TRUMP NEEDS TO CHILL, PRONTO

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By Risë Birnbaum

Call me nearsighted (I am), but I just do not see how anyone believes a word Donald Trump says.  The latest kerfuffle happened today (it’s a daily thing now), and involves the new luxury hotel he’s building in downtown DC.

The Washington Post recently stated there are illegal immigrants working on the hotel, so Anderson Cooper decided to ask Trump directly about the allegations.  Trump’s answer:  “I can’t guarantee that all the workers I employ have legal status in the United States, but if I were to discover any illegal immigrants…we’d get rid of them immediately.”

I guess the same illegal immigrants that Trump believes are “raping our women” are OK to have around as long as they help him put up his luxury hotels.  Remember, this is the same guy who re-tweeted that “Jeb Bush has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife.”  Where does this guy come off?  And he doesn’t regret a word.  Nope.  Not one, single word of his nonsensical rants.  He also called conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer a “rodeo clown.”  Now, Krauthammer is not my favorite guy in town and maybe he should cut down on the hair dye, too, but he sure doesn’t deserve what Trump dished out.  Neither does Jeb.

Really, folks, can anyone out there actually take their precious vote and pull the lever for this guy?  If anyone’s a clown, it’s Trump, and if our country is going to get through this election cycle, he either better take some xanax, or we should.  Some noise-cancelling headphones would help, too.

Gold Rush

It’s August, half of DC is at the beach and the other half is still reeling from Olympics-withdrawal.  Is there a patch for that?  If so, I could sure use one.  Maybe a 12-step program.  “Hi, I’m Risë, and I’m an Olympics addict.”  If there’s coffee and donuts at those meetings I’m there.

There were literally times when I was so wrapped up in watching swimming or diving or track & field that I didn’t dare run to the kitchen to make a sandwich and then run back to the screen.  I was hungry, but the games were on.   I couldn’t miss one second of Ryan or Aly or Missy.  And Misty, LeBron and Lolo had me glued to my couch.  I was seriously thinking of getting an Olympics tattoo (then thought again).

Was it that the coverage was everywhere?  Was it that online sites and Twitter and Facebook broke the news hours before it hit my TV?  Was it that it took place in London, one of my fave cities?  Not sure if it’s any or all of the above, but boy was I hooked.  And I’m still in recovery.

There’s this 4 hour window every night and I just don’t know what to do with it.  I’ve tried drinks and dinner with friends, a movie, even doing my laundry (special treat) but nothing works yet.

My blood still runs red, white and blue for our primed & pumped athletes and the urge is still there to get home so I can turn on the non-stop coverage of our agile, muscled, fist-pumping and bumping gladiators bringing home the gold. They may have stopped giving out medals, but the rush is still there.

This was kinda like a separation.  Yes, I’ll get to see the summer games again, but not for another four years and next time in Rio where they’ll probably have a samba competition.  Never been to Rio, but I’m definitely thinking about it.  Can you imagine a cooler place to watch beach volleyball?  I can’t.

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Young Guns Take on PR

The Washington Women in PR Emerging Leaders Awards is at the National Press Club and it’ll be one crowded event, and deserves to be.  It’s fantastic that WWPR takes the time and energy to salute up-and-comers in the industry.  Without kids passionate about PR earning their stripes, where would our industry be going?

The terrain has drastically changed over the past few years and will continue to shimmer and shift as everyone scrambles to learn more about the changing technology and how to integrate it into our communications practices.  No, not every new app, platform or blog site is right for marcomm, nor will every new app or platform survive, but it sure helps the industry to have youngsters come aboard who have been spending the last few years soaking up the new stuff and applying it whenever it makes sense.

It was the younger crowd in my agency that suggested we work with Pandora, Pinterest, QR codes and She Speaks on behalf of clients, and also know the exact online video hosts to reel in the right audience.  And if I ever have any question about what 20- and 30-somethings are plugging into, I just ask them in a meeting and we bat around new and juicy ideas.  Talk about off the grid.  Without emerging leaders, we wouldn’t have the freshest most innovative thinking.

And when we fold the new ideas into our proposals and programs they not only sizzle, but also provide new channels for an industry that has its roots in radio, print and online.  Why not leverage the video and audio and place it on key blog sites, partner with blog networks, catch active consumers in fitness clubs, grocery stores, even bars?  Let’s touch our audiences at home, on laptops, on tablets, on smartphones, while they work out, in airports, when they shop and when they go to the doctor.

So a big thanks to WWPR for putting on the event and props to the young guns who are smokin’ and propelling PR to new heights.

The Heat Wave is Worth Talking About

It’s too damn hot.

I’ve lived in DC since 1984 so I’m used to swamp-like weather in the summer, but this has been one blistering month even by DC standards.  And it’s the warmest January-June stretch ever recorded.  Ouch!

So, naturally the storms, power outages and chill-seeking are all making headlines.  Add in some flash floods and chunky hailstones and it’s like the 10 plagues, except it’s all heat-related.  And it’s a great story for bloggers, Tweeters and reporters.  “RECORD HEAT BLASTS COUNTRY.”  The heat story rotates as lead between the political wars and the countdown to the Olympics.  Check it out on CNN, MSNBC, WebMD and probably even Pinterest.

At lunch today someone around our conference table actually said it felt much better out today…”it’s only 90.”  Who knew 90 degrees was cool?  Let me run and get a sweater.  Better yet, my arctic parka from college (the navy one with fake fur around the hood).

I was big-time lucky last week when my power stayed on after the storm of the century.  I looked out my terrace and it was like the aliens were invading.  The sky was strobing blue and white with thunder, lightning and pounding rain.

Post-storm fallout has not been pretty.  Just google weather on YouTube and check out the downed trees, power lines and raging rivers not to mention the fires out west.  It’s like the end of the world and it’s not even the Mayan calendar.

In a stab to beat the heat, I flew to long Island this past weekend.  I figured it’s always cooler at the beach.  Wrong.

So, what to do?  Besides the online tips to drink water and stay indoors I have one better.  Go to the movies!  See Magic Mike, Savages and Spiderman 12, a triple feature.  Sit in a cushy seat, eat some popcorn and get your fluids while you chill next to an a/c vent.

I know….not everyone can go to the movies when there’s a real disaster at the door.  But, when it’s just too damn hot out and the power is still on, just give me an ice cream and a DVD of White Christmas and I’m happy.

Women Rule

Leave it to SmartCEO magazine to put on the hippest party in downtown
DC. There were women CEOs everywhere
schmoozing, toasting and celebrating the honor of being tapped one of
SmartCEO’s Brava 100.

You walked in and there were disco lights flashing, giant screens
flashing video of the winners, a bar lining the right side of the wall and
hors-d’oeuvres everywhere.

What a change from when I was the only woman network radio
correspondent in the newsroom banging away on my Royal typewriter trying to
avoid the Marlboro fog.

SmartCEO seems to have tapped into what women CEOs are looking for: resource-swapping,
networking, awards and the ultimate feel-good party. Women sharing business
stories with women is networking at its best. Everyone knows how empathic,
protective and embracing we are, so it goes without saying we do our best to
lend other women a hand.

I met several women I know and haven’t seen in a while, and many who
were new to me. If I can’t personally do business with some of these ladies, I
can sure introduce them to others who might be a better fit.

So, here’s to my colleagues and here’s to SmartCEO for the kudos. It’s
great to be proud and have fun at the same event!

The Right Stuff

It’s been a non-stop party here in DC, the Inauguration epicenter, for the past week.  I’ve lived here for almost 25 years and never seen the City so teeming with revelers.  It was like New Year’s Eve but 1,000x brighter and with no Dick Clark (though Dick might have been here, too, ya never know).

More police cars and tinted-windowed Suburbans than ever before and at least 3 police cars per corner downtown and more as you moved closer to the Mall.  Got the feeling if you sneezed you’d be down on the ground and handcuffed.  Just picture Jack Bauer with gun out screaming “stand down” and that’s a taste of what was waiting for anyone who crossed the line.  Security was that tight…and with good reason. 

With the temperatures dropping (about 15 with wind chill) everyone who spent the days outside aiming for the Mall dressed for the part.  Ski jackets, woolen scarves, mittens of every size and color.  Multiply that by a few million and you had a rainbow of outerwear.

And every night was party time everywhere you turned.  From the hard-to-come-by tix to the hippest events to the “hey, come over for salsa and chips” last minute invites, the cheering throngs were looking for any reason to par-tay.  I stopped by one of the swankier hotels in town the other night for a burger in the lobby/bar and caught Ben Affleck, John Cusack, Tom Brokaw, John Kerry, Al Roker and Matt Lauer, a stargazer’s dream.  Not many celebs left in Hollywood lately.

Another cool ripple from this new first couple is they intend to go out on the town on a regular basis and not hit the pillow at 9:30pm the way W did.  And that all helps make DC a much more fun and glam place to live and visit.

But, as soon as the newly-minted President has had a chance to get some much needed sleep, he’s got tons of work on his plate.  Picture the e-mails you get after being out of town/touch for a few days and multiply that by about a gazillion.  Obama has miles and milestones to go before he sleeps…two wars, economy, jobs….  But I know a calm, smart, thoughtful leader is just what the doctor ordered (along with a really solid Cabinet).  And I think President Obama has already started reigniting a sense of confidence in this new America with the tangible hope that a new world order will blaze into existence (the sooner the better).

Risë