Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Marketing Coup 

Lysol is the first hard-surface cleaner to be EPA approved to kill the coronavirus.  That is a marketing coup for the brand, as if it needed it, and a PR success.  The challenge for Lysol since the beginning of the pandemic has been to stock shelves.  That is a hurdle that all household cleaner brands have faced.  However, when supply finally catches up with demand, Lysol has a PR and marketing message that will put it at the head of the pack.  This is as significant as the American Dental Association approval of Crest toothpaste, which Procter & Gamble used to gain a large market share.  Look for the company to put "EPA-approved" on all of its bottles and spray containers and to launch a media campaign in which it emphasizes the germ- and virus-killing strength of the product.  The third-party endorsement is gold in the bank.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Where Is The Third Party? 

President Trump's poll numbers have cratered, and his only hope is that he can recover rapidly before the election or that the Democratic vote will be split by a third party.  Previous presidents at his low rating won when the opposition was split.  This year, progressives are staying put with the understanding that splitting the ticket might be fatal to getting rid of Trump.  It is a disciplined approach and smart marketing. Democrats are projecting unity, which barely holds beneath the surface.  If it were a more normal year without a Trump to oppose, the left-wing of the Democratic party might well have backed Bernie Sanders as a third-party candidate.  Trump hasn't helped himself with his mismanagement of the pandemic, his race-baiting and fear campaign.  And, he is digging himself in deeper every day.  Democrats must be thrilled but cautious.  After all, Trump won in 2016 with the same basic message.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Environmental Victory 

Developers have abandoned their long-sought $8 billion Atlantic Coast pipeline in a victory for environmentalists and landowners along the route.  It is not often grass-roots organizing can claim such success and the result is sure to be controversial.  The lack of a new pipeline carrying methane gas to the Eastern Seabord might jeopardize business and homeowners in years to come.  There is no clean answer to such a situation, no defined right and wrong.  It is a clash of opinion and perception with facts on both sides.  Ultimately, the one who can tie up the other in court will win through delay and mounting expense.  The developers could have slogged on and drained the accounts of environmental groups in a scorched earth tactic, but they chose not to.  Instead, they looked at their own outlays and decided enough was enough.  So, it is one more victory for those guarding land, waters, flora and fauna.  Only time will tell if they are right.  

Friday, July 03, 2020


Elon Musk plays a dangerous game.  He goes out of his way to provoke the Securities and Exchange Commission   He is incapable of holding his tongue in mocking the agency.  It is sad, poor PR and a ticket to injunctions.  Musk believes he is above the law, and as long as his companies are successful, he isn't going to take advice from the outside on what he says and does.  Musk, like Trump, is twitter-addicted, and he regularly gets himself into hot water for what he writes. The hard part for the SEC is that Tesla and Space X are both doing well.  Does the SEC take a chance of ruining two companies that employ thousands of workers and highly paid professionals?  If there was no "there there,"  the agency would pounce as it has with Ponzi schemes.  It has forced Musk already to give up the chairmanship of the auto company, pay a stiff fine and get his tweets pre-approved by a lawyer.  It could more, so much more, including removing Musk altogether from the leadership of his companies.  Does Musk realize that?

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Taking Cover 

 A year ago, every financier in Hong Kong was discussing freedom from Beijing's stern control.  Now they are biting their tongues and saying nothing after Beijing passed new measures preventing free speech. They are trying to get on and adapt to the new law.  Activists can no longer count on them for support.  As one senior executive in the city said, Hong Kong business is non-ideological.  It will work under constraints that keep the public down.  That is true in the rest of the world as well.  Economic transactions occur under the best and worst of circumstances.  There is no loyalty among business persons to countries or ideologies, so they take cover when they must.  It is craven in the eyes of activists and patriots but it is the way business survives.  Governments regulate them to inject a moral base where there is none and enforce loyalty as a condition of exchange, but it is not natural.  Hong Kong proves again that repression doesn't prevent business from thriving.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

PR Issue? 

Democrats are relying on Big Money again rather than grassroots fundraising.  Can it be turned into a PR issue to damage the party and Biden's candidacy?  Chances are it won't be since President Trump isn't turning down heavy checks either.  However, the internet has proven a candidate can make headway without hundred thousand dollar contributions from the wealthy and powerful.  This has already become a campaign and PR issue.  The argument is that Big Spenders want something for their money and will get it because they have bought an ear to air their concerns.  It is past time in American politics to let Big Spenders recede in importance.  They have had undue influence almost since the beginning of the country.  The problem was the inefficiency of collecting funds from thousands of small donors.  It cost more than the donations were worth.  That's no longer true.  Small donors were the backbone of some primary candidates this year.  It's past time for them to be the mainstay of general elections.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bad PR 

With virus cases spiking around the US, now is not the time to fly planes full with middle seats occupied.  But, that is what American Airlines said it is going to do.  The company is letting economics get in the way of passenger safety, and that is bad PR.  One wonders if its executives have been following the news and are aware of the surge in cases, or if they are overly confident that they can fly safely.  It will take only one asymptomatic passenger to spread the disease in a cabin and American will be facing worse PR and the possibility of torts.  There is time for the airline to change its mind, but it feels it is playing safe with waiving change fees and other passenger accommodations.  That might not be enough.

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