No PR disaster as Goodesy joins DJ line-up

David Jones nameplate
Retailer David Jones is adeptly Riding the waves of transmedia indignation (from both sides) with the applomb of a PR surf god.
As embarrassing as the social media barbs at – and as spirited the defences of – Adam Goodes are, the alleged ‘PR Disaster’ actually helps DJs surf a swell of “controversy communications”, adding visibility for their new positioning campaign.
The creative, Kanye, the role model sponsorships – and even the social spat – assert DJs new brand posture: ‘The right-on choice for cashed-up consumers with a conscientous rock ‘n roll spirit’, I’m guessing?
Whatever the schtick, Goodesy’s (and others’) recruitment is an adept PR manouevre. Round 1, and both store and sports legend are countering with all the right moves.

Donut brand slam-dunked by racism claims

Part 1: How to sell a creative idea; pitch that it will star the daughter of the local CEO, reflect a MadMen-style chic, and tread the line in terms of controversy marketing.
Part 2: How to recover after it has gone to print; watch as the global company issues profuse apologies as snipers shoot down the execution and tonality.
Part 3; wait til the furore dies down and check with satisfaction as you show stats proving that awareness and media coverage for the concept dwarfs the original Ad spend available.

Gillard must be bull-dogged on political leaks & reputation management

Friday last week, I did an enjoyable interview with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Georgina Robinson on the PR disaster besetting Aussie PM Julia Gillard; press leaks from within Labour’s own ranks. I drew an analogy paralleling what her beloved Aussie football rules team had done with a suspected leak just recently; they honoured his contract but speedily dispatched him from the club. As well as what appeared in print today, I had offered a bit of contextual material too. I mentioned that the concept of leaking was nothing new in corporate affairs or political circles; they’re almost a standard part of any PR strategist’s arsenal; leaking a story can actually give you more control over the way the story is profiled and, critically, the timing of when that happens. Leaking can sometimes takes the heat out of a story depending on when and how you release the material. I also discussed the critical role of Channel 9’s Laurie Oakes, a major political pundit, whose scoop broke the story in the first place; the bigger the journalist, the more significant seems the leak they broke. Then there was Mark Latham, a Gillard defender; sometimes your well-meaning allies bring their own baggage to the situ – Mr Latham doesn’t enjoy the best reputation as a sage and reasoned analyst (given his own political performances when he was Labour leader). In my chat with Georgina, I also projected that managing leaks would become harder in the future; with unpoliced social media speculation and commentary running rife, keeping on top of a more porous media environment will be a major challenge for politicos. I joked that it might make political communicators more transparent, then quickly rescinded that statement and quipped I thought they were much too creative to ever lose complete control of the political messaging process.

BPs Gulf PR disaster – give them a break!

As the author of ‘Public Relations Disasters’, I know that the critical commentary about BPs handling of its Gulf oil spill guarantees only one thing; this will go down in corporate history as the case study in how not to handle environmental crisis communications; from premature statements about modest impact to the now laughable “we have turned the corner” claim and the money-minded assertion there was “no reason for the share price movement”, many of the utterances signalled those of a self-interested and self-serving organisation.

However, many of the forensic, nay nit-picking, critiques by analysts, experts and profiteering pundits of every hue have been hysterical (against Hayward’s “I want my life back” and yacht trip, and Svanberg’s “…small people” comments), opportunistic (the US political pot-shotters) and aimed to inflict additional pointless discomfort (experts insisting how they’d’ve done it better) on an established brand and corporation patently struggling to cope with a natural and PR disaster beyond it, Haliburton’s and Transocean’s ken. Believe me, BP wants this to end and will be pursuing that goal 100%. Where is that perspective ever reported though?

So I ask you all; where is our balance, our perspective, our compassion to support all concerned in the midst of this horrible environmental catastrophe? Where’s our willingness to give everyone involved (yes, even BP) a break? Societal (ie media) statements, utterances and opinion is increasingly seeming like a harsh, judgemental and very ugly thing. Social Media in particular often supports the angriest critics, not the fair-minded voices of reason. What a cold, unforgiving and pointlessly punitive environment for PRs and communicators trying to convey any kind of company perspective or position.

The BP response has confused many PR experts, but perhaps that’s only because it ceased to be a PR issue months ago. As this AP article shows, the stakes exceed communications and reputation needs. It’s now all about limiting financial damage and the likelihood of corporate and personal prosecution. For example, some years ago I asked a former Comms Chief at a scandal-hit agricultural organisation why Execs listened to lawyers more often than they listened to PRs: “Lawyers can keep them out of jail”, was his deadpan reply.

Cash-for-influence PR disaster at Washington Post

You know how journalists (and all news organisations) are the good guys – cutting the BS, defending the truth – and PRs are all duplicitous schemers only driven by money and manipulation? Well, shock horror! here’s another case showing how some news organisations have no idea when it comes to PR, and no care for abuse of power: The Washington Post has been offering PR people the chance to buy (at up to $250,000) dinner-date access to political insiders, business leaders, Obama administration officials and Washington Post reporters. Sheeez! The things revenue shortfalls will force some papers to do huh??

IABC World Conf; great, but too much SocMed?

I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my ‘Why CEOs are scared of Social Media’ session at IABC’s San Fran shindig (thanks for the pesonal compliments y’all); even my punk rock and dog poo analogies translated well (and into laughter) for the audience. Saw a good sesh from Gerard Braud, and heard one standout quote from Jerry Stevenson’s (Buck Consultants) session I really want to share now:

“Technology doesn’t solve communication problems; great communicators do”

Web2.0 might be have lots of technology and accessories, but so does a science lab; it’s chemists and doctors who administer the solutions that get the job done. Also, over several dinners, heard a few whispers of discontent that there was too much focus on SocMed – maybe worth noting, as clearly Web2.0 should be one of the ingredients, not the whole formula (he said with white science coat still on). And finally; MAN, I can;’t shake this darn jetlag!!


Slick banking PR 'smokescreened' financial crisis

Any wonder journos are so sceptical of PRs??
Over in the UK, a seminar entitled “Why Did Nobody See It Coming?” has concluded that slick financial PRs helped obfuscate the truth, while the media struggled to accurately report the nature and scale of global financial problems. A few choice quotes from the assembled luminaries included: 

The press has found itself up against an unnerving banking PR machine – whose job it is to dissemble, lie if you like, to put you off the track.”

”…we came up against the financially powerful City PR lobby, with considerably more resources...”


Alleged top Aussie blogger spams PR Disasters

I just got, well, spammed; a press release about a hairdresser-turned-software developer plopped in my email box with this simple intro…Hope this story might be a good fit for your blog. Regular PR Disaster readers might know I’m not big on covering hairdresser/software tales, unless their PRs are lazily spamming me. Cet slice de petit carne-dans-un-tincan came from a contractor working for an Aussie publicity outfit whose web proclaims they’re “…not just at the cutting-edge of public relations practices, but also insists they’re “…laser-focused on helping entrepreneurs build their companies through public relations and publicity…LISTEN UP…SPAMMING CITIZEN JOURNOS WILL GET YOU NOTHING BUT NEGATIVE COMMENTARY FOR YOUR CLIENTS (who I will refuse to name in this instance). You need to understand topics bloggers are passionately interested in, and approach them in ways that don’t waste their time. I phoned the PR spammer for an explanation; seems she simply got/bought a list of 50 top Aussie ‘business bloggers’ from an outfit called O-Desk (??), and she (obviously) sprayed the stuff out hoping for some pickup. She seemed not to sense this wasnt quite kosher. But feeling my ire she said sorry. Word to the wise, guys, your online PR “laser’ needs a cleaning cloth. And as an Aussie blog pioneer…surely your team should desist from sending citizen journos like me completely irrelevant media releases?  Online or off, that’s PR 101.