Friday, April 21, 2017

With Press Like This... 

No one wants a review like this one.  The reporter goes out of her way to reach for the most toxic terms she can find to damn Starbucks' Unicorn Frappuccino.  There is nothing PR can do in a case like this.  It is hunker and let it pass.  Starbucks' revenge will be to sell out of the product before it takes it off the market, since it is only a short-time offering.  There is something titillating about reviews like this.  One continues to read to see what she will say next.  And, say she does.  The company is cut down in every possible way for daring to offer a drink "made with 'rainbows.'"  If other reviews are as bad as this one, Starbucks might think twice before it attempts another sugar-filled drink.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Can't Shoot Straight 

After the dramatic White House announcement that the US was sending a carrier to the coast of North Korea, we learned that the Carl Vinson was steaming off Australia, thousands of miles from its supposed destination.  This was apparently not the Trump Administration's fault.  There were bungles in the military chain of command.  Still it gives Trump and his advisors a reputation of a gang who can't shoot straight.  Another administration might live down the embarrassment but there have been so many gaffes already in the Trump White House that this adds to a perception of chaos and ineffectiveness.  It is hard to break the string of missteps once the media gets used to reporting them.  The White House can protest that it is being treated unfairly, but it will do little good.  The only solution is to get the news right from now on.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kick 'em 

One tradition in the media is regrettable, and that is the habit of tarring individuals after they have experienced a loss.  Here is an example.  Hillary Clinton lost the election, and now a book proclaims it was all her fault.  There might have been culpability on her part, but did the authors need to kick her while she is down?  It is a destructive approach to reporting and only partly true.  Would the reporters have written the same book had she won?  Individuals and organizations have to steel themselves for Monday quarterbacking once they have experienced a major loss or failure.  People want to know what happened. The temptation to heighten the drama by reporting the worst aspects of the situation is too much for some journalists.  They stoop to the juiciest details and fail to maintain a balance.  There isn't much an individual or organization can do but to ride it out and try to rebuild one's reputation later.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A PR Failure 

It turns out that against all advice and counsel a huge percentage of people use their cell phones while driving.  Despite warnings against distracted driving, they continue to dial and chat.  The urge to communicate has overpowered common sense even among those who know better.  This is a PR challenge of major proportions.  It is akin to the campaign to stop people from smoking.  So far, the campaign has been a failure.  Even laws on the books have not been enough to stop drivers from punching buttons.  What will it take to stop this habit?  Constant messaging is not enough.  Education has not been sufficient.  A multitude of voices delivering the message has not worked.  The urge to communicate is more powerful than PR methods being used.  One possibility is to declare failure and to live with the outcome, but more than 3,000 lives are lost a year due to distracted driving and using one's mobile phone frequently means both hands are off the wheel for a time.  A second possibility is to amplify the warnings so one can't avoid the message, especially while driving.  This will cost more.  A third possibility is to keep hammering away at the present level. although this hasn't worked to date.  There might be no good answer, but giving up is not an option that anyone wants to take at the moment.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Killing Credibility 

Some of the toughest PR problems occur when a company has not been transparent.  Consider this case.  St. Jude Medical did not reveal that battery failures affected some of its defibrillators and had caused at least one death.  The company hid the fact from its medical advisory board and from medical management as well.  St. Jude did eventually recall the device, but the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter as a result.  There is no good defense in a situation like this.  The company can't say it didn't know.  It did.  It can't say no one was hurt.  One patient died and others were affected. It can't even blame the battery maker who accepted that batteries were a problem.  Perhaps it is a good thing that St. Jude was bought out by Abbott Laboratories.  Abbott has inherited the problem but is handling it better than St. Jude.  About the only thing PR can say in situations like this is "I'm sorry, and it won't happen again."  Meanwhile, tort lawyers hover.

Friday, April 14, 2017


Give Burger King points for a clever way to promote its Whopper hamburger sandwich.  As you can see, BK employs Google to explain the make-up of its product.  Google is not amused and has put a stop to it, but the publicity value for BK far exceeds the initial reach for the ad.  It is an ingenious method to exploit multiple media in order to get a message across.  Look for others to follow BK's example.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Smart PR 

One amenity the homeless lack is a place to clean clothes.  Anyone who stands near a homeless person on the subway can attest to that.  The pope also understands the issue and did something practical about it.  He opened a free laundromat for the homeless of Rome.  It seems a small gesture but it means a lot to those living on the streets.  They now have a place where they can spiff their clothes and feel like an ordinary person again.  Smart PR engages in practical solutions like this.  It is not just words and persuasion but deeds.  This pope is action-oriented, and he uses his own example to motivate Catholics around the world.  It is visible leadership setting achievable goals for others to follow. 

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