Monday, August 13, 2018
PG&E, the giant west coast power utility, is wrapping itself in climate change. Its CEO is saying the company can't be held to strict liability for fires resulting from its power lines because the climate has become drier and hotter. If the utility were to pay claims from recent fires, which destroyed structures and took lives, it would be on the hook for $75 billion, far more than the balance sheet can handle. One could be cynical about this outlook, but California's firefighting officials have made the same point. We are entering an era when a company's messages will have to reconcile a changed world with economic transactions. PG&E is in the vanguard despite denial from the government that climate change is occurring.
Friday, August 10, 2018
One bane of a software developer's existence is an upgrade. Companies and users don't do them and the result is there are many versions of an operating system in the marketplace. This is a problem Google faces with Android. It has just released its latest version, called Pie, but Samsung, which just introduced its newest phone, isn't using it. This is a PR problem for Google. How do you persuade reluctant companies to go along with change? It costs the companies time and money to shift to a new system and understandably, they are reluctant. The question they have is "What's in it for them?" Google has to persuade them that it is better for their customers and they risk being left behind as other companies adapt the new software. That isn't easy, just ask Microsoft when it introduced Windows 10. There was no stampede to it and the company had to wait patiently while customers bought new computers with the upgraded version of Windows installed. Google faces the same delay. It must convince manufacturers of mobile phones that Pie is better and should be adapted immediately.
Thursday, August 09, 2018
When a product in development has been over-hyped and at its debut is just OK, there is media disappointment. Such is the case with the "mixed reality device," Magic Leap One. Reporters were eager to try it on and were not transported by the results. Add to the less-than-stellar reviews the cost of the product -- $2300. The reaction is "After all the publicity, this is what we get?" The company would have been far better off if it had worked to dampen expectations rather than let speculation run wild. The product was developed in secrecy so journalists relied on over-hyped rumors. Magic Leap is now faced with mediocre reviews and its first new product that might not go anywhere in the market. It's a bad position to be in. One hopes they have the cash to develop a second generation that is better. If not, they will go the way of most start-up tech companies. They will cease to exist or they will be bought out.
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Few companies have to withstand a crisis that lasts five years, but that is what Seaworld has experienced. Its visitor count collapsed when the company was under siege from activists who wanted Orca shows stopped. Seaworld did end them and the Orca breeding program. But, activists were not mollified and the public stopped coming. It has taken five years to increase the flow of park attendees and the company is just now showing signs of health. The previous CEO was fired and it is up to the present CEO to keep park attendance increasing while cutting expenses and boosting the bottom line. The lesson from all this is never to ignore activists, especially when they have the public's ear. It is better to co-opt them if at all possible.
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
This is great PR for a basketball player who could use his millions for living a swank personal lifestyle. He has given students and their parents hope of a better future with all the amenities they need to succeed. Lets hope the affected families take advantage of everything offered to them and put their children through college. There will be drop-outs along the way, which is unfortunate, but there is a good chance that many of these children will break the poverty cycle that keeps so many down in America. James is leaving northern Ohio for Los Angeles to continue his hall of fame career, but his action shows he has not forgotten his home. Kudos to him.
Monday, August 06, 2018
Liars have a perennial problem -- getting tangled in fabrications. They lie then lie again to cover the first lie and so forth. The problem comes when someone documents their words and shows the inconsistencies. Consider this example. President Trump lied about his son's meeting with the Russians. Then, when caught out, he lied again by dictating a note to explain it while denying knowledge of it. Now, he is saying that yes, there was a promise of dirt on Hillary but it was entirely legal to do so, which isn't true either. Eventually, with continuous pressure from investigators and the media, the truth might come out, but at this juncture, Trump is making Nixon look good. There is no percentage in telling a lie, particularly in high-profile events. People are taking notes. The liars hope that no one remembers the first prevarication is futile. That is why PR practitioners should insist on the facts every time, even at the cost of their jobs. The risk to reputation is too great.
Friday, August 03, 2018
It takes a great deal for one's mind to begin to comprehend a trillion. The number is so large it is unimaginable. The figure belongs to government debt or to data stored on computers. The news that Apple is now valued at a trillion dollars is mind-boggling. Its size and wealth are beyond any other corporation in US and probably, world history. The company needs to understand, however, that its exalted position is tenuous. It can fall back at any time should it misstep in product innovation and marketing. Previous behemoths in technology, such as IBM and Hewlett Packard, are still growing and profitable but nowhere near Apple's multiple. Apple will hit a maturity at some point when its technology is ubiquitous and widely imitated. It will need to find another breakout product and that will be difficult. Meanwhile, competitors will keep nipping at its lead in a chance that they can bring the company down. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.