Friday, October 02, 2015
It's not often a CEO starts his tenure with an apology, but the CEO of United has done so. He is asking forgiveness for the mess his predecessor made of a merger. Note that he doesn't name his predecessor nor does he refer to him in his letter of apology, but it doesn't take reading between the lines to see that he has thrown the previous CEO under the bus. The circumstances in this case are extraordinary. The new CEO has stated publicly that the company has lost credibility with employees who are demoralized and angry. The only way he is going to get them back is through meeting them and listening to their complaints. It seems just about everything went wrong in the combination of United and Continental airlines. The new company spent months planning the integration of reservation systems only to have them crash repeatedly discouraging agents and outraging customers. Five years into the merger, the airline is still stumbling and can't seem to find its way. No wonder he is apologetic. But, that will buy him only a few weeks before reality sets in. Customers and employees are unlikely to forgive a second time.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
How hard is it to communicate through the web? Try a billion times to be heard above the noise. Or, to be more precise 935,950,654, give or take a few tens of thousands. Those of us who have long memories and can recall the early days of the web are gobsmacked by its growth and wonder how anyone can make his way through the welter of new sites and expiring old ones. Having run online-pr.com for 18 years, that makes the site a Methuselah on the web, and probably in the top 1 to 5 percent in terms of longevity. Online-pr.com has evolved over the years as new links supplant old ones and new features such as social media appeared. The site changes approximately 10 percent a year. The entire web might change more than that. It is surprising how many sites wink out of existence without so much as a goodbye. What this means is that several times a year, I must clean links from online-pr.com and add new ones. It is not hard work, but it is a reminder that the web has reached a size that no one can comprehend.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Everyone knew the shale oil boom would last for years. "Consider the price of oil," they said. "It won't drop below $50 a barrel even with the extensive drilling in North Dakota." That was then. Now, North Dakota has thousands of dwellings under construction with no one to put into them. Man-camps have disbanded. Thousands have left the state with the price of oil in the gutter. The bust defied conventional wisdom and the "known." Boom and bust has a long history in American economics. It most frequently happened with gold mining. One would think that given the past, the present day investor would be smarter. But no, each time everyone thinks this boom is different. What goes up, stays up. PR practitioners should know better because they see fads rise and fall in the media daily, but they are not immune. They reflect the "known" in their publicity and rarely question whether it makes sense. After all, everybody believes a certain way. Why buck the trend? So, they don't, and the outcome is that they too fall when the bust comes. We ought to know better.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
This could be a PR disaster when it starts on Oct. 1. Forcing doctors to use 140,000 codes to describe an illness or injury is far too much specificity. It will be difficult enough for a specialist to master the codes in his area. What about internists on the front line of medicine who see a bit of everything? There is such a thing as too much data, and this is it. The propagators of the code understand the enormity of the challenge and have tried to train doctors for its arrival, but the real problem will come when stressed doctors, behind in appointments day after day, try to choose a code on the fly. Expect approximate results and not accurate ones. The real worth of the coding system will be known in a year or two when analysts crunch the numbers and look into their validity. Expect chaos.
Monday, September 28, 2015
One way for a politician to avoid responsibility for his acts is to blame the media for reporting on them. This is what Bill Clinton has done on behalf of his wife. However, the problem remains that she did use a private e-mail server rather than the State department system. No matter, it is easier to focus on media reporting and to say that it was "no big deal" that Hillary erred. This type of counterattack usually doesn't gain a politician much ground nor does it wave off media attention. Rather, it stimulates reporting. There have been several "smoking guns" brought to light but no official movement on the part of the Justice Department. The longer this issue remains in the media, the worse it gets for Hillary, her husband's defense notwithstanding. It is better not to blame the media and to take criticism in silence.
Friday, September 25, 2015
It happens in politics, in business and elsewhere -- the internal revolt. Dissidents rise in protest over an organization's actions and sometimes go public directly, such as Edward Snowden or indirectly through whispering to the media. There isn't much one can do from a public relations perspective. It is up to the CEO or organizational leader to confront the dissident and resolve the issue or to remove the dissident through changing his job or firing him. PR can only relate the actions taken and the reasons for them. The hard part is when an internal revolt is played out in the media. Frequently, journalists will take the side of the dissident, and there isn't much an organization can do to balance the picture. One weathers the storm the best one can while continuing to put accurate messages out to the public.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Hillary Clinton violated a norm of public relations and is suffering a self-inflicted wound that isn't getting better. Yes, it is about her State Department e-mails and use of a private server. New information keeps dribbling out to reignite the story and damage her reputation. Her favorability numbers have tanked and the door is open for Vice President Joe Biden should he decide to run. Clinton's strategy appears to be deny, deny, deny then concede on a point to stay alive. She can't or won't let the entire story come to light, which raises suspicions of what she was doing with that unprotected server outside the State Department network. As the article states, PR 101 is to get all bad news out at once and be done with it. Why Clinton hasn't done that is a mystery. She knows it is affecting her campaign. Perhaps, events have taken a life of their own, and there is nothing she can do to stop it. If she had disclosed sooner, that might not have happened. Who knows what will unfold now?