Facebook’s PR Flubs

December 3, 2007

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Did Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lie to the NYTimes Louise Storey about the company’s controversial “Beacon” advertising system? That’s what Storey claims in a post on the Times‘ “Bit’s” blog.  “I’m hardly the only one who found a gap between what Facebook said and what it did. And this may be costing it some of the blue-chip support that it had amassed. Coca-Cola, for example, has decided not to use Beacon for now,” she writes. 

Blogger Robert Scoble calls Facebook PR, “the most controlling PR department outside of Apple.”

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg lost a court request to take down confidential documents that 02138 magazine used in a hard hitting story against him and the company. We believe the WSJ’s Kara Swisher when she writes Facebook PR head Brandee Barker, “has to have the most thankless job on the Web these days.”

What do you think? How would you have handled the Beacon and 02138 news differently if you were at Facebook PR?


It seems about every other day, Valleywag posts about some incident with a PR person that makes us cringe.  Do they sometimes go too far?  Maybe.  But, we can’t take much sympathy for the PR people in these posts. After all, it is Valleywag. Know who you’re dealing with. 

In the lastest installment, Associate Editor Nicholas Carlson received an e-mail from an MWW staffer laden with typos and track changes! Not to mention it was a form letter pitch about a company it would seem doubtful Valleywag would cover.  This led MWW Group director of new media strategies, Tom Biro, to send out a thoughtful email reminder about how to deal with bloggers. 

The problem is, the MWW staffer who had originally been flamed by Valleywag didn’t catch this and instead sent an email to the editor from her personal account threatening legal action.  Read on for the whole story.

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We asked this question to a bunch of people over the last few days, and now that the numbers are in, it seems to be “the real deal.”  Reuters reports that U.S. online shoppers spent a record $733 million in a single day on “Cyber Monday,” according to market research firm comScore Inc.

However, the day didn’t go by without a few PR related snafus.

  Read the rest of this entry »

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The AP is reporting today that controversial DJ’s “Buc Wild” and “Star” will be returning to radio. What station, you ask?  Well, that is being kept under wraps, according to Bryan Pierce of 5WPR, who was quoted in the article:

DJ Star, whose real name is Troi Torain, and his half-brother, Timothy Joseph, or Buc Wild, will host a morning show on a city FM station, said Bryan Pierce of 5W Public Relations. The name of the station, which was being represented by 5W, will not be disclosed before a news conference Wednesday, Pierce said.

In May 2006, Torain, who was co-host of the syndicated “Star & Buc Wild Morning Show” on Clear Channel Radio’s Power 105.1 FM, offered $500 to any listener who could provide information about the rival DJ’s daughter’s school and used racial slurs when talking about his wife, who is part Asian. He said he wanted to sexually abuse the daughter and urinate on her.

The agency has a deep roster of (relatively) less controversial hip-hop clients including Swizz Beatz, Young Jeezey, Ice Cube and Nick Cannon.  Who’s going to spill the beans on what station 5W is repping?  If you have an idea, email us at prnewser at mediabistro.com

The Times’ Lynn Smith takes a deep dive into who’s winning this epic PR battle – the writers or studio execs. For now, the writers convincingly have come out on top in the court of public opinion:

After one week, there was no doubt who was winning the public-image face off. Two surveys, one national and one local, showed that roughly two-thirds were taking the writers’ side in the dispute. In a Pepperdine University survey, only 4% favored the studios; in a local ABC7 News Poll conducted by SurveyUSA, 8% took the side of producers. The rest weren’t exactly sure what was going on with the strike.

However, the publicists Smith spoke with seemed to think differently:

Publicists and crisis managers, however, said it was too early to issue a definitive score card. According to one school of thought, public sympathy always goes to the strikers anyway. Another has it that whoever is the first to walk away from the table, costing many people their daily living, will have to shoulder the blame. When talks broke down, each side immediately blamed the other.

Some publicists said neither side had mounted a particularly persuasive argument on the issues. How the writers want to change their 600-page contract is too complex to explain in sound bites, they said. Until last week, the producers hadn’t said much beyond needing more time to figure out new media.

On the other hand, the writers have been hitting “new media” aggressively such as this hilarious video by Daily Show writers that has garnered almost 300,000 views in four days. PRNewser’s take is that it is the writer’s game to lose, at least in the PR arena. Although many make a decent salary already, we just can’t see people siding with execs such as Sumner Redstone and Les Moonves over the “working man.”

UPDATE: NY Times: Writers Gain P.R. Advantage

Apple PR: Block and Tackle

November 16, 2007

So, a lot of people have sent us this video in the last 24 hours, and you may have seen it circulating like wild fire across the net. Basically UK reporter Benjamin Cohen from Channel 4 News began to ask questions about iTunes being a “monopoly” during an interview in which he was only cleared to talk about iPhone. Call in the flacks!

Personally, we agree with Peter Himler’s take:

What’s surprising is that the executive in question, Phil Schiller, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing (pictured), looked like a deer in the headlights when the reporter asked him about the iPod and iTunes duopoly. I mean is this a question that hasn’t come up previously?

No matter. When it did, he simply gave his handlers the “gee I didn’t expect this” look, a signal for them to physically insert themselves between himself and the inquiring journalist.

Phil, a simple acknowledgment and lighthearted quip like “Sure. iPod and iTunes have the dominant market share because those that use them love them. They’re simply great products. And sure, they go together like peanut butter and jelly.”

Clearly, your PR staff could have armed you with something better than, “give us the nod and we’ll give him the boot!”

What do you think? Could Apple PR have done a better job?

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French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s US visit has already gotten off to a rough start. He walked out of a “60 Minutes” interview taped a few weeks ago, and scheduled to air this Sunday to coincide with his visit, after being asked several questions about his wife. HuffPost (via AP) reports:

Before the CBS news show interview in Paris even began, Sarkozy called his press secretary “an imbecile” for arranging the session on a busy day. “I don’t have the time. I have a big job to do, I have a schedule,” Sarkozy said through a translator before the interview began. In English, he added: “Very busy. Very busy.”

Meanwhile, the White House issued the following statement welcoming Sarkozy’s visit Nov. 6-7 and listing an ambitious agenda including:

…strengthening security and democracy in Afghanistan, preventing Iran from obtaining the means to build nuclear weapons, bringing peace to the Middle East and working closely to support Lebanon’s right to hold presidential elections free of external interference, ending the genocide in Darfur, fostering democratic change in Burma, forging a peaceful resolution in Kosovo, and further enhancing cooperation on counterterrorism and security and the promotion of democracy and freedom.

No word on if said press secretary still has a job.

UPDATE: TVNewser spoke with Lesley Stahl.