News & Events Archive
Praecere President Babak Zafarnia Interviewed on CNN’s Situation Room
April 14th, 2011
The Fractal Theory of Crisis Management and Public Relations
March 25th, 2011
Besides being fun for hippies to stare at, fractals offer enormous intuitive and guidance value. Definitely one of the cooler mathematical models, fractals predict patterns in nature. Fractal theory has enormously advanced many fields, including ecology, medicine, even special effects.
Of course, one might hope fractals can predict patterns in media coverage. Wishful thinking… right? Maybe not.
• Four years ago, Oprah Winfrey fielded allegations that the school she funded in South Africa was physically abusing students. Oprah apologized and promised reforms.
• One year ago, Wyclef Jean fielded allegations that his Haiti charity had questionable accounting practices. Wyclef (sort of) apologized and promised reforms.
• And the latest – Madonna is fielding allegations that the school she funded in Malawi is now defunct due to unethical management and cost overruns. Madonna (you guessed it) quasi-apologized and (sort of) promised reforms.
If you’re a celebrity and wish to start your own overseas charity, how do you break this miserable crisis PR failure pattern? Certainly not an easy thing to do, but one thing is clear: before you get started, have a respected third party – who’s a trusted authority on legal and ethical charity practices – validate and support your charity before you launch your operation. Now that’s a PR tactic worth repeating. Just sayin’…
January 25th, 2011
Many of us continue to crack jokes about mystery meat from childhood memories. Others keep the dream alive as adults, and sue alleged offenders – to them goes the glory!
If you haven’t heard yet, Taco Bell Corp. has been sued for false advertising, with claims that its products are not “seasoned beef” as advertised. The point of contention is that Taco Bell uses “meat filling” to flesh out its tasty delights, which does not consist of approved USDA standards for food labeling.
Litigation PR counsels that a business have a holding statement in place should lawsuits arise in likely scenarios. We can’t really say whether Taco Bell saw this one coming though, as they issued quite an angry statement in response to the lawsuit. Here are some quick reasons why Taco Bell needs better litigation public relations counsel:
• Man, that statement is evasive! Taco Bell’s rant essentially states that it does serve 100% USDA beef. That’s fine and all, except that the statement does nothing to address the core of the complaint. Take a look at the filings, which argue that Taco Bell products contain additional filler ingredients besides beef.
• Never let them see you sweat. A holding statement is not the time or place to attack opposing counsel. Stick to the issue at hand, and use the statement to buy time for your PR pushback.
• Speak, and speak consistently. If your company issues a holding statement, get it across all your platforms at the same time. Taco Bell’s Facebook and Twitter pages ignore the situation completely, leaving a big gap in communications.
Given these mistakes, Taco Bell needs to revise its crisis management and litigation PR strategy quickly, if it plans to avoid a big corporate black-eye as lawsuit discovery charts its inevitable course.
January 25th, 2011
As promised in our last post, we now turn our PR analysis on President Obama’s recent declaration to dump “dumb” regulations from our federal codes. Such calls to cut cumbersome or silly federal rules are often associated with Republican and conservative political circles, but we don’t have to go too far back to recall former Vice President Gore’s big PR push on the same front. (In fact, Gore’s effort was far funnier, highlighted by an appearance on David Letterman.)
As we use this blog to discuss media aesthetic, let’s look under the hood with Obama’s new pet project. Will it fundamentally alter the landscape of American business? No. Will it balance our federal budget? Nope. How about create some jobs? Not even.
So what this amounts to is needless attention to toothless regulations that, at best, have extremely negligible impact on American society.
For an Administration that prides itself on substance, PR stunts like this are little more than a sugar high for random talking heads, with no benefit beyond that. When you’ve got the most powerful bully pulpit in the world, even slight PR missteps like this can cause great embarrassment, no matter how well-intentioned.
Grade: C-. Obama, you’ve got SOTU tonight – let’s hope you do a better communications job with the speech than with this “dumb” effort.
January 25th, 2011
President Obama is rebounding post-November shellacking. He has 53 percent job approval rating, and 40 percent of Americans see him as a moderate. Still, the number that likely makes Obama cringe is unemployment, which remains stubbornly high at 9.4%. So it should be no surprise that 4 in 10 Americans say jobs should be the top concern for the new Congress. Thus, the first policy issue that Speaker John Boehner and the House Republicans bring to the new session of Congress is … repealing health care?
The Republicans certainly know Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate will not go along with this symbolic repeal. So what is Boehner’s goal PR goal? And equally important, what messages are the Republicans sending strategically and tactically?
Regardless of one’s opinion on this issue, one thing that is painfully clear: the conversation has come and gone. Only 18 percent of Americans believe health care reform should be repealed. And, repeating the mantra that health care reform “kills” jobs doesn’t mean that the new legislation actually does.
Whether it’s politics or a product, PR messaging must account for market forces and public attitudes. Health care probably isn’t the best way for Republicans to continue leveraging voter discontent to their favor, and in this instance the issue likely won’t advance their cause(s) politically.
We’ll explore this theme of misguided PR tactics further in our next post, which will criticize the White House’s new PR attack on “dumb” laws and regulations.
Grade: C+. Points go for aggressive tactics, but the substance should focus more on what polls show as top policy and PR priorities.
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- Praecere President Babak Zafarnia Interviewed on CNN’s Situation Room
- The Power of Handwritten Notes
- Corporate and Litigation PR Must Sing in Tune
- Guest Blogging Today at Lendio.com
- Big Record Labels Ready to Rain on Amazon’s Cloud
- The Fractal Theory of Crisis Management and Public Relations
- For Parent Companies, Some Kids Just Can’t Leave the House
- Praecere in the News