Week in PR

  1. bic-pensWriting The Right Thing: How many lessons can brands and PR pros learn from Bic South Africa’s recent social media blunder? Attempting to do good by celebrating that country’s National Womens Day, the company posted a congratulatory ad (excerpted above): “Look like a girl; Act like a lady; Think like a man; Work like a boss.” (Lesson I: Have a PR person review ad copy before it leaves the building.) Social media had a field day, responding with a slew of faux ads mocking the original’s apparently unintended sexist sentiments. Bic SA responded quickly with an apology, but played the blame game, explaining it took the offending verbiage from a “Women in Business” site. In that context, Bic SA said, the words made for an “empowering” quotation. Another explosion, with tweets and Facebook posts blasting Bic for being sexist in an “empowering” way. (Lesson II: Moving quickly to address a wrong is good, but it’s better to take a bit more time and make sure you have it right. Also, take full responsibility.) A couple of hours later, Bic SA removed its first apology and issued a second, much better, one: “Let’s start out by saying we’re incredibly sorry for offending everybody—this was never our intention, but we completely understand where we’ve gone wrong. This post should never have gone out. The feedback you have given us will help ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that.” (Lesson III: Be careful about making promises, especially when you have a spotty track record.) Recall that in 2012 Bic introduced a line of pink pens “for her” that drew the ire of women, and men, who feel pens are a unisex item.
  2. ThinkstockPhotos-475143168News Bits: Possibly the largest collaboration between hackers and insider traders has several PR angles. Exposed by federal authorities last week, the hackers, some in Ukraine, others in the U.S., penetrated servers of press release distribution companies, alerting traders about information in the press releases that were about to hit the wires, giving them information before it reached the public, according to The Wall St Journal. Allegedly hacked were servers belonging to PRNewswire, Marketwired and Business Wire. Federal government estimates of damage from resulting trades range from $30 million to $100 million. And how did one hacker get the message out to potential customers that he had a load of hot information for sale? Like many honest PR pros, he used a well-produced video. Allegedly the video shows an image of a computer breaking into a news wire server. – Of the various teams that make up the marketing function, Communications & PR (14%) is the least “overly stressed” or “stressed to the max,” says a new study from Workfront, a work-management company. The most stressed was leadership (30%), followed by Creative Services (29%), Operations, Events & Other (28%) and Digital Marketing (26%). On the other hand, Communications & PR (3%) was least likely of these groups to say it’s “under-loaded” with work; Creative Services (11%) was most likely; Leadership was in the middle, at 5%. Other findings from the survey of more than 500 executives: marketers say they have too few team members and too much work, with 80% saying they’re “understaffed and overloaded.” –– PRSA said loyalty expert James Kane will keynote a session during its international conference, which will be held in Atlanta, Nov 7-10. Other keynoters include KIND founder/CEO Daniel Lubetzky, Ford Motor Company’s Global Consumer Trends and Futuring chief Sheryl Connelly; and The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore.

  3. Patrick Brady, SVP,  JPA Health Communications
    Patrick Brady, SVP,
    JPA Health Communications

    PR Movers: JPA Health Communications said Patrick Bradyjoined the agency as SVP in its Washington, D.C., office. In addition to working with several sectors, Brady’s developed and implemented communications programs for healthcare systems, health IT companies, professional healthcare societies, senior care and senior living organizations. Previously the 20-year PR veteran was at Stanton Communications, where he was a managing director and led the firm’s public affairs practice. – Burson-Marsteller said journalist Brett Pulley joined the firm as senior advisor. Pulley’s portfolio will include business building and strengthening client relationships. Dean of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University, Pulley covered the media and entertainment industries at Bloomberg and Forbes. Earlier he was a national correspondent at The New York Times and covered airlines and urban affairs at The Wall Street Journal. – ConAgra Foods named Jon Harris CCO, replacing Theresa Paulsen. He’ll oversee strategic development and direct and implement corporate communication and reputation management programs. Harris had been the announcer for The Meredith Vieira Show through last year. Prior to that he was CCO of Hillshire Brands and VP of business development and global communications at Bally Total Fitness and senior manager of global public affairs at PepsiCo. – Caitlin Hayden, former special assistant to President Barack Obama is joining Edelman’s Washington, D.C., office as SVP in the Media and Technology practices. Former campaign manager Matt Seaholm also is joining Edelman as a VP, Public Affairs.

This article originally appeared in the August 17, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.