PR Fuel: PR News, Views, & Stews

Good Intentions Turn Into Bad Public Relations

April 16 2001

It was just a simple contest. For Toys “R” Us, Inc., however, it turned into a public relations nightmare.

The toy retailer started off 2007 in ugly fashion after a contest to award the first baby born in 2007 a $25,000 United States savings bond went awry amid charges of xenophobia and racism. The company smartly did an about-face, but will consumers be forgiving? Read More

Gossip at Your Own Risk

April 15 2001

Another week, and another fun journalism scandal. This one, however, contains an interesting public relations element.

Late last week, news broke that Jared Paul Stern, a freelancer for the New York Post’s infamous Page Six gossip column, has been accused of trying to extort money from billionaire Ron Burkle. According to press reports, Stern promised Burkle “protection” from scurrilous gossip items in exchange for cold, hard cash. Read More

Super Winners and Losers

April 14 2001

The Super Bowl is the biggest entertainment and media event of the year in the United States. The game and all its side dishes can make or break players, companies and brands. As is the case most years, there were some big winners and big losers in 2008. Read More

Beware of “Gotcha” Journalism

April 14 2001

When transit strikers in New York City went on strike last December, I tuned into NY1, a local news station owned by Time Warner and carried exclusively on the company’s cable system. The station had up-to-the-minute information on the labor negotiations and traffic situation. I didn’t bother to watch the local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates. In fact, I haven’t watched very much local television news since the immediate aftermath of 9/11 for one reason: It makes my stomach turn. Read More

Grading ExxonMobile’s PR Gambit

April 13 2001

I don’t own a car, but historically high oil prices are taking their toll on me.

My airfare for a recent trip was 25 percent higher than I normally pay, and taxis to and from the airport cost me at least 20 percent more than I’ve paid in the past. High oil prices also impact my life because petroleum derivatives are used in thousands of products, including food (plastic containers and pesticides), beverages (plastic and glass bottles), clothing (polyester and rayon), consumer electronics (plastic), home furnishings (carpet) and utilities (gas-powered plants). Even the government is feeling the pinch (which means my tax dollars are wasting away), because petroleum is central to everything from government-owned transportation to government-sponsored works projects. (Asphalt is a petroleum product, and asphalt prices are up about 20 percent over the past year). Read More

Finding Ammunition and Shields

April 07 2001

In early 2004, I received a phone call from a reporter for a major business publication. She wanted to know if I was the Ben Silverman who was donating heavily to Democratic political campaigns. She thought it may make an interesting story considering I wrote a business column, one in which I had been critical of the Bush Administration on more that one occasion, for the right-tilting New York Post. Read More

In Praise of Smart PR

April 06 2001

Good press releases, public relations campaigns and quotes come in all shapes and forms. This week, I examine five recent public relations events to see what was done right, and in some cases, wrong. Read More

A Challenging Time for JetBlue

April 04 2001

I can only imagine what it’s been like for the public relations people at JetBlue over the past week. If any of those folks get paid by the hour, they’ve been racking up some serious overtime. Read More


April 03 2001

Around this time each year, students around the year are graduating from school and moving on in the world. High school students prepare for a summer of fun before they head off for college. University students, meanwhile, prepare for either the world of employment, or the world of graduate school. Regardless of what the next level is for these students, they will all be crammed into auditoriums or seated on folding chairs on lawns and forced to listen to commencement speeches. Read More

Customers Behaving Badly

April 02 2001

One of the clauses contained in the contracts we sign with our customers includes language that, when the legalese is deciphered, basically says that our customers cannot publicly denigrate us. This means that a customer can’t go to the media, a message board, or a conference and blame us for something or trash-talk us. Read More