Guest Column: Lady Gaga’s Fur Flap

 Guest Column: Lady Gagas Fur Flap

The PR Verdict: D (PR Problematic) for Lady Gaga.

Last week, Dan Mathews, Vice President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) blasted Lady Gaga for prancing around in a fur coat. Gaga had previously been on the record professing,  “I hate fur, and I don’t wear fur,” but recent photos of her in fox and rabbit, and with a wolf carcass, made it appear that she has either changed her mind or lost her memory. Matthews told Gaga via a public letter that by wearing fur, she’s making herself “a target, just like the mindless Kim Kardashian.” The non-leather gloves are off!

Gaga responded with a Tweet instructing those wondering whether her fur was real or faux to “credit the designer HERMES. Thank You!” She then issued a lengthier explanation on her LittleMonsters.com website and simultaneously took a dig at PETA, saying that she doesn’t support “violent, abusive, and childish campaigns.”

“I am choosing not to comment on whether or not the furs I purchase are faux fur-pile or real because I would think it hypercritical [sic] not to acknowledge the python, ostrich, cow hide, leather, lamb, alligator, ‘kermit’ and not to mention meat, that I have already worn,” she said, referencing her infamous meat dress of 2010.

Gaga continued “…I have truly always stayed away from skinned fur, especially [since] I have never been able to afford a nice one, but this does not mean my morals are rigid and that I won’t bend at the sight of an absolute art piece of a coat… But I am truly sorry to fans who are upset by this, its [sic] a fair and applaudable [sic again] feeling about the health and safety of animals. I respect your views, please respect mine. And Kim Kardashian is fabulous,” the megastar added.

The PR Verdict: D (PR Problematic) for Lady Gaga. While a chastising public letter from PETA could be construed as “violent, abusive or childish,” it might also have been possible to turn the other cheek and let the whole issue blow over. The more important lesson for Gaga is to choose allies, such as the intractable PETA, carefully.

The PR Takeaway: Stand by your message or abandon it, but don’t remix it by saying one thing, then sort of retracting it. If you’re against fur, be against fur. If not, fine, but being against some fur and not all is a tad wishy-washy, and former allies like PETA will understandably make a meal of it. On the plus side, communicating via an impassioned blog keeps the connection with fans strong. But one tip: typos and mistakes don’t prove authenticity of authorship. A copy editor won’t dilute the message, however confusing the substance might be.

When It Comes to PR, Mike Tyson’s No Pigeon

Mike Tyson Kissing Pigeon2 150x150 When It Comes to PR, Mike Tysons No Pigeon

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Mike Tyson and a comeback that gives the public a new way to think about him.

Boxer Mike Tyson recently told the Financial Times (FT) that by the age of thirteen, he had been arrested no less than 38 times. His life was one chaotic downward spiral. A rape charge led to him serving three years in prison; he ran through a $400 million fortune; there were endless drugs, arrests, more arrests, and then, the coupe de grace: biting off Evander Holyfield’s earlobe. How to stage a PR comeback from all of THAT?

Tyson pinpoints the exact moment he became the “baddest man on the planet.” At fifteen years of age, bullied relentlessly (hard to imagine), and a lover of pigeons (even harder), Mike Tyson had one of his prized pigeons killed by a taunting bully. Tyson fought back, and from that moment, his descent into one helluva scary guy was guaranteed.

Tyson’s second epiphany, this one leading in a different direction, occurred much later. Tired of sleeping with a never-ending procession of prostitutes and having multiple STDs, he turned to veganism as a route to good health.

The former ear-biting prizefighter now speaks publicly about his non-meat eating lifestyle, and his love of pigeons. “My pigeons, they were there for me,” he says. “They’ve never let me down. Easier than people.” The world got its first incredulous glimpse of the kinder, gentler Tyson in his reality show Taking On Tyson, and again in his sold-out one-man Broadway show, The Undisputed Truth, directed by Spike Lee. The Mike Tyson of yesterday has turned the page and is writing a whole new chapter.

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Mike Tyson and a comeback that gives the public a new way to think about him.

The PR Takeaway:  Turning the page is best explained by a personal epiphany. In PR terms, it explains clearly the what and why of a seminal moment. Fighting a bully made him realize his own power. One too many prostitutes made him realize that salvation lay in veganism. The constant throughout it all? His love of pigeons. Apparently, Tyson was the misunderstood gentle giant. Now even the Financial Times wants to write about him. Who would have thought? Now watch the endorsement contracts come through.

To read more about Tyson, his turnaround, and his pigeons, click here.

Is Mike Tyson a canny PR manipulator, or is the public feasting on his foibles? Give us your PR verdict!

PETA’s Naked Agenda

cf05e peta xxx2 300x280 PETAs Naked Agenda

The PR Verdict: “C” for PETA and its promo porn.

Do you care about animals? Do you care about porn? Well then, today is your lucky day!  Animal rights activist group, People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)  has launched a site for you.  The eye-popping website features naked porn stars and vegetarian sex tips, including advice on how to boost your sex drive with vegetables.

The adult-only site, called PETA.XXX.com, was introduced by famously unattractive porn star (and animal lover) Ron Jeremy. “This is the perfect example of sex just being used to draw interest,” he explained, “and then once you’re there on the site, we’re going to hit you with facts that you need to know about the world of animals.”

Justifying the approach, PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajit said, “We live in a 24-hour news cycle world, and we learn the racy things we do are sometimes the most effective way that we can reach particular individuals.” The porn site will raise awareness of veganism, said Rajt. “We really want to grab people’s attention, get them talking… we can help the greatest number of animals by not eating them.”

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for PETA and its promo porn. While it may grab the headlines on day one, it raises potential problems that go beyond splash coverage.

PR Takeaway: Resist the quick hit and the quick headline. Yes, PETA’s website and launch has garnered media attention, but for an organization already known for outrageous PR stunts, this seems desperate. With Ron Jeremy as a key spokesperson, PETA risks being excluded permanently from any serious debate about animal welfare and food sustainability. More importantly, PETA’s supporters may be as opposed to porn on the grounds that it exploits women, as they are opposed to the exploitation of animals. What will Ron Jeremy say then?

To read more click here and here.