Lead Balloon - Public Relations, Marketing and Strategic Communications Disaster Stories

Lead Balloon - Public Relations, Marketing and Strategic Communications Disaster Stories

Adweek's 2020 "Marketing Podcast of the Year." On Lead Balloon, experienced public relations and marketing professionals share tales of the do-or-die situations that defined their strategic communications careers--what went wrong, how they overcame unexpected obstacles, and what they learned in the process. With immersive storytelling and a wry sense of humor, host Dusty Weis revisits epic PR disasters, professional crises and half-baked campaigns gone awry, and usually finds a reason to chuckle. Because sometimes, there are important lessons to be learned from someone else's worst day. And sometimes, it's just more convenient than group therapy. Tune in monthly for new episodes. Visit podcampmedia.com/leadballoon to learn more.

Episodes

May 4, 2021 49 min
Three weeks after accepting a new role as an American Airlines spokeswoman in 1995, Jennifer R. Hudson was paged out of bed in the middle of the night. The worst had happened. Flight 965 had disappeared in the mountains of Colombia, and Jennifer needed to report to the scene of the crash to coordinate the company's public relations response. Unnerved and uncertain, she had to push aside her doubts and power through what would b...
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Home to the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Golf Club typically serves as a backdrop for sports drama. But in 2002, the club itself became the story, as its men-only membership policy came under the microscope in an unexpected and sensational showdown between women's rights activists and the club's defiant adherence to "tradition." The tale of how the conflict came to a head is an unlikely Public Relations ...
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Before he went on to become Coca-Cola's global vice president of corporate communication, Ben Deutsch was plucked from his dream job in Coke's Sports PR section and dropped into a global media relations director role that he could only assume would be a snooze fest. As it turned out, he'd wind up as the media point person while the iconic brand navigated one of the most tumultuous periods in its 135-year history.  From ...
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What constitutes "politics" in America has crept into new, ugly territory. And with the deadly Capitol insurrection on January 6, it finally became impossible for businesses to ignore the danger that rising nationalism poses to democracy. In minutes, that realization changed everything about the way businesses and organizations communicate about politics, and the Lincoln Project is a major force driving that shift. Lincoln ...
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With Covid-19 vaccination efforts finally getting underway, communicating properly about this process is critical to saving lives and re-opening the economy. That responsibility extends beyond the traditional bounds of public health communication, according to public health experts, and touches nearly every strategic communicator in the country--and indeed every American citizen. In this episode, we welcome back two past guests to ...
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In public relations, "going rogue" is a notion that sets teeth on edge for most PR practitioners. But sometimes, when the conventional approach fails, the only way forward is to throw carefully-laid plans out the window and wing it. In 2013, when a government shutdown closed the National Parks to visitors on the eve of her long-planned PR junket, (W)right On Communications founder Julie Wright faced a choice. She could eith...
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Lead Balloon Season 2 launches on January 5! But in the meantime, we wanted to share some exciting behind-the-scenes updates about our small--but growing--company. Larry Kilgore III starts today as Podcamp Media's Production Services Manager. And with a pandemic raging and all work being conducted virtually for the foreseeable future, Dusty had to meet him at the Wisconsin-Illinois border to hand off the equipment he needs to ...
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1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in a tank is an image that has become synonymous with abject public relations failure. And for marketers and PR practitioners, it serves as an enduring reminder of the power that our mistakes have to burn down powerful people and institutions in one moment of lapsed judgment. Josh King was a junior campaign staffer for the Dukakis campaign, and went on to serve as White House d...
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We've just received some incredible news here at Podcamp Media world headquarters in Milwaukee. Lead Balloon is Adweek's 2020 "Marketing Podcast of the Year," and Dusty is "just gobsmacked." This is like pulling down an "Emmy" or an "Oscar" in podcasting. And since it's 2020 and, well, Covid, there won't be an opportunity to accept some hardware on a podium. So in this quick special u...
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Right or wrong, there are some products that most PR and marketing professionals want nothing to do with. The Squatty Potty, a plastic platform that purports to alleviate constipation, is certainly not any conventional marketer's dream client. But under the guidance of the Harmon Brothers agency, this ignoble brand launched the most successful viral marketing video of all-time, landing hundreds of millions of video views and mi...
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Not everyone in marketing set out from Day One to become a marketer. And for outside creatives transitioning into the corporate world, there are tough lessons to master, dangerous pitfalls to avoid and unwritten rules to learn. Before he was brand strategist, David Allen Moss was an industrial designer, an artist and a musician. His impressive and meandering career as a marketer has touched brands like Best Buy, Wynn Las Vegas, Gat...
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With great marketing tools comes great responsibility--and marketing automation, email marketing and customer relationship management are no exception. Use them correctly, and you can tap into the efficiencies inherent in automation, with a demonstrable return on investment. Use them incorrectly, and you can crater your customer relationships with the touch of a button. Misty Dykema and Abby Bell from Simantel Group have watched th...
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In the corporate world, unspoken rules about what constitutes appropriate workplace conversation provide white employees with a safe, comfortable space free from discussion about controversial topics like race and police brutality. But for people of color, there's no escaping these conversations--they shape the reality that Black people live every day in America. They can't turn it off or "take a break from it," and...
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The Hail Mary: a last-chance, desperation plan with a high risk of failure, turned to as a last resort when all other options have failed. It's not just a football play; it's a mindset that professional communicators must adopt from time-to-time. Beth Tomkiw is the Chief Content Officer at Trusted Media Brands, the publisher of Taste of Home, Reader's Digest and many other recognizable publications. Previously an editor...
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There's no need to sugarcoat it: things looks grim. The COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has exacted a brutal price in lives, public health and global economic activity, and there's little respite in sight. But with a likely recession setting in, those of us fortunate enough to still have jobs in marketing and communications are looking for ways to do more with less. Enter Joe Pulizzi. In the midst of the last recession, his f...
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Communicating with the public during a crisis is as critical as it is difficult. And if it's seemed to you like President Donald Trump has been hitting many of the wrong notes during his daily media briefings, you're not alone. "They threw the plan out, and started to make up a new one, and they didn't need to," says Bill Pierce, who served as a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services during th...
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Everybody remembers the McDonald's Monopoly sweepstakes. But until HBO's McMillion$ came out, most folks didn't realize that the reason it suddenly vanished in 2001 was because it was rigged from the start. In the hit series, directors James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte tell the fantastic story with panache and aplomb of how McDonald's was scammed for $24 million. And in this episode of Lead Balloon, they examine...
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It might be tough to imagine these days, but public relations work still got done in the era before cell phones and broadband. Somehow. But like the show Seinfeld, one of the most popular sitcoms from the '90s, the slow speed of information back then could cause challenges and miscommunications during high-stakes PR events--which might otherwise have been solved with a quick phone call. In this episode of Lead Balloon, Pittsbur...
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Patrick McSweeney is a cliché warrior. If it's a hackneyed, over-worn marketing and PR trope, he’s gone to battle against it. But when you choose creativity and innovation over familiarity and stagnation, there can be hidden dangers. They might result in a sticky mess and hundreds of dollars in damage, but ultimately, isn't that a lesser risk than failing as a storyteller? In this episode, Patrick re-lives a couple of embar...
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During Super Bowl LIII in 2019, Bud Light launched a new advertising strategy that was... unconventional, even for them. Instead of frogs or "wazzap" guys or silly superstitions, this campaign focused on attacking Bud Light's rivals for using corn syrup to brew their beers. Stranger still, outside observers noted that the beer giant borrowed other conventions from the world of political mudslinging, twisting facts, doub...
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