The Best and Worst PR Moves of 2011 : Part I [#BestPRMoves]
It's always fun to look back at the year with a communications lens and determine the best moves that individuals, companies or organizations made from a PR standpoint and then, of course, the most bone-headed moves of the year. The latter list is always easier to compose (why is that?)
A few of our intrepid PR team members, who are busily finishing up programs for 2011 and furiously planning to start 2012 with a bang, picked their heads up briefly to answer the call for this year's lists. And they came up with some real beauties for both lists. Check them out below, and please comment or tweet #BestPRMoves to add your own suggestions!
Let's Start With the #BestPRMove Nominees For 2011:
Newt Gingrich’s Rise to the Top of the Republican Primary Race
Whether or not he's my candidate, I have to give major props to Republican front-runner at the moment, Newt Gingrich. How he managed to surge forward from the "beetlebum" position in the pack of hopefuls has to be the result of some smart PR moves. It remains to be seen if his communications strengths will continue to be channeled in a positive direction. For now, he gets a nod for #BestPRMove. This is subject to change any day that he has a microphone thrust into his face for an ad-hoc comment.
Sarah Palin Removing Herself from Pre-Iowa Caucus Fray
Staying within politics for a moment, can I give a personal shout-out to Sarah Palin for staying out of the pre-Iowa caucus fray this year? The silence from that quarter (so far) has been most welcome, which earns it a #BestPRMove for 2011 from me.
Donald Trump Gets Involved in Politics
Katie Tibbetts thinks "The Donald" deserves recognition for his PR moves, as he personally stirred up questions about the President's birth certificate and later had everyone guessing (and watching) to see "will he or won't he" run for president. Most fun of all, he's now in a media-mediated feud with Republican consultant/spin doctor Karl Rove. Can you give a professional self-promoter a #BestPRMove award, though?
The Technology Industry Remembers Steve Jobs
I wanted to note as a #BestPRMove, the respectful way the technology industry, and particularly Silicon Valley, marked the premature passing of Apple luminary Steve Jobs. I'm not talking about the many tributes that were published or the promotion of his biography to become a major best-seller. I mean the memorials people held the day he passed away and the decisions that companies like Google and Samsung made to cancel announcements and industry events in order to recognize his passing and show the proper respect. Nicely done.
President Obama Releases Birth Certificate at White House Correspondents Dinner
Kenna Luguri recognized President Obama's strategic timing of his birth certificate announcement during the White House Correspondents dinner as a #BestPRMove. This went well beyond good PR to good comedy writing. We all remember him taking the podium to a song usually reserved for Hulk Hogan’s WWE entrances: Rick Derringer’s “I am a real American.” President Obama then kicked off the event with -
“What a week. As some of you heard the state of Hawaii released my official long-form birth certificate. Hopefully, this puts all doubts to rest. But just in case there are any lingering questions, tonight I’m prepared to go a step further. Tonight, for the first time, I am releasing my official birth video.” The screens then plays the scene from Disney’s The Lion King when Mufasa, atop a cliff, lifts Simba up as the other animals in the savannah look on. Afterward, Obama said, “I want to make clear to the Fox News table that was a joke. That was not my real birth video. That was a children’s cartoon. Call Disney if you don’t believe me, they have the original long-form version.”
President Obama Announces the Death of Osama Bin Laden
Bill McLaughlin gave another nod to the White House for the sensitive communications handling of the Navy Seals mission which killed known terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Despite the prevailing reality TV style of journalism these days, there was no grandstanding and there was no distribution of death photos. The President's statement to the American people -- and, really, the world -- about what occurred and why was a textbook example of restraint (and I would bet the result of many revisions).
Lightening up our list, Bill also gave a positive plug to Denver Broncos rookie quarterback/media sensation Tim Tebow for how he's handled himself during the criticism of his running back/minimal passing style of play and for the praise he's now receiving for the seemingly miraculous "Tebow time" fourth quarters where he somehow finds a way to put a W on the board.
Theo Epstein’s Farewell to the Boston Red Sox
Staying on a sports theme, Kenna thought former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein's farewell letter in the Boston Globe was a #BestPRMove this year. We have put the Red Sox and their management on the #WorstPRMove list in years past. But Kenna is correct; it was a classy move by Theo.
John Surma Comes to Penn State’s Aid After Controversial Charges
Staying with sports, but moving to a particularly ugly chapter this year, Mike Parker blogged about John Surma's deft handling of a charged press conference at Penn State the morning after their legendary football coach Joe Paterno was fired due to the allegations of abuse against his long-time assistant Jerry Sandusky. This is a great example of a #BestPRMove being born out of an absolutely horrific PR crisis. Penn State was fortunate to have a strong director like U.S. Steel's Surma available to help them deal with this crisis head on.
Social Media Brings Power to the People
Andi Narvaez reminded us all of the protests in the Middle East this year and the use of social media and power of the people to effect change in that region. That was THE PR Move of the year, absolutely. In fact, “The Protester” was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC
Andi also suggested a nod to comedian Stephen Colbert's Super PAC as an extended parody and educational tool. As she said: "Two birds in one hilarious stone." I so agree.
Abercrombie & Fitch Pay To Disassociate Brand from “The Situation”
And to end on a humorous note, Kenna thought a #BestPRMove was retailer Abercrombie & Fitch's well publicized attempt to pay Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” to not wear their clothing on the show. Now THAT's a #BestPRMove.
I'm sure there are many more, but this was a particularly memorable list. Please add any we may have missed with a comment or a #BestPRMoves tweet. And, of course, stay tuned for the #WorstPRMove nominees of 2011 list next week.