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

bartoli The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Marion Bartoli, for making a graceful exit from the world of professional women’s tennis just two months after winning her greatest championship at Wimbledon. The French 28-year-old officially retired from tennis after a disheartening loss in the second round of a regional tournament in Ohio. Tears streaming down her cheeks, she acknowledged near constant pain from her life on the court and said her body just couldn’t take it any longer. She called her father to discuss her future after the loss, then announced her decision to retire with little fanfare. “Everyone will remember my Wimbledon title,” she said. “No one will remember the last match I played here” at the Ohio tournament. In the world of sport, so seemingly tarnished by the spectacle of athletes behaving badly, Bartoli’s candor and humility score an ace.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: F (Full Fiasco) to Orson Scott Card, the science fiction writer whose recent rant against President Obama suggests he’s having trouble distinguishing between reality and the realms his characters inhabit. According to a May blog post that went viral this week, Card sees Obama as a maniacal dictator whose quest for world domination involves marshaling urban street gangs to do his evil bidding. The scheme would fit right into Ender’s Game, Card’s celebrated novel-turned-film starring Harrison Ford and set to open in theaters Nov. 1. This paranoid scribble won’t help Card’s image, which he may be trying to rehab. Already notorious for his virulent opposition to gay marriage, Card recently (and quietly) stepped down from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. Now he has this to contend with. Ender’s Game, or game ender? 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to Vogue’s profile on Jennifer Lawrence. Within the seven-hour interview, the Hunger Games star and Oscar winner revealed, “I always knew I was going to be famous.” She goes on to elaborate that she didn’t know for what she might be famous, only that fame was a certainty. This seems a landmark in celebrity interviews, not quite outlandish enough to be one of those near-reality parodies from The Onion, but still flabbergasting in its “Huh?” factor. Readers will likely be neither shocked, inspired, nor terribly interested.

BBC’s Inverdale Loses Game, Set, and Match

 BBCs Inverdale Loses Game, Set, and Match

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for John Inverdale for the comment, and to the BBC for its anemic response.

Not much could tarnish the pride in the United Kingdom after Scottish national Andy Murray took home the coveted trophy of the All England Club at Wimbledon. BBC commentator John Inverdale sure gave it his best shot, though.

As Marion Bartoli of France accepted her first-ever Grand Slam tennis trophy, Inverdale shocked listeners of his BBC Radio 5 program by saying “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘You’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight’?”  The comment was met with fury in the Twittersphere, while the older school logged more than 700 telephone complaints to the BBC’s headquarters in London.

This isn’t the first gaffe for Inverdale, who has served as a BBC sports presenter on Wimbledon for several years. For many in the UK, this boorish remark was the last straw. Each year, listeners “are gifted his open distaste for the women’s game, which apparently lacks anything to hold his well-remunerated attention,” fumed a columnist in The Guardian.

After first trying to brush off the criticism, Inverdale finally apologized at the start of the men’s finals on Sunday. Even then, he downplayed his comment as “clumsy” and “ham-fisted.” The BBC was little better, saying, limply, “We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologize.” The only winner here was Bartoli, who said she never aspired to be a model and invited Inverdale to check her out at the champion’s gala a few nights later where, she mused, “He could change his mind.”

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for John Inverdale for the comment, and to the BBC for its anemic response.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: If you find yourself about to remark on someone’s appearance to the media: STOP. Unless you’re referring to a beauty pageant, no good can come of the words you’re about to utter, whether complimentary or critical. Regardless of how attractive someone is, commentary should focus solely on that person’s skill or accomplishments. In today’s world, any reference to physical attributes is too easily construed as sexist – and rightfully so.