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

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Lynn de Forrester Rothschild. What happens when people turn on their own? That might have been the reaction to the op-ed by Rothschild, chief executive of the famous family’s investment holding company. In the week of the rapidly approaching sequester deadline, Rothschild questioned in Monday’s New York Times the intellectual justification for the “carried interest” exemption that effectively minimizes the tax bill for private equity, hedge fund managers, and investment trusts. Describing the tax exemption as violating basic standards of “fairness and common sense,” she joined the ranks of other financial notables like Warren Buffet by penning a point of view with punch. As calls for spending cuts intensify, this was a timely addition to a debate that continues to stall. In this case it was the identity of the author that made this a PR moment.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: F (“Full Fiasco”) to The OnionAs much as we love the biting humor of The Onion, the satirical publication earns this week’s PR Loser Award for its wildly offensive and unfunny Tweet about nine-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis during the Oscars. Presumably the Tweeter thought referring to an adorable child (who carried a puppy purse to the awards) as one of the most vulgar words in the English language would be groundbreakingly clever and hilarious. Despite an immediate apology from CEO Steve Hannah, however, the mark was badly missed. In one of the most controversial awards shows ever, The Onion crossed far over the line.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to Michelle Williams. If there were presses to be stopped, we’d be yelling that famous line now; if you weren’t already sitting down to read this, please do so. Members of the press, prepare: Actress Michelle Williams has announced that she is growing out her pixie haircut. Yes, yes, we know: shocking. Now, we’re not so busy examining matters of papal shakeups and sequester-related furloughs that we don’t like our media candy as well as the next person. But surely the press junket for Oz: The Great and Powerful couldn’t have been dull enough to warrant this many quotes about the Williams’ do. PRs for the film, take note – and take control of the interviews.

The Onion Makes China Cry

 The Onion Makes China Cry

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for China’s People’s Daily news outlet.

What do Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Channing Tatum have in common with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? They all share the global title of “Sexiest Man Alive.” The three actors, previously anointed  by People Magazine in its annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, now share their title with North Korea’s recently appointed dictator – courtesy of satirical magazine The Onion. Good one!

Not everyone got the joke, however. China’s leading online media outlet, The People’s Daily, immediately took up the story on its website and fawningly celebrated the universal appeal of its close ally – without realizing the story was a joke. The article included over 55 photos of Kim Jong Un, but unlike People, none of them showed the winner shirtless.

China’s paper of record unwittingly quoted extensively from The Onion‘s text, adding, “With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.” Clearly not afraid to overpraise, the news organization went on to say that the dumpling dictator made the editorial board swoon with his “impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.” Channing Tatum, eat your heart out.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) to The People’s Daily, whose credibility reached a new low.

The PR Takeaway: Death by a thousand laughs. The serious mouthpiece of the Communist party just had one of its more embarrassing and funniest falls. The official response at the outset was that The People’s Daily “verifies all its sources,” but since then the story has been taken down. The Onion is understandably boasting, “We just fooled the Chinese government!” Credibility is at an all time low. In the PR arsenal, ridicule is far more damaging and long lasting than ongoing protest.