Pull It

Hyundai pulled this ad yesterday. Yeah, probably best.


Redbox Promises Meat with Your Movie, Burger King Ad Blows Up

April Fools’ allows advertising teams to flex their creative muscles without much fallout. The ads produced this time of year range from the completely ludicrous to the few that leave audiences guessing whether or not they’re jokes.

This morning I received an email that promised bologna on my next movie night. The subject line read: Lunch meat is now available at Redbox. It’s the kind of teaser that you have to click on just to see how well the joke is presented and Redbox did not disappoint.

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When you click on the various meats, and who can resist clicking on ‘Mystery Meat’, you are brought to a page alerting you to the joke and then rewarding you with a coupon for your next rental.

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And here’s a great one from Bonobos for a “new” line: The Girlfriend Jean. The video delivers one of the best lines as well: “It turns out that mens’ and womens’ bodies aren’t all that different.”

For even more April Fool’s fun you can visit Google Nose, Google Maps (Treasure Mode), Sony’s new pet products, an update regarding vowel usage from Twttr, Toshiba’s inflatable laptop,  and bacon flavored mouthwash from P&G.

On this April Fools’ there is at least one company who may have wished their ad was fake. Unfortunately for Burger King, this ad is not only real but completely out of touch with the rising tensions surrounding North Korea. (Note: The Burger King is not new for April Fools’ however it is still being used by the company and has people scratching their heads today.)


Laid Off Journo Scoops Boston’s Dailies via Twitter

There’s a terrifically amazing story coming out of Boston and of course it has to do with politics. If you guessed that it’s the news that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will not be running for reelection after nearly 20 years in office you would be wrong, but not far off.

Yesterday the news broke that Mayor Menino would not be seeking reelection – the Globe had it, the Herald had it, RTs were spreading across Twitter with the fury of a California wildfire.

But the real story started earlier this month when the city’s alt-weekly Boston Phoenix closed its doors. Among those laid off was longtime political reporter David S. Bernstein. If you’ve lived in Boston then you know Bernstein as an institution when it comes to political news. He fills up your Twitter stream with the latest from Beacon Hill and City Hall, sometimes to the point where you unfollow for a few days just to take a break.

Unfortunately, if you were not following Bernstein yesterday, you missed out on the scoop of all scoops. At 2:27pm @dbernstein posted the following two tweets:

Sure it was unconfirmed but holy hell, what if it was true. If anyone would know it would be Bernstein right? He continued:


Then he located the sources:

Then came the buy in from the Dorchester Reporter’s editor:

Throughout this entire stream from @dbernstein there came nothing at first from the dailies. The Boston Globe and Boston Herald were silent. Were they really sitting on an embargo as some are speculating? Were they restricted by the need to confirm sources as one editor suggests?

In an email excerpt from Globe editor Brian McGrory to Boston Business Journal‘s Galen Moore:

David simply wasn’t a factor in what we pursued and published. The Globe has its institutional standards, standards that spread across the organization, with institutional credibility that has been built up in this community for generations. While our reporting led to strong indications early in the day that the mayor wouldn’t be seeking reelection, those indications – sources with indirect knowledge, if you will – didn’t reach our standard for publication until the evening. While history tells me that David is a good political reporter, I would certainly not stake the Globe’s reputation on his Twitter dispatches, or even concede that he was working with more information than we already had. He said on Fox 25 last night, “I don’t have it from directly Menino or his staff,” even repeating, “I have not confirmed that directly from his offices directly.” A freelance journalist, self-publishing, obviously has a far different standard than the Boston Globe.

I think they got scooped by a veteran reporter who lives and breathes his beat regardless of the promise of a paycheck. To lump Bernstein in with unethical bloggers is a poor attempt to steer the conversation away from the simple fact that the dailies got beat plain and simple. So here’s to you Mr. Bernstein, keep doing what you do.

Breaking News: Are You a Chicken Little or a Sensible Simon?

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.18.36 PMNow that we have access to information from around the world 24/7, it’s up to us what we believe. The faster it arrives in our feeds the quicker we can pass it along as truth to our followers. But what if our sources have it wrong? Are we adding to the confusion? When it comes to breaking news, are social media outlets such as Twitter just one big game of “Telephone”?

Case in point: Lil Wayne.

As of Friday evening everyone seems to agree that rapper Lil Wayne is in a hospital, but that’s where the stories diverge. If you believe @LilTunechi’s Twitter account then he is doing well:

If you follow Lil Wayne’s friends then he may just be watching the Syracuse game:

With more information to come:

However, if you read tweets and reports from @TMZ you may have learned that Lil Wayne was in a coma, receiving his last rites (TMZ has since removed this “deathbed” detail from its story). The media outlet has posted several brief reports on Twitter including:

Which leads to news reports like this:

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 6.52.00 PMFollowed by this:

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.39.24 PMAs reports break on stories around the world, the speed at which we receive information is unbelievable which is why we should always take a beat and wait before adding to the noise. Or at the very least, admitting to our Chicken Little mentalities and posting our corrections in full view of our followers.

How do you share breaking news?

Phoenix Publishes Last Issue

Last PhoenixAfter 47 years, the Boston Phoenix is publishing its final issue. WFNX.com will also cease to exist in its current form according to a statement from Phoenix publisher Stephen Mindich to staffers earlier today. It is currently unclear if the station will continue in a new form moving forward or cease existence much like its hard copy relative. Read my earlier post from June 2012 regarding WFNX’s recent transformations.

The following is the statement issued by Mindich:

I can state with certainty that this is the single most difficult communication I’ve ever had to deliver and there’s no other way to state it than straightforwardly –

As of now the Boston Phoenix has ceased publishing and wfnx.com will not continue as it is.

As everyone knows, between the economic crisis beginning in 2007 and the simultaneous radical changes in the media business, particularly as it has affected print media advertising, these have been extremely difficult times for our Company and despite the valiant effort by many, many past and current staff to attempt to stabilize and, in fact, reverse our significant financial losses, we have been unable to do so and they are no longer sustainable.

Because of their smaller scale of operations and because we believe that they remain meaningful publications to their communities, with some necessary changes to each, it is our intent to keep the Providence and Portland Phoenixes operating and to do so for as long as they remain financially viable.  The same is true for Mass Web Printing Co.

I cannot find the words to express how sad a moment this is for me, and I know, for you as well, so I won’t try. 

What I can and will say is I am extremely proud, as all of you should be, of the highest standards of journalism we have set and maintained throughout the decades in all of our areas of coverage and the important role we have played in driving political and socially progressive and responsible agendas; in covering the worlds of arts and entertainment, food and fashion – always  with a critical view, while at the same time promoting their enormous importance in maintaining a healthy society; and in advocating for the recognition and acceptance of a wide range of lifestyles that are so valuable for a vibrant society.

And finally, at least for this moment, I want to thank all of you – and the literally thousands of women and men before you, for lending your talents to our mission over the past 47 years – as I have always said – our staff has been our soul. 

And obviously as well, my sincere gratitude to our millions of readers and tens of thousands of advertisers without whom none of what we did accomplish could have been possible or meaningful.

So, that’s it. We have had an extraordinary run.

The Tweet (and the apology)


UPDATE: @TheOnion has offically apologized with this Facebook post:

imagesFeb. 25, 2013

Dear Readers,

On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.

No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.

The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.

In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.

Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.


Steve Hannah
The Onion

If you were on Twitter after the Oscars then you are aware of “The Tweet”. It was sent out at 8:42PST and taken down within an hour of being posted. It’s content divided Twitter users between defenders of satire and those standing up for a 9-year-old Oscar nominee.

@TheOnion, the satirical media outlet that drew criticism for false hostage claims on Twitter in 2011 and more recently gained positive reviews for its “coverage” of the Newtown shooting, posted the tweet about Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis:

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Coming to the young actress’s defense was former star of The Wire, Wendell Pierce who posted several tweets in response including:

As well as Oscar winner Marlee Matlin:

As the tweet generated discussion on Twitter it also grabbed headlines including this one from the Associated Press: Onion Criticized For Joke About Quvenzhane Wallis

The Internet never forgets so it will be interesting to see if and how @TheOnion will respond. Will they fire the tweet’s author? Will they stand by their post? Will this story continue to build? Will Twitter take any action against @TheOnion? Will this post test the free speech rights of Twitter users?

Yawn: Fitness SF Feud Leads to Boredom

It appears that after several days of losing control of its website, Fitness SF has now regained ownership. The following screen appears when you visit http://www.fitnesssf.com:

Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 6.18.52 PMAt this point, I’m bored with this little saga and moving on. I also feel as if we were duped into providing Fitness SF with tons of free publicity. I live in San Francisco and had barely heard of them before this online slap fight.

If you feel like sharing any updates, please do so in the comments section below.

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Online

UPDATE: Comment from Fitness SF at the end of this post.
2nd UPDATE 2/16/13: Fitness SF reclaims site? Read more.

Anyone who has ever been stiffed by their client has dreamt of doing what Frank Jonen just did to Fitness SF. The web developer took over the website of his health conscious client, claiming that he was not paid for his work (screenshot below). According to AdWeek, Fitness SF denies Jonen’s claim and is eager to be back online. While this online feud is sure to resolve soon, we can all sit back and bask in the glow of someone who took action, even if it was career suicide. It will also be interesting to watch how Fitness SF handles the crisis – at least everyone knows their URL now.


Twitter is certainly buzzing with this news and Fitness SF is taking the brunt of the blame. Hopefully they will respond soon.

While we don’t yet know all of the details of this feud, it can still provide us with some time to speculate on future actions. How would you handle this crisis if you were Fitness SF?

Fitness SF supplied Adweek with the following comment on Friday and also posted it to Tumblr:
“On Wednesday evening, our domain name Fitness SF was hacked and stolen by an individual named Frank Jonen. Frank was hired on May 16th, 2012 to develop a functional website for our brand. A $5,000 payment was made to him on the same date. In his proposal, he stated that the website would take 10 weeks to complete. He missed numerous deadlines including our brand launch in September. In December, he voluntarily passed the incomplete and non functioning website to our new design firm.

Now, Frank is attempting to portray himself as the victim when truly the victim is Fitness SF as he attempts to get paid for work he did not complete and has decided that blackmail is the way to accomplish that.”

BuzzFeed Contributor Calls Out Publicist

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It’s a phrase recited by PR professionals worldwide: be careful what you put in writing. As a result we like to call people when we discuss initial ideas or make requests. If you see us on the phone we are probably asking for a favor, typing is for ultimatums.

That’s why I both understand and am perplexed by Beyonce’s publicist when she reached out to BuzzFeed yesterday afternoon. After the site published a collection of photos from the singer’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl they apparently received a call from Yvette Noel-Schure requesting that a few “unflattering” photos be replaced. Ms. Noel-Schure then followed up with an email citing the specific snapshots.

Look, we’ve all been there. The press publishes what it wants. If the words came out of your mouth or took place near a camera you can expect it to appear in print or online. However, part of our job is brand management and sometimes that means image control. The photos in question could be construed as “gurning” and it’s understandable that a simple request could be made to replace them. That doesn’t mean the media outlet has to do it, it’s just a request. It is your due diligence to make it even if you know it won’t work.

Unfortunately we do not know if the request was pleasant or not since we are only presented with an email. If this was a bit of revenge on behalf of the reporter then they should include the initial tone of the phone call, otherwise the email reads just fine.

Before you dismiss the image management of a celebrity like Beyonce, just consider what she has been up to lately. In just the past few weeks she “sang” at the Presidential Inauguration, hoarded headlines with her silence following that event, demonstrated the perfect response to smack talk at an NFL press conference, performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and announced her worldwide tour. It has been a carefully choreographed parade of events. Along the way I was awed by her ability to own the news when nothing that she was doing was necessarily newsworthy.

So as someone who spoke out against spotlighting Beyonce’s lip synching moment at the inauguration when real news was taking place around the world, why does this catch my attention? Because requests aren’t news. Why BuzzFeed chose to publish this story is understandable, after all it garnered over 6,000 likes. But it’s exactly this type of “reporting” that creates a divide between publicists and the media.

This is not news. This is a request that barely rises above junk food corn syrup; a sugary high for a reader that lasts just long enough until another tidbit of celebrity trivia reaches an inbox. Sometimes the allure of publishing some behind the scenes details for a quick hit is too much to resist. I get it, it’s BuzzFeed after all.

You’re Not the Headline


There is something wrong with this photo. It’s just two little letters. Can you spot them? I’ll give you a hint. They’re bold and big and out of place.

PR should never make headlines. If you’re in the PR industry you’ve taken a silent pledge to be the man behind the man (or woman behind the woman or man behind the…). You’ve decided that, for much of your early career, you will allow others to say your words, receive credit for your thoughts, and answer when asked a question.

It’s true that you may rise to the ranks of spokesperson and you will be quoted. There are times when you’ll step out of the shadows and stand at the center of the story. However, you’ll never let our methods be the source of speculation, dragging your audience away from your messages.

You may not have said a word, but you took the pledge.

This post first appeared on Medium.

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