Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Dr. Nickie Bell, the assistant superintendent at the Cherry Creek School District, pleaded guilty to animal neglect for driving 32 miles from her home and dumping her very-much-alive eight-year-old dog in a dumpster. A construction worker found the dog clinging to life the next day. Now, more than 3,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the school district terminate Bell, arguing she can’t be trusted with kids.
  • The last person a director should ever cast in a historical drama is Matt Damon. Action hero? Sure. Down-on-his-luck Bostonian? Yep. But medieval French knight? Nope. Nevertheless, otherwise accomplished director Ridley Scott did just that and, of course, “The Last Duel” is officially a flop. Scott, however, diagnosed what he believes is the real problem: “Millennials who were brought up on these fucking cellphones.” Not sure if that’s a dig at attention spans or media consumption habits, but either way he’s in denial.
  • Aurora police union president Officer Doug Wilkinson has been suspended for an email he sent to his membership stating that if Aurora wants its police force to mirror the community, “we could make sure to hire 10% illegal aliens, 50% weed smokers, 10% crackheads, and a few child molesters and murderers to round it out. You know, so we can make the department look like the ‘community.’” 
  • Journalists at publications such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Buffalo News are fearing the worst after Alden Global Capital announced a takeover bid for parent company Lee Enterprises. Alden is the hedge fund that has turned The Denver Post into a shell of itself.
  • The city of Aurora continues to deal with juvenile gun violence. A middle-of-the-street shootout between a 17-year-old and a former police officer was the third incident in a week. The week’s tally: One dead, 10 injured.
  • The new “Nu” Coronavirus variant has spooked scientists, politicians and investors alike. Today, light post-holiday trading still saw U.S. markets decline 2-3%, and a host of European countries quickly reinstated travel restrictions.
  • Waiting for a FedEx package from a friend in Alabama? You may be waiting longer than expected after officials found 300-400 packages dumped in a ravine.
  • Bloody hell … The United Kingdom Wine and Spirit Trade Association is warning Englanders about a potential holiday liquor shortage.

So who won the week?

  • Colorado Rockies broadcaster Jenny Cavnar will host a new national show on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel starting Monday. 
  • Kyle Clark’s commentary on how the media fails to hold politicians like Lauren Boebert accountable went viral and resulted in Clark appearing on Rachel Maddow’s national MSNBC show.
  • The now 49-year-old woman who became famous as the face of Afghanistan when her haunting portrait was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine has been granted refugee status by Italy and is living in Rome.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Unusually warm weather in Colorado has forced Steamboat and Telluride to delay the opening of their ski seasons. And with no snow in the forecast through Thanksgiving, meteorologists predict the city of Denver will set a new record for the latest snowfall recorded, breaking the current record of Nov. 21 set in 1934.
  • An annual report measuring recycling state by state found that Colorado ranks in the bottom 20, a stunning development for a state that thinks of itself as an environmental leader. We only recycle 15% of our trash, compared to the national average of 32%.
  • Speaking of discouraging news, a first-ever national study on lead levels in kids found that an estimated 72% of Colorado children under age 6 had lead detected in their blood, well above the national rate of 51%. Children from Black-or Hispanic-majority communities were disproportionately affected.
  • Colorado Public Radio is conducting a bracket-style challenge to identify the state’s favorite Christmas carol, and it is already off to an inauspicious start. Due to a glitch, CPR disclosed that votes for “O Come, All Ye Faithful” didn’t register for part of the voting window. Ironic for a media outlet that is more likely to cover #StopTheSteal protests than start them.
  • Denver Public Schools Board member Tay Anderson has sued his accusers who made unsubstantiated accusations against him for $1 million, a move that keeps the story alive longer and exposes him to the threat of legal discovery.
  • As if heavy rain and flooding wasn’t bad enough, the combination has forced scorpions from their hiding places and into houses in the Egypt. So far, more than 500 people have been hospitalized with scorpion stings.
  • Expectations were high when the Los Angeles Rams traded for QB Matthew Stafford in the off-season. While the team is 7-3, they have lost two straight, and the pressure may be mounting. So much so that Stafford’s wife, Kelly, threw a soft pretzel at a fan in the stands who was heckling her husband.

So who won the week?

  • Casa Bonita’s new owners – “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker – have given hope to generations of fans that the iconic restaurant may survive. This week the restaurant announced two promising things: 1) that it has hired three-time James Beard-nominated chef Dana Rodriguez as its executive chef, and 2) that it is retaining the 50-plus current Casa Bonita employees while the restaurant is closed and paying them to volunteer at local nonprofits.
  • Reese’s made national headlines with its Thanksgiving Pie – a comically large 3.4-pound, nine-inch diameter peanut butter cup. Reese’s offered 3,000 of the pies via its website, and they sold out in two hours.

Casa Bonita Selects Feed Media for PR Support

The bankruptcy and resurrection of iconic restaurant Casa Bonita, now owned by “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, has been quite the media story over the past few months. Casa Bonita has now retained Denver’s PR agency Feed Media to help provide strategy and direction to future media and social media coverage. One of Feed’s first assignments was this week’s announcement that the restaurant has hired three-time James Beard-nominated Denver chef Dana Rodriguez as its executive chef.

SE2 Takes Principled Stand Against Facebook

“Until Facebook institutes meaningful changes that contribute to our collective good, we will no longer recommend to our clients that they spend money on its products, including paid promotion of their content on Facebook or Instagram. Furthermore, SE2 will no longer spend its own money on Facebook’s platforms. (In just the past two years, our own spending on Facebook platforms totaled over $15,000.)”

SE2’s Eric Anderson, Susan Morrisey and Brandon Zelasko in a blog post announcing the firm’s new policy

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • In a story that you won’t see on 9News or any other Denver TV station due to professional courtesy, former 9News reporter Kristen Aguirre has sued the station, alleging racial and disability-related discrimination.
  • The University of California Hastings College of the Law, the state’s first law school and home to a number of prominent lawyers including Vice President Kamala Harris, is dropping the name of its founder, Serranus Clinton Hastings. The decision follows the commission of a report that determined that Hastings profited off the killings and displacement of Native Americans in Northern California.
  • A Colorado Business Committee for the Arts study found that the pandemic wiped away nearly a decade’s worth of growth in Denver’s art community. That impact totals nearly $1 billion in economic losses over the past year and a half.
  • In what appears to be a soccer version of a Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding situation, Paris Saint-Germain’s Aminata Diallo was arrested by French police following an attack in which two hooded men beat her teammate on the legs with iron bars. Diallo then replaced her injured teammate in the line-up in a game that preceded her arrest.
  • We’re still two weeks away from Thanksgiving, but KOSI 101 has already started its annual holiday transition to 24-hour-a-day Christmas music. KOSI program director Jim Lawson said, “We’ve had listeners asking us to change to Christmas music since Labor Day.”
  • Erratic CEO Elon Musk offered to let Twitter followers decide if he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla, but news reports noted that a sale was inevitable given that he has a $15 billion tax bill coming due.
  • Students at Armstrong High School in Pennsylvania have been banned from the school’s hockey games after they targeted an opposing female goaltender with vulgar and sexist chants. Armstrong’s principal said he was “disgusted” that parents and security guards did nothing to stop the chants.
  • Westword noted that part of the current substitute teacher shortage in metro Denver schools could be that people can “sometimes make more money serving burgers at In-N-Out than doing the often difficult, consistently stressful work of educating the next generation of metro residents.” 

So who won the week?

  • The Welton Street Cafe has struggled during the pandemic, in part because its current building in Five Points has had significant HVAC issues. But the iconic restaurant announced that it has signed a new lease in a different building one block north of its current location, giving hope that the 35-year-old restaurant will continue its run for years to come.
  • Denver homeowners can expect home values to remain high as a new report found that demand for homes continues to outstrip supply.

What Impact Could Stan Kroenke’s NFL Legal Woes Have on the Avs, Nuggets, Rapids & Altitude Sports?

As the owner of the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) – a holding company that in turn owns the Altitude Sports network, Ball Arena and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, among other things – Stan Kroenke wields outsize influence in Denver’s sports community.

Despite this presence locally, it is his ownership of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams – and the franchise’s relocation from St. Louis to L.A. in 2016 – that is causing the biggest headlines and headaches for the billionaire mogul. Prior to relocating the Rams, Kroenke signed an indemnification agreement with the NFL protecting the league and fellow owners from legal fees and judgments from any suit filed by St. Louis related to the team’s departure.

However, ESPN reported that four years and millions of dollars in legal fees later, Kroenke is now trying to narrow the scope of that indemnification. That concerns his fellow owners because St. Louis has been on a roll legally and the idea that it could be owed multi-billions of dollars in real and punitive damages is becoming more likely. A sports legal analyst said recently that a potential judgment “could wipe out a minimum of half of Stan Kroenke’s net worth.

Which begs the question: what would happen to Kroenke’s Colorado assets if he was hit with such a judgment. Would the teams and stadiums immediately go up for sale? KSE has been in a three-year stalemate with DISH and Comcast over carriage rights to Altitude Sports, and as a result has been subsidizing the money-losing network. Would that continue?

GFM, Turner Lead Colorado PR Firms on Outside Magazine’s ‘Best Places to Work’ List

Outside Magazine released its 2021 Best Places to Work list, and Colorado companies again dominated. In fact, 26 of the 50 companies selected are based in Colorado. Below is the list of public relations, advertising and digital marketing firms that Outside recognized:

5. Fortnight Collective, a Boulder advertising agency
10. Booyah Advertising, a Denver digital marketing agency
17. GroundFloor Media, a Denver public relations and digital marketing agency
19. Parallel Path, a Boulder digital marketing firm focused on health and wellness
42. Turner, a Denver-based public relations and digital communications agency

Among the Colorado firms recognized in the honorable mention category were:

  • Backbone Media, a Carbondale brand marketing and public relations agency
  • Egg Strategy, a Denver marketing strategy firm
  • SRG, a Boulder brand consulting and creative services agency
  • TDA_Boulder, a Boulder advertising agency
  • Verde Brand Communications, a Boulder media and digital marketing firm
  • WorkInProgress, a Boulder advertising and public relations firm

Industry Pub Names Fox31 the Fourth-Worst TV Station to Work For in America

FTVLive, an inside-baseball publication that covers the industry of television news, has named Fox31 as the fourth-worst TV station to work for in America.

Explaining its ranking, FTVLive said it “often hears from staffers at the Denver station and their complaints are numerous. Many feel that managers play favorites and if you are not sucking up to the boss, you are on the outside looking in. ‘It should be about the job you do and not how much you kiss ass,’ said one station employee told FTVLive.”

Celebrity Activists Pressure Edelman to Drop Fossil Fuel Clients

More than 100 influencers and celebrity activists have signed an open letter to Edelman protesting the firm’s representation of ExxonMobil, Shell and “organizations that deny climate change and promote the agenda of the world’s worst polluters.” Signatories include Amy Poehler, David Cross, Amy Schumer, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Milla Jovovich.

Edelman has been on the defensive about fossil fuel clients for several years, and earlier this year CEO Richard Edelman described his firm’s work for ExxonMobil as economic in nature. “We do not talk about any opposition to climate legislation and our work is to do with job creation, economic opportunity and land access,” he said.

Denver’s Top Parking Enforcer Voids 21 Tickets on His Own Car, Claims Secret Program to Test His Ticket-Writers

Brian Maass at CBS4: “A CBS4 Investigation has found Denver’s Director of Right of Way Enforcement, Jonathan Featherston, received 21 parking citations on his personal car in 2021 and 2020. He ordered every one of the citations canceled, with Featherston now explaining that he received the tickets while he was engaging in a secret ‘mystery shop’ campaign to test how well parking agents were doing in handing out parking tickets.”

“The curious practice came to light when a whistleblower in the Right Of Way Enforcement division noticed what Featherston was doing and filed a complaint in September with the city Board of Ethics, suggesting Featherston was engaged in ‘questionable ethical conduct,’ using his public position for private gain.”

“In his ethics complaint, which was obtained by CBS4, a supervisor under Featherston- noted that he believed what Featherston had done might amount to fraud. ‘Employees who receive a parking citation shall pay their citation, go before the parking magistrate or schedule a court date to contest their citation’, wrote the employee. None of that occurred with Featherston’s tickets – instead he just ordered them dismissed. The employee called Featherston’s actions ‘unethical conduct by a higher ranking DOTI (Department of Transportation and Infrastructure) official. The type of conduct found has resulted in disciplinary action and/or termination with past employees.'”

Photo of Jason Alexander as embattled NYC parking commissioner Marion Sandusky in the movie, “The Paper.” This is who I imagine Jonathan Featherston to be. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver residents continue to mourn the loss of the fabled Denver Diner that was located at Colfax Ave. and Speer Blvd. And this week’s news that banking Goliath JPMorgan Chase purchased the building and plans to convert it into a bank branch didn’t help.
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has claimed for months that he has been “immunized” against COVID-19. It turns out that what he meant was that he received a homeopathic treatment to try to raise his antibody levels. The MVP candidate has now tested positive for the coronavirus and is ineligible to play against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend.
  • The air rage epidemic may be spreading. A Southwest Airlines pilot is accused of assaulting a fellow crew member at a Doubletree hotel bar over a dispute about wearing masks. The pilot was cited for assault and battery.
  • Zillow announced it will stop buying and flipping homes and will cut its workforce by 25% after it purchased too many homes at higher prices than it now expects to sell them. The company reported it lost $304 million in Q3.
  • Italy and Croatia are fighting a wine-related trademark war over the name Prosecco.
  • Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was cut by the team and faces up to 26 years in jail following a car wreck that killed a 23-year-old woman. Ruggs III was reportedly traveling 156 mph and had a blood alcohol level of 0.161.
  • Actor Chris Pratt is facing criticism for an Instagram post that appears to throw shade on his ex-wife, actress Anna Faris, and his own nine-year-old son who was born prematurely and has faced health issues throughout his young life.

So who won the week?

The Business Impact of COVID on PR Agencies

From Aleda Stam at PRWeek:

“Interpublic Group agency Golin saw revenue from healthcare work rise 18% year to date. The agency’s healthcare practice and Virgo Health, Golin’s healthcare communications agency, brought on 33 new employees in 2021 just to handle the extra work.” …

“FleishmanHillard saw a similar jump of 15% in revenue year over year from its healthcare practice and won close to $30 million in new client work before Q4 2021, according to Anne de Schweinitz, Fleishman’s global managing director of healthcare. Healthcare is the firm’s largest individual practice at almost a quarter of the work the agency does.” …

“Edelman’s healthcare practice accounts for 21% of the agency’s global revenue — or more than $176 million annually — according to Kirsty Graham, Edelman’s global chair of health. The practice also grew 19% in revenues year over year in 2021.”

Who Went Where

  • Lauren Noser joined GroundFloor Media as director of Communications. She previously was a senior policy and advocacy coordinator at Children’s Hospital Colorado. GFM also promoted Amy Moynihan to the position of vice president.
  • Mikayla Ortega was named PIO for the Denver Office of Emergency Management. She previously was a senior assignment editor at KMGH/Denver7.
  • CenterTable added Diana Harper as assistant editor and creative services coordinator.
  • 104West Partners hired Kiley Hayward as a director to help lead the agency’s newest accounts. Hayward previously served as a managing supervisor at FleishmanHillard and also spent time at Porter Novelli and Edelman.
  • Linhart PR announced it has added Drew Howland as an account executive, and Sari Winston and Alicia Whitman as account associates.
  • CBS4 promoted Kristine Strain to the role of news director. She previously was assistant news director and she replaces Tim Wieland, who was promoted to general manager. The station also added reporter Marissa Armas who previously worked at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque.
  • Fox31 added Talya Cunningham as co-anchor to its 4 pm weekday newscast. She previously was with WRIC-TV in Richmond, Va.
  • The Colorado Sun added Tatiana Flowers as its reporter covering social and economic inequality issues.
  • Colorado Community Media added Kristen Fiore as its West Metro editor.