Bring Me The Head of Amanda Chapel

Mercy mercy mercy. The hurt, the betrayal, the horror, the madness. The jealousy and rage. You would have thought that the Wicked Witch of Chicago was finally slain, her corpse paraded through the blog square, and the oppressed villagers were finally free to once again dance in the streets. I am talking of course of the resignation of Amanda Chapel as Managing Editor of Strumpette earlier this week. continues after 1938 Media video below

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Exclusive! How To Pitch New Trump Sickly Rich Mag

Donald Trump, wife and babyIt was recently announced that Donald Trump is launching a new magazine devoted to angry and disturbed rich people who need to buy more things to avoid examining their own vacant lives.

To the public the magazine will be known as Trump Magazine but behind the scenes it’s know as the Lifestyles of the Sickly Rich.  The photo, left, may be the first cover of the magazine, expected to launch this November.

You can see by this picture the tenderness and joy beaming on The Donald’s face as he takes in his new baby, the result of his blessed, rich seed.  He is not even distracted by his wife’s enormous Slovanian breasts, threatening to spill out of her dress and crush the baby, who seems like he has already started on a lifelong supply of anti-depressents. The Donald’s wife Melania rests her left hand on her knee because she cannot lift it up – the diamonds weighing down her wrist are too heavy. Don’t they look so happy and spontaneous together that they may jump up at any moment and throw the baby in the air and do the boogaloo?

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No More Strumpette?!

How will I sleep tonight? I have a bad habit of waking at four in the morning, seven, eight, whenever, rolling to the computer and logging on to Strumpette. The rare times when the server has been down I get a hollow feeling – forced to consider how diminished life would be without Amanda Chapel StrumpetteStrumpette. This time it’s not a server glitch. It seems like Strumpette is down for the count. Amanda Chapel, whoever she is, resigned today, Columbus Day. A sign of discovery and a new world, or simply the end of a web experiment that flamed up and petered out? Who knows. The future, like Strumpette itself, is murky. I get that sinking feeling.

I first posted about Strumpette on PRBlogNews 3/6/07. Here’s an excerpt:

… Strumpette really defines and domiantes its own space. Strumpette is a free fire zone where you want to spend time. That in itself is Amanda Chapel Strumpetteincredibly valuable and a virtually unique experience – to want to spend time at a blog. I am a natural speed reader and the Internet lends itself to the quick consumption of information and the proliferation of blogs spewing nonsense on the web is dispiriting. Strumpette is like The New Yorker of PR blogs – something brilliant is going on here even if you don’t know what it is.

Strumpette was a revelation, proof that there was intelligent life in PR. It was proof that artistry, creativity and spontaneity do not have to be abandoned when entering the toxic gates of the PR business.

I posted my first Week in Review on Strumpette on April 30, 2007, my last one yesterday. Recently, I felt like I was just beginning to hit a comfortable stride. Also, the posts on Strumpette in the last couple of weeks were some of the best ever. On the edge. On the news. Coming from many perspectives. Insightful. Beautifully crafted. Courageous. It was true last March as it was last week – if you came to Strumpette you came heavy or you got smacked down. We lost a lot today.

Why was Strumpette an important era in PR? Let me count the ways:

Writing: The writing on Strumpette was some of the best on the web and certainly the best writing by far that the PR business has ever seen Amanda Chapel - Strumpetteor likely deserves. A good deal of credit for that goes to Brian Connolly, who has a keen nose for news and a keener sense for developing the story that should be written, not necessarily the one that people think they want. Give the audience what they want but not how they expect it, is a maxim of successful screenwriting. It was true of Strumpette.

Design: The design made you want to spend time there, made it okay to read longer pieces, was easy on the eye and was constructed with impeccable taste. The fact that there was handcrafted design, and a sense of style, made it unusual. Black and white in a kodachrome world made Strumpette new, in a traditional sort of way. All Brian Connolly.

Anonymity: Who was Amanda Chapel? Did it matter? Strumpette was satire, mostly, and the issues raised were more important than the Amanda Chapel, Strumpettetrue identity of the person raising them. Anonymity made for intrigue and levels of meaning hidden between the lines.

It’s sad to think of Strumpette in the past tense. Can Strumpette be reborn in one permutation or another? Is there a need, a real desire for a PR forum that encourages incendiary thought, that challenges convention and demands accountability? Or is this the end, my friend?

PR Week in Review 10-07-07

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNewsBurson Digs Itself Deeper.

In the 80’s, 90’s and the earlier part of this century Burson-Marsteller had a stellar reputation. It was the gold standard, the McKinsey of PR. Burson execs were built of special stock, seemingly smarter, richer, working on cool, high-level stuff with big budgets. Burson was the perennial top-dog in billings, its prestige, even when attacked, unquestioned. If you had deep pockets and you wanted the best and the brightest, you hired Burson. What happened?

In the 9-30-07 Week in Review I commented on Burson’s flagrant Astroturfing for Microsoft. Not disclosing the client you are working for or its agenda or intentions is obviously unethical. Refusing to acknowledge, discuss or correct your misdeeds is bad, reputation-damaging PR and indicative of the sort of defensive arrogance that big PR agencies suffer from today. Sadly, Burson fits neatly in that category.

Harold Burson told the following to The Australian in 1998: “I’m totally opposed to front organizations that do not disclose where their funding comes from and to my knowledge – we’re a big company – we have never started or organized a group where the funding sponsorship was unknown.”Harold Burson has a blog that supposedly “discusses issues related to communications and reputation.” So, I left a comment on Mr. Burson’s blog last week politely asking if he could offer perspective on the news about Microsoft and Burson. I guess he has no perspective since my comment never appeared. So much for the new “transparency” or the conversation we are supposed to be having through blogs.

The bad news keeps piling up for Burson. In a story for Salon called “Countrywide puts lipstick on the pig, Andrew Leonard takes issue with Burson’s “crisis management” work for the giant, troubled mortgage lender. It seems that the CEO of Countrywide pocketed $138 million last year while 12,000 Countrywide workers were about to be fired. Burson’s response to this is an exhortation for Countrywide employees to fight back and stand strong in the face adversity. The talking points for the “Protect Our House” crusade that Burson concocted are so bizarre that it would make for interesting fiction if it were not true.

Blackwater has hired Burson to put a positive gloss on gun-toting, outside-the-law vigilantes who siphon off hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to wage a private war in Iraq. I am sure that Burson has a ready-made defense for accepting this client – everybody deserves representation, and all that – but the reality is that Burson is part of WPP Group plc and the parent company demands constant escalation of the revenue stream. And you can bet that Blackwater has very deep pockets, thanks to our tax money. The equation has a perverse elegance when you think about it: We pay Blackwater over $800 million to shoot first and ask questions later, and they pay Burson a few million to tell us what we should really think about it. Isn’t PR beautiful?

Burson’s refusal to take responsibility for its actions or engage the public threatens to overshadow some of its good work. Erin Byrne, Chief Digital Strategist for Burson, is a regular contributor to the Digital Perspective blog In a recent post, she noted the firms’ work on behalf of the new $5 bill.The website and flash demo expertly demonstrates how the web can be used to convey messages and images where words alone, and traditional media relations outreach, might fail. Burson should win an award for this work and the rest of us, if we’re smart, can learn a few things from the intelligent, web-based presentation of this news. Can’t somebody in the Burson digital group impress upon the rest of the firm that we are living in the digital age, the age of involvement and dialogue, the age of transparency? Or haven’t they heard?

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Media Comics Plunge PR Guy at Comedy Fest

New York Underground Comedy Festival, 2nd Annual “New York’s Funniest Reporter” Contest, October 3 — After the reporters were done with their stand-up routines, the Psychic Madman (top left) called for the festival’s PR guy, Ryan McCormick (top seated) of RisingSunPR. With plunger on head, held down by two people from the audience, Ryan had his brain sucked out. Was anything in it? We’re still waiting for the results.

Mandy Stadtmiller, 2006 Funniest Reporter Champion, performing last night at Gotham Comedy ClubSean McCarthy of the New York Daily News was pronounced the winner of the competition by the two judges, Laurel Touby of MediaBistro and Emily Gould of Gawker. We don’t know what their criteria was but Julia Allison (Star Magazine), Nikki Eagan (NBC), Robert George (New York Post), and Tasha Harris (Stagetime Magazine) were really good.

So, are New York reporters funny? Hell yes. And they’re edgy and topical, and they write good material.  Julia Allison, sex columnist, delivered jokes mostly about … sex … reading from Legally Blonde-like pink iMac. Robert George represented all the “black West Indian Republican reporters” in the audience. He explained that his suit was actually a “Taxicab Opportunity Enhancement Device” and he likened the Iraq war to a “really messed up drive-by.” Nikki Eagan was a riot and Mandy Stadtmiller (New York Post), photo left, last year’s winner, delivered material that was funny and really way out there – I loved it. Robert George came in second, Julia Allison was third. Stadtmiller was not part of this year’s competition.

Proceeds went to Operation Uplink , a program that keeps military personnel and hospitalized veterans in touch with their families and loved ones by providing them with a free phone card. The New York City Underground Comedy Festival continues until October 7.