Glenn Beck

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

President Obama's words at a White House Ramadan gathering Aug. 13, 2010 regarding a mosque being opened near the Ground Zero 9/11 site:

As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.

In terms of the Constitution, the message was spot-on and not debatable. Many on the Left, Right and Center agreed with him.

Shortly thereafter Newt Gingrich committed what Mike Barnicle labeled “political pyromania” (see “IN THE NEWS” at right) and dropped an “N” bomb by equating Muslims to Nazis—pouring gasoline on what might have remained a brush fire.

The following day, President Obama caved. "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” he said in response to a reporter’s question. What was intended as nuance was pounced on by the media as a John Kerry flip-flop; where he was for the mosque before, now he was against it.

Suddenly the Ground Zero mosque took over the news.

Direct marketers who fail to take current news into consideration will be sunk by it,” wrote Martin Gross, author of “The Direct Marketer’s Idea Book.”

This is not about politics or policy. It’s about process—an exercise in public relations and communication that directly applies to every organization—a one-person entrepreneurship, CEOs of a small business or a giant corporation all the way up to the President of the United States.

Over the past year, the Obama administration has botched myriad PR opportunities and come up the big loser in the court of public opinion.

Quite simply, it is imperative to have a system in place to recognize a public relations crisis and deal with it—a plan that can be implemented immediately. Not tomorrow. Not after the weekend. Now! In his seminal book, “Guerrilla P.R. 2.0,” Michael Levine writes:

One of the single most important points to keep in mind when facing a negative situation of your own is to follow the old dictum: The best defense is a good offence. You must never go on the defensive. By anticipating negative questions you can stand ready with positives.

Levine adds, “There are two speeds in modern P.R.—fast and dead.”

Too many CEOs—Barack Obama included—do not understand the art and science of public relations. PR is too important to be handled by well-meaning amateurs.

It’s not good when the face of your organization has egg on it.

“Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one,” wrote journalist A.J. Liebling (1904-1963).

No more. Freedom of the press is available to any of the 6.7 billion people worldwide with a computer and Internet access.

A lost soul named Julie Powell who never finished anything she started decided to cook her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and blog about it—365 days, 524 recipes. After a year of blogging and cooking, Powell had a following, wrote a book about her culinary adventures and got noticed by filmmaker Nora Ephron.

The result: “Julie & Julia,” a tour de force written and directed by Ephron. It also reconfirms that Meryl Streep, who's drop-dead brilliant as Julia Child, may be the greatest, most versatile actress in film history.

Talk about happy endings. Julie Powell’s third book will be published Dec. 1, 2009. And as Stephanie Clifford wrote in the Aug. 24 New York Times:

Almost 48 years after it was first published, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child is finally topping the best-seller list, bringing with it all the butter, salt and goose fat that home chefs had largely abandoned in the age of Lipitor. The book, given a huge lift from the recently released movie “Julie & Julia,” sold 22,000 copies in the most recent week tracked, according to Nielsen BookScan, which follows book sales. That is more copies than were sold in any full year since the book's appearance, according to Alfred A. Knopf, which published it.

For a blogger, life doesn’t get any better.

But for a number of bloggers (and journalists), it just got a whole lot worse.

In 2001-2002 I did some consulting with Arbitron--the company that measures the listenership of radio stations around the country. It sent out little pocket diaries and asked people to keep track for a week of what they listened to on the radio. I traveled several times to the Arbitron HQ in Columbia, Maryland where I had meetings with various department heads and wrote and designed some promotional material. On a ZipDisk somewhere might be the creative work I did. But my experience working with Arbitron is hazy at best. What is not hazy is that several months after we parted company, I received

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