A Texas public relations blog lists Arizona State University President Michael Crow’s response to Playboy magazine’s party school ranking as "one of the worst spins of 2005."
The year’s "Top 10 Worst Spins" was published Wednesday on the blog Media Orchard, a Web commentary run by the Dallas firm Idea Grove. Crow was 10th on the list of worst spins, which was led by former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, who had resigned amid outrage over his lax response to Hurricane Katrina. Ford Motor Co. was second on the list for its decision — which it later rescinded — to pull advertisements from gay publications, the blogger wrote.
The blogger criticized Crow for his response to Playboy’s recent declaration that ASU is one of the nation’s top party schools. Crow said the adult magazine’s characterization of the university had little to do with the type of institution it truly is. "Michael doth protest too much, wethinks," opined the blogger, who signed the commentary with the initials "SB."
The blog’s criticism of Crow came just weeks after the university leader started his own Web commentary on ASU’s site — one of the first blogs written by a college leader.
Crow said Thursday he stands by his comments that Playboy’s ratings are "not valid in a survey sense."
"We are a great place to learn and have fun," Crow said.
Idea Grove blogger and owner Scott Baradell of Dallas said the goal of the rating was to critique bad public relations moves. He said Crow should have responded to concerns about Playboy’s distinction with a different spin. ASU should "focus on the positive (attributes) and not worry about whether they’re on the Playboy list or not," Baradell said.
Baradell’s jab at Crow came as a surprise to some in the Valley who’ve worked with the ASU leader. Many, including Phoenix consultant and former state schools chief Jaime Molera, regard the ASU president as a charismatic leader who is just as influential as Gov. Janet Napolitano.
Molera pointed to Crow’s recent accomplishments, including ASU’s new partnership with the University of Arizona to build a medical campus in downtown Phoenix. Crow helped win the Legislature’s support for the project, Molera said.
"The partnerships that he’s made, the investments that have been made — both of these are what he’s done over the course of just a year," Molera said.
Crow "gets the community to buy in" to his ideas, Molera said.
The university leader also is a word wizard. He described himself as "an on-the-ground fullback advancing ASU."
"Hit the line hard, make some yards, do it again," he said.
ASU President Michael Crow is not the only media-savvy leader in the region. Others who have a knack for catching the public eye range from Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Scottsdale attorney John Berry.
SCOTTSDALE ATTORNEY JOHN BERRY Berry is the city’s most prominent zoning attorney, representing most major building projects over the past five years. Berry smooths the planning process for clients by notifying any neighborhoods affected by a development, and he often appeases all but the most virulent opponents.
MICHAEL POLLACK Pollack has a knack for making real estate deals — and for being charitable. This fall, after Gilbert Senior Center’s storage burned down, he took the seniors on a shopping spree, spending thousands of dollars to replace destroyed decorations. Highlighting his cause, he invited a gaggle of reporters along for the trip.