PR/PR's Publicity Blog
It was nearly fifty years ago that four mop-topped lads from Liverpool invaded the U.S. shores for the first time, as John Lennon famously quipped, by “taking a left at Greenland.” From the opening guitar lick of ‘Day Tripper’ to the urgent piano chords of ‘Let it Be,’ the Beatles captured the hearts and minds of the globe and secured their place as the greatest rock group in history.
Tragedy and time took their toll on the Fab Four, but Ringo and Paul have been doing their damndest to carry that weight since George’s death in 2001; and if McCartney’s performance on Saturday night is any indication, he’s perfectly content doing the heavy lifting.
Sir Paul ripped through a marathon three-hour set, impressive for a musician of any age – let alone 70 – that spanned the catalogue of his career, from Beatles standards like ‘Lovely Rita’ to Wings classics such as ‘Live and Let Die.’ As he played hit after hit, it became increasingly apparent that not only was I witnessing a terrific performance, but a living legend still at the top of his game. McCartney is one of the last true trailblazers that defined music as we understand it today, and in a celebrity environment that’s prone to quick flameouts, that kind of longevity is the exception – not the rule.
Which got me thinking.
What is it about certain individuals that give them that enduring edge to withstand the test of time? Is it something intrinsically wired within the strands of their DNA that turns them into a special breed of ageless super humans?
There’s no Ray Bradbury sci-fi storyline here, the formula is simple enough: create a quality product and constantly refine, rehearse and commit yourself to it.
No one could’ve predicted that when McCartney and Co. emerged from their humble beginnings playing smoky clubs in Hamburg that they would transform the musical landscape forever. Nor could anyone have predicted the Beatles’ evolution from the radio-friendly Rickenbacker strums of ‘Love Me Do’ to the complex psychedelic meanderings of ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’ Change is inevitable throughout any longstanding career; retaining your audience boils down to consistent execution of your craft, regardless of any thematic or structural shift.
What Paul McCartney embodies is nearly sixty years of professionalism, tireless effort and superb songwriting. The vast array of this accumulated skillset was on display Saturday evening, when not a single soul could remain seated or resist belting out the anthemic chorus of ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.’ McCartney is the perfect illustration of career longevity, and a sparkling testament to the possibilities that abound when you create something organic, original and impassioned.
Photo Credit: The Orlando Sentinel
As is tradition around the office, here are a few pictures of the PR/PR Moms!
I know the post is supposed to be about moms, but the pic is of my mom and dad. Well, this past November they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. I think the first time I ever heard the term ‘soul mate’ was from my mother referring to my dad, so I think she’d want a blog post of how wonderful she is and how grateful I am to acknowledge her achievement of being married for 50 years.
Reese Witherspoon better consult her legally blonde attorney’s handbook to make sure the ‘do you know who I am’ defense is admissible in court. Witherspoon was still making headlines last week as the dash-cam footage of her drunken meltdown was released, tarnishing the squeaky-clean, “America’s Sweetheart’ image she’s crafted over the course of her career. Embarking on the requisite morning talk-show apology tour, Reese was forced to repeatedly relive a night of too many cold ones, and apologize and accept responsibility for her actions.
With the same level of decorum in which David Letterman handled his cheating scandal a few years back, Reese owned up to her mistake, and wholeheartedly admitted that she was in the wrong. Everyone has had a moment of weakness where they lose their cool; add alcohol into the equation and it typically results in an overreaction, a pounding headache the next morning and a bad case of behavioral buyer’s remorse.
Witherspoon’s Atlanta incident will amount to little more than a mere blemish on her sterling career, but her immediate transition into damage-control mode speaks volumes about how detrimental outbursts like hers can be. One ill-advised move and your reputation is in jeopardy and you’re scrambling to contain the fallout. Reese’s utterance of the caustically cliché ‘do you know who I am?’ phrase certainly knocks her down a few pegs, but not enough to adversely affect her career long-term. Fortunately, Americans have proven time and time again that they’re willing to forgive and (mostly) forget, especially if you hold yourself accountable for your conduct.
Where Reese doesn’t get a mulligan is in the fact that she’s a celebrity, and spends enough time in the public eye to know that everyone has a camera, and everything will end up in the news. In the day of handlers, publicists and chauffeurs, I fail to comprehend how celebrities still find themselves in handcuffs or on tabloid covers on a daily basis.
Maybe it’s sour grapes, or maybe it’s my inability to afford anyone leeway when they have the world in their wallets, but I have little sympathy for superstars in legal hot water. When you have dedicated employees on your payroll whose main functionality is making sure you’re on the news for the right reasons, there is no excuse for stumbling around Peachtree Street, smelling like appletinis and yelling at police officers. Reese has absolutely learned a valuable lesson in this situation, about the perils of using your celebrity to try and trump legality, and how quick you can be condemned in the court of public opinion.
“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
After one of the most mentally grueling weeks in recent memory, with people across the country seemingly losing their minds on a daily basis, I can’t help but think that Hunter Thompson would have something poignant to say. The Good Doctor always had a way of encapsulating the absurd in a palatable fashion; providing his striking brand of commentary to hot-button issues in a similar way that your taxpaying-everyman would describe trimming the hedges.
Now, I would never put words in Dr. Gonzo’s mouth, but I imagine he would find some break in the clouds among the catharsis, in the same vein to which he conducted his limitless search for The American Dream amid the chaos of the sixties. Psychedelics and Chivas aside, Thompson always had his sleep-deprived eyes directed west, toward the greater frontier of human potential.
Hunter stomached the nausea of Nixon and Watergate, the revulsions of an escalating war in Vietnam and a country divided on racial lines. Today, we endure the sustained threat of terrorism, foreign and domestic, and a fractured economy struggling to claw back from the brink of collapse. While decades separate our circumstances, the same undercurrent of perseverance flows through the American condition; the acknowledgement that although it may feel like rock-bottom, there’s always some light peeking through, somewhere.
His penchant for excess did not merely apply to the chemical variety; it fueled Thompson’s belief in the boundless possibilities available in the United States, and that many of the notions we hold about our republic and the direction it’s heading are self-limiting. We’re a nation of survivors, and the horrific events in Boston and Texas will once again prove that fact.
A harrowing event such as the one that took place yesterday at the Boston Marathon teaches us lessons in the strength and resolve of the human condition, and our ability to unite in the face of tragedy; but it also provides a primer in media responsibility and the impact that hasty reporting has on a news story. I’ve touched on this topic before, but the tragic happenings in Boston have reignited the debate of what role the media should play in reporting, when often times they hold the power to serve as judge and jury in the eyes of the public.
Thankfully, early reports have shown that social media users and the media alike have exercised caution, and are allowing evidence to filter through proper channels before errantly broadcasting it. At this point, much of what we know can only amount to speculation, such as the ongoing search for suspects, which has led authorities to the apartment of a Saudi national who is being viewed as a ‘lead’ in the manhunt. While unnamed sources and backchannels could be utilized to identify the resident of the apartment, news outlets are using an appropriate level of restraint and allowing the story to develop on its own.
As an Atlanta, Georgia native, I naturally draw similarities between Monday’s atrocity and the 1996 Centennial Park bombing, and cannot help but think that Richard Jewell would’ve benefited from this same careful approach by the media. Jewell, a police officer working the Olympics as a security officer, discovered an explosive device under a bench and alerted authorities and began clearing the area. Initially heralded as a hero who prevented further casualties, an FBI leak to the media indicated that Jewell was being investigated as a possible suspect in the bombing.
This was the end of Jewell’s life as he knew it.
The court of public opinion had condemned Jewell, labeled him a lone wolf who planted the bomb on his own so he could discover it and brand himself a hero. Although exonerated later that year, Jewell was haunted by the bombing accusations for the remainder of his life, until he passed away at the young age of 44 in 2007. Even posthumously, Jewell will be forever connected to the Atlanta bombings in 1996, and illustrated as a cautionary tale to the media who desire to be the first to break a story.
The national media has done a superlative job covering the Boston Marathon bombing, and have appeared quick to vet any tips for validity which may cross their news desks. Media outlets exist to provide information to the public, not to influence legal proceedings or investigations. When the two become interwoven, we run the risk of encountering another Richard Jewell scenario.
Bostonians have proven time and time again that they are a resolute people, and this is evidenced by the videos and images of bystanders running toward the blasts to assist any way they can. We will continue to keep the City of Boston in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to move forward from this horrific event.
Documentarians are no stranger to the risk that accompanies their craft. Active warzones, nefarious characters and the threat of personal peril are staples in any hard-hitting documentary, but no one seems to do danger like the gang of madmen over at VICE Magazine.
Unfiltered and unapologetic, VICE’s heady subject matter is not for the faint of heart; but with the mainstream media largely ignoring many of the topics they choose to cover, they are providing the public with an invaluable outlet to view the world as it really is. Entirely too often, what makes the evening news or the front page is dictated by political or corporate interests, and by the time the final product reaches the masses it is so watered down with rhetoric and hyperbole that the story is a shell of its original incarnation.
Their guerilla documentaries, available for free online, have taken them to the war-torn tenements of Liberia and to the radioactive wilderness of Pripyat, Ukraine; and now, their reputation for providing gritty, no-holds-barred reporting of little-known news has led them to a new series on HBO.
Along with the surface entertainment value that comes with placing their filmmakers in remote locations and possibly in harm’s way, VICE’s Travel Guides have illuminated stories from around the globe that would otherwise go unreported. Their debut episode on HBO had them investigating political assassinations in the Philippines, and taking an in-depth look at the new scourge in the War on Terror: child suicide bombers in Afghanistan.
VICE’s main detractors like to lump their brand of docu-news into the pile of publicity stunt journalism, where the story takes a backseat to the shocks. CEO and co-founder Shane Smith had this rebuttal for those who wish to marginalize their efforts: “People think because Vice is irreverent and because we’re crazy, we’re stunt journalists. You know what? I don’t actually care. It’s our job to get into the hardest-to-see places and bring back the best footage—we have the best footage of North Korea ever shot. If that’s a stunt, then I’ll keep on doing stunts until I die.”
It’s this brazen attitude that permeates through everything that VICE does, and it allows the viewer (or reader) to observe the news through a looking glass of unabashed objectivity, where the stories are allowed to speak for themselves. Restyling journalism as we know it, VICE’s groundbreaking international work is shedding light on the previously overlooked, and providing a voice for the voiceless around the globe.
Regardless of how calendar-conscious of a society we’ve become, April Fools’ Day inevitably catches a few of us off-guard, and for a few fleeting moments we fall victim to faulty memories and gullibility. The most publicized prank came at the expense of an ill-informed community and a couple of country DJs who overestimated their audience’s April-awareness.
Learn your chemistry, kids.
The Prank: Naples, Florida’s Gator Country 101.9’s morning-drive show, featuring DJs Val St. John and Scott Fish, announced on-air that the city’s water supply had been contaminated with ‘dihydrogen monoxide.’ For the unfamiliar or those that never caught an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy: dihydrogen monoxide is the chemical name for water – two hydrogen atoms, one oxygen atom – or, H2O.
The Result: Concerned citizens flooded the local utility company with calls regarding the safety of their water. This resulted in exhausted and exasperated customer service representatives who found themselves giving impromptu chemistry lessons over the phone throughout the day.
The Aftermath: “It is one thing when radio stations change their format or other crazy things they do. But you are messing with one of the big three — food, water or shelter. They just went too far.” This was the statement that program director Tony Renda gave to the media, after announcing that the two DJs had been suspended indefinitely.
Their suspension immediately reeks of a public relations exploit, especially considering when you visit Gator Country’s site you’re greeted with a listener poll as to when they should return (75% never, really?). From my vantage point it appears as an April Fools’ gag gone awry and the station is riding the resulting visibility wave by turning this into an elongated bit.
The Benefit: Did you ever expect our weekly blog to feature a story about broadcasting heavyweight (slight snark) Gator Country 101.9? Neither did I. The story has circulated on a national level, and at least for the meantime is providing a heady level of awareness for a lower-level radio show existing in relative obscurity in Lee County. The long term impact this will have on Val St. John and Scott Fish’s careers remains to be seen, but in the very least, they can say they were featured on Good Morning America, and that’s more than most morning drive country DJs can claim.
The temperatures across the nation are beginning to rise, the daily morning windshield frost is becoming a bit easier to manage and wearing white is finally acceptable again; this can only mean one thing: baseball season is upon us.
Last year I wrote a post extolling the Marlins for making the branding moves they’ve needed for eons to be viewed as a respectable, competitive organization. Sparkly new stadium? Check. Name change? Check. High-priced free agents to draw attendance? Check. Well, it’s astonishing the difference a year makes, and it is with deep regret that I have to inform the Marlins faithful: you were duped, unequivocally and epically duped.
The architects of this swindle are none other than the Marlins top brass, owner Jeffrey Loria and President David Samson, who pulled the public relations wool over the eyes of the Miami fan base, all while lining their own pockets at the taxpayers’ expense. Gone were the likes of Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson, the star-power intended to galvanize the Marlins’ base and vault the team into annual contention. By midseason, like rats fleeing a sinking galleon, fans followed suit: leaving a stadium to what amounts to little more than an art-deco inspired post-apocalyptic wasteland with a $1.2 billion price tag.
Yahoo’s! Jeff Passan wrote this scathing indictment that details the ordeal, painting the conductors of a con so diabolically perfect they should either be banished to baseball purgatory or given walk-on parts in an Ocean’s Eleven flick. It was with Loria and Samson’s meticulously orchestrated ploy that the denizens of Dade County learned two unfortunate lessons: if it seems too good to be true, it typically is, and PR blitzes can be used for good and evil.
The Marlins’ public relations kamikaze culminated with a series of ill-fated press conferences, wherein Jeffrey Loria steadfastly defended his decision to sell-off his high-priced talent, and further alienated and infuriated whatever remained of the Miami faithful. The disastrous media tour served to rubber-stamp the fact that not only was Loria and Co. complicit in misleading the Marlins fan base, but even worse, they actually seemed to believe their own falsehoods.
Public relations aptitude involves manipulating the media – not in any sinister sense – but in a way that your barometer is always calibrated to pick up on what’s trending, and ensuring that your message is heard and correctly understood. Loria and Samson reached into their black magician’s bag of PR hijinks and pulled off an extraordinary vanishing act, removing a competitive product from the field and increasing their personal bank accounts to boot. The pair of merry pranksters managed to sucker an entire city, and as a result, baseball in Miami is now as relevant as Beanie Babies and Betamax tapes. Until these co-conspirators are unseated from their pedestals atop the Marlins hierarchy, South Florida will never experience the thawing of January’s frost that accompanies ‘hope springing eternal.’ They are condemned to a perpetual winter where the only warmth is a result of the malevolent wool they are still removing from their collective eyes.
St. Patrick’s Day, along with being a celebration of all things Irish, is also a booze-filled ode to quantity over quality; where bar patrons adorn stools to participate in a green beer gauntlet from sunup to sundown (and sometimes sunup again). Recently, however, the beverage marketplace has shifted from a focus on big-brand conglomerates to mom-and-pop microbreweries. With an emphasis on unique tastes and style over traditional American interpretations of what constitutes ‘good beer,’ they are reshaping the playing field and forcing executives to reevaluate their business plans.
An article by NPR just outlined how craft breweries are carving a solid niche in the alcoholic beverage market that has customarily been dominated by companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. Americans, who for decades have been inundated with advertising directed at establishing the aforementioned companies’ products as the ‘standard’ for beer aficionados, are now opting for the experimental: sampling and purchasing little-known ales, and abandoning their previous beverage-allegiances.
Craft beer sampling has become an activity of sorts, while previously held ideas denoted that ‘beer was beer and it tastes great with pizza.’ Many watering holes have begun specializing in micro brews, promoting their beer menus and even recommending beer and food pairings. The cultural change in attitudes surrounding beer consumption has only increased in the last decade, and it has definitely caught the attention of big brewery boardrooms.
This trend in libation preferences illustrates a strong point: adapt or die, because even the most firmly entrenched traditions will be challenged from time to time. Larger alcoholic beverage companies have been releasing ‘crafty’ beers to compete with the micro brewing movement. Beers like Blue Moon and Shock Top stray from the typical ‘American style’ formula and don’t share the same marketing as a Budweiser or Coors Lite, but alas – they are produced by the same corporations. Not flaunting their ownership of these brands causes many of the misinformed to drink ‘crafty’ ales, but the profits to continue flowing into the beer conglomerates’ coffers.
As St. Patrick’s Day came to a close and bar owners returned to their normally-held hours, in the end, quality over quantity still ruled the 17th. But – there is no denying the impact that micro brews and craft beers have had on the beverage environment, and it will continue to be interesting to observe how the big corporations adapt.
“Only the government would believe you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”
This Native American chief phrased this a lot more eloquently than I would right now, as my sleep-deprived summation of Daylight Saving Time would include far more four-letter words strung together in a few angry outbursts. This antiquated practice has me currently running at about 60%, even with the help of our faithful office coffee machine. So it is from my post as your resident PR blogger that I am trumpeting the termination of this outdated system of ‘tricking the clocks.’
This bi-annual abomination began wreaking havoc on our collective circadian rhythms sporadically in the late 1800’s, and was permanently incorporated into American life during the energy crisis of the 1970’s (save for you lucky folks in Arizona and Hawaii.) Initially instilled to conserve coal stockpiles during World War II, and later to cut down on in-home electricity usage, a vastly altered socio-economic landscape has proven that Daylight Saving Time has officially overstayed its welcome.
A Yahoo story reported this morning that the United States lost a whopping $433,982,548 because of Sunday’s time-switch, a number that is certainly confounding when you take into account that DST was enacted to save energy, and therefore – money. Factor in that sluggish, somnolent feeling we all endured yesterday (and I continue to experience) and, well, it just doesn’t make much sense.
It’s no secret that the U.S. economy is recovering at a glacial pace, and depriving companies of an extra hour to conduct business has proven extremely costly. Nearly $450 million in lost profits is inexcusable, and completely offsets any inherent ‘benefit’ to energy savings with our extra bit of sunlight in the evening.
Another more difficult metric to measure, is the loss of (or the perceived loss of) productivity that arises with an hour of less sleep. Exhausted employees may complete less work, or finish their workloads to a lesser degree than normal. This acts as a hindrance to long term goals, accurate work and overall morale. In order for the business sector to run effectively, it needs to be stocked with well-rested, energetic employees.
Some anti-daylight savings dominoes need to begin falling, because I am completely beat. We are no longer a country that requires this method of regulating the hours, and continuing to do so is only robbing our businesses, national and local, and leaving a workforce full of zombies for a week.