Lou Capozzi

Lou Capozzi to Me: You Are Like a Right Wing Talk Show Radio Host

A few weeks ago, I wrote a fairly critical post entitled “Lou Capozzi: Why the World Thinks America Sucks.”
The post was based upon a podcast recorded with Mr. Capozzi, Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group, by Eric Schwartzman of “On the Record.”

I knew that I was stating some views that were likely to get people fired up, so I a) sent an email to the organization that Mr. Capozzi was representing in the podcast, Business for Diplomatic Action, as well as to a former colleague at Fleishman-Hillard who is on the board a well as to Eric Schwartzman.  My hope in doing so was to state that a) the post is there so you may as well read it, and b) provide contact information in case anyone took exception with it and wanted to respond.

On November 10, I got a brief email from Cari Guittard of Business for Diplomatic Action:

Thanks for sending, CEG

Cari E. Guittard
Executive Director
Business for Diplomatic Action
Sent by GoodLink (www.good.com)

And I thought it was done.

Not so fast.

Yesterday, I received a comment (posted here as well) from Mr. Capozzi, Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group, which I have posted in its entirety:

By now I guess it’s safe to say almost nobody saw this, since I have had no reaction from anyone other than the email you sent to BDA, but I don’t want your assessment to stand without comment.

Your post reminds me of the kind of comments you hear from right-wing talk show hosts talking about books they haven’t read, based on the title and the author!

It’s pretty clear you weren’t there to hear my talk, because if you had you would never have written this. And it sorrows me to see a fellow public relations professional so willing to shoot his mouth off without bothering to do the research first.

It’s also apparent you didn’t bother to visit the BDA website, http://www.businessfordiplomaticaction/com, because you would have found the large body of research behind the presentation.

Next time I give a talk why don’t you come to hear it before dumping on it!


Let me address your comments, Lou.

  1. Mr. Capozzi says: “By now I guess it’s safe to say almost nobody saw this, since I have had no reaction from anyone other than the email you sent to BDA.”My response: So the presumption is that since only one person sent it to you, no one else read it?  What about the comments from some of the most respected voices in the social media space, like Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston and even Eric Schwartzman himself?  And I assure you, Mr. Capozzi, that this was the highest ranked post I have ever done in terms of page views.  And that’s not counting others who commented about it in Twitter.  Stating that no one saw it because you got it from one source is, a best, not factual.  It is at worst, wishful thinking.
  2. Mr. Capozzi says: “Your post reminds me of the kind of comments you hear from right-wing talk show hosts talking about books they haven’t read, based on the title and the author!” My response: This is the one that really has me scratching my head.  Mr. Capozzi, if you had read my post carefully, you would have noted that I state, before almost anything else, the following:  “Eric interviewed Lou on about his luncheon keynote at the PRSA International Conference on restoring America’s connections with the world.  This took place in Detroit at the end of October.  So, caveat #1:  I was not there to hear the speech and #2) Mr. Capozzi was presumably limited in the amount of time that he had on Eric’s show.”  I lobbed criticism, and when you live in a glass house, you have to expect people to throw stones.  But at least have your facts straight.  When I state, even using the word “caveat” that I was not at the PRSA conference, but was writing about the podcast itself, it seems pretty clear, I would think, even to the uninterested observer THAT I WAS NOT AT THE CONFERENCE.  I based my comments on the interview itself (pretty clear) that was posted AFTER the conference.
  3. Mr. Capozzi says: “It’s pretty clear you weren’t there to hear my talk, because if you had you would never have written this.My response: The answer is pretty clear from my last response, but let me say this, Mr. Capozzi:  I listened to your interview with Eric three times while writing this post.  IF THERE IS ONE QUOTE, ONE SYLLABLE, THAT IS FACTUALLY INCORRECT, ONE WORD THAT YOU DID NOT SAY, contact me and I will take it down.  You can’t claim that you were misquoted in an autobiography.
  4. Mr. Capozzi says: It’s also apparent you didn’t bother to visit the BDA website, http://www.businessfordiplomaticaction/com, because you would have found the large body of research behind the presentation.”

    My response:
    I am getting carpal tunnel correcting what is a firm grasp of the obvious.  You’ll note that I link to the BDA Web site in the post, so clearly I have visited it.  I got Cari Guittard‘s contact information from the Web site, so of course I have visited it.  I saw that a former colleague on mine at Fleishman-Hillard was on the board and emailed him.  All of which give a pretty good indication that I have been on the site.And finally, if you are going to criticize me for not visiting the site, the least you could do it offer the proper URL.  It’s” http://www.businessfordiplomaticaction.com “not ” http://www.businessfordiplomaticaction/com

And since we are about correcting the record, did you or did you not say:

  • Customs officers are “very threatening…foreboding” and that is one of the reasons why people don’t like to come to America?
  • “Picture the guy in Bermuda shorts with a camera and his hat turned to the side walkin’ down the Champs Elysee. We just aren’t as sensitive as we need to be to the way that we conduct ourselves’?
  • “There is a broad perception out there that globalization has been fueled by America…Our reputation is really in trouble,” when you work for a global public relations and communications firm who has benefited from globalization?

The bottom line is this:  no one likes begin criticized.  I get it.  Troll this blog for people who think that I am full of it.  But I expected a little more from someone who is the Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group and has spent 40 years in the public relations industry than being called a “right wing radio talk show host” and for “shoot[ing] [my] mouth off without bothering to do the research first.”

I did the research, Lou.  It’s all above.

Maybe you should too — and might I suggest by going back and reading the original post.


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Motrin’s Response on the Mark – #motrinmoms

OK.  I have pretty much beaten this one into the ground, but Motrin yesterday responded on “Crunchy Domestic Goddess‘” blog (I could not make that name up) with a sound, well-conceived apology.

I have posted it verbatim below.  It is not only authentic and sincere, but by listing her contact information, Kathy also proves that her effort is sincere and transparent.  I have posted Kathy’s contact information since it is already out there, but if I had received such a polite apology, I am not sure that I would have posted her contact info.  I think that Kathy’s phone is most likely ringing off the hook today and her email box is jammed.


Dear Amy –

I am the Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare. I have responsibility for the Motrin Brand, and am responding to concerns about recent advertising on our website. I am, myself, a mom of 3 daughters.

We certainly did not mean to offend moms through our advertising. Instead, we had intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies. We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad. We are in process of removing it from our website. It will take longer, unfortunately, for it to be removed from magazine print as it is currently on newstands and in distribution.


Kathy Widmer
VP of Marketing – Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

P.S. – Additionally, the Motrin site is back up with an apology on the index page.

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Follow Up Headache on Motrin Moms – Fear the Wrath of the Mommy Blogger

I don’t usually blog about the same topic on two consecutive days, but there has been so much intelligent discussion out there, that I thought I would add this to the mix.

Peter Shankman, he of the “HARO” – Help a Reporter Out, blogged this morning with a different perspective, one of not blaming the ad itself, but stating, correctly, that they messed up with one of the most connected, viral and powerful online communities – mommy bloggers. And I would even broaden the term from “mommy bloggers” to “moms online,” because while many of them comment and connect, not all of them blog.  I love Peter’s take (as well as HARO):

Let’s be honest – when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia rocks the house, yet search.twitter.com pulls up #Motrinmoms as the lead story, somewhere, there’s a disconnect. But it’s a disconnect that, when you think about it, makes perfect sense.

I’m not siding with Motrin. They messed up, granted. I’m ok with that. Companies mess up all the time. They fix the problem, and it usually doesn’t make the radar screen. The problem is, Motrin happened to mess up at the expense, and in the face of, one of the most vocal, quickest-to-blog, “strongest-to-band-together-and-form-one-opinion-like-the-Borg” collectives out there – The Mommy-Blogging community.

Now I am NOT slagging on Mommy-Bloggers. Not in the slightest. Nor, am I saying they’re over-reacting to the commercial, which, by rights, was stupid and patronizing. What I AM saying though, is that Motrin will pay a MUCH bigger price, as opposed to if they’d messed up in front of say, “Construction-Worker-Bloggers.” Mommy-Bloggers are not a voice to be messed with, probably because they’re one of the most clearly identifiable voices on the web. You have a kid? You blog about said kid? You’re a Mommy-blogger. You don’t need an advanced degree in particle physics to see what these bloggers have in common.

Dear Ad Agency (I am not calling them out because so many others have and will):  if you are going to eff up with a group, make sure you have your act together.  Make sure that your targeted online community will will respond at least positively, and at worst, not organize a campaign AGAINST you.

P.S. – and in the “totally weak” category, www.motrin.com is DOWN (as of 7:45am EST).  I guess there were not enough people to simply restore the ad.  Weak, weak, weak, guys.   Where is the dark or backup site?  Is Tylenol a case study that does not still resonate?  You can do better, Motrin.

Jesus, I have a headache just reading this.


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Twitter Makes Motrin Feel the Pain – #motrinmoms

Happened to stumble across this today on Laura Fitton’s Pistachio Consulting Blog, but I have found another

reason to toss on the heaping pile of why companies should have robust reputation management programs that include Twitter feeds.  An ad on the Motrin site has a running monologue of a mother essentially complaining of back pain from carrying her baby.

I did not find the ad particularly offensive, but there are a whole lot of people who did.  When you read this, go to Twitter search and look for #motrinmoms.  These guys are getting barbecued like a rack of ribs on the 4th of July.  And guess what?

  • The ad is still up.
  • Now there is an “anti” video that sprung up in Internet time (below).  The ad shows negative Tweets AND HAPPY MOMS CARRYING THEIR BABIES. Oh – and it was not lost on me that the soundtrack of the “anti” clip was “Danny Boy.” Heh.

If this does not make the case for robust online issues management, I don’t know what does.  Remains to be seen what impact this can have on sales, but geez, a multimillion dollar company in a highly competitive space does not need to have this stuff hanging out there, even as a write this on a Sunday night.


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Le Meme du Jour: How the Obama Administration Will Change Things

At the request of my pal and blogger extraordinaire, David Wescott (wow – I’m not one line into this post and already I have used five French words – touche!) I wanted to offer some thoughts and open up a discussion thread for how the Obama administration may change “things.” I have put “things” in quotes because I want to keep the floor open for comments and ideas.  Since I get to go first, here’s my thinking:

Social media, social media, social media.

Am I clear?  Good.

Just last week, I did a Media Bullseye Radio Roundtable on “the First Internet Election,” and while we are several months away from getting hard numbers, one can draw a dotted line (in pencil) to social media and voter turnout.  Don’t put it in pen, yet because we don’t have any hard numbers yet. This morning’s Boston Globe reported that voter turnout was NOT at an all time high:

Turnout in last week’s election increased from four years ago but fell far short of some forecasts largely because many Republican voters either stayed home or left blank the presidential section of their ballots.”

So what will change?  Well, by now, we have all seen Change.gov, “..for the Office of the President-elect and Office of the Vice President-elect, as recognized by the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended (3 USC 102 note).  There’s a first and an indication that President-elect Obama will turn more to delivering information to an increasingly Internet-savvy populace via social media.  Cool.  But here’s what I wonder.  You can’t just go and register a political site (let alone build it) in a day, so someone was working on this puppy for a long time.  Within the government, because that is the only way that you can get a .gov domain.

Quick bipartisan note:  The Republicans have a site, too: Republican for a Reason.

Second,  the Wall Street Journal reported in November on how President-elect Obama made tremendous use of many social media tools during the election, including Twitter, Facebook and email and text alerts.  As someone who draws a paycheck from Uncle Sam, this is harder to do from within government, but I think that President-elect Obama at least grasps the concept that government can be more efficient by delivering information to the populace via social media tools.

Well, memes are supposed to be short, so I’ll stop here and leave it to other, smarter minds to continue to conversation.  So consider yourself tagged:

Start memming, folks.  And the one, super-smart guy who I left off of my list is my pal, Jason Falls, who last time I tagged him for a meme, wrote “My Hatred of the Memes is Overcome Only by my Liking the Memer.”  Lesson learned, Jason.  One bitch-slap is all I need to get the message.

C’est bon!


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