With tragic news dominating the final weeks of 2001, it would be
easy to forget the other PR stories. Unfortunately for Condit and Co.,
PRWeek readers have pretty good memories.
10 GREAT PR CAMPAIGNS FROM 2001
Broadway Performers Unite After five Broadway shows struck their sets in
the wake of 9/11, the League of American Theaters and Producers got its
act together, and its stars singing in the streets. Ticket sales rose
Beijing Olympic Win And the display of the spirit of competition goes
to ... the home of human rights abuse. If that doesn't prove the ability of Weber Shandwick Worldwide, what would?
Jack Welch appoints Jeff Immelt VP of corporate communications Beth
Comstock juggled six external agencies, 25 internal staffers, an EPA
battle, a failed Honeywell buyout, and oh, the succession of the world's
most powerful CEO. All in a day's work.
Boeing moves its HQ to Chicago
With less than a day's notice, Edelman and Boeing's in-house team
managed to spread the message of diversifying Boeing's business rather
than the image of Seattle's abandoners.
Segway Human Transporter Burson-Marsteller saw to it that you really
wanted to know what was behind that white wall. And plenty of normally
sane folk readied themselves to part with $8,000 for ... a
McDonald's contest crisis
Promotion agency Simon Worldwide called in the Masters of Disaster, Mark
Lehane and Chris Fabiani, after it was discovered that the chances of
winning weren't ridiculously unlikely, but nil. The Masters saw to it
that we were all soon back to munching our McNuggets as usual.
Human genome project Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics,
explained that humans are made up of far fewer genes than previously
thought, and that gene therapy is a very realistic possibility as a
result. Who wants to be in science class?
Sen. Bob Kerry deflects allegations
The gentleman from Nebraska diffused a ticking time bomb by revealing
his squad's slaughter of Vietnamese civilians, proving that no matter
how ugly the truth, honesty is still the best policy.
Jacko opens the NASDAQ
There are no questions as to the efficiency of the Wacko PR machine - he
seemed omnipresent as he went about promoting his new album and comeback
One Book, One Chicago
Promoting literacy and bridging ethnic divides simultaneously is easy:
Have everyone read To Kill A Mockingbird. Even better, make it look like
your city is the first to try the initiative.
WHICH BOOKS SHOULD WE HAVE READ IN 2001?
1. Harry Potter JK Rowling
Pottermania may be sweeping the nation and selling out movie theaters,
but it's worth noting that this book also grabbed the most votes in our
poll asking which books were a complete waste of time.
2. Good to Great Jim Collins In Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make
the Leap and Others Don't, Jim Collins, author of another business
bible, Built to Last, concludes that greatness doesn't necessarily come
from a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, or a fine-tuned
strategy. Rather, it's about companies finding and promoting people who
think and act in a disciplined manner, and are passionate about a good
product. Not a bad idea.
3. Straight From the Gut Jack Welch Newsday said that "anyone who really
cares about business" would read it. While Nobuyuki Idei, Sony CEO,
admitted he was grateful that Jack had finally unveiled the secrets of
his management technique, namely: sheer force of personality, a passion
for details, and encouraging candor.
4. Big Brands Big Trouble Jack Trout The author of such gems as 22
Immutable Laws of Marketing is at it again. Some criticized this book
for being rather similar to his others, but Trout's simplistic
principles bear repetition.
In Big Brands Big Trouble, you'll learn why Xerox missed the chance to
become laser printer king, how Crest lost out to Colgate, and why AT&T
should have stuck to telephones. It's a useful refresher in those basic
5. The Final Days Barbara Olson
The conservative commentator, killed on September 11 when the plane she
was on crashed into the Pentagon, had a special insight into the
workings of the White House, having been chief investigative counsel to
the House Committee on Government Reform during its probe into the
"Travelgate" scandal. In The Final Days, she applies this insight to
"excesses" of the Clintons' final days in office.
WHICH INDIVIDUALS GOT THE BEST PUBLICITY?
1. Rudy Giuliani Newsweek commented, "36 hours after he first rushed to
the World Trade Center, the mayor's neo-Churchillian reputation was
already secure." For a while, of course, it looked as if his posturing
to have the mayoral term limits changed might turn the media against
him, but the eulogistic column inches just kept on coming. Credit is
also due here to his comms and press teams, who worked almost as
tirelessly as did the great communicator himself.
2. George W. Bush One respondent to PRWeek's survey commented, "Bush
went from seeming an embarrassment to an asset in the space of a few
days." In an article entitled 'Echoes of Lincoln,' The Washington Post
remarked: "Bush was inaugurated eight months ago, but became President
on Thursday night." The skyrocketing polls told the same story, and his
television addresses were widely praised for being "plain speaking" and
"heartfelt." Karen Hughes and the speech-writers deserve a pat on the
3. JK Rowling Four-and-a-half years ago, Rowling was teaching French in
a Scottish high school, and being serenaded down the halls to the theme
from Rawhide ("Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep those wagons
Now, having cast her spell on pretty much everyone, she's pictured
everywhere, written about by everyone, 18th highest-earning celebrity in
the world ... her wagon looks pretty much unstoppable.
4. Angelina Jolie
To see why Jolie garnered so many votes, just scan the clips. The Los
Angeles Daily News said, "Obviously more than a pretty face - an Oscar
to her credit - Jolie is one of the few actresses who command the screen
the way the stars of the '40s like Ingrid Bergman once did." Add a
$1 million donation to Afghan refugees, an appointment as a
goodwill ambassador for the UN, and those little leather shorts, and you
have the recipe for great publicity.
5. Dean Kamen Wired magazine summed IT up: "When news of a purportedly
revolutionary device called 'Ginger' first broke, Dean Kamen, the
thing's inventor, gained something engineers rarely get: fame." And that
was back in March. Since then, a cunning press campaign with tidbits
'leaking' out here and there, followed by a beautifully coordinated big
splash, has turned Kamen from a hero of the geeks into a household
WHICH INDIVIDUALS WERE MOST OVER-EXPOSED?
1. Britney Spears Maybe respondents were taking the question a little
too literally, or perhaps this was the year the princess of pop's
publicity reached overkill. Virgin she might be, she certainly spread
her favors when it came to getting in bed with marketers - Skechers,
Polaroid, and Pepsi all signed her.The latter was reportedly annoyed by
her appearance holding a can of Coke in Sydney, a mistake she repeated
weeks later in California, prompting a rash of "Oops ... she did it
2. Gary Condit If the cliche about any publicity being good publicity
were true, Condit will clean up in his bid to be re-elected as a
But as we all know, it's nonsense - and Condit's case proves it. Since
Chandra Levy went missing, the media hounds have savaged the
His children all appeared on prime time TV, and then came that grueling
grilling by Connie Chung. And it's not over yet.
3. Tom & Nicole Actually, Thomas Cruise Mapother IV got slightly more
votes for being "over-exposed" than Kidman, but most respondents lumped
them together despite their divorce. The split had the media's eyes wide
open with acres of coverage. Kidman revealed a sense of humor, telling
David Letterman she'd be "able to wear heels now." Cruise, on the other
hand, took to suing a gay erotic wrestler who had allegedly claimed to
have a relationship with him.
4. Bill Gates David Banks' book Breaking Windows: How Bill Gates Fumbled
The Future of Microsoft, led CNN.com to surmise, "There's nothing wrong
with Microsoft Bill Gates can't fix. By leaving." But that didn't deter
the self-anointed chief software architect from proffering opinions on
everything from net advertising, XML,and the future of computing,
through to AIDS. And then there was the Gates-orchestrated launch of
Windows XP. It's no wonder the ennui has set in.
5. Lizzie Grubman Outside of New York's navel-gazing media scene, it's
questionable whether anyone really gives two hoots about this
publicist's antics. But it didn't seem that way in the summer, when the
tale of how she reversed her SUV into the crowd outside a Hamptons
nightclub vied with endless shark-attack reports for the title of most
endlessly rehashed story.
WHICH BRANDS DID YOU GROW CLOSER TO?
1. Apple Computer Faced with tougher times, niggling queries over
compatibility issues, and criticism that it has somewhat abandoned the
sub-$1,000 market, Apple has done what it does best: "Going back
to the arms of creative professionals," as the San Jose Mercury News put
PR pros might fit that bill, and clearly, they love Apple. Our guess is
the iPod mp3 player will top more than a few Christmas wish lists this
2. Palm Although not to the same degree as Palm, respondents also cited
Blackberry and Handspring as brands they'd grown closer to.
We could explain the greater interest in hand-held devices as a desire
on the behalf of PR professionals to become better organized and have
client information at the tips of their styluses, but it's just as
likely that they're primarily interested in breaking their colleagues'
records in DopeWars.
3. The Red Cross When it was revealed that the charity would only give
out half of the nearly $600 million it had collected for the
families of victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks,
Congressional and media outrage ensued. And even after the head of the
organization resigned and the Red Cross gave in to public pressure,
agreeing to direct all of the donated funds to the victims' families, it
didn't appear to cloud PR pros' views of the group's great work in the
wake of the tragedy.
4. United Airlines United flights 93 and 175 were at the center of the
tragic events of September 11. Since then, United has posted record
losses of $1.6 billion in the third quarter, and has had a change
of leadership following the resignation of CEO James Goodwin. But the
spirit encapsulated by those "We Are United" ads seems to have kept the
5. Nokia The Wall Street Journal quoted Per Lindberg analyst Dresdner
Kleinwort Wasserstein as saying, "There is little doubt that Nokia is
gradually losing its competitive edge." But consumers still love the
Finnish clobber, with Nokia overtaking Palm and Compaq in the European
hand-held market, and young US professionals snapping up Nokia phones. A
recent article in The New Yorker credited creative innovations in style
and utility as the reasons behind Nokia's domination of the mobile
communications market worldwide.
WHICH BRANDS DID THEMSELVES NO FAVORS?
1. Microsoft Is it that annoying little humanized paperclip thingummy
that pops up in the corner of your screen to offer help at the least
appropriate moments? Or is it that you just can't stand a global giant
that has a bad attitude toward its competitors? Whatever the reason, you
sure don't like Microsoft.
2. Ford When Ford's most profitable line, the top-selling sports utility
vehicle the Explorer, earned itself the nickname 'the Exploder,' Ford
had to try and limit the damage to its reputation. But its battle of
blame with Firestone looked undignified to the public. Now, according to
The Detroit News, Ford is looking to close plants and slash employee
benefits. And the next major cut may have to be Ford's zero-percent
3. Firestone "Your tires come apart at the seams!" "Yeah? Well, your
SUVs have an under-steer issue." Clearly, PR pros weren't impressed by
the way the Firestone recall crisis was managed. Firestone didn't help
itself when it at first only offered a recall of tires belonging to
Explorer owners in Southern states, as the problems seemed more likely
to occur in warm-temperature climates. This left Explorer owners in
chillier states ice-cold, unsatisfied that they would be driving with
unsafe tires for a little longer than they expected.
4. Starbucks One respondent to the survey commented, "And to think,
there used to be a Blarney Stone on every corner." Whether it's the
genetically-engineered-foods critics, the green lobby protesting rain
forest clearances, or the activists who'd like to see coffee producers
get a bigger share of Starbucks' profits, the Seattle java giant is
being bad-mouthed with increasing regularity.
Of course, it didn't help when a Starbucks near the World Trade Center
charged emergency crews over $100 for bottled water. Starbucks
later reimbursed the emergency workers, but the damage was already
5. Philip Morris It can change its name to Altria Group, but can it
change its image? Critics now openly accuse the tobacco giant of using
some pretty devious means to get young smokers hooked in developing and
third-world countries, such as selling either single cigarettes or packs
of 10, thus making tobacco more affordable. With that kind of press,
it's no wonder Philip Morris earned a few votes in this category.
WHO WERE THE BEST COMMUNICATORS?
1. Rudy Giuliani
We were thinking about calling this category 'four best communicators
other than Rudy Giuliani,' but that might look biased. We needn't have
worried. Rudy garnered three times more votes than his nearest
competitor for his "calm," "commanding," and above all, "compassionate"
communication. Even with Giuliani's ringing endorsement, this will leave
some incredibly big shoes to fill for Mayor-elect Mike Bloomberg.
But he's learning from the master, having accompanied Giuliani on a
recent publicity trip to Israel.
2. Donald Rumsfeld Michael Getler of The Washington Post opined, "The
war effort has an authoritative spokesman in Donald Rumsfeld, who may
not reveal much, but who projects the sense of being in charge, and of
knowing what is going on, and who is adept at explaining this complex
battle." That competence obviously shone through to PR pros as well.
3. David Letterman Letterman joked that just before his heart bypass
surgery, "My career flashed before my eyes ... it was mostly awkward
silences." But the soaring ratings that followed his return to CBS' The
Late Show belied his modesty. And Letterman, a big fan of top ten lists,
will no doubt be delighted to make our top five.
4. Vicente Fox Truly, Fox has communicated his vision for Mexico, and he
seems to have the skills to make it a reality. Time reported, "Fox, 59,
with his farmer's dislike of being cooped up and his salesman's instinct
for staying mobile, exercises power on the move ... the former president
of Coca-Cola Mexico has made himself Mexico's
5. Tony Blair The British Prime Minister scored highly for his measured
speeches on the war. Fortune went so far as to suggest he had
"Churchillian eloquence." Perhaps even more importantly, Blair has
remained committed to communicating with his own people about UK
involvement in Afghanistan, as well as to the governments in the Middle
East, either sending himself or his ministers to meet with leaders in
both allied and historically hostile countries (such as Iran). Granted,
it's important to note that Blair enjoys much stronger popularity in the
US than he does at home in the UK.
WHO WERE THE WORST COMMUNICATORS?
1. Gary Condit Yep, you guessed it. The Congressman's initially evasive
approach to the media won him few fans in the PR business. And when he
did decide to speak, he hardly opened up, repeating over and over that
it wouldn't be fair to the Levy family for him to comment on the
He ran away with this dubious honor, and probably would have before his
infamous - and often tedious - sitdown with Connie Chung. But that
really sealed the deal.
2. Carly Fiorina It all looked so good at first: Here was a woman with
the vision and courage to reinvent HP - and most agreed that her brand
of change was just what the doctor ordered. But she has ruffled too many
feathers, and the tone of her self-promotion has prompted people like
Good to Great author Jim Collins to question her motives. Her proposed
purchase of Compaq has become a central rallying point for her opponents
- not least of all, the two sons of the corporation's founders.
3. George W. Bush Despite only just being edged out as fifth-best
communicator by his ally Tony Blair, the President's southern charms and
claims of a strengthened resolve clearly didn't win over all
respondents. Criticisms included his repeated use of the term "crusade,"
and the difficulty of differentiating between the words "terrorists" and
"tourists" in recent speeches.
4. Mark Green Michael Kramer of the New York Daily News wrote,
"Historians of this year's (NYC mayoral) race will conclude that Green
has run an essentially defensive and passionless campaign in which he
never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Harsh, perhaps, but
Bloomberg's victory might have proved the point. It also didn't help
that Green abandoned the traditionally Democratic minority vote in his
public attacks on primary opponent Fernando Ferrer, a popular and
powerful member of The Bronx's Hispanic community.
5. Jac Nasser The former Ford CEO, ousted on November 1 by chairman Bill
Ford, undoubtedly suffered from the Firestone tire crisis that Fortune
magazine called "a year of nightmarish PR." But his problems went deeper
than that: He was criticized for being too autocratic, and for letting
employee and dealer relations slide to an all-time low.
THE BEST AND WORST PR TRENDS?
TOP 10 BEST
1. The increased use of technology, such as e-mail pitching
2. Measurement proving the value of PR
3. The "talent shakeout"
4. Focus on cause marketing and corporate philanthropy
5. Clients realizing the need for crisis preparedness
6. The elevation of women to the top positions This was the year Mary
Lee Sachs landed the top US job at H&K
7. Fewer 'Did you get my release?' calls
8. Honesty rather than spin
9. Measurement by behavior, not column inches
10. IR and PR drawing closer together
TOP 10 WORST
2. Consolidation of agencies
3. Budget cuts
4. Patriotism/use of September 11 in campaigns
5. Silly stunts So it seems some PR pros aren't so enamored of those
Duck tape sponsored prom nights for kids.
6. No raises/low raises
7. Confusion of PR with publicity
8. Reluctance of corporations to speak up
9. The proliferation of conferences
10. Lack of self-worth among young PR pros
Before you send in the letters, let us just explain: The 10 Great PR
Campaigns of 2001 were decided based on the views of our campaigns
editor and editor-in-chief, PRWeek makes no claim that these are
scientific - that's what the PRWeek Awards are for.
The other categories were based on 83 responses to questions sent out
via Profnet and Sourcenet. We also asked What Books Wasted Our Time, but
our lawyers thought Oprah might sue us if we printed that one.