Romney Rips Police Chief for Obama Slur

Romney Romney Rips Police Chief for Obama Slur

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR PERFECT) for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney might not have been a particularly awesome Presidential candidate (or a particularly enlightened pet owner), but in matters of basic human decency, his bona fides are unassailable. So it was appropriate and magnanimous of him to sound off over the weekend in defense of the man who bested him in 2012, Barack Obama.

Romney, in a statement to The Boston Herald, excoriated Robert Copeland, the rural New Hampshire police commissioner who was overheard using a racial slur to describe the President – and who, despite widespread and uniform condemnation, initially refused even to apologize, let alone resign. Defending his N-word usage, Copeland said the President “meets and exceeds my criteria for such.” His forced resignation was announced by the town government yesterday.

Romney, who owns a nearby vacation home in New Hampshire, minced no words is calling for Copeland to apologize and resign, in no particular order. “The vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community,” he told the Herald. Good for Mitt.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Mitt Romney, for throwing his moral authority around – and knowing he had to.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Know when you must speak up. It is as important as knowing when not to. Romney’s remarks about his onetime opponent’s White House tenure and the 2012 Presidential contest haven’t always been supportive or conciliatory. And likely the passage of time hasn’t fully dulled his smarting from the 2012 loss. In the current matter, he could have kept quiet, but likely sooner or later the press would have come calling, expecting an opinion. Romney, among other Obama critics who have also called for Copeland’s resignation, is uniquely credentialed to weigh in: He lives in the community. That made it all the more necessary that he speak out. After all, in the end all politics is local. Along with The World Outside, Romney’s neighbors also deserved to know where he stood.

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.

Guest Column: Boehner’s Bait and Switch

BOHENER 150x150 Guest Column: Boehners Bait and Switch

PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Speaker Boehner.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner wasted no time before the presidential election result was called, declaring, “With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates.” With polls still open in Alaska and Hawaii, the Republican leadership was drawing a line in the sand. No matter the outcome, some ideas were not going to be up for debate.

But election night was still young when Boehner made his statement. By Wednesday morning, he’d nuanced his position by stating Republicans were willing to accept new revenue, without  mentioning any further details. Perhaps he realized that following President Obama’s re-election, “no taxes” wasn’t going to fly.

A standard tactic in negotiations and PR brinkmanship is to set boundaries early on. These pre-emptive shots across the bow manage the other side’s expectations before the negotiations commence. Taking firm positions far in advance of a negotiation can be effective, but this type of bargaining tactic tends not to win friends and can create PR nightmares down the line. No one wants to have to publicly backtrack.

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Speaker Boehner, who has now given himself some negotiating room. He might have been better off saying nothing on the big night.

The PR Takeaway: Careful when and where you draw your definitive line. Muhammad Ali gained PR notoriety for taunting and “trash-talking” his competitors before a boxing match. Competitive athletes now commonly use this tactic. It’s about getting the other side to doubt their strength, question their position, and to negotiate against themselves. This is no different than using bluffs, and was most likely Boehner’s tactic with Obama. There are PR advantages if you can remain firm, but if you can’t maintain your position, silence is always golden.

neilpatton2 150x150 Guest Column: Boehners Bait and SwitchGuest columnist Neil Patton is the President of Pre-think Strategic Negotiations, Inc. Pre-think is a consultancy focused on helping organizations and individuals improve their negotiation capabilities and outcomes. A professional labor negotiator for more than 19 years, his clients have included the Canadian Army , healthcare providers, and mining companies. 

Diane Sawyer: Anchor Aweigh!

 Diane Sawyer: Anchor Aweigh!

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Diane Sawyer.

Talking heads were breathless in describing this nail-bitingly close election but one thing unified this divided country: What the heck was up with Diane Sawyer? The venerable anchorwoman received the dubious honor of being the second-most talked about part of Election 2012.

The Twitterverse focused its biting sights on Sawyer, who during election coverage was described as propped on one arm, slurring her words, giggling, and making comments about the network’s dramatic music.  “And Diane Sawyer declares tonight’s winner is…chardonnay!” read one Tweet. And a new Twitter handle was born: @DrunkDianeSawyer, which soon had hundreds of followers.

The network felt compelled to address the alleged brew-haha, although it’s not really clear if anything needed to be said. This seemed more like a story that grew its own momentum, proving the viral nature of social media over any real substance. “Diane’s fine – she’s exhausted,” said a representative responding to the deluge of tweets. “Diane has been up for days and she’s had many sleepless nights…..covering the hurricane and then preparing for the election broadcast.” Sounds plausible enough.  This hiccup will fade if Sawyer refrains from addressing it herself. After all, Tweeters’ attention spans are only 140 characters long.

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Diane Sawyer. One (or two) bad nights do not a long, illustrious career unmake.

The PR Takeaway: Don’t apologize, don’t explain.  Sawyer’s PR rep said what was needed to deflect rumours and the rep was the right person to say it. Should Sawyer have jumped to her own defense, she would have only incriminated herself prolonging discussion and fuelling curiosity that something was not quite right. Better to keep calm, carry on and get some rest.

To see a clip of Sawyer during the election results, click here.

Should Diane Sawyer address rumors of her being drunk on air? Give us your PR Verdict!

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!

A Serious Storm, A Simple (and Effective) Message

OB VD264 obamaf G 20121028145952 150x150 A Serious Storm, A Simple (and Effective) Message

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for a President’s speech that reassured and activated.

Hurricane Sandy has managed to do the unthinkable in terms of media coverage: moved the last ten days of electioneering off the front page and turned national attention toward disaster recovery. President Obama joined the conversation on Monday morning, and with a coupe of clearly honed messages at a hastily-convened press conference, he made the transition from electioneering President to President in Charge.

Obama’s short speech is worth watching for anyone wanting to know how to craft a simple message. What started off with a slightly wordy and lengthy introduction soon became clear. Yes, preparations were in place and the East Coast was as ready as it could be, but the main takeaway? “Listen to what officials are saying – this is a serious storm.”

Obama’s speech was designed to reassure, and to manage expectations. He flagged the  inevitable issues that will arise post-storm, including long-running power outages and transportation delays. But the main lesson from the speech is that reassuring the public that everything’s under control is not enough; a call to action is needed and grabs attention. Getting the public directly involved takes the conversation to a higher level of engagement.

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for a President’s speech that reassured and activated.

The PR Takeaway: To get the public’s attention, give the public something to do. President Obama’s speech included a roll call of what was intended to reassure a nervous public. What made the difference was clear instruction. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made a similar speech following September 11, when he asked New Yorkers to go back to their lives, the streets, and shopping. A call to action from someone in authority got attention then, as it does now.

The PRV Report Card: Debate Winner & Loser

 The PRV Report Card: Debate Winner & LoserDEBATE WINNER: “B” (Good Show) to Barack Obama, who won the debate (but only just). Democrats wanted a more aggressive President, and they got him. At times, Obama was jocular: When Romney repeatedly asked, “Have you looked at your pension, Mr. President?” Obama laughed and shot back, “I don’t look at my pension – it’s not as big as yours.” But when Romney accused POTUS of flying off to a fundraiser the day after the attack on the US embassy in Libya, Obama Hulked out and put Romney in his place. Game on. No one in this debate was prepared to turn the other cheek, a recharged Obama stepped up to the plate and met expectations. Is there new momentum in the campaign?

 

 The PRV Report Card: Debate Winner & LoserDEBATE LOSER: “B” (Good Show) to Mitt Romney, who lost the debate (but only by the slenderest of margins). Romney still has a propensity for sinking his own ship with one catchphrase. Previously we had the now infamous “47 percent.” This time, in response to a question about equal pay, Romney told a story about staffing his male-dominated cabinet and said, “They brought us binders full of women.” The comment quickly reverberated around the blogosphere, went viral on Twitter, and was a URL within an hour. Fodder for the next attack ad no doubt, and only time will tell how this affects 50 percent of the voting public.

 

 The PRV Report Card: Debate Winner & Loser

THE “NONSENSICAL TANGENT” PR AWARD TO: Both candidates, for their answers to the question about gun control. Romney began talking about marriage and two-parent families, starting a rapid-fire spree of Tweets beginning and ending with “WTF”? Obama fared no better, veering sharply off into education and higher test scores in math and science. So…guns don’t kill people, divorce and geeks do?

Guest Column: Axelrod’s Post-Debate Petulance

 Guest Column: Axelrods Post Debate Petulance

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for David Axelrod’s demonstration of petulance and personal attack on his client’s adversary.

With the first presidential debate completed, the pundits and social sphere weighed in with immediate evaluations of both candidates’ performances. With more debates to come, the general consensus was that for round one, President Obama was disappointing. Even the Democrats said so.

That disappointment was clearly reflected in the President’s chief strategic advisor David Axelrod’s post-debate comments. Axelrod called Romney an “artful dodger” and a person whose statements during the debate  were “devoid of honesty,” “rooted in deception,” “untethered to the truth,” and “well delivered but fraudulent.”

Can Axelrod be more candid and more ad hominem? He did not offer much by way of factual correction, nor attempt to make the mind-numbing statistics provided by both candidates more user/voter-friendly. Do most voters know what Dodd-Frank or Simpson-Bowles are?  By the end of the debate, voters were still trying to absorb the kaleidoscope of  “what was that number” or “how does that math work” confusion?

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for David Axelrod’s demonstration of petulance and personal attack on his client’s adversary.

The PR Takeaway: Take the high road, regardless of your personal feelings.  Address facts and express “disappointment” in your opponent’s argument without the need to call your opponent “fraudulent.” Anger shows weakness, and Axelrod, in those immediate moments of media confrontation about his client, would have served both himself and President better by “correcting the record” rather than taking personal pot shots which, up until now, has been the tenor of Axelrod’s communications leadership. Remember that rather than launching personal attacks on those opposing you, persuasion founded in facts engages those whose point of view you seek to capture.

What’s your opinion of David Axelrod’s post-debate commentary? Give us your PR Verdict!


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 Lady Gaga.  Though we had ranked her earlier this week, Lady Gaga has not stopped topping the list of trending stories right across the web.  While the world may be holding a global UN summit in New York, Gaga turned a 25-lb. weight gain into a point of pride – and a brilliant PR maneuver.  The coverage keeps on being generated following the launch of her Body Revolution, a forum urging acceptance for less than perfect physiques. A media masterstroke that has put more serious global issues in the shade.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: F (Full Fiasco) for Team Romney. The latest Gallup Poll shows Mitt Romney trailing behind Barack Obama by six points. It’s not hard to guess that the number 47 figured into that percentage somehow. With just over a month until Election Day, Team Romney must come up with a serious plan to halt this free-fall. The announcement of a genuinely new and unexpected economic plan might just reset the debate. Something fresh and unexpected is needed. Any suggestions?

 

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV AWARD FOR BRAND CONSISTENCY: Samuel L. Jackson for his “Wake the F*ck Up” political bedtime story. The actor, so well known for his expletive-laced lines in films and real life that he’s usually called “Samuel Motherf*ckin’ Jackson,”  cuts through indistinct attack ads with a punchy pro-Obama rant. In rhyme!  While it may not encourage anyone to change their vote on the big day, Jackson has successfully reinforced his own brand without talking about himself  – the secret to all successful PR.

THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Week’s Winners & Losers

This week: Three mothers–one venerable, one vulnerable, and one insulted and avenged in a fashion smackdown. A typical week in the world of PR…

 THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Weeks Winners & Losers

PR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to Mother Jones Magazine. At a time when most are ringing the death knell of print, this small, socially-conscious, 36-year-old nonprofit publication may have changed election history by bringing the now-infamous “47 Percent” video to light. Bravo for hitting the headlines and shaping the national conversation. It’s the rule for effective PR!

 

 THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Lohan Clan. If there was an award for Brand Consistency, it would go to this family; while daughter was arrested yet again this week, this time for clipping a pedestrian with her car, mother made a spectacularly awkward appearance on Dr. Phil (seen here on PerezHilton.com). Among the many, many questions we have: Is there a Lohan publicist in the house? Why did anyone (including Dr Phil himself) agree to this interview?

And a special mention…

 THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Weeks Winners & Losers

L to R: Tesoro, Eymere, Susskind-Jalou

THE “NOW YOU KNOW” PR AWARD FOR STAYING ON MESSAGE: When Jalouse Magazine editor Jennifer Eymere discovered that her mother, Marie-Jose Susskind-Jalou, had been moved from the front row of a Zac Posen fashion show, Eymere found the publicist in charge, Lynn Tesoro, and registered her displeasure – by slapping Tesoro in the face. Denials? Mais non; Eymere stayed on message. “It was a small slap,” she told Women’s Wear Daily. “She humiliated my mom, and I humiliated her in front of her crew. I said at the end, ‘Now you know you don’t [expletive] with French people.” Point taken. As is Tesoro’s counterpoint: A $1 million lawsuit. Ah…Happy Days.