Friday, December 14, 2018
Google has announced that it won't sell its facial recognition technology for the time being as it works through technology and policy questions. That is an ethical stance since facial recognition is hardly perfect and false positives are a problem. Also, dictatorial countries are using it to track citizens and invade their privacy. It is a self-interested position because Google understands it will create a hurricane of protest if it does merchandise the software. Resistance will come not only from the outside but from its own employees who had not been quiet about the company's previous work with the Defense Department. It is an instance where necessity and virtue meet. Google can take a bow for being public-minded but it shouldn't be too deep. It wouldn't have won under any circumstance.
Thursday, December 13, 2018
There are times when a short-term fix generates long-term problems and this might be one. To solve a housing shortage in Los Angeles County, the board of supervisors has approved a vast development on raw land. The problem? It is wildfire country and Los Angeles and its environs are particularly susceptible to conflagration. The county might be setting itself up for a future crisis. Communications from the scientific community have been ignored, and promises of developers accepted. The lure of new homes and jobs in building them appears to have been too much to resist. Should fires come in the future, the board of supervisors will deal with them at that time. But, that does not negate the loss of property, possessions and even, life. It is suspect government relations.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Trump confrontation with Democrats in the Oval office was a reality show. By that, I mean it was an in-your-face argument meant for the entertainment of an audience. There were no chairs thrown, no fisticuffs, no mediator keeping parties apart but the video of the President of the United States berating Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was what Trump wanted to energize his base. He got it but at the diminishment once again of civility. Debate in the US is not as pointed as it is in the UK where Question Time is an hour of insult and jeering. Although some feel there should be unfettered public discussion, it would be necessary for politicians to prepare the public for it. Trump's brashness only served to paint him more as a spoiled child who will bully anyone to get his way. It was a bad example of communications and it has almost certainly solidified Democrats against him.
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Time Magazine has named journalists persons of the year. It has been a tough time for them with a war on media from multiple sources, not the least of which is the White House. There is an insidious attempt to derogate any fact that is not compatible with one's image of himself or one's personal belief. Good journalism is good PR. It is reporters and editors striving to do their jobs in the best way possible -- finding and reporting facts of events and individuals. Their success brings credibility to them and to their media. Boot-licking articles help no one but those in power who want to see themselves portrayed in the best light possible. The world has taken a swing to strong, conservative leaders, nationalists who don't like to see negative stories about themselves. Journalism's job has been made more difficult, if not impossible in some countries where reporters literally lay their lives on the line. They deserve recognition for the work they are doing. One wishes it weren't so difficult.
Monday, December 10, 2018
Elon Musk is asking to be sanctioned by the government with his blunt comments. He says he doesn't respect the SEC, and he maintains he can do what he wants with Tesla since he is the largest shareholder. Daring regulators to take action is unwise communications. They are likely to look for an opportunity to unseat him as CEO. Musk is an unguided missile and his relations with the government have never looked worse. He might well discover in the near future that one should get along with regulators as much as possible. It is basic government relations. Instead, he now sounds and acts arrogant and unapologetic.
Friday, December 07, 2018
Every one of these products had publicity and glowing marketing materials. It made no difference. They died. There are many reasons for the failures. Some were redundant. Some were aged out. Some were absorbed into other tech. Some failed because the market wasn't there. Some missed their price points. It is instructive to read lists like this because it is a reminder -- if one needs one -- that there are limits to publicity, PR and marketing. They can do only so much to boost an offering and help it establish itself. Veterans in the communications business understand that. That is why advance preparation is so important. Rather than flinging a product onto the mercies of the marketplace, one should take the time to understand if demand is there. Google especially dumps beta ideas to the public to see if they stick. Many don't. It's wasteful and eventually they end up on the In Memoriam list.
Thursday, December 06, 2018
This is good PR because Corning has the technology. It is not spin. It is fact. Corning's Gorilla Glass is being readied for a future with foldable phones. It is already being made paper thin and bendable and it retains scratch resistance. Corning showed off its ultra-thin glass to the reporter and let her tour the test "kitchen" where it is made in furnaces fired to 1800 degrees. She was understandably awed by the process and wrote a puff piece. That makes sense to anyone who has watched glass being made. The crucibles, fire and manufacturing process can fill one with wonder at the ingenious skills of man. Corning is showing what it does every day, and that is PR enough.