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Author Archive for Carter Breazeale

The Breaking Bad Bait & Switch

If you’ve followed PR/PR’s blog for any length in time, you’re well aware of my affinity for Breaking Bad. In my humble opinion it’s one of the greatest television shows ever created—a deep character study about what someone will do to provide for their family, and the personality changes that can take place once his motivations become skewed. It was a masterful work, so naturally fans have been clamoring for more since the credits rolled on the series finale six years ago.

So it made perfect sense that alarm bells would go off when Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul began tweeting identical photos with the cryptic caption, “Soon.” The first photo, a couple of mules in a desert setting on grayscale, immediately started the internet chatter that a movie or another spin-off a la Better Call Saul was in the works.

The second depicted Cranston and Paul crossing a creek, yet again with a desert backdrop.

If you’re unfamiliar with Breaking Bad, it follows Cranston and Paul (as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, respectively) as they rise through the seedy underworld of methamphetamine in New Mexico. So you have a photo of mules and the pair in an arid-looking landscape, posted simultaneously on both stars’ social media accounts.

You can see where the mental math came to the calculation that a new Breaking Bad project was in the works.

But then came the third photo, one showing each sipping a drink, complete with the caption, “A collaboration so smooth you can taste it,” and an emoji of a highball glass.

That’s when many fans realized they’d been duped. Instead of some new Breaking Bad content, they were getting an alcoholic beverage collaboration between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Mezcal, to be exact.

The online outrage was swift, with a large contingent of people expressing their displeasure at seemingly falling for a bait-and-switch. The social media stunt had all the makings of a PR campaign, but with a television series as pivotal and important as Breaking Bad, many were content operating under willful ignorance that something bigger was in the works.

But their hearts were broken with the official announcement, and as it stands right now there’s no Walter White or Jesse Pinkman on the horizon. It will be interesting to see if their new Mezcal brand will succeed, considering a large chunk of their potential customers are now frustrated and angry fans.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul certainly created a buzz with their social media trolling—and generated awareness of their new brand in the process. We’ll see if they can convert angry fans into willing consumers.

Heading to Influence ’19

Before we dive into today’s pressing blog matters, I’d be remiss if I did not offer formal congratulations to the U.S. Women’s National Team for winning their fourth World Cup. These ladies were utterly dominant throughout the entire tournament, and truly made the nation proud. A massive win, and another shiny piece of silverware for the USWNT. Congratulations!

Now onto more PR/PR-centric news: We’re headed to the Rockies! That’s right: Our favorite event of the year, and Russell’s 14th consecutive appearance at NSA’s Influence. Quite the streak.

Russell will be manning PR/PR’s booth from throughout NSA ’19, from July 27-July 30. When you’re not attending the masterful keynotes and getting some great information in breakout sessions, please be sure to swing by. Russell will also be signing copies of his latest book, Sell Yourself Without Saying a Word.

Along with his traditional attendance in the exhibit hall, Russell will be delivering his latest presentation, Stop Fishing for Publicity and Reel in the Media on Saturday, July 27.

We hope you’re as excited about Influence ’19 as we are, and we hope to see you there. If you haven’t made plans to attend yet, registration is still open! Invest in your career and join us at NSA Influence ’19.

Happy Independence Day!

Incredible to believe we’re halfway through the year already, but time just seems to be moving at a rapid fire pace these days. We’re still in summer’s infancy, but it’s already oppressively hot down here in Florida. That means July has definitely arrived, and we’re celebrating America’s birthday this Thursday, July 4th.

This great American Experiment began in parlors and bars and around kitchen tables. It began first with whispers and grew into a roar throughout the Thirteen Colonies rose up to overthrow the tyranny from abroad. It’s certainly not been perfect since the United States was formally founded in 1776, but like with any experiment, it has required tests and trials and constant evolution to form a better, more perfect Union.

We celebrate that Union on Thursday with the usual fare: food, drinks, fireworks. It’s a day for revelry yet also a day for remembrance of the Founding Fathers who laid the framework for a new country. We celebrate our independence with all of the trappings of summer, but remain grateful for the courage and sacrifice of those brave patriots who took up arms to form a new nation.

So enjoy your Independence Day! One business addendum: PR/PR will be closed Thursday and Friday, but returning to the offices on Monday morning. Have a safe and happy 4th!

It’s Always Election Season

We just emerged from the end of another vitriolic election season, and in what seems to be one of the only constants these days, well, it’s election time again. The radio and television ads finally died down last November, and they’re about to fully ramp up once more. Prepare yourselves.

The first Democratic debate on Wednesday (and Thursday, considering a million people are running) officially kicks off the formal run up to the 2020 Election, meaning we’re going to be fully inundated with politics until next November. It’s a pivotal part of our democracy, but it honestly feels like it never stops.

There’s no respite from the talking points and narratives and spin and outrage.

Election time always brings about strong opinions, but the temperature has been especially high since before the 2016 election—and it never really tapered off. Frenetic debates among neighbors, conversations that devolve into shouting matches, bitter back-and-forths on social media; these are unfortunate features of election time, and with the debates starting tomorrow, there’s a strong chance that emotions will be running hot.

Or you can choose civility.

Politics are always accompanied by closely held beliefs, and while those beliefs will inevitably clash with those of others, there’s no reason for a conversation about the upcoming election to deteriorate to the point of anger and fractured relationships. Respectful discussion over differing viewpoints is perfectly fine—it’s the backbone of our government—but it shouldn’t turn into shouting matches and spoiled Thanksgivings.

So prepare yourself for the onslaught of political ads on every respective medium, but also make a conscious effort to engage civilly as we head toward 2020. Many norms have been shattered in recent years, but if we can bring back respectful discourse this election cycle it would do worlds to inch us back toward normalcy.  

Bill Cosby Joins Twitter for Some Reason

The last thing America needed or wanted was a Father’s Day message from Bill Cosby reaffirming himself as “America’s Dad,” but alas, in the world of social media, that’s what we got. Cosby, currently serving three to ten years for aggravated indecent assault, finagled a way to post such a message on his Twitter timeline, sparking ire, outrage, and outright mockery.

Tweeting from a verified account from prison. What a world.

Celebrities who have been embroiled in scandal have attempted to utilize their social media platforms to combat headlines and control narratives—it’s nothing new in the arena of disaster PR. But what they don’t seem to factor in is the immediate backlash and the parodying of themselves that soon follows. Kevin Spacey deployed a similarly creepy strategy in the wake of his own downfall and subsequent firing from House of Cards, channeling his Frank Underwood character in a YouTube video to fight back against the news. It was extremely weird and uncomfortable.

Social media is fantastic for many things: brand enhancement, a boost in SEO and name recognition, and sharing unique thoughts and perspectives. But for image rehabilitation in the face of serious scandal? Not so much; and often, it makes it all worse. It demonstrates a frightening lack of self-awareness and cultural context that usually has the exact opposite effect.

People have been making dreadful mistakes on social media platforms since their genesis, and Bill Cosby’s absurd Father’s Day message crowning himself “America’s Dad” is just another in a long line. Sometimes, less is more, and if you’re finding a way to tweet an unnecessary message from prison, perhaps silence is the better strategy.