Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

The BET is catching a lot of heat with its new, edgy, hip-hop heavy video campaign to promote literacy and black pride.  I think it’s great and smart, to be honest.

And it’s a pretty bold move for a network that has had its fair share of criticism for perpetuating negative stereotypes.  This video campaign takes these stereotypes, makes them larger than life, and then uses them to make its points. 

I especially like the Lil Jon caricature when they start chanting “R-E-A-D-A-B-O-Ohhh-Kaaaay!” 

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I’m curious what the comm studies majors who frequent this site think of this video put out by David Horowitz through his “David Horowitz Freedom Center.”*  Something about the presentation made me laugh. 

Rick Perlstein notes that the California Highway Patrol, apparently, are interested in using it as a training video.  I’m not sure what the training would be for other than profiling muslims. 

*I put that in quotes because the name made me laugh. 

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There’s a pretty hilarious video here at DailyKos with a parody of a JetBlue pre-flight video.

For those who don’t already know, JetBlue is the corporate sponsor for the YearlyKos convention this year, which prompted a Talking Points segment from Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly engineered a Michael Moore type ambush of the CEO of JetBlue, David Barger, which aired on the Factor. Basically, the producer Jessie Watters cherry-picked the most inflammatory quotes from DailyKos readers who posted comments on the discussion threads from that web-site and confronted Barger with them.

Some of the hard-hitting journalmalism from that “interview” included such questions as:

What about “The pope is a primate?” Do you agree with that kind of thinking?

Do you think that your JetBlue customers want to know that you’re kind of subscribing to the belief that Iran has the right to attack Israel?

As a result of the negative attention Bill O’Reilly has been trying to generate towards them, JetBlue has been wavering and equivocating in their support for the convention. According to the DailyKos post linked to above:

Now they’ll tell those on our side who email them that they have, in fact, not pulled their sponsorship. In part, that’s true. O’Reilly and his minions weren’t able to kill the sponsorship. They were just able to turn the airlines in knots and twist it so fully that it is now talking out of both sides of its mouth. To the wingnuts, it claims it has nothing to do with YearlyKos, and to progressives who email them, they claim they are still sponsors.

The reality: yes, they are sponsors, but they demanded YearlyKos take the JetBlue logo off the convention’s website. They can’t withdraw their ticket contribution at this point, so they hope no one notices they are associated with us DFHs (dirty f’ing hippies).

Someday, this will be a case study in MBA and marketing programs in how NOT to respond to spurious political pressure.

Check out the video. The basic premise of the parody is that now, according to a new JetBlue policy, there will be two classes of seats on JetBlue flights: FoxNews class and everyone FoxNews dislikes. I especially liked the part of the pre-flight video instructing passengers on what they were to do with their carry-on luggage.

Progressives, leftists, and Kossacks, please check yourselves as luggage because we clearly don’t want to be seen with you. Take out your bongs, Dixie Chicks cds, and whatever other hippie crap we assume you carry.

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Shorter Isaiah Washington: No, no, I didn’t just say faggot!!! I also said “bitch” and “pussy!”

In what universe did this seem like a good defense plan? Someone get Frank Luntz for this man, stat, before he comes out with well, ‘when I said faggot, what I really meant by that was Heil Hitler!’

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PR firms “get punked”

In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons . . . who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind. – Edward Bernays, “Father of Public Relations”

Alright, so Bernays was an elitist and a narcissist, but he was also way ahead of his time, having whipped up a war to sell bananas long before Hill & Knowlton whipped up sympathy for Kuwait to sell a war.

This week, just-what-really-goes-on in the public relations industry is getting a good deal of attention, owing to an article in the July issue of Harper’s magazine in which Ken Silverstein reports on his dealings with DC-based PR agencies Cassidy & Associates and APCO Worldwide. Basically, Silverstein posed as a representative for a UK business with interests in Turkmenistan and sought proposals from the two firms on how they would enact a campaign to improve the country’s less-than-stellar world image now that the country had a newly-elected president.

A C&A rep commented in a statement:

“We are surprised that a reporter would go to such extraordinary lengths to gather information in such a deceptive way that really isn’t all that new or interesting.

Ouch. It’s kind of true — the revelation that PR/lobbing firms manipulate is far from earth-shattering. But it does make for a good story and, Silverstein goes about getting the story in a novel way. It’s an interesting read, full of historical anecdotes about American lobbyists/PR professionals representing foreign nations (“American lobbyists have worked for dictators since at least the 1930s, when the Nazi government used a proxy firm called the German Dye Trust to retain the public-relations specialist Ivy Lee.”); detailed accounts of Silverstein’s meetings with agency executives; and the agency’s suggested strategies for teaming up with think tanks, front groups, magazines, etc., to sponsor Turkmenistan-friendly events.

I think it’s fascinating. I have a perverse perspective about the public relations industry, I think. I can understand people’s shock/interest in PR industry manipulation and such. But I’m also intrigued by it. All that strategy and circuitousness! Maybe I’ve just read too much about this stuff this year in school or maybe I’m just cynical enough to not really think that it matters (advertising, political campaigning, public relations … when isn’t everything being manipulated by everyone else?), but I just can’t work up the moral outrage about this that seems requisite. I don’t really see that either firm acted very unexpectedly or horrendously in this case, and I think Silverstein’s style/tone makes a lot of the things seem more nefarious then they are.

Nonetheless, I also think Silverstein’s article idea for and execution of the article was really good. He tells a good story. I also can’t work up the consternation about his deceptive practices that seems to plague people like Howard Kurtz at WaPo, who notes that “no matter how good the story, lying to get it raises as many questions about journalists as their subjects.” Come on. Without lying to get some stories, there’d be no investigative journalism(and we may all still be eating dead meat-packing workers). There should be more of this.

In a response yesterday, Silverstein defended his methods:

Undercover journalism should be used sparingly, but it has often yielded rich benefits. One of my favorite cases came in the 1970s, when the Chicago Sun-Times bought its own tavern and exposed gross corruption on the part of city inspectors. Unfortunately, few news outlets are willing to use undercover journalism to get a story, or to practice investigative journalism in general. It’s just too expensive and risky; media organizations would rather spend their money on tables at the White House Correspondents dinner and watch Karl Rove rap.

(I like that PR Week says the two firms “got punk’d.” )

(David Henderson questions why the agencies didn’t catch on … )

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Reformation is here,

After reading about the 2.6 million patent deal for mobile social networking technology, it got me thinking about why and how you could patent technology. Well, I seem to be semi on par with Congress. This past Wednesday, Congress introduced the Patent Reform Act of 2007.

The Patent Reform Act was introduced Wednesday in the Senate and the House. It would award patents to people who first file for the patents, instead of those first to invent, it limits damages patent holders can collect in infringement lawsuits, and it creates a new procedure for those questioning the validity of a patent to challenge it after it’s been granted. The U.S. has the only first-to-invent patent system worldwide.

To make this all easier, here’s the current case of Vonage, which was sued by Verizon. What exactly was going on? The American Chronicle has a good look at the case.

The patent in question is the popular VOIP (Voice of Over Internet Protocol) that goes under other names such as IP Telephony, Internet Telephony, Broadband Telephony, Broadband Phone and Voice Over Broadband (www.wikipedia.com). This is advanced technology that routes the voice conversations over the Internet or through any other IP-based network. It allows you to make calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line (www.fcc.gov/voip).

Phone calls on the Internet? Sweet. So what’s the problem? What patent did Vonage abuse?

This technology may be viewed as commercial realizations of the experimental Network Voice Protocol (1973) invented for the ARPANET (Advanced Research Project Agency Network) that is responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military (www.wikipedia.com). It was established in 1958 in response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957, with a mission of keeping the US’s military technology ahead of its enemies.

Opportunity for consumers to chose their provider that best fits their needs and budget? Awful. How can you patent innovation? Why would you want to? Wouldn’t as a business, make you try harder to keep your customers and force you, as a company, to provide more?

Maybe, not. So what do patents do?

The basic concept of a patent is to allow the CREATOR of inventions that contain new ideas to keep others from making commercial use of the ideas without the creator’s permission (Elias & Stim, 2004, 226).

So right now, this is all in limbo. Internet patents are wonky and aren’t getting a lot of PR. They should. This is important for technology companies, really for any company with a patent on something that is not tangible. How can we continue to impede the future? What could be done if we change the law? In my opinion, much more.

“We think the bills will help maintain our country’s innovation leadership, reduce excessive litigation and damages awards, and improve patent quality,” John Kelly III, IBM’s senior vice president for technology and intellectual property, said in a statement. source

Click here for Patently-O, a great analysis of the Patent Reform Act’s legal jargon side.

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I can’t take credit for any of this. It goes to The DC Universe.

Apparently jealous of cities with catchy slogans like “Metronatural” and “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” D.C. is looking to come up with something better than its current crapfest of a slogan, “Washington, D.C.: The American Experience.”

Hm. This is a hard competition. I mean how do you win against West Virgina’s “Open for Business and Wild and Wonderful?”

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