Jackman Addresses Rumors, for Better or Worse

 Jackman Addresses Rumors, for Better or Worse

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Hugh Jackman.

When an actor has a new movie out, particularly a summer blockbuster, part of the massive marketing process is interviews. The training for these Q&As, which run the gamut from magazine cover stories and chat shows to endless roundtables with press, require more stamina than the life-threatening stunts for an action movie. The same questions are asked over and over and over again. The only thing that can break the monotony is a star addressing a rather unorthodox question, such as the one confronting A-list actor Hugh Jackman, currently promoting The Wolverine: “Are you gay?”

An actor at Jackman’s level could treat this question the way his character Wolverine, a comic book superhero with a short fuse and long razors extending from his hands, might – with swift death. But he’s taking it on, as is his wife, and even his X-Men producer, all saying the rumors are untrue. These rumors about Jackman’s sexuality have been hinted at since he portrayed gay songwriter Peter Allen in the Broadway production of The Boy From Oz, though they’re nowhere near the level of the accusations hurled at John Travolta or Tom Cruise. So why even bother addressing them?

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Hugh Jackman. This is likely not what his film studio wanted for press for an action blockbuster aimed at a teenaged male audience.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Where there’s smoke, put out the fire – by not dousing it with fuel. Clearly, when accusations come with legal issues, such as what Travolta faced last year, action must be taken. In this case, why even acknowledge them? A subtle “That’s not worth addressing because it’s not true” would suffice. PRs might also want to remind their clients that while this might have been appropriate during the press tour for, say, the musical Les Miserables, it’s an eyebrow-raiser while doing press for an action flick. Additionally, at a time when gay marriage is fighting tooth and nail for legalization, vociferous denial of homosexuality could read the wrong way. Overall, it’s a question Wolverine should have sliced off the list.

Boy Scouts PR Move: More Talk, Less Action

 Boy Scouts PR Move: More Talk, Less Action

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for the Boy Scouts of America.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) got a lucky PR break last week. As the Catholic Church prepared for the conclave, the PR spotlight was turned away from the US organization that continues to ban openly gay Scouts and Scout leaders. The conclave inadvertently bought the BSA some breathing space as the Boy Scouts, just like the Catholic Church, grapples with the complex challenge of how to please its diverse constituents while remaining relevant for future generations. The BSA was out of the  PR heat – at least for a week.

The BSA stumbled earlier this year after a press leak, later confirmed, that suggested change was imminent on its policy regarding openly gay members. In fact, the BSA Board was deeply divided. Its solution? It deferred its decision and retreated from the public eye to regroup.

Now, in part to follow up on the recent controversy, the BSA is surveying adult Scouts and their families about the role of gay members and leaders in Scouting. Described as “neutral and not intended … to provide a certain outcome,’” the BSA is at pains to point out that it is now listening to its members. But time will tell whether being in listening mode helps the BSA cure its PR ills.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for the Boy Scouts of America. Listening to members is fine, but sometimes leadership calls for just that: leadership.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Change the debate to change the crisis. Shifting the terms of the debate is a hallmark of good PR, and it is hard to quibble with asking members for their views; a survey just might identify attitudes and beliefs that can lead to meaningful discussions. In the long run, though, more will be needed. Sometimes leadership requires making a tough decision and taking a public stand. For an organization committed to building the minds, morals, and characters of America’s future leaders, this is one  leadership lesson it can’t afford to ignore.

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 the Respect for Marriage Coalition. In PR, nothing succeeds like the element of surprise. The ambiguously named Respect for Marriage Coalition pulled the proverbial rabbit out of its hat this week with the launch of a million dollar advertising campaign aimed at promoting the legalization of gay marriage. Obama’s inauguration comments are inevitably featured, but the TV advertisements and full page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post  and Wall Street Journal contain a far bigger surprise: Dick Cheney, Laura Bush, and Colin Powel relaying the message “Freedom means freedom for everyone.” The sound bite has already reverberated around the web world. An unlikely PR coup that nobody saw coming.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO Joe Biden. The vice president is known for what admirers say is a no-nonsense way of talking and detractors call regular meals of shoe leather. Earlier this week, during a Facebook “town hall” meeting with Parents Magazine on gun control, Biden advised a participant who was concerned about protection. His advice? “Buy a shotgun,”  He meant that shotguns are better than assault-style weapons, and, in typical Biden style, he related a homespun personal story – in this case, telling his wife that if intruders were afoot, two shotgun blasts would scare them off. Mr. Vice President, this was a town hall meeting about gun control for Parents Magazine readers, not Garden & Gun subscribers. Sigh.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Lance Armstrong. After finally agreeing to come clean to authorities about doping his way to seven Tour de France wins, Armstrong announced he would testify – but only to an international tribunal. What’s the problem? No such tribunal exists. Nor, it seems, does any pure intention on Armstrong’s part to tell the truth. It’s become clear that teasing about testifying is only to get the US Anti-Doping Administration to lift the lifetime ban on Armstrong competing in professional sports. If he testifies, they may lift the ban; however, he’ll also face civil and criminal suits and charges. For the moment, the only way he can get through this now-galling fall from grace is to abandon thought of competition. That might lead to a different strategy, but at the very least it will keep him from appearing in this category again.

GMA Weather Report: Sunny for Gay Marriage & Ratings

s SAM CHAMPION large300 150x150 GMA Weather Report: Sunny for Gay Marriage & Ratings

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Good Morning America. (Pictured: Rubem Robierb and Sam Champion)

Last Friday, Good Morning America weatherman Sam Champion was singled out by his cheering co-hosts as having good news to share: He was engaged. During hearty congratulations from a crew that seems closer than most morning show personnel, it was easy to miss one slightly surprising aspect: Champion was not only engaged, but also coming out.

The announcement of Champion’s engagement fit right in with GMA’s congenial, family-like vibe, and the fact that he will  his marry longtime boyfriend Rubem Robierb did not merit the batting of a single on-air lash. Outside GMA’s studio in Times Square, Champion was met by viewers from all over America who congratulated him like extended members of the GMA family.

The hosts on Good Morning America have been positioning themselves as a family for a while now, especially since co-host Robin Roberts decided to publicly share her battle with MDS, a rare bone marrow disorder. Video segments have been devoted to her bone marrow transplant while co-host George Stephanopoulos has struggled to maintain composure as he reads her blogs to GMA viewers. And the ratings keep on climbing.

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Good Morning America winning ratings with team chemistry, not sensationalism.

The PR Takeaway: Keep it in the family. Gone are the days when GMA could only dream of approaching the ratings of the mighty Today Show. Now, GMA has overtaken Today. In the wake of an uncomfortable public dismissal of Ann Curry and reports that Today host Matt Lauer is losing popularity with viewers, GMA’s folksy, seemingly sincere family approach is winning hearts – and ratings. Team chemistry is the main drawcard here, and sharing the good and the painful is what makes this more than just a slick marketing gimmick. Viewers seem to be liking it, and they keep on coming back for more.

What’s your opinion of GMA’s “family style” approach? Give us your PR Verdict!

What Did Obama Say That Was Offensive and Callous?

obamagay marraige21 What Did Obama Say That Was Offensive and Callous?

The PR Verdict: “D” for both organizations and their PR strategy on Obama’s announcement.

“Offensive and callous” were the surprising words used yesterday by the gay Republican organization, Log Cabin Republicans, to describe President Obama’s headline comments endorsing gay marriage.  Distinctly underwhelmed by Obama’s change of heart, the organization immediately issued a statement claiming the President “does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”   Their reasoning?  His comments followed North Carolina’s approval of an amendment to the state Constitution banning gay marriage.   People were “mourning” the passing of the amendment and Obama’s timing they said, smacked of cynicism.

These sentiments were then reinforced by a similar organization, GOProud, which said, “This is hardly a profile in courage by President Obama.”  Wanting to score a PR point, the statement went on to declare triumphantly that “President Obama has finally come around to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality.”   Meanwhile, GOP candidate Mitt Romney was not mentioned in either statement and nor was the party’s current policy position.

This was an odd and mistaken PR strategy.  Why make PR mileage on a day which most campaigning peers would consider a step forward?

The PR Verdict: “D” for both organizations and their PR strategy on Obama’s big announcement.   While having previously characterized this issue as one of personal choice,  both organizations batted the issue straight back into the world of partisan politics.

PR Takeaway:  Fighting back at every  PR turn can quickly sound stale.  Both responses belittled progress on an issue that each organization has been fighting for.  Why not welcome the change and then, in the coming days, prod the President as to what he intends to do with his new found view? A clear case of misguided strategy and wrong timing.

What’s your PR Verdict?

 

Did Team Romney Bet On The Right Horse?

ricGrenell 300x165 Did Team Romney Bet On The Right Horse?

The PR Verdict: "A" for Ric Grenell, Romney's short lived foreign policy PR.

Ric Grenell, Mitt Romney’s former foreign policy spokesman (of three weeks), hit the headlines yesterday.  It must have been a tough day for the Romney campaign. The resignation of a major aide is hard enough, but when he resigns after twenty one days, it’s clear trouble is brewing.

Ric Grenell has impeccable Republican credentials.  Serving four US ambassadors to the United Nations as Chief US spokesman, he carried many unpopular PR cans during the Bush presidency.  When Romney appointed him as his foreign policy spokesman it seemed a logical choice.  Then the trouble started.

Romney says Grenell’s sexuality (he is gay) was not an issue but it clearly was for some of Romney’s conservative contributors, as was Grenell’s previous endorsement of gay marriage.  Angered by his appointment, the American Family Association said Grenell’s appointment sent a “drop dead” message to supporters of traditional values.  Romney’s campaign managers asked Grenell to lay low as the protests within the party grew, hoping they would pass.  They didn’t and he resigned citing the “hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues.”

The PR Verdict:  “A” for Ric Grenell who left the campaign on his own terms.  Grenell left as elegantly as he could, thanking Romney for making it clear his sexuality was not an issue.  Clearly this was not the case for other Romney supporters.

PR Takeaway:  Think carefully before picking sides.  The ball is squarely in Romney’s court, now saddled with explaining how the party and its candidate are not captive to polarising social conservatives.  Headlines like this will worry moderate voters who, if the polls are to be believed, are going to make the difference for Romney.  Was this the wisest strategy?

To read more about Ric Grenell click here.

Whats your PR Verdict?

[polldaddy poll=6189997]

Goldman Sachs, Marriage Equality and Atypical Advocates

BlankfeinMarriage1 300x205 Goldman Sachs, Marriage Equality and Atypical Advocates

THE PR VERDICT: "B" for HRC and Blankfein

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, surprised everyone yesterday with his decision to become the first national corporate spokesman for same sex marriage. He has teamed up with Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national advocacy organization that promotes LGBT rights.

HRC reasons that their unlikely spokesperson will demonstrate the diversity of Americans rallying around this issue. A neat and clever idea.

The NYTimes gave the news a big splash and HRC issued a video with Blankfein impressively declaring that equality is “good business and is the right thing to do”.  This PR strategy works on all fronts and incidentally helps correct Blankfein’s image as the Gotham villain in the financial crisis.

The PR Verdict: “B” for HRC and Blankfein.  This is an impressive PR strategy that changes the conversation and widens the supporter base from the predictable liberal, creative, establishment.

Blankfein should avoid responding with “no comment” as he gave the NYTimes and share personal thoughts about why he is doing this. “Good for business” is a sensible rallying cry but coming from an industry that has been demonized of late, wider more personal observations will kick this campaign into high gear.

Video below :

Lloyd Blankfein on Marriage Equality – HRC