Katie Holmes’s Stealth Divorce Bombshell

 Katie Holmess Stealth Divorce Bombshell

The PR Verdict: “A” (Gold Star!) for Katie Holmes and her stealth divorce bomb.

TomKat–Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes–are now officially over. Just like that. The surprising announcement that Holmes had started divorce proceedings seemed to catch her actor husband Cruise off guard. The filing was made on Thursday afternoon; the media went crazy on Friday. What happens now?

Speculation has already begun as to the cause of the marriage breakdown. Whispers of Holmes’s resistance to Cruise’s Scientology pals abound, as does the sneaking suspicion that the marriage was, from the start, a five-year contractual understanding. Other media speculate that Cruise’s alleged ambiguous sexuality is the genesis of the crisis, with one New York tabloid sarcastically commenting, “Holmes will keep the house while Cruise keeps the closet.”

Was the split expected? The gossip magazines had not speculated about Cruise’s third marriage in any meaningful way (despite ongoing low-level chatter). Cruise showed up alone at the recent premieres of his latest film Rock of Ages with no significant adverse comment. With the media off guard, the time for Holmes to file was now. At least on the PR front, this was minimally damaging, given the couple’s notoriety.

The PR Verdict: “A” (Gold Star!) for  Katie Holmes, whose divorce strategy is like a precision bomb. Taking the media by surprise means that phase one of the divorce agenda is owned by Homes, hands down.

The PR Takeaway:  Quick precision bombing has its advantages. Making a sudden filing before the weekend, while not making substantive comments keeps the scandal level relatively low. Holmes followed the template of her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s own divorce from second wife Nicole Kidman: no comment, no explanation–the PR exercise equivalent to ripping the band aid off quickly. No one ever really got to the bottom of the Kidman/Cruise divorce in part because it seemed so unexpected. The explanations this time around might be just as elusive.

Will Katie Holmes’s sudden, stealth divorce bomb shatter the media’s speculative attack? Give us your PR Verdict, below.

Hey ! Did you see that the Financial Times (Alphaville) republished our PRV on Barclays? Take a look: http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2012/06/29/1065981/barclays-pr-rating-d/

Delta Airlines: Why Own a Refinery? Why Now?

delta Delta Airlines: Why Own a Refinery? Why Now?

PR Verdict: “A” for Delta’s positioning

When was the last time an airline expanded into the oil business?  Any company that strays from its core business always runs a huge PR risk. But that is precisely what Delta did yesterday with the acquisition of an oil refinery that will ultimately provide 80 percent of its jet fuel for its US business. The market responded with interest and didn’t panic.

“Acquiring the Trainer refinery is an innovative approach to managing our largest expense,” Delta CEO Richard Anderson said.  “This modest investment, the equivalent of the list price of a new wide body aircraft, will allow Delta to reduce its fuel expense by $300 million annually and ensure jet fuel availability in the Northeast.”

Still not convinced?  Need more comparisons?  “To achieve similar fuel savings, Delta would have to buy 60 new-generation narrow-body planes like the Boeing 737, a capital investment that would total $2.5 billion”.   Despite some skepticism from oil specialists, investors pushed the company’s shares more than 10 percent since the beginning of April as word of Delta’s interest in the refinery spread.  This was a well-handled announcement.

The PR Verdict: “A” to Delta’s PR Team who positioned the transaction.  What might have been seized upon as a serious departure from corporate strategy was transformed into a relatively logical and natural move.

PR Takeaway:  Nothing like a couple of simple metrics to let the numbers do the talking.  By characterizing the purchase, as modest and then comparing costs to other more prohibitive outlays, this purchase became an easy sell.  With fuel making up over 40% of the airline’s expenses, innovative moves are what the market wants. We assume that those who worked on the announcement are now eligible for a free upgrade?

To read about the announcement click here.

What’s your PR verdict on this announcement?

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