Tuesday, August 31, 2021

On Trial 

Elizabeth Holmes, the fallen founder of Theranos, a bankrupt blood-testing company, goes on trial today for fraud.  Her attorneys will be using a variety of explanations for why she did what she did, including diminished capacity from sexual abuse.  It will be a closely watched trial and the news media are all over it.  Holmes has made life difficult for other female Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.  They are under a cloud because of her actions.  It is unfair to them but reputation and perception are the order of the day.  The destruction of the reputation of a high-profile executive and the ugly perception it leaves as a result carries over to other women.  It is wrong but a fact of life, and female executives have to overcome it while raising money and running their firms.  They have to communicate more, be more transparent and make no claims unless they can prove them.  That written, it is what male founders should be doing as well, but sadly, they get more slack.  

Monday, August 30, 2021

Poetic Justice 

A Florida radio host who said he would never get the vaccine for COVID has died from the virus.  It's a pity he didn't have a chance to tell his listeners what suffering from the disease is like and to urge them to get the jab.  He was one more example of deliberate ignorance about COVID and its preventive.  His death is poetic justice and a warning to others who refuse to be vaccinated.  Communications about COVID to stubborn deniers has come to its most dire form.  One must sicken from it and die for others to believe.  Even so, there are those who say to themselves that it will never happen to me.  They are living in an alternate reality beyond the reach of persuasion.  Even mandates and the threat of losing their jobs cannot convince them.  They are a danger to society.  

Friday, August 27, 2021


President Biden's plan and action to leave Afghanistan has become unraveled with the death of 13 service personnel in a suicide bombing.  Although he has communicated an implacable will to redress the murders, there is little he can do now with the collapse of the country and pull-out of troops.  The affair has left an indelible stain on his foreign policy and the image of America as the international leader.  He now has critics on both sides of the Congressional aisle and is left only with words to fend them off.  It is a bad position to be in and Biden must be concerned that it will bleed over into his domestic agenda.  Afghanistan has become a major distraction that will continue even after the evacuation is over.  Journalists will find people who missed the airlift and are trapped in the country.  Pundits will speak out.  Republicans will investigate.  It is a nightmare scenario and it is all on the President's plate.  

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Hard Core 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued an order banning COVID vaccine mandates in the state.  His reasoning? It would create confusion for citizens in local communities.  He already has banned mask mandates, and some cities and towns are defying him on that for the good of their people.   Abbott is an example of how far political ideologues will go to impose their will.  He is hard core and without concern for the health of Texans as long as he can get his way.  It is disgraceful politics and lousy public relations.  Meanwhile, governments across the nation, corporations and the military are making vaccines mandatory.  They understand the common good does not require a fealty test.  They also have science and practice to fall back on.  As doctors have pointed out, children must be vaccinated before going to school against measles, chickenpox, polio and the mumps.  Why not COVID?  Why not indeed?   

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Preaching To The Converted 

When a preacher thunders a sermon to his flock, it is called preaching to the converted.  The listeners have accepted the beliefs about which the reverend is speaking.  What the minister needs to do is speak to those not in church in the hope of changing some of them.  What Vice President Kamala Harris said to the Vietnamese government on her visit to Hanoi is an example of diplomatic preaching to the converted.  Harris condemned China's bullying tactics and takeover of the South China sea.  Harris certainly knows of the historic tension between the two countries and of Hanoi's vocal opposition to China's building outposts on reefs in that part of the ocean.  Harris might have been better aiming her remarks directly at China itself.  There was an unspoken theme to her speech.  She is allying the US with Vietnam in the growing competition with China.  North Vietnam was an enemy of the US 50 years ago, but times have changed.  The country is now seeking help to protect itself, and a former enemy is just as good as a longstanding friend.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2021


Walmart has entered the local, last-mile delivery market and is giving competition to Amazon, Fedex, the US Postal Service and UPS.  It's a marketing move that only a multi-billion dollar company can make with a footprint across the US.  Walmart's delivery network extends to 500 cities and will deliver packages for local merchants who will no longer need to worry whether they can get goods to customers in time for Christmas.  It is also good PR for Walmart to show it has the merchant muscle to compete with established delivery services.  If its network does well during the upcoming holidays, small package delivery won't be the same again.  

Monday, August 23, 2021

NASA Publicity 

NASA has been featured regularly in this blog for its creative use of publicity and PR.  Here are two examples of what it does.  The space agency has a near monopoly on galaxy and planet photos, which it shares with the public as a reminder of its mission.  While educating the masses, it is also a reminder of its value come budget time.  NASA has built and maintains a consensus among American citizens of its worth.  It would be easy for the agency to ignore the public and work solely with the scientific community, but it has never done that from the beginning of its outer space mission more than 50 years ago.  Rather, it has shared the excitement of exploration with the world and built expectations for more, ever more. It continues to satisfy the craving for new images and discoveries and to root itself deeply in popular imagination.  Bravo to its communicators.  

Friday, August 20, 2021

Actions Not Words 

The Taliban held a news conference in which its spokesperson said the Islamic group would respect women's rights and freedom of speech.  Now the news has come that the Taliban are hunting down journalists and have killed a relative of one reporter.  The fear is they are the same-old militant group that ruled the country 20 years ago.  Only time will tell as the organization cements its power in Afghanistan and applies its understanding of Islamic law.  It is a reminder once again that actions and not words are at the core of public relations.  It's what you do and not what you say.

Thursday, August 19, 2021


Google has done it again with publicity for its Google Photos organizing software.  The clever hack was done using NASA Rover images from Mars over the last six months.  The catalog covers more than 125,000 photos taken by the mobile robot since its landing.  What better way is there to demonstrate how well its system works?  Google has always been creative in its marketing, and this is one more instance of it.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Listening To Your Customer 

Sometimes, listening to your customer can cost you money -- revenue and profits forgone for the sake of a buyer's preferences.  This is the case with Samsung, which is removing ads from its stock, weather, pay and theme phone apps.  The reason?  Customers didn't like them cluttering their mobile screens.  The company is doing the right thing, and it will be looked on positively.  It also boosts the company's reputation as one that pays attention to the user interface and its cleanliness.  Ads are annoying but they pay the freight of online services unless one is subscription only.  Samsung understands that as well as anyone, but it also knows the customer experience is first in consideration.  So, it loses a few million bucks by removing ads from proprietary apps.  It will make the shortfall up elsewhere.  

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


Businesses, states and the Federal Government are starting to mandate vaccinations for COVID.  They are less concerned about employees quitting and more about completing their missions safely.  It is a turnabout from coaxing, communicating, influencing, incenting the reluctant to get the jab.  The mandate shows the limits of persuasion for a stubborn body of individuals.  It is the right approach to take.  The unvaccinated have had more than enough time to get the shot and refused to act even when they jeopardized their health and the safety of others.  They value their independence over the common good and the common good sometimes takes precedence. The unvaccinated are furious.  Let them be so.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Enough And Consequences 

President Biden said America had done enough in Afghanistan, and it is time for the country to stand on its own.  It can't and it has fallen to the Taliban.  A 20-year war and billions in investment and troop arming and training had no positive outcome.  The Afghan government was corrupt and ineffectual.  Biden's message to its people and his action in drawing down troops showed immediately that the nation cannot stand on its own.  It was a permanent ward of the US, consuming cash and weapons with no prospects for self-survival.  Biden is being blamed for the fall of the country, but it isn't his fault.  Four presidents failed there and left it to Biden to leave.  Biden could have lived with the problem and handed it on to his successor but he chose not to do so.  Hence, the collapse on his watch.  American voters will decide whether he took the right action.  

Friday, August 13, 2021

A Census Message 

The US Census released its population statistics yesterday, and they are eye-opening for the  white citizenry.  Hispanics are growing quickly and with the surge at the border showing no letdown, the growth rate should continue.  What this means is that it is time for both political parties to communicate to Latinx groups to see if they can establish allegiance from them.  It also means it is past time to combat xenophobia from whites who feel themselves being marginalized.  Although the United States were founded by a white majority, there never has been a requirement that they stay that way.  Diversity is the strength of the nation.  As a land comprised of individuals from everywhere on earth, the US has proved democracy can work no matter the ethnic group.  

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Mixed Message 

The Biden administration is calling on OPEC to boost oil production in the face of high gasoline prices.  This is happening at the same time Biden is calling for massive increases in electric vehicles to stem global warming.  Conservatives are nicking him for it and well they should.  It is a mixed message and confusing to the public.  It leaves the question open whether Biden is serious about global warming.  If he is, then he should let gas prices rise to stimulate sales of electric cars.  That he is not shows the bind he is in.  There are not enough electric vehicles around, Tesla notwithstanding, and they are too expensive for the average household.  So, he is trying to have it both ways.  It doesn't help.   

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The World Was Watching 

The bipartisan infrastructure deal was passed in Congress while the world was watching. Could the proponent of Democracy and wealthiest country agree on a bill to "build back better?"  If not, what does that say about the government we trumpet?  The earth today is suffering from authoritarian rulers who have given up or never liked democracy and its messy process.  Their message is that dictatorial rule is better and citizens must toe the line set by the government.  The Republican and Democratic senators who forged a bill that all could sign onto showed that talking does work and can cross party lines. Biden's support for the effort was unstinting and a reflection of his own time in the Senate when one could still talk to the other side and pass legislation.  It is a strong message to other countries that putting in the work to compromise is still the better way to operate.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


The Senate is on the edge of proving that bipartisan bills can pass in Congress.  It requires slow, thorough work and negotiation to plow through objections and takeaways for individual lawmakers.  The vote today, if it happens, will be a triumph for President Biden who vowed to labor with senators and representatives to get an infrastructure bill done.  It sends a message to both Houses and to the public that Congress is still relevant in the Democracy and is not just a collection of bickering politicians.  It also sends a message to former president Trump that he cannot always get his way.  Trump has been savaging the bill and Republicans supporting it for weeks.  Biden's response: it can be done.  That written, the next bill, $3.5 trillion, will pass on Democrat-only votes, if at all.  There is a limit to bipartisanship among wrangling lawmakers. 

Monday, August 09, 2021

Nowhere To Run 

The United Nations has issued a climate report on global warming that is disturbing and fatalistic.  The study says violent weather is here to stay and could get worse if the world doesn't act now.  But, political will is not there across the earth to act in a coordinated fashion, even with floods in Germany and fires in Greece, Turkey, the US and Canada.  It has been an awful summer so far for the world but its citizens are still on the fence about what they have to do.  Changing minds and hearts will take a couple of decades of drought, floods and fires before the majority of populations are ready for change.  Even then, the message will face denial and inaction.  Climate change is beyond the power of persuasion.  Like COVID, it will take the suffering of millions before there is concerted action. People just aren't listening.   

Friday, August 06, 2021

At Last 

Citizens of states with low vaccination rates are at last queueing for shots.  The pandemic has become real for them with a surge of infections in their counties and locales. Why did they dismiss the roar of warnings and communications from health authorities, politicians, celebrities and others until now?  That will make for interesting research in coming years.  In short, for many it seems the pandemic wasn't real until friends and neighbors came down with the disease and were hospitalized.  Their circle of close influentials was the tipping point and fear that they were next.  Whatever the reasons, it doesn't say much for persuasive communications.  They did not convince a large segment of the population. 

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Note On My Service 

Facebook has kicked New York University researchers off of its site.  The investigators were looking into the extent of disinformation advertising during the last election.  Facebook claims they were gathering data on people and violating their privacy.  NYU says it was doing no such thing, but it had determined that Facebook was hosting ads propagating lies into November 2020 after it claimed it had controlled them.  This is a black eye for Facebook and a PR faux pas.  If the company had nothing to worry about, it could have allowed the researchers to continue.  Transparency is a key to credible social media, and Facebook's action guaranteed it isn't ready to share with the public what shows on its platform.  It couldn't have come at a worse time for the company.  Congress already is moving to legislate controls on social media.    

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Hanging Out 

Governor Cuomo, Democrat of New York, is hanging in a netherworld with politicians urging him to resign and Cuomo himself obstinately saying no.  The attorney general's report yesterday was damning.  Eleven women were found to be credible that he sexually harassed them.  Cuomo denied it in a taped response and has gone silent.  He has the choice now of stepping down or trying to forge ahead with the Assembly starting an impeachment process.  There is no communication that can help him.  The investigation was thorough, the presentation to the media low-key and factual, the lawyers outsiders who have no political ax to swing.  It is their word against his, and his is self-interested.  He might survive impeachment but his career is ruined.  The communications power of #metoo has claimed another politician.  

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Sending A Message 

The National Labor Relations Board is recommending a do-over of the Amazon union drive in Alabama.  It cites illegal action on the part of Amazon to influence the vote its way.  Amazon is predictably upset and is going to appeal.  The  Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is satisfied and ready to start again.  Any way one looks at this event, it is clear the NLRB is sending a message to the company that it cannot act in a high-handed fashion to get its way.  It is also a communication to laborers in Amazon's other warehouses that they can organize if they wish.  Should Alabama's workers vote for the union on the second try, other facilities will follow.  It is sad that the company has not reevaluated its labor policies to prevent organizing action.  It believes it is in the right, and that is its first mistake.  

Monday, August 02, 2021

Too Soon 

 Because of this, it is clear President Biden's celebration of victory over COVID was too soon.  July 4th Independence Day from the virus was but a blip in the disease's course.  The Delta variant is raging across the country and even fully vaccinated people are getting sick.  The Center for Disease Control's advice to relaunch the mask mandate is a PR blow to the President.  He put his credibility on the line by having a party for 1000 on the White House lawn.  No one became ill, but it was at the same time the Provincetown cluster was developing.  Citizens are tired of masks and social distancing.  Those not vaccinated are in worse peril than before but they don't seem to care.  Biden and health authorities are preaching to a wall.  It's disheartening to witness.  

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