Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Word Of Mouth 

Rumor and word of mouth can be deadly.  It is in this case where people are drinking methanol to ward off COVID-19.  Methanol is poison, but some Iranians seem to think it is a cure-all.  The government is warning its citizens of the mistake but so far, some are not complying and they are ending up in hospitals.  The rumor apparently pairs alcohol and honey as a curative medicine, and Iranians who are not supposed to drink liquor haven't distinguished between whiskey and methanol.  The error makes for a study of the origin and spread of rumor.  Who started it?  To whom did they talk?  Were they open about what they were doing?  How come so many believed them in spite of governmental warnings?  What persuasive messages are needed to counteract such error?  How should they be transmitted to individual citizens?  Iran's marketers and PR practitioners should consider researching the mistake.

Monday, March 30, 2020

No Win 

Sometimes, no matter what decision is made, there will be angry people.  The question facing a CEO or bureaucratic executive is who has the power to derail it or unseat one.  It is less a question of doing the right thing and more of pragmatism because all sides have valid and cogent points.  Consider this example.  When the dams were built they provided irrigation water for farmers and hydro-power for consumers.  They are still doing that.   But if Indian tribes have their way and the dams are removed, the river will once again become a spawning ground for salmon.  Both sides have a valid claim to the river and both are using persuasion, PR and voting to make their cases.  Only one side will win.  In the political realm, arguments like these are common.  If executives are lucky, they find a third option that satisfies neither side but is grudgingly accepted.  When it comes to dam removal, there are few good options. Look for a prolonged fight before a judgment is rendered and appeals up to the Supreme Court.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Blunt But Credible 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is known as a bully.  He talks and acts the tough guy, and he picks fights with fellow politicians.  That is why this is so remarkable.  He has emerged as a leading voice in the fight against COVID-19 with his no-nonsense daily press conferences.  He gives the numbers of affected in the state.  He discusses the demand for more respirators and ventilators.  He lights into the Federal Government for failing to assist to the degree that the state needs.  There is no sweet talk or bloviating, the politicians' disease.  He scores points for honesty and telling it like it is.  When this crisis is over, he will be in a stronger position than ever before.  Citizens trust him in a time of need.  At some point, he will need to moderate his remarks as the virus subsides, and medical professionals gain control.  But, that time isn't yet.  So, he remains front and center to the benefit of all.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


The governor of Florida wants the Federal government to declare his state a disaster area because of the COVID-19 infection. It is ironic because he is one of the few politicians in the US who has refused to lock down his state to prevent the virus from spreading.  He wants to focus on just those counties where the coronavirus is out of control.  This, of course, ignores the fact that citizens travel in and out of those regions and can carry the virus with them.  It takes 14 days for symptoms to show, so there is a good chance carriers have already spread throughout the state.  From a PR perspective, the governor hasn't a leg to stand on.  He refuses to take the action necessary to halt the outbreak, yet he wants aid to handle it.  It wouldn't be surprising if the Federal government forces him to declare all counties exclusion zones in return for aid.  It is something he should have done all along.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tough Challenge 

Joe Biden has a tough challenge these days.  How does he gain awareness among Democratic voters when all the news is focused on COVID-19 and the White House, which is sopping up the news budget?  There isn't much he can do.  He is a candidate and not a member of government.  Right now, the public's attention is fixed on the doctors and nurses combatting the disease and politicians responsible for the $2 trillion bill to bolster the economy.  The longer the shutdown goes on, the harder it will be for Biden to break through.  One positive point he has going for him is the President, who has handled the response to the disease poorly, but citizens forget quickly.  There is still a good chance that Trump will gain the upper hand in November if Biden can't get back on the campaign trail soon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Mixed Messages 

It is no secret that President Trump and Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert, don't see eye-to-eye.  Trump will make an optimistic statement and Fauci will roll it back.  The rumor is that Trump is frustrated with Fauci and would like to get rid of him.  That would eliminate the mixed messages coming from the White House, but it also would subvert facts in political spin, something American's don't want now.  Citizens crave straight talk from the President.  They aren't getting it.  Rather, it is coming from Fauci whose credibility is higher than Trump's.  As long as the two of them share a podium, there will be tension.  Trump would be better off letting Fauci take command of communications, but that is not the President's way of working.  So they remain at loggerheads and the nation is worse off for it.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Smart PR 

Jeff Bezos call for laid-off restaurant and bar workers to come to Amazon for temporary employment is smart PR.  He needs the people to handle emergency orders combatting COVID-19.  He is stating publicly that Amazon is open for business and thriving.  He is placing himself in a sweet spot at a time when panic rules the streets.  Of course, Bezos will have to protect temporaries as much or more than he is doing for his full-time employees.  The worst thing that could happen to the company would be for one of his fulfillment centers to become a hot spot for the virus.  He also needs to protect his delivery people who are working in fear that they might contract the disease while running their routes.  If he can solve these challenges and keep his workforce relatively free of illness, he will have achieved a huge success about which he can legitimately boast.  But that is still a big "if".  

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