Guns in church? Now there’s a PR problem!

December 12, 2007

Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition!

newlife.jpgMatthew Murray’s attack on members of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs last Sunday ended when an “armed volunteer” drew her weapon and shot him multiple times. Police say Murray died by his own hand, but it doesn’t change the fact the Jeanne Assam and others came to church carrying concealed weapons, and they did so with the blessing of church elders.

An armed congregation is now part of the emergency management plan in a good many places of worship. That’s what I learned from today’s Denver Post and this story titled, “Weapons in Church? For everything there is a time.” It was unsettling news to me, but I’m sure it was comforting to the dozens of New Life church members who are alive today thanks to Ms. Assam’s quick reactions and steady aim.

“It’s a sad necessity,” says Gary Schneeberger of Focus on the Family, another church in Colorado Springs. “This is the world we live in. Our organizations would be irresponsible if we weren’t prepared.”

Doug Olsen of the Woodman Valley Chapel is quoted in the Post story as well:

“At schools you can lock strangers out and tell the kids to watch out for strangers. A church should open its doors to everybody, according to the Bible. We want strangers. We want people who are in trouble.” Read the rest of this entry »


PR crises can arise from the most obscure details — so sweat the little stuff…even the bathrooms!

September 2, 2007

A little-known feature of our School’s fabulous new home, Franklin Hall, is the view from the restrooms. For example, when nature calls you to the 3rd-floor men’s room, you’re treated to an expansive view of the oak grove on front campus while you do your stand up routine. It’s awesome.

franklinjohn.jpgAt first, I thought it the work of architectural genius. I mean, how many people have a whizzer with a view? Then I learned that the mirror-finish windows only appear to be mirrored — an illusion created by the morning sun. In fact, on overcast mornings and dark nights, the folks outside can sometimes see inside.

As a blogger, I’m already a bit of an exhibitionist. It’s part of the job description. But I gotta draw the line when it comes to putting one’s bladder functions on public display. Read the rest of this entry »


Today’s PR controversy? Would you believe gay sheep?

January 26, 2007

It was a similar headline on PRSA‘s “Issues and Trends” email that set off my WTF radar this morning. sheep-googly.gif

I clicked the link to the International Herald Tribune and found a fascinating story about out-of-control communication doing violence to truth and good scientific work. The case presents a challenge to PR professionals who must explain and defend complex science in an increasingly rumor- and emotion-fueled media world.

It started when Robert Roselli, Oregon Health & Science University, launched research to explore why approximately 8% of rams prefer sex with other rams. Not only did a lot of folks misinterpret Roselli’s intentions, many of them — including the Times of London — got the story wrong. Read the rest of this entry »


Beware the PR pitfalls of contests

January 15, 2007

theend.jpgBy now, you’ve heard the story of the 28-year-old California woman who died after drinking too much water in a radio-station contest. The story spread across the globe like lightning. I’d laugh if it weren’t so tragic.

Seems the woman was a contestant in a radio-station gimmick called “Hold Your Wee for a Wii.” The winner? The person who drank the most water without making a trip to the can. The prize was a Nintendo Wii video game worth about $500. Read the rest of this entry »


You can learn a lot from a throwback — really!

December 16, 2006

My students think I’m a throwback. In part it’s because of the offbeat contemporary references I bring to class. You see, blogpor.jpgI stay up on events thanks to a secret source my students seldom tap: the morning newspaper. It’s not a habit most 20somethings have acquired yet.

While the morning headlines fuel conversations, they also offer lessons in public relations. Just yesterday I read with highlighter in hand, marking passages I could use in class, and in this post. So here ya go. Read the rest of this entry »


More “flogs” from Edelman? It appears so

October 20, 2006

banner_logo.gifA colleague just sent me this link to a story from Online Media Daily — a story that says the Edleman-Walmart story still has legs — or maybe tentacles. For the record, OMD is where I first read about the Edelman-Walmart mess last week — and they got it right that time.

Nothing from Richard Edelman or Steve Rubel as yet.

I was willing to accept Edelman’s mea culpa of Monday. I mean, we all screw up from time to time.

But I can’t help but ask: What else don’t we know?


Edelman fesses up in Walmart blog mess

October 16, 2006

By now, everyone in the blogosphere knows that Richard Edelman and Steve Rubel have responded to the “fake blog” known as “Wal-Marting Across America.” But I got to thinking — not everyone who reads ToughSledding is a bloghead. Since I wrote about the whole mess last Thursday, I should probably pass along the links.

The last post by “Jim and Laura” on the Wal-Mart blog is sort of pathetic, not unlike the whole campaign. No comments allowed. Imagine that!

It’ll be a while before the world forgives Edelman for this one. But they screwed up and they fessed up. Let’s move on.


When picket lines crop up, what happens to symmetrical public relations?

October 15, 2006

I don’t envy my friends working in corporate communications at Goodyear. It’s been a while since they had to cross a picket line to get to blimp.jpgwork. And if that picket line stays up much longer, those on the line and those in the offices are in trouble.

I’m kind of a tire nut, believe it or not. My career began in the Akron, Ohio, 30 years ago as a young reporter covering the tire business. That year, Goodyear endured a 142-day strike that had the Rubber City tied up in knots. A few years later, the industry was closing plants left and right, and three of the Big 4 tiremakers (Goodrich, General and Firestone) were acquired by foreign competitors and left town. I was way ahead of them! Read the rest of this entry »


‘Fake blog’ accusations focus on Edelman. Say it ain’t so, Richard!

October 12, 2006

International social media champion Edelman Public Relations finds itself the target of accusations it created “a phony blog” as a front for client and retail giant WalMart. I heard about it from a colleague who passed along this item from Online Media Daily. Arrived home a few minutes ago (8:45 EDT) and have been unable to find a response on the Edelman website, or any of Edelman’s numerous bloggers.

Is this a hoax, or am I the only one horrified by what the story presents?

Not only has Edelman been a huge blog booster. CEO Richard is leading the way in worldwide discussions of corporate social responsibilty and transparency. I talked up his Monday post on CSR to everybody I know telling them, “This guy really gets it.”

Top Edelman blogger Steve Rubel has been silent since 10:45 this morning. That would be about the time things hit the fan in New York. The world’s waiting to hear from you guys. And of all people, you know the blogosphere doesn’t sleep.

Remember the good old days when we had 24 hours to formulate our crisis plan?


Students find public relations lessons emerging from Amish school shootings

October 4, 2006

Students in my Media Relations & Publicity class at Kent State take turns presenting current-events cases to kick off each class meeting. It’s called the 3-minute drill, an idea stolen from PR and crisis management maven Jim Lukaszewski and brought to our school by my new colleague, Jeanette Drake.

Nicole’s presentation yesterday focused on the violent deaths of the Amish girls in Pennsylvania. She suggested a number of questions about what the event will mean to public relations pros and their clients.

A sober discussion followed and some lessons emerged: Read the rest of this entry »