WTA Shows Other Leagues What Leadership Looks like

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is doing what no government or other sports organization, including the NBA and the IOC, will do: Hold China accountable for its human rights abuses.

Following concerns about the safety of tennis player Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view after making allegations of sexual assault against a former high-ranking Chinese government official, the head of the WTA announced that all of its tournaments would be suspended in the country until it was clear Peng was safe.

“Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation,” said WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon.

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.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Facebook is such a sketchy company that it decided it needed an alias. Meet Meta.
  • A New York woman was shocked – SHOCKED! – to discover that strawberry Pop-Tarts are not as healthy as she was led to believe. Despite sugar and corn syrup being two of the first three ingredients listed, it was actually the inclusion of pears and apples that sent her to her nearest class-action attorney. She wants $5 million.
  • An unnamed and lost hiker in Colorado declined repeated phone calls from search and rescue emergency personnel because he or she thought the unknown numbers were robocalls. Clearly people would rather die than hear about extended car warranties.
  • Researchers at George Washington University purchased food items from McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Taco Bell and Chipotle, all of which contained trace amounts of industrial chemicals called phthalates. These harmful chemicals are linked to a host of health problems ranging from fertility issues to learning and behavioral disorders in children. Bon appétit!
  • Former Colorado Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville was forced to resign as head coach of the Florida Panthers because of his knowledge and inaction related to a sex abuse scandal while coaching the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.
  • Florida police authorities acknowledged they lost track of fugitive Brian Laundrie when they mistook his mother who was wearing a baseball cap for him while surveilling his home. A North Port Police Department spokesperson said, “No case is perfect,” while Laundrie’s mother likely said something like, “What the hell? I look just like a guy?”
  • Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston offered its chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer position to a Black man, then rescinded it four days before he started because he was “too sensitive about race issues.” Ahhh, Texas.

So who won the week?

  • The venerable bookstore Tattered Cover celebrated its 50th birthday. It you have a minute, jump on Amazon and order it a gift.
  • Spanx founder Sara Blakely sold her company for $1.2 billion. To thank her employees, she purchased each two first-class airline tickets anywhere in the world, and threw in $10,000 per employee in spending money.
  • The “Rickroll” became a thing again for a minute when a prankster posted a sign in the Highlands advertising that a joint Meow Wolf/Casa Bonita pop-up was planned. Alas, the QR code on the sign took you here.

Quote of the Day

“What’s the biggest threat to the future of local TV newsrooms? The long-term challenge may be how to build a sustainable model around a new generation of consumers who will never watch a linear newscast at 5, 6, or 11. But news directors and their bosses are increasingly concerned about a more immediate problem: the pipeline of talent for both sides of the camera is drying up.”

Andrew Heyward, Senior Research Professor, TV News at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The town of Morrison’s Police Department is like a piece of chewed gum stuck on the shoe that is Red Rocks – you’d be happier if it wasn’t there. But it is, and it is having a tough time hiring a police chief because no self-respecting law enforcement official will take a job where 98% of police activity is writing speeding tickets and nearly half of the town’s budget comes from those tickets.
  • Often-combative and provocative actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a crew member on his movie set using what was supposed to be a prop gun. No charges have been filed and investigators are still trying to determine exactly what went wrong.
  • The 185 TV stations in 86 markets that are owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group found themselves the victims of a ransomware hack that rendered their computer systems inoperable. In addition to disabling all electronic communications, it took down the on-air systems they rely on, resulting in meteorologists giving the five-day forecast using hand-drawn graphics on a whiteboard, for example.
  • It’s been a rough year for Robert E. Lee and a host of other confederate leaders who saw statues and other tributes to them removed. Now, however, it is the Founding Fathers’ turn to get nervous. The New York City Council has voted to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from its chambers, which surely is making a lot of eponymous counties and schools – including those in the metro area – take notice.
  • Life is an expectations game, and Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos made the mistake of getting our hopes up with their 3-0 start. Since then, they have gone 0-4. Fangio may survive to coach the rest of the season, but when he is fired – and he will be fired – it will be last night’s loss to the Cleveland Browns that sealed his fate.
  • Ahhh, Facebook. It’s the PR disaster gift that keeps on giving. This week, we learned that Facebook has so badly burned its reputation that it wants to walk away from its own name and start over. 9News’ Jeremy Jojola took suggestions for the new name, and responses included, “Facepalm,” “Ads & Birthdays,” “OK Boomer,” and “404 – Page Not Found.”
  • “The Freedom of Information Act is broken,” according to a First Amendment attorney. He was commenting on a FOIA response that came to a New Orleans reporter 12 years after he filed the request (and six years after he left journalism).
  • The metro area’s Tri-County Health became Bi-County Health and then Uni-County Health in a matter of weeks.

So, who won the week?

PR Agencies Responding to Employee Demands on COVID Vaccine Requirements

On the heels of Edelman’s announcement that receiving a COVID vaccination will be “a condition of employment” at the agency, PR Week spoke to agency leaders who noted that it is vaccinated staff members – not necessarily leadership – who are demanding policies requiring vaccinations for co-workers working from the office.

“’We are definitely seeing more and more the issue of employees not wanting to come back into the office if they are not assured everyone is vaccinated,’ David Fisher, counsel in the labor and employment practice group at Davis+Gilbert, says. He notes these employees may have children at home under 12 who can’t get vaccinated or are living with someone who is immunocompromised, and don’t want to become a breakthrough case that could infect them.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Hoity-toity private school Kent Denver made unexpected headlines this week when two former teachers at the school were arrested in a bizarre espionage scheme to sell nuclear secrets. Adding concern about the quality of education Kent Denver provides, the former teachers allegedly packaged the nuclear secrets in a peanut butter sandwich before handing them off to “foreign adversaries” who were actually undercover FBI agents.
  • Comedians have always pushed cultural boundaries and, relatedly, been lightning rods for criticism. Netflix is experiencing that with Dave Chappelle, whose latest Netflix special, “The Closer,” has been “criticized as transphobic by some LGBTQ+ advocates, artists and employees.” Adding fuel to the fire, Netflix suspended a trans employee who criticized the company for streaming the Chappelle special.
  • Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign less than one-third of the way through a 10-year, $100 million contract after a series of his racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails surfaced. Two days later, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter got caught up in the same email leak when his showed he gave sources drafts of his stories for them to edit – a journalistic no-no.
  • And the bad week for journalism wasn’t over. In addition to the Adam Schefter news, former “Today Show” anchor Katie Couric admitted that she covered up former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments opposing athletes who kneel during the national anthem. Couric said she was a big fan of Ginsburg and wanted to protect her from criticism from the justice’s liberal supporters.
  • Southwest Airlines built its reputation on being unlike other airlines – it offered budget pricing that delivered a great experience. Unfortunately, this week chaos reigned as hundreds of flight cancellations wrought havoc on the airline’s schedule, stranding frustrated passengers in cities across the country.
  • To paraphrase an old adage, if a goal is scored but no one can watch it because of a carriage dispute, does it matter? That’s the situation the Colorado Avalanche (and the Denver Nuggets, for that matter) face for the third straight year due to a fight among billionairesStan Kroenke’s Altitude TV and Comcast/Dish Network.
  • A year after acknowledging he received $1.1 million for speeches he did not deliver from a fund intended to help needy Mississippi residents … let me repeat that, from a fund intended to help needy Mississippi residents … an audit found that former NFL quarterback Brett Favre still hasn’t repaid all the money. The auditor said Favre will face a civil suit if he doesn’t repay the money with interest in 30 days.

So who won the week?

  • Local restaurants Frasca Food & Wine and Comal Heritage Food Incubator were recognized by The New York Times as two of the 50 best restaurants in the nation.
  • Star Trek actor William Shatner inspired generations of nerds to pursue careers in the space-related sciences, so it is fitting that he would finally – at age 90 – make a trip to space himself.
  • CBS4 promoted Kristine Strain to the position of news director, replacing Tim Wieland who was promoted to General Manager. Strain had been the assistant news director.

Quote of the Day

“Snow sports are already expensive enough that equity issues have been persistent, and financially disadvantaged families have long been unfairly priced out of access — something a Fast Tracks policy is sure to only make worse.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), objecting to Copper Mountain’s parent company’s plans to offer “Fast Tracks,” a $49 fee that would allow skiers to jump to the front of ski lift lines at the expense of the riff-raff who only buy the $119 daily lift ticket.

Could 9News Get ‘Aldened?’

Denver’s 9News is owned by TEGNA, a multi-billion-dollar media company that owns or operates nearly 70 TV stations across the country. TEGNA has been on the block – officially or unofficially – for more than two years, and reports now are that one of its largest investors, Standard General, is working with the investment firm Apollo Global Management to finance an acquisition of the media company.

If an investment/private equity firm owning media properties sounds vaguely familiar, that’s probably because of Alden Global Capital’s ownership of The Denver Post, among others. If you are a 9News employee, or someone who just values journalism, you can’t be comfortable with the idea that Apollo might do to TEGNA what Alden has done to the Post – bleed it to near death to maximize the return on investment.

Fans Shut Out for Third Straight Year as Avs & Nuggets Begin 2021-2022 Seasons

The Colorado Avalanche kick of their 2021-2022 season tonight with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. While the odds-makers have the Avalanche among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season, the biggest news is that for the third straight year most Coloradans won’t be able to watch the team play (or the Nuggets, for that matter) due to the ongoing carriage dispute between Stan Kroenke’s Altitude TV and Comcast/Dish Network.

That the fight among billionaires – and resulting TV blackout – coincides with unusually successful periods for both teams is maddening. During a window of time when the Broncos are clearly below average and the Rockies can only dream of being average, it is a moment when the Avs and Nuggets could capture the attention of the state. Instead, they are out of sight and out of mind.

Former Denver Post Reporter/Current ESPNer Adam Schefter Under Fire for Journalistic Ethics Breach

On Monday, leaked emails from an NFL investigation into the Washington Football Team took down Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden. This morning, additional email leaks are threatening the reputation of former Denver Post reporter and current ESPN information broker Adam Schefter.

According to one email to former WFT GM Bruce Allen, Schefter violated one of the cardinal tenets of journalism – giving a source editorial control over a news story. Prior to publishing an article about collective bargaining between the player’s union and the NFL, Schefter sent a draft of his article to Allen with the note:

“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked. Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. (I) plan to file this to ESPN about 6 am.”

Raiders Coach Resigns One-third of the Way Through a $100M Contract

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but emails live forever everywhere. That is a tough lesson that Oakland Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden learned the hard way when nearly a decade’s worth of racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails he wrote surfaced over the weekend. Facing an onslaught of criticism and a locker room full of large, athletic men who likely wanted to punch him, Gruden was forced to resign less than one-third of the way through a 10-year, $100 million contract.

Photo courtesy of SkySports

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Boulder Daily Camera took the extraordinary step of retracting a recent article on the impact of 9/11 on several Boulder residents after it investigated allegations that information and quotes in the article were exaggerated and/or fabricated. The reporter, April Morganroth, is no longer employed at the Camera or any of its sister publications.
  • Facebook seemingly subscribes to the Donald Trump approach to scandals – have so many of them that it wears down people’s ability to be outraged. This week, however, the company faced unprecedented scrutiny when a whistleblower shared secret inside information about how it knew that its platforms were detrimental to teen girls and democracy, among others.
  • The Denver Nuggets gave star player Michael Porter Jr. a $207 million contract in the off-season, but his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine is now creating headaches for the team. Per NBA protocols, he won’t be allowed to play games in California or New York, and will be required to eat, dress and travel separately from teammates and staff.
  • Many global billionaires had their underhanded financial dealings exposed this week as part of the so-called “Pandora Papers” that detailed how they avoid taxes and launder money using shell companies. They haven’t been this exposed since … the similar “Panama Papers” scandal in 2016 that appears to have done absolutely nothing to slow them down.
  • Former Ohio State University and current Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer apologized for a viral video that showed a young woman grinding on him while at a bar over the weekend. Meyer was alone at the bar because his wife was … babysitting their grandkids.
  • University of Colorado football coach Karl Dorrell had to apologize after shoving a CBS4 photojournalist while leaving the field following last weekend’s loss to conference rival USC.

So who won the week?

Bawmann Group Celebrates 25 Years

Congratulations to Brad Bawmann and the team at The Bawmann Group as the agency celebrates its 25th anniversary. Brad shared his top lessons learned in a post about the milestone:

  1. Telling the truth matters. Being responsive matters.
  2. Some clients heed our counsel; others choose to disagree. Regardless, fierce conversations are crucial to achieving alignment and making progress.
  3. Work hard. Do great work. The money will follow.
  4. Culture is everything. I have more than once taken my eye off this “ball” and it cost me a foot of my large intestine, a debilitating bout of anxiety, and some poor financial decisions.
  5. Love what you do. I started TBG with the intention of working only with those trying to make the world a better place. Adhering to that filter has never let me down.

Dawn Doty Honored with PRSA Outstanding Educator Award

Most of us know Dawn Doty from her days as a partner at Linhart PR, where her clients included Chipotle, Crocs, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Southwest Airlines and the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 2016, though, Dawn joined the University of Colorado Boulder as a full-time public relations instructor, and she has been as successful there as she was in the agency world. And that is why PRSA has honored Dawn with its 2021 Outstanding Educator Award. Congratulations, Dawn.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Digital media start-up Ozy Media announced today that it is shutting down following reports that one of its executives impersonated a YouTube executive during a conference call with Goldman Sachs. The bizarre-but-well-sourced allegation spurred a flury of scrutiny that quickly toppled the high-flying media company.
  • Organizers have cancelled Denver’s Chowdermeister festival – an event that brought to life and celebrated the the results of “a Twitter poll asking which food and drink combination was the most vile.” Jägermeister inexplicably was a sponsor, but pulled out following “press attention that was deemed unflattering.”
  • National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) commissioner Lisa Baird and general counsel Lisa Levine have been removed from their positions, several days after The Athletic reported that the league ignored allegations of abuse by a long-time coach.
  • Ouray County pulled its paid meeting notices in the The Ouray County Plaindealer – a roughly $10,000 per year hit – following reports from the newspaper that the county was violating the Colorado Open Meetings Law by holding secret meetings. The county swears the decision was a coincidence.
  • Think the results from Googling your name are tough? Alexandra Souverneva will forever be known as the woman who started the destructive Fawn Fire in Shasta County, Calif. by attempting to boil bear urine to drink.

So, who won the week?

Who Went Where

  • Jason Michael has joined Elasticity as SVP to help open the firm’s Denver office. He previously was a partner at Barokas in Denver, which announced its sale to Finn Partners in July.
  • Novitas Communications named Jaime Gardner as the firm’s business development and communications director. She formerly was the principal at High Plains Communications in Yuma, Colo.
  • Liesl Leary-Perez has been named VP of corporate marketing at Hubilo. She previously was head of global marketing at TTEC.
  • Dinosaur Ridge named Kristen Kidd director of Marketing & Communications. She previously spent time at Levels Beyond and M&C Communications.
  • Alexandra Hilker has been promoted to director of Brand Strategy, Insights & Innovation at Egg Strategy.
  • The National Cattleman’s Beef Association named Jennifer Nealson SVP of Global Marketing & Research.
  • Linhart PR added Claire Sisun as an account executive.
  • Barefoot PR added Hannah Morris as senior associate.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson, who has spent much of the past two years organizing protests, found himself the subject of a 1,000 student-strong walkout this week following a formal censure by his fellow board members. A Denver Post editorial strongly supported the censure and the Aurora Sentinel called for his recall. Anderson, for his part, announced on Tuesday that he was taking “some time off of social media,” a self-imposed exile that literally lasted less than 18 hours.
  • The late, great Gwen Ifill created the term “Missing White Woman Syndrome” to describe the media frenzy that accompanies news that a usually-young, usually-attractive, usually-blonde woman has gone missing. This week’s overwhelming news media coverage of the Gabby Petito disappearance was a stark reminder that, sadly, things haven’t changed much.
  • The Colorado Rockies were officially eliminated from the playoffs this week. In their 28-year history, they have never won their division, which includes only four other teams.
  • Nielsen has long been the gold standard for measurement of television audiences, but competitors smell blood in the water and networks are evaluating other options after Nielsen lost its accreditation from the Media Ratings Council (MRC), the independent body that enforces fair and transparent measurement standards in media. 
  • Inconsistent travel volumes, trouble recruiting TSA agents and long-term construction projects have created the perfect storm for extraordinarily long security lines at DIA, a situation The Denver Post described solemnly as “bananas.” Meanwhile, The Post reported that DIA has removed its real-time security wait indicator from its website “as a cost-cutting measure.”
  • Founded in 1929, Fortune – 92 years later – finally named its first female editor, Alyson Shontell.

So, who won the week?

  • A recent survey found that Denver has the seventh-highest salary nationally. If you are wondering where it all goes, the answer is rent/mortgage.
  • I hope former Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler had a sense of how beloved and respected he was when he was alive. His death this week brought a tidal wave of praise for who he was and what he did. He was most known for his story titled “Final Salute,” which earned him a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Alyson Shontell was named editor of Fortune, the magazine’s first female editor in its 92-year history.

PRSA Colorado Announces Gold Pick Special Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 PRSA Colorado Gold Pick Special Award winners:

  • Lifetime Achievement: Wendy Aiello, Aiello Public Relations
  • Public Relations Person of the Year: Winna MacLaren, City and County of Denver
  • Business Person of the Year: Tory Bruno, President & CEO, United Launch Alliance
  • Media Person of the Year: Ed Sealover, Denver Business Journal
  • Rookie of the Year: Anna Ritz, CIG Public Relations
  • Mentor of the Year Award: Liz Kamper, CBRE
  • Chapter Service Award: Michelle Lyng, Novitas Communications
  • Public Relations Team of the Year: Sage Restaurant Concepts

The winners will be recognized at this year’s Gold Pick awards on Oct. 6.

Great Moments in Disembarkments

The University of Southern California football team can’t be happy with the conclusion of its flight to Pullman, Wash., to play Washington State University. And United Airlines and Boeing can’t be happy for the world to see what happens when you unload the people and heavy equipment from the front half of the plan without utilizing a tail stand.

Who Had the Worse Week

  • Rapper/singer Nicki Minaj became a social media meme when she tweeted that people should carefully consider whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine because her cousin’s friend got it and “became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding.” Popular opinion is that he actually cheated, got an STD and is now trying to blame the vaccine.
  • Walmart had to play defense when a fake press release was distributed via GlobeNewswire claiming that the retailer would begin accepting cryptocurrency at its stores. The release was almost certainly part of a pump-and-dump stock scheme.
  • A New York woman, Morgan Hellquist, discovered that her gynecologist of nine years, Dr. Morris Wortman, was actually her biological father. And her lawsuit alleges that he was aware of the relationship.
  • U.S. Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, among others, testified at a Congressional hearing that the FBI failed to properly investigate their claims that disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused them. As the hearing concluded, reports surfaced that the FBI had fired Michael Langeman, one of the lead agents in the investigation.
  • Legendary Philadelphia cheese steak restaurant Pat’s became the backdrop to a quintessential Philly crime when a “violent group of soccer hooligans beat a man to death with a garbage can lid.”
  • The hits keep coming to the Aurora Police Department, and this week it was Attorney General Phil Weiser who delivered the blow. Weiser is requiring the department to make to make “sweeping reforms after a year-long investigation found officers’ pattern of racially biased policing and use of excessive force routinely violated state and federal law,” according to The Denver Post.
  • Traveling right now is stressful enough, but imagine coming back from a trip to find that your car had been stolen from DIA. According to Denver Police, that is an increasingly common situation.
  • Kim Kardashian did what she does best – make headlines for inconsequential things – at the annual Met Gala. The unusual dress she wore was compared to Star Wars’ Darth Vader, dementors from Harry Potter and the alien from the movie, Alien.

So, who won the week?

  • Always acerbic, wry and deadpan, Norm Macdonald was a comedian’s comedian, more respected among his peers than the general public. But his death this week at age 61 resulted in a flood of public tributes from both.
  • Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio is on the hot seat, but things got better on Sunday when, for the first time in his three years with the team, they won a game in September.
  • Immersive art company Meow Wolf made tons of headlines when it officially opened its Denver facility this week. It even nabbed U.S. Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, along with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, to attend its ribbon-cutting event. That’s even more impressive when you consider that President Joe Biden’s visit earlier in the week to NREL only attracted two of those four.
  • The Drone Racing League secured a $100 million sponsorship deal with blockchain platform Algorand. Never heard of the DRL? Me either, but they have $100 million now.
  • Americans love their pick-up trucks, so it was news this week when electric truck manufacturer Rivian was credited with beating Ford, GM and Tesla to deliver the first consumer-ready electric pick-up truck.

Documenting The Denver Post Beat Changes

Several weeks ago, Corey Hutchins broke the news that The Denver Post was scrambling its beats, and today he offered an update on the moves:

  • Elizabeth Hernandez moves from higher education to the new millennial/younger readers beat
  • Conrad Swanson moves from the Denver City Hall beat to the environment beat
  • Joe Rubino moves from real estate/tech/consumer news to the Denver City Hall beat
  • Jessica Seaman moves from the healthcare beat to K-12 education
  • Bruce Finley moves from the environment beat to higher education
  • Meg Wingerter moves from K-12 education to healthcare

Not everyone was thrilled with the changes that were reportedly a surprise to many of those affected. For example, Justin Wingerter, who was moved off of federal politics and assigned to the business desk, instead has chosen to leave the Post.

It seems curious to lose the relationships and institutional knowledge that accompany changes like these, but as SE2’s Eric Anderson, a journalism veteran himself, noted, sometimes beat changes can allow reporters to see things with fresh eyes. And, cynically, it saved the Post at least one future buyout.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Human Rights Campaign fired its president Alphonso David following an investigation into his efforts to help former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo fight sexual harassment allegations. Cuomo is the third rail of politics – Roberta Kaplan, the co-founder and board member of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund also recently resigned under pressure after helping Cuomo.
  • Ex-Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges this week. Portis, who earned more than $42 million during his career, submitted fraudulent medical claims totaling $99,264 to a healthcare program for retired NFL players.
  • After failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the US Men’s National Soccer Team has little margin for error if it hopes to make it to the 2022 World Cup. The team hasn’t impressed much so far – it started with two draws – and it lost one of its best players, Weston McKennie, when he broke team COVID rules and spent the night with an “unauthorized guest.” He was suspended and sent back to Italy, where he plays for Juventus, a team that suspended him in April for … wait for it …breaking COVID protocols. The good news is the team beat Honduras 4-1 in a must-win game this week. Take that, Honduras.
  • Women have outnumbered men on college campuses since the 1970s, but the pandemic has significantly accelerated the gender imbalance as men have dropped out at three times the rate of women. In fact, the latest data show that colleges now skew more than 57-43 female. One of the consequences: colleges are now lowering their admissions standards for men in an effort to keep parity. The patriarchy, amiright?
  • It’s been a tough couple for weeks for philosophical CEOs. Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of the salad maker Sweetgreen, attempted to “start a conversation” by blaming fat people for the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. And now-former Tripwire CEO John Gibson proved again that the worst PR crises are self-inflicted when he decided that as the CEO of a video game maker he should weigh in on Texas’ new controversial abortion law. How did it end? You read the “now-former” part, right?
  • And, finally, an oldie but goodie. Underperforming Confederate General Robert E. Lee continues to be a modern-day punching bag. This week, it was Richmond, Va., that chose to remove a statue of Lee. The event was celebratory, with workers counting down the moment that Lee was removed via crane as onlookers cheered.

So, who won the week?

  • The Colorado Sun turned three this week. It took a lot of courage for the group of former Denver Postians to launch their own newspaper, and it is gratifying to see it succeed.
  • Original Blues Clues host Steve Burns this week comforted a generation of millennials who apparently suffered abandonment issues when he unexpectedly and suddenly left the show two decades ago. Appearing via a video dressed as Blues Clues Steve, he apologized to viewers and then dropped a little positive reinforcement about how terrific they are all doing.

Former Denver Bronco Clinton Portis Pleads Guilty in Federal Fraud Probe

ESPN: “(Former Denver Broncos running back) Clinton Portis was among three former NFL players who have pleaded guilty for their roles in a nationwide scheme to defraud a health care program for retired NFL players, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday. The 40-year-old Portis … faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 6. … According to court documents, Portis caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to the plan on his behalf over a two-month period, obtaining $99,264 in benefits for medical equipment that was not actually provided.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The city of New Orleans barely has time to recover these days from the devastating winds and floods brought by the most recent hurricane before it is hit with another. This week, it was Hurricane Ida that brought death and destruction to one of America’s most interesting cities. Not content to just ravage the Gulf Coast, the remnants of Ida continued north and hit New York City, causing surprise floods that killed 43.
  • Billionaires don’t become billionaires by leaving money on the table, a point proven by Colorado’s own Phil Anschutz. Despite a fortune estimated at $10.3 billion by Forbes, Anschutz is appealing the recent dismissal of a lawsuit against the state seeking an $8 million tax refund he says he is owed due to a loophole in the CARES Act, the pandemic response bill Congress passed in 2020.
  • A Colorado Springs high school swimmer with diabetes is suing CHSAA, the organization that oversees high school athletics in Colorado, for disqualifying him from the state championship meet because he wore tape over his glucose monitor to keep it in place.
  • Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer made headlines this week for for a viral video that showed him getting physical with one of the players he now coaches at a high school in Nashville.
  • The Denver Department of Excise and Licensing has ordered the owner of LoDo’s Beta Nightclub to explain why it should retain its liquor license following a series of high-profile shootings outside the club and a police investigation that found drug dealing, large brawls and gang-related fights inside the club.
  • Tulane University had its own Rocky moment (actually, a Rocky II moment, but you get the idea) when it beat out a host of usual suspects to capture this year’s #1 ranking of Top Party Schools. The University of Colorado Boulder, one of those usual suspects that routinely nabs top 10 spots on these lists, fell to #24. Unfortunately, Tulane’s victory was overshadowed by the fact that its administrators don’t watch the weather on the local news and they failed to evacuate students from its New Orleans campus until after Hurricane Ida. Administrators said they thought the storm would be a Category 1 hurricane, not the Category 4 that it was.
  • Americans have a deep love of football, and ESPN has a deep love of ratings, so it was only a mild surprise that the sports broadcaster would eventually start airing high school football games to fill programming time. Unfortunately, though, high school teams don’t belong to recognizable conferences that let you know they are legit. This week, ESPN aired a game featuring Bishop Sycamore, which later was revealed to have questions about whether it is an actual school. It definitely is a football team – it played another game two days before its ESPN appearance, something no legitimate school would ever allow to happen. The Washington Post called the entire matter “embarrassing” and authorities are still investigating.

So, who won the week?

  • Fans of everything from the Mary Tyler Moore Show to the Pixar movie Up know actor Ad Asner, and there was an outpouring of love for him following his death this past week. It was his lovably gruff performances as Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Lou Grant that endeared him to a generation or two of journalists.
  • Former Colorado Rockies star Larry Walker will enter the Hall of Fame next week, no easy feat given the lack of respect Coors Field has among the baseball purists who vote.

Fox31 Names Erika Gonzalez Permanent Evening Anchor

Fox31/KWGN anchor Erika Gonzalez has been filling former anchor Aristea Brady’s seat on the 5, 9 and 10 pm newscasts for the past month, and her bosses apparently like the job she was doing because this week they named her to the role permanently.

And in a world full of PR people who come from journalism, Erika is a unicorn. Her first job was in PR in Miami before starting her career in journalism as an assignment editor with WFOR in Miami.

Beta Nightclub Under Pressure Amid Rash of LoDo Shootings

If you are a fan of LoDo’s Beta Nightclub, you might want to get a few more visits in before Oct. 18. That is when the club’s owner, Valentes “Don’t Call Me Don” Corleons will have to appear before the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing to explain a rash of high-profile shootings nearby, as well as the results of an undercover police investigation that found drug dealing, large brawls and gang-related fights inside the club.

Elise Schmelzer at The Denver Post reported: “Police data collected by The Denver Post shows that Beta Nightclub this year has the highest number of reported crimes connected to its address of all bars in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood. … Denver police have recorded at least four aggravated assaults and one robbery at the nightclub’s address. In comparison, the two bars on either side of Beta Nightclub — Seven Grand and 1UP Arcade Bar — have no crimes reported at their addresses.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Fox31/Channel 2 anchor Keagan Harsha took a news director job in Montana, and he made his own headlines last weekend when his U-Haul full of all of his worldly possessions was stolen from a hotel parking lot on what was to be his last night in Denver.
  • Denver’s Valor Christian high school made national news for firing a coach because he is gay. As I noted earlier this week, the school missed an opportunity to practice the under appreciated art of looking the other way.
  • Researchers found that each hot dog you eat shortens your life by 35 minutes. RIP Gil Rudawsky.
  • Tina Tchen, the CEO of the anti-harassment organization Time’s Up, resigned under pressure following her behind-the-scenes support for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • ESPN gave reporter Rachel Nichols the slow-motion kick to the curb after her racially insensitive comments were recorded and shared several months ago. ESPN first removed her from covering the NBA playoffs in June, and this week it quietly cancelled her afternoon TV show and formally dropped her from its NBA coverage.
  • Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten went full angry-old-man in a column this week that listed all the foods he has no interest in eating (the headline literally was “Gene Weingarten: You can’t make me eat these foods”). Old Bay Seasoning and bleu cheese were on the list, but it was the inclusion of all Indian food that set parts of the internet on fire. The Post hasn’t yet explained what journalistic need was filled by Weingarten’s rant, but … clicks!
  • We marketers spend $2.6 billion globally buying ads on websites that promote misinformation. The U.S. accounts for $1.6 billion – 62% – of that total.
  • Members of the Afghan girls’ robotics team who narrowly escaped the country ahead of Taliban rule had to have a lawyer send a cease and desist letter to Allyson Reneau, an Oklahoma woman who has been claiming outsized credit for their escape. The team says that her self-promotion and use of photos of current and former team members risks the safety of other members who remain in the country.

So, who won the week? Tim Wieland, the CBS4 news director, has been named VP and GM at the station. He replaces Walt DeHaven, who retired last month.

Great Moments in Stunt Marketing

It’s unlikely to rise to the level of Lincoln-Douglas, but PR Week reports that Taco Bell has secured the services of the University of Georgia and Clemson University debate teams to argue whether its new Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco is, in fact, a taco or a sandwich. Chances are you associate Georgia and Clemson more with football than the art of forensics, which is why the debate will air in four parts as commercials during the Georgia vs Clemson college football game on Sept. 2.

The Underappreciated Art of Looking the Other Way

Denver’s Valor Christian is, not surprisingly, a private Christian high school and it is under duress at the moment. Parents are protesting, students are walking out and media are camped out on the school’s sidewalks. Why? Because school administrators forced a popular coach out because he is gay.

I get it – Valor is a Christian school and it has to throw a nod toward Christian values (disclosure: I am a graduate of a Christian university). But that’s why you perhaps include some language in your official handbook and then you practice the art of looking the other way. It’s 2021 – not 1991 – and its not a good look, much less a good practice, for anyone to be firing people over who they are.

Photo of the student protest by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Freelance Meteorologist Tries to Convince Coloradans We’re All Living in Cleveland

Kids who parse and argue every point anyone makes usually either have that trait beaten out of them by high school or grow up to be lawyers. But one of those kids beat the odds and grew up to become a freelance meteorologist.

And if you are a freelance meteorologist, you need to be provocative to get people’s attention. Denver’s own Andy Stein did just that for The Denver Post when he wrote that Denver doesn’t get the 300 days of sunshine per year that the chamber of commerce claims, but rather only 103 days.

So, which is right? It depends on your definition of “sunny.” Stein claims “partly cloudy” days don’t count as sunny. If you have lived anywhere that truly has gray winters you recognize the stupidity of that argument. But, hey, Denver Post column!

The Denver Post Spins the ‘Wheel of Beats’

You spend all that time trying to build a relationship with a reporter, and then this happens.

In the latest edition of his must-read newsletter covering Colorado media, Corey Hutchins reports that The Denver Post is in the midst of a “disorienting beat scramble” that will see eight reporters shuffled to new beats. Eight may not seem like a lot, but let’s face it, that is like half of the newsroom in the Age of Alden.

Among the reporters shifting beats, Hutchins reports, are Bruce Finley (from environment to education) and Justin Wingerter (from federal politics to business).

You can subscribe to Hutchins’ weekly-ish newsletter at https://coloradomedia.substack.com.

Who Had the Worse Week?

First, a reminder that I avoid political gaffes when it comes to my lists of the biggest PR mistakes. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t have been room for anything else over the past 10 years (this week alone would have been Joe Biden, Greg Abbott, Tina Peters, Andrew Cuomo, John Cox, the State of Alabama, Dan Patrick, Gavin Newsom, Lauren Boebert, Gettr, Michelle Fiscus and a dozen others). Not to mention everyone views whether political issues qualify as PR gaffes through their own partisan lens. Now, on to the this week’s list:

  • A 9Wants to Know investigation found that Colorado’s Exposure App that is designed to alert residents when someone in close proximity to them tests positive for COVID-19 only worked 8% of the time. While the app was free from the Association of Public Health Laboratories, the state spent $875,000 to market and maintain the service.
  • Hassan Moustafa, the president of the International Handball Federation, said new rules were “very likely” after the federation was heavily criticized for requiring female players to wear bikinis in official play. Adding attention to the issue, the singer Pink offered to pay a 1,500 euro fine the federation levied against Norway’s women’s beach handball team for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms in a recent tournament.
  • Snopes, the gold standard of separating fact from fiction in our Internetified world, “has retracted 60 articles after a BuzzFeed News investigation found that the site’s co-founder plagiarized from news outlets as part of a strategy intended to scoop up web traffic.”
  • Detroit Tigers TV analyst Jack Morris has been suspended indefinitely after he used a mocking and racist Asian accent on air to talk about L.A. Angels star pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.
  • An apology for disparaging statements about women, Jewish people and Haiti by newly announced Jeopardy host Mike Richards shows why you shouldn’t let the person in charge of vetting candidates pick himself.
  • Data breaches have become so common that they rarely make big headlines these days, but T-Mobile’s latest one involving customer data for 40 million past and current customers managed to do just that.
  • The US Open tennis tournament begins in a little more than a week, and already some of the biggest draws such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and 2020 winner Dominic Thiem have withdrawn due to injuries. Combine that with women’s stars Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka having trouble advancing deep in tournaments recently, and it could be a dud of a tournament this year.

So, who won the week?

  • Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock had the game of his life last weekend, potentially heading off a likely career-ending challenge by Teddy Bridgewater. We’ll see if he can keep it up this weekend.
  • The Paralympic Games begin Tuesday in Tokyo, and Colorado Public Radio profiles 11 competitors who are from Colorado. If you haven’t watched the Paralympics before, do yourself a favor and tune in. NBC is broadcasting 1,200 hours, and it is even more inspiring than the Olympics.
  • Zaidy’s, a legendary Denver Jewish deli that closed during the pandemic, has re-opened thanks to support from the Appel family (the founders of the OxiClean empire).

Karma Wins – Ex-Cuomo Staffers who Helped Trash New York Governor’s Accuser Lose Jobs at PR Firm

Theo Wayt at the New York Post: “Two former staffers of Gov. Andrew Cuomo who helped their ex-boss smear sexual harassment accuser Lindsey Boylan have left their jobs at a politically connected public relations firm with millions of dollars in state contracts, The Post has learned. Josh Vlasto and Richard Bamberger — both former top Cuomo staffers who were named throughout the attorney general’s report into the governor’s “inner circle” — confirmed Monday they had left their jobs as managing directors at PR firm Kivvit.

‘“We agreed to amicably part ways,’ Vlasto and Bamberger said in a joint statement to The Post.

“Kivvit — which has counted Google, Tesla, Citigroup, Lyft, Princeton University and the US Olympic Committee among its clients — had already scrubbed the pair from its website by Monday morning.”

Pandemic Increases the Value of Influencers for Marketing, PR Campaigns

Chris Daniels at PR Week reports: “It’s another sign of the times amid the COVID-19 pandemic: social media influencers are asking for — and getting — significantly more money for sponsored posts and brand partnerships than even a year ago. That’s in part because consumers continue to spend more time online. Nearly half (48%) say they increased the time they spend on social media, giving influencers a larger and more engaged fanbase, according to research from DoubleVerify. 

‘“The pandemic changed the game for influencers,’ confirms Jenny Heinrich, senior partner for global digital and influencer strategy at Finn Partners.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Colorado Rockies learned the hard way about the importance of guardrails when commenting during a crisis. In a game earlier this week, broadcasters for the Miami Marlins claimed a Coors Field fan screamed a racial slur that was caught by its microphones, and the Rockies validated that before looking into it by posting to social media that it was “disgusted at the racial slur by a fan … .” The next morning, it became clear the fan had actually yelled “Dinger,” the name of the Rockies’ mascot, in an attempt to get a photo. Media quickly backtracked and blamed the Rockies for legitimizing the story with its social media post (as evidenced by this post from 9News’ Nicole Vap).
  • Trust in government isn’t exactly high these days, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reinforced some of the worst suspicions of the tin-foil-hat crowd when it lied about Independence Pass being closed recently due to a mudslide. Media uncovered emails this week showing back-and-forth among CDOT officials about how to reduce traffic on the congested pass, and claiming a fictitious mudslide was the consensus winner. CDOT officials quickly realized two things: it is bad policy to lie, and that discussing it via email was a mistake. Officials reversed their decision after a day and discoverable email discussions were not part of that process .
  • The Royal Family and Prince Andrew are in the spotlight once again this week because of Andrew’s affiliation with disgraced pedophile/sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein. A New York woman filed a lawsuit against Andrew this week alleging that he raped and sexually abused her when she was a minor. Andrew’s previous denials only made the situation worse and the Royal Family has remained silent on the lawsuit, signaling that they understand what a dumpster fire this entire situation is. Here’s hoping he becomes Prince Andrew, Duke of York Prison before this is all over.
  • Nostalgia purveyor Garrison Keillor hasn’t been heard from much after he was booted from his home on Minnesota Public Radio in 2017 due to allegations of inappropriate behavior with a female assistant. But this week, he came roaring back, making headlines for equating the U.S. Social Security Administration with the Nazi SS after he got caught in a bureaucratic snafu trying to obtain a replacement Medicare card.
  • The chile wars between Colorado (Pueblo chile peppers) and New Mexico (Hatch chile peppers) heated up this week when The Pueblo Chieftain ran syndicated content from its parent company, Gannett, that was pro-Hatch chile. Chieftain News Director Luke Lyons issued a formal apology distancing the newspaper from the story, saying in part, “The article … was not meant to cause harm or to infer that the Hatch chile was superior. … We apologize for the harm and offense the story has caused.” It’s not clear whether journalism purists are more offended that Lyons would apologize for content or that he confused “infer” for “imply” in his apology.

So, who won the week? I’m going with “Tiana,” a somewhat anonymous Tokyo Olympics volunteer. She paid for a taxi out of her own pocket when Jamaican hurdler Hansle Parchment took a wrong bus and mistakenly ended up at the aquatics venue. Thanks to her generous help, Parchment made it to the track stadium in time and subsequently won a gold medal in the men’s 110 meters hurdle event. Parchment was able to track down Tiana afterward to thank her and repay the fare, and Jamaica’s minister of tourism has now invited Tiana for an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean island.

A Plot Twist in the Reported Coors Field Racial Slur

Generally speaking, if the Colorado Rockies are making national headlines, something has gone badly. And, this morning, that would be an understatement. Microphones for the Miami Marlins television feed picked up a fan at Coors Field yesterday screaming something that the Marlins broadcasters and media nationwide quickly reported was the N-word. But audio replays seem to show that it actually a fan screaming, “Dinger,” the name of the Rockies mascot. That would make more sense given that no one in the stands said they heard anyone scream the N-word. You can decide for yourself:

Horse Punch Allows Germany to Catch Belarus for Most Coaches Banned from the Tokyo Olympics

Germany hasn’t exactly been tearing it up at the Summer Olympic Games this year – they have roughly one-third the number of medals as the U.S. – but it is distinguishing itself in one area: the number of coaches sent home from the Olympics.

Last week, German cycling coach Patrick Moster was banned after he was caught on camera yelling racist remarks to his riders, and today German modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner was sent packing after she punched a horse … let me repeat that, punched a horse … that refused to perform during the competition.

Raisner’s horse punch allowed Germany to catch Belarus, who had two coaches sent home earlier this week for trying to strong-arm an athlete to return home to the authoritarian country after publicly criticizing her delegation. The athlete, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, instead accepted a humanitarian visa from Poland and is now in Warsaw.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver’s air quality this week put it as the worst in the country and among the Top 10 worst in the world. It’s not often that we share space on lists that include Kabul, Jakarta, Kolkata, Dubai and Delhi. Denver would need to cut its pollution roughly in half to match that pristine oasis that is New York City.
  • Actor Matt Damon proved once again that the worst PR crises are self-inflicted when he shared that he stopped using the homophobic term f****t “months ago” after his daughter called him out on it. He later insisted that has never used the term personally, and instead was referring to its use in movie scripts, which only reinforced the old political adage that if you are explaining, you are losing.
  • Speaking of “if you are explaining, you are losing,” Bill Gates is trying really hard to put his association with pedophile/sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein behind him by … explaining. This week, he appeared on CNN to share that he simply was seeking foundation donations from the disgraced financier, but recent reports of Gates’ skeevy behavior with female Microsoft employees has caused many to re-evaluate his standing.
  • CNN anchor Chris Cuomo is feeling the fallout from his secret PR strategy support for his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a report this week that documented multiple instances of sexual harassment by the governor, and Chris Cuomo’s CNN peers reportedly “expressed dismay” that he has not been held accountable or explained his ethically challenged decision to work behind-the-scenes for his brother while on CNN’s payroll.
  • Rapper DaBaby is reeling after his homophobic comments on HIV/AIDS caused promoters to drop him from the line-up at Lollapalooza, iHeartRadio Music Festival, Austin City Limits and Denver’s KS 107.5 Summer Jam, among others.
  • Mike Richards, the relatively anonymous executive producer of the television show Jeopardy, has orchestrated a string of celebrity try-outs over the past few months to identify a successor to the late Alex Trebek. Among them: Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, LeVar Burton, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Aaron Rodgers. The news this week is that Richards has pulled a Dick Cheney and is now negotiating for himself to be the host. Fans are not pleased.
  • The City of Englewood caused a bit of a panic this week when it notified a huge portion of the metro Denver area that residents should boil water due to traces of E.coli. Non-Englewood governments and water systems scrambled to reassure residents that the water in their communities was safe.

So, who won the week?

  • Olympic gymnast Suni Lee stepped into the void of Simone Biles’ withdrawal and won the gold in the women’s all-around event.
  • Former CBS4 GM Walt DeHaven and soon-to-be-former Downtown Denver Partnership President & CEO Tami Door. Two of Denver’s most influential leaders are basking in positive profile articles and good wishes related to their retirements.
  • Denver, after Forbes increased its projected value of the Denver Broncos to $3.75 billion, a 17% jump over last year. That valuation increases the odds that the dysfunctional Bowlen kids will sell the team, and that a new owner can put the team on the right track again.

The End of an Era

CBS4 GM Walt DeHaven retired Friday, and I’d be remiss in not acknowledging his tenure and impact on Denver’s news community. Broadcasting & Cable wrote a nice piece that scratches the surface of who he is and what he has accomplished:

“Walt DeHaven, VP and general manager of KCNC Denver, … has spent 20 years atop the CBS-owned station, and 14 more with other stations in the CBS group, including ones in Chicago and Boston. The longest-serving general manager in the CBS Stations group, DeHaven has spent 34 years with the Viacom and CBS groups.

“Wendy McMahon, president and co-head, CBS News and Stations, saluted DeHaven in a note to KCNC staffers. ‘Walt’s importance to our organization has been defined not only by his longevity, but also by his leadership, poise and the passion he has for caring about the communities we serve, our clients and all of you,’ she said. …

“DeHaven will remain active in non-profit organizations in and around Denver. He is president and treasurer of Take Note Colorado, which provides musical instruments and education to schoolchildren, and vice chair at Swallow Hill Music, which provides music education to underserved communities.” 

Who Went Where

Among the recent changes:

MikeWorldWide (MWW) to Open Denver Office

MikeWorldWide (MWW) announced plans to open a Denver office that will be led by new technology practice Executive Vice President Maria Brown. From PR Week:

“Brown will lead and grow the agency’s U.S. tech practice … and will also establish MikeWorldWide’s footprint in Denver. Remote work has enabled the firm in the last year to create talent hubs in markets including Seattle, Portland, Boston and Atlanta. Prior to MikeWorldWide, Brown led Matter Communications’ West market, overseeing offices in Boulder, Colorado, and Portland, as well as a diverse B2B and B2C client portfolio with brands including Databricks, Nimble Storage and Progress Software.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • HBO Max is receiving widespread criticism for its new animated series, The Prince, which “depicts the royal family as egotistical tea drinkers controlled by mafia-boss queen.” Making fun of Royals certainly is not new, but the show portrays real-life 8-year-old Prince George as “an entitled child who is worried about his weight and harbors ill feelings toward his siblings.” Six-year-old Princess Charlotte is voiced by Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner, who earlier this year criticized paparazzi for photographing her young child and called for better privacy protections for minors.
  • The Olympic Games and its U.S. broadcast partner NBC had rough weeks. Ratings for the games’ Opening Ceremonies were down 36%, and that was before a string of unexpectedly poor performances by high-profile competitors: the U.S. men’s basketball team lost to France, the U.S. women’s soccer team lost to Sweden, hometown tennis phenom Naomi Osaka lost in her third-round match, and gymnastics G.O.A.T. Simone Biles withdrew from the team and individual events. Worst of all, everyone knew these results 12 hours before they could see them on NBC.
  • ShotSpotter, the company that deploys networks of audio sensors – including in Denver – that triangulate the location of gunshots to help police respond faster, found its data tossed from a criminal trial after it was learned that the company adjusts its reports at the request of police departments. In the case of this trial, an analyst with ShotSpotter reclassified the location of a shot months after the incident to support a police report.
  • The Idaho Springs Police Department made headlines nationally for tasering an unarmed 75-year old without warning. Video of the incident had been irresistible to media from coast to coast.
  • The European Union hit Amazon with a record $887 million fine for violating data protection laws. Amazon is making a strong push to displace Google as the company most willing to violate your privacy.

So who won the week?

  • The creative team behind South Park and Book of Mormon – Trey Parker and Matt Stone – made big headlines in Denver this week when they confirmed they wanted to buy the iconic “restaurant” Casa Bonita to ensure it survived the pandemic.
  • Simone Biles had critics, but the general public has overwhelmingly supported her and her decision to withdraw from the Olympic Games.
  • And, finally, a counterintuitive choice: Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson. Two Aurora police officers were arrested this week after one of them brutally beating an unarmed citizen as the second stood by, so how did she win the week? She campaigned on creating a culture change within the department, and as 9News reporter Jeremy Jojola noted, she isn’t messing around:

9News’ Kyle Clark May Present the Biggest Challenge to Mayor Hancock’s Proposed New Arena

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s dream of a new 10,000 seat arena to replace the Denver Coliseum is in big trouble, in no small part thanks to Kyle Clark at 9News. Hancock announced a bond initiative two days ago for the arena that would be part of the renovated National Western Center campus, but Clark has dealt a possibly fatal blow by repeatedly calling the proposed arena by the nickname “The Mike.” In reality, no name has been announced for the arena – and, let’s face it, this city council is unlikely to name anything after Hancock – but positioning the project as a self-aggrandizing infrastructure project makes it much easier for the community and city council to oppose. And it wasn’t like the polarizing project had much breathing room to begin with.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before – PR Week List Overwhelmingly Recognizes Coastal Professionals

PR Week released its 2021 ’40 Under 40′ list, and as usual it is heavy on professionals at coastal firms and companies. For example:

  • 24 of the 40 who were selected – 60% – were based on the East Coast (New York City, D.C., Miami, Atlanta, etc.)
  • 33 of the 40 who were selected – 83% – were based on the East or West coasts (New York City, L.A., D.C., Miami, etc.)
  • 7 of the 40 who were selected – 17% – were located in the middle of the country (Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Nashville, etc.)

The biggest surprise? Denver was represented. Terry Wei, the global head of Communications for Waze (which is owned by Google) made the list, and although Waze is headquartered in New York City, she claims our fair city as home. She may have worked her way up into the chief communications role at a division of the world’s 5th-largest company, but frankly making a PR Week list as a resident of Denver is a far more impressive achievement.

Who Had the Worse Week?

Quote of the Day

I want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all this.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, thanking his supporters for helping him become a modern-day Sputnik dog without realizing that it is making most of us rethink ever ordering anything from Amazon again.

NPR Examines Racial Tensions Inside 9News

National Public Radio is the latest media outlet to follow up on Westword’s coverage of racial tensions inside 9News:

“According to two people who attended the National Association of Hispanic Journalists meetings, the association demanded the firing not only of (9News’ top news executive, Tim) Ryan, but also of his news director and the corporate official in charge of hiring. The company made no such promises, though it did direct stations to no longer use the word ‘illegal’ when discussing immigration. (The station and the company declined to comment on the calls for dismissals.)

“The outcry has focused an unwanted glare on Tegna, one of the nation’s largest and most prominent owners of local television stations, just as the company faces claims of racial bias from a dissident investor. Tegna and KUSA declined to comment on what happened to the Latina journalists and the criticism that has ensued, saying those are personnel matters.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Chik-fil-A stopped donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations several years ago, but that hasn’t prevented ongoing protests. The latest issue putting the fast-food chain in the spotlight is students from Notre Dame opposing an on-campus franchise. Adding fuel to the fire, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham pledged to “go to war” on behalf of Chik-fil-A, turning the protest into a national story.
  • Johnson & Johnson recalled five of its six Neutrogena and Aveeno spray-on sunscreens after the potentially cancer-causing chemical benzene was discovered in some samples.
  • Pundits are trying to determine whether Haiti’s presidential security detail is corrupt or just incompetent after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was shot 12 times and killed in what appears to be an attempted coup. None of the members of the security detail engaged with the assassins as they entered the presidential palace.
  • The U.S. men’s basketball team lost back-to-back tune up games – first to Nigeria and then Australia – as it prepares to head to the Tokyo Olympic Games. America has dominated international basketball since the days of the 1992 Dream Team that featured Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and another half-dozen legends, so expectations for any U.S. Olympic team are high. It’s usually gold or bust, but at this rate it feels like bronze would be overachieving.

So, who had a good week?

Agencies Feels Squeezed as Corporate Marketing Budgets Drop to Lowest Levels in a Decade

Corporate marketing budgets have dropped to 6.4% of revenue this year, down from 11% last year, according to Gartner’s annual CMO Spend Survey. This is the first time the percentage has dipped below 10%.

Marketing executives under pressure are continuing to try to reduce costs by taking over work that they used to outsource to vendors such as advertising and marketing agencies, said Ewan McIntyre, co-chief of research and vice president analyst in Gartner’s marketing practice.

‘Breaking up with Journalism’

Durango Herald sports editor John Livingston shared his thoughts for why he is leaving the media industry, and his thoughts are as illuminating as they are heartbreaking:

“Because of all the cuts, I no longer have the ability to live up to the standards I set during my early days … that were only elevated when I arrived at The Herald in 2014 and was surrounded by a vibrant newsroom full of incredible journalists who opened my eyes and fostered my intense love for the profession.

“Despite the staff reductions at The Herald, not unlike those seen at print – and digital – media companies across the globe, I have worked tirelessly to do the job the way I feel it is supposed to be done, even after the sports staff was cut from three to two in 2016, and again when it was reduced to one in March of 2020.

“I doubled and tripled down on my commitment and refused to lower the bar after each of those cuts. … On top of added daily duties, I frequently spent scheduled days off covering our athletes and their ever-growing list of accomplishments. Often, those were some of the best stories to write. But it became a burden on friends and family each time I broke out the laptop to write another story or conduct another interview.

“The expectation of continually doing more with less is not attainable. Burnout is rampant, and there is a greater emphasis on page views and story counts than quality journalism. I will always fight for the latter.

Who Had the Worse Week?

It was a tough week for a number of sports-related figures. Among them:

  • ESPN and Rachel Nichols overshadowed the NBA Finals when a long-simmering story involving covertly recorded and shared racial remarks went full boil.
  • USA Track & Field found itself heavily criticized after it declined to include superstar sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson on the 4×100 U.S. Olympic Relay team. Richardson had previously been disqualified from the individual 100-meter race due to a positive marijuana test, but she was technically still eligible for the relay race.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ star pitcher Trevor Bauer has been suspended by MLB following unbelievably brutal rape allegations. MLB had to step in after the Dodgers inexplicably planned to continue playing him.
  • John McEnroe was criticized for his tone-deaf remarks about the metal health of Wimbledon player Emma Raducana, an 18-year-old Londoner playing in the intense spotlight of her home country. McEnroe’s brand is tone-deaf, of course, so don’t expect any significant fall-out from this one.

There were also a few non-sports related ones as well:

  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill managed one final self-inflected wound when journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones spurned it for Howard University after a months-long tenure battle that put the university and its values in the national spotlight. Making it an even bigger win for Howard, it also announced that well-known and widely respected author Ta-Nehisi Coates was also joining its faculty.
  • ExxonMobil’s lobbyist broke the cardinal rule of lobbying, which is don’t make your client’s job tougher by becoming the story.
  • Declan Kelly, the CEO of PR and Public Affairs firm Teneo was forced to resign after allegedly getting drunk and inappropriately touching women at a client event that included Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as honorary co-chairs.

So, who won the week? That’s easy – National Spelling Bee champion Zaila Avant-garde. The 14-year-old is the first African American to win the spelling bee, and if you weren’t completely charmed by her response to winning, I don’t even want to know you. And, it turns out, spelling is just one of her many talents.

Photo by Scott Mc Intyre for The New York Times

‘Financially Hobbled for Life’

Melissa Korn and Andrea Fuller at The Wall Street Journal: “Recent film program graduates of Columbia University who took out federal student loans had a median debt of $181,000. Yet two years after earning their master’s degrees, half of the borrowers were making less than $30,000 a year. The Columbia program offers the most extreme example of how elite universities in recent years have awarded thousands of master’s degrees that don’t provide graduates enough early career earnings to begin paying down their federal student loans, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Education Department data.”

Howard University Offers Masterclass in Changing the Subject

Last week, Howard University was floundering after the dean of its College of Fine Arts (and former Cosby Show actress) Phylicia Rashad publicly celebrated Bill Cosby’s release from prison. Cosby has been accused of sexual assault and rape by more than 60 women, and his release was due to a legal technicality. Much of the media coverage noting Rashad’s support for Cosby included that Howard itself has a checkered history of addressing on-campus sexual assaults, and the university and Rashad were forced to quickly apologize. The Independence Day long weekend could not come fast enough.

This week, the conversation has shifted. Howard announced this morning that it has hired embattled University of North Carolina journalist/professor Nikole Hannah-Jones following her well-documented tenure dispute, as well as the journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. Over the course of one long weekend, Howard changed the conversation and recast itself from villain to hero.

The Seedy Underbelly of Professional Tennis

As we approach the midpoint of tennis’ premier event, Wimbledon, The Washington Post’s Michael Steinberger explores the differing fates of tennis players you know and those fighting to become the tennis players you know. Steinberger writes:

“The match was a case study in contrasting fortunes as well. Tennis had left (Vasek) Pospisil very comfortable, with more than $5 million in career earnings. He was happy just to break even in Charlottesville and could afford certain luxuries, such as the presence of his coach and meals from Whole Foods, not available to many players on the Challenger circuit. (His) 25-year-old (opponent Chris) O’Connell, on the other hand, had made less than $200,000 as a pro and had cleaned boats and worked in a Lululemon shop to sustain himself financially. Heading into the match against Pospisil, he was ranked No. 139. He had recently won a Challenger event and reached the semifinal of another. He would go on to finish 2019 having won 82 matches in total, more than any other man or woman on the pro tour. Yet, after expenses, he would earn just $15,000 or so.”

Photo courtesy of the USTA

Matt Moseley Hosts Book Launch at the Denver Press Club Tonight

Matt Moseley is hosting a launch event for his new book, Ignition: Superior Communication Strategies to Create Stronger Connections, tonight at the Denver Press Club. The book includes extensive interviews with a wide variety of experts, including fighter pilots, business leaders, attorneys, and astrophysicists. Through those, Moseley tests universal communication principles, teases out new provocative ideas, and anticipates how forming stronger connections will help us address today’s greatest challenges.

Details of the event are:
6 pm, Wed., June 16, 2021
Denver Press Club
1330 Glenarm Place
Denver, CO 80204
RSVP Here

ColoradoBiz Appoints Jon Hauber as Publisher

ColoradoBiz has named Jon Haubert as publisher, replacing Sylvia Young who had served as publisher for more than a decade. Hauber is the owner of H.B. Legacy Media, a strategic communications firm “designed to tackle complex and difficult-to-message topics.” Among its projects was the launch of Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), a pro-oil and gas advocacy group that was highly visible during recent election cycles.

“Jon will be a tremendous asset and fit in perfectly with our talented team,” said Dan Wiesner, owner of ColoradoBiz parent company WiesnerMedia. “He’s proven that he holds that right mix of thought-provoking story ideas, businesses and people to profile, and the advertising support needed to maintain business operations that any successful magazine needs not only to survive, but to thrive.”

Colorado Republicans’ Secret List of Media BFFs Leaked

It’s hardly a secret that communications professionals have a mental ranking of journalists. Those rankings usually reflect various factors such as influence, objectivity*, responsiveness, and the overall experience of working with them. (And, spoiler alert, journalists have similar mental rankings of communications professionals.)

Most of us have the God-given sense to keep those lists in our heads rather than on paper. But Jesse Paul at the Colorado Sun obtained a list distributed recently by Colorado House Republicans that rated media outlets according to “friendliness.” And based on journalist feedback on Twitter, it was a barn-burner.

The happiest journalists were those at outlets deemed “not friendly,” and the most ambivalent journalists were those at outlets described as “friendly.” The unhappiest were journalists at outlets that didn’t even make the list (I’m looking at you, Denverite, Aurora Sentinel and Colorado Community Media).

An interesting quirk to this list: the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel is listed as friendly to Republicans, but its politics reporter Charles Ashby can’t even get a return phone call, much less a comment, from his U.S. House Rep. Lauren Boebert. Maybe Charles should email the list to the Congresswoman.

(*”Objectivity” actually means more likely to be receptive to the opinions of the communications professional)

Massachusetts Sues PR/Advertising Firm that Helped Purdue Pharma Market Opioids

Attorneys General across the country have lined up to sue Purdue Pharma, and the members of the Sackler family that own it, for the manner in which it distributed opioids. In an interesting new development, the state of Massachusetts has now filed suit against the public relations and advertising firm Publicis Health (a division of Publicis Groupe) for helping Purdue Pharma market opioids in what the state says is an irresponsible manner.

Lecia Bushak at Medical Marketing & Media reports:

“Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a lawsuit against Publicis Health over its work for Purdue Pharma during the opioid epidemic. The complaint filed Thursday alleges that Publicis Health worked with Purdue between 2010 and 2019 – the years encompassing the height of the opioid crisis – on a variety of marketing campaigns aiming to make doctors prescribe more opioids to patients, and at higher doses.” 

“This decade-long marketing scheme had clear goals: to sell more OxyContin, make a profit and manage Purdue’s reputation as the opioid epidemic was raging,” Healey said during a press conference. Healey argues that Publicis Health created marketing strategies that aimed to reduce hesitancy among prescribers to give patients OxyContin. The agency planned campaigns to “humanize” the OxyContin brand to doctors, with the goal of getting more patients on higher doses, she alleges.

Westword Publishes Annual ‘Best of Denver’ Issue

Westword is out with its annual “Best of Denver” issue, and the winners include:

Best Talk-Radio Host
Ryan Warner, Colorado Matters, Colorado Public Radio

Best Podcast
City Cast Denver hosted by Bree Davies

Best Serial Podcast
The Syndicate by Chris Walker

Best Local TV Morning News Show
CBS4 Denver

Best Local TV Evening News Show
Denver 7

Best Local TV News Anchor
Tom Green, 9News

Best Local TV Weathercaster
Matt Makens, Fox31/KWGN

Linhart PR Announces Several Promotions

Linhart PR announced it has promoted four team members:

  • Kelly Brown was promoted to Management Supervisor. She has been with the firm for seven years, and she will continue to lead communications strategy, community engagement and media relations programs for clients in the energy, utilities, infrastructure and healthcare industries, as well as support firm new business efforts.
  • Emily Rado was promoted to Account Supervisor. She will celebrate her five-year anniversary this month and she delivers strategic counsel and leads media relations, digital and influencer strategies for consumer brands including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Nature’s Heart, and the NCBA’s “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” campaign.
  • Shannon Hughes was promoted to Account Supervisor. She joined the team in 2016 and she provides communications counsel, plans community engagement activations, and leads media relations strategies for clients in the energy and utilities, professional services, and multi-unit restaurant industries.
  • Jenny Nailling has been promoted to Account Executive, after joining Linhart PR in early 2020. She executes local, national and trade media relations programs, develops content, and helps to manage social media and influencer activations for several of Linhart PR’s clients across a range of industries.

Denver PR Firm SilversJacobson Handling Colorado Supreme Court Controversy

If you have been following The Denver Post‘s exhaustive coverage of the issues at the Colorado Supreme Court (conveniently tagged “Colorado Judiciary Scandal” on its website for easy reference), you know that it has been a tough few months. It could have been much tougher, though.

Word on the street is that the Colorado Supreme Court hired Steve Silvers and Paul Jacobson from SilversJacobson shortly after David Migoya at The Denver Post broke the story about allegations of widespread sexual harassment, discrimination and unethical behavior throughout the Colorado Judiciary Branch. The result has been some positive developments – Chief Justice Boatright took full ownership of the situation, asked the other branches of government to oversee an independent investigation, and has hammered the idea of wholesale culture change.

Silvers’ crisis and controversy consulting goes back to the 1993 Aurora Chuck E. Cheese murders and the building of Denver International Airport, and Jacobson spent years on Capitol Hill and in corporate communications director jobs, including the largest corporate bankruptcy reorganization in U.S. history.

Colorado Sun, in Partnership with National Trust for Local News, Acquires Colorado Community Media

Colorado Sun Editor Larry Ryckman: “The Colorado Sun is now part owner and operator of 24 suburban newspapers in the Denver metro area. The Sun has partnered with a new nonprofit called the National Trust for Local News, which is using this endeavor with us as a pilot project to show that national funders and local journalists can collaborate to keep newspapers in local hands.”

“Together, The Sun and the National Trust have purchased Colorado Community Media, which has 24 weekly and monthly newspapers serving eight counties including and surrounding Denver. Some of these newspapers are more than 100 years old (the Golden Transcript alone is 153 years old), and they range from Castle Rock to Brighton, Evergreen to Arvada, Parker to Denver’s Washington Park and beyond.”

“This is a bit of a departure for The Colorado Sun, which has been an all-digital news site since our founding in 2018. But our entire staff has extensive experience in the print newspaper world, so we’re confident we still remember how it’s done. And the preservation of these newspapers is absolutely part of our mission of public service.”

Pour One out for the Rockies’ Bridich, and then Throw the (Empty) Can at Him

The Colorado Rockies have been on a tear lately – winning five of their last seven games – and yet they still find themselves with the worst record in the entire National League. That is especially surprising given that the architect of the current Rockies is none other than self-described super genius Jeff Bridich.

Bridich didn’t win a lot of friends when he argued that beat reporters and the general public were too stupid to be considered fair criticism. And what little support he had teetered when he signed Daniel Murphy rather than re-signing D.J. LeMehieu (who went to the Yankees and immediately became an All-Star). But it was the Nolan Arenado “trade that ultimately collapsed Bridich’s house of cards – only the Rockies would trade away their best player of all time and pay another team $50 million for the pleasure of doing it.

Rockies owner Tricky Dick Monfort faced the obvious, finally, and Bridich has “mutually agreed” to not be allowed to be the GM any longer. So, if you are a Rockies fan, or even just a fan of Karma, enjoy a beer tonight to celebrate the end of the Bridich era.

Cision Survey Finds Journalists Have Love-Hate Relationship with Press Releases

Natasha Bach at PRWeek: “Journalists are overwhelmed by the number of press releases they receive, but underwhelmed by the content. That’s one finding from Cision’s annual State of the Media report, released on Thursday morning, which surveyed more than 2,500 journalists. However, journalists do like to receive press releases, according to the report. Seventy-eight percent listed them as the type of content they want to get from PR pros and brands, followed by original research (68%).”

“The report makes the case for more targeted media lists to ensure that reporters and editors are receiving relevant releases, noting that journalists are overstretched and under a lot of pressure, with many covering several beats and under pressure to generate traffic. To help them do their jobs, and get coverage for announcements, PR pros should anticipate, monitor and quickly act on trending stories, according to the report.”

Gov. Polis Appoints Alvina Maria Vasquez to Western Colorado University Board

Joey Bunch at ColoradoPolitics.com: “Gov. Jared Polis has appointed well-known Denver politico Alvina Maria Vasquez to the Western Colorado University Board of Trustees, the school said Tuesday.

“Vasquez was the political director on the governor’s 2018 core campaign team, building his network of key leaders and supporters. Vasquez is the founder and president of strategy and public relations firm Power Map Ltd. She is the former senior vice president in the Colorado office of Strategies 360, where she lengthened her resume on a variety of local and national campaigns. She was listed among the Denver Business Journal’s ’40 Under 40‘ in 2016.”