Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Here's a Formula for Instant Bad Publicity

For some strange reason, Ellen DeGeneres's televised meltdown over her dog adoption problems has made national news. It's hard to understand why the major network news programs would spend any precious time on this, but they did. And they're not the only major media outlets that seem fascinated with Ellen's failed pet adoption story.

Some of us are wondering why Ellen allowed herself to open her show with this sobfest, but all of us who are familiar with the story now know the name of a nonprofit organization we've never heard of before: Mutts and Moms. Under different circumstances, this would be a fabulous turn of events for a small, local charity -- national media exposure! Wow! Think of the contributions this could generate! Instead, after hearing Executive Director Marina Batkis's statement to the press about the Ellen DeGeneres Situation, I'm left thinking, "WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?"

And there's the answer: She wasn't thinking. And she wasn't thinking when she yanked the dog out of the home without first exploring if an exception to her rules might be in the best interest of the dog and the animal rescue organization.

Batkis allowed her spokesperson to tell the press: "She doesn't think this is the type of family that should have the dog. She is adamant that she is not going to be bullied around by the Ellen DeGenereses of the world ... They are using their power, position and wealth to try to get what it is they want."

Well, even if they are, is that what you really want to be saying to the national media?

Yes, DeGeneres made a mistake. But considering that she has a national pulpit for her opinions, wouldn't it have been wiser to try to find a reasonable compromise? If this had been handled differently -- if Batkis had managed to make a friend of DeGeneres instead of an enemy -- she'd be listening to the kaching of donations on her Web site instead of taking the site offline because of the backlash that has led to death threats.

What a sorry mess. The lesson? Some say there's no such thing as bad publicity, but I'll bet Marina Batkis would argue with that.


nickyjett said...

Perfect Perfect Perspective on leveraging publicity !:D

~Mel Hopkins

Anonymous said...

Sandra, I do think there is such a thing as bad press, though how bad is the question. The difference betwee bad press and make you shut down your site bad press is what happened here on Ellen. It's one thing to be controversial. It's quite another to be stubborn.