A light-hearted and incomplete roundup of PR hits and misses from recent weeks. Our only agenda is to remind everyone how hard it is to do PR well—and how easy it is to get it wrong. Written by Jeff Rodriguez.
GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS: Several corporations, including Coca-Cola, have plunged into national politics, speaking out against the voting laws recently passed in Georgia. Depending upon your point of view, they’re either taking a bold stand, or caving to a very vocal minority. Sen. Mitch McConnell responded by warning corporations to “stay out of politics” adding that he will no longer accept corporate political contributions (just kidding). Former President Trump, meanwhile, called for a boycott of Diet Coke, only to be photographed a couple of days later with a bottle of Diet Coke partially exposed on his desk. It’s just so much better than Mountain Dew.
TAKE ONLY AS MISDIRECTED: What can we safely do after being vaccinated? If you’re not sure, you’re in good company. A recent news article stated, “At a particularly crucial juncture in the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a messaging problem.” The article included comments from public health experts. One professor said, “Whether you’re a public health agency or doing a communications campaign of any kind, an erosion of trust is incredibly damaging.” A second expert said simply that the CDC’s messaging on post-vaccine restrictions “has been a mess.” The CDC issued a statement in response, but no one could understand it.
JUST DON’T DO IT: Olympic gymnast Simone Biles announced that she was ending her six-year relationship with Nike to sign with Athleta, which, she said, will “help me be a voice for females and kids.” Nike gracefully wished Biles “the very best,” and canceled an order for 300,000 bobbleheads.
THE FRIENDLY SKIES: Why do flight attendants greet you when you come on the plane? Flight attendant Kat Kamalani created a TikTok video to explain. Her clip has drawn more than 2.5 million viewers, all of whom want to know if they can have two carry-on items.
JUST ASKING: Texas Sen. John Cornyn got himself in a tangle while trying to criticize President Biden. Quoting an excerpt from an article about Biden, Cornyn tweeted in part, “Tweets from his account are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional. Biden has opted for fewer sit down interviews with mainstream outlets and reporters.” The senator then followed with his own words: “Invites the question: is he really in charge?” Cornyn’s criticism prompted quite a backlash, with a sarcastic, “If a president isn’t on Twitter constantly is he really even a president?” Cornyn quickly backpedaled, stating, “That tweet was not meant to suggest anything about the president’s competency — physical or mental … certainly wasn’t my intention.” There is no proof that Cornyn made his comments in an attempt to distract attention from fellow Sen. Ted Cruz.
Anybody can tweet. But that doesn’t mean everybody should.
- Ivanka Trump shared photos of herself getting vaccinated and encouraged others to do so, but was met with a pandemic of angry responses.
- Singer Cardi B posted photos taking her daughter on a $29,000 shopping spree. Followers were outraged at her extravagance, but Visa sent her six new card offers, all with 0 percent introductory financing.
- ESPN analyst Paul Pierce posted a video showing him in a room full of exotic dancers who were not wearing masks (at least, not to cover their faces). ESPN fired Pierce, but he was unfazed, tweeting, “I can’t lose even when I lose I’m winning.”
- Retired football star Brett Favre criticized players for kneeling during the national anthem, only to be reminded of a tweet from last fall where he had spoken in support of “freedom of speech.” Timeout has been called while the officials review the replay.
- Singer Cher tried, very, very hard to tactfully tweet that, if she had only been there, she might have been able to do something to save the life of George Floyd. After a wave of criticism, she tried a different route: “I Thought some ppl wouldn’t understand, Or Believe an Entertainer Could have Honest emotions about a human Being,suffering & Dying,even if It’s Only Shown On tv. You Don’t Know What I’ve Done, Who I Am, Or What I Believe. I CAN, I HAVE, & I WILL..HELP.” We got you, babe.
- Singer Demi Lovato went on Instagram to criticize a frozen yogurt shop for selling sugar-free products, adding the hashtag #dietculturevultures. The ensuing furor caused Lovato to backtrack, acknowledging she had “definitely jumped to conclusions.” And the yogurt shop doubled its followers.
NO HAT, ALL PRATTLE: Congressional candidate Dan Rodimer is tired of having to talk about his Texas drawl. But people keep asking, mostly because Rodimer has lived in the state less than a year and was born in New Jersey. He also did a commercial showing him riding a bull, only to have to admit later that a stunt double was used for part of the shoot. Fellow Republican Matt Gaetz—yep, that Matt Gaetz—criticized Rodimer, tweeting, “Fake Texan makes fake video of fake bull ride.” When Matt Gaetz is criticizing your public profile …
And a few hits…
CALLS BLOCKED: Actress Milana Vayntrub is appearing as “Lily” in a new round of commercials for AT&T. And she’s drawn a new round of extremely inappropriate comments on social media. In March, Vayntrub responded, tweeting: “Been getting a lot of ‘Why are they placing her body like that in those ads?’ Well, I direct the ads. I place myself like that. And it’s because of the thousands of unwelcome comments I receive about my body. You’ve lost the privilege of looking at it until I feel safe again.”
THE BALL STOPS HERE: After the Liverpool soccer club canceled plans to join a new league, the owner of the club, John W. Henry, felt compelled to issue a remarkably frank video apology. “I want to apologize to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused … I’m sorry, and I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It’s something I won’t forget .” Save that for the textbooks.
ORGANIC RESPONSE: Haltom City candidate Willis Odell had his campaign signs translated to Vietnamese. But someone, intentionally or otherwise, messed up the translation, and Odell’s signs inadvertently included a reference genitalia. The error was tactfully pointed out to Odell by Haltom City Mayor An Truong—Odell’s opponent.
A SPACE ODYSSEY: After players at the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament posteed photos showing only one set of barbells for their workout area, the NCAA responded that it was due in part to “limited space.” Oregon player Sedona Prince then posted a video showing there was enough unused space available to house, well, the men’s workout room. The clip went viral, and the NCAA quickly gave the women more appropriate equipment. Fortunately, there was a sale that week at Target.
“I needed to do something to brighten not only my spirits, but also the spirits of others.” — 82-year-old La Verne Ford Wimberly, who puts on her Sunday best for church services each week, even though the services are online.