Monday, December 30, 2013

How Not to do PR

The news release found at should give chills to anyone who purports to write for a living.

It's poorly written ("online pharmacies on the internet" -- where else would an online pharmacy be found?). Verbs and nouns don't agree. Its dateline sounds like an apartment complex address, rather than a city. And when the release diverts from talking about drug safety of sorts to the commissions available for resellers, it just becomes an utter mess.

Who's at fault? The author of the release is an easy target. But should shoulder much of the blame. They promise to get your news release to thousands of editors -- most of whom will laugh at the poor writing. should provide some editorial counsel. Writing an effective news release takes skill, and's writer clearly needs help.  

English can be tricky. That's why hiring a skilled PR writer is essential.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Plenty of tin ears all around

It would be too easy to judge Justine Sacco's Dec. 20 hara-kiri on Twitter. It would also be premature, because as of this writing, she's still an employee of IAC and its boss, Barry Diller.

Memo to Justine: ask friends to round up empty copier paper boxes for when you're back in the office.You'll need 'em.

Justine Sacco, via NY Daily News
Details on Justine Sacco's self-inflicted PR disaster are here, along with the preposterous Gogo tie-in. Calling this the internet equivalent of drunk dialing is an understatement.

There's plenty of stupid to go around:

  • For a PR person, Sacco's now-deleted Twitter account contained a wealth of borderline coarse comments that were stunning in their stupidity. Teachable moment: just because you have only 400 followers on Twitter doesn't mean the whole world can't see you be stupid.
  • Diller has owned and sold more media properties than almost everyone, including Rupert Murdoch. He's not a shy person, and I'm convinced IAC's rapid exorcism of Sacco's name and PR contact information from its website stem from a Diller edict. The real question: why was she in this job for so long, given her incredible tin ear and inability to self-edit?
  • Gogo, the in-flight internet service provider hoping to get a positive halo effect from Sacco's "hope I don't get AIDS" flub, moronically links its brand with what's become an international online fiasco.
Whether Sacco has any afterlife in public relations remains to be seen. The real lesson: if you work in PR, you must always assume the mike -- or Twitter -- is live, and thousands are watching you and your brand. Even when you're at 30,000 feet, en route to Africa. And you, as the PR person, never ever ever ever want to become the story.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What were they thinking: Dec. 3, 2013

This afternoon, Rochester's police chief shuttered a downtown nightclub called Plush. The club -- scene of a recent shooting -- had taken its battle to stay open to the people via social media. And lost.

The last time I saw a nightclub win a battle with city hall was .... well, never.

I'm no nightclub expert, but I can rattle off names of saloons gone by that enjoyed their 15 minutes of media fame. Studio 54 in New York City. Bachelors III, a Queens, NY establishment best remembered for one of its high-profile co-owners, Jets quarterback Joe Namath. They're all long gone.

No nightclub wins a battle waged in the news media. And that adage now extends to social media. The "public service announcement" on Plush Lounge & Night Club's Facebook page berates the media for negative coverage of the recent shootings at the night spot. Could these events have taken place at Target or Toys R Us, as the writer suggests?

Sure, if Target or TRU served alcohol and had inadequate safeguards in place. The one thing Plush has in common with Toys R Us (besides bad spelling): TRU sells plush toys. That's it.

It's a rule: news people cover shootings. And there's no shortage of them, especially at nightclubs. Recent nightclub shootings took place in Kalamazoo, Cleveland, Columbus, and plenty of other towns.

Is there a PR upside for Plush? For starters, they need someone who can write. Who takes a message seriously when it reads, in part: WE GON PARTY WE GON DRINK WE GON HAVE A DAMN GOOD TIME ON THE SAGITTARIUS SIDE OF THANGS.

My PR advice? Get Plush off the front page as fast as possible. Don't compare your saloon with mass market retail merchants. Hire more security, and adopt a no-exceptions policy on misbehaving patrons. This is your best chance at convincing city officials that your business isn't a threat to the neighborhood.

Then, find some who can write, and ask them to help show journalists how you've cleaned up your mess.