Wednesday, March 20, 2019
A mother loses her infant son to flu. Then, she starts to get messages that accuse her of murdering him, that say her son never existed, that charge she is a terrible mother. This is a communications campaign waged by anti-vaxers who believe militantly that vaccinations are harmful. Their messages are cruel and evil. There is too much science behind vaccinations to lend credence to those who condemn them. Yet, they persist, and some of these misguided believers are well educated individuals. They have let fears distort their perception, and they attack whenever presented with evidence to the contrary of what they hold true. There is a massive publicity campaign and PR effort to get children vaccinated, but anti-vaxers are fighting both. There is no reason to accommodate them any longer and authorities are taking punitive action. Well they should, especially when anti-vaxers attack grieving mothers.
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Walmart is ending a popular price-matching program and customers are furious. The company's explanation is that it already offers the lowest price on most items so there is no longer a need for the comparison check. That is not what its customers say. They claim Walmart is greedy and trying to hide price increases. They have presented online their savings from the program as proof that the company doesn't always offer the lowest price. Walmart might wish now that it had never started the service. It can't go back without losing some shoppers or at least ruining its reputation with them. It's a lesson that not all customer aids are desirable. Some can box a company in like the price-matching program. Walmart is big enough that it can tough its way through this contretemp, but it might be asking why it had started price matching in the first place.
Monday, March 18, 2019
There are still months before full-throated campaigning begins for the Presidency. That, however, hasn't stopped sniping, which is coming early and often. Consider this. Joe Biden hasn't officially declared he is running for the White House, and already he is being criticized for new-found wealth. It is a PR challenge he has to meet sooner rather than later. He has cashed in on his long political career during which he was avowedly and actually middle class struggling to make ends meet. Now he is wealthy from speaking tours and a best-selling book. His likely opponents for the Democratic nomination are holding that against him. Can he overcome the charge? Only time will tell on the campaign trail, which is long, strenuous and exhausting. It isn't for the weak. Reputations are torn down, insinuations made, lies told. Campaigners will use any trick or technique to win, dishonest or not. Biden understands this, but can he survive it?
Friday, March 15, 2019
What can be said about a company that is caught multiple times doing wrong yet persists? It has no shame. This is the situation with Huawei and its advertising of its cell phones. Huawei persists in using DSLR images to hype the quality of its cell phone camera. It's as if the company doesn't trust its own product. The problem with that is that Huawei has been caught each time it has tried to trick the public. One would think that if you can't away with something the first time, you wouldn't want to try it again. Not so. This leads one to wonder how the rest of the company operates. Is it an amoral, win-at-all-costs organization? If so, why would anyone want to deal with them? If a company can't be honest in little things, what can be said for its stance in the marketplace? This, perhaps more than its affiliation with the Chinese government, might be what to worry about.
Thursday, March 14, 2019
The Roman Catholic Church is learning the impact of scandal on the tolerance of believers. A recent Gallup poll in the US "found that 37 percent of respondents said 'recent news about sexual abuse of young people by priests' has them personally questioning whether to remain Catholic — a 15 point increase since 2002." The results were predictable. The issue affecting every level of male clergy from Cardinal to parish priest has struck at the heart of an image of dedication and holiness. It makes no difference whether a minority of malefactors caused the problem. The entire body of the Church is smeared. It will take decades to dig out of this crisis and regain a semblance of moral stature. It might take generations. Meanwhile, the faithful who remain must endure questioning, suspicion and mockery. Perhaps Church authorities have learned that transparency is best. Secrecy has caused a meltdown of historic proportions. Surely, the pope, cardinals and bishops understand that?
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Yesterday's Google Doodle celebrating the birth of the World Wide Web was a reminder of how radically it has changed PR. Those of us ancient enough to remember the days before the Web will recall how difficult it was to convince CEOs of reputation issues, of persuasion that did not include advertising and the power of third party credibility. Today, especially with social media, reputation protection and advancement is a major thrust of corporate communications. Response times have moved from hours to minutes. The Web has given voice to millions of individuals who were unable to express themselves in the media because it was not available or was too expensive. We use to worry about letters to the editor. Today we are on alert for Tweets, for Facebook messages, for blogs, for complaints on consumer sites such as Yelp. Youngsters in the business look at the past as a time of leisurely response by comparison to today. It wasn't laid back. Pressure was intense to communicate but we lacked the media we have now. The old days are gone, and that's a good thing. The Web has thrust PR to the fore in the battle for reputation, perception and persuasion. It's a relief not to have to justify oneself day after day. We should thank Tim Berners-Lee for doing that for us.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Political operatives are opening fake local news websites. They are attempting to mislead voters into thinking stories on them are objective when they are nothing more than partisan propaganda. It is regrettable and dishonest. There is nothing wrong with taking sides. Newspapers in America started that way, and some still survive with a political bent. What is wrong is a pretense of objectivity when there is nothing of the sort in online columns. The publishers have no scruples, but that's not unusual in politics. The lowest forms of persuasion and publicity have all found their way into campaigns. There is no dignity in doing anything to win, which is the way many campaign operators act on both sides of the political spectrum. The malefactors this time are Republicans. Look for Democrats to follow suit.