Responding to reports of rising vegetarianism among teenagers, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association "responded to the looming vegetarian crisis by launching a website, Cool 2B Real, in an attempt to link meat consumption with some degree of hipness. The site, which looks like a cross between a Barbie fan page and a Taco Bell ad (beef-filled tacos and gigantic hamburgers dot the screen), extols teenage girls to 'Keep it Real' - 'real' as in a person who eats beef, preferably three or four times a day.
"The momentum that ended in Trent Lott's resignation yesterday as the Senate majority leader did not, primarily, come from the traditional behemoths of the US media - the New York Times, the Washington Post and the main TV news networks," observes Oliver Burkeman. Those publications initially failed to report on Lott's racist comments at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. "In the interim, writers on numerous weblogs, or 'blogs,' were condemning the remarks - and swiftly uncovering evidence of a pattern in Mr.
Oh what a tangled web: "Two giant companies are struggling to shut down parody websites that portray them unfavorably, interrupting internet use for thousands in the process, and filing a lawsuit that pits the formidable legal department of PR giant Burson-Marsteller against a freshman at Hampshire College," writes Paul Hardin (the freshman in question).
While Fox News and other mainstream media often seem to be cheerleading for a US attack on Iraq, an alternative media website is providing information, analysis and anti-war advocacy that is kept off the Boob Tube. Check out Alternet's Iraq News Log which says that "a unilateral strike against Baghdad is both unwarranted and potentially disastrous. This content file offers readers breaking news, the best analysis, activism resources, and timely information they need to resist this precipitous rush to war."
During the past two days, PR Watch received emails alerting us of an unbelievable press release from Dow Chemical. "DOW ADDRESSES BHOPAL OUTRAGE, EXPLAINS POSITION," read the release headline. "Many individuals within Dow feel tremendous sorrow about the Bhopal disaster," the release read. However, Dow has "responsibilities to our shareholders and our industry colleagues that make action on Bhopal impossible." The release directs people to the website "www.dow-chemical.com" for Dow's statement on Bhopal.
"Documentarian Michael Moore has once again used a personal appeal over the internet to boost the success of his controversial work, highlighting the effectiveness of the web as a promotional tool," PR Week reports. Encouraging people to see his new movie "Bowling for Columbine," Moore's email was sent to thousands on his mailing list and "was widely circulated, especially by film buffs and political activists who support Moore." Moore's movie features PR representatives from Lockheed's Littleton, CO missile plant and K-Mart corporate headquarters.
"The Internet's promise as a new medium -- where text, audio, video and data can be freely exchanged -- is under attack by the corporations that control the public's access to the 'Net, as they see opportunities to monitor and charge for the content people seek and send," writes Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy. "The industry's vision is the online equivalent of seizing the taxpayer-owned airways, as radio and television conglomerates did over the course of the 20th century.
In an effort to distance itself from the stench of its reputation as the world's worst tobacco company, Philip Morris recently changed its name to "Altria." To guard the new name against parodies, the company then sneakily bought up the domain name registration for "AltriaSucks.com." Bret Fausett,
Industry apologist Steven Milloy, formerly a tobacco lackey at The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition and currently a self-proclaimed expert on "junk science," is hiding behind yet another front group.
The Pew Internet Project has published a report examining how September 11 affected public attitudes and use of the Internet. Perhaps the most disturbing change has been that more Americans support greater government secrecy, along with monitoring of people's email and online activities.