PR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, for maintaining the accident investigation agency’s impeccable record of transparency and candor. Led by Hersman, the agency has gushed a steady torrent of salient findings on last weekend’s deadly crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco, prompting journalists to express “amazement at the unusual amount of detail flowing from the federal bureaucracy.” Her daily briefings have not been universally welcome. Pilot groups have decried premature disclosure of data that suggest pilot error, while other critics have clucked about Hersman’s intense ambition as the driving factor for her high visibility. Maybe, but so what? As Hersman noted this week, the NTSB’s unassailable credibility derives from its transparency: “We believe it is important to show our work and to tell people what we are doing.”
PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, who announced he is divorcing his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson. The soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Saatchi was the one expected to start divorce proceedings photographs of Saatchi choking her during lunch at a restaurant hit the media. After minimizing his repeated attacks as “a playful tiff” to the press, Saatchi gave a statement saying he was “disappointed that [Lawson] was advised to make no public comment to explain that I…have never abused her in any way.” No doubt all who read it were not merely disappointed but frankly aghast that Saatchi was not advised to keep his mouth shut.
THE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Bluewater Productions, which said it will go ahead with a planned comic book featuring that legendary icon of female empowerment…erm, Paula Deen? Yes, the company said “Female Force: Paula Deen” will hit the stands in October despite the celebrity chef’s plummeting stardom. Deen’s empire began to crumble after she admitted to using racial slurs, something she attributed to having grown up in the South. Bluewater said it chose Deen as its next superhero because she “changed Southern cooking for women” (meaning, now even more will develop diabetes?) and that it will somehow incorporate Deen’s fall from grace into the storyline – that should be interesting. Apparently, Bluewater doesn’t need its heroines’ consent to publish; the company admitted Deen hasn’t returned its calls. Given that corporate sponsors are dropping the 66-year-old chef like a hot butter-and-sour-cream-laden potato, however, that could change.