Thursday, October 27, 2016


General Motors must be bursting with pride over the naming of Buick as a most reliable car brand by Consumer Reports. This category has in recent decades belonged to Japanese makes.  That an American vehicle could equal and outdo most brands is an amazing coup.  It is the best publicity GM could get.  The company has been advertising its quality awards lately and they are numerous.  It is proof that Americans do know how manufacture quality cars.  So, Kudos to GM and may its accomplishments show up on the dealer's lot when consumers come to buy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On Lying 

PR practitioners are thought to be liars.  They cover up sins of executives and celebrities and the malpractice of a business.  That the majority of practitioners are honest confounds the media particularly.  Now comes a study of lying that demonstrates why it is  dangerous and why it is better to tell the truth, no matter how difficult it is.  The research determined that those who tell small lies sooner or later graduate to big ones because their brains adapt to untruths.  Aggregation of small lies de-sensitizes the brain.  Falsehoods become a normal way of living and operating.  Soon enough one barely notices he is lying, and he can still say he stands for truth.  This, however, puts a person in a compromised position.  Eventually, a lie will be discovered and the individual put on the spot.  The tendency then is to tell an even bigger lie to get out of trouble.  And, so it goes.  This is why PR practitioners call for transparency from the beginning.  Telling the truth destroys the need to build a pyramid of prevarication and to defend the indefensible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dumb, Continued 

The California National Guard is demanding repayment of enlistment bonuses given to soldiers a decade ago.  The Guard says an audit discovered that many soldiers had been over compensated.  If that weren't embarrassment enough, the soldiers had served on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and are now being told to give the money back. The lame excuse from the Guard is that it must recoup the dollars under the law.  It is illegal to absolve the soldiers' debts.  If the Guard had been doing its job 10 years ago, none of this would have happened in the first place.  The error of its incompetence is being taken out on the backs of soldiers it recruited.  There are better ways to handle it.  For one, it could have sent up a trial balloon.  "We might have to collect bonuses from soldiers unless Congress absolves us from the current law."  That alone might have done it.  Instead, it followed the law narrow-mindedly and put itself in a dumb position.  

Monday, October 24, 2016

Bad PR 

Booz Allen Hamilton, the giant government contractor, has to survive bad PR again with a former employee found to have 50 terabytes of National Security Agency information in his possession.  The individual has been arrested, but that doesn't help Booz or the NSA in determining how much of the massive amount of material reached the public or foreign powers.  Booz and the NSA must now review security procedures to determine where one or the other, or both, slipped up by allowing the individual to keep a top secret clearance.  Booz can't afford another major breach like this one.  Even if the individual was hoarding information and never released any of it, the danger to national security was huge.  The major question for both the consulting firm and the agency is how to spot rogue employees before they damage security.  Background checks are in depth and thorough but that doesn't tell one whether a person will remain trustworthy.  This is an area where a bit of paranoia is a proper attitude.

Friday, October 21, 2016

What's In A Name? 

Here is an article calling for a name change of "psychiatry" to "mental health". The writer's argument is that too many negatives are associated with the traditional name while "mental health" carries no similar burden.  He cites similar name changes throughout the world and positive outcomes for having done so.  From a PR perspective, if a name change works, then one should do it but not place too heavy an emphasis on a new moniker.  It is possible that the new title will become tarnished like the old.  If negatives about a name come from the actions the name describes, there is a good chance a new name will eventually become debased.  Or, to put it another way, calling a person a "waste manager" doesn't change the fact that he is still a garbageman. True PR works to change the underlying attitude.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Samsung has a distance to travel to be a PR-oriented company.  According to this story, it tried to bribe a Chinese man to keep his video of a burning Galaxy Note 7 out of public view.  The man understandably refused.  The question that remains is how can a major, international company be so dumb?  The burning phones have exposed a deep quality problem, which Samsung must address immediately if it is to remain a credible supplier.  Rather than trying to suppress the news, the company should concentrate its efforts on solving the battery problem for the next generation of devices.  Nothing can done for the Note 7.  Samsung's behavior in this instance is a demonstration that proper PR is not a given no matter the size of a business.  One must always be on guard for arrogance.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bad PR Stops Merger 

Both Disney and Salesforce.com looked at acquiring the struggling Twitter but backed away.  Why?  They were concerned about abusive and offensive speech that infects Twitter comments. Such concern for customers is not unusual and is good PR.  Why should a company risk its reputation by allowing unbridled speech on its service?  There is nothing wrong with free speech, but there is a carry-over effect.  If you allow this offensive content, that says something about you as a business. Twitter is better off by itself, but it needs to find a way to be profitable.  It doesn't have much time.  The medium has stopped growing even though it is a favorite of politicians and journalists.  Other social media have outstripped it in terms of users and have found ways to monetize their services that so far elude Twitter.  Raw speech is a stumbling block for enterprise, but it still needs to be protected.

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