NBC’s Cooper Medals in Insensitivity

 NBCs Cooper Medals in Insensitivity

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) to NBC for making Bode Miller cry.

It’s always a safe bet that American Olympic skier Bode Miller will make headlines. But an interview that went off the journalistic rails at this week’s Olympic Games in Sochi grabbed more attention than usual.

The drama unfolded following the men’s Super-G alpine skiing event, for which Miller had just won the bronze medal. NBC’s Christin Cooper asked Miller how the recent death of his younger brother was affecting the skier’s performance. And asked. And asked. And asked. To a point where Miller hung his head, dissolved into tears and walked away. The camera stayed on him well after he broke down.

Viewer backlash against Cooper was fierce. Criticism mounted after NBC made clear it didn’t mind capitalizing on the uncomfortable exchange. The taped segment could easily have been edited, but the network chose to show it in full.

As bad as the interview made NBC look, it may have been a PR plus for Miller. Skiing’s bad boy has been undergoing an image rehab since the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, when he blamed his mediocre performance on being “wasted” and said he used the games “to party and socialize at an Olympic level.” A custody battle for a child he sired during a fling also inspired ire. This interview humanized him more effectively than any PR campaign could.

THE PR VERDICT:  “D” (PR Problematic) for Christin Cooper’s Olympic-sized ambush.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Reporters shouldn’t become the story. Know basic tenets of PR, one of which is “There’s a time and place for everything.” Cooper obviously didn’t delve into NBC’s archives to watch Jim Gray’s 1999 interview of Pete Rose after he made the Baseball All-Century Team, which devolved as Gray relentlessly harped on Rose’s gambling past. Asking celebrities or athletes about personal issues isn’t off limits, but doing so at a celebration is bad form. Save the probing questions for the talk show couch.

Sochi Media Won’t Include Social Media

soc olympics1 Sochi Media Wont Include Social Media

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for sponsors of 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

If it weren’t offensive, it might be almost quaint: an Olympic sponsoring committee seeking to impose arbitrary limits on social media. That’s what organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are trying to do. Journalists covering the games will lose their credentials and be booted out if they take and post unauthorized photos or video with a smartphone. It’s possible that specators will face restrictions on photography as well.

The motivation here is more profit than censorship. The Games are big business and event organizers understandably want to wring every conceivable rouble from their sponsorship. To do that, they want absolute control of images, and there’s precedent for such an effort: Organizers of the 2012 London Summer Games sought similar clampdowns on use of social media.

As for censorship and eavesdropping, fear not, comrades: the Russian government has the games hard-wired and will be monitoring all communications, filtering as needed.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the Sochi Games sponsors and their control issues.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Accept forces beyond your control or risk coming to grief. Social media is like a fire hose you can’t turn off – your best bet is to keep it pointed in the right direction. Competition in this case is among the athletes, so there is reduced reputational and competitive downside for  the organizers. Instead Sochi’s sponsors could channel their repressive impulses in a different direction to promote goodwill without affecting profit – a photography contest, for instance? Better to channel the wisdom of crowds than to risk their wrath.

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

mike mayo2 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to Mike Mayo (left) a financial analyst at Crédit Agricole Securities, for his perfectly crafted soundbite regarding beleaguered banking giant Citigroup. Mayo, well known on Wall Street, was opining on the reasons for the startling resignation of  Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit. Speaking to the Financial Times, Mayo was crisp, concise, and so very on-point when he said, “Citi is too big to fail, too big to regulate, too big to manage, and it has operated as if it’s too big to care.” Zing!

 

taliban21 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Taliban, which sunk to new lows by targeting media outlets that denounced their murder attempt on Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who wants education for women. Apparently, the Taliban is furious that Yousafzai’s “un-Islamic” behavior hasn’t been presented in the press – as though that would justify her being shot in the face for wanting to go to school. Worried about the PR fallout in their own domestic markets, it’s gratifying to observe that even Islamo-Fascists worry about public perception. The Taliban in need of a rebrand; who would have thought? And where to begin?

 

brad pitt chanel 0 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers

THE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” PR AWARD: The undisputed winner this week is fashion house Chanel, which has enlisted Brad Pitt for its new advertising campaign for its venerable fragrance, Chanel No.5. According to the PR blurb, the 30-second ad is meant to re-energize the 91-year-old brand with a “different point of view,” i.e., using a man to sell a fragrance for women. The commercial features Brad looking like he was plucked from a homeless shelter and saying, “The world turns, and we turn with it. Plans disappear, dreams take over. But wherever I go, there you are. My luck. My fate. My fortune. Chanel No. 5. Inevitable.”  The only inevitable thing about this commercial is that no one will have the faintest idea about what he is talking about. Truly and inevitably puzzling. To see the ad, click here.

Did we miss any spectacular highs or lows in public relations this week? Give us your PR Verdict!