PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for his first act post-office: taking on the formidable US National Rifle Association. Bloomberg has pledged to spend $50 million this year on gun control, a topic that Americans continue to debate though nary a week goes by without a tragic shooting incident. The former mayor’s last initiative, curbing large-size sugary drinks, incurred jokes and charges of creating a nanny state. This issue is a far better fit for his bulldog approach and financial muscle.

HomelessGoPro PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Homeless GoPro project team, whose attempt to create empathy for the plight of the homeless succeeded mostly in creating enmity for themselves. The idea: give homeless people GoPro cameras to record their daily routines and interactions with the often-callous more fortunate. Though surely well-intentioned, the project comes off as exploitative, tone-deaf and not particularly helpful to those it would seek to help. As the Valleywag blog critically noted, the project says more about a tech-savvy “coding class” that needs a high-tech fad to experience empathy. “Poverty, homelessness, and inequality are bigger than any app,” they wrote. “Your tech isn’t helping.”

 PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to North Korea for its bizarre overreaction to a London hair salon that had a bit of fun at the expense of  the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un. Mo Nebbach, owner of M&M Hair Academy in Ealing, put up a poster of Kim with his characteristically closely shorn sideburns and the question “Bad Hair Day?” The next day Nebbach was visited by two apparent strongmen who demanded that the poster be removed, which Nabbach declined to do. One could be forgiven for thinking the visit a prank, but Nabbach contacted the police, only to find out that they’d already heard from the North Korean Embassy. It seems the diminutive leader’s feelings were, indeed, hurt.  Where’s Dennis Rodman when you need him?

Obama’s Gun Photo Shoots Him in the Foot

obama gunshooting1 150x150 Obamas Gun Photo Shoots Him in the Foot

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco).

Is President Obama taking lessons from the Putin PR playbook? The Premier of Russia is notorious for ludicrous photo ops and a clumsy PR strategy that includes releasing Marlboro-man style photos of himself to the media. There’s Vlad diving in the deep sea, fly fishing bare-chested, and parachuting out of an airplane. The photos usually provoke rounds of snickers, rather than admiration. Could the latest White House PR ploy have the same effect?

The Putinesque moment in question is the release by the White House of a photo of President Obama shooting a rifle. In an interview published by the New Republic, Obama claimed he had used the gun at the Camp David Presidential retreat. “We do skeet shooting all the time,” the President said. Cue derision from conservative foes who, in the midst of national acrimony about gun control, were justifiably puzzled by this previously undisclosed hobby.

The White House caption accompanying the photo by the official White House photographer notes: “President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.” If Obama has a history of shooting, then it was probably best to have released a photo way earlier than this, rather than make it look as though he’s just assuring the NRA he’s not anti-gun.

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco). A bad idea, poorly timed.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: No one likes to be played. The unintended upshot of the photo’s release is fodder for the gun lobby and skepticism by journalists. Even if the President is a routine skeet shooter, this photo would have been better uncovered by the media much earlier in the gun debate and not released by the President’s own PR team. Whatever the PR short-term gains, trust and credibility are lost with these overtly manipulative releases. Just ask President Putin.

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 Oprah Winfrey. First, she beats out the US Anti-Doping Administration, to whom Lance Armstrong should technically be confessing. Second, she gave tantalizingly vague quotes (to BFF Gayle King on The Early Show) about the interview, never quite saying he confessed, never quite saying he didn’t. We all know now that he did; as one pundit put it, “Oprah Winfrey doesn’t get on a plane and fly across the country for nothing.” But she knows better than to give away the candy store. Millions will tune in to watch Lance squirm, thereby giving Oprah’s embattled network OWN a whole new audience, and parent company Discovery breathing space about previously low ratings.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “D” (PR PROBLEMATIC) TO the National Rifle Association. The group suggested in a video that President Barack Obama thinks his own children are “more important” than others because they are protected by the Secret Service. The charge is just plain silly, and reinforces the NRA’s PR image as extremist and out-of-touch. Every modern president has mandatory armed protection and the Obama children are obviously a greater target for ne’er-do-wells than pretty much any other children in the world. With the extreme right already locked up, the NRA should be courting moderate gun-rights supporters – the very demographic likely to be rolling their eyes at the video.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE PR AWARD TO Mark Sanford. Nothing beats a comeback – even a longshot. In 2009, when he was Governor of South Carolina, Sanford told aides he was going hiking for a week and then mysteriously disappeared. Later, it was revealed that Sanford had taken an unauthorized break from his official duties to visit a TV reporter in Buenos Aires with whom he later claimed to be madly in love. The episode guaranteed a messy reputation, a divorce (from one of the few political wives who refused to stand by her man with a benign smile), and an entry in political folklore. Earlier this week, Sanford announced his decision to run for Congress. Really? No, really? We may be underestimating the American voting public when we say there’s nothing to discuss here. Then again, his new campaign will prove entertaining and underline the obvious truth: Scandal is always more interesting than policy. Let the games begin!

A Tough Gun-Control Act to Follow

 A Tough Gun Control Act to Follow

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Giffords and Kelly.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her ex-astronaut husband Mark Kelly announced this week that they will lead an effort to lobby Congress for stricter gun-control laws. The couple launched their political action committee, Americans for Sensible Solutions, on the second anniversary of the mass shooting of Giffords and 18 others in a Tucson, AZ parking lot. Six people died in the 2011 attack, which was perpetrated by a mentally ill man who obtained the guns used in the shooting legally.

Giffords has a unique set of credentials for this cause. Having barely survived the shooting, she was forced to relinquish her seat in the House of Representatives. As a politician from one of the country’s most pro-gun states, she has in the past boasted of her prowess with her Glock 9mm pistol (the same model her would-be assassin used). Her husband Mark Kelly, frequently described as an American hero, is himself no stranger to ordnance, having flown U.S. Navy combat missions in the Gulf War.

The pair are making their position clear: They are not seeking to revoke US citizens’ rights to bear arms and have emphasised that the Second Amendment can co-exist with responsible gun ownership. Distancing themselves from the National Rifle Association while at the same time reaching out to “the majority of NRA members,” they have grabbed the middle ground: in favor of guns, but with more effective gun-control laws.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Giffords and Kelly. Their impeccable credentials will make it tough for opponents to take them on publicly.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Take the middle ground and let the others do the polarizing. In any debate, when views are extreme, the winner will be the persuasive advocate who courts the majority in the middle. Publicly defending current gun policy when up against a high-profile victim and her military husband is going to require finessed PR skills. The NRA may have just found their ground taken away from them.