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

Jamie Dornan 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers“A” (PR PERFECT) to Universal Studios and Focus Features, for beating back the bad news of losing their lead actor in the highly anticipated film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. The BDSM-themed movie is set to begin filming next month, but two weeks ago a painful setback was suffered when actor Charlie Hunnam, a hotly debated pick for Grey, freed himself from the role. PR flaks tortured fans with a variety of possible replacements. Yesterday,  rumors hit the media that former Calvin Klein model turned actor Jamie Dornan (pictured) was nearly tied down for the role. Far from being spanked by adversity, the studios managed to keep the film’s buzz hot and have fans begging for more.

mcds The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers

PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to McDonald’s, chastised again last week for appearing indifferent to the plight of its lowest-paid workers. Activists seeking higher wages in the fast-food industry embarrassed the super-sized chain with a recording of a call one worker made to the company’s employee help line. The worker, who after 10 years as a cashier earns $8.25 an hour, was advised to sign up for food stamps to supplement her income. McDonald’s, playing defense, said all its employees, which number in the hundreds of thousands, have opportunities for advancement within the company. But it continues to lose the PR war on this issue: With more than half of its workers on public assistance, its low wages cost taxpayers $1.2 billion annually – an easy number to contrast with the $1.5 billion in profits it earned last quarter.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO THERE THERE” AWARD to a rather bizarre discussion about the physical build of one Captain Robert Durand, who runs public affairs for the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a recent piece about reforming the base’s checkered image, The Washington Post described Durand as “thickset.” One presumes an indignant phone call begat the correction that followed this week, which flatly stated that the adjective was incorrect and should have said “muscular” instead. The New Republic jumped into the fray, opining that Durand looked neither thickset nor muscular in a recent photo. Slate, the online magazine, offered “fit” as a more appropriate descriptor. Whose image were we worried about again? Oh that’s right, the base’s….

Wall Street Journal’s Cowardly Response

 Wall Street Journals Cowardly Response

The PR Verdict: "D" for the Wall Street Journal.

Is that as racy as love letters get?  E-mail correspondence between Brett McGurk, President Obama’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and his then-paramour Gina Chon, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has members of Congress very excited. For the rest of us it’s hard to see what the fuss is about.

The e-mails, dating from 2008, were posted anonymously this week on Flickr–bad timing for McGurk, a top adviser on Iraq who is currently going though congressional approval for the job of US ambassador. Congressional members are concerned that while McGurk was working on tough negotiations with Iraqis, his future wife Chon covered the talks for the WSJ. Could he have leaked to her classified information?  If so, they’ll have to try to stay awake while reviewing e-mails such as McGurk’s “I had a very good day with the Iraqis–the best yet. Can’t tell you about it of course. But you should definitely stay past Sunday.” Chon’s reply: “Stop being such a tease!”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland breezily washed her hands of the issue, telling CNN, “I’m not going to get into e-mails between Mr. McGurk and the woman who subsequently became his wife.” The WSJ had a more cowardly reply to CNN,  “We are looking into the matter.”

The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for the Wall Street Journal who could have tried harder to defend its journalist. If the State Department can sound annoyed, why can’t the WSJ?

PR Takeaway: Where’s the beef? The WSJ might have tried publicly shifting the burden of proof onto the accusers: “Which article does the committee think contains leaked information? We would be happy to look into the matter.”  Then sit back and wait for the response.  And while we are there, how about privately suggesting to members of Congress that they stop calling the emails racy? In this day of Fifty Shades of Grey, they’re hardly blush-inducing.

To read the racy letters and for more background click here.