A-Rod Bunts in PR Press Conference

Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankee 3rd baseman, from New York Daily News, Feb. 18, 2009In his anti-climactic press conference yesterday at Yankee spring training camp in Tampa, Florida, Alex Rodriguez released some new information and hedged and maneuvered to put this all behind him. He chose to bunt instead of swinging for the fences – another lost opportunity for a high profile athlete to come clean and set a real example for contrition and re-birth.

The New York tabs have not been kind. See He Must Think We’re All Fools and The Truth Be Told, A-Roid Just Can’t (NY Post – graphic below right) — Alex Rodriguez Needs Dose of Truth Serum and A-Rod’s presser a laugher that wasn’t funny (NY Daily News – graphic left)

The tone of the press conference was set by Yankee media relations director Jason Zillo who would not allow follow-up questions from reporters. The press conference lasted a little over a half hour, far less than the 55 minutes Andy Pettitte was grilled at last year’s Yankee steroid shame-fest.

Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankee 3rd baseman, from New York Post, Feb. 18, 2009According to Tyler Kepner, The New York Times:  “Ben Porritt, a former spokesman for John McCain’s presidential campaign and a partner in the crisis-management firm Outside Eyes, sat off camera as Rodriguez explained and apologized.”  Add one more to the A-Rod coterie of PR consultants/image makers/handlers and agents. You wonder if Alex Rodriguez is capable of an honest emotion or thought that is not filtered through consultants.

The press conference was streamed live from several sources such as ESPN, MLB, and YES. What was the point, then, of the live blogging from many news organizations that amounted to a blow-by-blow of what we saw live?  The best live blogging on the event came from Alan Schwarz at The New York Times Bats blog. Schwarz added bemused color commentary that portrayed the event as a highly manipulated media circus.

1:52 p.m.
Yankees PR chief Jason Zillo just announced, “There will not be any follow-up questions … to keep this as efficient as possible.” That does not bode well for any revelations, folks. A lot more Q than A.

2:13 p.m.
Freudian Slip of the Decade: “I’m here to take my medicine.” Alex Rodriguez, Feb. 17, 2009

2:19 p.m.
First really good question (and a form of follow-up) came from Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post, who asked Rodriguez why, if he didn’t think what he was taking was wrong, was he so secretive and so reluctant to ask about proper procedure during the 2001-3 seasons. Rodriguez paused for a while, clearly cornered, and said: “That’s a good question. I knew what we were taking weren’t Tic Tacs. I knew that it was, potentially could be something that perhaps was wrong.”

I guess it all depends on what your definition of “was” was. 

2:27 p.m.
Joel Sherman of The New York Post tried to tie Rodriguez down on the matter of how in the world a $252 million athlete who otherwise takes great care of his body could be, if Rodriguez’s account is accurate, so foolhardy as to not know what he was taking or how to take it. Rodriguez repeated his “young and stupid” defense.

And what is this ‘bole’ that A-Rod said he injected into his body? From Brian’s blog:  “Bole” is clearly the Dominican slang for Primobolan.” A-Rod repeatedly said that his cousin secured the drug and they were both young and foolish. I guarantee that several reporters are in the Dominican Republic right now hunting for that cousin who A-Rod would not name.

This story will go on and on, and the damage will continue. A-Rod stepped up to the plate yesterday and struck out. I have a horrible feeling that for all their talent and all their money the Yankees are in for a miserable season, to the delight of baseball fans outside of New York. 

A-Rod Slams Media in PR Home Run

Selena Roberts, SPorts Illustrated reporter, stalking Alex Rodriguez?Alex Rodriguez’s interview yesterday with ESPN (see video below) was a masterstroke of PR message and obfuscation. A-Rod was clear that his use of PEDs  (performance enhancing drugs) was contained to a “naive, stupid” time of his career with Texas when the culture of baseball was “loosey goosey.” He has been clean since he joined the Yankees and he implored us to look at the consistency and longevity of his career and not judge him harshly for an anomaly he regrets.

Since this is A-Rod he always appears to be holding back more than he is revealing and he is jockeying to enhance and protect an image clean enough for a Wheaties box (at least he didn’t get caught smoking pot like Michael Phelps). New Yorkers like honesty and they like winners, A-Rod said. All true enough, but what’s this bit about Selena Roberts (top,left) , the Sports Illustrated reporter who broke the A-Rod PED story, stalking him and spreading lies?

Selena Roberts is a highly accomplished sports reporter. When she was with The New York Times she wrote insightful stories about A-Rod and his damaged psyche hurting the team. She is coming out with a book on A-Rod in May that apparently he will not like since he consistently referred to her as something of a journalistic svengali. 

Sports Illustrated published a Q & A with Roberts, in which the reporter talks about the process of breaking the story and her efforts to speak with Rodriguez. She also calls the slugger’s claims “absurd” in an interview with MLB Network.

“”I’ve never set foot in the lobby of Alex’s New York apartment. I’ve never set foot on his property. It’s pure fabrication,” said Roberts, who did say she drove by Rodriguez’s house after receiving permission from Miami Beach police to drive on public property near A-Rod’s house. The Miami Beach police have a “miscellaneous incident” report of that conversation, but Roberts was not cited for anything.

Roberts also asked for and received permission from security at the University of Miami to enter the school’s workout facilities and talk to Rodriguez on Thursday. “I think it’s a diversion, a shoot-the-messenger type of thing,” Roberts said.


Up or Down, PR Drives The Dow

Dow Jones Industrials Average graph in The New York TimesA great feat in public relations is to create a deeply penetrating brand that is accepted broadly and perpetuates unquestioned credibility for its creator.  Is there a better PR brand than the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

We are all obsessed with “The Dow” right now although few of us know what it is or why it is so important. DJIA – The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an index of 30 “Blue Chip” stocks that are supposed to be an indicator of the broader stock market (thousands of stocks). “The Dow” is broadcast across the world, transcending geography, language barriers and market highs and lows. Even rival media companies, such as The New York Times (above, left)  post “The Dow” on its home page. PR doesn’t get better than that.

May 26, 1896 Dow Jones published its first “Industrial” average, DJIA, consisting of 12 stocks closing at 40.94. DJIA is occasionally re-jiggered to reflect our changing economic landscape. Manufacturing companies in DJIA such as U.S. Steel have been replaced by tech companies such as Microsoft. Standard & Poors, Wilshire, and Russell all have stock indexes that are broader, more specific, and, many investment professionals would argue, more accurate indicators of trends in the stock market. But none are more recognized or accepted as DJIA, which has become synonymous with “the market.” That’s a big reason why Rupert Murdoch was obsessed with acquiring Dow Jones and its media properties Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and MarketWatch.

See What is the Dow Jones Industrial Average? from How Stuff Works - includes video on stocks currently in the DJIA.

Stunned beyond words

What can you say about the worldwide financial crisis? New ticker in Times Square, New York CityI have not blogged in 24 days – each time I think I can latch on to a thought or comment it is over run by the news. We are truly in a second-by-second news cycle as each tick of the Dow Jones Industrial average spiraling perpetually downward brings a heightened sense of dread. It started on my birthday, September 29, as the House defeated the initial bailout package and the bottom fell out of the market – a stunning 777 point drop. I did not feel like celebrating that day.

Yesterday, when the market skyrocketed nearly 1,000 points I felt like celebrating. The world economies banded together and found a way to stave off catastrophe, at least for the moment. How many billions is it costing? I lose track, but I am sure that the cost will exceed the financial hit we took with the Iraq war.

Can we absorb all these humongous outlays? No, of course not. In order to fix our excesses and greed we must embrace excess and regulation. According to David Brooks, columnist for the The New York Times who is uncannily right most of the time, we are headed for real hard times. It is unavoidable no matter who wins the election. See today’s Brooks column Big Government Ahead

What does the financial whirlwind mean to us poor PR shlubs? First comes the hiring freeze, already in effect in most large agencies. Then comes the layoffs. It has been impossible to break through to most financial/business media in the past three weeks. Clients start reviewing contracts, scrutinizing all marketing/PR outlays. It is tougher to make a living in PR today than it was three weeks ago and it will get tougher still.

The future is more uncertain because we are living in the NOW – the vagaries of the U.S. markets minute-to-minute, and the foreign markets preceding our market over night. I don’t know what to say. Thanks to Al Sutherland for long comment on 9/17 post “Is Financial Media Aiding Wall Street Collapse“.  Al still has some words to offer.

PR/Media Week in Review 9-21-2008

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews, PR/Media Week in ReviewWhat a week it was, starting with Lehman’s bankruptcy, through AIG’s bailout, wild gyrations in the market, capped with a supposed $700 billion plan for the government to enter the toxic mortgage business. What will next week bring? According to Joe Nocera of the NYTimes, the big government bailout is a Hail Mary pass that can be intercepted in the end zone. Several others agree. Stay tuned for the second half.

The worse the financial markets become, the more financial issues are pushed to the fore, especially in the heat of a Presidential race, the more more we rely on financial media to report and analyse critical issues. This week the Wall Street Journal online rolled out a radically new look with several intriguing social media tools – just in time for our greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Nobody has ever accused Rupert Murdoch of not being canny, propitious or just plain lucky.

Mark Rose Wall Street Journal ommunitiesThe Wall Street Journal Community is Murdoch’s attempt to offer the Journal audience a taste of MySpace, with message boards and interest-related groups, profiles, etc. This might work for business people who don’t find value in Facebook-like social communities and professional-level job hunters who want to participate in social media media without tarnishing their cred – or it might be one ‘online community’ too many.  Also, see All Things D. - meaning All Things Digital, from the Journal,playing to the natural geek tendencies of Wall Streeters and the high demographic Journal audience.

Murdoch moved rapidly to remake the moribund Journal print edition and online offering. Both desperately needed it. I suspect that the following weeks will be just as dramatic as the last – hundreds of billions of taxpayers dollars are at stake, the final days of the Presidential campaign are approaching, the stock market will likely react with wild swings, and we’ll rely on the financial media to explain it all. Rupert to the rescue!

I am now following NYTimes, L.A. Times Travel section and CBS Early Show on Twitter.  Mainstream media is beginning to catch on – and I may be seeing some value in Twitter beyond knowing that blah blah had a double macchiato in Seattle at 10:32 this morn. You can follow me at http://twitter.com/markrose