Brooklyn Agency Launches ‘Corporate Allyship’ Practice

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.”

Quote of the Day

“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.”

– Novitas Communications Founder & CEO Michelle Balch Lyng in a profile article of her firm in

9News Faces Internal Backlash to Kim Christiansen​ Hosting Racism Special

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.”

‘We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy’

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 checkers tic-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.”

“’We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,’” Mr. Aron said in an interview published on Thursday by Variety magazine. …

“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.”

AP Apologizes for Making Confederate Leader’s Quote ‘Thought for Today’

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.

Los Angeles County Under Fire for PR Agency Expenses

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.”

Revisited: 15 Denver TV News Stars Who Could Fall Victim to Cost Cuts

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:

  • Kim Christiansen – Still at 9News
  • Kyle Clark – Still at 9News
  • Kathy Sabine – Still at 9News
  • Rod Mackey – Still at 9News
  • Gary Shapiro – Still at 9News
  • Anne Trujillo – Still at 7News
  • Mitch Jelniker – Left 7News
  • Mike Nelson – Still at 7News
  • Lionel Bienvenue – Still at 7News
  • Alan Gionet – Still at CBS4
  • Jim Benemann – Still at CBS4
  • Karen Leigh – Still at CBS4
  • Kathy Walsh – Still at CBS4
  • Dave Fraser – Still at Fox31
  • Jeremy Hubbard – Still at Fox31

‘American newsrooms are having their own racial reckoning’

Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison at The Washington Post:

“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.”

Crossfit Founder & CEO Resigns Following Stunningly Stupid Comments

PR Week: “The founder and CEO of CrossFit stepped down on Tuesday after making inflammatory statements about the death of George Floyd. Greg Glassman, in announcing his retirement, apologized, saying he “created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members.” Prominent CrossFit sponsor Reebok dropped its affiliation with the organization after Glassman’s “FLOYD-19” tweets over the weekend.”

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.”

A Bad Day for the Sportswriting​ Industry

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.

Colorado Sun Backer Civil Shuts Down

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.”

(Subscribe to the Colorado Sun)

Edleman Reverses Pledge and Lays Off Nearly 400

“Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, is laying off 390 people, or about 7% of its workforce, due to revenue declines during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Robert Channick at the Chicago Tribune reports.

“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.'”

PR Mix-up Exposes Boulder Police Chief to Criticism

“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.

(Subscribe to the Daily Camera)

Mayor Hancock’s Spokesperson Protests Media’s Protest Coverage

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 Westword staff writer Chase Woodruff captured some of the interactions on Twitter.

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Former Denver Post Editor Turns to Colorado Sun to Discuss Challenges of Being a Black Man in the U.S.

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.