Week in PR

  1. Judge rules in TVEyes case.
    Judge rules in TVEyes case.

    Blurry Eyes: The PR community is awaiting the fallout from a federal judge’s decision last week that narrows how TV coverage can be downloaded and shared. The ruling, which gave Fox News a partial victory, could limit the way PR professionals distribute TV coverage of their brands and monitor what TV networks are saying about them. The case pitted Fox News against monitoring and sharing service TVEyes. Fox News argued TVEyes violates its copyrights and threatens it revenue. The service tapes more than 1,000 TV and radio stations and charges customers $500/month for access to indexed clips in near real time. Customers can share the clips and access them by inputtng times and dates. Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that TVEyes’s archiving activities are protected under fair use. They facilitate “the free exchange of ideas,” he wrote. But the judge questioned TVEyes’ sharing function, noting customers could send video clips to friends via social media, which would compete with Fox News’ website and possibly reduce its ad revenue. Fair use does not cover downloading and searching by date and time, Hellerstein also ruled. Several news organizations, including CNN, NBC and CBS, filed “Friend of the Court” letters prior to the ruling, siding with Fox News. “Right or wrong, it is common practice today for organizations to download clips and to republish them on a website or through social media,” says PR News contributor Dave Armon, CMO at 3BL Media. Armon suggests brands seek legal advice on how to interpret the judge’s ruling. In addition to TVEyes, PR pros use video monitoring services from Critical Mention, IQ Media and Cision.

  2. PR train-ing in Napa.
    PR train-ing in Napa.

    News Bits: There are myriad lessons, PR and others, to be learned from an incident that occurred two Saturdays ago in Napa, CA. A book club from Antioch, CA, mostly middle-aged women—10 black, one white, including an 85-year-old—was booted off the Napa Valley Wine Train. Sitting in restored Pullman cars, eating food and sipping wine, other passengers complained the book club was too loud. When the popular tourist attraction pulled into St. Helena station, police were waiting to remove the 11 women. The Facebook page of Napa Valley Wine Train said, “Following verbal and physical abuse toward other guests and staff, it was necessary to get our police involved.” One of the club’s members detailed the incident on her Facebook page, an online ruckus ensued, tourists threatened to boycott the train, an online petition with more than 14,000 signatures demanded an apology from the train’s management, the incident gained coverage on CNN and The Washington Post and a Twitter hashtag, LaughingWhileBlack, was born. Responding quickly to what could have been a major PR disaster, Wine Train’s CEO admitted the brand had been “100 percent wrong” in removing the club from the train and offered its members all-expenses paid trips for 50 to Napa. – The PR community was abuzz last week when it learned Burger King received a not-so-happy meal from McDonald’s after proposing that its rival make peace and join it in creating a McWhopper for charity. Burger King’s full-page ads in The New York Times and Chicago Tribune urged McDonald’s to join it in a popup restaurant in Atlanta Sept 21, with employees from both franchises serving the huge hamburgers, a mix of the best of both chains’ signature dishes. Sept 21 is Peace Day, a U.N.-sponsored day of cease fire and nonviolence. Proceeds from the popup were to go to Peace One Day, a nonprofit raising awareness of Peace Day. In his refusal, McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook wrote, “We love the intention, but think our two brands could do something bigger to make a difference.” The unofficial PR consensus: It’s good to be the (Burger) King.

  3. VP Biden hires communications director.
    VP Biden hires communications director.

    People Moves: As he begins generating buzz as a possible presidential candidate for the Democrats, U.S. VP Joe Biden named Motion Picture Association of America VP of corporate communications/chief spokesperson Kate Bedingfield to be his communications director. With MPAA since 2011, Bedingfield’s political pedigree includes senior roles in media relations in the Obama administration, for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and, perhaps most important, a stint as spokesperson for John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign. While Bedingfield’s background seems to presume Biden has made up his mind about entering the presidential race, as long as she remains an administration official she will be under strict guidelines restricting her ability to perform campaign duties. Bedingfield succeeds Shailagh Murray, who was appointed senior adviser to President Barack Obama in March. VP Biden hires communications director.

This article originally appeared in the August 31, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.