Angelina Jolie’s Brave Announcement

Screen Shot 2013 05 14 at 9.37.25 PM 150x150 Angelina Jolies Brave Announcement The New York Times editorial started off sentimentally, with superstar Angelina Jolie writing of how her mother died young, at just 56 years-old, and before she had a chance to meet all of Jolie’s six children. Soon, though, it was clear Jolie was making a shocking announcement: she had recently undergone an elective double mastectomy after learning she carries a genetic mutation linked to significantly higher incidence of both breast and ovarian cancer.

The decision to have her breasts removed without a cancer diagnosis was surely an anguishing one for the 37-year-old Jolie, considered one of the world’s sexiest women. In the editorial, she explained her decision-making process and went into detail about the procedures. She addressed the emotional impact that mastectomy can have on a woman, and the critical role that partners (in Jolie’s case, the actor Brad Pitt) play during this difficult time. By saying she “started” with breast removal, she also hinted she may continue with more prophylactic surgery, such as a hysterectomy.

In all likelihood, Jolie could have kept mum about this life event. However, she said, she chose to go public to raise awareness about the genetic testing available to women and to give reassurance to those agonizing over the same decision. As one columnist at National Public Radio noted: “Someone will think about having a mastectomy and remember that Angelina Jolie had one, and she wasn’t embarrassed, and she still felt pretty, and she told everyone that it can be survived.”

THE PR VERDICT:  “A” (PR Perfect) for Angelina Jolie, whose announcement was a flawless example of using one’s celebrity platform in a constructive and selfless manner.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: The way an announcement is made can be crucial to how it is perceived. Ms. Jolie shunned a huge press conference or one-on-one interview in favor of writing a thoughtful editorial in one of the world’s most venerable publications. In doing so, she was able to express herself fully and eloquently yet also remain protected from a barrage of follow-up questions. Perhaps most importantly, by writing the op-ed she made her announcement more about a health concern shared by many women and less about Angelina Jolie. Well done.

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

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to Al Gore, who declined to comment following some puzzling comments from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She recently went public with her doubts about the now infamous case of Bush v. Gore, wondering if maybe the court should never have heard the case in the first place. Gore declined to comment, saying he would stick by his decision back then to stand by the referee’s conclusion. Any comment, Gore claimed, could bring the Supreme Court “into a political squabble where the outcome would not change at all in any case.” Agreed. Tempting as it may be, this is one instance where Gore needs to let others do the talking and ignore the bait.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) for Brad Pitt. The actor may be flashing his million-dollar smile on Vanity Fair‘s cover this month, but the story inside about his new $200 million movie isn’t nearly as pretty. The feature is ostensibly about Pitt’s World War Z, which accurately describes the atmosphere on the zombie flick’s set. One producer used the word “nightmare,” not about the apocalyptic scenario but about making the movie. Features like this are a crapshoot: Who doesn’t want the cover of Vanity Fair on the eve of the release of a summer blockbuster, yet one that will focus on the massive issues that plagued the film? The good news for readers is that it won’t be the same ol’ puff piece. The bad news for Pitt is that it won’t be the same ol’ puff piece.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Washington DC Council Member David Grosso for proposing that the football team of the nation’s capitol – the Washington Redskins – change their name to the less offensive Redtails (hey, it’s close!). The team’s name, considered a racial slur against the Native American population in the US, has been hotly debated for years. Those who might actually do something about it, including lawmakers, team owners, and the National Football League, have largely avoided the issue. What a weak way for Washington to weigh in. Grosso gets points for having enough conscience to address the matter, but his proposal will go nowhere even if it passes unanimously: as a “non-binding resolution,” which is Beltwayspeak for “pointless,” it carries no force of law. If proponents of a name change really want results, they would do well to abandon the ineffectual pols and instead aim their PR arrows at the stadium box office.

 

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

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (GOLD STAR!) TO Mike Tyson, who spoke this week about the day he found his then-wife Robin Givens in bed with “some little beach-bum-looking dude,” otherwise known as Brad Pitt. The true punch line is that there was no punch thrown; “I wasn’t thinking of attacking him,” Tyson told Global Grind. “I was just depressed I couldn’t bone [Givens] no more.”  Once known as throwing a punch or even a bite at the slightest provocation, his new PR image is that of the vegan, reflective giant.  With this amusing head-shaker of a story, his previous PR image of the unhinged boxer continues to recede and his PR rehab continues.

 

 

NY Post1 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO The New York Post, which came under fire from readers and the media alike for printing a front-page photo of a man seconds away from death after being pushed onto subway tracks. (Out of respect for the family of victim Ki-Suck Han, the PRV will not show the photo.) The photographer said he was too far away from the victim to help, and that he was trying to warn the train driver with the flash from his camera. The Post did not bother defending its decision to run the photo with screaming headline DOOMED. With the Murdoch press still under the glare of phone hacking and other scandals, it’s silence on the issue leads to the inevitable question: Have they learnt any lessons?

 

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO NBC’s Today Show, for a bizarre mock-segment featuring host Matt Lauer as the “victim” of sexual harassment. The faux story, spawned after host Willie Geist swatted Lauer’s bottom with a newspaper, got more cringe-worthy by the minute as NBC investigative reporter Jeff Rossen was brought in report the “facts” and the camera cut to Lauer quietly questioning what he’d done to provoke the attack. Anyone on the receiving end of real sexual harassment couldn’t fail to be offended. An ill-conceived idea to stem Today’s recent ratings decline? Whoever dreamed this one up needs to return to Sensitivity 101 class. (For more, here.)

The Onion Makes China Cry

 The Onion Makes China Cry

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for China’s People’s Daily news outlet.

What do Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Channing Tatum have in common with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? They all share the global title of “Sexiest Man Alive.” The three actors, previously anointed  by People Magazine in its annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, now share their title with North Korea’s recently appointed dictator – courtesy of satirical magazine The Onion. Good one!

Not everyone got the joke, however. China’s leading online media outlet, The People’s Daily, immediately took up the story on its website and fawningly celebrated the universal appeal of its close ally – without realizing the story was a joke. The article included over 55 photos of Kim Jong Un, but unlike People, none of them showed the winner shirtless.

China’s paper of record unwittingly quoted extensively from The Onion‘s text, adding, “With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.” Clearly not afraid to overpraise, the news organization went on to say that the dumpling dictator made the editorial board swoon with his “impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.” Channing Tatum, eat your heart out.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) to The People’s Daily, whose credibility reached a new low.

The PR Takeaway: Death by a thousand laughs. The serious mouthpiece of the Communist party just had one of its more embarrassing and funniest falls. The official response at the outset was that The People’s Daily “verifies all its sources,” but since then the story has been taken down. The Onion is understandably boasting, “We just fooled the Chinese government!” Credibility is at an all time low. In the PR arsenal, ridicule is far more damaging and long lasting than ongoing protest.

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

mike mayo2 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to Mike Mayo (left) a financial analyst at Crédit Agricole Securities, for his perfectly crafted soundbite regarding beleaguered banking giant Citigroup. Mayo, well known on Wall Street, was opining on the reasons for the startling resignation of  Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit. Speaking to the Financial Times, Mayo was crisp, concise, and so very on-point when he said, “Citi is too big to fail, too big to regulate, too big to manage, and it has operated as if it’s too big to care.” Zing!

 

taliban21 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Taliban, which sunk to new lows by targeting media outlets that denounced their murder attempt on Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who wants education for women. Apparently, the Taliban is furious that Yousafzai’s “un-Islamic” behavior hasn’t been presented in the press – as though that would justify her being shot in the face for wanting to go to school. Worried about the PR fallout in their own domestic markets, it’s gratifying to observe that even Islamo-Fascists worry about public perception. The Taliban in need of a rebrand; who would have thought? And where to begin?

 

brad pitt chanel 0 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers

THE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” PR AWARD: The undisputed winner this week is fashion house Chanel, which has enlisted Brad Pitt for its new advertising campaign for its venerable fragrance, Chanel No.5. According to the PR blurb, the 30-second ad is meant to re-energize the 91-year-old brand with a “different point of view,” i.e., using a man to sell a fragrance for women. The commercial features Brad looking like he was plucked from a homeless shelter and saying, “The world turns, and we turn with it. Plans disappear, dreams take over. But wherever I go, there you are. My luck. My fate. My fortune. Chanel No. 5. Inevitable.”  The only inevitable thing about this commercial is that no one will have the faintest idea about what he is talking about. Truly and inevitably puzzling. To see the ad, click here.

Did we miss any spectacular highs or lows in public relations this week? Give us your PR Verdict!

Guest Column: Angelina Jolie to Syria’s Rescue

Angelinajolie1 150x150 Guest Column: Angelina Jolie to Syrias Rescue

PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for UNHCR and its association with Angelina.

Tired of reading about celebrities in US Weekly or People? Then turn to the Financial Times. The FT just ran an op-ed from Angelina Jolie, special envoy to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), co authored by António Guterres, the UNHCR High Commissioner and former Prime Minister of Portugal. Both made a plea to support Syrian refugees and the latest UN appeal drive.

This latest FT column follows Jolie’s televised visits to Syrian refugee camps, guaranteeing coverage where the plight of the refugees might not have ordinarily rated a mention. During the visits, Jolie appeared shaken and emotional; critics might say that’s no big stretch for an actress, but following up her well-publicized visits with the op-ed route was wise. No charity glamour, just simple facts and arguments.

The column summarized the situation clearly. Wearing her UN hat, Jolie got right to the point: This appeal is not just about helping refugees, but making sure help is on a sustainable footing. The FT ran a photo of the glamorous special envoy on its front page. Her co-author had to be content with a byline; presumably he doesn’t sell newspapers in quite the same way.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for UNHCR. Celebrity coverage is the stepping-stone for more serious follow up, but is Angelina Jolie the right celebrity?

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Choose your celebrity wisely. By pairing up with Jolie, the UNHCR got its cause more attention than it might have otherwise. But the nagging issue with Jolie is that it’s never really clear if she is smart and cool, or a wanna-be humanitarian who, in her personal life, is a bit of a loon. She has still not been able to shake off her “crazy” image, which includes an endless array of children and tattoos. (Have we forgotten the vial of Billy Bob’s blood she wore as a necklace?) Bottom line, her sincerity isn’t in doubt, but does she have the gravitas to take this issue any further?

To read Angelina Jolie’s and António Guterres’s op-ed column, click here.

What’s your opinion of the UNHCR’s choice of Angelina Jolie as representative? Give us your PR Verdict!