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.  

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

What Now? 

In PR we preach listening to your publics, but what if your publics want something that will rupture the organization permanently?  This is conundrum facing Spain in light of the Catalonian vote for independence.  The public wants to break away from the country much as southern states did during the American Civil War  Do you let them go or do you insist as Lincoln did on the sanctity of the union?  Spain's prime minister has called the vote unconstitutional and his police force worked to disrupt the vote creating a PR crisis for Madrid.  He has also called for all-party talks to find a path forward.  There is little chance Spain will give Catalonia independence.  There is a good possibility it will give Catalonia greater autonomy.  Such a solution might also apply to another part of the world where a people are looking to break free of a current government -- the Kurds in Iraq.  Punishment won't change the minds of either group.  

Monday, October 02, 2017

It Just Might Work 

Toys R Us, which put itself into bankruptcy, has ambitious plans for a turnaround and it just might work.  The firm is going interactive with the public and engaging children in its aisles and in playrooms it will set up.  The interactive thrust is Augmented Reality in which through a smart phone app, kids and parents will be able to see animations and have experiences throughout the stores.  The firm was working on the technology before it went broke, and it will roll it out once it gets its debt under control.  It's a smart and creative idea, but the public will ultimately decide if it is enough to boost sales and earnings of the company.  One point will be important in the rollout and that is changing content regularly.  Kids will become bored if each time they visit a store they see the same things. Surprise is an element of success.

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