On the Red Carpet (Yawn) at the Oscars

 On the Red Carpet (Yawn) at the Oscars

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for PRs on the red carpet.

Was there anything of note to come out of the almost 90 minutes of interviews on the red carpet before Sunday’s Oscar ceremony? All interviews were tightly managed and controlled, with PRs flanking relentlessly both sides of the stars in question. The problem? Heavy PR supervision led to indistinguishable interviews and some mighty dull TV.

The format of the red-carpet interview is set in stone: Say you are having a wonderful time (“This SOOOO amazing!”). Name the designer of the gown you have been sewn into. Thank everyone who contributed to your look, including your best friend and brilliant stylist (usually the same). Say you chose the outfit because it is simultaneously comfortable, beautiful, and, above all, a reflection of who you really are. With a wave of the hand, show the jewelry. Finally, air-kiss the interviewer farewell while talking in a voice normally reserved for teens at a birthday party. Move onto your next interview, guided by your clipboard-carrying PR heavies, and repeat. No wonder host Seth McFarlane’s patter seemed so shocking by comparison.

PRs are notorious for picking and choosing which journalists will be granted interviews – those who are friendly to their star client, stay on script, and will allow the roll call of designer names to be dropped in lieu of a decent quote. But is this good PR? Why oh why can’t someone be allowed to occasionally go off script?

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for PRs, who just might be doing their jobs too effectively, making glittering celebrities seem positively dull.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Leave some wiggle room for spontaneity. The most surprising thing about the Oscars was how utterly unsurprising the almost 90 minutes of interviews were before the show started. Nothing wrong with an upbeat tone, but why not have the client differentiate herself from the pack? This might mean the occasional tough interview, or even snarky comment. Sometimes the best PR is packaging the product so that all bases are covered. In other cases, when blessed with a witty, intelligent client, let the cards fall where they may. News is news when something surprises. PRs should consider giving the Twitterverse something to really tweet about.

Google and Larry’s Laryngitis

 Google and Larrys Laryngitis

The PR Verdict: The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for Google. (Pictured: Google CEO Larry Page.)

Larry Page, Google’s CEO, regrets he is unable to lunch today. And not just today, it seems, but all the way into mid July. The reason? Larry has “lost his voice” and “can’t do any public speaking engagements for the time being,” says Google. That includes the second quarter earnings conference in three weeks’ time. His voice is gone, and it isn’t coming back anytime soon.

The announcement has spooked investors. In an industry that endlessly speculated about the on again, off again health of Steve Jobs at Apple, this sort of news gets the rumor mill activated. Google says it is business as usual and that Page is “OK”  and continuing to run the company. “He’s running all the strategy business decisions and all that,” reassures Google.

Not all investors buy it. JP Morgan described the announcement as ”odd,” and others are wondering. One told the Wall Street Journal that the decision to miss an earning call was “highly unusual.” He said, “It’s hard to imagine a CEO missing that much stuff and not having a serious problem,” echoing what could become a rumbling chorus.

The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for Google. Who knows what the real situation is, but this explanation doesn’t reassure the market. Already suspicion is growing that Google is being less than frank.

PR Takeaway: Don’t over-complicate. Let’s face it, losing your voice doesn’t last three weeks. If Page can’t speak at earnings in three weeks’ time, it’s not a bad idea to flag it beforehand–but why not suggest that he’s having a minor medical procedure/treatment that will put him out of action for a fixed period? Use calming words to minimize the fuss and reinforce that it’s not market moving and material. Something is up, and now Google has more explaining to do. It might have been easier to have been straightforward from the start.

Should Google have anticipated investor worries, or is this a case of the truth just not being good enough these days? Give us your PR Verdict, below.


What is Sex Like with Hugh Hefner?

 What is Sex Like with Hugh Hefner?

The PR Verdict: "D" for the future, former, future-again Mrs. Hefner.

If only we could take back what was said in haste.  That must be what former Playboy Bunny Crystal Harris is wishing.  Twelve months after the 26-year-old ditched her fiancé, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner 86 , the pair have confirmed that their engagement is back on.  Crystal is wondering why the media isn’t taking the happy news too seriously.

The lack of media excitement may have something to do with their previously “amicable breakup” before their big wedding last year.  Engaged in December 2010 after two years together, Hef and Harris were ready to tie the knot at the Playboy Mansion in June 2011.  Five days before the wedding, the relationship deteriorated into an unseemly spat.

When the breakup went public (via Twitter, of course), Harris hit the airwaves and didn’t hold back.  She gave her reasons on nationally syndicated radio shows:  Sex with Hefner  apparently  lasted “like, two seconds.”  In case that wasn’t clear enough, she added, “Then I was just over it…I just like, walked away.  I’m not turned on by Hef–sorry.”

The PR Verdict : “D” for Crystal and her desire for the media to take her engagement seriously.  Next time, let your fiancé’s publicist do the talking.

PR Takeaway:  Whatever is true at the moment may not be true later on–or, if it is, maybe it’s better left unsaid.  Avoid being held hostage to fortune.  Claiming Hefner was a dud in bed while Tweeting that the separation was amicable was always going to strain credulity.  The archive is stronger than the Tweet.  Next time,  pretend the split is amicable, and let the PR team do its job.  And there probably will be a next time, because as we know, Hef and Harris have a funny way of changing their minds.

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