Christie Faces a Different Kind of Storm

 Christie Faces a Different Kind of Storm

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made the first State of the State address of his second term, a speech emphasizing his accomplishments and acknowledging work to be done. The state of Chrisie’s PR, however, is a far more negative picture that could jeopardize any chance of a presidential run in 2016.

Last week, Christie faced allegations that lane closures on the George Washington Bridge were manufactured by key members of his staff as a form of political retribution.  Yesterday, Christie gave his address hours after new accusations, that he misappropriated $25 million in New Jersey’s “Stronger Than the Storm” ad campaign, and that he timed the ads – which featured him – to run right before the election.

“The last week has certainly tested this administration,” Christie began in his address. “We let down the people. I’m the governor, I’m ultimately responsible for what happens on my watch, both good and bad.” He then went into the state of the state, painting a far sunnier picture than the current state of his PR.

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Be smart and be careful, for none are immune to a takedown. As facts on the scandals are too new and too few, it’s difficult to say where or if Christie went wrong. But the higher one’s aspirations, the more careful one must be. Christie’s defense against the Bridgegate – that he didn’t know – is also the weakest; it implies lack of control over a shady team. If he did know, any fifth grader could tell Christie et al that email is forever. Either way, when one is falling from a previously graceful high point, go back to doing what you do best, at double the effort. In Christie’s case, that means fighting for the average Joe – and hoping he wasn’t caught in those traffic jams.

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

giffordsjump The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who marked the third anniversary of the mass shooting that killed six of her constituents and left her in critical condition, with a different kind of death-defying, life-affirming act. Last Wednesday, Giffords, now heading a national gun control group with her husband, Mark Kelly, while continuing to inspire all with her painstaking, courageous rehabilitation from her injuries, paired up with a Navy SEAL for a tandem skydive over the Arizona desert. Giffords, whose injuries left her with sharply impaired speech, told an interviewer the stunt could speak for her. And what was the message? “I’m alive,” she said.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who’s trying to speed away from a PR disaster. After months of denying allegations that his office intentionally caused traffic jams in a town whose mayor didn’t endorse Christie, emails surfaced this week suggesting members of the governor’s inner circle did just that. In an emergency press conference, Christie fired one staffer, distanced himself from another and described himself as blindsided and humiliated. But the PR damage to the potential presidential hopeful is done: Either he knew about the antics and lied about them, or he didn’t know but is incompetent and obtuse enough to surround himself with vindictive bullies. The question for Christie is whether this PR stain will wash out by 2016.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to Dennis Rodman, former NBA basketball star, now self-appointed envoy to North Korea. As shown in the basketball game organized by Rodman, his skills on the court still far outweigh those of the ambassador he fancies himself as being. On this latest visit, Rodman insinuated that Kenneth Bae, a political prisoner held by North Korea since 2012, did something to deserve his sentence of 15 years of hard labor. Rodman’s empty apology, made via his publicist, was that he’d been drinking – something that, were he not Kim Jong Un’s bestie, might have landed him in a position to apologize to Bae directly.

Will Christie’s One-Horse Race Lead to Washington?

 Will Christies One Horse Race Lead to Washington?

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Chris Christie.

Does style trump substance? That was the key question in the race for governor of New Jersey. With Chris Christie and Barbara Buono facing off for the coveted seat, name recognition alone was going to tip the scales in this race.

One needn’t be a resident of New Jersey to know Christie. He’s the man who spoke mostly about himself in a speech meant to introduce Mitt Romney to the Republican National Convention as their candidate for president. He was the Republican who crossed party lines by giving a warm welcome, and thanks, to President Obama in the days after Superstorm Sandy. He’s also the official who opposed same-sex marriage in New Jersey, though he quietly dropped a promise to fight it in the Supreme Court.

But did Christie ever really have an opponent? Christie made a memorable stand during Sandy and has kept a high profile since, staying on brand as a straight shooter, poking fun at himself on Letterman and undergoing weight loss surgery as he dealt with media criticism over his appearance. Christie has done it all publicly, with a PR plan that has made everyone think this was a one-horse race.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Chris Christie, returned as governor of New Jersey and possibly a future in Washington DC.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Stand out from the pack, and stay there. At a time when approval of government and its elected officials is at an all-time low, Christie differentiates himself fearlessly. He ranges from being a man of the people to being a brash trash-talker, but everyone knows his name. This is no accident. Find a way to step apart from the pack and then do what it takes to make sure yours is the only name remembered.

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 the International Association to Save Tyre, a charitable organization that came up with a most innovative fundraiser: a raffle to win a Picasso. Sotheby’s Paris will host the drawing, in which one lucky ticket holder will win Picasso’s “Man With Opera Hat,” a cubist illustration valued at $1 million dollars. Tickets are available online, worldwide, for $135/€100. After the publicity the raffle received, it’s a cinch the ceiling of 50,000 available tickets will be met, bringing in a raft of donations and awareness in this artfully crafted fundraiser.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who committed an uncharacteristic PR misstep this week. Christie told The Record, a NJ newspaper, that a “low-level manager” at NJ Transit was responsible for deciding to move more than 300 trains to a facility that wound up flooding during Hurricane Sandy last year, causing more than $100 million in damage. The governor suggested that the manager went rogue and didn’t properly vet his decision within the transportation agency. The call-out alone would have been bad enough, but it turns out that The Record has emails showing that this poor unfortunate’s decision was, indeed, approved by more than a dozen supervisors, including the agency director. Bad intel and poor form, governor.

kochs The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers

THE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to Charles and David Koch, for denying any role in the anti-Obamacare government shutdown but not disavowing the Republican-led effort. The conservative billionaire brothers, who bankroll numerous right-wing causes, figured prominently in a Sunday New York Times article  that traced how Koch-funded conservative groups and politicians plotted the shutdown strategy to block the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, in a blanket letter to US Senators, the Kochs said although they oppose Obamacare, they had “not taken a position” on the shutdown strategy nor lobbied Congress to defund the program. So in other words, they’re not to blame for a shutdown, which they have no opinion on, anyway.




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 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for pulling off another political pirouette. A week after rekindling his late summer hurricane “bromance” with President Obama, the Republican governor put the partisan gloves back on in the wake of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death. Christie appointed the state’s Republican Attorney General to caretake Lautenberg’s seat and called an early, off-cycle election to fill the seat permanently. No matter that the special election will cost taxpayers an extra $24 million; Christie successfully sold it as being in the state’s best interests. Of course, it nicely serves the GOP’s and his own interests as well by keeping a popular Democrat and his strong partisan support out of the November general election. A purely political calculation, but Christie made it look like he was just doing the right thing for his constituents.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO Major League Baseball’s latest steroid scandal. Twenty baseball heavyweights, including Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees (left), are under investigation for alleged involvement in a Florida “anti-aging clinic” whose elixir of youth was performance enhancing drugs. A-Rod previously admitted to taking PEDs from 2001-3, but has denied taking them since. If found to be lying, he could face a 100-game suspension. No word on the effect that will have on his 10-year, $275 million contract, especially after a bad season.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to The Guardian, the British newspaper that breathlessly reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) issued a “top secret” order for the daily phone records of millions of Verizon customers. The order, the paper said, “shows the scale of surveillance under the Obama administration.” US lawmakers, who can usually find outrage in a cup of coffee, were unmoved. Senior Democrats and Republicans in Congress said they know about it and have no particular problem with it, especially in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. The White House simply said measures are in place to ensure that the program, which does not permit authorities to listen in on phone calls, complies with various laws. It also appears this clandestine order The Guardian stumbled upon may just be a reauthorization of a program that’s gone on for years. Phonegate it’s not. Ho-hum.

Is Chris Christie Shaping Up for President?

 Is Chris Christie Shaping Up for President?

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Chris Christie.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has been the subject of much political speculation in recent months, with both Democrats and Republicans wondering whether he’ll make a bid for the presidency. The one major obstacle? Christie’s weight. The media constantly debates whether possible health problems might keep him out of the big chair in the Oval Office. Christie has apparently taken on this issue; this past Tuesday, he revealed that he’d secretly had lap band surgery to lose weight.

Christie has been one of the more interesting possibilities as a Republican candidate, both despite and because of his seeming lack of rigid allegiance to his party.Republicans have to like Christie because, well, he’s a Republican. But Democrats like the way he occasionally dances on their side of the floor. No one, however, likes the idea of a President who might develop health problems while in office.

While Christie does not have any of the diseases typically associated with obesity, such as diabetes or hypertension, and has referred to himself as “the healthiest fat guy around,” everyone is aware that at his current weight, Christie is not a presidential contender. Hence, the lap band surgery. It’s less invasive and drastic than conventional weight-loss surgery, and Christie apparently recovered from the procedure over a long weekend – President’s Day weekend, to be exact. Hint, hint.

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) for Chris Christie. He’s more willing than a Texan beauty pageant contestant to do what it takes to win.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: When issues are presented repeatedly and chip away at one’s PR, take action. Christie has tried joking his way out of charges that he’s too heavy to be a presidential contender. He tried saying he’s healthy. But when the issue blocking him from serious consideration for candidacy persisted, he took action. When charges won’t go away, they must be dealt with. The loss of an issue is a gain for positive PR. 


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 Chris Christie. First, the governor of New Jersey decided to combat constant fat jokes made by David Letterman by showing up on the Late Show and noshing on a donut. “I didn’t know this was going to be this long,” Christie quipped. After Connie Mariano, physician to President Clinton, cast a shadow over speculation about a Christie White House run in 2016 by saying she feared the overweight politician would die in office (she has never examined him), he shot back in typical Joisey gov fashion: “She should shut up.” In both cases, Christie showed how to deftly turn negative media into positive PR.


 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: F (“Full Fiasco”) to North Korea. The government released a bizarre propaganda mini-film depicting a nuclear missile launch and New York City engulfed in flames. A dreamscape sequence set to “We Are The World,” the video was released on YouTube, a rather ironic platform given the dictatorship’s antipathy to freedom of information. If Kim Jong-un was going for intimidation, the video wasn’t a success. Bemusement and confusion seemed to be the primary reactions, at least outside North Korea. Maybe the response was different within the country itself – where, erm, no one has Internet access to watch it.


bfrankel 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” PR AWARD TO: celebrities and their pets. This week, ran two stories about celebrities and their pet troubles. Former Spice Girl Emma Bunton got her minute of questionable fame this week with the search for her lost dog. Bunton “took to Twitter” to announce that her chocolate labrador Phoebe went missing and has now come to an untimely end (no details given). Not be outdone, reality TV star Bethenny Frankel tweeted that her beloved dog Cookie is ill “which makes me sad & gives me anxiety.” The news? Cookie has been released from “hospital” following the insertion of a catheter. We can understand stars working social media to stay in the public eye, but there isn’t much to say here even when limited by 140 characters.

Photos Well Worth a Thousand Words

This week, as we prepare to break for the holidays, we ‘re taking a look at the PR moments that made a difference in 2012. The power of one strong picture is underestimated in the PR world; sometimes one visual is all that’s needed to convey a message. If a picture can say a thousand words, a photo can also shape a thousand words.

Here are three photos that proved the point.

Chrischristie obamajpg 150x150 Photos Well Worth a Thousand WordsBoth President Barack Obama and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey have their stalwart fans and detractors. But this photo, taken immediately following Hurricane Sandy, helped change the conversation about the need for bipartisanship. The American electorate paused; maybe respectful discussion and co-operation is possible after all? There were lessons in this photo for both parties, and its importance resurfaces as the fiscal cliff deadline approaches.



katieholeselle 150x150 Photos Well Worth a Thousand WordsNo slinking around in the shadows for Katie Holmes as she announced her divorce from Tom Cruise. Gracing the cover of Elle Magazine while simultaneously announcing her divorce from Tom Cruise, this cover girl made it clear it she was not the victim in the divorce. Clever strategy, or a happy coincidence? In the end, it doesn’t matter. The tone was set: Holmes one point, Cruise none.




QueenOO71 150x136 Photos Well Worth a Thousand WordsHard to believe, but only a decade ago the Queen was having her own PR Problems. Out of touch, cold, frosty, and humorless were the persistent complaints. How things have changed! Jumping out of helicopter with James Bond served her well during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The stunt caught the headlines; some even asked, Was it really her? In the end, not only did royal PR benefit but the helicopter shot also served as a welcome distraction to a puzzling and eccentric Opening Olympic Ceremony that had many scratching their heads.