Wednesday, October 17, 2018


The Trump administration is about to rule that pharmaceutical companies have to list the price of their drugs in TV ads if the medicines cost more than $35 a month.  The industry, of course, is opposed.  It wants to direct consumers to web sites where the cost is enumerated.  Critics of the proposal say it is unclear how exposing drug prices would do anything to control their rise.  Also, the proposal would be voluntary and the government would rely on shaming companies that fail to follow the rule.  The idea is interesting and might have a chance of working.  Transparency is missing in the drug industry.  (Few people hear or read contraindications mandated with advertising.)  Would it be the same with pricing?  The only way to find out is to do it, but pharma companies are threatening to tie the rule up in court for years to come.  The public might never get a chance to make up its own mind.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


This article asks a good question.  If humility is so important in a leader, why are so many arrogant?  It goes on to define three kinds of humility, including one dubbed "humbition" -- humility combined with ambition. Arrogant managers like being in charge and telling people what to do.  They don't listen: They glory in power.  There are too many to name who fall in this category, including the current President. PR practitioners know too well the kind of leaders they serve.  They can tell stories of humility and arrogance. They will relate to you privately that X is a good person or they will whisper one or another outrage a CEO has committed.  PR is often a receptacle of CEO demands, whether reasonable or not.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

Native American? 

Elizabeth Warren has released a DNA test that reports she had a Native American in her past at least 6 to 10 generations ago.  This makes her a tiny bit indigenous and refutes the mockery of President Trump.  However, it is scarcely enough for her to point to her heritage and proudly proclaim her lineage.  No matter, it will remain a talking point in her campaigns and Trump will continue his jibes.  The two of them have a bitter relationship and it is not destined to get better as time passes.  It is likely Warren will be on the national scene longer than Trump.  She is a senator with a relatively safe seat.  From a PR perspective, it would probably be better if she downplayed her heritage.  It is so distant as to be insignificant.  Who among us doesn't have some odd mixture as one traces genealogy generations back?   

Friday, October 12, 2018

Search And Reputation 

One might not think search results from an online engine would be injurious to reputation.  Microsoft's Bing has proved that wrong.  The software produced racist answers for words like "Jew", "Muslim", and "black people."   Microsoft acknowledged that it needs to work on the responses and refine its algorithms but the damage was done. It seems the no. 2 search engine is that way for a reason.  It doesn't produce as satisfying answers as Google.  Microsoft has spent billions on Bing and gotten virtually nowhere.  It might be past time to give up on it and accept that Google owns the field both now and in the future.  Even if it doesn't, it has to work on its programming to prevent ugly results from showing in the future.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Smart PR 

It's smart PR to take something destined for a landfill and to recycle it into an environmental substance.  That is what students and teachers in New York City are doing in the Billion Oyster Project.  They are rescuing oyster half-shells from restaurants, cleaning them and using them as substrates for new oyster spat that is planted on the sea bed in reefs that clean the water and break the force of ocean waves.  It is a win-win for everybody.  The restaurants are glad to do it because it is less expensive than putting the shells into the trash. Teachers and students are happy to have a guaranteed source for shells.  Environmentalists support the project because it is cleaning the harbor.  Students are learning hands-on ecology and some of them will go on to become scientists studying the effects of pollution and how to prevent it.  One wonders whether other educational systems are emulating the program.  It's a brilliant idea.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


This proves once again that people are gullible.  They don't think and yet, try to please their interviewer.  One wonders if they were envisioning Brett Kavanaugh while answering the Christopher Columbus question.  It is a concern for PR practitioners because there is always a percentage of any audience that will believe anything they are told.  It calls for a premium on accuracy and clarity.  One should spell out a message and not assume people will get it.  Of course, if one is trying to be snarky as Jimmy Kimmel was, then anything and everything goes.  There is a danger in mocking people, however.  It can lose an organization friends and reputation.  

Tuesday, October 09, 2018


Google pulled a dumb maneuver in an effort to protect its reputation and avoid regulatory scrutiny.  To protect itself after a data breach that affected 500,000 of its Google Plus users, it hid the exposure and didn't tell anyone.  Now that the news is out, Google's reputation is not only tarnished but the company also looks deceitful.  Someone should have told the corporation that its approach was a lousy idea and it would have been far better off taking a hit early on and moving forward.  Now, Google will have to answer to regulators and work hard to repair relations with customers.  Google, of all companies, should understand that in the internet age there is no hiding.  The company should apologize and swear never to make this mistake again.  

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