Romney Rips Police Chief for Obama Slur

Romney Romney Rips Police Chief for Obama Slur

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR PERFECT) for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney might not have been a particularly awesome Presidential candidate (or a particularly enlightened pet owner), but in matters of basic human decency, his bona fides are unassailable. So it was appropriate and magnanimous of him to sound off over the weekend in defense of the man who bested him in 2012, Barack Obama.

Romney, in a statement to The Boston Herald, excoriated Robert Copeland, the rural New Hampshire police commissioner who was overheard using a racial slur to describe the President – and who, despite widespread and uniform condemnation, initially refused even to apologize, let alone resign. Defending his N-word usage, Copeland said the President “meets and exceeds my criteria for such.” His forced resignation was announced by the town government yesterday.

Romney, who owns a nearby vacation home in New Hampshire, minced no words is calling for Copeland to apologize and resign, in no particular order. “The vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community,” he told the Herald. Good for Mitt.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Mitt Romney, for throwing his moral authority around – and knowing he had to.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Know when you must speak up. It is as important as knowing when not to. Romney’s remarks about his onetime opponent’s White House tenure and the 2012 Presidential contest haven’t always been supportive or conciliatory. And likely the passage of time hasn’t fully dulled his smarting from the 2012 loss. In the current matter, he could have kept quiet, but likely sooner or later the press would have come calling, expecting an opinion. Romney, among other Obama critics who have also called for Copeland’s resignation, is uniquely credentialed to weigh in: He lives in the community. That made it all the more necessary that he speak out. After all, in the end all politics is local. Along with The World Outside, Romney’s neighbors also deserved to know where he stood.

Will Christie’s One-Horse Race Lead to Washington?

 Will Christies One Horse Race Lead to Washington?

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Chris Christie.

Does style trump substance? That was the key question in the race for governor of New Jersey. With Chris Christie and Barbara Buono facing off for the coveted seat, name recognition alone was going to tip the scales in this race.

One needn’t be a resident of New Jersey to know Christie. He’s the man who spoke mostly about himself in a speech meant to introduce Mitt Romney to the Republican National Convention as their candidate for president. He was the Republican who crossed party lines by giving a warm welcome, and thanks, to President Obama in the days after Superstorm Sandy. He’s also the official who opposed same-sex marriage in New Jersey, though he quietly dropped a promise to fight it in the Supreme Court.

But did Christie ever really have an opponent? Christie made a memorable stand during Sandy and has kept a high profile since, staying on brand as a straight shooter, poking fun at himself on Letterman and undergoing weight loss surgery as he dealt with media criticism over his appearance. Christie has done it all publicly, with a PR plan that has made everyone think this was a one-horse race.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Chris Christie, returned as governor of New Jersey and possibly a future in Washington DC.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Stand out from the pack, and stay there. At a time when approval of government and its elected officials is at an all-time low, Christie differentiates himself fearlessly. He ranges from being a man of the people to being a brash trash-talker, but everyone knows his name. This is no accident. Find a way to step apart from the pack and then do what it takes to make sure yours is the only name remembered.

Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012

Who gave the most disastrous sound bite of 2012? While  the snappy, clever phrase is the dream of every publicist and journalist, life doesn’t always go along with the plan. As we look back at the year in PR and media, we present four of the deadliest quotes of 2012. In each case, silence would have been golden.

2013 romney 150x150 Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012Mitt Romney and the now notorious “47 percent. Filmed secretly at a fundraiser, the Presidential candidate gave the nuclear sound bite that boomeranged back. Whatever the context, the media wouldn’t let anyone forget that Romney was referring to a very substantial part of the electorate. From then on, it was an uphill PR climb for Romney, his campaign permanently on the defensive until its conclusion. What a difference a percentage can make!


 Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, for his reference to a trading loss he airily dismissed as a “tempest in a teacup.” As the losses continued and wiped $14 billion off the market value of JPMorgan, his bravado seemed increasingly misplaced.



2013 bobdiamond 150x150 Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012Then again, it’s a tough call between Jamie Dimon and Bob Diamond, CEO Of UK banking giant Barclays. Speaking at a Parliamentary enquiry into Liborgate, Bob Diamond proclaimed, “The time for apologies is over.” But as the LIBOR scandal continues to claim more scalps, including his own, and fresh allegations of money laundering and sanction-breaking by some of the worlds biggest banks emerges, Diamond’s words now seem laughably misjudged. In the public mind, the time for apologies has just begun.


2013toddakin 150x150 Poisonous PR Sound Bites of 2012Todd Aikin and “Legitimate rape.” A sound bite that will survive way beyond the 2012 election, this phrase was regrettably coined by Akin, a Republican member of Congress and long time anti-abortion advocate. In an interview, he claimed that victims of what he described as “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant as the “female body has ways to try to shut down that whole thing down.” Bipartisan jaws dropped in unison, and an entirely predictable firestorm ensued. Akin backpedalled, apologized, and sought to explain. “Out of context” was his initial defense, “a poor choice of words” came later, but the damage was done. He ultimately lost his seat and remains partly blamed for helping move electoral sentiment in the opposing direction.




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

fiscal cliff 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks PR Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK:  “A” (GOLD STAR!) TO: The Fiscal Cliff. Where was this now-infamous, much-ballyhooed, utterly dreaded fiscal cliff over the interminable electioneering months? The term vanished from the public lexicon then but is now rekindling waves of panic in financial markets and cable news. Before the election this had at best medium celebrity value, but ten days later the media hasn’t stopped talking about going over the cliff and new catastrophic lows for the economy. The “cliff” is the perfect PR package: terror, fear, and and the unwanted leap into the unknown. No wonder both sides of the political debate won’t let this metaphor go. Creating urgency around this means someone has to blink first. Artful PR.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks PR Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO: Guy Fieri, Food Network star and owner of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar. This week, Fieri’s new Times Square establishment got national media attention – for receiving what may be the most scathing restaurant review The New York Times has ever published. Highlights: “Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?” Fieri hit back immediately – ensuring that even more people read the review. Yet one wonders: What did the reviewer really expect from a 500-seat eatery in Times Square, and will the quality of food really matter to visitors trapped in a touristic culinary wasteland?

JILLKELLEY 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks PR Winners & LosersPR BLUNDER OF THE WEEK TO: Jill Kelley’s brother David Khawam. He hit the airwaves hoping to move the dial on the national fascination with his socialite sister Jill Kelley, who is intimately involved in the Petraeus scandal. Springing to her defense, he claims it is ‘ludicrous” to think his sister had an affair with Petraeus. “She has three kids and is a dedicated wife,” he protested. A well-intentioned but awkward PR move. Besides being an unconvincing defense, the question of Kelly having an affair with Petraeus had not been seriously raised before. Was this a case of team Kelley shooting itself in the foot?

Life on Sesame Street

 Life on Sesame Street

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Sesame Street.

Sesame Street has been in the media spotlight in ways it never wanted to be. First, Mitt Romney during the presidential debates, threatened to cut funding to the Public Broadcasting System, which airs Sesame Street. Sesame Street reps answered with a quick smack down of Romney’s implied assertion that the government funds the educational children’s show.  Next PR task was to order the Democratic party to stop running a subsequent Romney attack ad featuring Big Bird.

While Big Bird was safe after President Obama’s re-election, Elmo, the furry red monster, was next in the media’s sights. This week, Kevin Clash, Sesame Street puppeteer and the voice of Elmo, was accused of having a sexual relationship with a man who was underage at the time. The firestorm of scandal lasted one day; the accuser quickly recanted his story when details didn’t add up.

Sesame Street maintained a terse tone when issuing the statement on Clash, saying that management had met with the accuser, conducted a thorough investigation, and found the allegation to be unsubstantiated. “Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage,” the statement reads, “and he was disciplined.” Clash has since taken a leave of absence. Who knew life on Sesame Street could be so fraught with PR dangers?

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Sesame Street. By maintaining an impartial tone – even toward one of their own – their image stays professional, businesslike, and neutral to all who might help or harm.

The PR Takeaway: Authority comes with neutrality. Sesame Street could have used Romney’s Big Bird slam to their advantage, but they knew the political winds could turn against them just as easily. In the Elmo-Clash situation, had they shown full support for the furry monster’s alter-ego and other accusers turned up, the whole company might have been blighted. While the public, on the record statements so far might make Sesame Street seem a chilly place, the company’s neutral and  authoritative tone over the last weeks has secured its brand and singular purpose: providing the best in televised children’s education. Big Bird and friends can continue to sleep easy on the street.

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

ROMNEY CONCESSION2 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (GOLD STAR!) TO: Mitt Romney. If the web is to be believed, shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning, Mitt Romney began to draft his concession speech. It apparently took him all of five minutes. Up until then he had not thought it was something he would need to prepare, or ultimately use. The rush notwithstanding, Romney delivered a finely worded speech conceding defeat, congratulating the victor, and calling for unity. Given the marathon he had just endured, Romney crossed a lost finish line with grace and elegance. Classy.


0071 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO: Craig… Daniel Craig. No one likes a whiner, and Daniel’s Craig’s much publicized and off-message interview with Rolling Stone Magazine puts 007 in a thoroughly post-modern and tiresome light. While the PR and marketing machine for the latest Bond blockbuster, Skyfall, goes into overdrive, Craig shared his existential angst about playing the iconic secret agent: He claims to have longed to exit the role for some time, despite his seven-figure paycheck. While there may be an easier way to make a living than jumping out of planes and wearing tailored suits, this was a conversation better reserved for the therapist.


 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO: Kirstie Alley. The former actress,ex-Jenny Craig diet spokeswoman, and Dancing With the Stars contestant took the next step on the tabloid celebrity path and wrote a tell-all memoir. Entitled The Art of Men, Alley’s book reveals past love affairs with John Travolta (“He’s not gay,” she insists) and North and South co-star Patrick Swayze. Alley also says that she and Swayze, both of whom were married to others at the time, did not have an affair but says their affair was real. Huh? A PR coup when you can claim the “nothing” that happened is a candid revelation.

Diane Sawyer: Anchor Aweigh!

 Diane Sawyer: Anchor Aweigh!

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Diane Sawyer.

Talking heads were breathless in describing this nail-bitingly close election but one thing unified this divided country: What the heck was up with Diane Sawyer? The venerable anchorwoman received the dubious honor of being the second-most talked about part of Election 2012.

The Twitterverse focused its biting sights on Sawyer, who during election coverage was described as propped on one arm, slurring her words, giggling, and making comments about the network’s dramatic music.  “And Diane Sawyer declares tonight’s winner is…chardonnay!” read one Tweet. And a new Twitter handle was born: @DrunkDianeSawyer, which soon had hundreds of followers.

The network felt compelled to address the alleged brew-haha, although it’s not really clear if anything needed to be said. This seemed more like a story that grew its own momentum, proving the viral nature of social media over any real substance. “Diane’s fine – she’s exhausted,” said a representative responding to the deluge of tweets. “Diane has been up for days and she’s had many sleepless nights…..covering the hurricane and then preparing for the election broadcast.” Sounds plausible enough.  This hiccup will fade if Sawyer refrains from addressing it herself. After all, Tweeters’ attention spans are only 140 characters long.

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Diane Sawyer. One (or two) bad nights do not a long, illustrious career unmake.

The PR Takeaway: Don’t apologize, don’t explain.  Sawyer’s PR rep said what was needed to deflect rumours and the rep was the right person to say it. Should Sawyer have jumped to her own defense, she would have only incriminated herself prolonging discussion and fuelling curiosity that something was not quite right. Better to keep calm, carry on and get some rest.

To see a clip of Sawyer during the election results, click here.

Should Diane Sawyer address rumors of her being drunk on air? Give us your PR Verdict!

No Celeb Surprises at the Polls

cher and kathy griffin 150x150 No Celeb Surprises at the Polls

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK ) for both political parties and their star endorsers.

Does Cher love Mitt Romney? Does Chuck Norris endorse Obama? Both might have been sensational headlines, but the opposite was true. As the election draws to an inevitable close, celebrities have been in a rush to make their final public and political stand. Uploading their Presidential endorsement videos on You Tube and their own websites, there are disappointingly few surprises about their pickings.

Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kathy Griffin, and Cher have all thrown their weight behind the Democrats. Madonna seems to have had a harder time of it; when in New Orleans recently, she was booed off the stage for endorsing President Obama, but her experience doesn’t seem to have deterred others. Obama’s celebrity support continues to be broad. But is anyone really that surprised by Hollywood favoring the Democrats?

Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan also have their share of celebrity endorsements. Arguably, the list is somewhat broader (and older) in scope: Kid Rock, Kelsey Grammer, Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, Meat Loaf, and, of course, Donald Trump. Golfer Jack Nicklaus and country music stars the Oak Ridge Boys and Lee Greenwood have been joined by celeb du jour Honey Boo Boo, the youngest of the pack and therefore ineligible to vote.

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK ) for both political parties and their star endorsers. What we really needed was a surprise.

The PR Takeaway: Astonish if you want to make a difference. It is generally understood that while celebrities may not bring in more voters, they do boost a candidate’s base and help energize the campaigns getting voters to polling booths. Fine and well, but what would really move the PR dial is to have an endorsement from left field. The element of surprise was missing with nearly all celebrities this time around. Next time, flush out the star with the surprising point of view. It’s guaranteed to vitalize a campaign and minimize the risk that the A-Listers are simply singing to their respective choirs.

To see the latest Cher video endorsing Obama, click here. To watch Chuck Norris endorse Romney, click here.

Who would you most have wanted to see stump for Obama, and who for Romney? Give us your PR Verdict!

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


conradblack 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK:  “A” (PR Perfect) to Conrad Black (left). For sheer entertainment value, the former media mogul’s interview with BBC’s Newsnight wins hands down. Black breaks almost every PR rule of thumb for media interviews, yet emerges defiant and singularly unmovable. His first interview in the UK since he was released from prison, Black never gives in and never explains, responding to aggressive questioning with one splendid insult after another. By the end of the Q&A, there is some begrudging admiration for the man. This is Conrad Black unfiltered and unrepentant. Watch the interview here.


 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to Richard Mourdock (at right, with Mitt Romney), the Republican Indiana Senate candidate whose platform includes denial of abortion to rape victims. “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said during this week’s Indiana Senate debate. Mitt Romney did not distance himself from the controversial candidate, giving Democrats ammunition and the PR world further proof that staying on message is key. Saying little keeps the PR options open while being frank creates needless complications.


Minniemouse 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” PR AWARD TO: Plus Size activists, who garnered over 120,000 signatures for a petition arguing that the latest marketing campaign from NY retailer Barneys should be dropped. What’s causing offense? A revamped super-skinny Minnie Mouse. Advocates are angry, claiming it sends a disturbing image of body shape, despite the fact that in the campaign, the “new” Minnie briefly walks the runway as a model  in a dream sequence. So the Plus Size movement targets a dream had by a cartoon character; was it really worth the effort? Choose your battles, and your cartoon mice, carefully.

The PRV Report Card: Debate Winner & Loser

 The PRV Report Card: Debate Winner & LoserDEBATE WINNER: “B” (Good Show) to Barack Obama, who won the debate (but only just). Democrats wanted a more aggressive President, and they got him. At times, Obama was jocular: When Romney repeatedly asked, “Have you looked at your pension, Mr. President?” Obama laughed and shot back, “I don’t look at my pension – it’s not as big as yours.” But when Romney accused POTUS of flying off to a fundraiser the day after the attack on the US embassy in Libya, Obama Hulked out and put Romney in his place. Game on. No one in this debate was prepared to turn the other cheek, a recharged Obama stepped up to the plate and met expectations. Is there new momentum in the campaign?


 The PRV Report Card: Debate Winner & LoserDEBATE LOSER: “B” (Good Show) to Mitt Romney, who lost the debate (but only by the slenderest of margins). Romney still has a propensity for sinking his own ship with one catchphrase. Previously we had the now infamous “47 percent.” This time, in response to a question about equal pay, Romney told a story about staffing his male-dominated cabinet and said, “They brought us binders full of women.” The comment quickly reverberated around the blogosphere, went viral on Twitter, and was a URL within an hour. Fodder for the next attack ad no doubt, and only time will tell how this affects 50 percent of the voting public.


 The PRV Report Card: Debate Winner & Loser

THE “NONSENSICAL TANGENT” PR AWARD TO: Both candidates, for their answers to the question about gun control. Romney began talking about marriage and two-parent families, starting a rapid-fire spree of Tweets beginning and ending with “WTF”? Obama fared no better, veering sharply off into education and higher test scores in math and science. So…guns don’t kill people, divorce and geeks do?