Six things for PR pros to know Friday morning, 10.24.2014

New York officials hold Thursday night Ebola press conference; Marshall University hires PR firm to tout football team ahead of College Football Playoff; Former RFK press aide dies.

1. Public officials and medical experts in New York City worked to reassure the public Thursday night that they are fully prepared for the city’s first confirmed case of Ebola. "We are as ready as one could be for this circumstance," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Dr. Craig Spencer, who had been working with Ebola patients in Guinea through the group Doctors Without Borders, tested positive for the virus on Thursday. Because he reportedly jogged, rode the subway, and went bowling this week, public health officials are trying to reinforce that Ebola is not transmissible through everyday contact.

In testimony prepared for Friday in front of a House of Representatives committee, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Dr. Nicole Lurie said, "Ebola is a dangerous disease, but there is hardly a reason for panic…There is an epidemic of fear, but not of Ebola, in the United States."

The media will also focus on Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, where Spencer is being treated, which has prepared to care for Ebola patients for more than two months.

2. Marshall University’s chances of making the first College Football Playoff are slim, despite the team’s 7-0 record. That’s why Conference USA, in which the Thundering Herd competes, has hired Los Angeles-based firm Brener Zwiken & Associates. The PR agency has already distributed at least one release touting the team’s accomplishments this season.

3. Frank Mankiewicz, the one-time press secretary to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, died Thursday night at age 90. He announced Kennedy’s death by assassination to the media on June 6, 1968.

4. Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks is in New York meeting with News Corp. executives about her next move, according to numerous reports. Brooks resigned from the company’s UK wing in 2011 amid its phone-hacking scandal.

5. Family Circle magazine received some backlash from readers after featuring a gay couple in its pages for the first time. Editor Linda Fears told the Huffington Post, "Our aim is to be reflective of all families, and we don’t think it’s a big deal to publish a piece on gay parents."

6. Sears is closing dozens of stores and laying off scores of employees. The retailer pushed back against initial reports saying it would close 116 stores and cut more than 6,000 jobs. Later reports put the numbers at 77 shuttered locations and 5,300 jobs lost. 

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