Mark Fields
Mark Fields

The PR play of the week goes to Hertz interim CEO Mark Fields for igniting a PR firestorm under the auto rental company that recently emerged from Chapter XI.

On Oct. 25, Hertz announced plans to place an order for 100K Teslas by the end of 2022, a move that would create the largest electric vehicle rental fleet in North America.

Though the media largely focused on how the deal propelled Tesla’s market valuation over the $1T mark and further enriched founder Elon Musk, the announcement signaled the birth of “the new Hertz,” which Fields promised will recharge the auto rental experiences of leisure and business customers around the world.

Fields also inked Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady as spokesperson for the new Hertz. Brady will star in ads that use his game-day “Let’s Go” rallying cry and show the seven-time Super Bowl champ renting, recharging and driving an EV from a Hertz airport location.

Fields followed up the Tesla news with an Oct 27 announcement of a venture with Uber to make 50K of its EVs available for ride-shares. He also unveiled another plan to sell used Hertz vehicles through the popular Carvana online car buying site.

Fields, a former Ford Motor president, took the Hertz job on Oct. 5 as the company demoted chief Paul Stone to COO.

The board of directors might want to remove the “interim” from Fields’ title, especially since Hertz has scheduled a public offering of its stock by the end of the year.

The PR misplay of the week goes to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for trying to scapegoat others for his self-inflicted woes.

“We are seeing a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company,” the ever-perceptive leader of the embattled social media platform told investors during a conference call.

Others will determine whether whistleblower Frances Haugen’s depiction of a company that prizes profits before people takes down Zuck, but a masterful PR campaign certainly has put the Facebook founder in the hot seat.

High-tech guru Kara Swisher, who moonlights as a New York Times columnist, likened the masterful rollout of the Facebook Papers to the planning that preceded the invasion of Normandy.

The Wall Street Journal series got the ball rolling by using documents leaked by an unnamed FB insider that revealed the company knew its Instagram unit worsened the body image problems of young girls.

CBS’ “60 Minutes” unmasked Haugen during a one-on-one interview in which the plain-spoken former FB product manager came across as cool, calm and media-trained.

Meanwhile a collection of 17 global news sources, including the New York Times and Guardian, have been poring over their troves of the leaked Facebook Papers in the hopes of breaking more bombshells in the coming weeks.

Haugen, who has already testified before the US Congress and British Parliament, is in the midst of a European crusade calling for tighter regulation of Facebook that will take her to Paris, Berlin and Brussels, which is the seat of the European Union.

She has earned the financial and PR support of billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who now advocates for tighter scrutiny of Big Tech to protect citizens’ rights and the fabric of democracy.

Zuckerberg’s notion of an orchestrated effort to take down Facebook is spot on. He may have met his match. Much of that PR push is coming from within the company, which is a sad commentary on Facebook’s leadership.

APCO Worldwide & Logically - Climate Change Misinformation in the Age of COVID-19

The weather forecast calls for a storm of misinformation ahead as the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference kicks off on Halloween and runs through Nov. 12 in Glasgow.

APCO Worldwide and Logically released a report on Oct. 27 that found international events and major government policy interventions are key drivers for spikes in climate change misinformation.

It said the 2020 World Economic Forum “Great Reset” theme triggered a major new climate misinformation conspiracy.

The Glasgow conference-goers will focus on measuring progress against the 2015 Paris Accords to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsus and move toward a net zero economy.

COP26 also needs to focus on how misinformation poses a threat to achieving those climate goals.

Daniella Lebor, director of APCO, believes the communications business can do a lot more to counter misinformation by deploying countermeasures focused on addressing false content. “Large scale interventions such as public awareness campaigns, improved data sharing between social media platforms and researchers, and investments in high quality media literacy practices are vital components to successfully addressing our current information crisis,” she said.

Bernie loves Sarah. Taking a page from Sarah Palin’s book, national treasure Bernie Sanders whacked the mainstream media for their “extraordinarily poor job” in covering what was actually in president Biden’s “Build Back Better” program. Did you mean to say “lamestream,” Bernie.

Sanders lamented the endless stories breathlessly reporting about the insider politics connected with Biden’s plan, conflicts between the House and Senate, the size of the program and high-profile opposition of Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema.

Sanders said extremism is not the only threat to America’s democracy. Ignorance and lack of knowledge could also do the trick.

“It is hard to ask people to have faith in their government when they have little understanding of what their government is trying to do,” said the Vermont Senator, who wants the media to fulfill their responsibility of informing the people before it is too late.