Stories by Seth Arenstein


What Communicators Can Learn From How CBS Handles the Moonves Situation

July 31st, 2018 by

A PR crisis often becomes a media feeding frenzy. When the crisis involves a media brand and a CEO, it’s a frenzy run amok. Media, like PR, usually abhors being the story. The sexual harassment allegations against CBS chief Les Moonves are far more than the story of a top media executive and his brand wishing to stay out of the news, though. Communicators will be watching closely to see how CBS talks about this crisis, although the network might not be allowed make all its own choices.

What Facebook’s Stock Plunge Means for Communicators

July 26th, 2018 by

Facebook didn’t lose a cow today, it lost nearly all of McDonald’s. The question for communicators, though, is whether or not this is the right time to abandon the platform as a marketing and communications vehicle. It is if you believe Facebook is irreparably damaged and millions of users will depart abruptly. Of course, Facebook could shed several million users gradually and remain the dominant social network.

What PR Pros Can Learn From Elon Musk’s Weekend of Deflection

July 23rd, 2018 by

Communicators probably prefer a press-friendly CEO as opposed to one who’s media-averse. On the other hand, when the CEO’s mouth overshadows the brand and damages its reputation, communicators often reach for aspirin. An example, of course, is “Papa” John Schnatter. Another is Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk, who recently spent a weekend deflecting stories.

Is Anyone Clear About What Mark Zuckerberg Said?

July 20th, 2018 by

The distinction between misinformation and disinformation is at the heart of Mark Zuckerberg’s thinking about why Holocaust deniers’ material can remain on Facebook. He’s likely debated this thorny question with his senior team. Unfortunately, his comments this week and his subsequent walk back muddled the distinction. In terms of walking back, though, he had plenty of company from other prominent people.

Leading Editors Tell You How to Get Your Content Published

July 19th, 2018 by

There was a gathering of editors from leading D.C. publications whose job includes evaluating op-ed submissions from outside writers. Their tips on how to get published amounted to a clinic for authors. A major takeaway was that while editors want jargon-free submissions with strong points of view, each publication has certain preferences. This means the road to success for media pitchers is to know those preferences.

Are Sacha Baron Cohen’s Tactics Good PR?

July 16th, 2018 by

Sacha Baron Cohen recently completed a series of scathing videos where he captures politicians saying questionable things. Then it turned out the videos were both publicity for a new series on Showtime and part of its content. Now it appears statements the politicians made on camera might not be what they seem to be. Perhaps pranking can go too far. Do the ends justify the means in PR?

PR Pros Weigh In on Papa John’s and It Has Nothing to Do With Pizza

July 12th, 2018 by

A tenet of internal communications is that whatever you say internally eventually will leak externally. That dictum probably applies to nearly everything that happens in corporate America. Anything an executive says, writes or does is liable to be discovered, savvy PR pros would argue. But what about media training sessions? The Papa John’s case opens a can of worms.

It’s 7-11 Day, So Pass the Soy Sauce, Except If You’re Down Under

July 11th, 2018 by

Newsjacking, or piggybacking, on a news story or event about another brand to generate publicity for your brand, is a perfectly acceptable practice in PR. Yet it must be done with care and insight. A soy sauce brand managed to do this well on 7-11 Day. Fear not, though, the brand, Kikkoman, was savvy enough to dis the idea of a soy sauce-flavored Slurpee.

Smart PR: Nissan Owns Its Mistakes in Testing Incident

July 9th, 2018 by

It’s possible the world has become immune to emissions-cheating scandals. The latest perpetrator, Nissan, hopes so. Still, it’s practicing nearly picture-perfect PR to reduce its chances of a long-term scandal erupting. Little doubt it has taken notice of steps Volkswagen failed to enact when Dieselgate erupted in September 2015.

Shine Appointment is Authentic to Trump’s Revision of PR

July 6th, 2018 by

President Trump’s selection of William Shine as deputy chief of staff for communications is another example of how the commander-in-chief continues to rewrite traditional PR tactics. For the most part, the revisions have served the president well. The same cannot be said of their effectiveness for ousted EPA chief Scott Pruitt.