PR Diversions of the Week
It's been an interesting week for "don't look over there, look here instead" diversionary PR moves.
My favorite by far is the NFL's miraculous settlement of the contract dispute between the team owners and the referees after weeks of botched calls and speculation that the two sides were not getting any closer. This was absolutely a diversionary PR move. As Bill Dwyer described well in the Postbulletin.com, "The NFL fears only two things: decreasing revenue and a bad image." Seemingly the ridiculous call by the replacement refs at the end of the Packers/Seahawks game on Monday Night Football was the final straw, particularly since it dominated NFL coverage all week.
"This was business, not emotion. This was about getting off the front page, and back onto the sports pages, where the faithful followers can be brought back into line quickly and beer sales stay good. The longer your missteps and greed are at noise levels above the cheering for touchdowns and pass completions, the more quickly the image you seek of high-class, fan-friendly entertainment gets pushed aside for the reality that you are, first and foremost, the greediest kind of corporate America," Dwyer added.
Another PR move was Senator Scott Brown dressing down his team members after videos went viral of key Brown staffers taking part in mocking his opponent's claimed Native American ancestry.
"Late Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Brown issued a statement saying that he regretted that members of his staff were seen in an earlier video shouting war whoops and performing tomahawk chops, an apparent reference to Warren's claims of Native American heritage, and that they have been given their "one and only warning that this type of conduct will not be tolerated."
I rank this as a diversionary PR move because Brown doesn't want this type of mocking attack to refute his well established nice guy image. However, Brown himself has prompted this acting out by supporters and staffers, by making Elizabeth Warren's claims of Native American heritage a front and center campaign issue. He brought it up at the beginning of their first debate and has subsequently used it in many campaign trail appearances as a way to question her integrity.
Both candidates are remanded to a PR 101 refresher class for abandoning their lauded (including in this blog) pledge to keep the campaign focused on the issues rather than stooping to mud-slinging and personal attacks. The gloves are certainly off on both sides now, so neither candidate currently can be viewed as keeping this campaign promise.
And I would be remiss if I didn't point out the ultimate (and fairly delusional) diversionary PR tactics of the Boston Red Sox PR machine, which continued through the last home game to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park. The 40-man roster of the "All Fenway team" was trotted out onto the field before the last home game to celebrate the best team of all time. This segment of Fan Appreciation Week occurred just before the Red Sox were swept by Tampa Bay for the last home series of this singularly unmemorable season which is yielding the worst team results since the 1960s.
Do you think the communications teams for these three groups really thought these ploys were fooling anyone this week?