The Pet Whisperer of Park Avenue

berman The Pet Whisperer of Park Avenue

The PR Verdict: “B” for Dr Berman and his PR Profile.

The latest edition of Town and Country magazine includes a profile of the apparently famous Park Avenue veterinarian, Lewis Berman, DVM.  Described as the preferred confidant of Manhattan’s “elite dogs and cats for more than fifty years” the magazine enthuses that “pets and their owners both seem to look forward to visits with Dr Berman”.

For more than fifty years, Dr Berman has looked after the pets of the boldest of bold-faced names.  Andy Warhol had a dachshund called Amos, Lauren Bacall a King Charles Spaniel while the Shah of Iran had a Great Dane.  Writer Lillian Hellman was more devoted to her French poodle than other people.  “She didn’t like people that much”, he offers.

The lengthy interview talks of his early days in the business as well as his family and charitable causes.  Described puzzlingly in the article as “having a pleasing attractive face with unremarkable unexaggerated features” the article reads like a prelude to something bigger.  Is a book, TV program or franchise in the offing?

The PR Verdict: “B” for Dr Berman and his PR Profile.  We may be cynical but was the ground being laid for stage two of a publicity drive? All the ingredients were there but in the end no clue was given.

PR Takeaway: Credibility is key to building a professional profile.  Dr Berman seems to have mastered the art, even if unintentionally.  Positioning himself as the dog and cat whisperer to Manhattan’s elite, he struck the right note of experience, wisdom and geniality.  Even if Dr Berman doesn’t intend to start his own franchise, create a shampoo line or launch a DVD/book on pet care, the article might flush out interested buyers of the business, if he is tempted that is.

The article is not available online. Print edition only. For a link to Town and Country click here.



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Justin Bieber and Dinner with Mommie

justin bieber 02 300x207 Justin Bieber and Dinner with Mommie

The PR Verdict: “F” for Justin Bieber.

Does anyone, apart from pubescent teenage girls, find Justin Bieber even vaguely interesting?  Not really, might be the inevitable response.  While the 18-year-old singer continues to enjoy extraordinary popularity in his target demographic, his PR minders have obviously been wondering if they should explore further afield.  Cue an interview in the latest edition of GQ Magazine.

On paper the interview made complete sense.  How can we make Justin seem more interesting to another demographic? Why not young(ish), fashion conscious men who might want to hear more about him?  “How about a sit down interview with GQ?” must have been the excitement at the morning meeting.  Let’s see what we can arrange!

Bieber did the interview.  Nice enough. But the bad news is that it did nothing more than reinforce his image as a young kid, taken by surprise by his own success.  GQ describes him as ‘ a very small human being’ who resembles the Star Wars super hero Luke Skywalker,   “if he had his own perfume line”.  The interview was finally completed, after having been rearranged multiple times to squeeze in dinner with his mommie.

The PR Verdict:  “F” for a failed strategy.  It will take more than an interview with GQ to make him into the bad boy of music.  And next time don’t mention dinner with mommie.

PR TAKEAWAY:  Give a journalist something new to write about, otherwise the default content will be what has been written already.   This was an interview searching for a subject matter.  Bieber (all of 18) was unable to identify a cause, issue or romantic interest that would takes his profile to the Mickey Rourke or Sean Penn level.  GQ concluded the interview by opining that for Bieber “manhood can wait”.   Sadly , this interview was at best five years too early.

To read the interview click here.

Is Tom Cruise Really That Dull?

tom cruise Is Tom Cruise Really That Dull?

The PR Verdict: “A” for Cruise and his PR strategy.

Is Tom Cruise as achingly dull as his recent profile in Playboy would seem unintentionally to suggest? In honor of his fiftieth birthday and to publicise his new movie Rock of Ages, he has given an interview the length of War and Peace to the once racy, but now vaguely suburban magazine.  His interview is almost as tough to get through as the Russian novel.

For an actor who has had his share of PR blunders it is little wonder he became media shy.  Whether it was bouncing around on Oprah’s couch talking about Katie Holmes, criticizing Brooke Shields about post natal depression or waxing lyrical about Scientology , his star fell and his box office allure faded.  Suddenly America’s leading man was polarizing instead of interesting.

Playboy’s recent interview should help remedy that.  Cruise talks about his love of Katie, his children and his strong work ethic.  Yes, he considers himself blessed and fortunate and no, he doesn’t read negative press about himself.  As it happens, he  hasn’t had plastic surgery and his secret to keeping in shape is eating right and exercising.  Cruise has made the PR transition from Hollywood loon to male soccer mom. And done it in Playboy!

The PR Verdict: “A”  for Tom Cruise and his PR Strategy.  An astonishingly dull interview that has got his PR profile back on track.

PR Takeaway:  Being boring has its rewards.  The most interesting insight Cruise offers in the article is that he realised his own PR missteps cost him plenty.  He took a PR break, stayed out of the press and what has now followed is an interview that gives him the space to sound reassuring and not the slightest bit controversial or interesting.  While sensible for the box office and his PR machine, we did prefer him jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa.  Much more amusing.

What’s your PR Verdict?

Sofia Loren, Vanity Fair and the Perils of Being Boring

sofia loren3 150x150 Sofia Loren, Vanity Fair and the Perils of Being Boring

The PR Verdict: "C" for Sofia Loren and her PR strategy

What to think of Vanity’s Fair’s detailed profile of Sophia Loren?  Speaking from her home in Geneva, the 77 year old confides “My life is not a fairy tale, and it’s painful still to speak about it.”  And then over multiple pages goes into astonishing detail about precisely that- her life.

Rhapsodizing about the beauty and charm of the legendary actress, the profile gushes with more prosaic detail about La Loren than anyone but the most devoted of fans need ever know.

In the age of Twitter and news alerts it’s surprising readers continue to have the attention span for  this type of fawning journalism. The article has all the hallmarks of being managed from the outset by an overly vigilant PR who successfully edited out any real color or controversy.

The PR Verdict: “C” for Sophia Loren and her PR strategy.  An article that reads more like a press pack is PR done badly. While it may be “on-message” it makes for dull reading.

The article was a snore, mitigated only by highly stylized photos and the occasional sound bite.  Going to jail for 30-days for tax evasion in 1982, Loren conceded at the time, that it was all “due to a little mistake by a tax specialist”. To engage the reader,  more of this was needed.  Being less careful, less scripted and more spontaneous might have saved this article. Sometimes PR just needs to get out of the way.

What’s your view?  Let us know. To read the article click here.