Tag Archives: Public Relations

Nike Negates Infringement Claim

nike infringement juda engelmayer

The eponymous Nike “Jumpman” logo is arguably even more famous and revered than the omnipresent swoosh. The image adorned Michael Jordan, basketball royalty and one of the richest athletes – from royalties – to ever play any game. Of course, Nike also made untold billions thanks to the “Jordan-Jumpman” brand, a fact that has them back in court defending every nickel of those millions from an artist who says Nike stole his work.

Jacobus Rentmeester sued Nike in federal court claiming copyright infringement. His suit demands profits associated with some $3.2 billion in retail sales (from 2014 alone), but Rentmeester did not stop there. The aggrieved photographer also wants Nike to halt current sales of any products featuring the Jordan brand.

At the heart of the complaint is a photo session Rentmeester says he shot while Jordan was warming up for the 1984 Olympics. Life Magazine had commissioned the work, but Rentmeester says the rights to the images remained his own. After the images had been published, reports indicated that Nike’s Jordan brand designer, Peter Moore, paid less than two hundred bucks for “temporary use of the photo slides.”

According to the suit, Rentmeester argues Nike used his photo to recreate the shot with Jordan wearing his NBA Chicago Bulls gear. The Chicago skyline was added to the shots Nike used, but Rentmeester claims the work is still fundamentally his own. According to media reports related to the suit, the claim states: “Mr. Rentmeester created the pose, inspired by a ballet technique known as a grand jete, a long horizontal jump…”

Subsequent to that initial use, Nike used the image additional times, how many depends on who you ask, as does the amount and reasons why Rentmeester was compensated on those occasions.

This case is an example of how a legal dispute can – and often will – spill over into the court of public opinion. While the case itself will be decided in the court system, the culpability and credibility of each party will have long since been decided by the fans watching this case.

Plus, public opinion will not be limited to perspectives on Nike and the photographer. Opinion and perspective will spill over onto any other athlete who is paid to sport the Jordan brand. This presents a multi-faceted branding and PR scenario requiring both a winning narrative in court and a strong positive message to offer to the court of public opinion.

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Citi Fails to pay Debts


Few things kill a reputation faster than failure to make good on legitimate debts. Particularly when you have not only committed to pay them, but also received a more lenient consequence because you agreed to pay them. That, says Ronn Torossian, is the situation in which Citigroup itself is in at the moment.

According to a recent report in Bloomberg, Citigroup failed to send settlement checks to more than 20,000 borrowers who were judged to be eligible for payment as a result of the Independent Foreclosure Review. Media reports quoted two people “close to the matter,” saying the bank is “preparing to send out settlement checks to affected borrowers” … but they have not yet. It’s the “not yet” that is creating the extensive PR damage here. While the amount owed – reportedly $20 million – is substantial, it is a relatively small number compared to many of the others that have been tossed around in the mortgage fiasco.

Further, it’s not that high total that has people hacked off. It’s the apparent flippant view Citi seems to be taking with their money. It’s kind of like a kid who knows he’s going to be punished but refuses to accept that punishment. That’s not the time to try to save face. It’s the time to pay up and move on. If there was a time to either delay or refuse payment, it would have been BEFORE the judgment was leveled. Once the penalty was agreed to, Citi only stands to worsen an already shaky reputation by dissembling.

While Citi’s PR position is negative and bordering on a crisis, there is no need for this scenario to lead to that threatened public relations storm. The company need simply make good on its debts, treat its current customers well, and this situation could quickly dissipate. However, if the company continues to flaunt its obligations, expect there to be long-term bad blood…and expect competitors to swoop in and snap up justifiably angry customers.

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Four Ways a Strong Public Relations Campaign Can Help Build Your Brand

Help Build Your Brand

Public relations campaigns can have a huge impact on a business. They can change public perceptions, increase sales, and improve a business’s viability. However, a strong public relations campaign can also help you to build a brand. Here are a few ways.

Create a Narrative

The best brands have a story. Everyone knows Bill Gates‘ unlikely story of success; it is part of the narrative we associate with Microsoft. Similarly, Whole Foods uses their ads to tell stories about the farmers and suppliers who work with their stores, giving a human face to a large corporation. A strong public relations campaign will not only build sell products and build consumer loyalty; it will create a story that is positively associated with your brand.

Educate Your Consumers and Clients

Many companies use public relations and advertisement as an opportunity to educate the public. These campaigns not only are more likely to go viral, but more likely to build a positive brand. As your educational materials are shared, they will reach more people. In addition, consumers and clients by nature view educators as experts. Most brands can benefit from being viewed as an expert in the field with an interest in helping and educating the public. For this reason, many major financial companies include financial education as a major portion of their public relations budgets.

Add Some Personality

A strong public relations campaign has personality. Whether you choose to use humor, wit, or poignancy, these personality characteristics are what make a campaign memorable. In addition, they can add substantially to your brand. This is the reason that it is so important to plan public relations campaigns that complement your brand and reflect brand characteristics. This is the chance to show who you are!

Create a Connection

A strong public relations campaign make your target audience feel connected to your business. This will create an interest in and connection to your brand at the same time. When your customers feel engaged and connected to your company, you have an incredible opportunity to promote your brand and create a lifetime of loyalty.

While you may see a strong public relations campaign as an end in itself, it is actually a beginning. This is your chance to promote your brand and create a relationship with your target audience. Every campaign is an opportunity that you cannot afford to miss.

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Swiss Currency Hurting Citigroup Consumer Relations

citi group swiss

Financial market watchdogs expect Citigroup to lose more than $150 million because of the roller coaster ups and downs of Swiss currency. But Ronn Torossian says the NYC-based currency trading company is not alone. Many top companies were caught entirely unprepared with the Swiss National bank surprisingly removed the cap on the value of the Swiss franc.

There is a larger issue, though, than the momentary – if momentous – financial setback. Now Citi – and several other financial companies – are waiting on a bailout. If it happens, the bailout will be from a private company, but that fact would not help much in the market of public opinion.

Consider, if the general public – or many news agencies – hear the words “financial company” and “bailout” in the same sentence, that could lead to an immediate PR hailstorm for the entire financial industry.

Most average investors – those with basic 401K’s and other retirement accounts – don’t understand all the facets and intricacies of the various domestic and international financial markets. But they know how they felt when their retirement accounts took a dive in the last decade. And they understand that these companies got “bailed out” by the government. Meanwhile, the average Joe got nothing for his nightmare.

That combination of functional financial illiteracy and poisonous buzzwords could make this situation very difficult for Citigroup and the other financial companies facing what could otherwise be a fairly pedestrian scenario. Yes, they need help, and, yes, they need that assistance from an outside company. But neither scenario is anything close to what happened prior to the federal bailout of investment companies after the real estate bubble burst.

But, strictly from a PR perspective, that “difference” is less than nuance. Worse, that situation could create more unrest among consumers who still blame investment banks for a very bad last few years. And worst, Citi and the other companies are not even sure the bailout will happen. They are already reportedly talking about contingency plans. That increases both this story’s time in the new cycle and the likelihood that it will get reported outside the financial news circles. Both scenarios further increase the risk of a negative response from people who will react to the news viscerally, not logically.

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Effective Communication in the Healthcare Industry

healthcare-prOne of the most valued qualities in a job candidate is the ability to speak, listen and write effectively. Organizations that communicate effectively with their internal and external stakeholders benefit in many ways than those that view communication as an internal matter. Effective communication in the healthcare industry encompasses many factors.


This is one of the most important components of good communication. Professionals in the healthcare industry should organize information in a logical, easy-to-understand manner. For example, avoid using technical and medical jargon when relaying information to people who are not in the medical field.


Effective communication in the healthcare industry should be transparent. For example, in a hospital setting, transparency refers to how much information should be revealed about the hospital, its dealings, policies and developments. Honesty and integrity are important elements of effective communication in the healthcare industry because they inspire trust between the industry and its internal and external stakeholders. Transparency in communication also ensures that everyone has the information they require to make the right decisions.


Many factors in the healthcare industry affect people’s lives directly and indirectly. Inaccurate information in research and other factors in the healthcare industry may even lead to loss of lives. Accuracy in communication can be enhanced mainly through research.


The workforce in the healthcare industry is highly diverse. Therefore, the ability to practice sensitivity in communication is highly valued. Sensitivity in communication involves taking account of cultural differences in communication styles and adapting your messages so that they can be well received by your intended audience.

Effective communication in the healthcare industry is a broad field that encompasses many factors. Many companies are now hiring public relations managers to handle their internal and external communication. There are many benefits of hiring Public relations managers to handle communication for businesses in the healthcare industry.

• By hiring public relations managers, you receive experienced professionals who can brainstorm and tell the story of your company in a unique way.

• An external PR firm provides third party objectivity in communication. Effective communication may involve stepping back, assessing the situation and offering fresh ideas and perspectives.

• Public relations managers have the expertise to tailor creative messages that can break through misunderstandings and negative public opinions.

• PR managers have established communication with the media. While internal PR managers may be more passionate about their firms, news coming from them may seem biased and non-credible, which the media may not buy.

• Experienced PR managers work with company spokespeople and teach them how to deliver catchy sound bites, answer tough questions from the media and stick to important messages.

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Filed under Education, Juda Engelmayer, Public Relations, Social Media, Technology

How simple ideas can Create huge Charity PR returns

ice-water-challengeIt began with a series of videos. Then it went viral. Random people dumping buckets of ice on their heads in order to get attention – and, hopefully, bring attention to various charitable causes. Those who get doused are encouraged to “pass it on.” As a PR stunt, Ronn Torossian says this trend has feet. What it lacks, Torossian argues, is substance.

Sure, people are going to watch other people doing something fun and a little bit silly. And, yes, other people are going to give it a shot. But then nothing much happens. This presence in place of substance is so prevalent in today’s Video Everywhere culture that it even has a name – Slacktivism. The pejorative relates to simple, purportedly charitable, actions that don’t actually accomplish anything. And they are everywhere. When NFL players are sporting neon pink socks for “awareness,” then you know a cause is in grave danger of jumping the shark.

But that doesn’t mean an idea that might lean toward slacktivism doesn’t have merit. Even the ice bucket challenge can make a difference if applied in the proper context. While a charity cannot coerce people to give, they could create fun ways to encourage donations and volunteering based on activities as simple as the ice bucket challenge. In a world of immediacy and microdonations, you don’t always need massive events to bring in the bucks.

That’s not to say major events are not worthwhile. Statistics bear out exactly how profitable major events can be, and that doesn’t seem likely to change. But there is a large – and largely untapped – generation out there who looks at, and engages with, the world in a very different way. You reach those folks with ice buckets.

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Carolinas HealthCare Marries Medicine and Big Data

healthcare-public-relations-firmIt reads rather like a futuristic novel: a patient gets a call from his physician’s office asking him to come in. When he arrives, the stern looking nurse ushers him into an exam room. The doctor arrives and says, “Mr. Smith, it has been reported to me that you have not visited the gym in several weeks. You also have been frequenting a certain sports bar, and buying a lot of pizza. You are on my High Risk list.”

This scenario isn’t science fiction. It’s on the edge of reality for Carolinas HealthCare who has joined the dive into Big Data with a unique aim in mind – and a strong Healthcare PR campaign. By analyzing the credit card purchases of over two million people, Carolinas HealthCare wants to identify those who are practicing personal habits that may make them sick in the future. Doctors can intervene early, perhaps even before the patient gets sick.

The fact that our purchasing habits are grist for analytical data mills is not new, and, oddly enough, most Americans don’t seem too worried about it. But, as Ronn Torossian points out, this use slips into a new realm that may backfire on Carolinas Healthcare’s public image.

Carolinas HealthCare is a southern powerhouse, a vast network of over 900 medical care centers that includes hospitals, doctors’ offices, surgical centers, and nursing homes. It argues that it has taken this step in order to help protect patients’ health. The company claims that by identifying high-risk patients and intervening, lives could be saved.

Ronn Torossian  argues that their PR explanation sounds a little too altruistic to be completely true. They may not realize that this makes them appear as the embodiment of “Big Brother Watching You”. It is one thing when personal data is gathered and fed to companies who analyze it to sell us more products. In some ways, consumers seem to see that as using the Internet to get an edge. But, it is impersonal, and not bothersome.

But, Carolinas HealthCare wants to use this data to profile a person, draw conclusions, and predict possible outcomes. Torrassion is surprised how little they seem to realize that many patients are bound to see this as invasive, and possibly offensive.

The PR backlash has already begun, and Carolinas HealthCare hasn’t responded, yet. This has been called a breach of privacy, and detractors say it could radically change the doctor-patient relationship. Instead of a physician and patient exchanging necessary and pertinent information, the doctor could be placed in the role of Grand Inquisitor, armed with data bought from data collection warehouses.

From a PR standpoint, Carolinas HealthCare is running a great risk by only standing by its ‘we want to help people’ stance. Though it may be partially true, a growing movement doubts this is the only reason. Torossian advises that Carolinas HealthCare would do better to adopt a more transparent approach to its change of policy, especially since it is spearheading a new approach, and the eyes of healthcare providers and patients around the country are watching.

The elephant in the room is Obamacare. It is no coincidence that this move comes now, when the new governmental health regulations provide payment based on how well a hospital heals people vs. services provided. Hospitals can be fined for a variety of faults, including having a patient readmitted too often. Carolinas HealthCare’s move may be seen more as a financial maneuver than an altruistic gesture.

Right now, the southern healthcare company is running the risk of damaging their reputation by not responding directly to questions about their motives, and their stance on possible ethical issues involved in their actions. Ronn Torossian thinks that they need to quickly reconsider their PR strategy in order to prevent themselves from being seen as a mercenary, invasive health corporation. It will be interesting to see how the entire situation develops.

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Filed under Healthcare, Public Relations

Commenting on Rolling Stone’s Cover of Terrorist bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

I had the chance to comment for Fox-5 News in New York on Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appearing on Rolling Stone’s cover in August

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Filed under Branding, Career and choices, Cutting Edge News, Juda Engelmayer, Public Relations

When You Can Make the News Your Story, You Master Public Relations

Starbuck’s cups say “Come Together”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz demonstrated marketing genius this week.  He took his common drink of choice for millions of Americans and turned it into the news of the day.

The biggest obstacle to generating consistent publicity for any brand is the often aggressive attack of current events that consumes the media. When war in Israel breaks out or a massacre at a shopping mall or school occurs, news channels develop heartfelt collages choreographed to a stirring musical theme to begin and end each commercial break and that item becomes the only news angle of the day, week or even month.  Take the fiscal cliff, and see how Starbucks made it their story.  (Read more here)

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Filed under Creative Writing, Crisis Management, Media, News and Views, Politics

What is George Zimmerman Thinking?

By (about the author)


 In invoking the “God’s plan” message, George Zimmerman and his team of public relations specialists made a critical decision.  The man who shot and killed the unarmed youth Treyvon Martin in Sanford, Florida offered an exclusive interview to Fox News’ Sean Hannity and expressed little remorse while telling America that the events leading to, and Martin’s death were part of God’s plan.  What he did do was attempt to draw support from a different direction; the usually right leaning Christian groups, who are also often strong supporters of the Second Amendment.
The natural support base for Martin comes from the African American communities, and the fact that Al Sharpton took up the cause reinforces the image of the civil rights agenda, black versus white, and the underprivileged versus the middle and upper class.  Martin’s cause became known and big, getting all the way up to the President of the United States’ bully pulpit, and millions on the left rallied behind the boy’s family seeking justice for Treyvon.  Then came the pictures of Zimmerman walking through the police station, some had him looking uninjured and others showed him with a few band-aids on his head questioned Zimmerman’s version of events that fateful night. (Continue Reading)
Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR

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