Monday, October 24, 2016

Bad PR 

Booz Allen Hamilton, the giant government contractor, has to survive bad PR again with a former employee found to have 50 terabytes of National Security Agency information in his possession.  The individual has been arrested, but that doesn't help Booz or the NSA in determining how much of the massive amount of material reached the public or foreign powers.  Booz and the NSA must now review security procedures to determine where one or the other, or both, slipped up by allowing the individual to keep a top secret clearance.  Booz can't afford another major breach like this one.  Even if the individual was hoarding information and never released any of it, the danger to national security was huge.  The major question for both the consulting firm and the agency is how to spot rogue employees before they damage security.  Background checks are in depth and thorough but that doesn't tell one whether a person will remain trustworthy.  This is an area where a bit of paranoia is a proper attitude.

Friday, October 21, 2016

What's In A Name? 

Here is an article calling for a name change of "psychiatry" to "mental health". The writer's argument is that too many negatives are associated with the traditional name while "mental health" carries no similar burden.  He cites similar name changes throughout the world and positive outcomes for having done so.  From a PR perspective, if a name change works, then one should do it but not place too heavy an emphasis on a new moniker.  It is possible that the new title will become tarnished like the old.  If negatives about a name come from the actions the name describes, there is a good chance a new name will eventually become debased.  Or, to put it another way, calling a person a "waste manager" doesn't change the fact that he is still a garbageman. True PR works to change the underlying attitude.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Samsung has a distance to travel to be a PR-oriented company.  According to this story, it tried to bribe a Chinese man to keep his video of a burning Galaxy Note 7 out of public view.  The man understandably refused.  The question that remains is how can a major, international company be so dumb?  The burning phones have exposed a deep quality problem, which Samsung must address immediately if it is to remain a credible supplier.  Rather than trying to suppress the news, the company should concentrate its efforts on solving the battery problem for the next generation of devices.  Nothing can done for the Note 7.  Samsung's behavior in this instance is a demonstration that proper PR is not a given no matter the size of a business.  One must always be on guard for arrogance.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bad PR Stops Merger 

Both Disney and Salesforce.com looked at acquiring the struggling Twitter but backed away.  Why?  They were concerned about abusive and offensive speech that infects Twitter comments. Such concern for customers is not unusual and is good PR.  Why should a company risk its reputation by allowing unbridled speech on its service?  There is nothing wrong with free speech, but there is a carry-over effect.  If you allow this offensive content, that says something about you as a business. Twitter is better off by itself, but it needs to find a way to be profitable.  It doesn't have much time.  The medium has stopped growing even though it is a favorite of politicians and journalists.  Other social media have outstripped it in terms of users and have found ways to monetize their services that so far elude Twitter.  Raw speech is a stumbling block for enterprise, but it still needs to be protected.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Hillary Clinton swiftly disavowed and condemned the bombing of a Republican campaign headquarters in North Carolina.  This is exactly what she should have done.  Even the slightest delay or hesitation would have been a PR disaster for her because it could be interpreted as sympathy for the miscreant.  There is plenty of room for controversy and jawboning in races for political office, but violence is beyond the pale -- or should be.  Other democracies have witnessed unjust use of power to influence the ballot box, but it is rare in the US.  This campaign has descended to the lowest form of name calling and personal abuse.  It is already one of the worst in memory.  Wrongful acts would shred the last vestiges of civility.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Waste 

Dairy farmers have disposed of 43 million gallons of milk in the first eight months of 2016.  Dumped, flushed down drains, siphoned into sewers.  They have done so because they can't get a decent price for their product.  This kind of waste is a problem for the United States.  Tens of millions of starving people around the globe would welcome the milk in some form -- as cheese, as cream, as butter, as powder -- but we have no way to get it to them.  It is a world-wide PR problem -- over-production in one country and insufficient supplies in another.  Rather than dumping milk, there should be a system to distribute it or its processed forms quickly to countries where it is needed.  This could be done at cost and Federal and state governments should provide the shipping.  Global food waste is a failure of major proportions for which food producers and countries should be held accountable.  It has been said often enough that the world has the food it needs but not the distribution of it.  Hence, there are countries where abundance is tossed and nations where people starve.  It makes no sense.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bring It On 

This is a good example of defiant publicity.  The New York Times lawyer is telling Donald Trump's attorney to go ahead and sue the newspaper for libel, but Trump won't win.  The letter schools the attorney in libel law and in the crude vernacular says, "Screw you.  We'll see you in court."  The plain language is not that of a typical lawyer.  One can detect the hand of the Time's editorial department in its argument and posture.  The missive, in other words, is intended as much for the public as it is for Trump.  The Times is daring Trump to sue.  The result would be a "slam-dunk" win for the newspaper and a further revelation about Trump's predatory behavior towards women.   Trump, in other words, would be left in a powerless, sputtering rage and the Times would come off as a champion of women everywhere.  

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