Denver PR Blog

Cheetos & Goldfish: Keeping the Story Alive
November 15, 2012, 9:15 am
Filed under: Politics

For a governor who was against Amendment 64, John Hickenlooper sure knows how to give a lot of attention to its passage.

(Hat Tip: Rob Reuteman)

10 Questions with … The Denver Post’s Curtis Hubbard
November 14, 2012, 8:30 am
Filed under: 10 Questions, Denver Post, Politics

Curtis Hubbard, the editorial page editor at The Denver Post, had his hands full this election season.

In addition to the usual activities of sifting through inflammatory letters to the editor and meeting with local politicians seeking the paper’s endorsement, he had to contend with a minor controversy over whether U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman plagiarized material used in an OpEd.

Now that the election has passed, Hubbard agreed to answer some questions about the plagiarism accusations, as well as a few other issues relevant to the public relations industry.

Q: As a result of the issue with Rep. Coffman’s opinion column, you have implemented new policies to ensure that material The Denver Post publishes is “original work.” What are those new policies, and how do they differ from previous policies?  

A: As I told (The Denver Post reporter) Kurtis Lee for his story, we’ve always operated with the understanding that the work people submit is their own. There was a similar issue with Rep. Scott McInnis and op-eds he penned for The Denver Post under previous editors, so I decided that we would spell it to eliminate any confusion.  We have posted the policy online and are in the process of creating a form in which contributors acknowledge that, to the best of their knowledge, the work they are submitting is their own (if that sounds a lot like the Honor Code at Colorado College, it’s probably because two brothers and my best friend went there).

Q: Lee reported that, “Ethics experts contacted by The Post said the duplicative writings fall short of their definition of plagiarism. But they said Coffman’s use of material by other writers failed to reach accepted standards for attribution.” What conclusion did you reach as the editorial page editor?

A: The “cut” and “paste” functions on computers and political “messaging” operations can be dangerous.

Q: What, if any, conversations did you have with Rep. Coffman or his office once it was determined that the material had appeared other places under the bylines of other individuals?

A: I haven’t had any conversations with him. I expect we will the next time he offers a piece. We’ve always had a a cordial professional relationship, and I don’t expect this episode to change that fact.

Q: It is a common practice in public relations to ghostwrite material for clients. What is your opinion about that practice?  Continue reading

Colorado: Anatomy of a Swing State
November 6, 2012, 8:55 am
Filed under: GroundFloor Media, Politics

10 Questions With … 9News’ Kyle Clark
October 29, 2012, 3:47 pm
Filed under: 10 Questions, KUSA, Politics

9News anchor and investigative reporter Kyle Clark made headlines locally and nationally on Friday with his interview of President Obama as part of a satellite media tour.

Clark’s questions – on the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya; stimulus money for the politically connected, Colorado-based Abound Solar; and the lack of civility in the Presidential race – represented a departure from the softball interview questions sitting presidents usually face in local markets.

Kyle graciously agreed to answer some of my emailed questions about the interview and the wide-ranging reactions to it.

Q:  How was the decision made for you to be the one to interview President Obama?

A:  As I understand it, the interview was offered to 9NEWS by President Obama’s campaign and our news director, Patti Dennis, asked me to conduct it. I’m not sure why I was selected; I’m not our political reporter, but like any player called off the bench by the coach, I just tucked in my jersey and hit the court.

Q:  You have developed a reputation for asking hard-hitting questions, particularly as part of the 9Wants to Know investigative team. Did President Obama’s team push back when they learned you would be the one asking the questions?

A:  I’ll be sure to mail you $5 for saying that. If President Obama’s team pushed back about me conducting the interview, I never heard about it.

Q:  How did you prepare for the interview and select the questions you would ask?

A:  I’m a political junkie who follows the campaigns pretty closely so I had a good idea which issues the candidates had already addressed head-on. We have no shortage of canned political messages on-air in Colorado, so my goal was to ask timely, tough, and fair questions that would elicit previously unheard answers on critical issues like Libya, the use of stimulus money and the tone of the race. I wrote out questions the night before the interview and ran them past about 10 people at 9NEWS to ensure that they were fair and addressed issues of interest. The morning of the interview, I adjusted our question on Libya to reflect recent comments made by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to the Associated Press.

Q:  President Obama’s answers were perhaps a little longer than you might have expected. What were the next two questions you would have asked him if you’d had the time?

Continue reading

Social Media Raises the Stakes
September 25, 2012, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Politics, Social Media offers a reminder to political campaigns that social media has changed the dynamics of what coverage can look like. In this instance, a positive endorsement story for Congressional candidate Joe Miklosi quickly turns ugly when The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee focuses on how the campaign staff overestimated the number of people who might attend the announcement.

The Language of the Democratic Convention
September 5, 2012, 12:13 pm
Filed under: Politics

Last week, it was the Republican National Convention. This week, the New York Times captures the words and phrases that are being used most this week by speakers at the DNC in Charlotte.

The Language of the Republican Convention
August 30, 2012, 10:20 am
Filed under: Politics

The New York Times captures the words and phrases that are being used most this week by speakers at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.



Great Moments in Journalism XLV
May 23, 2012, 10:10 am
Filed under: journalism, KUSA, Politics

If your media-training presentation’s example of how not to answer a media question is getting a little dated, here is a new clip you can insert.


State of the Union Bingo
January 24, 2012, 9:36 am
Filed under: Politics

President Obama’s State of the Union speech is tonight, and Sarah Moss is out with the 2012 edition of her annual SOTU Bingo Card.

The Consequences of a One-Newspaper Town
June 14, 2011, 8:47 am
Filed under: Denver Post, Politics, Rocky Mountain News

I don’t know newly elected Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and I don’t know whether the allegations of his involvement with prostitutes are true. But I do know this: if the Rocky Mountain News were still here, we would have gotten to the bottom of the story much faster. I love the Denver Post, but I love a Denver Post being pushed by a competing Rocky Mountain News even more.

PR Plays Key Role in Wisconsin Battle
March 1, 2011, 1:48 pm
Filed under: Politics

Politics is like a pendulum, with wild swings in either direction inevitably returning back toward to the middle. Last week, the story was how unions had lost their mojo through years of PR neglect. This week, it is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suffering the PR consequences of overreaching.

Speaker McNutly?
November 6, 2010, 1:36 pm
Filed under: Politics

Incoming Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) can’t be happy that a Republican public affairs firm is the one labeling him with the derogatory nickname “McNUTLY.”

SE2’s Sondermann Joins PBS/CBS4 Election Coverage
November 2, 2010, 1:40 pm
Filed under: KCNC, Politics

SE2’s Eric “Not Anderson, the Other One” Sondermann will be one of the analysts contributing to Colorado Public TV/CBS4’s coverage of election night tonight. The coverage, which will also feature analysts Penfield Tate and Jon Caldera, will run from 7-10 p.m. on Channel 12.

Catfight Alert: CDOT vs. Gubernatorial Candidate Maes
July 29, 2010, 8:12 am
Filed under: Politics

I love Stacey “The Stegger” Stegman as much as the next person, but is it wise for a state employee to talk trash someone who is running for governor?

Stern messages and signs

Maes has not been afraid to make brash statements as he seeks the state’s highest office.

Officials at the Colorado Department of Transportation chafed when Maes recently was quoted as saying the agency was spending federal stimulus dollars on vacations and payroll rather than on transit improvements.

“That’s not true,” said Stacey Stegman, spokeswoman for CDOT, who sent off an e-mail Tuesday to Maes asking him to check with her before making inaccurate statements.

UPDATE: Stacey told me she thought this post was unfair, and after reviewing the actual email she sent to the Maes campaign, I have to agree. Her email, which is below, was professional and contained none of the trash talk I inferred from the Post article:

On behalf of CDOT, I wanted to address some of the public comments that have been made regarding how we have spent federal transportation dollars. The Recovery Act was very specific on how funds can/cannot be spent and how they must be accounted for. CDOT has been a model state of accountability through numerous state and federal audits. In an effort to help provide you with accurate information, I just wanted to open the line of communication to you. I’m always willing to verify information for you so that you aren’t put in the position of making incorrect comments and we aren’t put in the position of having to dispute the same.


Stacey Stegman
Director of Public Information

Catfight Alert: vs. a Bunch of Newspapers
July 7, 2010, 10:38 am
Filed under: Denver Post, MediaNews Group, Politics

A slew of Colorado Newspapers – the Denver Post, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Greeley Tribune and the Boulder Daily Camera among them – are accusing the political website of “flagrant and persistent theft … of intellectual property.” Frankly, I was surprised that the Denver Post generates enough of its own content to make this complaint. If ColoradoPols was effectively reprinting content from the Post, I figured it would be the Associated Press that would have an issue.

Great Moments in Politics
June 25, 2010, 7:58 am
Filed under: Politics

If truth in political advertising existed, this is what every ad would look like:

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Press Release of the Week
April 6, 2010, 12:48 pm
Filed under: Politics

It was a good fundraising quarter for U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton, so much so that her communications staff rushed out a press release. The problem? It wasn’t quite finished.

(Hat tip: Colorado Pols)

Vladimir Jones Land $5M State Contract
December 2, 2009, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Bill Ritter, Politics, Vladimir Jones

Congratulations to Joe Hodas and the team at Vladimir Jones, who nabbed a $5 million contract to help educate Coloradans on ways to save energy. Cathy Proctor at the Denver Business Journal has the details.

Obama Address Bumps ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’
December 1, 2009, 11:10 am
Filed under: Politics, TV News

When preschoolers across the country tune in to ABC tonight to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” they may wonder why Franklin is getting all the air time. Imagine their disappointment when they finally realize that President Obama’s prime-time address on the war in Afghanistan has bumped the Charlie Brown tradition until next week. But not everyone is happy about the scheduling conflict.

Schwarzenegger’s Next Veto: A Haiku
October 29, 2009, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Politics

You have to give the Governator credit: He knows how to veto a bill. Time to step up your game, Gov. Ritter.

IOC Stiffs Obama, Chicago
October 2, 2009, 9:11 am
Filed under: Politics

Lawyers never ask questions they don’t already know the answer to, and PR people never send CEOs to fancy award events if they don’t already know the CEO is the winner. Why? Because unless you are a kid, surprises almost always suck. Why risk your political capital or credibility when the upside is so small compared to what the downside could be?

I note this because of President Barack Obama’s trip this week to lobby for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics. After sticking his political capital on the line to lobby in person for Chicago, he was stiffed in the first round of voting by the IOC today. Seriously, did Air Force One even land back in Washington before they rejected Chicago? Tokyo – where the 50M swim events would probably require 60 laps in a pool the size of a hot tub – made it farther than Chicago in the balloting process. Ouch.

Majority Leader Reid Having His Own ‘Jared Polis Moment’
August 30, 2009, 6:30 pm
Filed under: Layoffs, Newspapers, Politics

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis danced on the grave of the Rocky Mountain News, and now U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has thrown a shovel full of dirt at the Las Vegas Review-Journal hoping it sparks something. Here’s a free PR tip: Quit publicly rooting for something that would be devastating to the hundreds of your constituents who are LVRJ employees and the hundreds of thousands who are subscribers.

Picture of the Week
August 20, 2009, 9:06 am
Filed under: Politics

I’m thinking you had better represent either Boulder or Golden if you are a Colorado politician who is going to get away with bongin’ a Coors Light on Stephen Colbert’s show. Fortunately for U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, he represents Boulder. Now for the pressing follow-up: Why hasn’t Golden’s U.S. House Rep. Ed Perlmutter stepped up to bong his own Coors Lights?

Open for Debate
July 24, 2009, 9:18 am
Filed under: LeGrand Hart, Politics, Social Media

Was Barack Obama “the first presidential candidate to move beyond traditional PR tactics?”

PR Experts Examine Obama’s ‘Punch Drunk’ Moment
March 25, 2009, 7:57 am
Filed under: Politics

The Washington Post asked several PR pros to offer their perspectives on President Obama’s “punch drunk” moment on 60 Minutes Sunday. The most curious response came from Rich Masters of Qorvis Communications:

“The interview was nearly 30 minutes long and the ‘punch drunk’ segment lasted about 30 seconds, I think it’s ridiculous that 30 seconds would come to define an entire interview. 

As we all know, the purpose of a sound bite is to make a single statement define a much broader conversation. Sometimes in politics those sound bites work for you (think Lloyd Bentsen’s “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” or Ronald Reagan’s “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience”) ands sometimes they work against you (Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman … Ms. Lewinsky”). But for a PR person to argue that a sound bite – intended or otherwise – unfairly defines a conversation is naive or duplicitous.

Top 10 Media Blunders of 2008
December 23, 2008, 6:47 am
Filed under: Politics

Politico offers its Top 10 Media Blunders of 2008.

NYT: ‘Between Obama and the Press’
December 22, 2008, 2:32 pm
Filed under: New York Times, Politics

The New York Times offers a 5,000-word piece on President-elect Barack Obama’s media relations strategy, and the man implementing them. For those with ADHD, PRNewser hits the highlights for you.

TW Telecom Exec Leads LDS Response to Arson Case
November 13, 2008, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Politics, Public Relations

TW Telecom VP of Corporate Communications Bob Meldrum is doing double duty this week as a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after a burning Book of Mormon was found on the steps of a Denver-area LDS church.

The ‘Obama Whisperer’
November 11, 2008, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Politics

Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post profiles the “Obama Whisperer” Robert Gibbs, who is likely the incoming White House press secretary.

November 4, 2008, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Politics

PRWeek Finds Out PR Pros Can Read Polling Data
November 3, 2008, 10:13 am
Filed under: Linhart, Politics, PRWeek

PRWeek asked for presidential election predictions from a number of notable practitioners, and an Obama victory was the overwhelming consensus. The only local connection was Linhart’s Paul Raab, who predicts, “An Obama victory is likely.”

Post Endorses Obama; News Decides to Forego Endorsements
October 18, 2008, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Politics

The Rocky Mountain News, widely expected to endorse Sen. John McCain for president, instead decides that endorsing political candidates no longer fit with its editorial philosophy: 

“In the end we’ll leave it to you to come to your own conclusion, trusting that’s what you want and believing this newspaper’s editorial page can be most valuable to you if it helps you reach an informed decision, with an emphasis on informed. After all, ultimately that’s our job. It’s not to pick presidents, senators or representatives.”

The Denver Post, for its part, has now endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

TiVo Alert
October 17, 2008, 10:59 am
Filed under: Politics

What happens when you get Gov. Sarah Palin, actress Tina Fey and “W” star (and Barbra Streisand stepson) Josh Brolin in a room together? We’ll find out on Saturday Night Live this weekend.

Give Us $31K, and We’ll Give You the World
October 12, 2008, 11:19 am
Filed under: Politics

Despite what political consultants think, we flacks know that we are the King-makers (and Queen-makers) on the American political landscape. Without us, Sarah Palin is handling ribbon-cuttings at the new Wasilla Piggly Wiggly. With us, she’s a half-dozen points from vice president. So let’s be sure to use our powers for good, alright?

(Hat tip: Mark Harden at the DBJ)

China’s Space Publicists Now Advising McCain Campaign
September 26, 2008, 2:03 pm
Filed under: Politics

If you were planning to watch tonight’s debate between John McCain and Barack Obama, don’t bother. It turns out McCain already won it.


Vote Ralph Nader/David Duke 2008
June 25, 2008, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Democratic National Convention, Politics, Rocky Mountain News

Today was a good politics day for the Rocky Mountain News, as third-party presidential candidate Ralph Nader chooses an interview with the paper to unleash his accusations that Barack Obama is “talking white” on the campaign trail. 


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