Monday, February 08, 2016

Unwanted Publicity 

It is bad enough that one sponsors a race in which contestants stop and gorge on a dozen sugary donuts half-way through, but to have a runner drop dead in the middle of the challenge is unwanted publicity.  This is what happened at the annual Krispy Kreme challenge in North Carolina, a race that benefits the North Carolina Children's Hospital.  It is odd enough that runners have to ingest high-calorie donuts then run again but a Krispy Kreme donut is the antithesis of a healthy snack, which might be the reason race organizers originally chose it.  The gimmick backfired this time even though the runner apparently did not reach the point where he was forced to eat before continuing. There is a lesson here, which is to be careful of how you set up fund raising events.  They might seem worthwhile and fun at the beginning but as they carry on year after year, there is a chance the event can turn on one, much like it did with this race.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Difficult Persuasion 

In California, heavy rains and a deep snowpack in the high Sierras would seem to have ended the long drought in the state.  Everyone can go back to watering lawns and filling swimming pools.  But, they can't.  The drought isn't over according to the State Water Resources Control Board.  This is a difficult message and more difficult persuasion that the regulators have undertaken.  They are telling citizens who have experienced the downpours that one year of wet winter weather is not enough.  Will the populace listen and will water delivery agencies continue to hunt down wasters and fine them?  Only time will tell. If the state's dams refill to their former capacity and water releases become mandatory, it will be a tough job to keep citizens in line.  Next year will reveal whether the drought is really over or not.  If the state gets a suitable rainfall and snowpack two years in a row, the Control Board could consider lifting some restrictions.  Will Californians wait that long?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Smart PR 

Because public relations is what you do and not what you say, this is smart PR.  You take photos of your room, send them to the company via an app on your phone and get back a visual redesign of the space you can use at once.  The advantage is that it all happens within the app and there is no other software required.  The company is still in test on the system but it will come out of beta soon enough and already looks to be successful.  The only persons who will be dismayed are interior designers.  But, some of them might find employment with the company.  The benefit of the program is that it makes something complicated look and work easily.  That is intelligent and effective PR.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Pain Of Not Knowing 

There is a special worry when one knows a certain crisis can erupt at any time, and one can't stop it.  Consider Chipotle and E.coli poisoning.  The outbreak hit the company hard across the US, but in spite of efforts to identify the source, the cause is unknown.  That means Chipotle is set up for further E.coli outbreaks and is powerless to defend against them.  The company has strengthened food buying and handling procedures, but those are no guarantee the bacteria will be controlled because Chipotle has no idea what caused the problem.  The most the company can do is to maintain a fast reaction force should the bacteria erupt again in one of its restaurants.  That would mean shutting down the restaurant quickly, testing for sources and hopefully neutralizing the problem.  In spite of scientific progress, there are still mysteries and the pain of not knowing is real.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Long-term Crisis 

Sometimes there is nothing one can do in a crisis.  It will play out at its time length be that short or long.  Here is a case in which the resolution of the crisis will take months if not years.  There is little to be done to make drinking water in Flint, MI safe except to change the pipes leading to houses and businesses. Meanwhile, Flint's citizens have to live on bottled water, an inefficient and irritating interim solution.  Left unsaid is who will get their pipes changed first.  That alone will be a major upset if it looks as if one group is being favored over another.  The mayor of Flint might save the town time by submitting his resignation before he is voted out of office, which he surely will be.  It will be up to the mayor's successors to solve the crisis once and for all, and the resolution will be painful.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Terrible PR 

Since PR is what you do and not what you say, this counts for terrible PR.  Not only is Theranos losing its biggest customer, it has been sanctioned by the FDA for dangerous laboratory practices in its California facility.  Not long ago, Theranos and its CEO were darlings of the media with a story of entrepreneurial pluck and luck.  Then, the Wall Street Journal revealed that its basic technology, which uses only a drop of blood, was flawed and gave misreadings.  That started a cascade of negative stories and investigations that have resulted in the FDA action and Walgreen's departure.  There is only one solution to the bad news.  Fix the problems fast, whether or not one uses the micro technology, and report accurate results.  Either that, or watch the company disappear in a short time.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Lack of transparency in a business breeds rumors and misperception.  Consider this case.  Apple is hiding the results of its watch sales.  There is no good reason for the company to do so unless expectations have not been met.  Hence, the obvious conclusion is that its watches are not selling well and might be a commercial flop.  If they are a success, why should Apple hide?  Citing competitive reasons is not enough to convince anyone for long.  If they aren't successful, Apple owes it to its shareholders to let them know.  As it was, the news for the company yesterday was not wildly good as it has been for quite some time.  News that its iPhone sales may have levelled off hit the market hard, but the company still performed well overall.  It still doesn't excuse Apple for failing to report its watch sales.

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