“Reports confirmed by Westword reveal that three on-air personalities at the sister stations have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. If all three cases can be traced to 100 Speer Boulevard, the shared headquarters of the outlets, the space could be declared an outbreak, since the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s most common benchmark for such a designation is two positive diagnoses. The CDPHE’s weekly outbreaks update is scheduled to be published this afternoon, August 12.”
“We can find no evidence that either Fox31 or Channel 2 have reported on their staffers’ infections to date. Granted, doing so in detail would be difficult, since disclosing workers’ private health matters is restricted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, shorthanded as HIPAA. In order to be identified, the infected individuals would have to publicly announce their condition, as did CNN’s Chris Cuomo. Nonetheless, two insiders who contacted Westword used the word ‘cover-up’ to characterize how the challenge has been handled to date by the stations.”
Maverick Public Relations has added 20-year agency veteran Stan Wagner as a managing partner. Wagner will lead the firm’s marketing communications for professional services. He is based out of Maverick’s City Park office in Denver.
Wagner joins Maverick from urban-gro, Inc. where he served as Vice President of Marketing and was responsible for the marketing and public relations efforts of the company as it grew from five people to over 60 went public. He also spent a decade at Sterling Communications, a West Coast technology-focused PR agency.
“Sources in Denver tell FTVLive that an Anchor on Nexstar’s KWGN Daybreak newscast tested positive for COVID-19. Word is that the station told the co-anchor to stay home and self-quarantined. The co-anchor has tested negative for the virus.”
“But, insiders say that the Traffic Anchor and the Weather Anchor were not told to self-quarantined and were deemed ‘low risk’ despite the fact that they shared the same studio. Word is the two decided to get tested and sure enough they have the Rona.”
” ‘This is where I have a problem. Why wasn’t the whole team quarantined and the studio completely cleaned?’ said one station insider to FTVLive.”
A top Colorado GOP strategist is helping Kanye West to get on the ballot in her state, the latest in a series of Republicans who have stepped up to help the hip hop star in his odd presidential bid.
Rachel George, a longtime Republican operative in Colorado, sent an email to at least one other local GOP strategist on Tuesday asking them to sign West’s Presidential Electors’ Acceptance of Nomination form so he can appear on the ballot. …
George is a longtime Republican operative in the state who now runs her own firm, RBG Communications. She’s previously held a variety of positions with Republican campaigns and operatives, including a three-year stint as communications director for then-Rep. Cory Gardner. Gardner is now a senator facing an uphill battle for reelection in the blue-trending state. She’s also married to Andy George, another longtime GOP operative in the state. Both have spent more than a decade immersed in Republican politics.
The Denver Press Club will honor PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff at a virtual Damon Runyon Award Banquet from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12. Tickets can be purchased online.
Laura Frank, executive director of the Colorado new collaborative CoLab, will interview Woodruff in a 35-minute Q&A while also taking attendees’ questions. In lieu of a dinner, attendees will receive a gift box containing an event program, a Denver Press Club-engraved highball glass and a selection of Colorado-sourced snacks.
“We considered all possibilities to avoid this outcome,” said Denver Press Club president Daniel Petty. “Given spikes in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks throughout the United States and concern from public health officials that a second wave of infections may come in the fall, we believe this is the best decision to keep you and all of our guests safe.”
The advertiser boycott of Facebook took a toll on the social media giant, but it may have caused more damage to the company’s reputation than to its bottom line.
The boycott, called #StopHateForProfit by the civil rights groups that organized it, urged companies to stop paying for ads on Facebook in July to protest the platform’s handling of hate speech and misinformation. More than 1,000 advertisers publicly joined, out of a total pool of more than 9 million, while others quietly scaled back their spending.
It’s earnings season again, the first that involves a quarter that was fully impacted by COVID-19. So what effect did the pandemic have on the Q2 earnings of large public relations firms?
O’Dwyer’s: “Omnicom’s PR group suffered a 15.3 percent drop in Q2 revenues to $295.8M as the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on its travel, lodging, entertainment, energy, retail and automotive clients. Organic growth slipped 13.9 percent.”
Wall Street Journal: “IPG reported second-quarter net revenue of $1.85 billion, a decrease of 12.8% from the same time period last year. Organic net revenue—a measure that strips out currency effects, acquisitions and disposals—fell 9.9%, IPG said, citing the impact of the global economic contraction during the quarter.”
O’Dwyer’s: “FTI Consulting posted a 3.8 percent dip in Q2 strategic communications revenues to $56.8M, while operating income slipped 3.7 percent to $8.8M. First-half revenues fell 1.2 percent to $115.3M and operating income declined 15.5 percent to $16.3M.”
AdWeek: “In the U.S., Publicis Groupe’s organic growth declined 6.8% for Q2 and 3.3% for the first half of the year, aided by positive growth in Q1. Sadoun pointed out that organic growth was still positive on the year going into May, which he said showed the strong headwind the holding company had enjoyed heading into 2020 in the region.”
The Aurora Sentinel has named Kara Mason as its new managing editor. Mason had previously served as a reporter covering local government and politics, a beat that will now be covered by reporter Grant Stringer.
Congratulations to the nearly 150 winners of the 2020 Heartland Emmy awards. Breaking news coverage of the STEM school shooting and the I-70 runaway truck crash/explosion helped Denver-area journalists take the lion’s share of the awards.
According to SSPR CEO Heather Kelly, the agency “has made a strong effort to stay connected during the global pandemic as the entire company works remotely. The organization schedules time for weekly all-company video happy hours, morning mediations, a version of MTV’s ‘Cribs’ to show off work-from-home spaces and regular lunch chats.”
Love him or hate him, 9News’ Kyle Clark calls them like he sees them, and former Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Executive Director Dudley Brown was on the receiving end of that recently when RMGO-backed candidates went 1-5 in the Republican primaries.
After that debacle, Brown stepped down as executive director and Clark posited that Brown had been demoted based on his general lack of effectiveness accomplishing the one thing RMGO promised its contributors – getting gun-friendly representatives elected. Brown didn’t care for that:
Fast forward a week, and Brown was still smarting. After Clark announced he would take a few weeks off during the summer slow news period, Brown popped back up:
It has been almost a decade since Bazi Kanani left 9News to join ABC News to cover Africa, and in the intervening years she has been stationed all over the world. While abroad, she clearly has not been following Denver real-estate prices because she and her husband have made the decision to return to Colorado from Mexico where she currently lives. As part of her return, Bazi has joined SE2 as the firm’s new Director of Content.
I hope Wyoming residents who like to start their work weeks with a cup of coffee and the local newspaper aren’t too attached to the ritual. Because it’ll soon be impossible.
The Casper Star-Tribune announced yesterday that it would no longer be a true “daily” paper, eliminating its Monday and Tuesday print editions next month. …
On its own, that’s not unusual, or particularly worthy of note to people outside Wyoming. Lots of daily newspapers, seeking to cut staffing and production costs, have eliminated print days, with Mondays and Saturdays being the most common victims.
But the Star-Tribune’s decision will mean that across the entire state of Wyoming, all 97,914 square miles, there will no longer be a single local newspaper printed on Monday mornings. Zero.
If your reaction after watching the currently available four straight hours of NBC’s Today morning show is, “Well, that’s a good start,” then you are in luck.
NBC, as part of its new Peacock streaming service, is launching Today All Day, a new 24-hour/day channel with content created specifically for viewers who are spending more time at home “focusing on domestic activities from crafting to finances to summer cook-outs.”
NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, grasping for adjectives, said Today All Day represents “a big and fun new chapter” for the Today show, and will feature Today personalities such as Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Carson Daly, Craig Melvin, Willie Geist, Jenna Bush Hager, Sheinelle Jones, Kristen Welker, Dylan Dreyer and Peter Alexander.
ESPN has suspended reporter Adrian Wojnarowski for his four-letter reply to a press release U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley distributed via email criticizing the NBA’s stance on China. Regardless of your thoughts on Sen. Hawley, one of the cardinal rules of being a grown-up is don’t use your work email to engage in petty feuds.
Forget dashing foreign correspondents and “All the President’s Men”: Daily journalism often comes down to local reporters like Mr. Brandt. Overworked, underpaid and unlikely to appear as cable-news pundits, they report the day’s events, hold officials accountable and capture those moments — a school honor, a retirement celebration — suitable for framing.
But they are an endangered species being nudged toward extinction by the most important news story in decades. The coronavirus.
The economic paralysis caused by the pandemic has clobbered a newspaper industry already on the mat. With revenues plummeting, substantial layoffs, furloughs and pay reductions have followed in newsrooms across the country.
Meanwhile, the hedge funds and private equity firms that own many newspapers often siphon away profits rather than reinvest in local journalism. Frequently associated with this business model is the Alden Global Capital hedge fund, which controls The Mercury, Mr. Brandt’s employer for 23 years.
More than 13,000 Colorado companies received Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the list of marketing agencies is a Who’s Who of those in our state. In order of money received and jobs retained, the list includes:
Sterling-Rice Group – $2M-$5M, 107 jobs retained
Heinrich – $350K–$1M, 54 jobs retained
Vladimir Jones (Praco) – $350K–$1M, 48 jobs retained
SSPR – $350K–$1M, 45 jobs retained
CIG PR – $350K–$1M, 38 jobs retained
GroundFloor Media – $350K–$1M, 24 jobs retained
Amelie – $350K–$1M, 24 jobs retained
CSG PR – $350K–$1M, 24 jobs retained
Cohn – $350K–$1M, 21 jobs retained
Room 214 – $350K–$1M, 18 jobs retained
Cactus Communications – $350K–$1M, unknown jobs retained
B Public Relations – $150k–$350K, 13 jobs retained
Colorado State University has appointed Yolanda Bevill as vice president of Communications, replacing Tom Milligan who resigned 18 months ago, Kelly Lyell at the Coloradoan reports. Bevill joins CSU from Prairie View A&M, a historically Black college located about 50 miles outside of Houston
interestingly, Bevill accepted the position at CSU without ever visiting Colorado due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everybody tells me how beautiful it is,” she told Lyell. “I’m really looking forward to seeing it for myself.”
The union representing The Denver Post employees reached an agreement to extend the contract with management that expired a year ago. The terms include having employees take an additional three weeks of unpaid time off – on top of the three weeks that were already required – before the end of the year. That means the staff will have spent 12% of this year on unpaid furloughs.
It is a travesty what is happening to the journalists and staff at The Denver Post. I know the Denver PR Blog is a popular read with billionaires, so could one of you please buy it and return it to what it once was.
It is nice when the good guys are recognized, and that happened today when Jeremy Jojola from 9News was honored with the Don Bolles Medal that is awarded to reporters whose work subjects them to threats of violence and intimidation.
Jojola’s series “Homegrown Hate” investigated white supremacists and extremist groups in Colorado and resulted in members of a local neo-Nazi group showing up at his home while his wife and newborn were inside.
It is sad that such an award is necessary, but it is heartening that recognition is given to reporters for the sometimes extreme challenges they face.
The start-up’s staff includes editor Quentin Young (formerly of the Boulder Daily Camera) and staff members Moe Clark (formerly of the Colorado Sun), Faith Miller (formerly of the Colorado Springs Independent) and Chase Woodruff (formerly of Westword).
Seizing on the national protests against systemic racism and injustice, Brooklyn agency Praytell has launched a new practice group to “help brands promote diversity, equity and inclusion both internally and in the range of dealings with the public,” Diana Marszalek at PRovoke reports.
“The people, culture and allyship practice aims to help brands define their role in the current racial justice movement, and follow through with actions and communications aligned with it, bringing in multicultural experts, artists and activists for a top-to-bottom assessment and plan.”
CBS4 News Director Tim Wieland announced that reporter Dominic Garcia will now co-anchor the local CBS4 This Morning show with Britt Moreno. Garcia replaces Alan Gionet, who is moving back into a reporter position. Moreno returned to the studio just this week after giving birth to her first child in March.
“I’d also recommend that up-and-comers go to work for a major PR agency as the experience is second to none. Don’t be afraid of hard work and be passionate about excellence. When I worked at large PR agencies, I frequently worked 12-hour (or longer) days. While it could have been easy to be frustrated by working 50% more than my peers, it also meant that I was becoming better at my job 50% faster and I was given greater responsibility sooner.”
Some 9News staffers were unhappy that anchor Kim Christiansen was selected to host the station’s “Racism and the Road to Change” special instead of a person of color, according to Scott Jones at FTVLive.
“Christiansen is white and while the show used a number of black leaders, some in the newsroom thought that a journalist of color should have fronted the special. Sources tell FTVLive that a number of people attended a Zoom meeting with management to ask questions about this and about other diversity issues with the station.”
Nothing says “avoiding controversy” like picking the non-scientific side of a divisive public health issue and announcing it to the New York Times. Theater chain AMC’s CEO, Adam Aron, appears to be playing checkerstic-tac-toe thumb war in a chess world. The New York Times reports:
“Adam Aron, chief executive of AMC Entertainment Holdings, said that moviegoers would not be required to wear masks at the company’s theaters when they reopen next month after a shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Mr. Aron also said that AMC Theaters, the largest movie theater operator in the world, would not perform temperature checks on patrons, a practice some businesses have adopted to screen for fever related to the virus.”
The Associated Press has apologized for using a quote from Jefferson Davis, president of the short-lived Confederate States of America and inspiration for the name of Dukes of Hazzard villain Jefferson Davis “Boss” Hogg, in its daily “Today in History” feature.
The quote — “Never be haughty to the humble; never be humble to the haughty” — was included as the feature’s Thought for Today on June 3, Davis’s birthday.
“We are embarrassed that this happened and we apologize,” an A.P. spokeswoman said.
PRWeek: “Los Angeles County is defending its decision to hire Mercury Public Affairs and Fraser Communications for COVID-19-related work that has been criticized as wasteful.”
“The county brought on the two shops in mid-March to help manage crisis communications for the pandemic, said Lennie LaGuire, director of county-wide communications for Los Angeles County’s chief executive office.”
“The initial contracts with the two agencies cost the county $200,000 each, LaGuire said. However, the county has spent approximately $1.9 million for their services, according to reports from Los Angeles TV station Fox 11, which LaGuire confirmed.” …
“Specifically, the two firms augmented county comms staff by maintaining websites and social feeds, creating external video content and photography and translating content, she said. They also helped with outreach to stakeholder groups like professional organizations, chambers of commerce and faith-based organizations and provided capabilities the county lacked, like the ability to create motion graphics for Instagram.”
A little more than three years ago, Westword used the departures of then-Denver television newscasters Drew Soicher, Kyle Dyer, Kirk Montgomery, Gregg Moss, Susie Wargin, Molly Hughes and Ed Greene to put together a career Deadpool list of personalities whose expensive contracts could make them expendable. As it turned out, Westword went 1-14:
“Like the nation itself, news organizations across the country are facing a racial reckoning, spurred by protests from their own journalists over portrayals of minority communities and the historically unequal treatment of nonwhite colleagues.” …
“The newsroom uprisings are partially about the lack of minority employees in key jobs and leadership positions — but also about how stories about race are reported and framed, and who gets to do the reporting and framing. Some argue that mainstream news organizations are long overdue for a cultural change.”
Two weeks ago, former 9News anchor Bob Kendrick was playing defense over an ill-advised social media post calling protesters “animals.” He apologized shortly after that, but he has not appeared on-air since the incident. Sources tell FTVLive that the station has in fact suspended him.
The New York Times: “Last week, Mr. Glassman posted a tweet that made light of both the coronavirus pandemic and the killing of George Floyd in police custody, and last weekend spoke belligerently to CrossFit gym owners about race and racism in a remarkable Zoom call that was leaked to reporters.
“We’re not mourning for George Floyd, I don’t think me or any of my staff are,” said Mr. Glassman on the Zoom call, according to a recording of the call provided to The New York Times. “Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than it’s the ‘white’ thing to do. I get that pressure but give me another reason.”
The online sports news site The Athletic was a soft landing place for many sportswriters who found themselves out of jobs at traditional media outlets such as newspapers and magazines. The site was backed with $140 million in VC money and promised to fundamentally change sports news with its online subscription model.
Unfortunately, the economy and COVID-19 were too much, and The Athletic today announced that it would lay off 8% of its staff – 46 people – and cut salaries for those remaining by at least 10%. The company cited slowing growth in its number of subscriptions and significantly decreased podcasting revenue as reasons for the layoffs.
Making matters worse, SB Nation, the sports media network owned by Vox, today announced it is laying off more than 100 employees it originally furloughed in May.
Civil, the blockchain backer of a number of emerging digital news outlets including the Colorado Sun, has shut down.
“I’m very grateful for everything they have done for us,” Larry Ryckman, co-founder and editor of the Colorado Sun, told Rick Edmonds of Poynter. “We could not have gotten on our feet without them. And it wasn’t just the money … they gave us technical support and expertise we lacked.”
Edmonds noted, “For the Colorado Sun, launched by Denver Post alumni as MediaNews Group had cut a third of its staff there, Civil’s collapse together with the current recession have required a complete redo of strategic plans. ‘But we’re going to make it,’ Ryckman said.”
“Richard Edelman, president and CEO of the PR firm started by his father in Chicago nearly 70 years ago, sent employees an email Tuesday explaining the decision — a reversal of an earlier pledge to avoid layoffs during the pandemic.”
“‘This decision is gut-wrenching, especially as I told you in March that we would have no job losses due to the pandemic,’ Edelman said in his memo. ‘Despite all efforts, we are beyond the threshold of loss-making and to ensure the long-term health of our business, I must change course.'”
“Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold was caught in a public relations pickle Sunday as the result of a city staff mistake that caused her to appear to wobble between distinct statements on the George Floyd killing that incited protests and riots across America for the past several days,” Sam Lounsberry at Boulder’s Daily Camera reports.
“As marches proceeded in downtown Denver for a fourth straight day calling for justice for Floyd, a black man who died in handcuffs after a Minnesota policeman kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest, the city on Sunday released a statement from Herold criticizing the officer’s actions and acknowledging the suffering people of color have endured at the hands of police.”
“Less than a half-hour later, staff released another. The revised quote from Herold was much different than the original, and less assertive, Colorado public relations experts” (including Doyle Albee and Dawn Doty) suggested.
Mayor Hancock’s Director of Strategic Communications & Media Policy Theresa Marchetta has been mixing it up on Twitter with a who’s who of journalists over the weekend as the peaceful protests followed by semi-violent riots took place. Among those involved have been Jeremy Jojola, Steve Staeger and Marshall Zelinger from 9News; Alex Burness from The Denver Post; and Mitchell Byars from the Boulder Daily Camera.
Former Denver Post editor Greg Moore wrote an insightful opinion piece on what it is like to be a professional black man in America, including describing the 20 or more times he has been stopped by police:
I’m a 65-year-old black man, and I have literally spent most of my life doing everything possible to avoid encounters with police. My mother warned me when I was about 12 to beware of the police because even though I was a good boy, I could be killed with impunity. I’d be just another dead black boy supposedly mixed up in guns, drugs or gangs. …
The history of the police and black people dates back to the slave catchers and overseers. A lot of police officers in our country come to the job generationally with stereotypes and disdain toward black people that has been handed down from the old days. Whether they want to admit it or not, it is part of the DNA of the profession, and it really doesn’t matter what color the person is who wears the uniform. Those attitudes are ingrained in the culture. …
I’m exhausted watching black men die at the hands of police. I hate seeing the fear in my daughters’ eyes from knowing I could die, begging for air, under the knee of a police officer. I don’t hate cops. I fear them. But I’m about to turn 66 years old, and I’d like to exhale for a change.
If you have five minutes, read the entire piece (and then subscribe if you don’t already). It is a fascinating and saddening glimpse into what it is like to be a black man in our society – even if you are one who is among the most successful in your profession. And also interesting is where Moore placed the article for publication – the Colorado Sun.
And speaking of the local George Floyd protests, former 9News anchor Bob Kendrick is taking criticism for a social media post in which he referred to the mostly African American protesters as “animals.” Kendrick is an anchor at ABC6/Fox28 in Columbus, Ohio (the stations have a shared services agreement).
For those of you relatively new to Denver, Kendrick was the original Shannon Ogden – funny, clever and bright, but you were never completely sure he wasn’t actually one of those fancy AI robots that come really close to appearing human.
Last night was a tough one for local television reporters who had to navigate both tear gas and angry protesters while giving live, on-air updates. Fox31 reporter Keagan Harsha seemed to have an average of about 15 seconds on air before protesters invaded his live shots performing their best Kim Christiansen impressions.
From Brian Steinberg at Variety: “More Madison Avenue heavyweights are looking to TV journalists and TV-news outlets to help them land a punch. General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are among the blue-chip advertisers that have recently struck deals to sponsor news programming and align themselves with news personalities – a practice that in a different era might have drawn more scrutiny. …”
“One executive producer at a network morning show says advertisers have ramped up their efforts to tie themselves to the program in recent years. It is all part of larger efforts by Madison Avenueto find ways to weave products and pitches into content as more traditional TV viewers find new ways to skip past ads – or simply ignore them. This producer says news executives often determine whether such advertiser requests are suitable or not. The product and the pitch cannot offend viewers, can’t pose any sort of harm, can’t be off putting, and can’t undermine the standards of the show, this person says. But the ad integrations offer a new stream of revenue for the program, this producer says, and executives work to keep anchors who deal regularly with hard news away from segments that involve a heavier sponsor influence.”
ESPN resurrected Michael Jordan, so why can’t Amazon bring back another relic from the 1990s – the Video News Release? As you can see below, the company is proving that a script and some mildly interesting B-roll is still gold in some media markets.
Colorado-based, Emmy-winning filmmaker Brian Malone released the trailer for his upcoming documentary News Matters: Inside the Rebellion to Save America’s Newspapers. Airing on PBS this fall, the documentary focuses heavily on The Denver Post and the efforts of its staff to push back against its hedge-fund owners at Alden Global Capital.
CU Denver News features an interview with outgoing Vice Chancellor of University Communications Leanna Clark, who is leaving after nine years to join the Girl Scouts of Colorado as its CEO.
At the end of May, Clark will be leaving CU Denver to begin a new endeavor as CEO of the Girl Scouts of Colorado, a statewide nonprofit with 125 full time employees, 20,000 members, and 10,000 volunteers. In her new role, Clark will set organizational vision and strategy, oversee all operations, and work to expand visibility and create opportunities for strategic partnerships. She will be greatly missed at CU Denver, but her skills and expertise will undoubtedly take this preeminent leadership development organization for girls to the next level.
“PRGN is now represented in Denver by Novitas Communications, a full-service public relations firm that specializes in corporate communications, issue management, and crisis communication across numerous industries. Novitas helps clients craft and implement communications campaigns that influence public opinion, enhance brand recognition, and keep stakeholders informed.”
Steve Barrett at PRWeek shares the results of a PRWeek survey “covering infection rates, budgets, layoffs, furloughs, payment terms, financial assistance, offices of the future and return to work.” Among the findings:
“Almost half of respondents have been directly impacted health-wise by COVID-19; 18% have team members or family of team members who have died from COVID-19
Clients: Almost 64% reduced PR budgets, one in three significantly. Agencies: 77% of clients reduced retainers; 90% postponed campaigns, 83% canceled activations
Almost four in 10 clients imposed extended payment terms during COVID-19
One in five agencies laid off staff and instigated furloughs; 11% of clients
Only 30% of respondents applied for Payment Protection Program loans
New world of work will include: social distancing, virtual workforces, daily deep cleaning, screening, temperature tests and work-life balance
More than half of respondents believe they will return to the office in June or July”
About 750 Edward R. Murrow award winners were announced today, and 54 of them went to Region 3 that includes Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. So how did our state compare to the competition? Pretty well, as it turns out:
Colorado – 29 Regional Murrow awards
Arizona – 16 Regional Murrow awards
Wyoming – 6 Regional Murrow awards
Utah – 3 Regional Murrow awards
New Mexico – 0 Regional Murrow awards
The big winners in Denver were KOA NewsRadio, Colorado Public Radio, 9News and KMGH-7. Among the winners:
KMGH-7 for Overall Excellence (large market television)
KOA NewsRadio for Overall Excellence (large market radio)
9News’ Next with Kyle Clark for Excellence in Innovation (large market television)
KMGH-7 Excellence in Social Media (large market television)
Staff Writer Chase Woodruff at Westwordis the latest victim of the COVID-19 pandemic’s assault on advertising dollars. I wrote nearly two months ago about the advertising drought that was hammering Westword’s parent company and sister publications, and unfortunately the financial impact has now been felt here in Denver.
I’ll share the same PSA I shared in the previous post:
Subscribe to every publication you read. Most of us will never notice the $5-10 per month each of them cost, and it makes a huge difference in the ability of those publications to do great work. Imagine what a bleak information landscape we’d have if other news outlets went the way of the Rocky Mountain News.
9News anchor Kim Christiansen takes a few minutes each week to read viewer feedback on the air, and to her and the station’s credit, the feedback often is negative. Unfortunately, Kim didn’t navigate the minefield of expletives as well as she had hoped in this viewer’s feedback.
April 24 Brian Maass, CBS4: “Top executives at Denver Health Medical Center received significant bonuses this month for their performance in 2019, ranging from $50,000 up to $230,000, one week after frontline hospital workers were asked to voluntarily take leave without pay or reduce their hours as the hospital dealt with the financial downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.”
May 4 Brian Maass, CBS4: “A CBS4 Investigation has learned that about 40 retirees from the city of Denver — widows, widowers and their beneficiaries — have been ordered to repay a total of $11 million in retirement benefits. … Denver Employees Retirement Plan (DERP) recently notified Denver Health and a group of DERP members, who are retired and current Denver Health employees, that DERP has discovered an error it made in calculating the retirement benefits of those retirees and employees.”
May 5 David Sachs, Denverite: “Healthcare workers at Denver Health, the medical arm of the city’s public health department, are recruiting fellow employees to unionize in order to secure better benefits and workplace conditions, which organizers say will translate to a better institution. … Hospital employees were … sparked by the revelation that executives were getting large bonuses for their 2019 performance during this turbulent time.”
Cision is out with its annual State of the Media Report, and it is worth a read. It focuses on the impact COVID-19 has had on the day-to-day life of reporters, and there are a few key lessons for those of us in PR:
Keep pitches short: Among reporters’ comments: “Directly tell me in one or two sentences why this is important for the public to know about;” “Put your point in the first five words. Skip all blandishments;” “Wasting prime real estate in the first line saying ‘For Immediate Release.’ Or, ‘I hope this finds you well.’ We need to see what it’s about without having to open it.”
Make experts available via phone: “Respondents deemed interviews the most trustworthy non-brand source.”
Timing your pitches: Reporters receive the most pitches on Mondays, and they decline consistently each successive day through Friday. Waiting until late in the week may give your pitch less competition. And Sunday pitches may work best – no competition at all on the eve of a workday.
The moment is fleeting: Nearly half of reporters do not plan what they will be covering more than a day in advance. They are reacting to events and opportunities in real-time.
Stay focused: Blankety pitches that are not customized generally get nowhere.
We’re all enjoying relaxed dress standards during the COVID-19 pandemic, but correspondent Will Reeve one-upped most of us when he took the opportunity to go full Winnie the Pooh (shirt, no pants) on his segment on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Interpublic Group of Cos. – parent company to agencies such as Weber Shandwick, Golin, FCB and McCann – released its Q1 earnings earlier this week, and Lindsay Rittenhouse at AdAge reported on some of the details about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:
IPG acknowledged it has implemented cost-cutting measures such as “deferred merit increases, freezes on hiring and temporary labor, major cuts in non-essential spending, furloughs in markets where that option is available and salary reductions where possible or appropriate”
IPG reduced base compensation up to 25% at a number of its agencies
Management team salaries at the holding company level have “are deeper than anything else … seen in the industry”
IPG is planning additional “staffing reductions” at firms who have significant clients in the retail, hospitality and event industries
Denver PR agency Sprocket is closing effective this month as the economic damage to agencies across the country continues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aubrey Gordon founded the primarily virtual firm 13 years ago, and its clients included a mix of those in the consumer & lifestyle products, real estate, restaurants & hospitality, tech, healthcare and B2B industries.
Update: Aubrey shared that the COVID-19 pandemic was coincidental to her closing Sprocket. She made the decision to shutter the agency because she wanted to get back to marketing strategy rather than running a business, and that she has accepted a position as VP of Marketing at 8z Real Estate.
Congratulations to longtime Denver journalist Mark Harden on being named editor at Colorado Community Media. CCM owns 18 weekly newspapers and two monthly publications across the metro Denver area that have a combined audience of more than 300,000 people. Harden formerly was managing editor of Colorado Politics, and prior to that spent a decade at the Denver Business Journal.
Omnicom Group is the latest agency parent company to warn of impending job cuts and furloughs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a memo to staff, Omnicom chairman and CEO John Wren shared:
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the economy, on our clients’ businesses, and in turn, on ours. While we hope for a swift recovery, we have to respond quickly to the reality of the moment, to ensure the sustainability of our business and our ability to continue to provide our clients with outstanding service.
Since my last note to you, we have solidified some of the internal measures to adjust our business to meet the changing needs of our clients. Regrettably, this will include furloughs and staff reductions across many of our agencies. We are doing everything we can to limit staff reductions, and to take care of those who are affected.
French multinational marketing company Publicis Groupe, the parent company of Qorvis/MSLGroup among other advertising and PR firms, shared its Q1 earnings, and the data is concerning, to say the least.
In North America, Publicis Groupe’s organic revenue grew 0.5 percent, but the results in regions of the world further along the COVID-19 curve give some insight into what is headed our way:
In China, Publicis Groupe’s organic revenue declined 15.3 percent in Q1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
In Europe, the company’s organic revenue declined 9.2 percent
In Latin America, organic revenue declined 10.9 percent
Jay Pattisall, principal analyst at Forrester, notes in the Ad Age article by Lindsay Rittenhouse, “If Publicis Groupe’s first quarter 2020 organic revenue decline in China is any indication for what’s to come for Europe and (the) United States, then the second half of 2020 will be an enormous challenge.”
“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock reversed himself twice on March 23 when he ordered residents to stay at home to prevent spreading the coronavirus sweeping the country. Had he stuck to his instinct, the mayor could have avoided hours of intense lobbying from residents, small-business owners, industry advocates and politicians, all of whom urged his administration toward the city’s ultimate conclusion: Liquor stores and recreational marijuana shops should be considered essential and remain open during Denver’s stay-at-home order.”
Marc Tracy at The New York Times reports, “The news media business was shaky before the coronavirus started spreading across the country last month. Since then, the economic downturn that put nearly 17 million Americans out of work has led to pay cuts, layoffs and shutdowns at many news outlets… . Finding a sizable audience has not been a problem for publishers. Hunger for news in a time of crisis has sent droves of readers to many publications. But with businesses paused or closed — and no longer willing or able to pay for advertisements — a crucial part of the industry’s support system has cracked.”
The tally: “Roughly 28,000 workers at news companies in the U.S. have been laid off, been furloughed or had their pay reduced. Some publications that rely on ads have shut down.”
Alden Global Capital, owner of The Denver Post, the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Times-Call, among other properties, has tripled down on the Tegna strategy of requiring reporters and others to take furloughs.
Boulder Daily Camera reporter Katie Langford shared that reporters at her paper and the Times-Call will be required to take three weeks of unpaid time off between now and the end of June.
Meanwhile, Alden has informed the Guild representing The Denver Post reporters that it wants a similar arrangement there, an issue that is being negotiated at the moment.
You can expect to see a little less of your favorite 9News reporters and anchors over the next few months. The station’s parent company, Tegna, announced that most employees will be required to take one week of unpaid time off before the end of June.
Additionally, “news directors and station heads of technology will receive a commensurate 8% temporary pay reduction and general managers and corporate senior vice presidents and above will receive a 20% temporary pay reduction,” according to a statement from Tegna.
As a reminder, Tegna raked in $140 million in political ads alone in the 2018 mid-term election season, a number that will no doubt balloon later this year with the upcoming presidential election. Do not expect Tegna to reimburse employees for the lost wages once that revenue bonanza hits.
Hugh Williams, the longtime head of the Denver office of global public relations firm Weber Shandwick, has taken the position of CMO at injury prevention and recovery technology company Addaday. Williams built Weber Shandwick’s endurance sports practice and led the strategy, development and execution of award-winning integrated sports marketing campaigns. He will be based in Boulder.
Williams will be joined by Kristin Goett, who was named Addaday’s Communications Director. She brings five years of in-house communications experience across brands including DISH Network and the University of Denver. She also has been a columnist for Triathlete Magazine.
Voice Media Group, the parent company of Westword and other alternative weeklies nationwide that rely heavily on restaurant and other advertising, has take draconian steps to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. From Travis Waldron and Tara Golshan at HuffPost:
“Every employee of Voice Media Group, which includes Denver Westword, … had their pay cut: 25% for employees making less than $80,000, 30% for those making more than that, and 35% for executives.”
In December 2019, Westword followed the Colorado Sun, which itself followed the model of NPR/CPR, in positioning itself as membership-driven public-interest journalism enterprise. If you want to support Westword to help it and its staff survive this pandemic, click here.
And just a quick PSA: Subscribe to every publication you read. Most of us will never notice the $5-10 per month each of them cost, and it makes a huge difference in the ability of those publications to do great work. Imagine what a bleak information landscape we’d have if other news outlets went the way of the Rocky Mountain News.
What Joe Biden has executed over the last 72 hours is one of the most extraordinary comebacks ever. … Biden is crushing his rivals in states that he never visited, where he had no field offices, and where he spent next to nothing on television ads. … In contrast, Mike Bloomberg spent more than half a billion dollars and it looks like he won’t meet the 15% delegate threshold in at least a half dozen states tonight. He only won American Samoa. … The key takeaway is that — at least in a presidential campaign — earned media matters much more than television and other ads.
9News’ Jeremy Jojola is a rock-solid journalist who sometimes investigates people and organizations that would rather remain in the shadows. What kind of personal toll can that professional role take on a journalist? Michael Roberts at Westword reports:
Last December, 9News reporter Jeremy Jojola told Westword about ugly threats he’d received over stories about local neo-Nazis. Now, Jojola has filed temporary protection orders against three individuals affiliated with such groups after they showed up at his home in the wake of him reporting about one of them: Samuel Cordova, who pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor bias-motivated crime related to June 2019 vandalism at BookBar over an event called “Drag Queen Story Time.”
For decades, nurses and firefighters have been the spokespeople of choice when you need to convey trust in your product or service. Perceptions are that doctors are greedy and cops are crooked, but nurses and firefighters have a halo of authenticity and trust that few, other professions have.
The Denver Fire Department is testing those perceptions. though. For the second straight year, firefighters are apologizing for crude sexual jokes and the presence of sex toys at their Annual Gala. And this year, the consequence includes Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade resigning. Perhaps most disconcerting, their behavior resulted in Coloradans having to hear Brian Maass utter the phrase “sex toy” three times in his two-minute report.
If you follow anyone from 9News on Facebook or Twitter, you have probably noticed that the on-air talent all got updated photos over the past few weeks. Not everyone had a great experience, though, as Lori Lizarraga noted on Twitter. Credit Lori for speaking up about the issue and using it as an opportunity to educate the photographer, and credit 9News for immediately addressing it.
Because she’s about as modest and unassuming as television personalities get, Denver7’s Anne Trujillo isn’t one to crow about her accomplishments. But she’s quietly become a Mile High City icon owing to one of the longest runs at a single station in the market’s history: 35 years and counting. In addition, she’s served as lead anchor for the outlet’s main weekday newscasts since 1999, a two-decades-plus stint that makes her the present local title holder in that category, too.
One of the cardinal rules of crisis communications is to do everything you can not to become the face of a negative issue that affects multiple people or companies. That is a lesson Delta CEO Ed Bastian apparently doesn’t fully appreciate.
By now, almost everyone has seen the viral “Recline-gate” video featuring two American Airlines passengers:
The first 24 hours of the debate centered on who was in the wrong – the women who reclined her seat or the man behind her who repeatedly pushed her seat in protest. That debate quickly changed, however, as people began to realize it was the airlines who created this Stanford Prison Experiment-esque scenario. The airlines are the bad guys here.
American Airlines no doubt was preparing to manage the negative publicity, but then they were given a gift. Delta’s CEO appeared on CNBC and was asked who was right. He weighed in and said that he thought reclining was reasonable, but that you should ask permission first. That answer reignited a new debate. Instantly, Delta became the face of the issue. Even though the viral video was of American Airlines passengers, the general public will associate Delta with the lack of knee room on airplanes.
Meanwhile, you can bet American Airlines CEO Doug Parker will be hiding out for a week or two. He’s more than happy to let media and social media replay the clip of Delta’s CEO over and over again. To paraphrase Napoleon, never get in the way of a competitor who is making a mistake.
Colorado Rockies GM Jeff Bridich: Did you see the way I refused to answer the media’s questions? I actually stopped to answer their questions, then refused to answer the questions they wanted to ask, and then lobbed both a “no comment” and a “next question” at them. I own the award for worst off-season press conference!
Houston Astros Owner Jim Crane: You’re cute, Jeff. Hold my beer.
This Houston Astros video will be used for years as a media training tool for what not to do in a press conference (and as proof that a press conference is not always a good idea). How was it received? ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said it best:
What a %$#& show. You thought that this team was good at baseball – and it is. And good at cheating – and it was. How can it be this bad at public relations? This was insincere. They had months to prepare for this. And then their owner is out there making a fool of himself because he’s combative and arrogant, and he won’t acknowledge that they got a competitive advantage form one of the great cheating scandals of our time.
Mel Tucker spent most of yesterday telling the world he was staying in Boulder as CU’s head football coach because he had “#UnfinishedBusiness.” It turns out his only unfinished business was his signature on a Michigan State University coaching contract.
No reasonable person begrudges a coach for changing jobs, but doing it after only a year at the school is pretty weak. Weaker still is waiting until February when you have lured an entire class of freshman to sign with the school. Tucker gets to leave clean. Those kids he tricked have to sit out for a year if they want to transfer somewhere else.
One grandparent of a Buff recruit went public with his anger, and unfortunately for Tucker it was former Dallas Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson:
Howard also explained the conditions that led to those lengthy lift lines, saying that 38 inches of snow in a 48-hour period created operational challenges that slowed Vail’s ability to carry skiers and dramatically increased the number of skiers looking to take advantage of the powder.
“I know we could have done a much better job anticipating these situations and communicating with our guests,” Howard wrote (in a statement). “I am well aware that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I truly hope my words here help provide context for what happened.
Give Howard (and her PR staff) credit for actually using the phrase, “I apologize” in her statement, and for clearly explaining what went wrong. While it might have been a couple of days late, it was a human response to a situation that is understandable.
PR and advertising firm Egg Strategy is the latest firm to make the move from Boulder to Denver to escape exorbitant rents and long commutes for employees who would rather live in (comparatively) affordable Denver. Egg, which also has offices in Chicago and New York, will relocate to the SugarCube Building at 15th & Blake. Said Egg Strategy President Matthew Singer:
“We’re going to where the growth is to make it easy to attract top talent and to put us in closer reach to the consumers at the heart of our human-centered process as well as the clients we serve.”
Put through the PR-to-English translator:
“Boulder is expensive as %$^#. Until we figure out how to AI our way out of having employees, it’s off the table. So, Denver.”
In January – one month after Dunkin’ Donuts’ CMO resigned to pursue “the next opportunity” – the coffee chain launched a national ad campaign featuring Snoop Dogg. Now, less than a month later, it has to make a decision about whether to suspend the campaign entirely.
Those of us old enough to have owned The Chronic on CD marveled at the idea that Snoop Dogg had evolved to the point that he would be the star of a mainstream advertising campaign. And it turns out maybe we were right. I think Snoop himself said it best on Gin & Juice: “With so much drama in the L-B-C, It’s kinda hard bein’ Snoop D-O-double-G.”
John Ensslin, a widely respected reporter who worked for the Rocky Mountain News, The (Colorado Springs) Gazette and most recently ColoradoPolitics.com, has died. His colleague Joey Bunch offers a look at John, his life and his career.
The year is now officially more than halfway over, and we already have some blue-chip contenders for 2019’s biggest PR disasters. Among them:
BOEING – Boeing, by a wide margin, has had the worst 2019 so far. Following plane crashes by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines that killed 346 people, countries around the globe began grounding Boeing’s 737 Max. Then, air travel authorities worldwide officially grounded the plane in March. Boeing has since been working to fix its flight control software, which is thought to have played a role in the crashes. Four months later, the crisis remains unresolved. The most damaging crises are those where you remain stuck without a clear resolution – think Malaysia Airlines when cable TV news covered its missing Flight 370 for months on end. Boeing finds itself in a similar situation since it is unclear when its 737 Max planes may get the green light to fly again. Meanwhile, media are penning sidebar stories about the history of quality complaints at the facility that produces the 737 Max and whether flyers will trust the plane when it does return.
ROBERT KRAFT – The incredibly successful owner of the New England Patriots saw his personal life turn into a bad made-for-TV movie when he was charged “with two counts of soliciting sex as part of a wide-ranging investigation into prostitution and suspected human trafficking.” The colorful nature of the allegations – a billionaire NFL owner visiting a low-rent, strip mall massage parlor – made the story even more intriguing to journalists. He has fought the legal charges in court with some success, but the underlying facts seem clear: he paid money to women who performed sex acts on him. And with that, his stellar, grandfatherly reputation has vanished.
Nike has gone all in on a marketing strategy that positions itself as a socially progressive company. From Colin Kapernick to Serena Williams to LeBron James, Nike has been aligning itself with athletes who are known for social justice issues as much as they are for their performances on the field or court.
So why are high-profile athletes now hammering the company? Sports Illustrated’s Jenna West reports:
“Olympic runner Alysia Montaño opened up to The New York Times nearly two weeks ago to shed light on the lack of maternity protection given to female athletes in sponsorship contracts. In a video for the Times, Montaño called out Nike for preaching a message of chasing dreams—only until an athlete wants to include motherhood in her journey.
More than 15 countries have now grounded Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft due to its auto-crash feature. The New York Timesreports:
“Britain, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Oman banned all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes from their airspaces on Tuesday, two days after 157 people were killed on such a plane during a flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya. At least 27 airlines have now grounded the Max 8, which has crashed twice in five months. Boeing stands by the airworthiness of the jet, but it said it planned to issue a software update and was working on changes to its flight controls and training guidelines.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. is not among the countries grounding the jet, and American Airlines and Southwest continue to carry passengers on it.
New York Times: “When the left sneaker of college basketball’s biggest star split open on national television Wednesday night 30 seconds into the biggest game of the season, what spilled out was not only his foot but also questions about the future of a marquee player and about the huge influence shoe companies hold over big-time college basketball.”
“The episode occurred in a game between the archrivals Duke and North Carolina. Zion Williamson, a Duke freshman, pivoted with the ball above the foul line, and the sheer force of his 285-pound frame and acrobatic versatility appeared to cut the shoe almost in two, as though severed by a sharp knife.”
“Former President Barack Obama, sitting on the sidelines at the Duke arena, was seen on video pointing at Williamson and appearing to say, ‘His shoe broke.’ “