Friday, March 27, 2015

Food Challenge 

McDonald's restaurants have a problem.  People don't think the chain's burgers and fries are healthy.  This is a PR opportunity for the company to show where its ingredients originate and how they are handled from farm to store.  And, McDonald's is doing that but it might not be enough.  Nutritionists have condemned a burger-fry diet as unhealthy, so no matter how carefully the company handles potatoes and beef, it might be fighting a losing battle.  What is McDonald's to do?  It has floundered looking for answers.  It might be that there are no solutions to the public's health awareness.  The chain is identified as junk food forever more.  If so, McDonald's will have to make do and manage decline in its stores, an unhappy prospect for franchisees. But one shouldn't count the company out.  It has changed before and will again.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015


When one does a publicity stunt for a product, it should in some way highlight the features and functions of the thing.  That is why this stunt is dubious at best.  No one is going to attempt a cable crossing by car.  It is insane and dangerous.  Besides, how is one to get the car on the cable in the first place?  And, what features of the car were highlighted as it rolled down the cables?  This comes under the classification of trying too hard to make one's product stand out.  One can envision the marketing meeting in which the idea was conjured.  Someone had a brilliant idea and convinced the client to do it.  "Think of the social media value of such a stunt.  We'll get tens of thousands of hits."  They might have received that many and more, but what are they worth other than individuals gawking at a car straddling two wires?  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yet Another Bubble? 

Savvy observers are worried that Silicon Valley is in yet another bubble that threatens to burst.  How after the last wrenching shake-out is this possible?  Didn't anybody learn?  It shows again that so-called savvy investors are gullible and buy into hype.  Where is PR?  There is plenty of flacking from company founders who are in love with their products and starry-eyed about the revenue possibilities.  Communications professionals should be a brake on the enthusiasm and point to economic reality.  First of all, are these companies making money and if so, how much?  Are they justified having billion-dollar valuations?  It is hard for PR to slow investors because PR is typically the rump-end of the process.  But they do have influence in the tone of press releases and what companies say about themselves.  They should be careful to hold tightly to facts and moderate speculation. They should remind founders that unreal estimates of worth can damage them badly in the future and it is the tortoise that wins the race ultimately.  Practitioners won't be thanked for their caution but they can live with themselves for having done it.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Maintaining A Presence 

NASA's glory days in space are decades gone, but it manages to maintain a public presence with experiments like this.  Strapping 18 electric motors to the wings of a plane is a come down from mighty rockets and shuttles, but it shows that the agency's aeronautical engineers have never stopped thinking or challenging the rules of flight.  Publicizing novel ideas is part of the agency's efforts to get its budget renewed annually.  It has to show that it is producing valuable intellectual capital that can be spun off to industry for the betterment of citizens.  While the idea of 18 motors is far out and probably will never be used, it does demonstrate that agency engineers are willing to stretch their thinking beyond conventional wisdom.  So, kudos to NASA for staying on the leading edge (and renew the budget.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Accepting Facts 

Even a committed opponent of climate change should accept that arctic ice is thinning at a record pace.  The opponent needs to find an explanation for the event that discounts human involvement, which is difficult to do.  It would be better to accept scientific studies that show global warming to be man-made since the industrial revolution.  The dedicated opponent can't do that, and as a result, he becomes a spinmeister for his untenable position and the opposite of what good PR should be.  The first rule of PR is accuracy, accepting facts and merchandising them persuasively.  The spinmeister who can't accept arctic ice thinning lest it erode his position is equivalent to a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.  Sow doubt and confusion in place of evidence and keep the public uncommitted.  While that is one's privilege under the First Amendment., it is also craven. No wonder PR gets a bad name.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Essential PR 

Range anxiety is a primary barrier to purchasing an electric auto.  Anything that can ease the mind of a buyer is a help. That is why this is essential PR.  Tesla is sending a software upgrade to every one of its autos on the road to alleviate concerns about the car running out of juice.  It doesn't increase the range of the cars but it offers a detailed look at the car's energy levels and drain on the battery, whether that is in the mountains or on a freeway doing 80 mph.  This allows one to plan ahead for recharging the car without the unexpected occurring and the car slowing to a dead stop.  It is smart PR from an innovative company. Now, if Tesla would only be profitable.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Is This Man Serious? 

Any native-born citizen is entitled to run for President, but that doesn't mean he should.  That is why one should ask if this man is serious about running.  His PR negatives are far greater than his positives, and many consider him a preening font of vanity.  But, he can run if he wishes.  He will be spending his own money and that of citizens who might believe in what he does.  However, since he is starting an exploratory committee, he might be shrewd.  He reaps the publicity value of a potential candidate but he doesn't actually run in the end.  Trump has always been a savvy self-publicist with his name on one tower after another and his frequent TV appearances.  He has worked hard to shape his image and he has been successful.  The problem is that his image is not to the liking of many.  Be that as it may, he has a right to run.  He would need to change his image radically before many would consider voting for him, and it is hard to believe he has the capability of doing that.

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