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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Anti-PR 

Gatorade, the sports drink, was fined $300,000 for telling kids to avoid water.  The company created a video game -- Bolt!-- in which the player feeds Gatorade to Usain Bolt to maximize his performance.  If the player gives him water instead, his fuel level goes down.  It was a creative marketing ploy but it wasn't accurate and the medical community stresses that water is preferred for young athletes.engaged in "routine activity."  From a PR perspective, Gatorade failed for its lack of factual statement.  The first rule of public relations is accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.  I'm sure that the marketing people congratulated themselves on developing such a good and subtle way to sell the drink and were upset when the State of California faulted them.  But, it was their own mistake for trying to persuade youth to shun water.  Marketers can bend facts:  PR shouldn't.  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Protest 

President Trump has an effect on others, and it is not positive -- for him, anyway.  After complaining publicly about NFL players kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner, players linked arms and took a knee throughout the leagues yesterday.  If that doesn't demonstrate Trump has a PR problem, nothing will.  He hasn't finished his first year in office and people wonder why he was elected.  Many dread the thought that we must endure four years of him.  His popularity ratings have tanked and he seems to be making little effort to buoy them except through campaign-like rallies of the small band of followers he still has.  He seems to feast on adulation and remains incapable of hearing or taking criticism to heart.  He gets into trouble because he is a loose cannon in speech and Tweeting.  And, if he loses a fight, he quickly blames someone else then contrives to show his role was a victory.  It is hard to believe he has people working to burnish his image.  They have made a deal with the netherworld.    

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fact Versus Fiction 

Snopes as a web site has been separating fact from fiction for decades.  It is interesting that with regard to its own operations the small business seems to have a tale of growth, which isn't precise or fully based on fact.  When asked about it, the owner slowly fessed up about the contributions of his former wife to the unearthing of facts.  Aside from that, Snopes provides a valuable resource for determining what is accurate and what is falsehood.  The site has been getting a workout since Trump became President.  There are more rumors, misstatements and outright lies than ever before and some seem so plausible that it is easy to believe them.  PR practitioners should know Snopes well.  The first rule of public relations is accuracy.  There should never be an instance in which one parrots a "fact" without checking it.   

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Algorithm Headaches 

Amazon is learning the hard way that computer algorithms are not perfect and can create  problems.  Consider here and here.  In the first instance, its algorithms suggested bomb-making paraphernalia when one searched for an ingredient.  In the second instance, it assumed thousands of women were pregnant and in the market for baby things.  Amazon has apologized in both cases and adjusted its formula, but there will be others because no algorithm is correct all of the time without human intervention.  Facebook is learning the same lession with the discovery that it was allowing "Jew Haters" to advertise on its site. Facebook is putting people in charge to catch future attempts by neo-Nazis and others to rail against Jews.  The challenge both companies face is that the bigger they get, the harder it is to monitor their systems.  We haven't seen the last of this.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Modern Slavery 

A perfect PR challenge for the world's companies is to combat slavery.  More than 40 million people are held in bondage, most of them women and children.  Companies can make headway in stamping out this crime by ensuring that none of their vendors use enslaved workers.  From there, they can lobby for change in countries where slavery is present. Since money talks, threatening to abandon nations that do not proscribe and enforce anti-slavery laws is one way to approach the situation.  There is no justification for modern slavery except greed.  Workers held in bondage are paid a pittance so owners can reap profits.  There are as well household slaves in many Asian countries -- women held with little or no pay to perform chores around homes.  Companies should make sure that none of their employees practise domestic slavery.  Intrusion into personal affairs is merited.  In any legal way possible, slavery should be annihilated.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Protector Needs Protection 

It is a blow to reputation when a security company needs protection because malware has compromised its software.  That is what happened to Avast.  Its CC CLeaner for Windows software was harmed when hackers installed a backdoor in it.  More than two million users downloaded the affected program before Avast caught on. The company patched the hole but now it needs to reach the users with the update.  The lesson here is that no one is safe and one must stay on alert all of the time.  Hackers are a fact of life on the internet and they will never go away.  Companies can make it harder for them to succeed but they cannot guarantee a program is tamper-proof.  Security companies, especially, need vigilance because they have set themselves up as protectors.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Credibility Is Everything 

Credibility is everything to an auditing firm, and that is why KPMG cleaned house in South Africa as a result of a scandal.  An auditing firm cannot afford to fight regulators or to work through one with headlines detailing progress or lack of it.  Is it unfair to partners if they were not involved?  Yes, it is. KPMG  could have reassigned them pending the outcome of an investigation, but that might look like it was hiding something. It was good for the senior partner to take responsibility since he was in charge, but that doesn't assuage the cost to reputation from the misdeeds themselves.  There is no merciful way to handle a situation like this.  Public perception demands action even if the blade cuts deeply.  

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