Archive for August, 2011

Loose Lips Still Sink Ships

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 26, 2011 by innovativemediapr

In an era when news about an earthquake travels tweet-by-tweet and a risqué photo posted to Facebook can cost you employment, one has to shake their heads and wonder why people continue to use the tools of social media without thinking about the repercussions and fallout from some of their actions. A case in point is the resignation of Patrick Delany, an Assemblyman here in New Jersey. The political website PolitickerNJ.com Monday published a racially-charged e-mail believed to have been sent to Carl Lewis, the former Olympian who has attempted to become a candidate for a State Senate seat in New Jersey,  from former Assemblyman Patrick Delany’s wife.

A story in the Star Ledger reprinted the email:

“Imagine having dark skin and name recognition and the nerve to think that equalled [sic] knowing something about politics,” Jennfier Delaney, a Burlington County GOP committeewoman at the time, wrote in the July 7 message in response to a mass e-mail from the Lewis campaign criticizing Gov. Chris Christie.

The e-mail was first published Monday by the political website PolitickerNJ.com, which cited it as the reason for Delany’s resignation. A copy of the message was independently obtained by the Star-Ledger. Fourteen minutes after the article was posted online, Delany issued a statement acknowledging the authenticity of the e-mail and conceding that was the reason he resigned.

“I am deeply disappointed in my wife’s decision to send that e-mail to Mr. Lewis’ campaign; it does not reflect my personal beliefs whatsoever,” he said. He went on: “In an attempt to repair the serious damage this has caused to our marriage, and to protect our kids from public humiliation, I decided to leave public life. On behalf of my family, we sincerely apologize to Mr. Lewis for any pain this caused him.”

Any business today needs to carefully monitor what is being said and posted about them on social media platforms. What’s also needed is to observe closely what news and items employees and colleagues are saying as well.

Had a disappointing experience with a client partner? Why let anyone else know? Pitching a piece of new business? Make sure to keep your strategic plan buttoned up. No need having a potential opponent know what your pitch will be.

An employee has left your employ. What are they saying about you? You can monitor their posts. Worried about sensitive information getting out to staff? Keep it away from the web and make sure only a small circle of trusted advisors are in the mix.

Frustrated about something at work or with a client? Make sure what you say privately to others doesn’t become public.

In World War II, the saying, “Loose lips sink ships,” became the standard for warning people not to say things that could damage the allied war effort. Those words still ring true today whether they are words, tweets or posts. Curbing what you say and what others say about you can save a job, client and reputation. Make sure you’re prepared to keep your lips and those around you sealed.

Tom Cosentino

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“Situation” is Publicity for Abercrombie & Fitch

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 17, 2011 by innovativemediapr

Today’s announcement by Abercrombie & Fitch offering to pay MTV’s Jersey Shore cast members to stop wearing their brand on the show is a great  example of a company using a celebrity to drive a publicity stunt, only this time they are taking advantage of the celebrity. The retailer has targeted cast member Mike “the Situation“ Sorrentino with their offer citing how his continued association with the Abercrombie & Fitch brand could damage their image.

“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans, “an Abercrombie & Fitch spokesperson said in a statement.”We
have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”

Usually, a brand contracts with a celebrity spokesperson to endorse their product and become their brand ambassadors. In this case, Sorrentino, through his own personal taste, elected to continually wear Abercrombie & Fitch apparel on the popular reality series.  Now, after receiving free on-air exposure for their brand, Abercrombie & Fitch has decided to go public with a financial
offer to make the cast change their clothing.

Certainly, Abercrombie & Fitch own the news cycle with this stunt, but in the long run, have they done damage on their own to their brand?

Right now, the country is in the prime back-to-school shopping season-mode and fans of “The Situation” may not take kindly to Abercrombie & Fitch’s stance on the cast.  After the announcement, the company’s stock was down. The publicity associated with this is also sure to raise past issues of negative images associated with the Abercrombie & Fitch brand, which many are sure to revive.

Times-Union blogger Kevin Marshall took on Abercrombie & Fitch in a posting this afternoon:

This is the same company that in the past used underage models in provocative poses that would make Dr Ruth blush, had to apologize in 1998 for a “creative drinking” diagram in its clothing catalog that encouraged college students to binge drink, and came under scrutiny here and elsewhere in media some months ago when it started selling push-up tops to increase the bust size of eight-year-old little girls. And somehow it’s ”The Situation” that makes them look bad?

To the folks in the PR and Marketing department(s) at Abercrombie & Fitch: I’d revoke your s***-talking card, but you never qualified for one in the first place. A clothing line that has continually shown crass taste and marketed itself to the
lowest common denominator doesn’t really have much of a pedestal from which they can preach. The worst part, though,is that you’re encouraging one of the worst aspects of negative behavior in American youth. You’re a large corporation picking on individuals and trying to embarrass and shame them in front of the entire world in order to make yourselves look better. They may be easy targets, but no matter how big their paychecks are or what you may think of their lifestyle choices, that’s straight up bullying.

This announcement came on the same day the company announced its quarterly earnings, which beat expectations.

As the Chicago Tribune reported:

Abercrombie & Fitch is also no stranger to controversy. The all-American retailer has come under fire in the past for a range of topics ranging from negative stereotyping to sexually explicit material and employment practices.

The retailer’s stock fell 5 percent in midday trading despite its quarterly earnings, revealed on Wednesday, which beat expectations. The company reported a net sales increase of 23 percent in the quarter ended July 30, to $917 million. Even more dramatically, it reported a 64 percent surge in net profit to $32 million, or earnings of 35 cents per share.

Did Abercrombie & Fitch pick this fight because of shareholder backlash or to make their surging profit grow higher? From a public relations standpoint, they pulled off a winning stunt.  They fired their spokesman without ever having to pay him in the first place.  Then again, how much of an increase in sales did indeed come from fans of MTV’s Jersey Shore?  We probably will never publicly know that but we will be able to track whether this earnings day stunt has any long-term affect on Abercrombie & Fitch’s brand.  If so, they may have a real “situation” on their hands.

Tom Cosentino

Love this story about student competitio

Posted in Uncategorized on August 16, 2011 by innovativemediapr

Love this story about student competition to prove viability of solar-powered cars http://ow.ly/64PnC

Is President Obama Losing His PR Mojo?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 2, 2011 by innovativemediapr

Early in his administration I wrote a blog entry about how effective President Obama was as a communicator. This morning I read editorials in two of New Jersey’s leading newspapers that took him to task for not being strong enough.

With the recent travails over the battle in Congress to raise the debt-ceiling and avoid the first-ever default by the U.S. government, the controversy over the president’s national health plan and the subsequent loss of the House of Representatives to the Republicans, could it be that the president is losing his effectiveness as a communicator and with it, his message and potentially reelection?

If so, how can a leader so gifted as a communicator suddenly be perceived as weak by editorial boards?

Here’s an excerpt from Tom Moran’s front page story in today’s Newark Star Ledger, which calls on President Obama to take on the persona of Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey,

The solution here is obvious: Obama needs a blood transfusion from someone meaner, someone who doesn’t shy away from a fight, someone who is willing to take his case to the people and force change.

He needs a dose of Gov. Chris Christie.

Yes, this is a dangerous business. With too much Christie in his system, Obama might invade Iran, or even France. And we really don’t need another president who favors the rich over the poor at every turn.

But Christie is a strong and natural leader. He is clear about what he wants. He fights like an angry pit bull. And he cuts a deal only after he’s roughed up the other side a bit.

The editorial board of the Asbury Park Press today also lit into the president for a lack of conviction. Just check out the strong language in the lead of their editorial:

President Barack Obama has revealed himself to be a man unwilling to fight for the principles in which he has said he believed.
The protracted debt ceiling/deficit reduction battle reveals, more starkly than ever, this president’s inability to stand firm. The United States may avoid a default, but the battle will end not with a bang, but with a whimper. Sadly, this is now the defining moment of Obama’s presidency.

As if the lead wasn’t strong enough, the editorial closed with the following words:

 The president gave in and gave in, and he has lost whatever good will the great middle had for his attempt to be the rational one in the argument. Americans cannot respect a president who runs up the white flag of surrender.

 And this obscene sausage-making is only the latest in a long line of appeasements: on health care, on Guantanamo Bay, on civilian trials for terror suspects.

 
 We teach our children the fine art of compromise, but if you compromise away your values, you’ve lost something you cannot get back by barter.

 
 We don’t want to elect some “philosopher-king” out of Plato. We want a leader with fire in his belly, who at least puts up an honest struggle based on core principles, who, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “spends himself in a worthy cause … and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 So many thought that Barack Obama might be just that man. It looks as if we were wrong.

How does a great communicator all of sudden lose his effectiveness? Regardless of whether you support his policies or not, what these two editorials are getting at is a desire for the American public to see a leader stand strong and fight for his principles. The Presidency of the United States stands alone as the world’s most difficult job and carries with it, expectations higher than any other executive office.

Many Americans may not have liked the way President Truman fired General Macarthur but they respected his standing as commander in chief and need to be the one making the ultimate decisions in time of war. President Jimmy Carter may have lost the nation when he scolded it for having a national malaise. No matter how vilified President Reagan may have been for his staunch build up of American forces and desire to stand up to the Soviet Union, including calling them an “Evil Empire,” no one could question where he stood, especially his opponents. President George W. Bush rallied the nation in grief by standing on the rubble of Ground Zero with a bullhorn in hand, saying the people responsible would soon hear from us and they did. But his lack of command during the Hurricane Katrina crisis may have ultimately led to his second-term problems, not the quagmire of the Iraq War.

Perhaps no president in history was more steadfast in his beliefs than Abraham Lincoln. That belief system stayed the course through four years of Civil War and he paid the ultimate price with his life.

Presidential leadership is different than any other position in the world. CEO’s can make mistakes which affect the stock price of their companies. If they make enough of them they can be displaced by their Board of Directors or be ousted via a shareholder revolt. However, those that stay in their positions for long periods of time are usually ones that are not afraid to make bold decisions and stick by them.

As an agency head I know full well that companies are paying iMedia Public Relations to develop strategies and concepts to build their brands and expand their communications outreach to their targeted audiences. If I don’t believe in the campaigns we develop for clients and stand behind our strategy, then why should our client’s feel confident in our agency?

President Obama has achieved tremendous success in his life because of his self-confidence, skills and ability to communicate.

In order to get his pr mojo back, President Obama doesn’t need to change into Chris Christie or any other politician. He needs to do what any other CEO must do to carry out his agenda. He must effectively articulate his goals, explain their importance to Americans and ensure that he stands behind his convictions.

Whether you support the President or not, what these editorials are getting at is that Americans want someone in the job that stands strong. Can President Obama find his voice? If he doesn’t, a second term will not be in the offing.

Tom Cosentino