Friday, October 17, 2014

The Peril Of A Poor Reputation 

Comcast, the cable TV company, is learning the fallout of a poor reputation.  The city council of Worcester, MA not only said no, but "Hell no!" to Comcast's petition to serve the town of 180,000.  This isn't going to hurt Comcast's bottom line, but it must sting to have verbal brickbats thrown at company representatives.  Were I an employee of Comcast, I would urge management to mollify the Council and to implement good service to the town. Having been a Comcast subscriber for a number of years, I didn't have much to complain about, but my family did.  Outages were frequent and cut into my wife's business and my daughter's study time. Comcast's system was unstable, even with upgrades.  Today we use Verizon and have no complaints.  Verizon has its own issues, but not when it comes to internet delivery.  This is a reminder that reputation is paramount.  Reputation is hard to win and easy to lose, and one can never rest in providing good service.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PR Disaster 

The Center for Disease Control has a PR disaster on its hands after a second Dallas hospital worker came down with Ebola.  The CDC had projected control of the situation, which proved illusory.  Now it says it will station one of its officials at any hospital in the US caring for Ebola patients.  It probably should have done that at the beginning of the situation.  It is unclear how nursing staff and other workers are contracting the disease.  All we know is where.  The CDC needs to examine hospital procedures and their implementation minutely to determine how the virus is slipping through the prophylactic barriers.  It might not be easy to find the breakdown and it might be something simple that no one has thought about until now.  Either way, the CDC has a distance to go to win back its reputation for protecting Americans against disease. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Attack, Attack 

There appears to be no limit to the attack ads politicians aim at one another.  Consider this one.  A disabled candidate confined to a wheel chair is no safer than anyone else in eyes of the opponent. But, the public is another matter.  If voters conclude a politician has gone too far, they will vote against rather than for the attacker.  From a PR perspective, attack ads are tricky and not that helpful.  One wants to build a relationship with a candidate and not be regaled with the failings of the other side.  Citizens want to know what a candidate stands for rather than not-the-opponent.  People want to like a politician rather than tolerate his or her bomb throwing.  But politicos continue to use attack ads because they believe they work, and maybe they do to a degree.  But, don't be surprised if the public stops listening out of disgust.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Culture Change 

The auto industry, an engine of economies around the world, is facing a culture change with nary a clue how to handle it.  The shift? Teenagers are no longer eager to get their licenses, to drive and to shell out for a car.  Blame for this has been placed on social media but that isn't necessarily so.  Many factors might be a part of the change, including the cost of gas, the initial price of cars, high insurance rates and more.  But whatever the causes, the outcome is harmful to the industry, which depends on nurturing a new crop of drivers annually.  What kind of PR program does the industry need to encourage teenagers to get behind the wheel?  There probably isn't one message nor one program but several.  Hanging out with friends is probably not part of the communication because teenagers spend hours a day on social media meeting and talking to friends.  Adventure might be part of the answer.  Love of the automobile is probably not.  Teenagers consider cars just a mode of transportation and have little sentiment for the curves and eye-catching design of sheet metal.  What is needed now is an in-depth study of this new public and how to relate to them. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stepping Into It 

A nurse caring for the now -deceased Ebola patient in Dallas has come down with the disease.  The Center for Disease Control proclaimed publicly that the hospital failed to follow protocol.  This has ignited a backlash of criticism against the CDC and the care of Ebola patients.  Some say US hospitals are not equipped or trained to handle the disease.  The CDC says any hospital following the right procedures should be able to handle an Ebola patient.  Let one more nurse in Dallas come down with the disease and the CDC will have a major challenge on its hands.  Should it, as some critics said, set aside a hospital in each city and region to handle Ebola patients after rigorous staff training?  It will be hard to avoid that advice if another nurse or doctor in Dallas with access to the patient becomes ill.  It is more than a PR crisis for the CDC.  It is a systemic situation in which US hospitals have been found wanting, and it will require wholesale changes in operations to bring them up to the standard for handling rare diseases. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Perils Of Email 

This article discusses the difficulty of expressing emotion in emails.  Readers who don't know one well inevitably misunderstand what one is trying to say.  The solution is to avoid emotion and to write as rationally and objectively as possible.  The objection to this approach is that it fails to deliver the feeling one has about an issue.  While that is true, one can express feeling in other ways by listing reasons why one thinks the way one does.  It is a fact-based approach. This is the lesson I teach business school students who find it hard.  They like nearly everyone else are used to dashing off emails and replies with nary a thought about how they will be read on the recipient's end.  One should think carefully even about the shortest e-mail to make sure the audience will understand it correctly.  It is a habit PR practitioners also should develop.  Email is the foundation medium of business today.  Treat it well and save yourself trouble.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

PR Versus Panic 

One of the essential roles of PR is to maintain communications and transparency during panic situations.  For example, this one.    Because Ebola systems are close to the flu in initial stages, people are frightened and are burdening a medical system that needs to  be free to deal with real cases. Without constant communication from hospitals, the Center for Disease Control and governments, fear would increase exponentially.  A public driven by fear is capable of many regrettable acts and usually engages in some of them from shunning to forced quarantine of people with no symptoms of the disease.  PR doesn't prevent ugly behavior but it provides the information needed to ameliorate it. to inject reason and evidence into stressful situations and hopefully, self control.  

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