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.

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

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to Michael J. Fox , who took the “making lemonade out of lemons” maxim to a whole new level with the premiere of his new television show.  In Fox’s eponymously named sitcom, he plays a character who, like the actor himself, is returning to work while living with Parkinson’s disease. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s more than a decade ago, is raising awareness of a debilitating disease that afflicts somewhere between 7-10 million people worldwide. Regardless of whether the show is a hit, it’s a PR coup, informing and educating and making life that much easier for those with the disease.

 

joekcnbc The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to Joe Kernen, a host on business channel CNBC, for on-air racist comments that he somehow thought were funny. Bantering with co-hosts a week ago on interest rate action taken by India’s central bank, Kernen morphed into a stereotypical Indian accent at the mention of rupees. But it didn’t end there. Visibly struggling with his own better judgment for several seconds, Kernen finally gave in to his inner trading “bro.” “Are they good at 7-11?” he asked, causing his co-hosts to squirm and scold. He added a quick “faux-pology” before the segment ended, saying: “I take it back. I apologize, before I have to.” Before he had to? Clearly he knew better before the words crossed his lips. Kernen later issued a more official apology for his “inappropriate and insensitive remark.” But one wonders what CNBC’s editor-in-chief and Kernen’s boss, Nikhil Deogun, an Indian-American from Kolkata, thought of the “joke.”

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to the masterminds behind the Cory Booker “stripper scandal.” Booker, the Democratic mayor of Newark, NJ who has been campaigning for a seat in the senate, found himself being questioned by the media to explain his connection with a stripper. Scandal! Or is it? On closer inspection of the story initially broken by BuzzFeed…nyeh. Booker became acquainted with Lynsie Lee when they appeared in a film about social media. The mayor and the stripper, who works at the world’s first vegan strip club, have been tweeting, but rather tamely. “The mayor talks with people from all walks of life on Twitter,” said a spokesman. “The most shocking part of the story was learning that there is a vegan strip club in Portland.”

Another Bad Week for “Today” Show

 Another Bad Week for Today Show

is THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Today Show publicists.

There hasn’t been a truly good morning for NBC’s Today Show in months. Ratings have been slipping steadily, advertising millions have been lost, and the media seems not to tire of reporting both. Then, this past week, a behind-the-scenes feature in New York Magazine threw a harsh glare on the morning show’s troubles.

For PRs reading the article, the dilemma becomes apparent quickly: grant access to a reporter who is starting from a negative place, or refuse access, knowing the story will be written anyway? In this case, access was granted and control of some sort established via the presence of two PRs in the interview with Today heavy hitters.

One can only imagine the amount of prepping the PRs did with hosts Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, and, in particular, Matt Lauer. He has been in the media’s sights, portrayed as the architect of former co-anchor Ann Curry’s ouster, and everything from the cornerstone of the program to a controlling tyrant. Also last week, a former Today Show intern tweeted that Lauer was “not so nice,” and a story circulated that co-host Guthrie gave Lauer the finger after he teased her on set. Access or not, Today‘s negative press is turning into a bad dream the show’s PRs can’t wake up from.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Today Show publicists. Damage control is being handled, but with the issue of falling ratings and whispers of host changes, PR options are limited.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Choose battles carefully, and know when to fight. Negative press was inevitable due to the ratings slide, the revelation of Lauer’s negotiations with rival network ABC, and Curry’s awkward departure. In this case what was needed was new news to change the conversation. This article might have begun the turnaround that Today needs, but in the absence of a big bright idea, sometimes a PR just has to hope things look better tomorrow.

To read the New York Magazine article, click here.

THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Week’s Winners & Losers

krisjenner 150x150 THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Weeks Winners & Losersmcdonalds 150x150 THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Weeks Winners & Losersoctomom 150x150 THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Weeks Winners & Losers

What do Kris Jenner, NBC , McDonald’s, and the Octomom all have in common? They all share the glory of being part of this week’s PR Verdict media wrap-up.

PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to NBC for ignoring the 9/11 moment of silence. Instead, they ran  a segment with Savannah Guthrie interviewing Kardashian matriarch/mogul Kris Jenner about her breast implants. The network finally commented on the resulting outrage, telling The New York Times that its decision not to run the national moment of silence was  consistent with previous NBC coverage of 9/11 anniversaries. This was  not a gaffe, said NBC PR,  so we won’t apologize, only to repent a day later and make a half hearted apology to local affiliates. Who knew Kardashian breast implants made for better television than the President talking about 9/11?  Read more here.

PR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to McDonald’s for its decision to list calorie information on its menus starting next week in the US.  The fast food chain also said that it’s testing menus for next year that will include recommended food groups from the US Department of Agriculture’s 2010 dietary guidelines. It’s always better to be one step ahead of regulation; seizing the advantage by making the move before it is made for you makes good PR sense. Read more here.

And finally:

octomom2 150x150 THE PRV REPORT CARD: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHERE’S-NO-“THERE”-THERE PR AWARD: Nadya Suleman, better known as The Octomom, has been talking to the media with breathless excitement about her new rented California home for her and her family of 14. Suleman’s rep confirmed, “The home has five bedrooms and three full bathrooms as well as a 14,000-square-foot backyard that features a gated pool and spa and basketball court.”  The rep added, “[Nadya] has been earning and doing well from several endorsements, appearances, taking calls from fans on DialAStar.com, and her video. Her single ‘Sexy Party’ comes out Tuesday on iTunes.” The Octomom, who is also making money by staring in adult films, told the media “I owe a lot to Wicked Pictures contract star Jessica Drake,” she said. “She opened my eyes to a whole different world of self-pleasure that I could have never imagined… I’m very excited for [her masturbation video] to come out!” Sometimes, you can’t pick your clients. Read more, if you feel you must, here.

Are there any recent stories you feel should make the PRV Report Card? Give us your PR Verdict!