Wednesday, October 18, 2017


PR can fail.  Authorities, companies and other organizations can plead with the public to no avail.  For example, this case.  Governments and not-for-profits harangue citizens to put away cell phones while driving.  But, they haven't.  They continue to talk and text (!) while steering vehicles down the road. There is little wonder accidents have increased.  The logical solution to this dilemma is enforcement -- tickets and steep fines for people caught using phones while driving.  It is difficult to do but not impossible.  Police are trained to be sensitive to how people drive, and they can spot egregious infractions -- people with cell phones to their ear, drivers looking down rather than at the traffic around them with only one (or no) hands on the steering wheel, citizens slow to take off after a light changes because they are distracted by texting.  There should be no quarter given for mistakes like these.  Distraction is worse than speeding. When automated cars become standard, this will change, but for now PR needs the backing of strict enforcement.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Beauty Pageant 

Yet another city has entered the beauty pageant to win Amazon's second headquarters prize.  The promise of 50,000 jobs eventually and the prestige of having such a large e-commerce firm in one's town has sent mayors and governors into a frenzy.  One town and state after another has proclaimed it is best for the second domain.  States have already promised billions in tax breaks should the company choose them.  Jeff Bezos must be enjoying every moment of the competition because Amazon will get buildings and operations tax free for years.  Is such pandering to a corporation unseemly?  It is but the promise of jobs is driving the competition.  Every mayor and ever governor wants to flaunt success in bringing increased employment and high-paying wages to his locale.  It is a huge bonus come election time.  So, the madness continues as one city after another dances to Amazon's tune in an all-out public relations war.

Monday, October 16, 2017

In Control 

There are times when proper public relations is to maintain an atmosphere of calm control.  This is one.  Cabin staff on airlines are supposed to be heavily trained for what to do in an emergency.  It is a sign of professionalism to maintain certitude in the face of massive uncertainty.  The steward's and stewardess' job is to prepare passengers for the unknown be that a chance at life if the plane is brought down safely on land or water.  In an environment of fear, people look for an authority figure to guide them.  This has been true since the dawn of the human race.  People are frightened by a loss of control.  They seek divine help.  They look for leaders to guide them to safety.  Only a few are brave enough to stand up and take charge.  Airline staff are supposed to be those beacons of aid and losing control is a fundamental failure in doing their jobs.

Monday, October 09, 2017


I will take time off from blogging from Oct. 10 through Oct. 15.  I'll be back on Oct. 16.

Rebuilding A Brand 

Samsung is a case study in how to rebuild a brand after a disaster.  The firm was on its back after its Galaxy Note 7 phones began to explode and melt down.  The company was forced to recall millions it had already sold and go back to the drawing board.  Samsung did it by holding itself accountable for the mistake, by tracing the defect to its root cause and through communicating effectively to internal and external audiences.  The company had a war room through which it processed all traditional and social media references to it.  It used its agencies to transmit updates and corrections as quickly as possible.  It defined a new strategy summed in the line, "Do what you can't."  When it launched the Galaxy Note 8, it came full circle and returned to its prior reputation and market position.  Moreover, the Note 8 is selling well.  What it did to succeed was the essentials of crisis PR.  Kudos to the company for turning around its fortunes so quickly.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Bump Stocks 

For once, the National Rifle Association is not opposing a gun control measure.  It has announced it won't fight a law banning bump stocks.  The devices are not weapons in themselves but they turn semi-automatic rifles requiring a finger pull on the trigger each time to an automatic where with one pull of a trigger, the gun fires all the rounds in its magazine.  The Las Vegas shooter was using a bump stock when he killed 58 people and wounded scores of others.  While the NRA did not give a reason for supporting a ban, it has barred use of bump stocks on its firing ranges because they are hard to control and reduce marksmanship.  Predictably, gun owners flooded shops selling bump stocks and bought them out.  Congress needs to act quickly to prevent manufacturers from overloading the market place with the devices.  There is no good reason for the existence of a bump stock.  They are not useful in hunting or in target practice. Their only practicality is to spray bullets in a general direction.  

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Total Addressable Market (TAM) is a standard bit of hype included in venture capital presentations.  It is usually a big number to indicate to funders that the company is working in a large sector of the economy and even capturing a small percentage of market share will sustain and grow the business.  Everyone knows it is phony, but they all use it anyway.  The exaggeration comes in estimating the total market.  The calculation might be more than a SWAG (Silly wild ass guess), but it is not much more than that.  One should expect venture capitalists to discount it by an order of magnitude.  And what of the companies themselves?  They know they are exaggerating and one wonders whether they are doing it in the rest of their numbers as well.  A hyped TAM is a credibility issue.  Entrepreneurs who believe it are drinking their own kool-aid.  That is not a good basis for starting and building a company.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

No Editors 

The Las Vegas massacre proved again that news distribution requires human editors.  Both Google's and Facebook's algorithms picked up and sent out phony stories from suspect sources that news people would have caught. Eventually real news came out but in the interim, there was wild speculation and biased opinions that served as filler for anxious readers desperate to know more about the incident and people who were killed or injured.  One should not be surprised that some people took the fake news as real and continue to believe falsehoods.  Both Google and Facebook need experienced news persons at the gate of their services to catch lies before they are disseminated.  If neither service wants to do that, they should prominently publish on their sites warnings to readers that their information is raw and unvetted.  That way they can partially offset unscrupulous manipulators who use news as a means of gaining leverage or to sow chaos.  

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