Nine things for PR pros to know Wednesday morning, 9.3.2014

Apple pushes back against hacking claims; US confirms Sotloff video; CVS cuts off tobacco products for sale; Paramount top marketer defects to Sony; NYPD starts social media training for officers.

1. US officials said early Wednesday that the video released by ISIS militants on Tuesday showing the beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff is real. The video was made public two weeks after ISIS extremists beheaded journalist James Foley, who had been covering the war in Syria.


2. Apple pushed back on Tuesday after widespread reports that hackers accessed nude photos of celebrities through a bug in iCloud, saying its online storage systems were not breached.

The incident is threatening to overshadow the company’s planned September 9 launch event, at which observers believe Apple will unveil new versions of the iPhone and a possible wearable device.

Apple’s stock price has held steady despite the widespread attention the incident has received.

3. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told Forbes’ Russian edition that the country will consider ending its contract with Ketchum when it expires, saying, "Communications services are mostly useless now." He added, "When you have unabashed propaganda coming from the US and NATO countries, the usual laws of communication and information do not apply," according to a translation picked up by BuzzFeed.


4. CVS will stop selling tobacco products in its stores on Wednesday and launch a smoking-cessation program for customers. The pharmacy chain announced it would cut off tobacco products to wide acclaim in February.


5. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and marketing agency ThinkJam apologized on Tuesday for promoting the DVD release of the first season of Sleepy Hollow with a campaign called Headless Day. The initiative took place the same day ISIS militants released video footage of the beheading of journalist Steve Sotloff.


6. Paramount’s top marketer, Josh Greenstein, is leaving the company for the head marketing job at Sony Pictures. Paramount has promoted three staffers from within in an effort to replace the former CMO.

7. The New York Police Department is putting its officers through social media training after the failed #MyNYPD campaign in April and other embarrassing incidents. The key point of the first session: "Use common sense."


8. Home Depot is investigating the potential breach of credit-card and debit-card information, the home-improvement chain said Tuesday. Reports have warned that the breach could extend across all of the company’s US stores.

9. Malaysia Airlines is receiving criticism for its Ultimate Bucket List promotion, launched on Monday. Critics contend the campaign was ill conceived in the wake of the airline losing two planes this year, MH370 in March and MH17 over Ukraine in July. 

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