Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Billion Here, A Billion There 

Google's engineers are readying YouTube to go after another billion viewers in Asia.  That might not sound like much but from a marketing perspective, it is breathtaking.  Companies that serve a billion or more people are but a handful, yet Silicon Valley thinks in these huge numbers regularly.  It is no accident that media, such as YouTube and Facebook, are the vehicles reaching such large numbers.  Communications are at the core of human experience.  And, both media make room for individual contributions to the conversation whether it is cat videos or celebrations of someone's birthday.  They encompass a universe of interests from which marketers and PR practitioners can segment those they want to reach.  Social media have become the well from which the rest of the world draws.  

Monday, September 26, 2016


The media are hyping tonight's debate between the two presidential candidates.  It is unlikely to be the greatest political show on earth.  Some media are predicting a viewership that will rival the Superbowl.  Maybe so, but it is unlikely that most will last through to the end of the talk-fest.  Both sides are going to spin victory out of the affair no matter who emerges as a front-runner.  That is the nature of political debates.  They are free publicity for the candidates whether or not they influence voting.  That the media are flacking the debates is amusing.  Usually that is a role left for the candidates' publicists.  The real impact will be afterward in the polls, and we will have several days before those settle down.  Meanwhile, get used to the heavy breathing from the pundits.              

Friday, September 23, 2016

Death Sentence? 

Yahoo has revealed that it was the subject of what is said to be the largest security breach ever -- loss of data on 500 million customers.  Unfortunately for the teetering company, the break-in occurred in 2014, two years ago, and the public is learning about it now.  Will that queer the deal of selling itself to Verizon?  It is too early to say, but already, politicians are weighing in on the failure.  Yahoo claims that the invader was "state sponsored", which means China or Russia.  But that doesn't assuage the pain of the 500 million people who now must change passwords and hope their data is not used against them in some way.  The incident raises a legitimate question about the quality of Yahoo's security and what Verizon is supposedly buying.  The breach might be a death sentence to the deal and to Yahoo.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Needs A New Narrative 

It is hard to prevent this when incidents like this occur.  The narrative of blacks being shot by police officers is deep and bitter for the African-American community.  Even when it is justified, the black community is suspicious and will rise in anger.  Who knows the exact circumstances in Charlotte?  Was the victim carrying a book or a gun?  The police maintain it was a weapon.  His family says it was a book that he was reading while waiting for a family member.  A full-scale investigation by a neutral third-party is in order.  Even then, it is unlikely to be accepted as the truth.  What is obvious is that police are using their guns too quickly in these confrontations. The pistol should be the last resort and not the first.  One can understand the fear that an officer feels when caught in a situation that could spin out of control, but they should be trained to control that emotion and to act more reasonably.  In fact, they are but the schooling might not have taken as it should.  Blue on black is a major PR crisis that needs swift resolution for the good of the country.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Algorithms And PR 

As this story discusses, algorithms are becoming a public relations issue.  It seems Amazon is favoring products it distributes rather than giving customers the lowest possible price for products available through another store selling through Amazon.  There is no good reason for the company to do that except revenue maximization at the expense of customers.  The company ought to know better than to gouge, but it looks as if it is playing games with consumers over the hundreds of thousands of products it sells.  The consumer, not knowing better, pays and moves on until an enterprising journalist reveals the duplicity.  Amazon got its start as the lowest cost provider of books then other merchandise.  If it has now changed its algorithms to favor itself at the expense of consumers, it should say so. The worst thing that can happen to the company is abandonment by consumers because they perceive the firm as dishonest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Balancing Act 

The Federal government has announced guidelines for self-driving cars.  The rules are voluntary but auto and tech companies are expected to follow them.  This has created a balancing act -- how to spur development of safe self-driving cars while protecting passengers and others.  There is no rulebook for doing this. Autonomous autos are a new phenomenon although they have been tested for years.  The guidelines are an implicit recognition that the technology is here to stay and developers are near the final stages of building mass market offerings of vehicles that will steer, accelerate and brake themselves.  This could be a public relations triumph or disaster depending on the quality of technology.  We have seen already that Tesla's self-driving software is faulty.  At the same time, Google's self-driving machines have traveled millions of miles with only a fender-bender or two when humans in other cars disobeyed rules and common sense.   Self-driving autos not only have to look out for themselves but also for the other person be that individual a pedestrian or drunk driver.  It is a huge technology challenge and a public relations question mark.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Making Up The Facts 

If there is one salient feature of Trump's campaign for president, it is his and his people's tendency to make up facts.  We're used to politicians lying.  It comes with the occupation, but Trump's claims are breathtaking.  In the face of hundreds of reports, he will assert that he didn't do or believe something.  That is the case with Obama's birth certificate, an issue he rode for five years up to and including the present presidential campaign.  Kudos to the media for not letting him or his people to get away with it.  This has been a rough time for the media because they are not trusted to report well, but they can and should state the facts.  The facts are that Donald Trump gave interviews, press conferences and statements pushing the issue and now he denies that he ever did and he blames Clinton for the start of the questioning.  Failure to own up to one's error is disgraceful, but nothing seems to bother Trump when it comes to truth. 

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