Yet Another Bieber Blooper

 Yet Another Bieber Blooper

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the Justin Bieber.

Teenage pop idol Justin Bieber caught the full wrath of the Internet this week during a visit to Amsterdam. The Canadian superstar, currently on tour in Europe, visited the Anne Frank House to view the tiny attic where Frank and her family hid for two years from the Nazis before being discovered and sent to death camps. Writing in the guest book, Bieber said the visit was “truly inspiring” and that he hoped Anne would have been “a Belieber,” the moniker given to his fans. Frankly, no one could “beliebe” he left the narcissistic scribble; as UK site Sugarscape put it, “The world smacks their hands to their foreheads.”

The gaffe follows months of questionable behavior for the young singer: showing up late to concerts or canceling, fainting at a London appearance, purportedly smoking marijuana at a party, scuffling with the paparazzi, and allegedly spitting at a neighbor.

The antics have begun to take a toll on the Bieber Brand, with media speculating that Biebs is on the verge of a Britney Spears-esque meltdown. Polls suggest his likability factor is suffering: teens are finding him less attractive, and parents are seeing him as “rude.” The clean image that helped launch Bieber’s successful career is starting to look rather sullied.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the Justin Bieber. He hasn’t lost any sponsors yet, but more bad-boy behavior could change that.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: It’s not easy being a teen, even less easy being a teen brand. The transition from adolescent to young adult seems to be one of the rockiest roads for celebrities, and one need only read up on the cautionary tales of Spears, Miley Cyrus, and Lindsay Lohan for guidance on what not to do during this unpredictable time. Just as parents must do for their unruly offspring, Bieber’s handlers need to keep the lines of communication open with their young star and stress that the consequences of his actions will become more serious as he ages. There’s more to lose than celebrity status; Justin can beliebe that.

Letterman’s Sneak Attack on Lohan

 Lettermans Sneak Attack on Lohan

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) to Lindsay Lohan for keeping her cool.

LiLo, aka Lindsay Lohan, was on the stand again this week – only this time her interlocutor wasn’t a sour-faced judge but a late night TV host. In her first television interview in six months, the actress was ostensibly appearing on Late Night with David Letterman to promote her work in Scary Movie 5. From the moment she sat down, though, she was on the receiving end of a fusillade of questions about shoplifting, her addiction problems, and an impending stint in rehab.

A visibly uncomfortable Lohan tried gamely to avoid answering but was clearly at a loss when Letterman refused to abandon his line of questioning. At one point, she lightly chastised him, “We didn’t discuss this in the pre-interview,” and, at another, pleadingly asked that the conversation move on to discuss the movie (request not granted). In the end, Letterman appeared to get what he was after: Lohan was moved to tears and acknowledged she has career- and even life-threatening issues she needs to work on. She said accepts responsibility for her actions and sees the 90-day court remand as a “blessing.”

The attack-dog approach was out of character for Letterman, and it rubbed many observers the wrong way. That said, others felt the 65-year-old comedian came off as more of a stern and concerned parent than a heartless journo, which may be more of the truth: Lohan has appeared on Late Night since 1992, when she was seven years old.

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) to Lindsay Lohan for keeping her cool. Breaking down completely or walking off the set would have generated even more headlines.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Expect the unexpected. Every meeting with a media representative should be treated as one that might cover the gamut, whether the interview takes place in the executive dining room or on the set of a talk show. Journalism has changed so dramatically over the past decade that what came to be known as  “ground rules” can no longer be relied upon, even for sought-after subjects like LiLo. Nothing is off limits, so be prepared for anything, and everything.

It’s Official – Cockroaches More Popular Than Congress

 Its Official   Cockroaches More Popular Than Congress

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for the 112th US Congress.

Not just cockroaches, but head lice – and not just pesky insects, either. The 112th United States Congress is lower on the American popularity ladder than traffic jams, Donald Trump, Ghengis Khan, used-car salesmen, and – perhaps most damning of all – Brussels sprouts.

That sounds like a great joke (“What’s more popular than Congress?” “Root canals!”), but in fact, even root canals were preferable to the current Congressional staff of the US government, according to a Public Policy Poll of 830 Americans. In the non-partisan poll, Congress received a mere 9 percent favorability rating. The only things it beat out in terms of dislike were telemarketers, ebola, gonorrhea, bullies, meth labs, and Lindsay Lohan.

Why should Congress care what 830 Americans think? Well, these were only the 830 Americans actually asked; the numbers statistically represent a far greater percentage of people who dislike what’s happening, or not happening, with the fiscal cliff, gun control or the lack thereof, and other pressing matters. Members of Congress, elected by the public may want to take note.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the 112th US Congress. Cockroaches everywhere are celebrating their boost up the ladder of the loathed.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: A fall from grace is faster than the climb back up. So far, members of Congress have had more PR success in complaining  bitterly about the other side than making lasting progress. Solutions are now preferable. This fall from the grace needs a remedial bi-partisan effort. A landmark agreement on one of the pressing issues facing the nation is what will rescue this reputation. Until then the slide is set to continue.

Which Stars Need PR Rehab?

As the PR Verdict looks back over the best (and worst) of public relations and media in 2012, we can’t help but notice that some rather high-profile stars have fizzled this year. Former juggernauts who were on a first-name-only basis are now in need of some serious re-examination of PR strategy if they are to keep shining in 2013 and beyond. Here’s a look at some of those in most dire need.

 Which Stars Need PR Rehab? Lance Armstrong undoubtedly experienced the most precipitous fall from PR grace. Years of fighting the allegedly good fight against the United States Anti-Doping Association came to an end in 2012 when Armstrong relinquished all his Tour de France wins – as good as an admission of guilt. The timing could not have been worse; the public humiliation of watching his multi-million dollar sponsorships cutting him off one by one came within hours of the annual fundraiser for LIVESTRONG, his cancer charity. There, too, donations went down, right alongside Armstrong’s credibility. Can LIVESTRONG survive on its own? Only, alas, if its founder lays low.

 Which Stars Need PR Rehab? Lindsay Lohan‘s public image continued unerringly along its course; shame that trajectory is solidly downhill. Her Q Score looks like the stock market crash that preceded the Great Depression. Even a reasonable turn at portraying Elizabeth Taylor was met with much eye-rolling about how well suited she was to play an addicted Liz. Ah, but let it not be said that La Lohan does this all on her own – her family helps in every way possible, from taped phone accusations to police calls. Can this career be saved? Considering the amount of attention Lindsay gets, we’re no longer sure she even wants it to be.

 Which Stars Need PR Rehab? What a difference a year can make. In 2011, Tom Cruise was once again Hollywood’s golden boy, with a terrific Mission: Impossible movie, Ghost Protocol, and a seemingly happy marriage to ever-smiling Katie Holmes. Cut to this year, during which Katie left Tom and the public turned on him; fans of the wildly popular Jack Reacher novels gave the casting of Cruise a universal thumbs-down. It’s not the first time; Cruise was publicly sneered at by Anne Rice, who later recanted her disapproval when Cruise gave a great performance in Interview With the Vampire. Jack Reacher opens Friday; it remains to be seen whether Cruise still has enough pow for a holiday box office. Our advice? Make another M:I as good as Ghost Protocol, and don’t remarry.

 Which Stars Need PR Rehab? All things being relative, to say that Oprah Winfrey‘s star has faded is a bit like saying the sun cooled a degree or two; does it make any discernible difference? It does to the many who benefit from “the Oprah effect,” meaning whatever the media mogul touches turns to gold. Now that her daytime show is off the air, her magazine sales have taken a dip, and her Book Club selections don’t have the exposure they once did. Worse, her network, OWN, has lost an estimated at $330 million. The Discovery Network, partner of OWN, which has invested approximately $600 million in Oprah’s network, knows firsthand about the potentially devastating effects of a sun gradually cooling. PR strategy? Recreate what worked: Get madame back on a daytime TV show, stat.

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

bidenryan2 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to Joe Biden. Now this was a debate!  If Obama had previously brought a knife to a gun fight, Biden brought a cannon. Throughout the debate he aggressively debated Ryan, who seemed at times unable to keep up with Biden’s derisive comments. Biden’s ongoing smirks at what Ryan was saying was a PR object lesson in undermining an opponent.  A fine line to be sure  and presumably not everyone saw it this way, but frankly whatever your political color, this debate was very entertaining.  The Twitter-verse was on fire with Biden’s opening shot “That’s a lot of malarkey!” and later putdown”Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?” Brutal.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to Lindsay Lohan. The girl can’t help it; she’s in the news constantly, but rarely for what she first became famous for – acting. This week, Lohan allegedly placed an emergency call about her mother’s erratic behavior to…her father? As a scandal-headline grabber himself, Michael Lohan is hardly the most reliable source of assistance. Lohan needs to hire the celebrity version of Harvey Keitel’s Pulp Fiction clean-up character.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE “FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE” PR AWARD TO: The US Anti-Doping Agency, which revealed that nearly all of Lance Armstrong’s former teammates have signed affidavits saying that Armstrong won his seven Tours de France by doping. They say he doped, they doped – even Armstrong’s former wife took performance-enhancing drugs. But Armstrong relinquished rights to his Tour titles months ago. Okay, he probably did take the drugs; does anyone still care, other than the USADA, which is determined to say “told you so”? Again and again.


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.