The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: A (PR PERFECT) to Edward Snowden, the American intelligence analyst-turned-global fugitive who reportedly walked out of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Thursday a free man (for now). Snowden’s improbable mission to expose secret American surveillance programs will see another chapter writ after Russia granted the 30-year-old temporary asylum for one year. During his five weeks in the airport’s transit lounge, Snowden stayed away from cameras and stressed, through statements and spokespeople, that his quest is about the American people. The aura he’s created is one of honest motivation and cool determination. Folk hero, anyone?

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: F (FULL FIASCO) to Barbara Morgan (at left, with Anthony Weiner), communications director for the death-spiraling Anthony Weiner campaign who – not realizing she was on the record – went on a profanity-filled tirade to a journalist. Anthony Weiner, of course, is the delusional mayoral candidate for New York City who has repeatedly sent photos of his crotch to young women. It was in commenting on one of them that Ms. Morgan unleashed her verbal assault, calling former intern Olivia Nuzzi a “slutbag,” a “bitch,” and several other unprintable epithets. In a shocking development, Weiner said he’ll stand by her.  The only thing missing from this circus is a clown car.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to the Obama Administration, for over-promising on releasing new details about the government’s domestic electronic surveillance program. The not-so-big reveal came as Administration officials again appeared before Congress to testify on the legality and necessity of the surveillance program. But the three – yes, just three – documents were heavily censored and clarified “nothing of importance,” as the New York Times editorialized. Testimony before Congress also produced nada of substance. Meanwhile, events continue to blow past the Administration’s efforts to contain the damage: UK newspaper The Guardian published more spying program details, and a day later, Russia granted secret-leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum.

Mayor Takes Sex Scandal from Bad to Worse

 Mayor Takes Sex Scandal from Bad to Worse

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

Lately, barely a week goes by that a male politician isn’t apologizing for some sort of sexually naughty behavior. Last week that began with Anthony Weiner apologizing for new accusations of sending sexual texts to women, and it ended with San Diego Mayor Bob Filner facing charges of sexual misconduct.

Specifics quickly took the vagaries out of the charges, filed via a lawsuit. Women who worked with the 70-year-old mayor say he tried to forcibly kiss them, touched them, made unwanted sexual advances, and put his former communications director in a headlock. At a press conference this past Friday, Filner refused to comply with demands for his resignation. Instead, he apologized for his behavior toward women “over many years” and introduced his solution: two weeks of therapy.

Friday is typically a slow news day, a time when politicians make changes that will get lost in a pre-weekend shuffle. The two-week therapy cure ensured that Filner’s news remained a top story throughout the weekend. Demands for his resignation, even from fellow Democrats, only mounted. It’s unlikely that the twice-daily briefings Filner will receive while in intensive therapy will contain other developments.

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Somehow, he managed to make a bad situation worse.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Take advice from the other side. On political drama The West Wing, the Democratic president hired a Republican advisor as a sounding board for partisanship. If the scriptwriters of an evening television program knew this, why couldn’t Filner’s PR team see a perfect storm gathering? Filner’s apology was flimsy, and he compounded the fracture with the admission that this has been going on “over many years.” And many years of sexual harassment is somehow to be cured in two weeks of therapy? That’s rather a lot to ask the public to swallow. While we can’t be sure, it seems unlikely that Filner’s PR team included a female perspective. There again, considering his admitted attitudes toward women, it’s doubtful he would have listened.

 

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Pope Francis for continuing to stoke the ardor of the Catholic faithful on the first official papal trip abroad. In stark contrast with Pope Benedict’s drop-by in 2007, the pope was met by rapturous crowds in Rio de Janeiro on this week’s trip to Brazil for World Youth Day, which attracts hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from around the world. Seen carrying his own bag onto the plane in Italy and cruising around Rio in a mini-van with the windows rolled down and a limited security detail, Francis’ humble nature has charmed and reinvigorated his 1.2 billion-strong flock.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers

PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to Anthony Weiner, who had to admit to and apologize for more sex-related emails again. The ones that most recently came to light show that Weiner – excuse us, “Carlos Danger,” his online handle – continued sexting even after such activity forced him to step down from his congressional seat, and while posing for glossy redemption stories in People and the New York Times Magazine. One would think that the hopeful mayoral candidate would have put down the keyboard and pulled up the zipper if only to avoid headlines by the New York Post such as WEINER: I’LL STICK IT OUT.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO THE US National Security Agency, whose Orwellian ability to eavesdrop on electronic correspondence practically anywhere in the world apparently doesn’t extend to its own email system. ProPublica, the non-profit investigative news organization, filed a Freedom of Information request for emails between NSA staff and a film crew working on a TV documentary on the superspy agency. NSA’s response? We don’t have the technology to do that. The system is “a little antiquated and archaic,” a spokeswoman said. Forget for a moment that this is borderline preposterous. If in fact true, a detailed explanation is decidedly merited. Financial services firms, among others, routinely search companywide email systems in response to subpoenas. If the NSA can’t do the same, it needs to explain why. Or maybe that’s classified.

Weiner Reveals More for a PR Comeback

 Weiner Reveals More for a PR ComebackWhat ever happened to Anthony Weiner? The New York congressman shot to fame when he mistakenly tweeted a photo of his namesake (no, not his kid) to thousands of followers, thinking it was going to one flirtatious admirer. He denied all at first, then resigned shortly thereafter. It was a sudden ending to a promising congressional career, made all the more complicated as his wife, Huma Abedin, was one of Hilary Clinton’s closest lieutenants and pregnant with their first child at the time.

Little has been heard from Weiner since his embarrassing resignation. Earlier this year, he and Abedin announced the birth of their son in a soft-focus feature in People magazine. Several months of silence followed. Now, the New York Times Magazine has given the former congressman and his wife a long and detailed cover story outlining his journey to redemption – and his possible mayoral ambitions for New York.

The article’s narrative? Anthony Weiner has been doing some reflecting. He and Huma have worked through their issues. Yes, he still feels paralyzed with guilt about the humiliation he brought onto their family. He lives with the embarrassment and pain. His wife has emerged as a tower of strength and understanding. Being out of the  spotlight has helped him revaluate his life. He now understands the true meaning of humility and the danger of hubris. Is that enough to pave his way to the New York mayoral race?

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Anthony Weiner and his PR reinvention. Let the show begin.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Break for an interval before the second act. The Times article asked all the right questions: Why did Anthony Weiner do it? What did he learn? How has it changed him? With his wife ever-present in the article, and joining him on the magazine cover, critics now have little PR mileage to make out of the infamous tweet. While Weiner will undoubtedly face more questions, the definitive answers have been given. The Weiner camp can plan its political march forward toward the campaign office.

To read the full article, click here.

Total Arnold

 Total Arnold

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This week, Arnold Schwarzenegger began promoting his book, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story. Schwarzenegger’s life is nearly unbelievable – he was a champion body builder who became the highest paid actor in Hollywood despite a heavyweight German accent and a nearly unpronounceable name. He then married a member of the Kennedy family and become governor of California. And the focal point of all his latest interviews? His affair with the housekeeper.

Surely Schwarzenegger didn’t want to include the chapter detailing his affair with housekeeper Mildred Baena, yet on some level he must have known this was the double-edged sword of PR: talk about the thing you don’t want to talk about, or no one will buy your book. In interviews, Schwarzenegger shows contrition, albeit insensitively, referring to the affair with Baena as “my screw-up” and “a disaster.” Arnie, it seems, is untroubled by how this might affect the result of this affair: his youngest son, Joseph. And it’s hard to tell whether he’s sorry for what he did to wife Maria Shriver, or sorry he got caught.

Schwarzenegger follows Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, and many others whose works and lives became defined by a single act: that of schtupping the maid, or the prostitute, or sexting the intern. Only Bill Clinton moved beyond Monica, though his career remains tarnished by the scarlet letter.  Yet what do we really expect from The Governator? Nothing other than what he’s giving, and gives well: He doesn’t care what you think about him, only that you think about him.

The PR Verdict: B (Good Show) for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The grade is based not on character but for his handling of the media and for canny self-promotion via contrition.

The PR Takeaway: Scandal always outlasts notable works. Whatever leads those in positions of power towards the scandalous is for the Psychiatrist’s Verdict. But for our purposes, as Arnie clearly shows, the public relations prescription is to own up; apologize with sincerity; pour barbecue sauce on yourself in preparation of being grilled by the media; and get back to the business of doing whatever good works were interrupted by your poor judgment. Finally, get on with counting the royalties, while remaining contrite at all times.

What do you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s media profile? Give us your PR Verdict!

Is Anthony Weiner Hot-Dogging for Public Office?

anthony weiner 3001 Is Anthony Weiner Hot Dogging for Public Office?

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Anthony Weiner and his image rebuild.

Whatever happened to Anthony Weiner, the former congressman from Queens? Weiner resigned at a farewell press conference in 2011 after he was caught sending photos of his own wiener to six women, none of whom were his wife. The press went crazy and resignation swiftly followed. After something like that, how do you rebuild a reputation?

Judging by the recent interview he gave to People magazine, Weiner is getting good PR advice. People covered his recent interview with three full pages, complete with pictures of his baby, adoring wife Huma Abedin, and the headline “I Feel Like a Different Person.”

The article ticks all the right PR boxes: Yes, he regrets the incident; yes, he has sought counseling (sigh of predictability); and yes, his marriage is stronger than ever. He talks about how he let people down and would still love (possibly) to return to public office. Add in an endorsement from a political strategist who says, “[Weiner] worked hard when in office and can rebuild his life,” and have his loving wife show her support by saying that Anthony is trying to be the best husband and father “he can possibly be.” Finally, downgrade photos that were previously  called ‘lewd” and “creepy” during the height of the scandal to the more playful adjective “naughty.” Done! The stage is set for a political comeback.

The PR Verdict: “A”  (PR Perfect) for Anthony Weiner and his image rebuild. Nicely done.

The PR Takeaway: Slow and steady wins the race. In PR remakes, the best course of action is to take tentative baby steps and gauge reactions. As Weiner himself says, “I’m still trying to work out where I am in the public consciousness.” For the moment, stay away from political controversy and stick to self-improvement. Wieners (the type besides the congressman and the hot dog) have gotten all sorts of famous men in trouble, Elliott Spitzer and Bill Clinton, to name two. This Weiner’s PR recovery is just beginning.

Can Anthony Weiner return to public office after this public scandal? Give us your PR Verdict!