Flak Attack

If it’s in the news, the Flak attacks!

Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations

The Spin View: Hillary dances the Congo line

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Like the Lone Ranger racing on the plains busting Silver and her “High Hos,” former president Bill Clinton galloped on some North Korean tarmac, met with Kim Jong Il and traded two captured U.S. reporters for two sweet Cuban cigars and a stained dress.

Evidently, while Hilary was showing off the latest U.S. fashions in pant suits, yet another version of the Jerry Springer show broke out during her presser in the Congo, as seen here:

Nevermind all the kitschy “Lost in Translation” headlines (originated by the great Jake Tapper) seen internationally, Hillary popped her neck, snapped those fingers and told the Congo dude asking about President Obama what’s up.

Gurl, no, you di’nt!

Don’t believe me? Rewind the video and watch her get that gangsta lean on. The way she flops back in the chair after she gesticulates all over the front row because she thought someone had the nerve to ask Hillary about her hubby and his jet setting trip.

“You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?”

That was the beginning of the end. That one blue vein pulsing in her forehead and what little of a smile she quickly was erased by her fangs. As. If?!

“My husband is not secretary of state, I am,” she replied. “If you want my opinion I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.”

Keep it classy there, Madame Secretary.

Does that shadow darken more than the sun always shining on your broad shoulder pads? Looks like it may be your legacy in politics unless there is a PR campaign revving up soon to correct this angst and envy of Captain Charisma.

During his sinful ways and non-sexual-relations-with-that-woman, Hillary kept her cool. While he was being probed by every national network in the U.S., she was steadfast by his side.

But now that she’s got the title and he’s some washed-up has-been, his shadow still looms and now she would like to get it all out. The real problem is if some student with a haphazard translator can make her square off that easy, what happens when some starched-shirt GOP acolyte confronts her when she is back stateside?

She going to shank him? Scratch his eyes out. Man up, Hillary. Come on. Who’s the good secretary of state?

Remember what they say, “Smile, and the world smiles with you. Fart… and, well, watch the video.”

It’s official: PR makes advertising its Bee-yatch

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Advertising Age recently published its findings and waxed melancholy about the state of advertising in the second half of 2009.

To summarize, take this as a warning-slash-really-bad-pep-rally for the industry:

It’s not getting a lot better, but at least it’s not getting any worse. And it probably won’t ever get back to where it once was.

Communications

I think it makes sense now. Don't you?

What’s this say to clients and other company’s creative types who us flacks want to love so, so much (call me)?

Find different ways to get in front of your target audiences. You know, do something you’re not currently doing to change the profits from going lower than the president’s approval ratings. (Hey, just sayin’.)

Does Ad Age have any recommendations? Glad you asked:

We found that there are pockets of strength: online and PR, for example.

So, why the change? Typically, it was make a logo and sand blast that on any embankment, billboard and mode of public transportation within a 5000-mile radius of your corporate office.

Well, that swooshing sound of all your cash going down the toilet has something to do with it. Couple that with the lack of interest in print products for anything outside of lining bird cages and creating cozy comforters for the homeless and you have an answer.

People have to look for not necessarily inventive ways to reach their target base, but definitely optional ways to sustain that catchy new mark.

Without a skilled PR campaign attached to a brand that directs folk to a billboard, or the very reason behind said advertisement, what good does it do the company? How long will it last? And where can find an ROI with a two-week blitz for a poster seen in your local parking garage?

Sure, some sleuth reporter will bump into the ad and write a story, but without a high-performance Web site or a strategic PR campaign, that story will have the longevity of “Jon & Kate: the Divorced Years” or new Coke (woof!)

“We are seeing a paradigm shift in our industry taking place as agencies grapple with how to deal with the new realities and manage costs to revenues. The industry is in for a fundamental, enduring reset over the next 10 years,” said Jim Heekin, chairman-CEO, Grey Group.

I like that – “new realities”. You know, billboards and print are still tangible but there’s this Internet thingy that’s really catching on.

I once heard in “Advertising 101” (not sure if that’s the real name):

Advertising is what you pay for, while public relations is what you pray for.

Anyone in the corporate arena wanna come with me to church this Sunday? I’ll drive.

Bruno Punks PR

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O.J. was so innocent in his youth, huh?

O.J. was so innocent in his youth, huh?

Anyone see Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest spoof, “Bruno”?

Meh?

It’s the same shtick of stereotypical chicanery and pushing that envelope until everyone in the theatre gets paper cuts. With the exception of one thing, he punks some publicist hacks in Los Angeles.

Meet Duet PR and its founders – the self-dubbed “hot identical twins” Nicole and Suzie DeFosset, if you need them. (Again, meh?)

So, here’s Bruno gallivanting in their LA-based studio looking for insight on how to rock it Hollywood and get involved with charities.

The conversation that transpired was a microcosm of why some folks lump flacks into the same gene pool as used car salesmen and those guys who go door-to-door with lawnmower in-tow looking to make a few bucks.

Thanks to this Ecorazzi story, we have an excerpt from a Bloomberg review:

In America, Bruno has encounters with B-list entertainers, redneck hunters, bloodthirsty fight fans and a couple of airhead PR consultants who advise celebrities on how to boost their public images by supporting charities. (One of the flacks mispronounces Darfur and indicates that global warming is no longer buzz-worthy.)

Keeping it sooooo classy in So-Cal. Nice.

Aside from that, they couldn’t even find the Sudanese area on a map.

Well, since this wasn’t the most flattering appearance in Hollywood – their backyard to make a dime – the “blunder twins” put out this statement to continue their 15 minutes:

We just saw the movie and thought it was hilarious and Bruno is a comedic genius. We were directed on playing up the blonde roll (sic) and they definitely captured those parts! Like all reality shows it was cleverly edited and we are excited to be apart (sic) of a successful film.

Uh, yeah.

Well, true to form, the girls continued to play the “blonde roll” when they hit enter by misspelling a couple of words, misplacing a few commas and misrepresenting an entire industry.

There’s never a good media alert – or an AP style guide – around when you need one.

Jean Carpenter: Texas State Fair loses a legendary face

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Jean CarpenterLate last month, Dallas/Fort Worth learned that Big Tex wasn’t the only legendary face on the state fairgrounds.

Her name was Jean Carpenter, and although she had her own practice in North Texas, she was known for representing the Texas State Fair annually for the past 30 years.

Thanks to this obituary/story from the Dallas Morning News, we learned she died of a brain tumor at the age of 80.

“Jean was just running every direction that morning making sure things came together the way they were supposed to,” Ms. [Nancy, of retired State Fair fame] Wiley said. “Pretty much everything did, except for the trained pig. We discovered pigs don’t like to get up before dark and perform. Jean was right out in the middle of it, herding the pigs in the direction they were supposed to go. She was tremendously versatile.”

The last memoir there describes what true flacks do. This is not a 9-to-5 gig. It’s round the clock, ofttimes thankless but erstwhile rewarding. And that’s what Carpenter made it.

I had the privilege of working with her once on behalf of another client. Although Big Tex towers over the fairgrounds, that woman clearly wore the huge pants around that place. She ran the joint and no one got through that gate without her consent.

Including yours truly… and I had approval, only the news didn’t make it to security that one fateful morning. Sigh.

Chutzpah and credibility, all in one bound Dallas package. She will certainly be missed.

To really appreciate a more personal approach, Rawlins Gilliand wrote an amazing celebratory piece that Big Bob Wilonsky posted in Unfair Park. Please visit, it’s worth the read.

Ms. Carpenter is survived by her companion, John Patrick Byrne of Dallas, and a sister, Jerry Stevenson of Lufkin, Texas. Memorials may be made to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children or the State Fair of Texas Scholarship Fund.

Written by theflak

July 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

Internships: The new interview?

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NEWS FLASH: The economy blows.

And besides the current 8.6 percent in this country who are feeling it the most, quite possibly no other audience has more to hurdle than the broad jumpers currently graduating college.

Think about it: they are unproven, they have no contacts, they have nothing to fall back on and… that resume? Woof.

What’s a graduate to do in this profession, and in this market?

Answer: Become an intern – anywhere!

The class of 2009 is ready, willing and able, so why work for free? How do they make it?

According to this article from San Bernandino Sun, those questions are considered in-between cramming for finals and those drunken stupors allegedly dealt with on a bi-weekend basis.

“It’s exciting to be graduating, but very frustrating,” said Christina Dudley, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Cal State San Bernardino in June. “It makes you wonder if it’s even worth it going to school all these years, paying all this money and then not being able to find a job to pay back student loans.”

No kidding.

The article continues to discuss the deft trifecta these students are facing:

  1. The job market blows as much as the economy does.
  2. Consider the usual competition for PR jobs, now multiply that by 10.
  3. The market sucked last year too, so all those graduates are still looking for a gig.

Which leads me to internships. Sure, you may have to get a part-timer sacking groceries, but interning creates four magic words on a resume your diploma can’t buy: “On the job training.”

More and more, agencies have a need at the assistant account executive or account coordinator level but are waiting for the summer months to hire. No, not at your level but that one intern who will do everything, get everything, help everyone and be happy doing it.

Agencies don’t have the cost of benefits and stil get a hungry person willing to show off a little to get a little. And possibly a lot more in the fall. Yes, that’s why!

Interns get their foot in the door, develop a new skill set not foreseen during semester mid-terms and get a lot closer to a managing director than your resume ever will.

So, if you’re out there, fresh hair cut, creased pants, diploma in-hand and still without the job, consider the intern. I’ll bet more of them get hired in the next coming months than more of you.

Written by theflak

May 28, 2009 at 11:00 am

Hey reporters, call me. Please?

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If you consider what flacks like me do for a living, it’s a viable question.

We spend hours noodling on that finely crafted pitch, attempting to personalize it with a back story and customize it with our own sense of dazzling wit. And then, as we hold our breath and squint out of one eye, we hit “send” and off it goes… will it return, who really knows?

I know odds are not good we get that return call, but what’s a flack to do? Quit? Stop trying? Anything?

Plenty, based on this brilliant read from “The Bad Pitch Blog.” It seems I’m not alone with my discombobulated woes.

Probably my former GM. His other car said "Move the Needle".

Probably my former GM. His other car said "SYNERGY".

According to the sage authors here, the reason media types don’t call us back is because most of “us” aren’t answering the effin’ phone. And why?

Too much of a good thing, in this PR practitioner’s opinion?

Think about it. We have a voice mail at work and on the cell. Some have an e-leash… sorry, a Blackberry. And now, there’s our LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

All those meetings. All those clients. And then, some adoring member of the media has the nerve to return your message.

Sure, you screen your calls. Who doesn’t? But if you aren’t holding true to a 24-hour return call policy, you need to consider a new line of work. I don’t know, like Toll Booth Operator.

You see, most spin doctors I know who don’t return calls are the type to pitch at 6:00 p.m. and file the report, “Called but no return message.”

It’s the personal interaction that scares the bejesus out of some in this vocation. To which, I say get over it. It’s in the job description.

Sure after-hour calls, e-mails, tweets and an impersonal LinkedIn message is contact, but all hail the days when all we had were phones and those antiquated answering machines.

These days, hitting “7” ad-nauseum is so much easier to clear your calendar for that new business tee time, isn’t it?

Listen, if you are one of these media habitues who live on Caller ID, consider the economy, answer the phone and who knows… you may enjoy the interaction. Just a thought.

“The Rocket” Blasts Off in the World of PR

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Sooner or later the light bulb goes off, pops loudly because it’s been eons since anyone flipped the switch and then troubled people and organizations finally call a PR or marketing agency.

Roger Clemens kindaTake Exhibit A, Roger Clemens: owner of seven Cy Young awards, two pitching “triple crowns”, two World Series rings and a medicine cabinet chock full of ‘roids… allegedly.

Thanks to the infamous Mitchell Report, Clemens’ Hall of Fame career has been put in question, haters abound and MLB journalists have all but written his baseball obituary.

Well, “The Rocket” had that Thomas Edison epiphany and called a reputable PR firm to help him bat away the negativity – Levick Strategic Communications SVP Gene Grabowski.

Sure, it took awhile but at least he is fighting back with more than a sword in this gun fight.

How so? Clemens is in good company because his new PR guy [a stud in the industry and former “Burson Person” if you need him] has been called upon for quotes on other troubled athletes – Alex “A-Roid” Rodriguez and Michael “That’s not mine” Phelps.

Nice.

Hopefully, the spin on Clemens’ personal allegations won’t drive him dizzy. The hectic schedule on his media tour probably is taking care of that part already.