Stories on Kremlin’s Behalf

President Vladamir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev A few weeks ago we reviewed the Communist Party’s unique approach to PR damage control; today we observe the ways in which the Party ensures positive coverage in foreign media outlets.

In short: they pay for it.

We’re not talking about traditional Party mouthpieces like Pravda and The People’s Daily. This matter concerns stories carried by familiar American media outlets like The Huffington Post and CNBC, which recently posted op-eds by “independent” businessmen proclaiming Russia to be “Europe’s Bright Light of Growth”, calling the government’s approach to the worldwide recession “a model of restraint” and naming Russia “the most dynamic place on the continent.”

An investigation by ProPublica, a research organization dedicated to facilitating “Journalism in the Public Interest”, found that Ketchum planted these complimentary pieces in order to improve Western perceptions of two-time Russian President Vladamir Putin’s government and the nation’s business culture. Ketchum, one of the world’s largest PR firms and PRWeek‘s 2012 agency of the year, has represented the Kremlin since 2006.

Ketchum’s filings with the US Justice Department reveal that, while the company’s employees did not write the stories themselves, they did reach out to the authors and arrange for the placement of their op-eds on prominent websites in order to encourage “foreign investments” in Russian companies.

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Re-Branding: Oprah, HuffPo Join Forces

Two of the media world’s biggest one-woman brands have  joined forces in the interest of elevating both of their profiles—and their respective media outlets.

After some earlier announcements, the two chose today to launch “HuffPost OWN”, a co-branding project that amounts to a new section on the Huffington Post site focusing on lifestyle and personal/inspirational content drawn from Oprah’s channel, website and magazine.

Winfrey says she’s “delighted to join the conversation” and Huffington calls her new partner “made for the internet.”

The real message here? After her OWN Network suffered some disastrous ratings failures, Oprah realized that what her fans really want is her—in the flesh and ready to distribute her own well-formed brand of advice and “authenticity”. The network’s ratings began to steadily improve once Oprah realized her mistake and brought back the things her fans love: the book club, celebrity interviews, and controversial personalities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian.

Will the venture work? As long as Oprah’s face is on the page every day, we see this as a branding win for both properties. Our only question: does the world really need more of the good doctors Oz and Phil? We hope the answer is no.

Hillary Clinton Can’t Stand Holden Caulfield

Today in (Fake) Media Scandals: You may have heard of a controversial article published in The Atlantic this summer in which columnist and former State Department director of policy planning Anne-Marie Slaughter lamented the fact that many modern women cannot possibly live up to the superhuman expectations they face as both mothers and professionals.

(We’re sure it was a great piece; please don’t tell our friends we haven’t read it yet.)

Fast forward to this week, when Marie Claire published an extensive “farewell” interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Interviewer Ayelet Waldman asked Clinton about Slaughter’s piece and the SoS seemed to agree with her thesis, noting that while “Some women are not comfortable working at the pace and intensity you have to work at in these jobs”, others can juggle multiple children and demanding careers without “break[ing] a sweat.” Different strokes…

The next paragraph moved into a discussion about “whiners”, a class of people for whom Clinton has little patience. She wasn’t afraid to make a forceful point: “I can’t stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into…You live in a time when there are endless choices…Do Something!”

Sounds like Hillary might have been referring to the women in Slaughter’s article who find themselves paralyzed by the unreasonable demands of modern life, doesn’t it?

That’s what the scoop-hungry bloggers at Politico, Jezebel and The Huffington Post thought. We can see why—in emails to journalists, Marie Claire’s PR people hyped the story by implying that the quote referred directly to Slaughter’s article. But the subsequent headlines about Hillary knocking on women who whine about “having it all” weren’t quite accurate; the Secretary said so herself. Here’s the missing section of the interview:  Read more

Revolving Door: MSNBC, Salon, and More from the News Corp Hacking Scandal

MSNBC’s top spokesperson Jeremy Gaines is heading to the Gannett Company to lead the corporate comms division as VP, effective May 21. Gannett owns USA Today, a number of broadcast stations, and tons of other media properties. NBC News’ lead spokesperson Lauren Kapp is heading to The Huffington Post as of April 30. NBC has not announced replacements for either position. [via]

Speaking of USA Today, two of the papers journalists say they’ve become the target of a “smear campaign” after reporting on “government propaganda contractors.” We tweeted the PRSA response; here it is as well. [via]

Salon has a new look. Thoughts? Separately, the site’s press release for the redesign says the number of monthly unique visitors has grown 30 percent to 7.7 million since 2011. [via]

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