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

 The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to the Seattle Police Department for their amusing and effective method of policing the first Hempfest since Washington state legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. In a brilliant move, the new law’s “do’s and don’ts” were printed on the backs of small Doritos bags and doled out to revelers by the boys and girls in blue. Brilliant because, you know, Hempfesters would inevitably get the munchies at some point, but also because it’s refreshing to see the police department take the role of community guardian and educator instead of adopting the typical “us vs them” mentality that so many urban forces exhibit these days. This was one time a bunch of potheads were stoked to see the fuzz.

Madonna grilz 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO – or should we say, “Full Fashion Fiasco?”) to Madonna. Last Friday, she turned 55, but this week, Madge showed the world she’s still the Material Girl, not the Material Matron, by sporting gold grills on her teeth. Aside from the fact that she looks, in this photo anyway, like Hillary Clinton doing Madonna for a Saturday Night Live sketch, complete with dark roots and age-inappropriate getup, this look does not say “hip and youthful” so much as it shrieks “midlife crisis.” A sign that Madonna’s still huge: None among her entourage dares tell her the truth. 

130819145747 marissa mayer vogue horizontal gallery The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, whose glamorous photo shoot and chatty interview in the September issue of Vogue has people scratching their heads more than turning them. Fetchingly posed on a chaise lounge in a sleek blue designer dress and stilettos, Mayer is telling the world…what, exactly? Not much about the company she was brought in to turn around 13 months ago.  (“What would Marissa Mayer wear?” asks an accompanying feature on workweek attire – surely the question uppermost on every investor’s mind.) Yahoo, to her credit, is turning around, which maybe is why she felt comfortable with doing the Vogue piece. Still, a glossy magazine spread that focuses on her wardrobe more than her work ethic reflects an overly preening personal PR campaign – likely dismaying loyal fans who admired her for breaking glass ceilings, not wearing glass stilettos.

Three Steps FWD, Two Steps Back?

Screen Shot 2013 05 13 at 7.37.31 PM 150x60 Three Steps FWD, Two Steps Back?Political advocacy group FWD.us was launched last month by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and so far it has run up an impressively depressing string of PR gaffes. As a tax-exempt social welfare organization” (a la Citizens United), it can raise and spend money to promote political and legislative aims virtually unchecked. But the group’s missteps have made it the story instead of its cause and FWD.us now runs the risk of having little influence or gravitas.

Its initial focus was clear: comprehensive immigration reform. As a cause this made perfect sense. It is near and dear to talent-hungry tech firms and backed by deep-pocketed Silicon Valley luminaries including Eric Schmidt, Marissa Mayer and Bill Gates. The launch augured an auspicious foray into muscle-flexing issues advocacy in Washington.

But things went pear-shaped from the start. An embarrassing leak spoiled its launch, disclosing a seemingly unseemly strategy to promote its agenda via “avenues of distribution” dominated by member companies like Facebook and Yahoo. The leak forced president Joe Green (Zuck’s roommate at Harvard) to apologize. Then, it alienated supporters with a confusing advertising campaign that veered way off-topic, advocating for controversial projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and against Obamacare. FWD.us said the ads sought to create “political cover” for supporters of immigration reform in Congress, but its move prompted progressive organizations to pull ads from Facebook in protest, and two key Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to later withdraw from the group.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full fiasco) to date for Zuckerberg’s FWD.usfor bungling what should have been a sure-footed start. 

The PR Takeaway: Opening baby steps need to be unambiguous and unassailable. Opening gaffes can sink a new venture, and one misstep can lead to and/or magnify others. Move cautiously and deliberately. Leaks happen, so be mindful of how even internal communications might play in public. If something leaks, get back on message fast – with actions, not words, that spell out your group’s mission and galvanize supporters. This isn’t that hard. If Zuckerberg’s other business had stumbled as much at the outset, he might still be at Harvard studying for finals.

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) Marissa Mayer of Yahoo. Yahoo’s CEO suddenly found herself and Yahoo at the center of a national conversation about the merits of working from home. Brought in to turn the ailing tech firm around, Mayer arrived at the Yahoo campus only to find empty offices and parking lots with her colleagues “working from home.” Her subsequent leaked internal memo abolishing the work-from-home option caught media attention and put Yahoo front and center in the work debate. Yahoo’s response? “This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home. This is what’s right for Yahoo right now.” No further comment, but the media was clearly well briefed with informed statistics about Yahoo’s climbing morale and productivity. Mayer’s PR point was made loud and clear: Yahoo’s turnaround has begun.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to Hugo Chavez’s camp. We love a conspiracy theory, but the dark mutterings coming from Chavez supporters that the US government was responsible for the cancer that killed their leader was one of the more fantastic PR responses. Even more so, given that Chavez was treated for his illness in Cuba, courtesy of his revolutionary pal Fidel. Until very recently, Cuban doctors gave him a clear bill of health and said the Venezuelan leader’s revolution would continue unabated. Don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but this PR point was more than vaguely comical.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Justin Bieber. Nothing fuels a fire better than more gasoline – or, in this case, more Tweets. Admittedly, the teen heartthrob had a mildly squiffy PR week: He was reportedly booed after starting a concert two hours late, a nightclub turned his under-age pals away from his birthday party, and actress Olivia Wilde Tweeted that he should put a shirt on. Rather than ignoring these molehills, Bieber made mountains of them with a slew of ranting, defensive Tweets, concluding “im a good person. i know that. u cant tell me different” [sic]. The only thing we’d say differently, Biebs, is that most of the problem is now coming from u.