ECG PR: Some Mandatory Boasting

Yesterday was the culmination of our semester long PR campaign for the East Coast Greenway (see previous post). We held an event called Mother’s Day on the Greenway, celebrating families everywhere and encouraging them to get out, spend some time together, and take a walk/ride on the ECG. I was happy with the event, mainly because people seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it. My group and I worked very hard to put everything together and couldn’t have done it without the help of the ECG Alliance.
To top it all off, we got some great media coverage. Not only did we get great support and coverage pre-event, thanks to email listings, community calendars, and local papers, but we also managed to make it onto the news.
WPRI Fox Providence news showed up and did a 45 second slot on our event. Group member Samantha Eckel did a great job handling an interview and we’re all very proud of how it turned out. So, for the sake of bragging, I’ve embedded the video into this post. I couldn’t be more proud of our group and the work we did for, and leading up to, this event. Rarely has a group worked so well together– meshing perfectly by each bringing our own specialties to the table.

For more information about the East Coast Greenway I urge you to check out their website.

No NPR? No, Thanks.

Honestly, I should be paying more attention to the campaign to defund NPR. I guess the very concept seemed ridiculous to me– Who would agree to this? And why?

As of late, after the House passed a vote to cut funding to NPR and PBS, I’ve done a bit more research.

On Tuesday, the House passed a three-week temporary spending bill with $6 billion in cuts, including $50 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports NPR and PBS.

The greatest support for the defunding came after a “sting” operation caught an NPR executive criticizing the Republican party and saying that the stations did not need the millions of dollars the government supplied them with.

Republicans have long been critical of public broadcasting and accuse it of having a liberal slant. Many felt their suspicions were confirmed when an undercover video produced by conservative activist James O’Keefe showed NPR executive Ron Schiller calling the Tea Party movement “scary” and “racist” at a meeting with a potential donor who claimed to be from a Muslim organization that supports Sharia law. Both the donor and organization were fake, part of a sting operation set up by O’Keefe.

Executive Ron Schiller has since stepped down, but the damage has been done. While I don’t condone Schiller’s name-calling, I do have admit I’m shocked by the very idea of a “sting operation” being set up to uncover NPR’s true politics. First off, there is no denying they are left-leaning. For the most part, no media source, no matter their attempts, are ever seen as neutral. A news station could have the most impartial reporting ever, but as viewers and consumers we naturally want to categorize our sources. Whether we want an enemy to be angry at, or a companion who shares our beliefs.

Media theories, such as the Uses and Gratification Theory, state that we turn to media for specific reasons. Sometimes we are looking for entertainment, but often when we turn on a news show, we are looking for further validation of our already set opinions. So if we’re liberal, we may prefer one network. If we’re conservative, we prefer a different network. We don’t necessarily want a neutral source.

But that is a tangent from the true point of this post. The bottom line is that NPR is a news source and, while aspects of it tend to be more liberal, its fundamental reporting is all-inclusive. The news on these programs is not distorted, nor are facts left out. I have heard show hosts equally criticize Republican and Democratic politicians and ideas. But, the stations are much more than just news outlets– they provide entertainment, such as my personal favorite show: Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. They also promote cultural discussions and bring in experts from a variety of fields to share knowledge with the listeners.

Of course, nothing proves a point quite like simple facts: In a Harris poll conducted in 2005, NPR was voted the most trusted news source in the U.S.

MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE? That surely counts for something.

Despite the House’s vote, the future remains somewhat bright for NPR enthusiasts like myself:

The bill, should the Senate even bring it to the floor, is almost certain to fail in that chamber. Democrats control the Senate, where members of both parties have expressed skepticism about cutting off NPR because it remains popular among many of their constituents.
In the meantime, I leave you with a very entertaining video of House Rep. Anothony Weimer mocking the efforts to defund NPR and its “un-American” programming…such as Car Talk?

Has Sheen’s Ship Sailed?

When a celebrity crashes and burns, hundreds of media outlets across the globe stand to attention. The public can’t get enough of hot messes straight out of Hollywood. Thankfully, Charlie Sheen has decided to provide us with enough fodder to last a lifetime.

I can’t help but comment on the recent ‘tomfoolery’ (his word, not mine). Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Sheen. I believe him to be the real-life embodiment of Lord Licorice from the childhood board game Candyland. Sure, he turned out a reasonably good performance in Wallstreet, but his overall acting ability is sub par. Contrary to Sheen’s own boastful claims, he really is “nothing special.” Or at least, he wasn’t special until he decided to crash and burn with a fervor that would make Lindsey Lohan jealous.

From drugs to spousal abuse to anti-Semitism– Sheen is covering all his bases, leaving no group free from offense. While his public downward spiral began with ranting radio interviews, as of yesterday Sheen has taken to the medium of television, where we get to both hear his gravely voice and look into his sunken eyes. There is no doubt that the man looks unhealthy– he’s lost weight, he face speaks of exhaustion– I found myself wondering if the whole make-up department was out sick. In one interview, Sheen chainsmokes while simultaneously boasting his impressive ability to quit narcotics and alcohol cold turkey, without the help of AA. In fact, Sheen goes on to bash AA– once again, leaving no stone unturned with his offense. Sheen comes across as egotistical, calling himself both a warlock and rock star in two interviews. His cocky gloating only helps to null and void his claim of selflessness in wanting to start back on Two and a Half men. Formerly the highest paid actor in television (2 million an episode!), Sheen insists that his eagerness to start back up at work is motivated by a need to support his family (did you know the man has 5 children? FIVE! That’s five little ones running around with his genes…).

But this post is more than my own personal rant about Charlie Sheen, it’s a recognition of a Public Relations fail.

While I don’t know much (or anything) about Sheen’s publicist or how Sheen himself has been trained to handle these situations, I’m quite sure that the wrong approach is being taken. Suddenly Sheen seems to be on every television station, giving ‘exclusive’ interview after ‘exclusive’ interview. It’s understandable that Team Sheen wants to do some major damage control, but the interviews are doing more harm than good. While his mind-blowingly offensive radio interviews didn’t seem to be enough to convince the Team that Sheen’s interaction with the media should be limited, one would have supposed his first interview would have. Instead, Sheen is being scheduled for more and more face time with television audiences. At each sitting he manages to offend a whole new target audiences while sinking himself deeper and deeper into the pits of career suicide. At this point, it almost seems like Sheen’s publicist is purposely trying to destroy him (perhaps he/she was among the many offended). And yet, do you think a good PR campaign could have saved him? Or possibly still can?

Even before his outrageous radio interviews, it was doubtful Sheen’s career could ever be salvaged. Afterall, the only star to ever reemerge from such a critical situation is the preternatural Robert Downey Jr. RDJ, however, possesses something that Sheen’s interviews prove the TV ‘star’ severely lacks–charisma. Now, for Sheen it is just a matter of a slow descent, with the public delighting in even obnoxious and toxic word he utters. Consider Sheen’s career over.

[Here’s a brilliant idea! How about Emilio Estevez (Charlie Sheen’s half-brother) returns to mainstream acting, or acting at all, and takes over the Sheen’s role on Two and a Half Men. Pull a Spin City kind of move, when Sheen took over for the always charming Michael J Fox. Just saying.]

Great Article about Sheen’s PR Flop: http://www.pamil-visions.net/charlie-sheen/223210/