To the PR team at POM,
Your letter is absolute perfection. I bow down to you.
You may care little about football or you may have watched last night’s game with bated breath. Either way, there’s a pretty good chance that by now you’ve seen or heard reference to Richard Sherman’s post-game interview. See it here. It’s intense.
The media reaction has been split between condemnation for his unsportsman-like conduct and dismissal as typical exuberance in the tail of a significant win. What has also followed were media responses that implicated race, some subtly and some not so subtly (I’ve seen a few online comments that make me feel pretty disappointed in society).
Interestingly, Sherman has a communications degree from Stanford, which points to a higher level of PR awareness: He looked straight into the camera and avoided inappropriate language, even while he hollered like a WWF wrestler. Sherman himself has outlined a response in his column where he says, “To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field—don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.”
So, what do you think? Does Richard Sherman’s post-game interview deserve to be lambasted for his aggressive speech? Or is this just part of the football mythology that embraces showboating, touchdown dances and crushing people whenever possible? Tommy Tomlinson, sportswriter, has some thoughts over on Forbes if you’re interested.
OH MY GOODNESS. This is so bad, it’s downright laughable. Chip Wilson of Lululemon Athletica fame – those are shout outs to you. You should probably keep your hateful, judgmental mouth shut. And in the meantime, have fun with the PR firestorm you managed to create. I think it’s about time for one of your trips to the “washroom,” don’t you?
See the whole catastrophe at Bloomberg. It’s so bad, I hardly know what to say. Remember Thumper’s famous line in Bambi? If not, let me refresh your memory:
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Then remember the cartoon Ren & Stimpy and their famous phrase:
In one of Britain’s most high profile court cases in years, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, both former editors of Robert Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World tabloid, are accused of conspiring to illegally access voicemail messages on mobile phones belonging to politicians, the rich and famous, and victims of crime and ordinary people, to obtain exclusive news. While both deny the charges, the phone hacking accusations and lawsuit against News of the World are damning and likely will have widespread implications on European media operations.
Phone hacking is nothing new for News of the World.
Milly Dowler was 13-years-old when she was abducted and murdered in 2002. In July 2011, it was reported that employees of News of the World had hacked into her telephone while police were still searching for her, giving her parents false hope that she was alive.
In 2011, actor Hugh Grant accused News of the World reporters of breaking into his home, accessing media records, and harassing his family as part of a “cowardly, bullying and shocking” press culture.
And in 2011, Manchester United football star Wayne Rooney had his phone and video baby monitor hacked by News of the World, which leaked grainy, black and white images of his infant son in his crib. Not long thereafter, Rooney visited the Nike campus where I was working in corporate communications. His visit was treated with top security to protect him from ravenous UK media, which were thought to have trailed him to the states.
News of the World isn’t the only UK offender. The entire press culture in Britain makes American tabloids look tame. Can you imagine the Twitter rant from Kanye if USWeekly printed hacked video images of baby North in her $4,000 crib?
One hundred and twenty five people have been arrested and 40 have been charged in this case, which is expected to last at least six-months. The sheer magnitude of the trial positions it to change this blood-hungry press culture for the better. Until then, Kim and Kanye should steer clear of the UK.
From politicians, to athletes, to celebrities, our country is fascinated by the downside of being in the public eye – the skeletons in their closet. I will admit that I, too, am drawn in to breaking news about celebrity affairs! One of the most infamous cheating scandals of our generation is none other than Tiger Woods. We all remember that Thanksgiving his wife chased him down the street with a golf club, uncovering what is now one of the most talked about and expensive divorces ever. Tiger was not only drug through the mud and sold out by more than a dozen women, but professional sponsors pulled out losing a reported $22 million in endorsement deals. Four years ago, PR maven Howard Rubenstein even said that “[Tiger] is beyond PR redemption. He is in public relations hell right now. There is not a PR man on Earth who can restore his image.”
Howard may know PR, but he certainly didn’t have a crystal ball. Fast forward to 2013 and it’s time to re-evaluate. Has his image finally recovered from the infidelity scandal? I’d say yes! Not only is he back on top of Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid athletes, he’s returned to the top of the World Golf Rankings with a lovely lady by his side.
Tiger was certainly not the first to be scrutinized by the masses, and he is definitely not the last. In the last couple of years, cheating scandals have been thrust into the public eye, often leaving the one at fault to be judged under a microscope. Let me just preface the term ‘cheating’ doesn’t necessary mean infidelity; I am clumping professional cheating and irresponsibility as well. For instance, Lance Armstrong’s public outing for doping, Paula Deen’s reckless words, A-Rod’s suspension for performance enhancement abuse, Anthony Weiner’s multiple (multiple!) indiscretions with women, and most recently, Portland’s own Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen’s highly exposed affair with another woman. In a day and age where public figures’ private lives are no longer private, how do they successfully come out the other side?
As someone in the industry, I can guarantee the image refresh people like Tiger receive is all due to careful planning by a team of highly skilled public relations professionals. Good PR is what saved Tiger Woods. And it’s what can either save or destroy all of the other cheaters mentioned. Look at Paula Deen at her time on the Today Show – either she rejected her counsel’s suggestions or she needed to find a new PR team. So the question I must ask is: What does it take to erase your cheating scandal when you’re in the public eye? Is it timing, the type of scandal or is it simply the skill set of your PR team?