Thursday, April 22, 2021
Credit Suisse has issued a report on its earnings that invites whiplash. The bank has lost hundreds of millions due to the collapse of the Archegos' hedge fund. Yet the CEO said this was "one of our best quarters in the history of Credit Suisse. Definitely the best quarter in the last 10 years.” He was trying to offset the catastrophic loss by pointing to the success of other divisions. It didn't work: The stock dropped anyway. It would have been better communications had he focused on the issue -- unacceptable risk that the investment banking took on. His words were whistling in the dark, and Wall Street wasn't fooled. It is poor PR to try to avoid facts. Yes, the CEO talked about the loss and the change in management because of it, but he should have stopped there. The bank's strength will show eventually but not before it chokes down the huge losses it incurred. PR isn't putting lipstick on a pig.
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Auto driving data, such as that used by Tesla, is proving powerful in self defense. After a crash in Houston that killed two occupants of a Model S, neither according to authorities in the driver's seat, Elon Musk has tweeted that data logs for the vehicle showed the autopilot wasn't turned on. If so, Houston authorities have a puzzle to piece together of how a vehicle was driving at high speed with no one behind the wheel. Tesla, on the other hand, has a strong position as long as the cellular connection to the vehicle was operating properly. This is important to the company because it has staked itself deeply into self-driving technology, and each failure opens the door for regulators to investigate and impose sanctions. Tesla's data logs on each of its vehicles are strong facts for PR and government relations. The company can legitimately help recreate the cause of an accident by knowing what a driver and car were doing up to a collision. The logs can save Tesla hundreds of millions in punitive damages.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
The union that tried to organize an Amazon facility in Alabama is asking for a do-over of the failed vote. It alleges that Amazon pressured workers to say no. Whether the National Labor Relations Board decides in the union's favor will partially depend on Amazon's reputation for managing employees. If horror stories about the company are true or have a ring of validity, there is a good chance the NLRB will call for another election. If not, the negative vote for the union, widely watched in the US, will go down as the major defeat it was. In Amazon's defense, it pays more than minimum wage and it provides medical benefits. In return, it expects its labor force to work hard to keep up with package flow -- perhaps, too hard. It won't be the last of labor organizing at the company, and Amazon will need to manage carefully to prevent employee uprisings. The company has been warned.
Monday, April 19, 2021
NASA's Mars helicopter has just completed its first flight on the planet. It is a breakthrough moment for exploration and similar to the Wright brother's first flight in their wood and canvas plane. It is also a PR coup. PR is what you do and are rather than what you say about yourself. NASA and JPL have smashed one record after another in Mar's exploration and the flight just adds to the lengthy list of firsts. At this rate, there is no hurry to get man to the planet, especially since it will be so difficult to do. Someday, earthlings will walk on Mars but perhaps not in my lifetime. Meanwhile, robotic rovers and helicopters can return terabytes of information about the planet. We will get to know Mars as well as we know the moon, and if all works right, we will have Martian soil on earth in a few years when another rover will pick up vials of dirt from the surface and return them to earth. Kudos to NASA and JPL once again.
Friday, April 16, 2021
The Republican party is split between pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions. So far, the pro-Trump wing is winning the money race, but the split message can't be good for the 2022 elections. Parties win when they have a unified voice that appeals to the American public. Fracturing their message puts them in electoral limbo. The challenge for Republicans is that Trump is not going away anytime soon, unless he is convicted of fraud for tax evasion. That means rank and file politicos do obeisance to him at Mar-a-Lago and wrap themselves in conspiracy messages, such as the election being stolen from Trump. The question is whether the majority of citizen voters in the US buy those messages or whether time and the actions of the Biden administration have convinced them otherwise. Whatever the outcome of the midterms, it will be interesting to see how Republicans fare.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Big business is seeking a unified, market-based strategy on climate control. It is turning to government to get the job done. CEOs realize some actions are beyond the scope of individual corporations. When that happens, they plead for regulation. It is a rebuke of capitalism that would see government out of markets altogether. As much as corporate leaders bridle against the regulatory control, they recognize that markets are unfair. It takes a guiding hand of bureaucrats to even the playing surface. Communicators should remember that.
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
China is conducting psychological warfare against Taiwan. It is sending fighters and ships into Taiwan's security zone and calling their intrusions "combat drills." China has made it clear that Taiwan is Chinese and not an independent country. Short of invading the island, China is doing everything it can to ratchet pressure on Taiwan's government and citizens. It is regrettable but there is nothing Taiwan's allies can or will do. China is simply too strong to fight against on an island close to its shores. So, China acts with impunity and without regrets. It cares not at all that it is becoming a pariah in the eyes of the world. It justifies its actions and moves on. There is no communication that can bridge the gap between China and the West. The country has become a manufacturing empire and the US relies on it whether it likes it or not.