Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Comms Director Resigns After 2 Weeks

Two weeks after being named communications director for Rep. Lauren Boebert, Ben Goldey has resigned. Lachlan Markay at Axios reports:

“Ben Goldey’s resignation cited last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which followed efforts by Boebert and lawmakers to block certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The Hill veteran’s departure highlights the deep divide among Republicans over President Trump’s conduct.”

“Goldey said in a statement to Axios: ‘Following the events of January 6th, I’ve decided to part ways with the office. I wish her and the people of Colorado’s Third District the best.’ … Boebert is a strident Trump supporter firmly on the right flank of the House GOP caucus. She was clear about her views during her campaign, but they have suddenly become politically toxic following last week’s attack.” …

“Goldey, by contrast, has a more establishment pedigree. He was the press secretary at the Department of Interior until this year, and previously worked for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

Great Moments in Repeating the Negative

“Saying that I have ‘contributed nothing of value to support the ideals of either the Benson Center or CU Boulder’ is preposterous …,” said John Eastman, CU Boulder’s visiting conservative scholar, to the Boulder Daily Camera.

Professor Eastman caused controversy for his remarks at the Washington, D.C., rally for President Trump prior to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. His spring classes at CU Boulder have since been cancelled due to low enrollment.

Novitas Communications Promotes Krista Crouch to VP

Denver-based Novitas Communications has promoted Krista Crouch to vice president. Crouch has more than 15 years of experience in communications, public relations and digital media, and she manages clients in a number of industries, including finance, healthcare, tourism, government, oil and gas, and associations.  

Crouch has worked with media internationally including top-tier media outlets in the U.S. such as the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, CNN, ABC News, Bloomberg, Reuters, Cheddar, and many other national and local media outlets.

Chaotic Year Undermines Trust in Businesses, Government & Media, According to Annual Edelman Report

Edelman has released its 2021 Trust Barometer report and the bottom line appears to be that the COVID-19 pandemic, among other 2020 challenges, has sent trust in government, business and media on the fun part of a rollercoaster ride.

“Trust declined across all institutions… . Only 59% of respondents said they trust businesses to do the right thing; 57% felt that way about the government and 56% about NGOs. Only half of those queried said they trust the media to do the right thing,” reports Thomas Moore at PRWeek.

Edelman CEO Richard Edelman cited three takeaways:

“The first is that business has become the most trusted institution. That is a significant change from May when we did the spring trust update and when we saw the government leading the pack for the first time. Now government has fallen off significantly.”

Second, “the data shows people distrust the information they’re being given from most sources. … You saw the result of [this] last week in the Capitol being stormed with false hopes. You also see it in vaccine hesitancy.”

“The third story here is the real fall from grace of the U.S. and China. The Chinese because of being the place where COVID-19 started but also because they kept the story under wraps and people were irritated by that. And then the United States, because we’re the worst country in the world in terms of managing the pandemic, and we’ve lost a lot of ground that way.”

CU Denver Names Marie Williams Vice Chancellor for Communications

The University of Colorado Denver named Marie Williams its new vice chancellor for communications. From the announcement:

“Williams has served in senior leadership roles at public relations agencies and within higher education, most recently as vice president of marketing and communications at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. At CU Denver, Williams will lead the 18-person University Communications team responsible for external and internal communications, media relations, marketing, brand strategy, social media, and web development.”

“Williams began her public relations career in editor roles at the University of Pennsylvania (her alma mater) and Temple University. For the next six years, she worked in the private sector, in communication and marketing positions for Pennsylvania companies, including PECO Energy and The Pep Boys. From 2007-18, Williams held leadership roles for the education practices at two New York-based public relations agencies, serving as senior managing director at RF|Binder Partners and senior vice president at Edelman. Most recently, at Saint Joseph’s, she transformed the Office of Marketing and Communications into an in-house creative and strategic consultancy that has enhanced the visibility and reputation of the university.”

NBC Hockey Analyst Quietly Dropped Following String of Insensitive Statements

Emily Kaplan at ESPN: “NHL analyst Mike Milbury is out at NBC after 14 years with the network. The news came on Monday as NBC unveiled its game and studio commentary lineup for the 2021 NHL season, and Milbury was conspicuously absent.” […]

“Milbury, the former Boston Bruins and New York Islanders coach and GM, was pulled from NBC’s Stanley Cup playoff coverage in August after his on-air comments about players not being as distracted in the league’s bubble because no women were there in the league’s bubble.” […]

“Milbury had been flagged for insensitive comments several times during his tenure at NBC, including other instances last season. In a qualifying-round game between Pittsburgh and Montreal, Milbury said playing in an empty arena was like being at a college women’s hockey game.”

Advertising Powerhouse Crispin Porter + Bogusky Latest Marketing Firm to Leave Boulder for Denver

Dan Kika at the Boulder Daily Camera: “Crispin Porter + Bogusky is in the process of moving from Gunbarrel to a 20,000-square-foot office in McGregor Square in Denver’s LoDo District, according to a statement from the company. The move is expected to end in July.” […]

“Doyle Albee, the president and CEO of Boulder-based public relations agency MAPR, said CP+B’s move isn’t a large immediate loss for Boulder because the majority of the agency’s accounts are national. … He pointed out that Denver and other cities in Boulder County can offer far lower costs of living while providing the Front Range lifestyle that companies in the region leverage for recruiting employees.”

“’I’m not worried about Boulder becoming a ghost town by any stretch … but it underscores the fact that we are facing some very serious economic and lifestyle issues here that we need to proactively address on a daily basis, or we’re going to see more of this in the long run,’ Albee said.”

Savvy Public Relations Strategy Helped Make ‘James Bond’ an Icon

The James Bond movie franchise reached iconic status with the release of its third movie, “Goldfinger.” What was the secret to becoming one of the most beloved movie characters in history? Why, public relations, of course. Oscar Holland at CNN reports:

“In a then-unprecedented publicity move, journalists and photographers were invited to the Swiss Alps for the seven-day shoot, where they mingled with cast and crew members. The strategy appeared to work — ‘Goldfinger’ became, at the time, one of the box office’s highest-ever grossing movies.” 

“‘Almost every day was a press conference’ said Peter Waelty, co-author of the new book ‘The Goldfinger Files,’ over a video call. ‘The idea was to get into the newspapers before the film was even made.’ Reporters were also given detailed plot information, even though the movie was months away from release, he added. ‘They knew exactly who was going to die, who was going to win, what was going to happen. It’s unimaginable that this could happen nowadays.'”

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Are at ‘War’

The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts are in a “ground war” for the hearts and minds of America’s youth, and, as is the case in most of these situations, it is the lawyers who are winning.

Amid declining enrollment in 2017, the Boy Scouts changed its program to just “Scouts” and opened its ranks to both boys and girls. The Girl Scouts sued, alleging that the Boy Scouts are marketing its program in a way that infringes on the Girl Scouts’ trademark.

Great Moments in Journalism

The Hill: “Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo told viewers Wednesday that her show had been ‘punk’d’ after she interviewed an animal rights activist who claimed he was the CEO of the pork producer and food-processing company Smithfield Foods.”

“The segment earlier on in the show was presented as an interview with CEO Dennis Organ on the process of coronavirus vaccines being distributed to food workers at the company, which had an outbreak of coronavirus cases at one of its plants.”

“However, as it was later revealed, Bartiromo was actually speaking to Direct Action Everywhere activist Matt Johnson, who remained in character as Organ for the nearly six minute interview.”

Defying Expectations, Corona Beer Holds Steady During its ‘Eponymous’ Pandemic

One of the early predictions of the pandemic was that Corona was in real trouble because beer drinkers would associate the brand with Coronavirus. Stuck in a position that didn’t really have a playbook, Corona even tried to lean into the association last spring, only to quickly realize that it was a bad idea.

Good news for the brand, however. A Wall Street Journal article headlined, “Echo of Coronavirus Didn’t Keep Beer Drinkers From Corona” reports that its sales are doing just fine:

“In-store spending on Corona-branded beer and hard seltzer in the U.S. comprised 6.78% of the category this year through Dec. 6, essentially unchanged from the equivalent period a year prior, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.”

“Excluding fast-growing spiked seltzers—such as Corona Hard Seltzer, which was introduced during the pandemic—the story was the same: Corona’s share of in-store beer sales through Dec. 6 held steady with a year earlier, IRI said.”

“’There wasn’t really any kind of negative impact on Corona sales,’ said Vivien Azer, managing director and senior research analyst at investment bank Cowen Inc. ‘That’s clear in the data.'”

Boulder’s MAPRagency Partners with Stryker-Munley Group

Boulder’s MAPRagency is partnering with South Carolina-based Stryker-Munley Group (SMG) in an arrangement that gives MAPRagency additional resources and capabilities, and SMG additional geographic reach.

SMG is a national integrated public relations and marketing communication agency, and now has nine independently owned offices in Boston, Boulder, Charleston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Knoxville, Portland and San Antonio.

Great Moments in College Bowl Games

Army had a great football season – it went 9-2 while winning the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy for head-to-head wins over both Navy and Air Force. So which bowl game will it be attending? None. Army has been left out of any bowl game due to a number of them being cancelled and byzantine contracts between bowls and conferences.

Adding insult to injury, the Armed Forces Bowl selected 6-2 Tulsa and 3-7 Mississippi State.

UPDATE: Army will now face West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl after the University of Tennessee had to withdraw due to positive COVID-19 tests among players and coaches.

Denver’s Dominion Voting Systems Retains D.C. PR Firm to Combat Fraud Allegations

Daily Beast: “A voting machine company baselessly accused by President Trump and pro-Trump conspiracy theorists of illegally tipping the 2020 presidential contest is working with one of Washington, D.C.’s most prominent public relations firms to beat back the allegations.”

“Shortly after the election, (Denver- and Toronto-based) Dominion Voting Systems hired the firm Hamilton Place Strategies to coordinate a public relations campaign responding to the outlandish claims by the president, his legal team, and their supporters, according to Michael Steel, a HPS partner and former spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.”

Critics Accuse Tattered Cover of ‘Highjacking’ BLM Movement Amid Minority Ownership Claims

“The local and national investors who bought Denver’s Tattered Cover book stores have watched as reactions roll in to their purchase, ranging from joy at the local chain’s apparent salvation to fury that its owners would dare claim it as the nation’s largest Black-owned book store,” John Wenzel from The Denver Post reports. …

“However, skeptics of the deal say the Tattered Cover invited this scrutiny for claiming to be the largest Black-owned book store in the United States despite Pearson being the only Black person in the mostly white, 13-member investment group.”

“Shortly after the sale was made public, Black booksellers across the U.S. denounced the Black-owned claim as an insulting marketing ploy that ignores their work, at best, and at worst, cynically hijacks this year’s Black Lives Matter progress for commercial purposes.”

PRWeek’s ‘Best Places to Work’ Overwhelmingly Excludes Non-Coastal Firms, Companies

PRWeek is out with its annual ranking of its Best Places to Work, and it identified 23 winners in five categories: Small Agency, Midsize Agency, Large Agency, Extra Large Agency and In-house Teams.

As has become common for PRWeek’s various lists, non-coastal firms are largely excluded. Here’s how the “Best Places” list broke down geographically:

  • 0% – Denver
  • 0% – Colorado
  • 0% – Rocky Mountain Region
  • 4% – Midwest
  • 22% – San Francisco Bay Area
  • 26% – West Coast (Calif. & Wash.)
  • 39% – New York City area
  • 61% – New York City area & California
  • 70% – East Coast (NY, NJ, DC, Va., Fla., Ga.)

The only winner not located in a coastal state was Belle Communication in Columbus, Ohio.

2020’s Biggest PR Disasters

It has been quite a year, one that I doubt any of us will forget. We had a global pandemic, an unprecedented economic crisis and record unemployment. We witnessed widespread protests against racism and racial injustice, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1960s. We saw the impeachment of a U.S. president, and the shocking deaths of the Black Mamba (Kobe Bryant) and the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).

All of that certainly overshadowed the PR disasters we experienced this year. In fact, if you were going to have a PR disaster, this was the year to do it. Below are some of the most high-profile mistakes that were made this year. I hope you enjoy them. And, as usual, I excluded most political ones because there are just too many and we are so polarized that everyone views them through a partisan lens.

Jeffrey Toobin
Lawyer, author and cable-news legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin reminded everyone that there are worse things than mindlessly scrolling Twitter when you are on an interminable Zoom call (you’ll have to read the details for yourself). Unfortunately for Toobin, the New Yorker fired him immediately. Fortunately for Toobin, CNN took a much, ahem, softer approach, allowing the analyst to take a leave of absence to address a “personal issue.” 

Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo has made a lot of bad headlines the last few years, such as the $3 billion fine it paid after illegally targeting senior citizens and retirees for services they did not request and providing substandard investment advice. With that speed bump in the rear-view mirror, the company was free to look forward to new opportunities to make headlines. And it did just that in September when its CEO blamed the bank’s lack of diversity on the “very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from.”

Tyson Foods
Managers at a Tyson Foods plant in Iowa allegedly ordered employees to report for work while they secretly wagered money on the number of workers who would contract COVID-19. The details were shared as part of a lawsuit against Tyson, and specifically alleged that the plant manager “organized a cash-buy-in, winner-take-all, betting pool for supervisors and managers.” 

CrossFit
The founder and CEO of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, resigned after making inflammatory comments online about the death of George Floyd. The comments caused high-profile CrossFit sponsor Reebok to drop its affiliation with the organization, and dozens of local CrossFit franchises quickly rebranded without the CrossFit name. 

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) regulates, not surprisingly, the oil-and-gas industry in Colorado, and part of that job requires carefully balancing the needs of the industry with the needs of the state’s communities. Building trust and credibility with all its stakeholders is critical. Alas, in November, the COGCC was forced to apologize after sending an inappropriate email ridiculing the very companies it regulates. Staff members testing a new e-filing system inadvertently sent an email to hundreds of oil and gas workers statewide that referred to fictitious companies such as “‘Snake Oil Inc.,” its law firm “Blah Blah Blah,” and its cause or case number “666.”

Continue reading “2020’s Biggest PR Disasters”

Fox31 Presents Corporate Press Release on DISH Dispute as ‘News’ on its Website

Fox31’s parent company, Nexstar, is in a carriage dispute with DISH, and it has put the editorial staff at the station in an awkward position as to how to cover a story the station is involved in.

It appears, however, Nexstar has solved that conflict of interest by letting its public relations staff cover the issue rather than its reporters. This morning, Fox31 posted a press release from Nexstar as a news article in the “News” section of the Fox31 website.

Father Woody, Former PR Director for Archdiocese of Denver, Implicated in Sexual Abuse Scandal

Arguably Denver’s best-known priest – the late Father C.B. Woodrich, better known as “Father Woody” – is the latest Catholic Church figure to be caught up in Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s investigation into sexual abuse, according to Kevin Vaughan at 9News.

“For years, he was in essence the church’s public face in the metro area, serving as the archdiocese’s director of public relations from 1969 to 1986 and as editor of the Denver Catholic Register from 1972 to 1986.”

Coalition of Activist PR Professionals Targeting Agencies that ‘Greenwash’

Kevin McCauley at O’Dwyer’s reports: “PR firms have been put on notice that their ‘multimillion-dollar greenwashing and misinformation campaigns’ for fossil fuel clients that delay action on global warming are going to be outed, according to the Clean Creatives organization, a group of communications professionals supported by Fossil Free Media.”

“Launched Nov. 19, CC aims to reveal the relationships between PR firms and fossil fuel clients, organize staffers who ‘feel conflicted about making propaganda for oil and gas companies’ and contact sustainability-minded clients who might feel unhappy that their firm is actively undermining progress on climate change, according to a statement from Jamie Henn of Fossil Free Media.”

Quote of the Day

“What’s interesting is you have to always be on, which is tough. You would like to just have general conversations, but at the same time you have to understand this new-age media is a different age. It’s not just print as it might have been before. There’s a lot more people who want to get their name out there and build their base of followers. You have journalists who are brands now.”

– Former Denver Nugget and current Miami Heat player Andre Iguodala describing the evolving nature of his interactions with media to The Athletic.

PRSA Colorado Announces 2021 Board

Congratulations to the 2021 members of the PRSA Colorado board:

Executive Committee
• President: Michelle Ellis, Ellis Communications Marketing
• President-elect: Jose Salas, Denver Water
• Immediate past-president: Geoff Renstrom, Attune Public Relations
• Secretary: Emily Rado, Linhart Public Relations
• Treasurer: Jennifer Tilliss, Purpose Communications

Assembly Delegates
• Sam Aspnes, APR, CIG Public Relations
• Michelle Balch Lyng, Novitas Communications
• Marissa Pooley, APR, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
• Whei Wong, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Directors
• Brook Gabbert, PennStreet Communications and Study.com
• Liz Kamper, CBRE
• Stacee Martin, APR, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
• Liz Viscardi, APR, LV Events and PR
• Kelly Wagoner, The Piton Foundation

In-N-Out Burger Wins the Week

This week, In-N-Out Burger leveraged scarcity marketing to heights of success not seen since Coors convinced Burt Reynolds to make a movie about smuggling 400 cases of its signature beer from Texarkana to Atlanta.

In-N-Out opened its first two locations in Colorado – Aurora and Colorado Springs – and media outlets around the world reported on the 12 to 14 hours Coloradans were apparently willing to wait in line for a shot at a fast food cheeseburger. (Bonus points to Britain’s Daily Mail for capturing a fist fight that erupted in the line.)

Locally, reporters and media outlets were quick to roll their eyes at the wait times, but they still contributed to the avalanche of media coverage. Mitchell Byars at the Boulder Daily Camera noted that you could drive all the way to In-N-Out’s Las Vegas location in less time, and Westword used the opportunity to showcase its list of 10 Best locally-owned burger joints.

Photo: Christian Murdock/The Gazette

Lawsuit: Tyson managers bet money on how many workers would contract COVID-19

“A wrongful death lawsuit tied to COVID-19 infections in a Waterloo pork processing plant alleges that during the initial stages of the pandemic, Tyson Foods ordered employees to report for work while supervisors privately wagered money on the number of workers who would be sickened by the deadly virus,” Clark Kauffman at the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports.

“The lawsuit was recently amended and includes a number of new allegations against the company and plant officials. Among them: … plant manager Tom Hart organized a cash-buy-in, winner-take-all, betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many plant employees would test positive for COVID-19.”

State Agency Plays Defense After Mocking Oil-and-Gas Companies it Regulates

Shaun Boyd at CBS4: “The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is apologizing after sending an inappropriate email ridiculing the very companies it regulates. CBS4 has learned that staff members at COGCC were testing a new e-filing system when they inadvertently sent an email to hundreds of oil and gas workers across the state.”

“The email called the companies they work for names that you don’t expect from people who are supposed to be fair and unbiased.”

“The email arrived early Sunday morning with a list of oil and gas companies that had upcoming hearings. The names of the companies included ‘Snake Oil Inc.,’ it’s law firm ‘Blah Blah Blah’ and its cause or case number ‘666’ – a designation for the devil.” …

“A spokesperson for COGCC released a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying: ‘We apologize that some of the names used during this testing were not professionally chosen. The employees involved in this situation have had this addressed by their supervisors. This unfortunate incident does not reflect upon the quality of work that has been and will be conducted by COGCC for all its customers. COGCC has more than 70 years of experience working with our industry partners in oil and gas operations. We are committed to continue to uphold the oil and gas regulations in a transparent, fair and legal manner.’”

‘If she weren’t such a great PR person, no one would have known about her breakdown’

Nobody understands how to sell a comeback better than a PR executive. On a related note, The Washington Post profiled the woman who went viral for destroying a COVID-19 mask display at a Target – she’s the CEO of a Phoenix PR firm and she grew up in Denver.

As you might expect, she’s actually a super-terrific-yet-tragically-misunderstood person who was reacting to the stress of COVID-19 that caused her to miss her annual summer vacation in Greece. You try missing a year in Greece without destroying display racks – I dare you.

If you would like to know more, she currently is authoring a memoir titled You Can’t Cancel Me — The Story of My Life. I’m not making that up.

Photo: Dominic Valente for The Washington Post

Colorado Agencies Recognized in PRSA Silver Anvil Awards

PRSA announced the winners of its annual Silver Anvil awards for outstanding campaigns, and there were a few with Colorado connections:

  • Silver Anvil Award: Turner PR
    “Space City: The Moon Landing 50th Anniversary” campaign for Houston First Corporation
  • Silver Anvil Award: M&C Communications
    “Hate Speech, Guns and Potential Lawsuits at a Small-Town High School” campaign for City of Manitou Springs
  • Award of Excellence: Ayers PR and Sukle Advertising & Design
    “Generation Wild” campaign for Great Outdoors Colorado
  • Award of Excellence: Fyn PR
    “Love Locks Lead to Valentine’s Day Tourism” campaign for Visit Loveland

Forbes’ List of 200 Best PR Agencies Nationally Includes 4 from Colorado

Congratulations to my colleagues at GroundFloor Media and to the teams at 104 West, COHN and SideCar PR for being named to Forbes‘ inaugural list of “America’s Best PR Agencies.”

To create the list, Forbes partnered with Statista to survey “more than 12,700 experts and 20,500 customers who nominated more than 5,000 firms. Participants were asked to indicate how likely they were to nominate a particular agency on a scale of zero (very unlikely) to 10 (very likely).” 

Girl Scouts Inexplicably Volunteer to Become a Political Football

The biggest PR disasters often are those that are self-inflicted, and the Girl Scouts are the latest organization to prove this point.

For the record, I love the Girl Scouts. My daughter was a card-carrying member, and who doesn’t love their cookies? But tweeting about the confirmation of arguably the most controversial U.S. Supreme Court Justice in the past century one week before one of the nastiest presidential elections in modern times is just asking – no, begging – for trouble.

Unsurprisingly, it turned into the usual three-act play:

Act 1: Tweet something controversial about a 50-50 issue.

Act 2: Feel the withering backlash from 50% of the people; try to back away from the issue.

Act 3: Incur the wrath of the 50% of people on the other side of the issue for trying to back away from the issue; slowly realize that you have pissed off approximately 100% of people.

The Girl Scouts is a beloved organization that will withstand the criticism because of the strength of its reputation (see Susan G. Komen Foundation). But it was an unforced error, and displayed a stunning lack of understanding about today’s political climate.

Quote of the Day

“Just an astoundingly irresponsible decision to publish this, by someone so naive and out of touch with reality that they don’t realize that they’re actively helping endanger a fellow journalist. For the past two weeks people associated with the rally have been actively threatening journalists in general and (Kyle Clark) specifically, something that the state’s largest newspaper in effect just co-signed. Just when you think the bar for that opinion section can’t get any lower.”

– Chase Woodruff of Colorado Newsline, commenting on The Denver Post’s contributed opinion column criticizing 9News’ Kyle Clark.

Colorado Republicans Dial Up Pressure on Kyle Clark, 9News Following Protest Shooting

Daniel Cole writing in The Denver Post: “9News would have problems in the wake of Lee Keltner’s killing regardless, but the station’s problems are worse because its most prominent anchor frequently targets for ridicule the same kind of person Matthew Dolloff targeted with his gun.”

“Two weeks ago, Kyle Clark’s tweets were cute enough, if you didn’t mind seeing your neighbors bullied by the local newscaster. Now, a growing number of Coloradans are reading Clark’s commentary differently: as inexcusably hostile toward the Lee Keltners of our state, who deserve better than the treatment they receive from 9News’ anchors and security guards alike.’

“Certain other journalists have long recognized that Clark damages the brand — both his station’s and their profession’s. The Colorado Springs Gazette in an editorial identified Clark as ‘a liberal political activist.’ Veteran Colorado reporter Joey Bunch said, ‘Kyle is kind of a quasi-newsman.'”

“But while others have critiqued, Clark’s superiors have been content to watch him transform the 6:00 news into half-an-hour of preening sanctimony, and his social media channels into bloody political bludgeons. As Clark abuses his position under their watch, they richly deserve the problems he has created for them now.”

Tesla Eliminates PR Department

I’ve worked with a lot of engineers over the years, and they are almost always challenging from a marketing perspective. They tend to believe that marketing and public relations are superfluous. If you build the best product, they reason, the market will recognize that and your product will become the market leader. Marketing is a bastardization of the natural process.

I was reminded of that this week when I saw that Elon Musk has eliminated Tesla’s PR department. Sadly, Musk is confusing Tesla’s market cap for reputation and his Twitter account for marketing. That could spell in trouble as Tesla begins to be known more for failed customer service than being the only high-performing electric vehicle manufacturer.

Marty Coniglio Explains Decision to ‘Blow Up 35-Year Career’ with Anti-Trump Tweet

Longtime Denver meteorologist Marty Coniglio was fired by 9News for a social media post that compared federal troops policing cities to Nazis. He explains his reasoning in a bylined article in Westword today:

“Better to be a good American than a good employee. Distilled to its most elemental expression, that is the reason why I blew up a 35-year career in broadcast media to add my voice to the alarms sounding about the current state of our Republic.”

“My former employer did the right thing in firing me. They set the rules, standards of conduct and guidelines for content. Break them and you pay. I did and I did.”

“To anyone gleefully saying that I got what I deserved, I agree, so let’s move on…back to our imperiled democracy.”

Kraft Mac & Cheese Ups its Stunt Marketing Game with Cheeky #SendNoods Campaign

I don’t know who woke up the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese marketing team, but they are on fire lately. The company unveiled a cheeky #SendNoods campaign today and it has quickly blown through its allotment of free Mac & Cheese.

This stunt marketing campaign follows several recent other ones – two months ago, Kraft relabeled some of its Mac & Cheese boxes as “breakfast food” for parents running short on patience during the pandemic, and last month it released a limited edition Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese because, you know, fall.

(Photo: Top View Magazine Mockup by Anthony Boyd Graphics)

‘This film is aboot an unnerappreciatit boxin trainer’

From Edward Ongweso Jr. at Vice: “For over six years, one Wikipedia user—AmaryllisGardener—has written well over 23,000 articles on the Scots Wikipedia and done well over 200,000 edits. The only problem is that AmaryllisGardener isn’t Scottish, they don’t speak Scots, and none of their articles are written in Scots.”

“Since 2013, this user—a selfprofessed Christian INTP furry living somewhere in North Carolina—has simply written articles that are written in English, riddled with misspellings that mimic a spoken Scottish accent. … On a page about the movie Million Dollar Baby, AmaryllisGardener wrote ‘This film is aboot an unnerappreciatit boxin trainer.’ This sort of language is repeated across all 23,000 articles they wrote, as well as in the articles they edited; because they are an admin of the site, they have the ability to control much of what ultimately stays on it.”

If you, like me, have been waiting for Subway to have its annual PR crisis, you can relax

CBS News reports:

“Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled that bread sold by the fast food chain Subway contains so much sugar that it cannot be legally defined as bread. The ruling came in a tax dispute brought by Bookfinders Ltd., an Irish Subway franchisee, which argued that some of its takeaway products – including teas, coffees and heated sandwiches – were not liable for value-added tax.”

How COVID-19 & BLM Movement are Changing PR Agencies

In a sign of how COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement are creating fundamental, long-term changes at public relations agencies, Weber Shandwick has hired a Chief Workforce Innovation and Operations Officer. From Aleda Stam at PR Week:

Weber Shandwick has hired Brian Offutt as chief workforce innovation and operations officer. Offutt starts in the newly created position on Thursday, reporting to Weber Shandwick president and CEO Gail Heimann. He will be responsible for evolving the firm’s workplace and workforce, focusing on preparing the agency for a hybrid work environment and ensuring inclusivity and equity. 

“‘It became clear to us during the coronavirus pandemic that we needed to approach innovation with the same rigor and vigor that we approach our client work,” said Heimann. ‘We recognize that talent is the soul of the firm, and building our workforce in a hybrid situation with inclusion is critical to our continued leadership in the industry and beyond.'” 

Edelman Sees Light at End of COVID-19 Tunnel, Restores Staff Salaries

“Edelman is restoring staff salaries cut due to COVID-19 and is making hires and investment again, as the agency begins to bounce back after being forced to make mass redundancies in June,” Maja Pawinska Sims at Provoke Media reports.

“Edelman also said that the world’s largest PR firm was ‘making hires again in fast-growing areas like financial PR and healthcare.’ … Edelman described the firm’s performance over the past six months as ‘like a coffee cup’ with a steep decline, a flat base and now starting to rise again.”

Husband of Former 9News Sports Anchor Accused of Sexual Assault at CSU Stadium

A Colorado State University student has filed suit against the school after she claims she was sexually assaulted by Michael Best, the husband of former 9News sports anchor and current KOA NewsRadio Broncos sideline reporter Susie Wargin, CBS4 reports.

“(The student) said she loved her job working as a waitress at the CSU football stadium. She had worked there for a year, and said it was a great experience. That all changed in fall of 2019 when she claims prominent donor, Michael Best, husband of local radio personality and realtor Susie Wargin, touched her inappropriately and called her vulgar names while she was serving him in his private loge box.”

Centura Health’s St. Anthony Hospital an Indirect Sponsor of Anti-Mask Events at Bandimere Speedway

You would think a hospital system would be the least likely organization to support anti-maskers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Centura Health’s St. Anthony Hospital remains a sponsor of one of the state’s largest organizer’s of anti-mask protests – Bandimere Speedway.

Bandimere and Jeffco Public Health are locked in a legal battle over the county’s health orders requiring masks and social distancing. Earlier this week, Bandimere hosted a “COVID Chaos” protest event in which more than a thousand non-masked participants violated the county’s health orders and stood on the track shoulder-to-shoulder for a group photo as an expression of defiance.

And, despite this month’s long public health battle, St. Anthony Hospital remains listed on Bandimere’s website as one of its sponsors.

As Election Approaches, Trump Administration Offers $250M Comms RFP to Help ‘Defeat Despair’

Politico: “As the presidential election fast approaches, the Department of Health and Human Services is bidding out a more than $250 million contract to a communications firm as it seeks to “defeat despair and inspire hope” about the coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal HHS document obtained by POLITICO.”

“Several weeks ago, the department sent out to a number of communications firms a ‘performance work statement,’ which lays out what work will be expected of the winning firm. The document says that the vast majority of the money will be spent from now until January.”

“The document also lists the goals of the contract: ‘defeat despair and inspire hope, sharing best practices for businesses to operate in the new normal and instill confidence to return to work and restart the economy,’ build a ‘coalition of spokespeople’ around the country, provide important public health, therapeutic and vaccine information as the country reopens, and give Americans information on the phases of reopening.”

Local Sports Radio Host ‘D-Mac’ Tries to Move Past ‘N Word’ Fiasco

Local sports radio host Darren “D-Mac” McKee appears to have avoided termination following his posting of the N word on Twitter last week. Several current and former colleagues of color, including Alfred Williams and Chad Brown, gave McKee air cover by coming to his defense and offering character references.

However, national sports site Deadspin examined whether it is possible for a iPhone to autocorrect to the N Word (spoiler alert: nope). It also dug into McKee’s Twitter history to look for any previous examples, and suffice it to say the results aren’t helpful to McKee’s cause:

It should be an interesting week at McKee’s employer 104.3 The Fan as it determines how to handle this situation.

Digital Media Coverage Expands in Denver as Phil Anschutz Launches Denver Gazette

If you have felt that the Denver media market was missing a bit of the Colorado Springs Gazette, you are in luck. From media critic extraordinaire Corey Hutchins:

Six years after floating an idea that Clarity Media might relaunch The Rocky Mountain News and challenge The Denver Post, conservative Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz’s media company is going for it. Kind of. The company will launch what it’s calling an “interactive newspaper” in Denver but it won’t be in print. And Clarity didn’t revive the Rocky, though it owns its name and intellectual property. Instead, beginning next month with staff from the Gazette in Colorado Springs and ColoradoPolitics, along with some new hires, the company will launch The Denver Gazette, a daily digital news outlet. 

The Denver Gazette will be led by Publisher Chris Reen, Editor Vince Bzdek, News Editor Jim Bates and Digital Editor Chuck Hickey. Among the newspaper’s staff and contributors are familiar names to Denver including Lynn Bartels, Woody Paige, Joey Bunch and Paul Klee.

Perhaps the smartest take on the news came from Chalkbeat’s Susan Gonzalez via Twitter:

“Why do we keep opening news outlets based in cities that already have a robust media presence tho? All I can think of is the large swaths of Colorado that hardly get covered (or are complete news deserts) and how much good 50 reporters could do in those parts.”

 

‘She Couldn’t Even Pronounce Convalescent Plasma’

Sad news out of Washington, DC. FDA spokeswoman Emily Miller failed in her attempt to become the shortest-serving governmental spokesperson in the Trump administration when she inexplicably lasted 11 days – one day longer than former White House Director of Communications Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci.

If you are looking for the phrase that should be inscribed on her professional gravestone, it comes from a colleague of Miller’s: “She couldn’t even pronounce convalescent plasma.”

‘It’s So Finger Lickin’ Good it’s Worth Winding Up on a Ventilator’ Wasn’t Really an Option

If you saw the news this week that KFC is dropping its “Finger Lickin’ Good” tag line, you might think they are a little slow given that it has been five months since the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores. But give KFC’s marketers credit – they know how to make the most of a challenging situation.

Rather than quietly mothballing the tag line and moving on to something else, they have embraced the need to change it. And the result is a clever marketing campaign.

 

Westword Sources Claim COVID-19 ‘Cover-up’ at Fox31/KWGN

Michael Roberts at Westword has picked up the Fox31/KWGN COVID-19 story, and his sources at the stations allege that management engaged in a “cover-up:”

“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 PR Adds Managing Partner

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.

COVID-19 at Fox31/KWGN?

From Scott Jones at FTVLive:

“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.”

Cory Gardner’s Former Comms Director Behind Effort to Get Kanye West on Colorado Ballot

From Cameron Joseph at Vice:

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.

 

Denver Press Club to Honor PBS’s Judy Woodruff Virtually at Annual Runyon Event

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.”

More Than 1,000 Companies Boycotted Facebook. Did It Work?

Not really. From Tiffany Hsu and

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.

Q2 Earnings Show PR Agencies Taking Revenue Hit in the 4-15 Percent Range

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.”

9News, Meteorologist Marty Coniglio Separate After Controversial Social Media Post

It appears that 9News has let meteorologist Marty Coniglio go following his political social media post on Thursday:

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9News has removed Coniglio from its website, and, late Friday evening, Coniglio updated his Twitter bio to remove 9News references and posted a pinned Tweet:

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Coniglio originally planned to leave 9News on Dec. 30, but some organizational changes at 9News convinced him to remain. Now, seven months later, he is out. Marty Coniglio 9News KUSA fired nazi post

SSPR Named a ‘Top Place to Work’

PR News named SSPR one of its 50 “Top Places to Work” for the second year in a row.

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.”

RMGO’s Dudley Brown Should Quit While He’s Behind

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:

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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:

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Former 9News Anchor/Reporter Bazi Kanani Joins SE2

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.

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In Wyoming, Sunday May Replace Friday as the Day to Release Bad News

Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab:

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.

Casper Star Tribune(Photo: Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune)

NBC, Desperate for Content for its New Peacock Streaming Service, Launches ‘Today All Day’

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.

An Ode to the Local Reporter

Dan Barry at The New York Times:

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.

Colorado Marketing Firms Well-Represented on PPP Loans List

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
  • Verde – $150k–$350K, 18 jobs retained
  • GBSM – $150k–$350K, 12 jobs retained
  • Sukle – $150k–$350K, 12 jobs retained
  • Linhart PR – $150k–$350K, 11 jobs retained
  • 104 West – $150k–$350K, 11 jobs retained
  • Catalyst – $150k–$350K, 10 jobs retained

Colorado State Names Yolanda Bevill VP of Communications

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.”

Time Your Pitches Carefully – More Furloughs Ahead for Denver Post Staff

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.

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9News’ Jeremy Jojola Recognized for Journalistic Bravery

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.

JeremyJojola

 

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 ColoradoPolitics.com

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)