Nice try, but Biden’s spokesperson can’t clean this one up
You’ve heard about Joe Biden’s unfortunate acknowledgement Thursday that he “wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now” due to swine flu. Biden was answering a question from Matt Lauer on the Today show.
The statement quickly rippled across the Web and TV news.
Later Thursday morning, his spokesperson, Elizabeth Alexander, sent an e-mail to journalists trying to clarify the vice president’s remarks. According to USA Today, Alexander noted that the specific question dealt with what Biden would tell a family member making an air trip to Mexico this week.
“The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving to all Americans: that they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico,” she said. “If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways.”
Not so fast, Ms. Alexander.
Yes, Lauer was asking, specifically, what Biden would tell a family member planning an air trip to Mexico, but it was the vice president who quickly broadened the answer to reflect all air travel to anywhere in the world. Here’s the transcript:
Lauer: Let me ask you this, and this is by no means a gotcha type of question, but if a member of your family came to you …
Lauer: No, Mr. Vice President, if a member of your family came to you and said, ‘Look, I want to go on a commercial airliner to Mexico and back within the next week,’ would you think it’s a good idea?
Biden: I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now. It’s not that it’s going to Mexico; it’s that you’re in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. I would not be at this point—if they had another way of transportation—suggesting they ride the subway. So, from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you’re out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes that’s one thing; if you’re in a closed aircraft, a closed container, a closed car, a closed classroom, it’s a different thing.
Hmm, I don’t think Biden was referring to just Mexico or just if you’re sick. He’s clearly saying no one should travel in confined places.
But nice try, Ms. Alexander.
And by the way, can you clarify what it means to travel in a “closed container”?
‘Reality Rod’ clip leaked to press, elicits chuckles and groans across Illinois
Won’t we miss Rod Blagojevich when he’s in jail?
Check out the latest Blago antics—what Chicago media are dubbing “Reality Rod.” It’s a 49-second behind-the-scenes clip of the ex-governor hovering in front of a green screen, gesturing to the camera. It’s part of a reality TV promo that Blago shot in Los Angeles this week.
Have you voted for the Facebook terms of service yet?
Remember months back when Facebook caused an uproar by changing its terms of service agreement to allow the social network to keep user information after it was deleted and license it to third parties?
Facebook members and privacy hawks cried foul; the original terms of service was restored and Facebook returned to the drawing board. It has since created two terms of service: the one it drafted in September 2008 without member input and a new one that incorporates feedback from users.
Basically, the status quo versus a change you called for. So now Facebook is asking members to cast their vote on which terms of service they prefer.
You have until 11:59 this evening to cast your vote.
Now here’s the problem. Facebook said at least 30 percent of active users in the past month must participate to make the vote count—that’s between 60 and 70 million people. About 24 hours ago a mere 300,000 had voted, reports The Consumerist blog.
What marketers are (sort of) learning from the plucky Susan Boyle
Oh, Susan Boyle, what did we ever do before your sweet pipes came into our lives?
Boyle, as you know, is the British woman who stunned audiences in Great Britain—and then the world thanks to YouTube—when she let loose the song “I Dreamed a Dream” (from Les Miserables) on the TV show, Britain’s Got Talent.
Web videos of Boyle, mostly on YouTube, have topped 100 million total views, according to Visible Measures.
If you’re going to be a frump, be a lovable frump.
The marketing world—the part of it that isn't obsessed with overpaying conventionally attractive celebrity spokesbots to endorse products—already knows all about the nature of Susan Boyle's appeal. Witness the ad industry's history of celebrating lovable schlumps over the years, from Ol' Lonely, the Maytag repairman (was he ever kissed?), to Wendy “the Snapple Lady” Kaufman.
Dumenco is talking about authenticity. And isn’t that one reason so many people love Boyle?
Dumenco also says:
Pluck is everything
[Boyle] picked off her foes (Simon Cowell et al, the skeptical audience) with understated pluck. To sell anything in this economy—especially yourself—you definitely need pluck.
It is believed this is the first time someone at a White House press briefing stood at the podium and spoke Spanish. That someone is Dan Restrepo, the White House’s senior adviser on Latin America. He addressed the media in Spanish and English during a press briefing on America’s loosening of travel and remittance restrictions on citizens with family in Cuba.
Here's the video; Restrepo enters about 1:45 into the clip.
Dominos Pizza employees record themselves defiling your food—and then post it to YouTube
Two Dominos Pizza employees posted this video on YouTube yesterday (April 13). It was briefly removed and then re-uploaded. It shows them doing disgusting things to food they say will soon be eaten by customers.
WARNING: If you eat at Dominos Pizza this will disgust you. Also, if you are a human being, this will disgust you.
UPDATE 2: Kristy from the video is claiming the whole thing was a prank and none of that food was sent to customers. (Uh-huh.) Meanwhile, Dominos VP of Communications Tim McIntyre responded to an e-mail from a reader of The Consumerist blog about the incident.
Our chief of security has spoken to the franchise owner this morning, who was dumbfounded, to say the least. He has told us that he will be terminating their employment today. The "challenge" that comes with the freedom of the internet is that any idiot with a camera and an internet link can do stuff like this - and ruin the reputation of a brand that's nearly 50 years old, and the reputations of 125,000 hard-working men and women across the nation and in 60 countries around the world.
UPDATE: There are three more videos starring these employees. The Consumerist blog has the full scoop.
A woman rushed to the San Francisco airport to catch a United flight to Portland, Oregon, to see her dying mother—except she didn’t make it. No friendly skies for her. The United ticking agent refused to help. Why? It was time for her break.
“Passengers waiting in line were more than willing to let [the woman] skip to the front of the line, but her sad situation apparently wasn't enough to earn the agent’s sympathies,” The Consumerist writes.
But here’s the best part.
When she finally reached the gate, and her flight was taking off without her, the gate agent defended his colleague’s decision to take a break.
The gate agent said, “Management really makes us work some unreasonable schedules.”
How's that for some sympathy?
The woman’s boyfriend, who drove her to the airport, e-mailed United CEO Glenn Tilton and cc’d The Consumerist blog. He explains the whole story in the e-mail.
We’ll see if Tilton replies.
Until then, so much for these lovely United commercials …
Here’s a clever use of secular marketing to promote the Catholic Church: A parody of the ShamWow infomercial. Just one thing, though: The ShamWow spokesman was arrested for punching a prostitute he hired.
So was the Catholic Church unaware or tapping into a forgiveness theme?
Long Beach City Council mad at blogger for reporting inconvenient facts
Here’s a media strategy for you: Circle the wagons and blame the messengers.
The Long Beach, California, City Council is fuming at the author of The Cranky Flier aviation blog, Brett Snyder, for the interview he did with JetBlue CEO Dave Barger.
In the interview, “Barger [told Snyder] the airline was so frustrated with the slow pace of improvements at Long Beach Airport that it could eventually pull out if the pace didn’t pick up,” reports USA Today. “The story was picked up and reported on by much of the L.A.-area media. The reports then prompted the council to add the topic to the agenda during a meeting last week.”
And how did the city council react? They were mad at the blogger for writing the post and angry at mainstream press for picking up the story.
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, “some council members criticized the slow process that has yet to see ground break on any improvements at the airport … (but) much of the criticism was focused on the blog that started the whole thing—crankyflier.com, which had posted, verbatim, the interview with Barger.”
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said: "We should not take blogs as professional journalism, and the professional journalists should take that as well."
Both the Press-Telegram and Los Angeles Times, which picked up the story, verified the interview and added relevant background information, USA Today reports.
The Press-Telegram also said, “[Long Beach] Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske seemed to indicate that because city management and the council hadn't heard about Barger's concerns, the blog interview shouldn't be taken seriously.”
USA Today said Schipske called media reports citing Snyder's interview with Barger “irresponsible.”
Last year, a British paper ranked The Cranky Flier number 29 out of the world’s 50 most powerful blogs.
Snyder defended himself.
“It doesn’t matter if this was written on a bathroom wall,” he wrote. “It came directly from the CEO of the largest airline at this airport. Does it really do any good to try to discredit blogs or traditional media in the process? No. It also shows that (city council members are) quite out of touch with the current state of reporting. There are many reputable blogs and discrediting them with a blanket statement like that will most certainly not serve them well.”
Whining journalists at L.A. Times should shut up or quit
Imagine a sinking ship with a crew split into two groups of “journalists” and “marketers.”
The “marketers” have found an effective—if somewhat insidious and unsustainable—way to quickly bail water from the ship. In response, the “journalists” scream and wail, shed a few tears and throw a tantrum. They issue a statement. They are disgusted by those other crew members.
But they don’t jump ship.
That’s the scenario at the sinking Los Angeles Times. On Thursday, it ran a front-page ad for a new NBC program that looked very similar to a news story. The editorial staff responded with anger, and issued this statement:
We the journalists of the newsroom strenuously object to the decision to sell an ad, in the form of a phony news story, on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.
The NBC ad may have provided some quick cash, but it has caused incalculable damage to this institution. This action violates a 128-year pact with our readers that the front page is reserved for the most meaningful stories of the day. Placing a fake news article on A-1 makes a mockery of our integrity and our journalistic standards.
The Los Angeles Times stands apart from other sources of news and information in Southern California because of our willingness to report the truth, even when it angers powerful interests or puts us in peril. Our willingness to sell our most precious real estate to an advertiser is embarrassing and demoralizing.
Incalculable damage was done to the institution years ago when people stopped reading the L.A. Times print edition.* Hundreds of newsroom positions have been slashed. The number of sections and pages the paper prints has steadily shrunk in recent years.
So what if ads are sold on the front page, as long as they’re clearly marked (and the ad in the L.A. Times was labeled). It probably won’t save the industry, but then again you never know; it might help.
Would readers rather have a paper with more reporters and editors, more pages and more sections—more news—or an incredibly shrinking—and stubborn—newspaper that won’t surrender its antiquated view of the industry’s advertising model?
And if those newsroom staffers are so appalled by the front-page ad why don’t they quit?** Oh yeah, because their supposed integrity doesn’t pay as much.
Quit whining, start bailing and get to work—there’s news to cover.
*While print readers fall off, Web readership has reportedly soared at the L.A. Times. Reports surfaced earlier this year that the L.A. Times revenue from Web ads could pay the salaries of its editorial employees. Of course, the cost of running a newspaper goes well beyond simply paying reporters and editors.
UPDATED: Hospital staff Twitter during hysterectomy
UPDATE: As several commenters have noted, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has already tweeted during surgeries, including during the removal of a tumor from a kidney. Still pretty sure I wouldn't want anyone tweeting during my surgery, but for what it's worth the practice is in use at some of the nation's best medical centers.
This is a real story; one hospital communicators should probably watch with a notepad.
Staff at Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois conducted a surgery live on Twitter. While a surgeon performed a hysterectomy, staff members inside the operating room sent Twitter updates about the surgery.
For instance, “They just cauterized the infundopelvic ligament which contains the ovarian artery.” Or my personal favorite, “Anyone know what the infundopelvic ligament looks like?”
Just kidding—about that second tweet. Everything else is real.
How would you feel if your surgeon tweeted during surgery? I would absolutely not allow it.
Nothing like a little gossip from inside the airplane of reporters tailing President Obama across Europe. Jake Tapper, ABC’s senior White House correspondent, has sent a few amusing tweets about the experience—including this one on the reporters’ eating habits.
re: snacks on plane - reporters descended like locusts upon trays of hummus and dolmades. skeleton found in wake-
Keep your hands and feet away from the reporters. That’s your Tweet of the Day (TOTD) for Monday, April 6.
Send us any tweets you think deserve highlighting. Leave them in the comment section, e-mail to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send me a message on twitter @msebastian.
Tweet of the Day: Which acclaimed—and weird—director is on Twitter?
You’ll never guess some of the people on Twitter, like director David Lynch—David Lynch. Yes, David Lynch, that guy who directed really weird movies like Mulholland Drive (which I still don’t understand), has a Twitter account.
“In New York City getting ready for Change Begins Within.”
(Change Begins Within is a charity concert for the David Lynch Foundation.)
I know what you’re thinking about this tweet: “So what?” Well, the tweet itself is inconsequential, but it’s David Lynch—and he’s on Twitter, which is kind of weird. Not to mention his tweet was so pedestrian, which is even weirder considering the strange movies he makes.
And so David Lynch, the director of those strange movies, gets the Tweet of the Day.
Send us any tweets you think deserve highlighting. Leave them in the comment section, e-mail to me (email@example.com) or send me a message on twitter @msebastian.
Young, beautiful actress is victim of domestic abuse—in PSA
Anyone else love actress Keira Knightley as much as me?
OK—sorry—wrong place, wrong time for that conversation.
She is starring in a new commercial about domestic violence that’s directed by Joe Wright, director of Knightley’s films Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. In the ad, Knightley is badly beaten by her boyfriend.
The powerful—and graphic—commercial, a campaign for the charity Women’s Aid, will run in movie theaters starting April 6. Let's hope that with star power attached to the campaign,it brings greater attention to domestic violence—a problem that's worsening with the economy.
Ever get sick of journalists talking about sleazy flacks and their two-bit pitches and no-good press releases? Well, PR pro Fennimore Moorestead sure did.
Moorestead, founder of Fennimore & Moorestead, mailed a dead fish to the Time offices after a reporter at the magazine called him out at as a “PR hack” at an industry event in Manhattan last week.
It was reportedly a bluegill, which Moorestead caught himself.
The move seems to be a nod to the film, The Godfather. In the movie, a dead fish conveys that the character Luca Brasi “sleep with the fishes.” A bagman presumably delivered the fish in the Godfather; somehow Moorestead managed to send it through the U.S. mail.
So what did Moorestead mean to communicate with his fish?
Tell us how you manage unrealistic expectations, meet reporter needs, churn out news when there is none, deal with a client you can't stand, and what you say to people that slam PR. Or anything else that's on your mind.