Friday, February 24, 2017

Transparency And Science 

The core of scientific understanding is the ability to reproduce an experiment.  If it can be done again and arrive at the same result, then the hypothesis is correct.  The problem with modern science is that many reproduced experiments aren't coming up with the same results.  In fact, two-thirds fail.  This lack of transparency is a body blow for who can believe a person whose work cannot be validated?  Yet, tens of thousands of studies pour out of labs annually, most of which are never checked.  Science could be building a body of lies that will hamper its usefulness and misdirect research.  That would harm society fundamentally.  A question to ask is why this is happening?  One answer is the pressure to get funding.  One is forced to show significant results in order to get money for further research.  Scientists are human and subject to the same failings as everyone else.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ads And PR 

Google is using a PR tactic to verify the efficacy of its placement of online advertising.  The firm is allowing an outside auditor to analyze the process by which it places ads on behalf of companies and whether they are going to the right web sites to guarantee optimum consumer exposure.  This is important for the company since it dominates the market along with Facebook.  Transparency is ideal.  Advertisers should be able to drill down and see exactly how their ads are being placed and who reads them.  A lack of credibility will kill the business for Google and damage the company deeply.  No wonder the Google spokesperson was open to auditing and is "all for it."  An offshoot of increased credibility is that Google is raising the bar for other ad placement firms.  Soon advertisers will demand the same transparency from them.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Moment's Change 

Vladimir Putin who only yesterday was condemned by Republicans is suddenly gaining popularity among them.  Credit the Trump presidency for the change of heart.  Politics makes for strange bedfellows, the old saw states, and none is odder than this. Putin took Crimea from Ukraine, teamed with the President of Syria to bomb Syrian citizens, hacked Democratic e-mail and generally has been hostile to the West in pursuit of his own ends.  Nothing in communications says one should remain true to another, but in this case, there is little to prompt a shift in message.  Political PR practitioners are masters of technique but one wonders if they acknowledge the moral primacy of content.  Some clearly do, but others sway with the political wind and that is concerning.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Words Too Far 

In the internet era, words that go out of the boundary of common decency tend to resurface at inopportune times.  At least, that was the case for this fellow.  He has been an arch-conservative flamethrower for awhile and supported on Breitbart news, but his quasi-endorsement of pedophilia was too much for the news site and for his image.  It should be a warning, as if anyone needs one, to watch out for what you say even in private meetings or on podcasts.  How is it in these times one needs to say that one's words come back to haunt?  It is obvious, yet people still feel secure enough to make inadvisable remarks.  It is a lack of common sense, a feeling of invulnerability, an insensitivity to the dictates of the culture in which one lives.  So, yet another commentator drops from the scene and is hardly lamented.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Poking The Barrel 

There is an old saw in journalism that one should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.  President Trump has either never heard the bromide or has his own theory.  Cow the media until they do what you tell them to do.  If he believes he can override journalists, he has never heard about Freedom of the Press.  He is doomed to fail sooner rather than later.  Reporters are going to press conferences loaded with sharp questions and ready to take on power.  Meanwhile, Trump keeps poking the barrel and at some point, he is going to turn it over and find himself awash in ink.  It won't be pretty.  It never is, but eventually facts will out and Trump will find himself in an untenable position.  He acts like one who is daring Congress to impeach him.  Congress might give him that favor.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Small Things 

PR can be small and seemingly insignificant things, such as this.  Consistent labeling standards for perishables has been long in coming, and it wasn't until the big players got involved that it happened.  Walmart is looking after its customers.  Ten label warnings have been reduced to two - "Best if used by" and "Use by."  One wonders why this wasn't done before.  An answer is that the food industry saw no compelling reason for standardization.  It took a major player and two food retailing associations to overcome the inertia.  And the change won't be instantaneous.  Some food producers will hang on to their labeling for awhile until the pressure from retailers becomes too large.  Most consumers will not notice the change.  But, it is a little thing that makes a difference.  Kudos to Walmart and the two associations.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Deja Vu 

This lament about the state of journalism in a "post-truth" era is deja vu, although the author doesn't realize it.  Fact-based journalism is relatively modern in its conception and practice.  Before the New York TImes much reporting was opinion-based and delved into fantasy.  Partisanship was high and charges against the opposition frequent.  H.L. Mencken proudly related that at the time of the Russo-Japanese war in the Far East, he and a colleague made up a story about a sea battle between the two countries that had Japan winning.  Months later, he learned he was right.  The point is that post-truth journalism is nothing new. The difference now is that virtually anyone can engage in it and that should worry PR practitioners.  There is no substitute for rigorous monitoring of social media and news sites of all flavors and persuasion.  One must be ready to move quickly to get the facts out in the face of falsehood.  In the old days, falsehoods traveled short distances, the reach of a newspaper.  Today, they travel the world.  That is worrisome.  

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