PR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) TO John McAfee. The billionaire computer programmer played a monthlong game of “Catch me if you can” with authorities in Belize, who said they merely wanted to talk to McAfee about the death of his neighbor. McAfee then went on the run and into hiding – rather publicly, as he bragged to reporters about his disguises and blogged about his escapes. Authorities tried to portray McAfee as crazy; maybe crazy like a fox. Whether he’s delusional, addicted to attention, or he truly believes he’s in danger of being held for murder, McAffee is milking his “wanted man” adventure for all it’s worth. The public shakes its collective head…and keeps right on watching. We might be witnessing a myth in the making.
PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO Anne Hathaway. So, what was the reaction to the release of the multimillion dollar film version of the hit play Les Miserables? Any chance of immediate reviews was over before Hathaway even climbed out of her limo at the Paris premiere. She opted to go commando under her designer gown, which afforded her far less coverage than the paparazzi gave. “We’ve seen a lot of you lately,” chortled Today Show host Matt Lauer during the actress’s morning show appearance. To her credit, Hathaway drew a parallel between the unfortunate incident and her prostitute character in Les Miz, but the clever soundbite was all but lost; alas, one revealing picture is worth a thousand well-planned words. The PR machine on this one was well and truly blindsided.
THE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO: Fiscal cliff “negotiators.” The ongoing eleventh-hour skirmish over federal tax increases and spending cuts is set for January 1, 2013. Americans are deeply weary of partisan gridlock in Washington, and perpetuating it continues to further tarnish the reputations of both political parties. With President Obama’s decisive win just six weeks old, Republicans might be well-advised to agree to tax hikes on the wealthy in exchange for a few key areas on which they can loudly claim victory with the majority of their constituents. This is a PR battle where being the hold-out is no longer the winning strategy. Since the election, the game has changed; the first side to make a decisive move will give the country some much-needed peace (and quiet) this holiday season.