TalentZoo.com |  Beyond Madison Avenue |  Digital Pivot |  Beneath the Brand Archives  |  Categories
Original articles from Shawn Paul Wood.
RadioShack: The Unplugging of a Legend
You like that old-school logo from RadioShack, say retro 1970s from the disco? That is important to note because the '70s is approximately the last decade in which the tech retailer was relevant. Unfortunately, for the many people who grew up getting VGA cords, VCRs, and those phones with cords in them, RadioShack is this close to filing for bankruptcy. What began in 1921 in Fort Worth, Texas (my home) is about to end just shy of 100 years later. Why? Ironically, technology.

4 PR Lessons Learned from CES
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is an annual trek in utopian dorkdom. The latest gadgets and technology widgets new to the market will astound and amaze. The people standing around will do the same — not because they appear like they are waiting for a Star Trek convention, but rather because they all look the same. Each consumer is wide-eyed, knobby-kneed...

What Were the Top 10 Wiki Edits of 2014?
You ever been on Wikipedia looking up what to copy and paste for your college exam because original content is so hard to come by these days? I mean, it’s late, you are having difficulties coming up with a topic, and you are slightly engrossed in your bedside hookah, so off to Wikipedia you go. Of course, if you ask any college professor, Wikipedia should never be used as a source, because although what goes into an initial page is usually well done, it’s the editing by certain know-it-all, surreptitious forces that can’t be trusted. At least, that’s the rumor. So, when VentureBeat came out with the "10 most edited Wikipedia articles of 2014," we should have been very interested.

Why Facebook Not Adding a ‘Dislike’ Button Makes More People Dislike Them
For years, Facebook has been known for its ironic, anti-social behavior. What else would you expect from a company full of hipsters and fancy-shmancy coffee drinkers? Are they interested in making a product better? Meh.

China Demands No More Pun for Journalists
Wordsmithers. Logophiles. Craftsmen of the Double Entendre. This one is for you...or even to be PC, this one is for ewe. (See, a ewe is a female lamb. I’m not calling anyone a lamb, more talking about females, but since this is about...well, you get it.) Back to the lede: China hates your guts. The Chinese government has given local media an edict: there’s nothing punny about puns. So, all such wordplay has been banned because apparently it breaches the law on “standard spoken and written Chinese.”

Is Whitewashing Still a PR Problem in Hollywood?
Hollywood began covering up a PR issue it had way back in the 1930s — it didn't hire many folk outside of the white persuasion. Times were different. Thinking was different. People were different. I get it. However, the one place where it has been expected for anyone to buck the system would be among the "Beautiful People." Only to be beautiful, one had to be famous and white. In 1931, Warner Oland was hired to depict crime-fighting...

Are You Missing Out By Not Being Accredited in Public Relations?
"Is getting APR certified worth the money these days?" For 50 years, the prestigious Public Relations Society of America has seemed to think so. Every year, more and more PR pros sign up to take the test and earn those three highfalutin letters after their name on a business card (you know, without lying about it). It is very expensive. It is a risk if you don't pass. It is nice to show off at parties. But is it really worth it? I saw a blog post on TopRankBlog.com that really got me thinking about this seemingly age-old question.

Change.org, PR to the Rescue of Parental Leave with #ChangeLeave
Once upon a time, my bride was with child. It was our first, as a matter of fact. A glorious time. We couldn't wait. Every kick, flutter, and Braxton-Hicks moment, we cherished. Well, not so much of the latter (for her, at least). And then it happened. A time every father can certainly relate to if stuck at work during the blissful and highly anxious last trimester — I got “the call.” Like a Kardashian to a loose $100 bill on the ground...

Can PR Breathe Life Into the Newspaper Death Watch?
If you have been in PR for any amount of time, you get to know reporters as more than people on the other end of a phone or email. You realize they are important to your local outlet; that these individuals do more than primp before getting on camera or check their AP stylebook before posting a long article. And then you see them get displaced about as easily as Mark Zuckerberg...

Hollywood Warms Up to Climate Change, Gets Cold Response
Typically, Hollywood gets behind one cause as a collective front. From child abduction to hashtagging on the Red Carpet, it’s like they have their own Intranet discussing “What do we shill next?" Enter climate change into the fray of the beautiful people. Lately, movie stars have been vocally and visually active behind developing awareness around global warming/climate change.

It’s Ethics Awareness Month in PR, So Why Aren’t We More Aware?
For years — probably decades — public relations professionals have been going about their business, representing clients and shilling to the media in hopes of not being called “a flack,” “a spin doctor,” or even “a fraud.” And despite our struggle, our plight, our everyday business, we are still called those names...

In the NFL: Money Talks, Sponsors Walk, and Then People Listen
The circle of life for the Beautiful People rolls on much differently than it does for the rest of us. For the common folk, the wheel of life screeches to a complete halt, gets us in front of the tire, and runs us smooth over.

NFL & Domestic Violence: The PR Silver Lining to Its Black Cloud
The dream of running the most influential sports organization on the planet has become a nightmare for NFL Commissioner (for now) Roger Goodell. What should be noted is that it didn't begin with Ray Rice delivering a left cross to his then-fiancée, now-wife in a casino elevator.

It's Time to Chill on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Because Celebrities
We just can't be trusted with new things, can we? Someone gets a new toy and everyone has to have it, like, now. Things go viral for that reason, which can be a good thing. A video, a speech, a tweet — one and all make people react and give in to the compulsion to share.

Is the Quest for Content Killing Newspapers?
Regretfully, it is no secret that newspapers — particularly community publications or those in smaller markets — are fighting each day just to stave off bankruptcy. Perhaps worse: irrelevance. What publishers are discovering more and more is that content really is king, and all that "news" mess isn't really what today's reader is interested in seeing in the headlines.

Starbucks Doesn't Support Israel (or PR Strategy)
Since 2009, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been considered a Zionist and an ardent supporter of Israel. Personally, I don't think people give two squirts of caffeine in their triple-venti-half-sweet-non-fat-low-foam-tepid-caramel-macchiato about that (man, I hate those people). However, Palestinian groups have hated the baristas ever since because they have long believed...

Marijuana: The Savior of Print Advertising?
Hey, stranger things have happened. And it sure looks like this may be the case. For years, publishers have been racking their collective brains trying to figure out how to stay relevant and keep their jobs in lieu of this terrible thing known as the Internet. It wouldn't be such a problem if people really cared...

3 Reasons Why Customer Service is the Secret to Good PR
A crisis happens when you least expect it, but if you handle it swiftly and appropriately, any brand can manage to retain good tidings with the general public. Drama will ensue for some brands on any given day; however, if the right team is in place and good training has been implemented, they'll survive. In this year of social media and gotta-have-it-now-itis...

AVENGERS Disconnect? MARVEL's Identity Crisis
One of the greatest brands in recent history has a screw loose, if you ask most avid comic book readers and superhero movie watchers. The all-powerful MARVEL appears to be having an identity crisis. The esteemed home of super factions like the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers has recently announced the creation of MARVEL NOW!, which has left most of its fans thinking their Spidey sense never saw...

LeBron James And His Royal PR Dragon Being Slayed
It's ironic Nike once bestowed the "Witnesses" tagline on their LeBron James' campaign, because that's all people have done for the past week since he announced he was taking his talents back to the shores of Lake Erie — we have watched the grandeur. Namely, the PR people in the audience, because if this doesn't become a case study in crisis communications, and how it's never too late to do the right thing, nothing really will. "King" James was vilified in his own kingdom of Cleveland. Burning of his jerseys. Nastygrams in the news.

How Walmart May Have Saved BlackBerry
Say what you will about Walmart, and many of you have, but there is a reason it is the leading company in the world. They understand what people want — to keep up with the Joneses and not have their bills, because that part sucks. The Bentonville-based behemoth has experienced its fair share of #PRFails, but they know how to stay "King of the Mountain"...

The World Cup: Is America Accepting Soccer or Just More Advertising?
Today is the day! USA vs. Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, where people — many of whom have never watched a football/soccer/futbol game — will walk out of the house in red, white, and blue face, head straight for the pub, and get ess-faced in celebration of a 1-0 game. Maybe. And while this has been happening every time Team USA takes the field, marketers have been finding ways to interject their favorite clients' brands in the middle of every conversation possible.

The Day Gary Oldman Went All 'Mel Gibson'
It's the second day of the news cycle and the story is still going strong, so on behalf of entertainment news, "Thank you, Gary Oldman." He has provided the world genius introspectives as Commissioner Gordon in the 'Dark Knight Trilogy,' Sirius Black in 'Harry Potter,' Beethoven, Dracula, Lee Harvey Oswald, and even Elvis once.

Man Vs. Food Vs. The Court of Public Opinion
You may have watched a few episodes of the Travel Channel's "Man Vs. Food." Adam Richman was the portly, lovable host. And although the show didn't last, the holes in our hearts caused by its departure (and those dastardly ghost peppers) have. Whelp, before Richman tries to continue his career and shows off his new svelte figure with "Man Finds Food"...

It's Time for PR Agencies to Second-Guess Freebie News Wires
Many PR agencies — regardless of size or stature — haven't seriously cared about organic SEO. There hasn't been a ton of need by those public relations houses to learn a new trick because as long as its reputation, speed dial, and pitching machine were working and well-oiled, the money still came and the results were still earned.

Pastors are Finding Inspiration from ... the Internet?
Many argue it was a better time before the Internet. Things were so much easier back then, right? People actually worked for a living and were proud doing it. Now, if they want anything, they are just a click away from finding whatever tickles their fancy. The Internet has ruined print journalism and possibly TV-watching pleasure, but would it shock you to learn that even the days of walking atop a mountain and getting some of that divine revelation are passé? Yeah, because that has happened. The great Sarah Pulliam Bailey of RNS and Christianity Today calls it "Pulpit Plagiarism," and it's catching on...

An Open Letter to Hobby Lobby's Christmas Division
Dear Hobby Lobby Christmas Division, ICYMI, there are a multitude of masses whose chestnuts are roasting, and causing them to consider lighting a few of your stores in Texas on an open fire. Don't get me wrong, I love your place, but I wanted to share some news. I was strolling along in the mighty Dallas/Fort Worth region of Texas when I stumbled upon something...

Quoting Hitler and Understanding Your Audience
Typically, the name "Hitler" does not beckon any inspiration to a marketing plan. In fact, it never does — just say it — that never happens. A Kardashian has a stronger chance of falling in love with a poor, white man with no musical or athletic ability than a creative has considering Hitler in any marketing communications approach.

An Open Letter to Memorial Day Salespeople
Dear Champions of Commerce Everywhere, This past weekend was Memorial Day, and regretfully, it seems there needs to be a good amount of public relations and reputation management for this day. Why? Well, you all have made this a complete mockery of what this day was created to be — a day of solemn remembrance. I know, I know. The economy sucks and you need every excuse to make bottom-line sales on your cars, clothes, groceries, and mattresses. However, since no one is willing to help educate you, allow me. Stop it! Stop your shenanigans now. Shouting at the top of your lungs for two weeks prior to Memorial Day...

WWE's Vince McMahon's Assets Get Slammed
A funny thing happened to Vincent Kennedy McMahon, chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., on the way to work the other day — he lost one-third of his entire net worth. Yes, in one day! Was there a robbery? Kinda. Did he forget to lock his safe? Somewhat. He leave his wallet on a subway or something? You're getting warmer.

#BringBackOurGirls: When Hashtags Go Terribly Wrong
One dreary day in the middle of April, a group of girls went to their Nigerian school like any other day. Only this day, they never came home ... and still haven't come back. Why? A terrorist splinter cell group called Boko Haram (a name that translated in Hausa means 'Western education is a sin') that is so evil even Al Qaeda swears they don't approve of this mass kidnapping. (Yes, that Al Qaeda!)

What Louis C.K.'s 'Fat Girl' Rant Had to Do with PR
In two words: Friggin' Everything! I'm a purveyor of intelligence. Sure, the slapstick, ridiculous comedic stylings on "Airplane" and "The Hangover" are good for a rib-shattering escape (Candidly, I've seen both at least a dozen times...each). However, there is no better satisfaction than when you hear a comic, read a book, or watch a movie, and go "Whoa! How'd they think of that?"

Why Lack of Diversity in Teaching is a PR Issue
The National Education Association (NEA) and the Center for American Progress (CAP) issued a revealing study over the weekend that says so much more than the numbers unveil. The report (noted in AP) focused on the ever-growing "diversity gap" in today's classroom and shined a light on the teachers themselves. In fact, fewer than 1 in 5 teachers are non-white.

What if the AP was Wrong About Style Changes?
So, it was just another glorious day in Dallas / Fort Worth when I read something that made me choke violently on some fresh Gummi Bears — the Associated Press did it again. This time, the persnickety purveyors of journalistic writing style decided that after decades of enforcement, that pesky difference between "more than" and "over"? Meh! Wait, what?! Ever since I have been a copy editor and a writer, this has been one of my most friendly peeves named "Pet."

#PRFail: 'We the People' Sticks It to the People
Just when you thought the U.S. Government would finally realize that a record-low approval rating of nine percent may be worth improving comes the White House's concoction of "giving American what it wants" — a voice. Only there was a catch. The U.S. Government would like to hear your voice when they pretty much feel like it. Namely when it concerns one Justin Bieber. (Yeah, you knew this was going to be good.) The Obama Administration created two-way conversation between the American public and the government by embracing social media.

What Hilary Clinton's Shoegate Tells America about Government PR
To flacks in the know, "public affairs" is the process of communication of an organization's point of view on political causes. Let's not confuse that with governmental PR — as in, all the 535 members of our legislative branch, and those special ones in the executive branch. While each Senator and Representative has their own "chief of staff"...

Better Off Dead: Former Celebrities Selling on Live Commercials
Wouldn't it be nice if once you were dead, you could still pull in your annual income? What if it was even more than that? Sweet, right? Yeah, such is life for the beautiful people. In case you haven't noticed, Audrey Hepburn has been shilling fancy chocolate lately. Frank Sinatra has been caught hawking booze (stunning, right?).

Rosa Parks Proves the NCAA Sucks
Rosa Parks was a woman who refused to give up her seat and took a stand for an entire generation. The most eloquent of writers would have a terrible challenge summarizing her overwhelming impact on mankind, let alone her inspiration for the Civil Rights Movement in the '60s.

Admission Prices on the Rise for the Breakfast Club
Ever heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It's only sacrosanct because it's so damn good. Dinner is just as important as breakfast if you are hungry, but nothing gets a day started out right better than a short stack (or French Toast, my fave), an ice-cold glass of O.J., and bacon, bacon, bacon. Just look at that picture and tell me you aren't drooling yet. Enjoy while you can, because this story from the Associated Press is the bearer of bad news — you will have to bring home more bacon to buy more bacon.

What You Don't Say During the Pitch Strikes You Out
Ever heard that at least 93 percent of communication is nonverbal? Of course you have. It's in school, magazines, Toastmasters, and even in PR. Think about the pitch — you study for it, prepare your lines, and find killer statistics to show the prospect that you love them, but they need to love you more. You walk out of the pitch and then the call comes, "Sorry. We went with another firm that seemed to get us more." Wait, what?! Who the hell started that cockamamie stat anyway?

#PRFail: McDonald's Makes More Angry Meals with 365Black.com
Last year sucked a little for McDonald's. In fact, it sucked much. How? The corporate baron stuck its size-18 clown foot smooth in its golden arches by creating the McResources hotline to teach its employees how to live in poverty and then shut it down two months later because they wanted to keep it classy. The problem for the Clown is 2014 isn't becoming such a banner year..

5 Easy Tips to Improve Your PR Game
Flack Me is a designated blog for public relations professionals created by the wunderkinds of Talent Zoo. While we understand this is a growing forum to uncover what is up in the industry, at times, you need some expert tutelage. While I'm not disclosing my age here (because I look much younger than I really am ... and shut up to those of you who know me), I've been at this flack thing a while. Mentorship is a forgotten art in PR, so please take these five easy tips to improve your PR game...

The Losing Recipe of a #PRFail
There is a Tumblr blog dedicated to them. There are serious blogs focused on them. There are columns in major PR publications honoring them like trophies. There is even a Twitter troll that is sheer greatness extoling these on a daily basis (from whence the picture came). What are they? The ubiquitous #PRFail. And for some reason, the flack treats these like most people cater to a deadly car crash on the other side of the highway...

#PRFail: Chevron Apologizes for Fracking Explosion with Pizza?
There you are. Sitting with your family outside Pittsburgh enjoying a nice weekend breakfast of cinnamon rolls and orange juice. A healthy debate arises over the best cartoons ever — Bugs Bunny or Spongebob? And then, it happens ... BOOM! The nearby gas plant that is fracking for their your money explodes. The fire lasted four days and injured two. It caused countless hours of stress with displacement, worry of losing homes, and possibly loss of life. Needless to say, Chevron has some 'splaining to do. And to smooth over that tense situation, the oil and gas company came up with the perfect solution to calm fears over deadly toxins...

#PRFail: Walmart Needs Some Internal Communications Love
For decades, Walmart has used the ubiquitous smiley face to stress its commitment to customer service. And while its umpteen bajillion shoppers don't really go there for smiling faces, Walmart would like you to believe its employees are full of happy-happy-joy-joy. Stigma is out there. Stereotypes prevail. And then you have current employees going rogue to Gawker. Yes, Gawker! In a Q&A that I would highly recommend for your reading pleasure (even the bigwigs of Walmart reading out there in Talent Zoo land), we have an employee of an unmentioned Walmart location who uses this barf of emotion as catharsis for his job. It starts like this: If I were to write down every unethical/illegal thing...

#PRFail? Seinfeld: 'Who Cares' About Diversity in Comedy
Without question, one of the most legendary TV series of all time is "Seinfeld." Aside from that it was written by Jerry and his neurotic cohort, Larry David, the premise was absolute genius because it was about nothing. In 1998, when the show left prime-time TV, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Last week, there were rumors of a "reunion" amidst the Super Bowl...

IRONY ALERT: Providence, R.I. is Going to Hell
Prov·i·dence (n.) ˈprä-və-dən(t)s, -ˌden(t)s -- Divine guidance or care coming from God. I imagine when the City of Providence, nestled inside the Lilliputian state of Rhode Island, was founded by the early colonists in 1636, the name of the city meant something. In fact, I'll bet it meant everything. These were settlers coming from a distant far land, embarking on an journey that would take them to God-knows-where.

Detroit Has Figured Out its PR Problem: Robocop?!
Detroit. It's a city of great memories buried in the past and destined never to be resurrected again. Unless a miracle happens, this city will slide slowly into the murky waters of Lake Erie. It is bankrupt, has a former mayor doing time in the clink, has to bribe people to live there, and has no art. What's next? It needs...it needs...a hero. Yeah, that's it. And because the beleaguered city can't afford to pay Marvel Comics for a hero of its own, it will take an '80s retread in Robocop. Wait, what? That's right — Robocop, soon to hit the Silver Screen (again), is Detroit's answer to a PR curtain call. In fact, it's not the great Peter Weller, who starred as Alex Murphy in the late 80s.

What the MSNBC Kieran Romney Kerfuffle Says About America Today
Answer: Quite a bit! ICYMI: A typically smart, even-keeled Melissa Harris-Perry had a panel on her MSNBC show the other day when she decided to hurl a now famous picture of the Romney family -- all 2,450 of them. Well, maybe not, but you get the point.

Today in Irony: Walmart Profits From Occupy Wall Street
You have to love the free market and capitalism. Everyone in America has the same possibility (not opportunity) to make money. Of course, the beau monde one percent has more possibilities than most. Life, ain't it great? Whelp, it seems the umpteenth iota of that one percent has found a way to make the outcries whine for its own issues...

#PRants: The Blurred Line of Perception and Reality
I have been told for most of my PR career that "Perception is reality." I get that. A client sees something in the media, infers what they will, calls you out on it, and you are left holding a big bag of "Suck it." But what if the client isn't right? And therein lies my rub — one that is so coarse, it feels like one of those awful Christmas sweaters your grandmother...

#PRants: Thanksgiving Thursday is Now the New Black
It's most miserable, overhyped and commercialized ... wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, big-box retailers forget about the calendar and determine that "Black Friday" can't get here soon enough. To wit, shoppers need to get accustomed to the blossoming and heinous "Thanksgiving Thursday." Unfortunately, so do the miserly paid hourly employees. Aside from these perceived minions having to sacrifice time with their families to prepare for the menacing campers in serpentine lines outside each of these havens of discount shopping, how come there is not any negative PR from any of this?

#PRants: Prankvertising is Earning Bad PR
If you are in advertising, or even if you have an office in an integrated agency, you know what this tantalizing trend is. However, for those flacks not in-the-know: "Prankvertising" is when a brand pulls a marketing prank on random, unsuspecting consumers.

Another Thing Republicans Hate About Obama: PR
Employee Satisfaction Surveys. The "New" Coke. A Toyota Prius. Eating spicy food with white pants. What do they all have in common? They are all examples of when good examples go terribly wrong. Sure, they all began as a solvent to make life easier but in the long run, not so much. And now, we can add another item to this dubious list — the Affordable Care Act website. With the limitless resources and extensive networks to the tech world, there is no excuse why this website sucks out loud the way it does. I know people who could have made a better website in their mother's garage while surrounded by their favorite Star Trek action figures still in their original packaging. Obamacare.com (not an official URL) is a good idea with some awful results.

Suzanne Somers Needs to Stick to Informercials and '80s TV
Once upon a time, in an apartment a long, long time ago, was a woman America knew as Chrissy. She was a dolt who snorted when she giggled and was so dumb she had to study for a urine test, but nonetheless, this country loved her. Sure, she had Jack to lean on and Janet to support her, but that was the '80s sitcom "Three's Company." Following the cancellation of the show, Suzanne (Chrissy) Somers went on to broader horizons — infomericals.

Is It Possible to Take Bullying Too Far?
Bullying. This is a term that strikes fear in parents, frustration in teachers, horror in children, and anger in everyone else. These days, if you want a great corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign, champion this needy cause. Take the WWE, NEA or even the U.S. government.

#PRFail: Microsoft PR Chief Wants to Throw David Pogue Out of his Windows
In case you didn't see what I did there, David Pogue is the adroit, savvy, and flack-friendly technology columnist for the New York Times. And, if you note the picture provided here, he is not a great fan of Microsoft's Windows 8...or 8.1. As we all understand, if you are a flack for any consumer product, dealing with opinions of the cynical and often-looking-for-15-seconds public goes with the territory. However, if you are head of Microsoft PR major domo Frank X. Shaw, you would be under the impression...

HIRING: Work for a 'Fat Bloke with a Drink Problem.' Interested?
If you are looking for a job, and don't mind flying across the pond for a brisk commute, have I got the gig for you! Meet Just In Time PR from London, England. Ever thought "outside the box" has it boundaries? This may be the litmus test. No, really. Aside from the headline "Top London PR agency seeks hell-raiser [sic] to join team," we have this real job description...

PR for Washington Redskins' Name Becoming More PC
A big aspect of public relations is working with the public. Sounds like it goes without saying, right? Only not so much. At times, you have an idea, a campaign, or a long-lasting brand that has been embraced by the public for years...and then that public changes. You were just sitting in your cube, minding your own business...

Owner of FAIL Blog, Cheezburger Wants to Recreate News 'Circa' 2013
You may not know the name or the face, but you definitely know the schtick — FAIL blog, The Daily What and I Can Has Cheezburger. The same mind behind that magic even created an Internet word, as in "Know your MEME." This is all the work of Ben Huh, whose next focus on the digital wonderland will be the news. According to AdAge, Ben Huh isn't happy with the day of Internet crawls, breaking news that keeps on breaking, and push notifications that all read the same headline picked up by AP. So, he's going to recreate the way news is delivered with Circa. Here's an excerpt of the interview with the visual humor genius. AdAge: Does that mean you can start tailoring stories...

America Offline? Study Says 15% of U.S. Adults Don't Use Internet
In today's media, journos and flacks alike live online. They thrive on reaching people via the Internet. Don't believe me? Spend one day...hell, one hour...without your smartphone and see how dumb you become. That said, imagine my surprise when I read this latest study from the Pew Research Center that says 15 percent of U.S. adults do not use the Internet. You know? Still! According to its report "Pew Internet & American Life Project," it is not just about demography. I considered my grandmother who is 89 and doesn't use email and isn't big on trolling search engines, but does her banking and books flights online.

#PRFail: Barilla Pasta: Not the Gay Man's Noodle
Stocked on the shelves of the pasta aisles in grocery stores nationally is the brand Barilla. Its tagline is "the taste of Italy." Ironically, after what its muttonhead CEO said, homosexuals across the country have a terrible taste in their mouths about that pasta. And after you read this unfortunate PR and marketing faux pas, you would think that after the CEO of Barilla...

#PRFail: Coke Canada Calls Customers 'Douche' and 'Retard'
For most who know me, they would tell you that I love to have fun and poke a friendly jab at people from time to time. I suppose it's because the stupid ice cream man never had the Pink Panther head with the gumball eyes I wanted, so he would say, "Come on, kid. You suck."

#PRFail: TCU Professor Offers Tutoring for Only 'Students of Color'
College. It's not all "Animal House." There is actual learning to be done, and in that plight of higher education and $80,000 in debt, a student may wander inside the realm of an occasional D. When that happens, students look to the help of a tutor. Young people are paying to be at college (well, some young people's parents pay) and they deserve every bit of access to assistance and learning they can get.

Putin and Ketchum: From Russia with PR
President Obama has an Office of Communications. Presidents of companies have PR firms. It's like that in the real world...well, in the American one. In Russia, that may be different because the global PR firm Ketchum has represented Vladimir Putin, Russian President, for those of you scoring at home, since 2006. The agency's slogan is "Break Through"...

#PRFail: President Obama 'No Comprendo' Univision
The media tour. These are great tools, provided you can line one up. A hot spot tour bouncing from network to network, station to station, reporter to reporter. Most of the same questions, most of the same answers, but each with a different audience. These are gold for the average flack and par for the course if you are someone with a skosh of notoriety. Like, say, President Obama. Usually when there's some national weed in the American public's behind, there's a media tour to follow. Sometimes, an exclusive interview doesn't do the trick.

WWE and PR Hack Get Into Twitter Fight Over Bullying
(Full Disclosure: Since I was kid, my father and I would go to professional wrestling matches. Today, I share the same experience with my son. There I said it. This story is really about PR and Twitter. Moving on...) In 2011, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) created its anti-bullying campaign Be A Star. An admirable move by the WWE, whose core demographic are kids of all ages. Anywho, it's been quite successful. It has grown past the WWE umbrella to where the wrestlers are being asked on talk shows to discuss the campaign and not the job. Mazel Tov.

An Open Letter to Texas A&M's PR Department
I respect you work at an esteemed institution rich in tradition and folklore. I admonish that your job can't be easy with overseeing many schools, campus life and that little football program you have. That's why I struggle with the proper way to pose this delicate question when I consider the plight of young Johnny Manziel, but forgive the brash wording.

NFL Avoids a PR Headache for $765 Million
Yesterday, the NFL reached a settlement over concussion-related TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) among 18,000 retired players for $765 million, which will go toward personal compensation, medical examinations, and brain research. That equals approximately $30 million in damages to your favorite football team and the rest will come from Commissioner Roger Goodell's rainy day fund over the next three years.

PR Fail: BP's Latest Ad is Really Crude
See what I did there? Whelp, BP — British Petroleum, Bad Plumbing, Bogus Plan, Beach Polluters — whatever you wish to call it after its whoopsie-daisy incident of 2010 flooded the Gulf of Mexico with 4 million barrels of its black damnation, is at it again. And by "it," I mean to say, "causing five states' cases of hemorrhoids to flare up again," along with the company's PR team.

PR Fail: Dr Phil's 'Drunk Sex Tweet' is Not Good Bedside Manner
In Celebrityville, people seem to be made of the same stuff that makes Superman so hard to kill. I don't know if it's a balanced diet of Wheaties sprinkled with the same stuff Alex Rodriguez uses. Whatever the reason, they are untouchable...at least, Dr. Phil McGraw used to be that way. And then — like so many before him — found his Kryptonite via Twitter.

PR Fail: The Paralympics Are Picking on a Paralyzed Athlete
Meet Victoria Arlen. Actress. Model. Athlete. World-record Holder. Gold Medalist. And...paralyzed. Well, if you ask the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), kinda paralyzed. That "kinda" differentiation is actually quite important because it is that bold description that gives the aforementioned IPC the authority — and the cold-blooded unconsciousness...

PR Fail: 60 Minutes Shows that A-Rod is a Rat Too
(Make no mistake, the New York Post is complete greatness!) Whelp, "As the Stomach Turns" — the daily baseball saga starring Alex Rodriguez, and co-starring all of his PED and horse steroids underlings — just went to a new low. In an investigative report by CBS juggernaut 60 Minutes, we have news that A-Rod not only is being found guilty of doping for his entire career, but that when faced with guilt, he goes the classy, manly way — he rats out his teammates?! "60 Minutes" has learned that members of the New York Yankees third baseman..

PR Fail: AOL CEO Channels His Inner Trump
Meet Tim Armstrong, AOL Grand Poobah, Chief Bottle Washer and CEO. While I can't confirm of this picture is a realistic image or photoshopped, I can confirm this dude has serious PR issues. As we all know, PR is all about image control and reputation management. What do I mean? In short, you can't act like a douche without smelling like vinegar.

An Open Letter to Baseball Commish Bud Selig
Dearest Bud, I feel I can begin my open diatribe that way considering how much money I have spent on your sport and the anguish your minions have caused me with the ever-constant scandals in this hallowed game of baseball. However, I have a duty as a PR professional to let you know that MLB has a serious image issue to handle and ignoring it would be detrimental to the purists out there in the cheap seats. With the Biogenesis scandal that has taken over the sporting headlines, I believe it's time you stick your foot in the behind of your cracked PR team and make them get to work. From the Andro in the locker of Mark McGwire to the finger wagging...

PR Fail: Former Dallas TV Anchor Gets Caught With 'Sockpuppet'
In case you are wondering, this post does not qualify as NSFW, but it sure is funny for the PR universe. From Dallas (my fare burgh), there is a much-confabulated story about an esteemed, retired news anchor for the NBC affiliate, Mike Snyder. Making a long story short-ish, Dallas' arts district is home to a partly open-air museum called the Nasher Sculplure Center. It's a lovely place, but its new neighbor is a big high-rise with all the mirrored windows to refract its glory. Unfortunately, the light it pushes out burns the retinas of museum goers...

PR Fail: Naked Juice is Stripped of its Natural Title
This is the time for cover-ups in the name of profit, right? Athletes and their handy horse 'roids. Models or celebrities and their trusty Photoshop sessions via magazine covers. And the "all-natural" or "organic" CPG craze. Every product on the shelves is trying to tout its greenery in the name of PR, image enhancement, and, oh yeah, a hemp truck full of cash.

PR Winner of the Month: Taco Bell?!
Most of the time, fast food joints are known for being busier at 2 a.m. than they are at lunch. (For those with question marks overhead, ask a friend who likes "brownies.") One of the most popular among the twilight hour is Taco Bell. This is a locale that has been under fire for the past couple of years for its, eh, meat. In fact, two years ago, Taco Bell was sued for only having "35 percent real meat" in its product. The rest was considered more of the equine nature. And then there was all that pink slime ballyhoo. Suffice it to say, no one was taking a run for the border in the spirit of nutrition or community service.

PR Fail: Nike Sucks at Geography, Insults the Carolinas
In the sports world, it is not much of a secret that Nike owns most of it. What with advocates, sponsors, slogans, equipment, and the occasional gaudy football uniform from Oregon, their ownership of said world keeps on growing. That said, would someone please tell Nike CEO Phil Knight that if you are going to own the sports retailing world, you may want to mix in a grade-school class of geography or some such?

Can Politicians Tweet and Get Good PR?
When Barack Obama was elected president, it was national history. Yes, there's that, but I mean what he did — he made Twitter a tool for campaigning. And it worked. Politicians on every level perked up like prairie dogs in a cube farm. Before President Obama took to Twitter, those ol' codgers looked at social media as the national hipster weapon of rebellion. After the election, things changed and said curmudgeons found their name in Twitter and tried to speak to constituents. Granted, the engagement of constituents was left to an intern whose password was "password123" (you know, to be unique), but they thought that was how it was done. While the president "personally signs" his tweets with his initials in an attempt at transparency...

PR Fail: Long John Silver's 'Big Catch' is Fishy Branding
In case you missed it: There has been a big brouhaha over people who just can't seem to put away the baby fat. That said, it makes sense that you would see several retailers and restaurants capitalize on the reinvigorated sense of health in America. Well, all of them except for Long John Silver's. No, when news came out that obesity was a disease...

GIRL PLEASE: PR is 'Too Feminized'
I have had the privilege to work in the media for more than 12 years. For another 10-ish years, I worked with the media as a "flack," a "spindoctor," or even a PR professional, if you will. In that time, I have seen male and female directors, colleagues, and team members — more female than male, to be candid. Has it ever bothered me? No. Have I ever thought about it? Not really. Have I ever screamed gender gap? Meh. So, imagine my surprise when I read this article in Business Insider about some chief executive...

STUDY: What do PR Pros and Politicians Have in Common?
If you are a flack that prides yourself on integrity and love for this fabled profession, get ready to clinch your butt for the spanking you are about to receive. According to a story in Poynter, there were a gaggle of journalists that were surveyed about trust. And guess what? On average, journalists trust us only slightly above elected officials. Mazel! Mazel! Good times! What the what?! It's true. The study is from the Oriella PR Network, which goes into many interesting aspect of the current state of affairs in journalism...

Misleading Fit-for-Print: 'Newspapah' Still a Big Read in the Northeast
Flacks, if you have been in this business for any amount of time, you have seen people get very creative with how they use their daily newspaper. Wrapping glasses, cleaning mirrors, and wrapping a gift on the fly are among the favorites. For the rest of us old gomers, we choose to, you know, read the damn thing. This used to be all the rage for the cool kids. That is, until the Internet came along and ruined that experience. Now, we play around with paywalls, premium content...

Sharp Cheddar: Woman Finds Razor Blade in Burger King Cheeseburger
No matter how rough the neighborhood, I'm sure when the PR, marketing and advertising teams of Burger King came up with "Have it your way," they didn't mean with a razor blade snugly nestled between the patty and the cheese. Nonetheless, that is exactly what happened in Willits, Calif., according to this article from USA Today.

Fathead's Tim Tebow Blunder Makes for PR Plunder
There's "The West Wing" and "Jersey Shore." Could be Sting and Nicki Minaj. Perhaps even a PR professional and a Hollywood publicist. Polar opposites are everywhere, and in every profession. Take 7th-round draft pick, three-time Super Bowl winner, and future NFL Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady and...1st-round draft pick, NCAA Football legend, and a guy who sucks so bad at pro football...

PR Fail: Proctor & Gamble Puts the Woman Back in the Kitchen
"We can do it!" This was the rallying cry from the World War II symbol and beloved icon of the battle on the home front, "Rosie the Riveter." Everyone got behind this picture of a woman leading the charge. She was no longer stereotyped as barefoot, pregnant, and waiting on a man, catering to his every whim. No more pearls and apron to clean windows.

PR Fail: Coca-Cola Learns What's in a Name The Hard Way
What's in a name? A question that has been tumbling in the minds of parents for millennia. The Bible offers this in Proverbs 22:1, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Then, this novice writer Shakespeare penned in Romeo and Juliet, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Chicago Sun-Times Fires Entire Photo Staff
Google images. iPhones. Stock photography. Your mom's Kodak. For years, we've been able to get pictures from a variety of places, but the one constant in professional photography has been the newspaper.

PR Fail: Nutella Spreads a Bad Message to its Fans Across Social Media
NEWS FLASH: People have been known to get a little possessive when it comes to brands. Take the luscious hazelnut spread known as Nutella. The international lovefest for this skim milk, melted hazelnut, and cocoa concoction is about as odd as watching a Star Trek convention (only with more girls). There's a fan page, Facebook, of course, and countless forums online to worship at the ovular container of goodness.

Yahoo: Let's Get Ready to Tumblr!?
The periwinkle-hued buzz was in the air for months. The Yahoo corporate flag has been flying at half-mast for a good part of a decade based on declining earnings reports, consumer attrition and overall lack of relevance, but Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer thinks she had an adroit way to get back into the hipster's sphere of knowledge. Thanks to Kara Swisher of 'All Things D' fame...

PR Fail: Meet the New Face of Terrorism, KFC's Col. Sanders
GAZA. This is a name that has become ubiquitous with terse global relations, terrorism, hating on Israel and all-around ne'er-do-wells. However, thanks to this kooky story from the Christian Science Monitor (ironic, right?), we discover the people of Gaza are just as normal as the rest of us. Why? Because even these guys get a hankering for some finger-licking goodness. Thanks to a pioneering Palestinian company al-Yamama (Arabic for 'pigeon'...as in 'delivery'...get it?), and for an American marked-WAY-up price of $30, Gaza residents are now able to have Colonel Harlan Sanders' secret recipe smuggled delivery-style...

TV Casting Scams: Much Ado About Advertising and Fake PR
Quick Quiz, Flacks: $$$ + An Appearance in the Media, Anywhere = Advertising. Right? Well, according to the recent rash of TV casting scams caused by a ridiculous "PR agency," it seems we need to redefine the whole "paid vs. earned media" conversation. Here's why: According to a story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its ace investigative snoop Gitte Laasby, we have a hilarious excuse for a PR agency raising enough red flags to be mistaken for communist China.

An Open Letter to Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries: Fattie Hater
Dear Mr. Jeffries, You seem to be a douchebag...eh, man of conviction. Someone who stands on his laurels...and everyone else's. A man who obviously doesn't live in a glass house, because if you did, passers-by would be convinced they were staring at Joan Rivers with some sort of terrible allergic reaction. Speaking of glass, have you bothered to look in a mirror?

Beantown PR Agencies Join Forces for Boston PRoud
Typically, it's survival of the fittest. Corporate Darwinism. Fire hydrant mentality. This is what the world is like in the big city working in public relations. And then something catastrophic like the cowardly "Boston Bombers" happens and all the stars align for people to put aside competitive owens and unite behind a great cause. That's what is happening in Boston as more than 30 Boston-area PR firms are coming together later this month to raise money for the families and individuals...

This Weather Channel Twitter Campaign Really Blows
Just when you think every dopey idea to get people sheepishly doing the same thing has been extinguished comes one more harebrained idea that just could work...if only people were dumb enough to get interested. Who knew the cagey minds at The Weather Channel would the ones to crack the code of the Sphinx? They had an idea that no one has considered — Tornado Week. What is it? A novel idea that forces people to watch a train wreck and make popcorn simultaneously. It's a Twitter-enraged "tornado," which doubles as an intern torture device. It's genius. All people across the country have to do is tweet "#TornadoWeek" to get the fans to go incrementally faster...

Hey New York Times, It's the Not-So-New Look of PR
So, I'm reading the New York Times (humblebrag) and I found this article that began, "A GIANT in public relations is spinning in a new direction..." I figured that this should be good, so I perused said article only to be disappointed with my thought bubble screaming "Meh!"

TV, Need Better Ratings? Allow Dog-Cussing
Just in time for ratings season, I believe Nielsen has the secret for TV to get better market share points: Allow cussing like a sailor on air. Forget the FCC. Why? Look what it has done for beleaguered rookie A. J. Clemente. One day, he utters "F@*$ing S*$t" on his weekend gig at Bismarck, N.D. KFYR-TV (NBC).

PR Fail Deluxe Edition: Profiteering from Boston?!
If you have been in public relations for any amount of time, you have inevitably been a part of a brainstorm session where assuredly an event of some sort will come up in the conversation that revolves around a certain date. Maybe it's President's Day to sell patriotic mattresses? Possibly Valentine's Day to shill heart-shaped pizzas?

5 Reasons Why Good Writing is Still Good SEO
Once upon a time, in a flack's realm (or his mother's garage), a not-so-long time ago, there was this Panda. He lived in...well, let's call it Googleland.

PR Fail: Target's Fancy Sandals Leave Hispanic Shoppers 'Pissed'
Due respect to the Crayola company, I was never a 64-crayon-box guy. Give me the basic eight and I would color in the lines like da Vinci. I just never understood why there had to be 17 different browns in one stupid box. Evidently, I'm not alone. If you remember, last week, we discussed how retailing giant Target 'compared plus-size shoppers to the sea cow'...

PR Fail: McDonald's Mocks Mental Illness with 'Unapproved' Ad
Hey McDonald's, thanks to your recent advertising faux pas, many consumers are [bah-dah-bah-bah-baaah] not lovin' it. (I'm really sorry about that.) ICYMI: the global burger franchisor and its ad company, Arnold Worldwide, were considering a new ad. It had to be something that caught public attention. It had to move the product.

PR Fail: Two Million Reasons Why Candy Does Not Make You Fat
If you have been in this beloved profession for any amount of time, you have surely seen your number of dunderhead PR campaigns. There's the olfactory overload known as Abercromie & Fitch, which in 2002, right before Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, began using the month as a marketing ploy for its hot rice-paddy-wearing, buck-tooth-having, horribly-racist Asian-Pacific-American shirt series. There's something more current, like the GOP hiring a PR strategist to educate America that it is not the "stupid party."

PR Fail: Target Compares Plus Size Shoppers to the 'Sea Cow'
It's hard to keep up with all those fancy colors that never made it to the Crayola 64 box, right? Most can be found in a paint store, such as Benjamin Moore's 'Baby Turtle', Valspar's 'Cincinnatian Hotel Vandersall Red', and perhaps the new hue of puke that Target spewed on its plus-size customers 'Manatee Grey.' Classy. I know the artist inside every buyer tries to be first...

Is Pope Francis Using PR to Resurrect the Catholic Church?
It's Good Friday and I'm waxing ecumenical today. However, the question does demand a closer look. For example, take a look at this picture: Yes, that's Pope Francis sitting in the back of a small church — the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae — almost anonymously with (wait for it) Vatican gardeners and janitors...

Halle Berry's 'The Call' Hangs Up on TracFone
We all have different career paths that brought us to the wonderful world of PR, yes? Take me, for instance. I was a D.J. and voice-over talent in radio for 12 years before I left a soundproof booth and newsroom for the awesome surroundings of a cubicle and dimly lit overhead drawer. During that time, I was trying to make ends meet and I found myself as a 911 dispatcher for the Arlington (Texas) Police Department. Fast forward to today, as I ponder the latest Halle Berry film The Call.

250,000 Reasons for CNN to Shut Up About Rape?
It's difficult to keep up with every news story happening in every state, right? There is misery looming overhead everywhere and nowhere to rest our heads, so I understand if you missed this story about two high school football players in Steubenville, OH accused of raping a severely intoxicated 16-year-old girl.

Google's Drive-by, Wi-Spy Issues Cost Company $7 Million (or 5 Minutes of Work)
Ever use Google Maps? Of course you do. And when you do, I'm certain you have gone to "Street View" to check out what your destination looks like...or, if you're slightly more honest...check out where your ex is living. When Google decided 'Street View' was going to be the next big thing in cybermaps, the hipster gang of tech wunderkinds never imagined...

Soda Jerk: Michael Bloomberg Loses Soft Drink Ban So Far
Typically, laws are good. You know, they fight anarchy, prevent looters, and put a halt to serial murderers. Most laws are actually applauded and some are about as inane as McDonald's having a calorie count for any of its "not-so-happy meals." And then there is what was supposed to happen today in New York City...operative word being "supposed." You see, last summer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had an epiphany...

PR Fail: Mayor Bloomberg and Planned Parenthood Argue Over Guilt Teen Pregnancy Ads
So, pretend you have a teenager (or think about yours now, whichever works). Obviously, "the birds and the bees" are swarming overhead like a deleted scene from "War of the Worlds." Flying in like lawn darts at a redneck picnic as fast you can possibly imagine. What do you do? Most responsible parents will have the ubiquitous and often dreaded "talk" with their kids. You know the one? "Son, I need to talk to you about sex." "Cool. What do you need to know?" After that candid discussion, you blush...the kid laughs...

Stereotype Much? NRA Sponsors a NASCAR Race...in Texas
There comes a moment in a PR professional's life when the planets align, all the stars have the right pattern, and every high school cheerleader you knew turns out to be a slovenly, obese chick at the 20-year reunion. Times like that equate to the perfect storm of stereotyping we experienced in my fare burgh this week...

PR Fail: The Onion's Stinky Tweet at the Oscars
What do you get when you cross the satirical wunderkinds at 'The Onion' and The Oscars? Plenty of opportunity to screw up. By now, you have heard that has happened when someone at The Onion decided to call a nine-year-old girl something that rhymes with runt (but much more offensive) and didn't think about repercussions.

Top 5 Rising Trends in Measuring ROI
It's no secret that measuring return on investment (ROI) in public relations is about as abstract as measuring success in a political debate. We can all point to something but have to get through a skosh of hot air to do it. At least, that is most of our clients' perspective. It's also no secret traditionalists are growing tired of advertising value equivalency (AVE).

Brooklyn Nets PR: A Twitter Feed That's a Slam Dunk
Parody Twitter accounts are fun. I realize that's not breaking news but it begs repeating, namely when one comes across a real-as-verified Twitter account that reads like a parody, only it's not. Case in point: The Brooklyn Nets (@Nets_PR). Full disclosure: I'm a Dallas Mavericks guy (#MFFL for those scoring at home).

PR Fail: Carnival Cruise Lines Needs to Clean Up Its Poop Deck
What should have been a trip to paradise has been dubbed as the "cruise from hell" and Carnival Cruise drove more than 4,100 people to the gates of those infernal flames on a ship with faulty electricity, HVAC and plumbing that has been compared to the Superdome in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In an article from the Wall Street Journal...

PR Fail: Joe Paterno's Family Releases Yet Another Statement
Well, the cover-up continues from the Paterno family over the ballyhoo created by Jerry Sandusky's tragic child abuse right under the big ol' schnoz of the entire Penn State athletics department. Take this headline from PennLive.com and Central Pennsylvania's Patriot News:...

PR Rescue: The Day the Muzak Died
Terrible instrumentals on a Casio keyboard. Very slow remixes of Top 40 hits. On-hold tunage. Elevator Music. Regardless the terminology, Muzak is more than a company brand. This is an eponymous term, much like "I'll have a Coke...maybe Orange"...

Papa John's & Obamacare: Better Ingredients. Better Pizza. Better Get Another Job.
Back in August, "Papa" John Schnatter became well known for much more than hawking meh pizza across the country. He did a little of that new math and came up with an algebraic formula that illustrated the cost of providing all of his full-time, uninsured employees came out to approximately 14 cents for every large pizza.

A Whopper of a Funeral Gives Burger King PR
Everyone has an idea of a bucket list, right? Skydiving or bungee jumping naked, be the one chosen to "start your engines" at the Daytona 500, or perhaps go to Australia and physically locate 42 Wallaby Way in Sydney. (For all you parents or Disney lovers out there.)

Flack Lance Armstrong: Cyclist Gets Sued By PR Guy for Fraud
After faux Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong exposed himself on Oprah's show and admitted that he doped throughout his career, the first domino has already fallen...thanks to a PR guy? According to this story from CBS News: Piling onto Lance Armstrong's post-doping confession downfall, two California men [including PR exec Rob Stutzman] filed a class-action complaint...

PR Fail: TSA's Naked Power Has Been Covered Up
Ever been in a hurry to get through airport security, fighting through the line, practically getting undressed before you get to the screening section and then, it happens. Out of the corner of your eye, you catch one of the agents smoking a cigarette...softly. Well, those days are over because the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officially lost its creepers peepers pass...

Subway is Inches Short in Terms of PR
It was just a matter of time before this really happened, but hallowed sandwich franchisor Subway was actually taken to task for coming up inches short for its claim of "footlong subs." Well, one inch, to be exact. As reported by Bill Miltenberg of PR News via Business Insider, among others, Subway's Short Footlong is a PR mess.

Coke Admits It Makes You Fat: That's the Real Thing
..."Oh, I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I'd like to give the world a Coke and make them all beached whales with hypertension, high blood pressure and a wheelbarrow of flab"... Okay, so karaoke was never my thing, but according to Coca-Cola's newest "ad campaign," that song should have never been their thing. In short, the soda juggernaut admits...

If Walmart and PR Had a Baby, This Is It
Quick Quiz: You know that one client? The one who believes that every answer that drips from his tongue is as good as fluid ink from the quill of Shakespeare, and probably twice as accurate? Yes, that client. We know there is no pleasing this guy; nonetheless, we forge ahead. But let's say he comes to you with some breaking news. "Hey! I just discovered a way to cut our budget dramatically. You see, I'm going to get a release, national pitch and results for only $100 for each project. What do you think?"

Reviews: Power to the People or Journalist Distrust?
From travel to TVs to a tea-for-two, consumer reviews are all the rage. Before educated consumers buy anything, it is usually a trip to Google, Bing, or whatever to determine what is the buzz on the purchase in your fiscal crosshairs. So, think for a moment. Do you check out consumer reviews or musings from the professionals?

PR Fail: Cinemark Offers Families of Aurora Shooting Victims Free Movie Passes
Going to the movies typically puts people in a good mood, what with a mouth full of popcorn and an eye full of screen. Good times, right? Rewind to last July when during a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in Aurora, Colo., James Egan Holmes punched his ticket to the most sweltering spot in hell as he shot more than 70 people and killed 12.

The Top 7 PR Trends Forecast for 2013
Another list! America hearts the list, namely around the hubbub of never-to-be-met resolutions, drinking in the New Year, and acting like you are the only one at the party who knows what in the hell 'Auld Land Syne' really means. Yes, PR fans, it's 2013 and trends are bountiful. The industry is changing. The flacks are evolving. The clients are recognizing. How are you looking?

How Ronald McDonald Stole Christmas
All right boys and girls, grab your wooby and gather around by the fire for today's Christmas story. This one involves a seemingly sweet clown who sells the worst hamburgers on the planet and rarely has a bad PR day...until now. Why now? The clown is trying to steal Christmas to have his cash registers sing Christmas carols throughout the holidays, including staying open on that one special day. Of course, I'm talking about McDonald's. The burger — and franchising — juggernaut has decided to send out a holiday email "encouraging" its franchises to stay open on Christmas Day. I love that word "encouraging." It's like your boss "encouraging" you to come down to his or her office despite no warning. Better yet, your landlord "encouraging" you to pay your rent when it is five days late.

Microsoft PR Exec to Google PR Exec: 'Bing it on!'
Microsoft and Google have many sobriquets — Icons of the Industry, Tech Titans, Behemoths of the Broadband and... okay, I made those up, but they are a pretty big deal. So, when the two PR tweeps of said brands face off on Twitter, suffice it to say it's a big deal.

How Would You Find PR in the Mayan Apocalypse?
Seven days. Seven L - O - N - G days unti December 21. That's how long you have to check off those dusty, open squares on your "In case the Mayans were right" bucket list. Are you ready? In the absence of any Maya hanging around with a laundromat or a restaurant with those Armageddon deals, many businesses are figuring how to create a profit off the hubbub their pesky calendar has created. (P.S. Stay tuned for a quick history lesson at the end of this post. Just for the kid in you.)

'PR Guru' Confesses as Mastermind Behind Fake Fox News Study
ICYMI: If you watch Fox News, you're a raving idiot who should get a Tupperware party going with Snooki, the Kardashians, and those dimwits who drive 45 mph in the fast lane with the blinker on. At least, that is what this study says. In fact, the study extolled, "Fox News viewers have an IQ that is 20 points lower than the U.S. National average." Only one problem: the study was fake. Shocking, right? The diabolical mastermind behind it all wasn't MSNBC, NPR, or even Keith Olbermann.

How Does Government PR Not Fall Off the Fiscal Cliff?
Hey! Seasons Greetings from Fiscal Cliff National Park, where the wind doesn't blow...it sucks! And while I sit on top of this mountain to learn how the nation's top two percent do it (you know, stay up here and moon everyone else), it reminded me how Congress, the House of Representatives, and even the White House escape a PR implosion. Imagine if you were at work, never got along with your boss, told all your coworkers to stick it...and still kept your job! Impossible, right?

What's In a Name? Apparently, a Lawsuit for This Guy
William Shakespeare fancied himself a casual writer, I believe. Once, he penned: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2) So, from that guy to kids with jacked-up names no one can spell to stadium naming rights, we have seen the absurd to the sublime.

An Open Letter to Frederic Austin, Author of '12 Days'
Dearest Frederic, A few years ago — more like 232 — you penned a lovely song entitled "The 12 Days of Christmas." I'm quite certain when you finalized this masterpiece, you couldn't wait to roll it up on the scroll, put away your quill, and jot over to "your one true love" and give it to her.

Why Won't Butterball Talk Turkey About the Claims of Abuse?
Ah yes. Thanksgiving is nigh upon us. You know what that means? The aroma in the kitchen, the sounds of the game, the clamor of family...and of course, the cries of abuse from PETA and their cronies. There is a Mother Jones story that has gone viral claiming terrible abuse to turkeys, calling people at Butterball names and footage that would make you vegan before the holidays. The odd thing is that Butterball's PR team has been quiet.

Even Osama bin Laden had PR. Crap.
Just last week, we shared how PR doesn't get much respect. Now, thanks to the crafty work of ABC News, we discover that even the Taliban has PR. And as much as this reporter loves to share, they apparently suck. Get this: In a Dilbert-esque faux pax, a Taliban spokesperson [Qari Yousuf Ahmedi] sent out a routine email last week with one notable difference. He publicly CC'd the names of everyone on his mailing list. Brilliant.

Does P-R Get Any R-E-S-P-E-C-T?
So, I'm keeping up on the stock market the other day...who am I kidding? I can't even type that with a straight face. I saw an interesting Google alert that piqued my interest the other day. The SERP was "Why public relations gets no respect." Naturally, I clicked on it so hard, my mouse was begging for mercy. I knew I was going to hate this article, but then I read it. Spot. On.

What Should Journalists Consider When Making the Jump to the Dark Side?
So, I'm at lunch the other day with a current beat reporter...with two Peabodies. (She would want that shared.) Print jobs aren't what they used to be these days, what with that new-fangled Internet thingy. To help make ends meet and beat the Grim Reaper at his game, she was considering "going to the dark side."

As Seen on TV: How Katrina Met Sandy
It's been seven long years since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina ravaged the borders of the Gulf Shores. Today, we have another monster — a "Frankenstorm" to be exact — attacking another shore. This one in Jersey. The hurricane is named Sandy. You could ask FEMA what they have learned and response times will probably be the first to come up in conversation. Ask the citizens and they possibly say, "Take the warnings seriously."

Obama Aides 'Pissed Off' About Former WH Communications Director Anita Dunn
Unless it's jumping ship before the iceberg hits, I have never understood why someone would leave a cushy job working for the President of the United States. There's the resume fodder, the benefits, the personal contact with the guy sitting at the Resolute Desk...hell, the business card alone would be worth a few thousand follows on Twitter. And then there's former White House Director of Communication (and chick in dire need of a hairstylist) Anita Dunn. Nevermind the fact she once touted that her favorite philosopher was Communist and Marxist dictator Mao Tse Tung. We all have our foibles, right?

Does Going Green Give PR a Black Eye?
ICYMI: Newsweek has released its "Greenest Companies of 2012." It's no secret that most of them will be tech companies (see what I did there). And a big forest-green golf clap to those companies. Note the cynicism? That's the point. Consider 20 years ago: People littered. Dually trucks and vans were all the rage. And people wanted to do questionable things in the forest other than hugging a tree. Then, Al Gore showed up, invented the Internet, and discussed global warming.

Nike, 7 Sponsors to Lance Armstrong: 'Just Suck It!'
If another famous athletes falls in the woods cramping from a misplaced steroid shot, would anyone hear it? Typically not any more. And then, there's the story of Lance Armstrong. He was America's golden boy. You remember? Won the Tour de France seven times in a row. Beat cancer twice. Created LIVESTRONG.

How to Become a Five-Tool Pitcher in PR
It's the baseball playoffs right now and while my beloved Rangers are in shorts, I got to thinking about an article I did about three months ago on pitching. PR pitching is no more a science than Home Economics. I hear so much about these all-star Howitzers on the mound hurling four or five pitches that would fool any hitter, but can you say that about yourself?

JetBlue Gives Alec Baldwin a Way Out
Politics and Hollywood. Nary the two should ever meet. As the sage poster states: No one gives a crap what people in Hollywood think about politics. They get paid to do a job — albeit, much more than any of us — but they think because they have a megaphone, the rest of us minions would just love to hear their proven, educated thoughts on the presidential election. No one has been a bigger hack than probably Alec Baldwin.

PR Pros, Now There's an Excuse for Your Internet Addiction
It is no secret that PR professionals have to be connected at all times, depending on the needs of the client. And by connected, I mean being the type of the person that lives by the mantra, "Sleep is for those with no Internet connection." If your client needs you, there's your smartphone attached to your email attached to your work server attached to every file you have attached to your...

PR Firm: Buy This Game or Kitty Here Gets It
Meet Reverb Communications. This is a boutique agency that focuses on gaming promotions and publications. I know, niche audience. That said, you can imagine it's difficult for a PR firm that does nothing but try to differentiate their client's role playing games from another similar role playing games. Good times, right? So, here's Reverb thinking about a way to think outside the Xbox.

HOAX ALERT: #HelpFindKara a Job...and a Jail Cell
Look at this picture. Odds are you already have. Meet Kara Alongi. Aside from being another shining example of the New Jersey school system (e.g., Snooki, The Situation) and "someone" who is hooked on phonics, she was kidnapped the other day. And apparently, she was too busy tweeting to call 911 herself. So, she took to Twitter and asked her 108,000 followers to do it for her. Why am I not that upset by this tragic state of affairs? According to the Star Ledger, Kara Alongi is also a colossal liar.

The Top 10: Why Journalists Hate PR Peeps
I have been fortunate in my career of flackdom in that I have been on the other side. Yes, my peeps, I worked in the news for 12 years in radio. They were great times, namely the countless moments I learned, "If I ever go to the dark side, I will not do these inane things that PR people to do me." I was having lunch with a friend of mine on TV and we were talking about some of these half-witted tactics.

The Top 5 PR Lessons Learned From the National Conventions
For the past two weeks, every politico, pollster and national network has been in a tizzy over the Republican and Democratic National Convention. Admittedly, few things at these steroid-enriched pep rallies are impartial and unbiased. That said, there are five things that straddled the fence, reached across the aisle and could of have taught any PR professional five non-partisan lessons.

RNC and Issac: The PR Imperfect Storm
(DISCLAIMER: For those who love reading between lines that aren't really there...stop. This is not a political editorial.) This week, the Republican National Convention traipses onto the shores of Tampa, Fla. Thousands of amped electorates will be there, with buttons emblazoned on jackets made of Old Glory and party favors that play "(It's a) Grand Old Flag."

Legitimate Rape Comment Leads to Legitimate Crisis Snafu
By the time you read this today, Missouri could be minus one Republican senator. No, I mean it. Legitimately. Okay, you got me. Yes, I'm talking about the poster boy for women shut down everywhere, Representative Todd Akin (R-MO). Amazing how one slip of the tongue can crater an entire career, isn't it?

At Progressive Insurance, PR Goes with the Flo
There have been many marketing and advertising icons throughout recent history. Names and faces that personify a brand and count the cash rolling in. One of the latest to have that kind of Midas touch is "Flo, the Progressive Lady." She's just fabulous, isn't she? I'm surprised this Pollyanna hasn't had a commercial where she farts glitter yet. However, there has been some news lately that has forced Progressive to check their own website for a different kind of quote — a defense attorney. Why? Meet Matt Fisher, a mild-mannered comedian from New York City...who believes that his "sister paid Progressive Insurance to defend her killer in court."

UCLA Coach Jim Mora Jokes About...Murder
College football has to be one of the most competitive sports on the planet. Your season is determined by one loss, because if you get more than that, it's off to the Stupid-Business-That-Has-No-Business-Advertising-In-College-Football.com Bowl Game. That said, I get the trash talking. I understand the finger pointing. I get the tactics players and coaches use to get under the rival's skin.

Good News for NASA PR: Curiosity on Mars
Sir Edmund Burke once penned, "The first and simplest emotion, which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity." Evidently so; however, curiosity seemed to peak at NASA. The shuttle program was closed. We were done with those small steps for mankind. And the space station? Meh.

The 3 Things Learned From Mitt Romney's PR Rep
A funny thing happened to Mitt Romney during his European vacation — his soon-to-be-former spokesman Rick Gorka managed to get really personal with reporters in a riveting discussion of human anatomy. Now, that would be the PR spin on things. In actuality, according to the Daily Beast, he told a gaggle of reporters to "kiss his ass" and to "shove it." No, really. Check this from HuffPo.

The 3 Ways NBC's Olympics Have Struck Out
Have you been watching NBC's round-the-clock coverage of the XXX Olympiad? According to Nielsen, an average of 28 million Americans are doing that thing. I have indulged a few episodes of swimming, archery, and whatever the hell handball is. However, looking at the name of the show got me thinking: "XXX Olympiad." Either the Olympics would get a lot more interesting if the broadcasters were in another adult-oriented industry or that represents three strikes and yer' out!

What began as a Chick-fil-A's CEO speaking on behalf of the core values of one of America's most beloved companies has become a case study in crisis communications of biblical proportions. Amazing how one statement can lead to national boycotts, Hollywood celebrities pandering, and now city Mayors continuing the NOH8 charges.

Microsoft Deletes MSNBC's 16-Year Partnership
In 1996, Microsoft and NBC met, courted, and entered a relationship that would put all of NBC's online portals on one platform: MSNBC. In 2012, last Friday, to be exact, NBC bought out Microsoft's 50-percent ownership in the beleaguered network and the divorce was final. As Bill Gates left 30 Rock's parking lot with a suitcase full of cash in a cloud of smoke and skid marks, the former MSNBC unveiled NBCNews.com. Of course, their online statement about the change states that while the name has changed...

DirecTV Plays Chicken with Viacom and Loses
Are you an insomniac? Got things on your mind? Have DirecTV? If you answered yes to all of the above, please put down your PC or Mac and do not hurl it out of your office window. You see, if these subscribers turned on their TV sets last night to watch Impact Wrestling, SpongeBob, or Jersey Shore, they got bupkus. Why? There was a standoff at the ratings corral and DirecTV was made into Swiss cheese as the satellite provider kept their word and dumped all 17 Viacom channels. The question is: If in the face of saving customers' rates, do cable and satellite companies just lose customers?

Three Reasons Why Your Pitch Gets Trashed
One of the rudimentary principles of public relations is that pitching is not a science, it's an art. However, being one of the most important things that we do for our lovely clients, it is crucial we learn to wield a delicate brush with precision. That said, you can imagine when I caught this article by Business Insider by Alyson Shontell, my attention was piqued. Long story short: We have a tech agency with a flack who doesn't quite grasp the aforementioned art.

The Five Commandments of Papal PR
Even the Pope has a bad week every once in a while. Take last week, for instance. In one ill-fated week, Il Papa's butler was arrested for creating the "Vatileak" scandal, the president of the Vatican's bank was fired for not being transparent, and there's a new book out about how Cardinals are just like the birds. Surely, there's a need for a PR spinmeister at 777 Holy See Lane. While God is communicating to the man in the lovely hat, who will communicate that to the world?

ADIDAS: Slavery is Making a Comeback
Anyone up for Crisis Communications 101? Let's take a not-so-assuaged apology from ADIDAS, "Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful." Now class, in crisis communications, this is what we call "A No-Win Situation." There will be a test. The "this" in question are the pictured retro-chic shoes from the new indentured servant collection: the JS Roundhouse Mids by white-guy designer, Jeremy Scott. To market the shoe, Adidas provided some tomfoolery in the form of spin control messaging.

Did 'The Pitch' Ever Catch On?
AMC used to be the network of George Clooney's dad, shows that were slightly more upbeat than what was found on Turner Classic Movies, and an occasional Ronco infomercial. However, with the advent of "Mad Men" and Mr. Don Draper, AMC has found new life in original production. To piggyback on the advertising lore, they created "The Pitch."

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell: He's Rich. You Suck.
For PR pros and creatives not in the know, Martin Sorrell (the sketchy...er, sketched man here) owns PR and advertising — not a few firms, but pretty much the entire friggin' industry. He is CEO of London-based WPP and proprietor of public relations juggernauts such as KMR Group, Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy, Y & R, JWT and my alma mater Burson-Marsteller. As a nubile flack, I became familiar with Sorrell's global takeover while at BM. I think it's important to know the icons in this beloved profession such as Bernays, Edelman, Burson, Ogilvy, and now Sorrell. That said, it's safe to presume the guy is rich. You know, in the way Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and the widow Jobs don't just make it rain...

PR Pros, Justin Bieber May Want Your Job
Whoever was the Pollyanna sage that opined the adage, "Turn that frown upside down," did not meet the progeny of said dictum that is the "Biebs." Just was a "Biebs" — or a "Bieber" — you may ask? Apparently, he's a crisis communications savant that moonlights as a questionable tweenie heartthrob and cracking-voice crooner. At least that was the obvious conclusion...

University of Texas Has Grooming Issues and a Typo
As flacks, we may not be all grammarians and linguaphiles. However, we better be adept at editing. You know, reading out loud, review a document backwards, all those tricks of the trade. Tactics like that make it easy not to do what the University of Texas' Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs did on their commencement program recently. According to this story from KDFW FOX 4, said school accidentally shaved off one very important letter...

Craig James Hates PR, Among Other Things
Former football player. Every-once-in-a-while broadcaster. Current hopeful politician for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas. And some argue, lifelong douchebag. This is Craig James. This guy has been surrounded in a lurch of ballyhoo ever since he cost Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach his gig.

Reporters, Fight for Your Right...to Strip?
Layoffs. Consolidation. Lack of sales. And that new-fangled Internet thingy. These are among the reasons newspapers have experienced a terrible demise. And then there's the reporters. Many flacks have relationships with these writers, editors, and journalists. We feel their pain. In fact, some of the battered and bruised in our beloved profession are the formerly laid off victims of the Intertube.

Is 'The Pitch' Good PR for the Ad World?
Quick quiz: Other than the Super Bowl, name the last time you were geeked to see a commercial. [crickets] Surely, you can do that with a movie, TV show, or even a musical artist's latest offering, but bupkus on an advertisement. Add to that the advent of the DVR and you have no one in the world watching stuff live, and you have no one watching advertising.

Penn State Puts a Big Price on Its Image
There used to be a time when even non-football fans knew what a "Happy Valley" was. A while back, a "JoePa" used to convey images of joy and pride. However, since the tragic Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal reared its ugly head at Penn State, there hasn't been that much smiling going on.

Hey CNN, This is The FCC
Last week, we lost a legend when Mike Wallace of '60 Minutes' fame died. He represented a time when America knew its reporters — people like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, and even Edward R. Murrow. What's it say about our country and how we digest news that our top two faces for news are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert?

The Pink Slime Issue Gets Sticky
It all started in March with a former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist puckering up to a whistle and blowing for dear life. You see, he is the cat who shared his findings with ABCNews.com that "70 percent of the ground beef we buy at the supermarket contains something called 'pink slime.'" And then, a legend was born. No, not Gerald Zirnstein, the aforementioned deep-throated canary. I mean the pink slime, the latest darling of the media and crisis communications case studies everywhere. "It's economic fraud," he told ABC News. "It's not fresh ground beef...it's a cheap substitute being added in."

How the GOP Gave Some Scratch to Etch-a-Sketch
Lite-Brite. Simon. Speak & Spell. Rubik's Cube. Even a View Master. The mere mention of these toys opens up a vortex and sucks us through time to the totally tubular 1980s. And as I unroll my pant cuffs and kick off my Vans, I should reach for the number one time-warp toy: my sweet, ruby-red Etch-a-Sketch.

What's the One Thing Oprah Doesn't 'OWN'?
You mean, other than ratings? [rim shot] According to the Daily Mail (UK), that would be one Rosie O'Donnell. Oh, you didn't know Rosie had a show on the Oprah Winifrey Network? No worries. Neither did anyone else; hence, this story. And the way Rosie was cut from the fledgling network has caused the two buddies to not be on speaking terms now.

After 244 years, Encyclopaedia Britannica is History
Did you know that more than seven million copies of Encyclopaedia Britannica have been sold? No, really. Wanna know how I know that? I found the information...online. This has been an ongoing problem for the information purveyor. In fact, the story broke Wednesday that the 244-year-old collection of books will no longer be printed. And such is life for the once-familiar door-to-door schlep who tried so hard to convince your parents to purchase a $1,500 set of 32 books that will be "just timeless for your family."

Beer, Boston, and PR: Baseball's Trio of Evil?
"Baseball needs beer, and beer needs baseball — it has always been thus." Noted journalist and New York Times best-selling author Peter Richmond penned that sentiment. And while I don't particularly agree about this marriage made in a microbrewery, I applaud the effort discussing the great game and the byproduct of those amber waves of grain. Without it, I just wouldn't have a feasible segue for this story about the Boston Red Sox and an alleged PR stunt to ban the brew in the clubhouse at Fenway. No, really. At least that's what former manager Terry Francona called it on ESPNBoston.com. PR is responsible for stopping players drinking beer...while playing baseball?

Top 5 PR Intern Dos and Don'ts
In this new economy, it's no secret that the internship is the new slave labor... eh, interview. And in an industry such as public relations, where limited budgets and coloring outside the lines steer most campaigns, getting success at a bargain is almost as good as securing a sweet headline. PR interns have the ability to complete a team when they rock.

Is This Why PR Types are Called 'Such Boobs'?
"Would you just look at them...such boobs!" Taken out of context, you would think I was hanging out in some seedy club with black lights, '80s hair band music, and some graveled-voice emcee shouting, "Gentlemen, the wonderful Jazzz-mine." But nope. That comment came from a lovely woman — borderline saintly, had it not been for the eff bombs I heard hurled in my direction as a child.

Are Paywalls Going to Make PR Go Broke?
So, there's this thing called the Internet. It's fairly popular. Maybe you've heard of it? This intertube thingy has been the downfall of several antiquated forms of communication, such as stamps, yearbooks, video stores, and...um, offline porn. Among the many items shot down in its path have been our friends in the media, specifically newspaper reporters.

PR Finds a Spot on 'U.S. News' Top Jobs List
Most people in our business equate PR with several things, most of which come with biting off your nails down to the cuticle and remaining highly caffeinated to bring Nosferatu out in the light of the day. It's no secret that the life we flacks have chosen is just a skosh stressful, so suffice to say, it seems a major domo with PRSA knows someone with U.S. News and gave one sublime pitch. Why? U.S. News just listed Public Relations Specialist as one of its best jobs in 2012. What the what?!

Country Group Sugarland and Their Not-So-Sweet PR Debacle
Welcome to Customer Service 101. Our first cardinal law is "The customer is always right." Second, see number one. They pay your bills. They are your brand ambassadors. They are the reason you get out of bed in the morning. And, if you are the country music dynamic duo Sugarland, they are the focus of your success. Right?

Need a Challenge? The IRS Needs PR
As the apple fell into 2012 and resolutions were already beginning to break, people were thinking about two things: 1. Who in the hell are these Mayan people? and 2. Oh crap, I need to get ready for taxes. It's not like people enjoy collecting the past year's receipts and imagining how much they will owe to that drunk, crusty curmudgeon known as "Uncle Sam." Quite the opposite, actually. People like the IRS about as much as a root canal, losing a job, or anyone with the last name "Kardashian."

Oprah's OWN Tweet has Nielsen Chirping Back at Her
Once upon a time, there was a queen who owned a kingdom of sheep. We'll call her Oprah. These sheep would do anything she commanded. If the queen demanded her kingdom read a book about painting fences, that book would become a best seller. When she said she was giving away free stuff, the sheep believed it was out of love and not of clandestine product placement. And if the queen had a stimulating guest on her show, the serfs in the kingdom looked past her vain attempts to shut down the interview and make it about her. One day, Queen Oprah decided her kingdom just wasn't big enough and that squatters' rights on a few other kingdoms would be more her style. We'll call that OWN. And then, a very mysterious thing happened; the sheep didn't follow in the zombie-like droves she thought they would.

Did M.I.A.'s Middle Finger Shoot Down her 'Paper Planes'?
Her name is Mathangi Arulpragasam. Some know her as "M.I.A." Others know her as "that chick who sings 'Paper Planes.'" Following the Super Bowl Halftime Show, we all know her as "that dolt who flipped off America." And thanks to her middle-finger malfunction, that one digit could cost her a lot more than record sales. According to a story in SPIN, M.I.A. may have to pay $550,000 to NBC in the event that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) drops a fine on the network, much like they did for Janet Jackson's nip slip in 2004. "In the case of this year's Super Bowl, TMZ's sources say the NFL took responsibility for the content..."

Gawker is On the Prowl for 'PR Dummies'
Ever read Gawker? You should. It has just the right amount of smarm and journalistic testicular fortitude, with just a dash of meh when it comes to anyone named 'Kardashian,' 'Lohan,' or whatever the hell a 'Snooki' is. Well, now flacks from across this great land of ours have a reason to check out Gawker.

Paula Deen and PR Rep Break Up Over Butter
Hey y'all. It's no secret Americans love fattening food. If that weren't the case, "The Biggest Loser" wouldn't be so popular and buffets at Cici's Pizza wouldn't make such a killing. One such person who has endeared herself to the gluttony of this country is Paula Deen. The woman cooks everything with five sticks of butter and a side of fat.

Worst Cover Letter Ever Written by a PR Flack
Breaking news: The economy blows. I realize that's not 10-inch headline worthy, but considering that the economy has been so bad for the last few years, folk are really coloring outside the lines to get a gig. Tattoos, auditioning for reality shows, or even stalking CMOs on Twitter to get noticed... I mean, calling up old friends for referrals.

Why is PR One of the Most Stressful Jobs in America?
Feel stressed? I mean, really stressed, like pulling out your hair is a distant memory and the only way you can calm down is by watching a Kardashian on TV, purge and repeat? You know, stressed! Well, according CareerCast.com, there's a reason for your vocational trauma: You now have the seventh most stressful job in America. Ta-dah!

Doin' The Dew Could Make You Spew
Imagine with me: It's a scorching hot day. You are parched. Your throat is dry and you can't get a drink of anything until you get home. Finally, you pull up in the driveway and you're so tired to boot. You reach in the fridge for an ice-cold Mountain Dew. Crack that thing open and commence to guzzling. Suddenly, the Dew tastes like...well, doo.

The Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for 2012
In 2012, we all want to be better. A drive to stay married longer than a Kardashian — not Kim, the ugly one. A goal to not be called "big boned." A commitment to eat better, which is to say, abstain from the extra cheese on a double hamburger. Regardless of the resolution, everyone makes them. Although most are usually broken faster than Lindsay Lohan's sobriety.

The Ghost of PR Christmas Past
Something funny happened to your local newspaper on the way to its last shareholders meeting — no one showed up. If you have been a part of this great world of flackdom for any amount of time, you have noticed that some of your favorite reporters and writers have taken their parachutes and gone skydiving. Some have gone the way of freelancing, blogging, consulting, and even PR. And why? Because it seems this Internet thingy has used the newspaper to line its birdcage. According to a recent story in Paper Cuts, more than 3,775 newspaper jobs were cut in 2011 — 30% higher than 2010.

Billy Graham Resurrected on Live TV
Rev. Billy Graham is a man beloved and honored by many — many faiths, many cultures, many backgrounds, many people worldwide. What he has seen in 92 years for an ordinary person is astounding. What he has done in those 92 years is nothing short of extraordinary. I say that to illustrate that I scribe with a certain panache and snark regardless of the topic at hand. Now that we have that understanding: Something funny happened to Rev. Graham while he was at the hospital last week.

Jennifer Lopez's Junk in Fiat's Trunk
Celebrity sponsorship can be a high wire act if you haven't carefully considered all facets of public perception. First, vet the product thoroughly. Second, find a celebrity with a personal connection to your product. Lastly, and most importantly, connect the two to the masses. That marriage should be ironclad.

Redefining PR Has Been Years in the Making
Used car salesmen. Lawyers. The 2 a.m. televangelist. Today's Congress. And PR professionals? Regretfully, this has become the tetrahedron of B.S. Incorporated. I can take it. I've met a slew of people in my beloved profession whose pants were on fire the second they opened their mouths. It's like that in any profession, I suppose. There are always going to be dolts who cut corners, treat vendors with no respect, steal credit for others' work, and create an oozing stain on their professions. It just seems that douche-per-capita numbers are off the charts in public relations, if you ask around.

Kim Kardashian and her Badunkadunk of a PR Problem
A terrible thing happened on the way to the celebrity magazine book rack: Kim Kardashian — the dolt who started it all — discovered that people had stopped caring about her. This includes her "publicist" Jonathon Jaxson, whom she decided to sue for $200,000 for (get this) defamation of character. Because it's so golden already. After all, she is being rightfully mocked by everyone from Michael Bublé to Country Music Award hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley and of course the cast of "Saturday Night Live." Back to the news. It's not often that a PR professional gets sued.

Ashton Kutcher and the Perils of Celebrity Tweeting
Those caught up in the wake of the Penn State imbroglio continues. Gurgling on the tidal wave now is Ashton Kutcher, formerly the "King" of Twitter. It was a mild-mannered evening a couple of nights ago, when the Board of Trustees with Penn State University captured the airwaves, everywhere. You'd think President Obama had a word to share. The word from the Board was that Joe Paterno was fired, effective immediately. Now, I'll save the rant for how I feel about the goings-on in Not-So-Happy Valley for those who love me and won't take my words as a declaration of war. Suffice it to say, I smiled. And I tweeted a few times as well. However, I'm a nobody in the Twitterverse. Unlike the aforementioned Kutcher.

PRSA Bans Jack O'Dwyer for Criticism?
I was a proud member of the PRSA at one time. That is, until the time of having residual income of hundreds of dollars to have a membership was over. (Hi, kids.) I enjoyed my membership. I went to functions, met interesting people, and learned a good amount of things in this industry.

Chapstick to Consumers: Kiss Our Chapped A$$
Check the picture. See it? That lovely shot of a woman hurling herself over a couch, appearing as if she was a stunt double in the "Lindsay Lohan" story. Quite naturally, she is wearing jeans so tight that you can tell what religion she is. And for what reason? Chapstick, of course.

Herman Cain: And You Thought Pizza Was Bad For You
This just in: Herman Cain is smoking the competition. No, really. The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza is the proud owner of 25 percent of the popular vote among Republican voters. And to celebrate, it's time to take that public relations good will out for a spin.

PR Campaign Brought an Israeli Soldier Home
Finally! Now, when I hear PR jokes and people comparing flacks with used car salesmen, I'll bring up this story from FOX News about a public relations and social media campaign that freed a captive soldier held in captivity by Hamas for more than five years. That's Hamas — as in professional thugs.

Is the Economy Making Money for Sesame Street?
Meet Lily. She's a cute, spry little Muppet who apparently shares something in common with more than 15 percent of Americans — she's "living" in poverty. Never mind that she now has her own spot on one of the most popular TV shows of all time; she's dealing with hunger and not making ends meet like 46 million others in this country. By the way, that's more than 17 million children. That's right: Sesame Street has now gone to the other side of the tracks. In case you missed it, Lily visited a community garden to get some food and volunteered at a "food pantry." Lily also discussed her family's hunger issues with the rest of the cast.

An Open Letter to Qwikster
Dear Qwikster, Before I crawl on top of this ruddy, old soapbox, allow me to compliment you on your prophetic surname. Your life on this fabled planet of ours was indeed a "Qwik" one. Let's be honest — like you had a chance of getting past your six-week birthday. Certainly, the nimrod in charge of all those Netflix mishaps would understand that sound outside his or her office door.

PR is Good to the Last Drop
If you have been in public relations for any amount of time, you have learned three irrefutable truths: 1. Cynicism is about as common as guys calling home for extra money at a Star Trek convention. 2. Without relationships, your client could be Lindsay Lohan on a bender and folks would still think twice about covering it. 3. If you're a flack, you have blood in your caffeine stream. On average, the majority of U.S. workers consume this nectar from the gods at least twice daily. And then there are others that need an I.V. drip of the stuff — so says this interesting study from Dunkin' Donuts and Career Builder. In a survey of 4,700 professionals, 61% of respondents revealed that they drink coffee.

It's Like a Kick in the Cantaloupes
Ever heard of Listeria monocytogenes? No? Well, a professional opinion if you don't mind...according to the CDC and the previously noted link, it sucks. What's strange is this polysyllabic mind meld should be common knowledge by now.

An Open Letter to Netflix
Dear Netflix, In the words of the living ghost of Joan Rivers, "Can we talk?" Listen, I like you. You babysit my kids. You prevented me from pilfering through the 'Not Available' signs at Blockbuster. And you seemed really hip when you become a permanent resident of my Xbox. You were edgy, progressive, and that one cat in junior high school who could get all the chicks.

Eddie Murphy and The Oscars: Who Gets the Bigger PR Bump?
Anyone else remember "Oscar-watching parties"? Just me? Well, let me drop some knowledge here — that was the thing back in the day. You gathered around a couple of friends, cooked a couple of potluck dishes, and watched a bunch of famous, respected people for a couple of hours. You talked about the tacky outfits, who got robbed, and bet on who picked the right winners. Innocent good times...that haven''t happened for quite some time. In fact, many would say that Oscar has officially jumped the shark.The hosts suck, the guests suck more, and the movie winners let out a collective "Meh" at the box office. As detached from reality as Hollywood can be, many in the hallowed hills think the way to skew younger is to bring younger hosts and play a lot of hip-hop.

PR Fail: A Beer Pong Fundraiser for M.A.D.D.
Quick Quiz: Imagine two things that do not mix well together. What was your answer? Oil and water? Texting and driving? Ignorance and bliss? A Kardashian and any stable, middle-class, Midwestern white guy? Whatever your answer, I have the trump card, thanks to this hilarious story from WPIX-TV in Newark, N.J. How about Beer Pong and Mothers Against Drunk Driving? No, really.

What's 'The Situation' on Abercromie & Fitch's PR Move?
A week ago, I found myself in quite the personal conundrum — cheering for Abercromie & Fitch. This is the company whose sole objective is make any man deaf, soil his nostrils with foul-smelling scents of pre-pubescence, and create an overwhelming sense of inferiority with borderline teen porn pictures inside its stores. That company made me a fan when it decided to throttle the derelict cast of rejects on the "Jersey Shore." Evidently, I'm not the only converted cheerleader.

In Detroit, They Don't Teach PR in High School
No amount of money in the world can numb a sense of entitlement. Put salve on the Benjamins. Freeze a guy's piggy bank. Put the government in charge of it...it wouldn't matter. If someone is a tool who thinks he owns the world and you just rent it, he will say whatever he feels. Meet Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts.

Getting into Harvard is Socially Acceptable
You cram for the SATs. You pray for leniency. You wait by your mailbox with bated breath. And you usually end up accepting number 27 on your list of "Colleges I would love to attend...if they accept me." And then there's the story of Mike Moradian, as reported by the Washington Post. Mike seems to be a wunderkind of sorts; the kind Bloomberg BusinessWeek called "America's Best Young Entrepreneur" in 2010.

Pizza Hut Should Take a Bite of Reputation Management 101
Ever been jonesin' for a pizza? The kind where you open the box and the steam gives you a facial. The kind where you pick up the slice, fold it, and the cheese dribbles down into the box, making a curdled pool of love. That kind of hankering for a slice? I have, which is why learning about this story out of Albany, N.Y. makes me sad beyond words. And a little queasy. Well, a lot. Meet Ken Wieczerza. He, too, was looking for a little slice of love from his local Pizza Hut; he was probably going to wash it down with some room-temperature adult beverage and grab the closest remote. Then he discovered the definition of "Stuffed Crust Pizza" when a bloodied bandage was baked into said pepperoni.

Come Election Day, I'm Voting for Sex
It was June 2010. It was a PR nightmare for anyone in the House or the Senate. Morale across the country was swirling in the toilet of public perception. Tourists would walk past Capitol Hill clutching their purses. There was no hope in sight, as both Gallup and Rasmussen polls showed that only 35 percent of Americans trusted the government — an all-time low in U.S. history. hat is, until now. Because of the ballyhoo about those twits in D.C. who have ignored Rodney King's sage counsel of "getting along," the number has stumbled to 33 percent of nationalistic trust. (Personally, I think the other 67 percent were unavailable for comment.) Also, according to the FOXNews.com poll there are some other interesting stats.

An Open Letter to the Gray Lady, PR Hater
Dear Madame, I sincerely hope you have on your readers and have guzzled down your morning Boost because I must take umbrage with you, woman. You see, earlier this month, you created quite the kerfuffle when you allowed one of your public editors to lambast a portent reporter and friend to the flack, David Pogue. Now, I don't know if you rock the cougar every time Pogue is pontificating...

The Naked Truth About Zappos
Companies like Southwest Airlines and Nordstrom are known for two things: great service and amazing PR. They always get the stories, and for what? Reputation. They just keep doing what they do and the press takes turns swirling in that rotating door outside the media relations office. Good times, right? Another company like that is Zappos. Their model was genius. Ordering shoes through the mail? Yeah, that worked out all right. Their service is brilliant. I'll bet Shaq could order some penny loafers through them.

The Presidential Test of Tangibility
It's no secret that @BarackObama changed the way presidential campaigns will be won forever. Social media is the wave of the future, and now, it's how to get the young whippersnappers to wave back at you. So, much to many old codgers' chagrin, this hopeful tweeter-in-chief put himself into the fray, kinda. Obviously, his Twitter account was staffed by a couple of interns, but the followers went through the roof. And why? For the history buffs out there, this is a republic, not a democracy. We don't have equal footing on the hill; rather, we give our footing to people traipsing around it in stilettos and penny loafers. I don't work for Gallup or Rasmussen, but if I did, I would gladly tell you most Americans don't really trust the government.

Did Lance Armstrong Tweet Strong?
Cycling and doping have been that married couple at family reunions everyone that makes everyone wonder, "What the hell?" And then came Lance. As hard as it is to believe a popular sport can be defined by a man's name (see: Basketball and Jordan), Lance Armstrong proved you can be a champion, have a compelling story and still be clean. There have been ne'er-do-wells, but all of them had questionable histories and blemished bios. So, I'm watching TV and my smartphone blew up in my hand.

Is the Apocalypse the Next Big PR Strategy?
Okay, quick show of hands: When was the last time you heard of some cat named Harold Camping before this recent trend of apocalypse bacchanalia? Anyone? Yeah, I thought so. I went to seminary for four years, broadcast on Christian radio for 12, have been a serious Christian for more than 20, and I didn't even recall this guy immediately. However, now a lot more people have, and why? Because you're all going to die on Saturday.

Can You Tweet a TV Show Back to Life?
The soothsayers at FOX yesterday announced the abrupt cancellation of five of its shows - some no one watched (e.g. "Traffic Light," "Human Target," and "Breaking In") and others many [that I know] watched (e.g. "Lie to Me" and "Chicago Code"). Professionally, I understand Nielsen is a living creature that eats up anything slow enough to get in its path. Personally, the hell is that?!

So You Want to Do PR for Athletes
The glitz. The glamour. The jet setting. And all that crisis communications work. Such would be life for the PR pro of most today's athletes. No, this is not another unfortunate story of law, order, and dog owners. This is about twits...er, Twitter. In case you were catching up episodes of a sundry MTV Emmy-award winning show, you probably heard that Osama bin Laden was killed.

New PR Crisis Strategy: Hide Behind the Milk
There are so many PR stories to discuss, and many of them would just make you frown even worse than when you filled up your gas tank. I wanted to feel good, smile and not regret my weekly tirade of smarminess. And then the sweet baby Jesus landed this jovial clip of har-har in my lap from St. Louis, Miss. and Belo-owned station, KMOV. (NOTE: PLEASE visit that link. That is, after you've read this post. You won't be sorry.)

Why Has Social Media Become One Big Fire Hydrant?
At times, it seems that PR professionals and "Creatives" (e.g. social media experts, creative designers, coding gurus) work together in perfect harmony. And then there are other places across this great land of ours where one side is sipping tea and the other side is growing wicked mustaches, drinking moonshine, and making a flag that's not as offensive as the "Stars & Bars."

Are Journalists Tweeters or Pokers More?
Now that I have the heads out in the gutters peering up like Prairie Dogs, the question was raised by MediaBistro's AllTwitter; and for flacks, it really should make us think about our social media policy. Retweets are almost as important as circulation these days. They have become the validation of stories, the approval of insight and the high five of opinion.

GoDaddy.com's PR Problem: The Elephant in the Room
Not too long ago, CEO of GoDaddy.com Rob Parsons (pictured here... kinda) went on a safari in Zimbabwe. When he left, I'm sure he thought it would be a great way to recharge his batteries and get a cornucopia of ideas for more sleazy, innuendo-filled commercials. However, upon Parsons' return, he has encountered a PR nightmare the likes of CBS and a wardrobe malfunction can't imagine. The man killed Dumbo and even posted a video to archive the whole excursion to the tune of "Hell's Bells." Yes, way. MEMO to the Bob Parsons Project: Of course, all that meat fed villagers. Shoot, it could feed half a country, but that's no excuse to go over there gangsta style and peel a cap in some pachyderm.

From the White House to the Social Network and Back
Reports are out in a flurry: Robert Gibbs, the mild-mannered former Obama Administration press secretary, is possibly making a bid to a more influential office: a corner one located at Facebook. It's ironic considering that the Internet was what President Obama used masterfully to become the leader of the free world. Now Gibbs could be going to a company that controls the free world from the Internet.

Users of AT&T and T-Mobile Tell Them to Stick It
AT&T: "Rethink Possible." T-Mobile: "Stick Together." Two strong cellular brands. Two so-so monikers. And then, the wireless world dropped one cacophonous call when the two brands "rethought" their space in the industry, got "together." And now, the throng of cell phone users are yawping that the two brands need to "Stick it!" Well, them and the CEO of Sprint Dan Hesse who needs to use the warm fuzzies of his commercials to keep him sheltered in the winter, because this deal leaves his company out in the cold.

Will the Internet Be the End of Grammar, Too?
E-mail is dead. Long live email. Or so was the rally cry from the 2010 annual gathering of the American Copy Editors Society last week, as the red Sharpie-toting gaggle had quorum and agreed to screw with every flack who writes for a technology company anywhere in the states. I adore writing. I love the English language ever more. However, to hyphenate or not to hyphenate...that's my friggin' question. As it was with many flacks I know when @APStylebook tweeted a rather deleterious note.

Gilbert Gottfried, AFLAC Duck Gets Plucked
You would think with the power and immediate access social media provides, fat-fingered dolts would realize maybe a global tragedy is not the best time to break out a new joke series. And then there's Gilbert Gottfried. According to...well, just about any publication on the planet...Gottfried thought the horrific tsunami in Japan was cause for jocularity. Then, what could have been a terrible PR incident for the brand became a slap in the beak for Gottfried.

When a Publicity Stunt Goes Terribly Wrong
I'm a flack. I'm not a scientist. Although I do have a Ph.D., I have no clue how to refute Newton's Law of Motion, or the Law of Gravity for that matter. That said, I do understand that if something goes up, it has to come down. Whether it's a rock thrown in the air or a plane running low on gas, if it ain't a bird, it's coming back to Earth. Consider a throng of helium balloons, for instance.

Charlie Sheen's Publicist Jumps the Crazy Train
Cats in Hollywood amaze me, what with their method acting talents to help them "become one" with the part. Take Carlos Irwin Estevez. He's not known for having that Oscar-winning appeal, but he can hold his own, right? This is the same thespian who brought us the likes of Lt. Topper Harley, Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, and that derelict in the police station sucking face with Jennifer Grey, or whoever that woman from the witness protection program was on "Dancing With the Stars." However, with Chuck's latest exploits away from the set of "Two and a Half Men," a much older Mr. Sheen is tapping into one of his most well-known roles: the great Bud Fox from "Wall Street."

One Rotten Flack Spoils the Whole Bunch
Stereotypes. They are uncivil, loutish, often vulgar and sometimes exist for a very good reason. Consider us flacks. "Spin doctors." "Just outside used car salesmen and lawyers." A recent and riveting editorial in the New York Times from Bruce Buschel, owner of Southfork Kitchen in Bridgehampton, N.Y. brought this to mind as he pens his exploits of being torched by not one, but two PR firms. His initial encounter with a PR firm left him eager for results and heavy on expectation. Naturally, he got bupkus. Deflated and disconcerted, he looked inward, redefined his target audience, and went angling for another big fish in the world.

Is Giving to Both Sides of the Aisle Good PR or Indecisive?
Having no issue stating my political affiliation (I'm a raging independent), I relish an intelligent discussion on politics regardless of the current, rather than a shouting match based upon propaganda and calling the leader's mama of the opposite party some sort of troglodyte or bovine. Typically, one such discussion that usually becomes an adrenaline-induced, eff-bombed tirade is someone supporting both a Republican and a Democrat. That never ends pretty. So, when I saw this article on CNN's Political Watch, I was fascinated - both because of the content and the subject.

Does Groupon Offer Discounts for Crisis Communications?
Ever since Super Bowl XLV, Groupon's image of helping out the common man has been swirling down the toilet bowl of public perception. The downward spiral began with a cavalcade of Oscar winners to mock charitable donations in an effort to be cheeky. Well, the millions who watched the game saw the cheek only to miss Groupon's collective cow tongue firmly planted inside of it. No one laughed.

Dell: The Power To Do...This?
BREAKING: An armed and masked man entered Dell's headquarters in Round Rock, Texas. BROKE DOWN: This dolt actually worked at the computer maven and thought it would a cute promotional stunt for internal communications, according to local TV affiliate KWTX. Oh yeah, and he didn't bother sharing with many people that he would be wielding a gun. Genius.

Will Keith Olbermann Make Al Gore TV Current, or Fade Away?
One month ago, MSNBC stood by its morals by standing on the neck of one Keith Theodore Olbermann. Amid a kerfuffle that took the national media by storm and left the children of the '80s jonesin' for Europe's tune "The Final Countdown," the home of the newsy peacock was left wondering where they were going without the vociferous lightning rod.


The ad industry's cutting edge blog.
Go Beyond »

A blog about new and digital media.
Pivot Over »

Public Relations from the inside out.
Get Flacked »

A blog for leading marketers.
Start Branding »

TalentZoo.com Advertising
Return to Top