Friday, February 15, 2019
Among challenges the internet presents are wide dispersion of wacko conspiracy theories. Like this one. Chuck E. Cheese would no more reconstitute leftover pizza than an auto manufacturer would build cars from wrecks. Yet, a viral video made the claim and the company found itself in a crisis. PR practitioners must get weary of constantly monitoring the web for such stupidity, but it has to be done. There is no way to know when an allegation is going to surface nor where. The web requires vigilance and rapid response. The near immediate spread of false information worldwide is a downside to online communication. On the other hand, good news can travel as fast. There is no perfect communication system nor will there ever be.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Opportunity, the Mars rover, was a PR feather in NASA's cap for 15 years. Now, it is dead. It was designed to last three months but it kept going and going and going for 28 miles and dozens of discoveries. Opportunity proved that a mobile instrument package could survive the harsh environment of another planet. It is a tribute to scientific engineering and NASA's leadership in outer space exploration. It answered the question of how one should build a robot that has to operate far from human control. It takes 10 minutes for messages to reach Mars from earth and the Martian day is not the same length. The scientists and engineers who monitored its progress for the 15 years were privileged to work with Opportunity. Now they will move onto other projects, but the history-making robot won't be forgotten.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Here is just another recall. There doesn't seem to be many PR implications to hauling vehicles back to the repair shop. Every car company does them: It is a cost of doing business. But, it makes one wonder what a company could say if it has few to no recalls for an extended period, say 10 years. One could boast of quality but not too loudly, and it would be dangerous. There is always a chance of a defect creeping into a truck or car in spite of rigorous testing and vetting. And, one cannot depend completely on suppliers. The Takata air bag recall was one of the largest in US history and was responsible for several deaths. Still, reducing recalls is good business for companies and consumers. However, It is not something one dare say much about.
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Microsoft is engaged in a bit of odd PR. It is slamming one of its own new products in favor of another. In this case, it is the software package Office 2019 compared to subscription service Office 365. Both have word processing, spreadsheet, slide making and publishing offerings, but Office 365 is regularly updated and Office 2019 is not. Microsoft used to update its packaged products, but it isn't anymore because it wants you to move to the subscription service, which provides the company with a consistent revenue stream. So, it is making fun of its own software. Moreover, it has crippled Office 2019 by withholding some features it has incorporated into Office 365. It might be smart marketing but it is dumb PR. It is telling customers that if you buy Office 2019, you're a second class citizen in the company's eyes. "Go ahead and buy it but we won't help you if you do." It would have been better had Microsoft done away with the packaged product altogether.
Monday, February 11, 2019
This HBR article gives advice on what to do when one makes a mistake. It reads like a PR text. One should take responsibility without ducking or blaming, address what needs to be done right now and share what you will do differently next time. It is transparency and an admission that no one is perfect. The fear an errant manager has is loss of respect from bosses and subordinates. There is a chance that one loses the capacity to lead if the mistake was bone-headed enough. On the other hand, acting with arrogance and denial only makes things worse and will compromise one's authority. The best practice is transparency, owning up and moving forward the best one can.
Friday, February 08, 2019
Google is winding up its broadband operations in Louisville and leaving town. The fast-fiber installation there was faulty from the beginning and to repair it would cost too much. The company had shallow-trenched cabling two inches below ground but it wasn't enough. The wire kept getting exposed requiring more fixes. So, the company is pulling out while stating it has learned its lesson. Louisville is stuck, and it won't see recompense for legal bills it had spent to support Google's entrance. It's a humiliating defeat for the company which had bruited its efforts when it started. Currently, Google remains in 16 cities and it says it has no intention of abandoning them. One wonders if that is true.
Thursday, February 07, 2019
The end game in bankruptcy is rarely pretty. Reputations have been ruined and the PR is bad, but when there is a chance to salvage a business, it might be worth trying. This is the position that Sears finds itself in at the moment. It is still teetering on the edge of liquidation. A judge will decide whether to take a bid to keep the stores open or to shut the company down. Employees are unhappy. Creditors want Sears to end. It's a question of who gets pennies on a dollar of debt owed. There isn't much communications can do in a situation like this. It is in the courts and phalanxes of lawyers represent dozens of interests. Sears is a shadow of what it was and may never be again. If it survives, it will take years to rebuild its reputation as a retailer.