The Week in PR, June 15 – June 19

  1. HAMPToyota’s PR Chief Arrested: Toyota Motor Corp. has a major crisis on its hands, with a twist. The Japanese automaker was in crisis mode late last week after CCO Julie Hamp (picture, above left), an American and the company’s first senior female executive, was arrested on suspicion of illegally bringing pain killers into Japan. Hamp was appointed just two months ago. The company is standing by Hamp. “To me, executives and staff who are my direct reports are like my children,” said Toyota President Akio Toyoda at a news conference. “It’s the responsibility of a parent to protect his children and, if a child causes problems, it’s also a parent’s responsibility to apologize.” He also expressed regret that the company had not provided enough support for an employee who was not Japanese and had come to live in Japan. Japanese media reports, citing police investigators, said 57 addictive Oxycodone pills were found in a small parcel labeled “necklaces” that was sent from the U.S. and addressed to Hamp in Japan, per Reuters.
  2. A New Lease for the News Release? PR pros push out news releases and hope their contents will translate to the top and/or bottom lines. That seldom happens, as it’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of press release distributions. But help is on the way, thanks to Business Wire. The wire service last week introduced “Market Impact Report,” an Investor Relations tool that gauges the influence of a news release on a company’s stock price. Communications metrics within the report enable PR pros to determine whether the disclosure of a corporate action helped move the market.
  3. WEEK IN PR PIC FOR PANEL PLACEHOLDERMedia Cup Runneth Over: It’s manna from heaven for PR pros cranking out all that content: A new report by ZenithOptimedia shows people will spend an average of 492 minutes daily consuming media this year, up 1.4 percent from 2014. The growth is being driven by (surprise) the furious rise in Internet use, which will increase 11.8 percent, ZenithOptimedia said. The report tracks the amount of time spent reading newspapers and magazines, watching television, listening to radio, visiting cinemas, using the Web and viewing outdoor advertising while out of the home. It reaffirms the insatiable appetite consumers have for media. The challenge for PR pros is gaining better insight about the kinds of media audiences want, and then making informed choices about where to place their content investments.
  4. And Yet Another Message from Twitter: The microblogging service said last week it is removing the 140-character limit on direct messages, starting next month. Different from tweets, direct messages on Twitter are a sort of email sent between followers. This is good news for PR pros as it gives them more wiggle room when reaching out to media and other influencers via Twitter about their campaigns and branding activities. Character count or not, it’s still advantageous to be concise with your message.
  5. $10 billTreasury Department Channels the Social Sphere: It may not change the overall perception of the federal government, but should go a long way toward getting people more engaged with it: The Treasury Department’s announcement late last week that by 2020 the $10 bill will feature a yet-to-be-named (and notable) woman. “We’re going to spend a lot of time this summer listening to people,” said Jack Lew, Treasury Secretary, in a statement that invited the American public to send suggestions. It’s unclear what happens to Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury secretary, who has graced the $10 bill since its inception. Contests, of course, are an increasingly popular way for brands and organizations to grow their social channels’ audiences, and the Feds appear to be stealing a page from that playbook. Lew will make a decision by year’s end. The Treasury Department’s PR team now has an opportunity to harness something seldom affiliated with the Feds: fun.
  6. BothHSPR Movers: Cohn & Wolfe named David Herrick president of the U.S. region. He will oversee and drive business across all Cohn & Wolfe offices in the U.S., including operational and strategic oversight. Prior to joining Cohn & Wolfe, Herrick (pictured above) was COO at MWW...FleishmanHillard said last week that veteran journalist Fran Carpentier has joined the New York media relations practice as a senior VP and media strategist. Formerly a senior editor at, Carpentier will work with the agency’s global healthcare practice, among other areas of the business.