Jun 13

The best bathroom book ever!

1192348Ever stumble across an old book you were given years ago, but just never got around to reading? I did. I found one called, ‘They Went That-a-Way: How the famous, the infamous and the great died,’ by Malcolm Forbes with Jeff Bloch (Yes. It was written by THAT Malcolm Forbes).

People, this book is a blast. It’s an absolute page turned that contains the who, what, when, where, why and how the great and the infamous died. It also contains their famous last words.

My favorite is Oscar Wilde’s who, drawing his last breath said, ‘Either this wallpaper goes or I do.’

There are 175 one, or two-page, tales of familiar names from the past 3,000 years. You’ll read about the last gasps of everyone from Alexander the Great and Wild Bill Hickok to Jimi Hendrix and Montgomery Clift.

It’s easily the best bathroom book I’ve ever read. You’ll learn how Clark Gable, Billie Holiday and Will Rogers died as you go about your business and then, when you’ve had your fill, you can go right back to going about your real-world business.

There are many cool stories that clarified quite a few mysteries for me, such as:

– Jimi Hendrix did NOT die of a heroin overdose. He popped nine sleeping pills, vomited and choked to death on said vomit.

– Mama Cass Elliott did NOT choke to death on a chicken sandwich. She died of a massive heart attack cause by her, well, massive weight.

– And While Clark Gable did die shortly after filming The Misfits, his strenuous acting in the movie itself didn’t hill him. It was his lifetime habit of yo-yo dieting that exacted a heavy toll resulting his death of a heart attack at the ripe, old age of 59.

My favorite story is that of famous Southern novelist William Faulkner. The author of ‘The Sound and the Fury’ and ‘Absalom! Absalom’ also happened to be quite an athlete. He especially excelled at horseback riding. But, as he aged, he fell more and more often.

In 1962, after finishing work on The Reivers, Faulkner tried breaking in a young colt. He was thrown from the horse, breaking several ribs. Undeterred, Faulkner rose from his bed, saying, ‘You don’t think I’d let that damned horse conquer me do you? I’ll conquer him!’ He got back on the colt, was tossed off a second time and rushed to hospital. Faulkner lingered for a few days, but died a few weeks later at the age of 64.

This is a GREAT book that is HIGHLY relevant to any image and reputation discussion. Why? Because how we die often impacts our image as much as what we accomplished during our lives. Just think of Julius Caesar and James Dean.

So, before you trudge off to the loo, bring the Forbes book along with you. I promise it’ll move you.

Jun 12

School’s Out for Summer!

Want to know what it’s like to be an intern at the very best strategic communications firm in the world? Sorry, I can’t help you with that one.

That said, you can click on the link below, and view a former, and current, Peppercomm intern tell you the good, the bad and the oh-so-ugly realities of life as a Peppercomm intern. And, if you call within the next 90 seconds, we’ll include tips for making the most of your next internship. School’s out for Summer!

Jun 11

Asleep at the switch- One simple lesson from the GM scandal

Today’s guest blog was authored by Peppercomm’s Editorial Director, Matt Purdue. In addition to being the former editor of Worth Magazine, Matt is as direct descendent of Abraham Zapruder (who, as JFK conspiracy theorists know, captured the entire, horrific scene on his 8mm camera). Enjoy!


To call the current imbroglio at General Motors (GM) a PR crisis demeans the victims of GM’s apparent incompetence and neglect of customer safety. But there is one critical lesson all of us in the corporate communications business must take from this scandal.

First, a bit of background. GM designed and installed a faulty ignition switch in millions of cars. The design defect is being at least partly blamed for 54 accidents and 13 deaths. GM discovered this problem in 2001, but only issued a recall earlier this year. Between then and now, according to a report by an independent investigator released last week, GM fiddled while customers literally burned. The investigator, Anton Valukas, cited a “history of failures” as the car maker forsook addressing the problem.

GM CEO Marry Barra has followed Crisis PR 101 on this. She’s been basically contrite, promised to “do the right thing” for the victims, ordered an investigation and responded to requests to appear before Congress. But – and here comes the lesson for all of us – she’s done one thing that most chief executives in her position would be loath to do. She’s put herself directly in the crosshairs moving forward.

In her remarks during a GM global town hall meeting last Thursday (please don’t ask me to explain the ridiculous corp comm oxymoron that is the “global town hall”), Barra exhorted her employees to report any problem they feel is not being correctly handled to their supervisor. And if they still don’t feel it is being managed properly to come directly to her. That’s an incredibly bold request – and one that is sadly lacking from most CEOs during crises like this.

During times of trouble, stakeholders want, no, need to know that someone has their hands on the steering wheel. By making herself the ultimate authority over any future issues at GM, Barra has set herself up to be either the savior or the goat. But at least she has courageously accepted accountability.

The next time your client or your company runs off the road, will you as a communications professional have the nerve to suggest that the CEO become the final word in risk management?

Jun 10

PR’s Answer to the Camp David Accord

wikipedia-logos-3dOur industry has frequently found itself embroiled in a battle with the volunteer editors of Wikipedia. At this point, the tension is akin to that of two rival nation-states. And, in this case, we, the people of PR, are guilty of causing the conflagration.

That’s because, in an ironic twist of fate considering the countless missives about the need for greater transparency from the likes of the Arthur W. Page Society, PR Week, and others, too many practitioners in our field have been gaming the Wikipedia site from day one.

To be more precise, some PR firms overtly sell their ability to create and fix Wikipedia pages for their clients and violate the very spirit and purpose of the Wikipedia project.

Meanwhile, a steady stream of our brothers and sisters have positively flooded the site and pasted their marketing hype, official company biographies and self-serving drivel on Wikipedia, passing it off as objective entries. In other words, lots of PR people have been living up to the sleazy image the greater society has of our industry.

And, guess what? The editors of Wikipedia are mad as hell, and won’t take it anymore.

Enter Sam Ford, Peppercomm’s director of audience engagement, co-author of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture and adjunct instructor at Western Kentucky University.

Along with some assistance from nine, aircraft carrier-sized global agency colleagues and (from all I’ve heard) the brilliant William Beutler of Beutler Ink, Sam has helped take the first steps in what we hope will lead to a peace settlement…at least for those of us in the industry who take a strong stand on ethics.

This is the link to their statement which was published this morning on Wikipedia and, for this blogger at least,I hope it proves more effective than the infamous Munich Pact of 1938. (Note to Millennial readers: I do hope you’re familiar with both Camp David and Munich. If not, familiarize yourselves NOW).

For the purposes of today’s blog, Sam Ford is to the Wikipedia/PR conflict as former President Jimmy Carter was to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Here’s my Q-and-A with him:

Steve: Why do our firms need make this statement about Wikipedia now? Why not two or three years ago?

Sam: To be frank, I think this is something we needed to be saying more emphatically years ago. Most (if not all) of the firms who signed onto today’s statement have long had policies in place that their employees must act ethically regarding Wikipedia. But the communications and marketing industries talk far too little about ethics. As a result, I feel like we’ve too often let the conversation be dominated by the controversies caused by various firms who have been caught intentionally ignoring the ethos and the guidelines of the Wikipedia editor community. 

Steve: Since PR has so many professional associations espousing the importance of full transparency, why do you think so many PR pros have tried to “game” their Wikipedia entry?

Sam: While we make statements as an industry about transparency and ethics, most of our conferences and publications are filled much more robustly with conversations about the most effective tactics and strategies for achieving your ROI. If you were to judge it based on space allotted, ethics does not seem to be the priority it should be. As I said, that allows the bad actors to get most of the attention. But it also means that we have not driven the sort of education our industry needs about the goals and purpose of the Wikipedia project. Too often, our fellow professionals and our clients have made poor decisions regarding adding or deleting information on Wikipedia because of their lack of knowledge. They understand that Wikipedia is a site anyone can edit, but they don’t understand the policies and the mission behind the site. It’s much easier to call out bad actors than it is to help those who engage with Wikipedia understand the community of volunteer editors they are entering. Too many think of and approach Wikipedia like they would a traditional publisher, or else think of it as a public forum without acknowledging the role of the volunteer editors who work hard to try to vet the vast amount of information being added or edited every day.

Steve: How did you, and Peppercomm, get involved?

Sam: Through my role at the agency, I’ve been counseling our employees and our clients for years about ethical issues. As an agency, Peppercomm has spent the last several years trying to change our mindset to focus more wholly on advocating on our clients’ audiences behalf and taking those needs not just as seriously but more seriously than our clients’ desires. That work has led to my publishing and speaking more and more often about ethical issues in our field, including my current role as co-chair of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Ethics Committee. And it’s also aided by the fact that I operate as an in-house academic at Peppercomm, spending part of my time still writing, researching, and teaching about media audiences and fan communities—work in which I heavily advocate for changes in corporate policies when it comes to how audiences are treated and understood.

It was through that work that I met William Beutler of Beutler Ink, who brought together representatives from various leading communications firm in Washington DC back in February to have a conversation with representatives from the Wikipedia editor community and academics who work on related issues. As a communications professional also highly active in the academic research/writing space and who is focused on helping companies better understand the communities they seek to reach…it was the perfect conversation for me.

I’m invigorated by the idea that our industry can use this statement as one way to have a larger conversation about the importance of seeing our work from the perspective of our audiences and not only our clients—and, in the long run, I think that stance makes us not only more ethical but also more effective communicators. If we act as advocates on behalf of the audiences our clients engage us to reach, we can become more valuable to the companies that hire us as consultative voices who push back on companies to advocate for what their audiences want and need. 

And, in the case of Wikipedia, that means respecting the goals of the Wikipedia project, less companies come in and further erode trust in the entries on Wikipedia—which would defeat the whole reason companies care about their Wikipedia page to begin with.

Steve: What is the benefit to the end user of Wikipedia? What difference do you hope this will eventually make for someone visiting the site?

Sam: Any new instance of a PR or communications professional removing information they don’t like, adding marketing copy, or creating unnecessary entries on their company’s behalf is one instance too many. We need to, as a marketing and communications industry, become much more committed to educating our PR professionals of tomorrow—and our professionals and clients of today—about why editing Wikipedia directly and not disclosing conflicts of interest is unethical. And we need to increasingly make a high level of ethical standard the industry norm—so that those firms that take transparency seriously can be differentiated from those who regularly attempt to deceive Wikipedia editors and readers.

If those of us who do take ethical engagement seriously can build better trust with the Wikipedia community, the hope is that our profession can better supply Wikipedia with information from our clients that can help pages stay up-to-date, accurate, and comprehensive while still maintaining their balance and objectivity. Too often, Wikipedia pages about companies are significant incomplete, outdated, or misleading, while corporate communications professionals hold all the information—and third-party sources—necessary to improve those entries.

A true win would be for better communication to allow that flow of information, similar to how journalists have traditionally relied on corporate communicators and spokespeople to supply the information they need for the stories they file.

That being said, we are not—and will never—suggest there be a blind trust from the Wikipedia community for corporate communicators…only that we would like to build better relationships to a point that editors who have become cynical about corporate and agency professionals’ involvement at Wikipedia at least move that to “healthy skepticism” instead.


Jun 09

My dad, the M3 and me

popopopEven though he won’t turn 94 until October 26th, I thought Father’s Day would serve as an ideal time to talk about the image and reputation of my dad (AKA Pop-Pop).

Now happily settled in a Freehold, NJ, retirement home where he plays cards with fellow WWII veterans and wards off the advances of sexually aggressive female residents (I kid you not), Pop-Pop is, and always has been, a pistol.

He never attended college. His parents insisted, instead, that he work full-time to supplement the large family’s expenses (Note: Pop-Pop is one of five children, three of whom are still alive).

He worked a series of blue collar and warehousing jobs until he retired at the ripe, old age of 61.

From day one, he’s been an arch conservative.

Had there been a Tea Party and a Bill O’Reilly when I was growing up, Pop-Pop would have been strong supporters of each.

And, he’s never hidden his ‘America: love it or leave it’ image and reputation.

Case in point: I pick him up at Applewood (or, ‘The Happy Apple’ as Pop-Pop calls it) every Sunday night at 6pm sharp.

My assignment: take Pop-Pop to a local restaurant for dinner. Invariably, like a scene from the movie, Ground Hog Day, we will have the following conversation as we drive away in my red, BMW M3 convertible:

Pop-Pop: “Pretty snazzy car. You just get this?”
Me: “Nope. You ride in it every Sunday.”
Pop-Pop: “Oh yeah. Hey, do you have to drive so fast?”
Me: “l just want to demonstrate German engineering to you, Pop-Pop.”
Pop-Pop: “You mean the same German engineering that lost WWII?”

And so it goes.

I remember one especially telling moment long ago and far away. It occurred right after I’d gotten engaged.

My wife-to-be and I decided it was time for the four parents to meet. And, they did so at The Russian Tea Room.

Afterwards, my father-in-law to be pulled me aside and said, “Your dad wasn’t anything like what I expected. He’s one tough guy. Hate to say this, but the tough guys always die first.”

Nice, no?

Well, Pop-Pop has not only outlived the three, other parents he’s absolutely thriving. In addition to an-always packed social calendar, Pop-Pop swims 10 laps a day, walks two miles AND lifts weight. And, truth be told, he STILL scares the sh*t out of me (Note: Pop-Pop was an amateur boxer in his youth and packed a mighty wallop for a mighty long time).

I’m not sure how much longer Pop-Pop will keep on defying the odds, but it sure seems like he’s a good bet to hit the century mark. And he absolutely adores telling people his age (since most think he’s in his late 70’s).

Final note: whenever he’s asked the secret of longevity, Pop-Pop smiles and says, “Inhale and exhale. Try it. It’s easy.”

I think there’s another answer for his long life: Pop-Pop’s stayed true to his original image and reputation. He’s always held the same convictions and, right or wrong, it’s made him a strong, better person. Happy Father’s Day, Pop-Pop!

Jun 05

Advocate before you communicate

aaaaaKeep-CalmIn their pell-mell rush to please the powers-that-be, in-house corporate communicators and their agency brethren are all too happy to take the basic research facts presented to them and blast out an integrated marketing campaign announcing the latest, greatest, shiny object.

We don’t do that. At least, we don’t anymore.

That’s because, after 18 years of trying, we’ve figured out exactly WHY we come to work each day, what our specific purpose in the communications universe is AND how we can best serve our clients and their target audiences.

We advocate before we communicate.

But, and this is a big but, we advocate not only for the client that pays our bills, but for each, and every, constituent audience they wish to reach as well.

So, we listen just as long and hard to a farmer’s wants and needs as we do the food wholesaler trying to sell their seed samples to him. And, we’ll advocate for making a car buyer’s in-store experience more fun just as hard as we’ll push USA Today to profile the client’s cool new campaign.

We’ll do both because to do otherwise might undermine the authenticity and credibility of the messages the client’s hired us to disseminate.

That means, and hold on tight here, we actually put ourselves in an audience’s shoes and experience the client’s brand BEFORE we embark on a new communications effort.

That also means I laugh out loud when I read some of the ads and editorial in PR Week that address big data, the communications economy and the need for rapid engagement.

I’m perfectly fine with other strategic communications firms believing big data provides insights. It does, at times. But, it also leads to lots of generalizations, simplifications and mistakes. That’s one reason why brand loyalty is at all-time low.

I’m also fine with competitors engaging first and listening later on, if at all.

Too few communicators advocate on behalf of the audience. And, that’s fine with me and my firm. It’s our passion. It’s what separates us from others. It also answers the two critical ‘why’ questions:
– Why does your business exist?
– Why do you come to work every day?

It also answers the ‘how’ question:
– How do you contribute to the greater good?

Advocating assures authenticity. And, Virginia, that’s a very good thing.

I’d continue, but I need to walk in the shoes of a hedge fund manager, a time-pressed consumer looking for a quick meal and a parent of a high school student trying to select the right college. It’s time to advocate.

Jun 04

An evergreen leadership lesson

bad-golferUnseasonably hot days in early June like today ALWAYS remind me of a GREAT leadership lesson an elder statesman taught me on a golf course. Yes, a golf course.

I was a freshly-minted junior account executive at Hill & Knowlton, easily the world’s biggest and best PR firm of its day.

I’d been invited to participate in the firm’s annual client tennis and golf tournament. While I was a fairly competent tennis player, I was abysmal at golf. Regardless, I was told the firm needed more golfers to sign-up, especially those of us under the age of 65 (Note: In those days, H&K was populated by legendary ex-journalists, politicians and statesmen. All were male and most were north of 60 years of age).

I did as I was told and, when I arrived at the Westchester Country Club for the day-long event, was horrified to see I’d been paired with Stan Sauerhaft, an H&K EVP, John Neary, the firm’s CFO, as well as a senior-ranking client at the American Iron & Steel Institute, one of H&K’s oldest and largest relationships). Cue panic attack.

It was awful. Hole after hole I’d hook or slice my ball or dig up huge amounts of turf. Meanwhile, my foursome partners nailed par after par.

That’s when Stan pulled me aside and said, “Why didn’t you tell me you don’t play golf?” I said I’d told my boss, but had been ordered to sign-up regardless. He nodded and said, “OK, let me fix this.”

Mr. Sauerhaft then proceeded to tell the others that I wasn’t feeling well and needed to return to the clubhouse immediately. He commanded the caddy to drive me back.

As I hopped in the cart, I looked over at him. He smiled and gave me a wink. “Feel better, Steve,” he said as I sped away.

And, when I got back to the clubhouse I entered the tennis tournament and finished a respectable seventh. It turned out to be a great day after all.

My boss demonstrated empathy, leadership and improvisation on that sweltering day long ago. He found a way to solve everyone’s problem without embarrassing me in the process.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the incident was that neither Sauerhaft, Neary or the client ever mentioned it again. So, no one ever knew about my golfing meltdown. My image and reputation remained intact (at least temporarily).

True leaders step up to protect and defend their team in all sorts of crises. This one happened to occur on a golf course. But, I’ve been in countless other workplace meetings over the years in which I’ve seen my superiors either pass the buck or place the blame squarely on a lieutenant’s shoulders. That not only engenders distrust among the troops. It encourages them to find a new employer post haste.

So how about you? Ever have a boss save your neck just in the nick of time? Or, how about the reverse? Has a boss thrown you under the bus in front of clients or peers? Inquiring golfers need to know.

Jun 03

Social Media was the real rebel in the Revolutionary Arab Spring

Today’s guest post is by Chris “RepMan, Jr.” Cody.

Chris “Rep, Jr.” Cody is a first-year doctoral student in Middle Eastern studies at St. John’s University, is immersed in an Arab Culture Concentration Program at NYU, and also happens to be fluent in Arabic (hey, I’m a proud dad, ok?). In today’s guest blog, Chris scoffs at Malcolm Gladwell’s recent observation that social media was NOT a catalyst in fomenting the Arab Spring a few years back…

arabic-text-msgI’m working on my PhD at the moment and am contemplating what I want to write my dissertation on.  My history and a communications background has pointed me toward the subject I have begun to explore: the communication of revolutionary ideas during the recent Arab Spring revolutions.

Since the end of World War II, the majority of Middle Eastern nations have been largely under the control of autocrats.  With the exception of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, the majority of Middle Eastern populations remained poor and politically apathetic.

How and why, then, did revolution spread so quickly and so thoroughly across the entire region in 2011?  In my opinion (which many journalists and scholars agree with), technology evolved to the point where the state could no longer control information.  The Internet, social media platforms, and smartphones all became pervasive in the Middle East by 2010.  One example will suffice: Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was brought down by a revolution that was sparked by Egyptian millennials who deployed these technologies for revolutionary purposes.

The Tahrir Square protest on January 25, 2011 (the first of the eighteen days that swept Mubarak from Power) was planned by a twenty eight year old Egyptian who created a Facebook event for it entitled “The Day of Rage.”  YouTube videos of state police beating protestors galvanized more support for the revolutionaries.  Egyptians tweeted their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Protestors armed with smartphones documented the revolution with pictures or videos they could post directly to social media sites.  They could text or message to coordinate collective actions.

Yet, one of my favorite writers, Malcolm Gladwell, would not agree with me.  He argued in a 2011 New Yorker article that the “least interesting fact” about the Egyptian uprising was that some of the protesters employed new Internet technologies as tools to communicate and organize.  He contends that people with grievances have always found ways to communicate with each other during times of civil strife.  Gladwell suggested that how they chose to communicate about the political situation was less important than why they were driven to do so in the first place.

Sorry Malcolm, but I disagree.  Average Egyptians had been oppressed and exploited by successive dictatorships ever since the 1952 coup that dethroned King Farouk.  Therefore, it would stand to reason that they should have rebelled decades earlier.  The reason they did not is because they lived in an information vacuum where every fellow citizen could be a potential state informant.  The technologies available in 2010 circumvented both of those restraining factors.  Hosni Mubarak realized this too late.  He ordered the country’s Internet and mobile networks shut down of the second day of the protest.  His secret police arrested the creator of the Facebook page.  Mubarak wouldn’t have made those moves if the new communications technology was unimportant to his regime’s security.

By the time he took those measures, however, the revolution was already on the streets.  And the autocrats of the world took note; China, Russia and Turkey have all recently restricted these new communications technologies to attempt to control public dissidence.

Malcolm Gladwell should stick to writing page turners like Outliers instead of misinterpreting current events in a region he has no academic background.


Jun 02


– Country’s First Congressdog Accused of Donald Sterling-Like Racist Remarks Against Cats –
– Vows to Continue Quest for White House in 2016 –

Lincroft, NJ, June 2, 2014 – Controversial canine activist and former U.S. Congressdog Mick Cody finds himself in the midst of yet another major scandal, this one involving alleged remarks he made slamming cats, and calling them an “inferior and unnecessary species.”

Middletown-20140601-00073The comments were released by Cody’s latest girlfriend, a six-month-old Golden Retriever by the name of “Sexie” Sadie Shumard. Cody’s incendiary comments have positively lit up the blogosphere and petosphere, respectively.

Topless photos
This isn’t the ex-Congressdog’s first mega scandal. Repman readers will recall Cody was forced to resign his position as the country’s first elected Congressdog in the aftermath of an Anthony Weiner-like sexting scandal.

The pooch insists his texting of topless photos to a cat were part of a well-planned entrapment exercise on the part of the Feline Protection Association.

Now, the aging (and injured) canine, who many have likened to the dog world’s version of Lenin, Martin Luther and Sam Adams, is being accused of barking such comments as:
– “Cats are an inferior species.”
– “Why would you associate with such animals?”
– “Why are you embarrassing me like this?”

According to TMZ’s Dog Channel, which first broke the story, Cody’s comments were recorded in a dog park conversation with Sexy Sadie this past weekend (and taped on her owner’s smart phone).

The stunningly-attractive Shumard, who lives with a cat and a human owner, has been very active in supporting inter-species marriages. Cody, on the other hand, is vehemently opposed to inter-species marriage.

Photos of Shumard and Cody frolicking in various settings have been published on Page Six and elsewhere.  But, rumors of any May-September affair have been dismissed by both camps as “…more bizarre than watching squirrels bury nuts every Fall.”

The species-bashing allegations wouldn’t be so damaging if Cody hadn’t already indicated he intends to seek the presidency in 2016 (which, considering his beloved status among some 50 million American dogs of voting age is not beyond the realm of possibility).

It was only four months ago that his campaign manager, Rooney Cody, announced the formation of an exploratory committee, and when confronted by reporters, snapped, “Look, if Jeb and Hillary can visit Iowa, so can Mick Cody. One more 2016-related question, and a reporter loses a limb!”

Damage control
It remains to be seen how damaging these latest species-bashing statements will be.

“Job one will be clearing his reputation,” said Mary Matalin, a noted Republican political strategist. Husband James Carville agreed, and added: “Job two will be convincing voters that in 2016, and at the advanced age of 12, Mick Cody will still have the vitality to lead this country.”

And, then there’s rehab
The scandal aside, Cody must ALSO overcome a physical setback. He tore his ACL a few months back (a not inconsequential injury for a 10-year-old dog).

When asked if the injury, subsequent operation and lengthy recovery, in tandem with this latest scandal put the final nail in his political career’s coffin, Cody mounted a reporter’s leg and smiled:

“Americans love a second act. They WANT to see me bounce back. These bogus cat-bashing comments should be euthanized. Voters want answers. Not anonymous allegations. I’m the dog to lead us out of the forest, although we may make all sorts of stops to chase bunny rabbits, relieve ourselves and howl at the moon,” a bemused Cody smirked.

Repman readers will recall Cody first rose to prominence in the aftermath of the Michael Vick/dog torture scandal. Mick organized nationwide protests at every NFL stadium when Vick was reinstated as a player, and rode a tide of popularity to win a seat in Congress. He was forced to resign in disgrace several months later after the sexting scandal.