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NEWS AND INSIGHTS

By Mike Kuczkowski He’s baaaack! Bill Simmons, the bad boy of podcasting, has returned to the studio and is churning out his commentary on Vegas’ National Football League lines again, along with podcasts on basketball and various other pop culture topics. I feel like Don Imus has returned to WFAN after racist comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, or Billy Martin is back in the Yankee dugout. Actually, I don't feel that way at all. Simmons is nothing like...

By Mike Kuczkowski That ESPN and the NFL each face criticism for their handling of employee discipline underscores the unpredictable nature of the modern crisis, and how important performance in the face of unexpected events has become the measure of crisis response. The league has botched a series of incidents of domestic violence and child abuse involving its players. Most notably, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had to backpedal aggressively in the wake of criticism of his suspension of...

Filmmakers at the Mill Valley Film Festival spoke about how transmedia storytelling boosted their projects By Mike Kuczkowski The rise of what many call “transmedia storytelling” has been both exciting and disruptive for communications professionals. My former Edelman colleague Steve Rubel speaks and writes usefully and at length about this concept; I’ve lectured on it to college classes and found it quite a powerful organizing framework for communications efforts. The concept involves developing a single piece of content or a...

By Mike Kuczkowski A couple of weeks ago in Cupertino, a huge brand put everything on the line to try to re-establish its relevance in the face of doubts about its ability to execute. Its actions were beyond innovative — I’d argue they were revolutionary and hold the potential to transform the industry going forward. I’m not talking about Apple. I’m talking about U2. If you haven’t heard the entire story, here’s a quick synopsis. At the close of...

Two major brands, Nike’s Jordan brand and Gatorade, have produced tribute ads to Yankees Shortstop Derek Jeter, who retires this week. Which did a better job of expressing Jeter’s brand? Here’s our scorecard. R2SPECT  Produced by Nike’s Jordan brand, the spot features celebrities, athletes, firefighters, police, doormen and fans appropriating Jeter’s signature hat tip, under the line R2SPECT — integrating Jeter’s uniform number into the headline in an iconic manner. It debuted in July, at the time of Jeter's 14th and...

By Mike Kuczkowski Derek Jeter has done a lot of amazing things on a baseball diamond. He’s amassed more than 3,450 hits, the sixth most of all time. He’s played more games and has more hits at shortstop than anyone, ever. And, he has won five World Series rings, most among active players. With Jeter, though, it’s not so much about what he’s accomplished, but about how he’s accomplished it. Diving into the stands face first at full...

By Mike Kuczkowski After Robin Williams’ death last week, many media outlets produced some fine tributes (and some have done some disgraceful things, too.) If you have not listened to Mark Maron’s podcast with Williams, you should. Having just published a piece about Philip Seymour Hoffman, I didn’t want to write about Williams at first. But, I realized that while people were talking a lot about Williams’ career and his legacy, there was a point to be made...

Last month, to evaluate Philip Seymour Hoffman's acting career, we created a framework called the Awardscore [1]. Here's a look at where Robin Williams ranks. Actor Age Noms Wins Oscar Noms Oscar Wins Awardscore Jack Nicholson 77 71 95 12 3 351 Daniel Day-Lewis 57 35 127 5 3 344 Tom Hanks 58 86 71 5 2 288 Denzel Washington 59 85 73 6 2 281 Philip Seymour Hoffman 46 64 88 4 1 270 Javier Bardem 45 53 91 3 1 260 Sean Penn 54 63 76 5 2 260 George Clooney 53 92 60 4 1 242 Leonardo DiCaprio 39 122 50 4 0 242 Robin Williams 63 60 70 4 1 220 Among the peer set of Best Actor nominees for the past 30 years, Williams ranks 10th. He is also arguably the greatest star to cross over from comedy to drama. While one could make the case that Tom Hanks similarly moved from sitcom acting...

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his five sons share in his #icebucketchallenge videoBy Mike Kuczkowski We know the story by now: On July 31, 29-year-old Pete Frates, of Boston, filmed a 52-second video that sparked a movement. The video itself is unremarkable. Frates stares into the camera, moving his head back and forth to the beat of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby.” He says nothing. He writes a message naming nine people in it, tags it #icebucketchallenge and posts it...

DATE:       August 19, 2014 TO:             Tim Cook, CEO, Apple FROM:     Mike Kuczkowski RE:             Apple Communications Leadership Much has changed since Apple hired its last communications leader in 1996. We thought we’d offer some thoughts about the communications function and the role of chief communications officer, as you head up a search for the successor to Katie Cotton, who retired at the end of May. Admittedly, we don’t know...