Chik-fil-A and Campus Pride’s Peaceful PR

Windmeyer Cathy 150x150 Chik fil A and Campus Prides Peaceful PR

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Shane Windmeyer (pictured, left) of Campus Pride and Dan Cathy of Chik-fil-A.

Shane L. Windmeyer and Dan Cathy may not be household names, but both are well known in their respective arenas: college students recognize Windmeyer as head of Campus Pride, a vocal advocate for the LGBT community, while business execs know Cathy as CEO of fast-food franchise Chik-fil-A. Their relationship – at least, that of their respective organizations – has been an acrimonious one since last summer, when Cathy’s comments regarding same-sex marriage ignited a firestorm of protests and boycotts on both sides of the issue.

Apparently, that relationship has changed. This week, Windmeyer revealed in his Huffington Post blog that the two men have reached a détente of sorts. According to the editorial, Cathy reached out to Windmeyer to better understand his perspective, even as the embers from last summer’s fracas were still smoldering. The phone call begat a series of additional calls, texts, e-mails, and in-person meetings, culminating in Windmeyer attending the Chik-fil-A Bowl as Cathy’s personal guest on New Year’s Eve.

Even more impressively, Cathy provided Windmeyer with internal documents that show the company has ceased financial support of certain groups perceived as hostile to the gay-rights agenda. As a result of the new peace, Windmeyer used his blog to appeal to Chik-fil-A boycotters to reconsider, noting, “In the end, it is not about eating (or eating a certain chicken sandwich). It is about sitting down at a table together and sharing our views as human beings, engaged in real, respectful, civil dialogue.”

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for both parties. In a time when hotheads are the norm, cooler heads are a refreshing change.

THE PR TAKEAWAY:  Sometimes the best PR strategy is to take the “public” out of “public relations.” In this case, opening up a private dialogue away from the harsh glare of the media spotlight gave both party representatives room to explore and understand the other’s views. In doing so, both secured concessions from the other and opened up a dialogue that continues to create an entirely different outcome. Might Congress want to take note?

Sex and the Single Gurley Brown

 Sex and the Single Gurley Brown

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Helen Gurley Brown.

What is the PR secret to staying “on- message” and in the public eye for over forty years? The death this week of Helen Gurley Brown (HGB), former Editor- in-Chief of Cosmopolitan and author of once scandalous books, provides some clues. Since the 1970s, she never stopped preaching the same message. And women in particular, kept on listening.

Feminists were never quite sure where to place HGB. Some staged a sit-in at her offices in protest during her editorship of Cosmo, while others lambasted her “teenage immaturity.”  She certainly knew how to scandalize, claiming “I’ve never worked anywhere without being sexually involved with somebody in the office.” Did this include her boss? “Why discriminate against him?” was her tart reply. Cheeky!

Having shocked America with her thesis that unmarried women not only had sex but also enjoyed it, the NY Times recently wrote that she spent “the next three decades telling those women precisely how to enjoy it even more.” Bottom line, her aim, she said, was to tell women “How to get everything out of life — the money, recognition, success, men, prestige, authority, dignity — whatever she is looking at through the glass her nose is pressed against.” So it wasn’t just about sex after all.

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for HGB. Her message was simple: Kick off the conversation with headline-grabbing sex, but broaden into “having it all.” No wonder she was still listened to.

The PR Takeaway: Lasting success comes from wrapping a simple message into a wider discourse. Weighing in at 100 pounds all her life, HGB was a socio-political heavyweight, talking about sex in the wider empowered context of “having it all” and being your best. The mistress of the sound bite, HGB was famous for her motto, “Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.” Back in 1970, she was already speaking to the Sex & the City zeitgeist, perhaps even helping to create it. Forty years later, her message still resonates; no small achievement for someone who was supposedly just talking about sex and the single girl.

To read more about HGB, click here.

Did Helen Gurley Brown help to objectify or liberate women? Give us your PR Verdict!