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 US Speaker of the House John Boehner, who’s mad as hell – and his anger is translating into PR gold. For the first time, Boehner, a Republican, lashed out at conservative advocacy groups who criticized this week’s US budget deal. The agreement was (pleasantly) out of character for Washington: bipartisan, done early, and with both sides making significant concessions. Yet strict conservatives, who have assailed nearly every negotiation attempted by Republicans, say it doesn’t go far enough to rein in spending. Boehner blasted the groups, some of whom hadn’t even seen the proposal before commenting. “When you … have no idea what you’re criticizing, it undermines your credibility,” Boehner railed. “This is ridiculous.” The news media liked his candor, and pundits pondered whether it might suggest a new, stronger speaker. Time will tell.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers

PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to the organizers and security detail at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, for allowing a fake sign language interpreter take center stage with speakers, including President Obama. Mistakes are understandable when a large event must be put together in days by bereaved organizers. But with heads of state in attendance, the fact that a random man who says he was suffering from a schizophrenic episode was allowed to take part in a high-level political ceremony is a serious breach, as well as a black eye on the event.

cruise kingsley 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Hollywood publicist Pat Kingsley, who “finally” talked about her former days repping Tom Cruise and revealed…well, not much. Kingsley, fired by Cruise in 2009, sat for an interview that hinted at  revealing details about her former cleint and his faith in Scientology. The story was billed as an interview with Hollywood’s “once-most-feared woman” who could be expected to dish on the firing and the role Scientology played in it. Alas, while she did describe disagreements she had with Cruise’s religious leaders, no real tidbits were delivered. The conflict with Cruise’s church “was taken care of very early in the game,” Kingsley said. Well, what did we expect from a publicist?

The “Selfie” Seen ‘Round the World

 The Selfie Seen Round the World

PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for President Obama

If President Obama wasn’t suffering enough PR damage lately, a seemingly thoughtless gesture during the memorial service for anti-apartheid crusader and former South African President Nelson Mandela sealed the deal.

Acting as though they were at a party instead of a memorial service, Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt took a break from the eulogies to snap what is known in today’s tech parlance as a “selfie”. Unfortunately for them, someone else was snapping their photo at the same time – and the photo immediately went viral.

Everything about the photo induces a wince, from the trio crowding their heads together like goofy teenagers to a possibly furious Michelle Obama appearing to ignore them. Sadly, the selfie seen ’round the world became more newsworthy than Obama’s own moving and powerful speech about Mandela’s life.

Is there a silver lining here? Possibly. The faux pas also overshadowed Obama’s other gaffe that day, an  “unplanned” handshake with Cuban President Raul Castro that forced the White House to reiterate the president’s “grave concerns” about human rights violations in the Caribbean nation.

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for President Obama.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Public figures are always on display, never more than when the chips are down. In late November, a poll suggested a majority of Americans don’t think Obama trustworthy as his advisers sought to divert attention from the PR debacle associated with the rollout of Obamacare. Using his exceptional oratorical skills at Mandela’s memorial service might have been a way to remove some of the tarnish. Unfortunately, forgetting that he must always be presidential cost him that opportunity.

Did The Dalai Lama Really Want To Share That?

dalai lama21 Did The Dalai Lama Really Want To Share That?

The PR Verdict: “D” for the Dalai Lama

Does the Dalai Lama have a PR? Watching his interview on CNN, the most likely response is no.  Or if he does, is there some deliberate policy afoot to connect with the public in a different way?  Wednesday’s interview with host Piers Morgan was affable enough but may have left some of his admirers and followers wondering.

In a wide-ranging interview he discussed China, free speech, and ongoing protests by Tibetans.  Describing the death of recent protestors as “very sad” he urged China to be more realistic when addressing issues of civil unrest.  He also praised the Arab spring in principle, saying it was “very good”.  Fine so far.

Then came the more personal questions asked of His Holiness.  While celibate, he conceded he looks at women and thinks, “that’s very nice”.   If tempted, he reminds himself, “I am a monk – I am always a monk.”   Surprisingly, among the people he admires most, is George W. Bush.  “Some of his policies may not be very successful,” the Dalai Lama conceded, “but as a person, as a human being, very nice person. I love him.”  Who knew?

The PR Verdict: “D” for the Dalai Lama and the mystique of a spiritual leader.  Accessibility and everyday observations, while making him approachable, inevitably distract from solemnity and gravitas.

PR Takeaway:  Gravitas depends on a certain level of inaccessibility.  It’s a tough call to be a spiritual leader while also being available for a lengthy friendly interview.  The Pope and Queen Elizabeth learnt this long ago.  Disclose little about oneself, and then only rarely.  Above all keep it high level.  As soon as a chatty interview strays into “loving” a still-polarizing former US president, the relationship between His Holiness’s followers and who they might imagine him to be,  inevitably changes.  What would the Pope and the Queen tell Piers in their interview?

To read and see parts of the interview click here.

What’s your PR Verdict on the interview?

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