Wednesday, May 25, 2016
From everyone's favorite TV father to an aged, bleary-eyed sexual predator, it has been quite a come-down for Bill Cosby. It is also a prime example of the power of perception. The public projected onto the man the wise father act that he delivered on TV. There was nothing at the time to gainsay the image he had. Now decades later, an ugly truth is coming out. He apparently assaulted a number of women, using pills to disable them before he acted. If proved true, and the trial will test the facts, Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison. This one case, however, doesn't include dozens of other women making claims against him. Even so, had that reached the public during the time he was on television, it would have been devastating to him. It is surprising that it didn't.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
This is what happens when an entrepreneur fails to put succession and communications plans in place. The executive suite of Viacom is in a mess with lawsuits flying and challenges to the mental competency of Sumner Redstone. It has to impact the media and entertainment properties below and to leave employees guessing who will win and what their guidance will be. At very least, it has interrupted executive decisions as to the course of the company. And, it was all unnecessary had Redstone himself when he was still firmly in charge put an orderly succession process in place and communicated it to the board and senior executives. So now, the ugly scene will play itself out in court before the public and both the companies and employees will suffer. It is sad when things so basic are ignored.
Monday, May 23, 2016
When one commands $285,000 a speech, he must be a great rhetorician or perceived to be one at the nexus of power. That is what former president Bill Clinton is charging and people are happy to pay. He has earned millions since he left office. He is an expert at the art of public speaking, but it is unlikely that this is the reason why people are willing to pay so much to hear him. There is a good chance that he is returning to the White House as First Husband upon whom Hillary Clinton has already stated she is going to put in charge of the economy. But still, does that make a speech worth $285,000? Perception is at issue here. Another person can deliver the same speech in the exact same words and barely command a speaking fee. Bill Clinton is perceived to be at the center of power and hence, worth the price for his words. Even so, I wouldn't pay it.
Friday, May 20, 2016
When a country is in free-fall and the leader is acting like a dictator, the use of power can be a distraction from daily living. This is the case in Venezuela. President Maduro has ordered military exercises rather than fix the economy, and there can be no doubt that he is also threatening the opposition that seeks to remove him. Maduro has been a disaster for the country, which is consumed with inflation and the absence of everyday goods. The message he is sending to the opposition is that he won't go easily, if at all, through the ballot box. He is trumping up minor issues to major threats and accusing the United States of trying to remove him. While it is true that the US has put him on list of countries that are a threat to national security, it is hardly credible that the US is going to invade the country. So the military exercises are a false sense of alert designed to distract citizenry from the hard lives they lead. It is cynical propaganda at its worst.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Conservationists in Northern Europe are facing a dilemma. Their efforts to save the white-tailed eagle has been successful, perhaps too much so. The eagles are now preying on other species of endangered birds. This has raised the distasteful suggestion that the eagles need culling. As one might expect that could lead to a PR disaster with eagle defenders pitted against guardians of other bird species. There is no simple answer to the problem. Eagles are flesh eaters and they will find it in one way or another. They have taken to attacking ducks on their nests and geese during their molting season. They have been linked with declines in certain bird populations because of their appetite. Conservationists must now work through the problem or let nature take its course and find its own balance whether or not other endangered birds survive. It is difficult choice.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
The AFL-CIO unions are engaged in a smart PR move. They are tracing the wage pay gap between CEOs and average workers and making it public. There is no better way to highlight inequity than making it transparent. This does not mean CEOs will forgo pay raises in years to come but it increases pressure on them and their boards to show performance for the pay CEOs are getting. It also protects the average worker from wage reductions that would increase the pay gap between the bottom and the top. There is a new SEC rule that requires the proxy to show the gap between CEOs' pay and average workers. This plus the unions' study should continue to highlight pay inequity and begin the glacial movement to reducing the gap between the bottom and the top.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
It seems both the Democratic and Republican parties have presidential candidates who are twisting truth to make a fact out of a lie. Now it is Hillary Clinton's turn. She is insisting that using a private e-mail server for her correspondence when secretary of state was allowed under the law. As Factcheck.org finds it, that is a lie. Yet she persists in telling it so it can become a harmless point in her campaign. It is increasingly unlikely the government will take action against her, but the fact remains that she violated guidelines and engaged in e-mailing that exposed government secrets. Why can't she admit the error and beg for forgiveness? There is no justification for clinging to a lie other than a disregard for truth. If she can lie about this, what else is she capable of twisting? From a PR perspective, she has taken a perilous course.