The Week in PR

  1. Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes
    Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes

    Tough Times: We told you about the federal feeding frenzy going on in D.C. concerning Volkswagen and its emissions transgressions ( PRN, March 14). Here’s more evidence. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week filed suit in San Francisco, alleging the carmaker misled consumers when it advertised its diesel vehicles were environmentally friendly. The federal judge overseeing litigation against VW has given the company until April 21 to formulate a plan to fix the more than 600,000 U.S. vehicles that contain software designed to fool emissions tests. Although it is unable to impose monetary penalties, the FTC wants a court order requiring VW to compensate U.S. consumers who bought or leased the affected cars from 2008-2015. VW also recalled nearly 1 million SUVs last week due to faulty foot pedals. – More trouble for Canadian pharma Valeant( PRN, March 21). Late last Thursday the former Wall Street darling whose U.S. shares have lost nearly 90% since August was given a stop-trading order from a Canadian regulator for failing to file its annual report and other documents. Back in the U.S., Valeant asked creditors for additional wiggle room to keep it from defaulting. – More bad news for Theranos and founder Elizabeth Holmes ( pictured above) ( PRN, Feb 15). At press time, a new federal report said Theranos blood-testing products often failed to meet the company’s internal requirements.

  2. Early Bird Gets the Facebook: Weber Shandwick was the first global PR firm to trial the Facebook at Work platform ( PRN, Dec. 21, 2015). Now it’s the first to adopt the employee engagement tool that allows company staff to message each other, among other things. “We’re adopting it across our company to continue to analyze and understand advantages for clients, as well as benefit from the value it brings to our own…collaborative global network,” said Chris Perry, Weber Shandwick’s chief digital officer. – As announced late last year, the merger of Vantage PR and PAN Communicationswill be known from April 1 as PAN Communications. – How many times have you told your significant other or friends that “they should make a TV show about what we do in PR”? Wish granted. Netflix said Friday that reality docu-series The Agencywill bring viewers inside the workings of Slice Communicationsof Philadelphia. The series premieres May 1.
  3. VAWell Done, Sir Richard:Disguised as a serious offer for 20% off seats coinciding with a Virgin America logo redesign, Sir Richard Branson’s April Fools effort was a fine attempt to show the brand doesn’t take itself too seriously. Always on the lookout for examples of brands’ social media prowess, we opened the innocuous-looking email that promised “a peep” at the new logo and a video explaining its backstory. The logo seemed real enough, if unusual, but one character in the video was too over the top. That and the napkin sketches that Branson supposedly drew just seemed far too excessive in number and in resemblance to various bathing suit parts. Sir Richard had us. More important, we concentrated on his brand for several minutes. Mission accomplished.
  4. Holly Beverly, VP, Rogers & Cowan
    Holly Beverly, VP, Rogers & Cowan

    People: Weber Shandwick named Patricia Cooper SVP in its Sacramento office, responsible for expanding Weber Shandwick’s public affairs practice in CA and across the country. – DeVries Global named Colby Vogt global EVP, business intelligence. Vogt joins DeVries from FleishmanHillard, where he led research and analytics for several regions. – Greg Sherry was named EVP, communications by Kellen, the association services and communications firm. Sherry spent much of his career building The Sherry Group, which he sold to Publicis. After that he served as managing director of the consumer marketing practice at G&S Business Communications, and SVP, consumer marketing at Levick. – Lewis named Michael Brito SVP of U.S. digital marketing and leader of its digital marketing in the U.S. Brito comes from W20 Group, where he headed social marketing. In addition, Mark Burr was named SVP of Piston, a Lewis company. He was at Uniworld Boutique River Cruises as global digital director. – Leslie Campisi joined Anthemis, the digital financial services investment and advisory firm, as CMO. She joins from MSLGroup, where she was SVP, digital practice lead. – Sean O’Brien joined PadillaCRT as VP of technology and innovation. He comes from Mithun Agency where he was SVP, technology and innovation. – Rogers & Cowan named Holly Beverly VP. She will lead the firm’s new business, marketing and social media efforts across the agency’s entertainment and brand teams. – Telecommunications Industry Association named Ashley Simmons director of communications. Formerly she was director of communications at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America. – The communications director for Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) Jocelyn Webster is leaving for a VP post at WE Communications.

This article originally appeared in the April 4, 2016 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.