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The 15-Seconds Blog

  • Don’t Abuse the Props at Photo Ops

    There is nothing quite so unsettling as a sore winner. Vincent Gray won the Democratic primary for DC mayor last week. In Washington, that amounts to winning the November election.

    Gray is just biding his time until voters make official in the general election what everyone already knows — that he will soon be in charge.

    While waiting, Gray is holding meetings to get him ready to rule.

    On Thursday, Gray met with DC schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee who was an active supporter of Gray’s opponent — outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty.

    Rhee went so far as to say publicly that Gray’s primary victory was “devastating for the school children of Washington, DC.” She has about as much chance of being retained in a Gray administration has Lindsay Lohan does of being nominated for the Supreme Court.

    After the meeting Gray came out to meet the media — and Rhee was forced to stand in a corner — like a naughty school girl – listening to the presumptive mayor-elect say that:

    “We did not talk about Chancellor Rhee staying or going. We talked about the state of education in the city.”

    The media described Rhee as appearinging “shaken,” “close to tears,” and “looked awkward, unhappy, and basically like she’d rather be anywhere else on the planet.”

    You can see the scene in the raw video below.

    View more news videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video.

    It is hard to believe that, at a minimum, Gray didn’t let Rhee know that she had flunked the retention test. He has every right to appoint his own team — and we can’t blame him for wanting a schools chief who doesn’t start out thinking that Gray’s election is “devastating.”

    But making Rhee stand in the corner with a metaphorical dunce cap sends all the wrong signals. Gray should have met with her privately — allowed her to leave the area — and only then come out before the press.

    His treatment of Rhee was uncalled for.  We hope he acts with a little more class when his job becomes official.



  • LA Teachers Can’t Do Math

    Give a dunce cap to the LA teachers union. The LA Times reported yesterday that the head of the local teacher’s union is calling for a “massive boycott” of the paper.

    Why? The newspaper has recently begun publishing a series of articles based on an analysis of elementary school student test scores to measure the effectiveness of teachers.  What really frosts the union is that the paper plans to publish the names of teachers showing which ones students aced the tests and which ones tanked.

    “You’re leading people in a dangerous direction, making it seem like you can judge the quality of a teacher by … a test,” the Times quoted A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, as saying.

    Imagine that.  Tests to measure performance in schools.  Who ever heard of such a thing?

    Boycotting newspapers is a tactic that will only work when you can muster a sizable chunk of the paper’s reading public.  The LA Times has a circulation of over 600,000.  There are about 6,000 teachers involved — unless our math is wrong — at least half of them should be happy with their ratings.  Given that not all of the bottom half are likely subscribers — we’re guessing that the union’s efforts will fall flat.

    The oldest adage in media relations is the advice to never get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.  The teacher’s union has thrown a spitball at an outfit which buys it by the railroad train carload.

    What’s worse — they have invited national attention to a story that might otherwise have come and gone locally.


  • Make My Day

    Want to make a reporter’s day?

    Run from the camera, call the cops, sneak into a bathroom.Make yourself look guilty.

    That is exactly what four members of Atlanta’s Fulton County School Board did last year when a local TV reporter tried to ask them some questions.

    We’ve recently come across the video below of one of our favorite investigative reporters, Wendy Saltzman, from CBS46 in Atlanta trying to get some elected officials to answer basic questions. What made the School Board members shameful behavior even more unconscionable is that ran away following the written advice of a paid public relations chief…who must have learned her craft the same fine folks advising Toyota and Tiger Woods.

    The issue before the four fleeing elected officials was not some grave malfeasance or the maltreatment of school kids. It was the rather commonplace overpayment for school supplies.
    Here is CBS Atlanta’s Wendy Salzman’s report:

    Come on people, this is PR 101 stuff. You could easily have said something. like: “This board will thoroughly investigate this matter in a timely fashion. When that probe is complete we will answer all you questions. If tax dollars have been misspent we will work to restore those funds to best serve the children of this county.”

    Now that took 15 seconds to say. A sound bite, not a lie or “let me out of here before I confess.” Remember, a smile and a few calm words while looking directly at the camera will preserve your authoritative image and will not give the reporter pictures of someone looking as guilty as sin.

    Trust us — ignore our advice and you will be making the investigative reporter’s day.