Another Trump-ed Up Lawsuit

 Another Trump ed Up Lawsuit

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly Okay) for Donald Trump.

The Donald is at it again. Real estate magnate and reality TV show star Donald Trump announced yesterday that he is suing comedian and talk show host Bill Maher for $5 million dollars. Why? Maher jokingly asked Trump to prove via a birth certificate that he wasn’t fathered by an orangutan.

This was, of course, Maher’s take on Trump’s infamous “birther” challenge, in which Trump offered to donate $5 million to the charity of President Obama’s choice if he would show a birth certificate proving he was born in Hawaii. The President refused to engage and the whole thing blew over faster than Trump’s hair at the helipad.

Now Trump has risen to Maher’s bait, brandishing a birth certificate that lists his father as Fred Trump (not an orangutan). He announced the lawsuit to – where else? Fox & Friends, and – when else? Just as his reality show, The Apprentice, is starting another run. Trump says he’s going to donate the money to charity, and no, he didn’t think Maher’s comment was a joke. Maher’s Tweeted response: “What?? Really? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha,” endquote.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly Okay) for Donald Trump. This is just business as usual in his PR stunt-ridden world.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: The old saw about there being no such thing as bad publicity is a lie. Drumming up publicity for one’s TV show with a news-grabbing stunt is a wise move, but why always be the man we love to hate? Instead of humorlessly producing a birth certificate and ordering Maher to pay up, why not turn the joke to advantage by offering to donate the $5 million to the charity of Maher’s choice? Then Trump would have his publicity and appear to be the bigger man, and a generous one – as everyone knows he can afford to be. By doing it his way, Trump comes across as a bully and a blowhard. Well, at least he’s on brand.

It’s Official – Cockroaches More Popular Than Congress

 Its Official   Cockroaches More Popular Than Congress

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for the 112th US Congress.

Not just cockroaches, but head lice – and not just pesky insects, either. The 112th United States Congress is lower on the American popularity ladder than traffic jams, Donald Trump, Ghengis Khan, used-car salesmen, and – perhaps most damning of all – Brussels sprouts.

That sounds like a great joke (“What’s more popular than Congress?” “Root canals!”), but in fact, even root canals were preferable to the current Congressional staff of the US government, according to a Public Policy Poll of 830 Americans. In the non-partisan poll, Congress received a mere 9 percent favorability rating. The only things it beat out in terms of dislike were telemarketers, ebola, gonorrhea, bullies, meth labs, and Lindsay Lohan.

Why should Congress care what 830 Americans think? Well, these were only the 830 Americans actually asked; the numbers statistically represent a far greater percentage of people who dislike what’s happening, or not happening, with the fiscal cliff, gun control or the lack thereof, and other pressing matters. Members of Congress, elected by the public may want to take note.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the 112th US Congress. Cockroaches everywhere are celebrating their boost up the ladder of the loathed.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: A fall from grace is faster than the climb back up. So far, members of Congress have had more PR success in complaining  bitterly about the other side than making lasting progress. Solutions are now preferable. This fall from the grace needs a remedial bi-partisan effort. A landmark agreement on one of the pressing issues facing the nation is what will rescue this reputation. Until then the slide is set to continue.

No Celeb Surprises at the Polls

cher and kathy griffin 150x150 No Celeb Surprises at the Polls

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK ) for both political parties and their star endorsers.

Does Cher love Mitt Romney? Does Chuck Norris endorse Obama? Both might have been sensational headlines, but the opposite was true. As the election draws to an inevitable close, celebrities have been in a rush to make their final public and political stand. Uploading their Presidential endorsement videos on You Tube and their own websites, there are disappointingly few surprises about their pickings.

Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kathy Griffin, and Cher have all thrown their weight behind the Democrats. Madonna seems to have had a harder time of it; when in New Orleans recently, she was booed off the stage for endorsing President Obama, but her experience doesn’t seem to have deterred others. Obama’s celebrity support continues to be broad. But is anyone really that surprised by Hollywood favoring the Democrats?

Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan also have their share of celebrity endorsements. Arguably, the list is somewhat broader (and older) in scope: Kid Rock, Kelsey Grammer, Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, Meat Loaf, and, of course, Donald Trump. Golfer Jack Nicklaus and country music stars the Oak Ridge Boys and Lee Greenwood have been joined by celeb du jour Honey Boo Boo, the youngest of the pack and therefore ineligible to vote.

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK ) for both political parties and their star endorsers. What we really needed was a surprise.

The PR Takeaway: Astonish if you want to make a difference. It is generally understood that while celebrities may not bring in more voters, they do boost a candidate’s base and help energize the campaigns getting voters to polling booths. Fine and well, but what would really move the PR dial is to have an endorsement from left field. The element of surprise was missing with nearly all celebrities this time around. Next time, flush out the star with the surprising point of view. It’s guaranteed to vitalize a campaign and minimize the risk that the A-Listers are simply singing to their respective choirs.

To see the latest Cher video endorsing Obama, click here. To watch Chuck Norris endorse Romney, click here.

Who would you most have wanted to see stump for Obama, and who for Romney? Give us your PR Verdict!

Trump Too Easily Trumped

 Trump Too Easily Trumped

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Trump PR machine.

What was always going to be the most likely follow-up question to Donald Trump following his challenge to President Obama over his academic transcripts? The Guardian newspaper asked it and inadvertently scored a PR coup by getting the Trump organization very ruffled. It’s now clear: The Donald wants others to show theirs, but he won’t show his.

Michael Cohen, Executive Vice President at the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump, had a wildly unsuccessful but widely released phone call with Guardian journalist Adam Gabbat. The straightforward request from Gabbat? Would Mr. Trump make his own college transcripts available? The conversation went south from the get-go, with Cohen quickly turning defensive and changing PR tack no less than three times. Cohen breathlessly defended his boss, saying there are thousands of books written about Trump, adding with bravado that there is more information available on Donald Trump than “pretty much anybody on the planet.”

A journalist asking Trump for his own transcripts was always going to be the most likely outcome of Trump’s much-hyped challenge to the President. Following the PR basics of simple scenario forecasting might have been step one in an overall PR strategy. In this case, Trump’s counsel did his client no favors.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Trump PR machine.

The PR Takeaway: Don’t just expect the unexpected; expect the expected. There is nothing surprising about a journalist making the same challenge that Donald Trump just issued to the President of the United States. This was one contingency that should have been easily anticipated. Making Trump’s transcripts publicly available before the announcement would have taken the wind out of the sails of Trump’s critics. Standing on a platform of transparency and access to information inevitably results in reciprocal demands. This was a Q&A and scenario plan that even a PR intern would have known to prepare in advance.

To listen to the conversation, click here and scroll down to the end of the page.

What’s your opinion of Donald Trump’s challenge to POTUS, and the subsequent PR gaffe? Give us your PR Verdict!

Donald Trump, Master Buffoon

404232 542890259059818 265212859 n 150x150 Donald Trump, Master Buffoon

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for Donald Trump.

The art of buffoonery hit new highs yesterday with the announcement by Donald Trump of what he had been promising for three days would be HUGE news. Trump hit Trump-friendly airwaves such as Fox earlier in the week, saying that on Wednesday he would make a BIG announcement concerning the President. Speculation was rife. What could The Donald know that every political operative in a closing election race hadn’t already hoped to find as political ammunition? The big reveal was yesterday at noon on YouTube.

The Donald’s BIG news was… nothing of the sort. Continuing with a variation on the birther argument, he called Barack Obama “the least transparent President in American history” (Richard Nixon might have sprung to mind). The Donald then congratulated himself in the video for having “gotten the President to release his long-form birth certificate – or whatever it may be.” He now says he has a deal for the President.

If Obama “hands over” his college records and passport application records to Trump, he will give $5 million to a charity of the President’s choice. As long as this is done “to my satisfaction,” says The Donald immodestly, he will deliver the check immediately. The forms must be in by October 31. He urged the President to meet the challenge and added that he was speaking on behalf of the entire US population.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco ) to Trump. Donald, you’re fired.

The PR Takeaway: Big talk and bluster equal buffoonery. Donald Trump, the Master Buffoon, has sealed his own PR image with this latest YouTube insanity. His video and language give no reason to suggest this is anything other than a self-serving publicity stunt. Does he know something we don’t? The much anticipated news “from the Desk of Donald Trump” was well-packaged as an unreservedly ego-driven publicity stunt, but the more publicity (of this type), the lower his credibility falls. At this rate, it may soon be political suicide to be publicly aligned with Trump. The sneaking suspicion is that he may not care.

To see the video, click here.

What’s your opinion of The Donald’s latest publicity stunt? Give us your PR Verdict!

Ralph Lauren’s Olympic Disaster

 Ralph Laurens Olympic Disaster

The PR Verdict: “A” (Gold Star!) for Ralph Lauren

Oh no! The blue blazers and white trousers of the US Olympic team aren’t made in the USA? The clothing that athletes from Team USA will wear was actually made in China? Outrageous! Ralph Lauren, who has proudly supplied the US Olympic team with its uniforms over the years, suddenly found itself in the ugly crossfire of the outsourcing debate.

The fracas started when both Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi got wind that the uniforms were made in China. What a great media opportunity! The clothes have been Chinese-made since 2008, but oddly enough no one seemed to mind then, when outsourcing wasn’t such a hot political issue. This time around, everyone wanted to get on board. And when Donald Trump becomes the latest to start publicly opining, it’s definitely time to take remedial action.

Ralph Lauren issued a statement late on Friday night, presumably to kill weekend drumbeating, saying that the clothes will be made on US soil next  time:  “We have committed to producing the opening and closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.”

The PR Verdict: “A” (Gold Star!) for Ralph Lauren for recognizing this was an issue with no winnable defense. Take corrective action, quickly, and move on.

The PR Takeaway: Issue your response and then elevate the topic to wider macro concerns. There is no upside in advocating outsourcing, particularly when it involves national symbols. No matter that other US fashion houses of similar standing would have done the same. Next step, make it clear that this is a wider issue. The firm said it will take the lead in the  “conversation” within the industry and government  about “manufacturing in the United States.” See? This issue wasn’t about Ralph Lauren… it was about the state of US manufacturing! Nothing personal.

What’s your opinion of the US Olympic team uniform debate? Give us your PR Verdict!

Is it Embarrassing to be a Friend of Donald Trump?

romney trump 460x307 300x200 Is it Embarrassing to be a Friend of Donald Trump?

The PR verdict: “C” for Team Romney doing its best to keep Trump at a polite distance.

Is it embarrassing to be a friend of Donald Trump? That must be the question the Romney campaign is currently pondering.  Instead of dominating the airwaves with his victory in the Texan primary, Mitt Romney found himself in the uncomfortable position yesterday of responding to questions about his pal Donald Trump while both were on stage at a Las Vegas fundraiser.

“The Donald” resurrected yesterday the now widely discredited red herring that the President was not born in the United States.  Before appearing with Romney at the fundraiser, The Donald took to the airwaves and told CNN “a lot of people don’t think it was an authentic (birth) certificate.”  Sounding like a conspiracy theorist claiming the lunar landing never happened, he added, “CNN won’t report it but many people do not believe it was authentic.”

Trump just raised over $600,00 for Romney and is now working on another $300,000.  His fund raising efforts clearly matter but Trump’s ongoing nuttiness about Obama’s birth certificate could potentially blow Romney’s campaign off course. Conservative columnist George Will described Trump as a “bloviating ignoramus” on weekend television while Romney supporters are wondering what the Trump association serves, with one commenting in yesterday’s NY times, “once you get past Trump’s hair there is no substance.”

The PR verdict: “C” for Team Romney doing its best to keep Trump at a polite distance.  Romney via his team has said he has no issue with the President’s birthplace.  Further cold shouldering might bring the Donald into line.

PR Takeaway:  “Cold and Dignified” is sometimes the best PR approach.  Avoiding photo ops with The Donald and giving only strictly timed sound bites with the self styled mogul is a good idea.  To dilute appearances of a close friendship, insist next time that any appearance with Romney and the Donald includes other celebrity supporters being interviewed at the same time.  While The Donald’s fundraising helps, a close PR association doesn’t.  This is one case where some polite distance is called for.

To read more click here

Are the Brothers Trump the New Hemingway?

TRUMPHUNTING1 Are the Brothers Trump the New Hemingway?

The PR Verdict: “C” for the Brothers Trump response to PeTA.

Are the sons of Donald Trump following in the steps of Papa Hemmingway as big game hunters? The two brothers are caught up in a fight with PeTA, the animal rights group which seized on photographs of the two brothers vacationing on safari in Africa.

These were not poolside snaps of the brothers drunk on margaritas. The sons of “The Donald” were photographed in numerous poses including standing next to the corpse of a crocodile and in another, standing by a dead elephant while holding its bloody tail.  The brothers seem often to be wearing matching safari wear.

PeTA, the animal rights group, ever vigilant, seized on the photos for PR purposes.  Using it as an occasion to decry hunting and those who love it, PeTA got the media splash it was looking for.  The Trump brothers responded unambiguously that they have always loved hunting and will continue to do so.  From their point of view no apology was needed.  Like father, like son.

The PR Verdict:  “C” for the Brothers Trump and their new found fame as game hunters. Rush Limbaugh taught us that apologies don’t work unless you mean it and with the probability that another safari photo could easily surface, a clarifying statement was the best way to go.

The brothers issued a straightforward statement saying they have always loved hunting and on this occasion took care to observe local rules and practices. Trump Senior side-stepped the issue saying that he supported his sons and their passion for hunting, even if it is not for him personally.  In so doing Trump senior  got himself out of PeTA’s cross hairs and kept his own conservative gun loving base of fans relatively happy.  Smart move for the father while the sons can continue hunting unimpeded.

To read more about this click here and here.

How would you rate the Trump’s handling of this? Would Papa Hemingway be proud?

[polldaddy poll=5993165]

Donald Trump: Anyone Coming To My Party?

donaldtrump Donald Trump: Anyone Coming To My Party? Donald Trump (left) announced recently that he would be chairing a televised debate with the leading GOP frontrunners. Invitations were sent.

John Huntsman was the first to decline. After that, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney sent their regrets. Michele Bachmann remains on the fence while only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have accepted.

Ironically these very same candidates were previously beating a path to The Donald’s door, assuming his public endorsement would make the difference. That was before The Donald intimated that he might run as an independent himself.

The lesson learnt? Presidential candidates can’t shine when pandering to a celebrity whose trademark is opinionated bluster.

The PR Verdict: “A” to the candidates who have sent their regrets.  This was not the right PR vehicle.

The Donald has a habit of shouting down ideas and people he disagrees with. This has made him a media celebrity albeit without a high level of credibility or gravitas. By appearing in the debate,  a presidential candidate runs the risk of looking like he is pandering to a bully.  Not very presidential. Better to send a thank you note and regrets.