Friday, July 21, 2017

Another Worry 

As if PR practitioners did not have enough to worry about, science has come up with a way to make convincing fake videos of people talking.  They used AI to create a video of former President Obama speaking in a new context.  While the researchers see positive uses for the breakthrough, others are concerned that it can and will be used to create fake news.  What could be more devastating to candidates or office-holders than a video of them making racist or other derogatory comments.  They can claim rightly that they never said the words ascribed to them, but meanwhile the public has video to prove them wrong.  It is the ultimate of dirty tricks.  One hopes the researchers use their new technology wisely and do not make it available to the world readily.  It can distort elections, compromise CEOS and play havoc with one's reputation.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Crisis Advice 

Experienced PR practitioners will know intuitively the guidelines set down in this article, but it is worth reviewing them before the next crisis occurs.  The problem with crises is they rarely come at anticipated times.  They tend to blow up suddenly in unexpected places and circumstances.  In the frantic first hours, PR is trying to find out what happened while responding swiftly to media inquiries.  There is no good way to do it even with machinery in place and rehearsed.  Crisis manuals tend to sit on shelves unread and not consulted when an actual event occurs.  The best advice in a crisis is to keep the machinery simple and effective.  A war room should have the powers to override protocol and bureaucratic barriers to get data it needs.  A public or employee response should not be picked clean by nervous attorneys.  The CEO should be engaged and not distant.  These are simple steps but they are often not followed.  It is up to the crisis manager to make sure that basic rules are honored and no audience is left in the dark.  It sounds easy but it isn't.

Hat tip to Peter Shinbach for making me aware of this article.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Sometimes it is hard to believe the endurance of myths.  Here is one that has been disproven by science but still people believe it.  At best there might be microbial life buried beneath the radiation-blasted surface of the red planet.  The proof of that is still wanting, but there is no evidence of any kind for an advanced civilization having resided there.  Still, people want to hold on to the myth.  They don't want to accept that in this solar system we are alone.  They speculate about the existence of rational beings on other planets in distant solar systems.  So far, nothing has come of it, but it is early in the investigation of exo-planets.  And, even if there is a discovery of some life form light years away, there is no practical way of getting there.  We haven't the rockets or the physics to propel humans at 186,000 miles per second and there is no good way to provision humans for years at a time.  Reaching Mars now is testing the limits of engineering, psychology and logistics.  And, once we get there, there is no good way to get back.  Yet, myths persist because people refuse to face reality.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Firing Back 

Does it ever pay to fire back at a vocal and dissatisfied customer?  Delta Airlines is finding out.  It is in a public tiff with conservative commentator Ann Coulter who is upset that the airline gave her seat assignment away on a flight from La Guardia airport, NY to West Palm Beach, FL  Coulter was given another spot on the flight but she took to Twitter after landing and began bashing the airline.  Delta was not amused.  It refunded her $30 seat charge, but it also called for civility.  That is not what it was getting as Coulter let loose a barrage of criticism through a succession of Twitter posts.  Chances are Coulter will fly Delta again, but the airline probably would be happy if it has seen the last of her.  Who needs a disgruntled passenger anyway?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Unusual PR Challnege 

Amazon.com has an unusual PR problem.  It has become the delivery service to rural America, and when it no longer provides Prime to distant locales, it leaves them in a lurch. It seems people who live on the edge of the grid have become dependent on  Amazon because local retailers either do not provide goods they need or charge more than Amazon, even with Amazon's annual membership.  This says a lot for Amazon's near-ubiquity.  Amazon.com has become a retailer of last resort.  But, rural users apparently have been abusing the system by ordering large amounts of bulky products.  One can't blame the company for backing off.  It seems that there is no replacement for local retailers in remote locations and for the high prices they charge.  One can't blame Amazon but the company has a reputation problem in rural districts.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wearing Out One's Welcome 

Cities around the world are turning down the opportunity to host the summer Olympics.  They have good reason to do so.  The games are over budget, hugely expensive and they leave cities with purpose-built venues they cannot use in the future.  For the short duration of the event, the expenditures are a colossal waste.  The International Olympic Committee has worn out its welcome globally.  What is needed is a succession of the games in which the programs break even or even make a little money.  The prestige of the Olympics might return and cities start competing for them again.  The IOC needs to exercise stern budget control and if the magic of the games slips a bit, so be it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Marketing Strength 

Amazon is showing off its marketing strength with Prime Day.  Judging by the results, the company has formidable power.  Few other retailers could pull off the success that Amazon had.  Right now, it stands alone in retail for its ability to create a shopping day that millions take advantage of.  It is Christmas in July, Black Friday four months early.  Amazon and its vendors raked in $2.5 to $2.9 billion.  That is a lot of Echo dots (the best selling product).  In addition, Amazon induced millions more to sign up as Prime customers.  Conventional and online retailers must be quaking in their shoes with Amazon's success.  What does it mean for them?  The answer to that question can't be good for most of them.  They can join in with their own sales on Prime Day but that is hardly going to help if they are not on Amazon.  They can attempt to create their own Prime Day, but most don't have the marketing power to do it.  They can watch their sales erode in July, but that is defeatist.  Eventually they will have to respond in some fashion.

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