Monday, May 04, 2015

Ethical Dilemma? 

When should a reporter become part of a story?  Some say never. That is why this journalist is causing angst among purists.  Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon and reporter for CNN.  He has a habit in crises of pitching in and helping the wounded, especially when there are no other qualified medical staff available.  From a medical perspective, it is just common sense that he do so.  From a news standpoint, he becomes part of the story that might overshadow the news of suffering and tragedy.  Aside from the obvious question of why he is a TV reporter in the first place, Sanjay Gupta has a duty to provide care in the wake of disaster.  That trumps journalistic ethics, but at the same time, critics point out that his relief work should not be the story.  They suggest a solution:  Provide care but don't report on it.  That is possible, of course, but CNN might object that Gupta is not telling the whole story.  There is no easy answer.  CNN wants his expertise and is willing to accept and promote his medical work.  Editors grind their teeth in frustration over intrusion of a reporter into the news.  

Friday, May 01, 2015

Publicity Tool 

Watch this video and think of the publicity value of having a hololens and augmented reality in publicity events.  For example, in a new car introduction, one can isolate sections of the vehicle, such as the drivetrain and project them before an audience in a way that they can walk around and examine the image.  In a drug announcement, one can show each section of the body that the pharmaceutical affects.   An electronics presentation can show the innards of the device and its packaging.  The hololens is still in Microsoft's laboratory, but the demonstration shows that it is approaching practical use.  If and when it is released, publicists and marketers will have a powerful new tool for communications.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Twitter's numbers came in well below expectations yesterday and the stock took a beating.  The way it happened is embarrassing to the company and CEO.  Apparently, its investor relations vendor posted the earnings release too early.  A spider crawling web pages discovered it and posted the results on... Twitter.  Wall Street took notice and the run from the stock was on.  More embarrassing was the earnings miss after promises and forecasts from the CEO.  Analysts are now suggesting that the CEO has compromised his leadership and should depart.  Others are questioning the long-term viability of the company.  That is about as bad as it can get.  One more quarter of poor numbers and the CEO can pack his bags.  PR gaffes can be fatal.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Religion And PR 

The Roman Catholic pope is holding a climate change meeting to call attention to the issue.  The PR value from the event will be international since for many, the pope's actions carry moral weight.  Adding to this meeting, he will issue a formal encyclical discussing stewardship of the earth, and he is making sure that the contents of the document are discussed down to the local level and from pulpits in churches.  This will carry the weight of authority for Catholics, some of whom do not believe in or are conflicted by climate change.  The communications tactics are basic but effective.  Hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, will hear his message then it is up to them to accept or reject it. But, the pope will have done his duty by getting his views before them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Polls show that Americans aren't concerned about the decline of unions.  That's a pity.  Unions should be for the lowest-paid workforces in the country like fast food or farm workers.  These people have basic skills and need economic protection but frequently don't get it.  Unions for major craftsmen are good but their workers are paid well now and have benefits.  These unions have to some degree outlived their usefulness, especially with the decline in manufacturing and rise in robotics.  The thrust of a union should be to elevate the defenseless and provide protection through organization.  There are millions of unskilled jobs in the US, all of which should be covered by unions.  It would seem that unions need to do a better job of PR.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Perfect E-mail 

There is a site that purports to guide one in writing the perfect e-mail.  It assembles data from the internet and builds a profile of the person to whom you want to communicate with instructions for how to do it.  Has it come to this?  Having taught e-mail writing to business school students, there is a need to change habits.  Many have difficulty getting to the point or lose the point completely.  That said, PR practitioners are often no better.  The essence of e-mail is the short message that states what one wants to say in as few words as possible.  There are exceptions -- i.e. pitch letters to reporters, although these are questionable.  There are reports but the key message should be in the first line.  E-mail was never meant to be a lengthy communication.  It got that way because people have trouble getting to the point.  If the site helps one condense messages, more power to it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Limits of PR 

Sometimes, in spite of all information given to the public, some citizens persist in their beliefs and actions.  When their actions are harmful to others, PR ends and the law steps in.  Consider this case.  There are a significant number of well-educated people in California who refuse to vaccinate their children because they believe vaccines cause autism.  Their children are endangering others who for health reasons can't be vaccinated.  No amount of evidence and reasoning has been successful in getting these parents to protect their children.  Hence, a bill is pending in the California legislature to ban unvaccinated children from school populations.  Parents protest:  They cannot see the harm in their actions.  Everyone else understands.  PR can't eliminate such blind spots.  It assumes that reasonable people are willing to engage with a message.  When citizens are unreasonable, communication ends and compulsion begins.  

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