Friday, October 29, 2021
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
This story is about a woman who went to a hospital for the birth of her son. There was nothing out of the ordinary in her vaginal delivery but she was instructed when she arrived to enter through the emergency department. Later when she got the bill from the hospital, it showed she was coded at the highest level of distress causing an inflated bill of thousands of dollars. That is not only lousy PR, it is fraud. Hospitals have been out control for decades when it comes to billing. In fairness to their administrators, there is much they can't charge for and there are deadbeat patients who don't have money to discharge their debts. So, hospitals have used those who can pay to subsidize those who won't or can't. It's a bad system and no one deserves to live by it -- not doctors, not administrators, not nurses, not anyone. It is long past time to clean up billing practices, but it won't happen without relentless public and government pressure.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
How could one of the most heavily automated companies in the world be underpaying workers on leave? That's the situation in which Amazon finds itself. The company is making no excuses and is tracking down employees who have been stiffed in order to correct their pay stubs and give them cash they were promised. That's the good part of this story. But, the reputational damage from a faulty pay system is likely to linger. Amazon's people will examine their paychecks for months to come and any little mistake will be writ large. An error like this should never have happened. Amazon needs an audit of its payroll system and likely is undergoing that process now.
Monday, October 25, 2021
Friday, October 22, 2021
The Federal Reserve has issued tough new rules for stock holding and trading by its governors. It bans both and limits its executives to mutual funds while imposing limits on purchases and sales. While there has been no verified illegal insider trading, the appearances of having done so are what counts. The Fed has to be perceived as clean because it controls the nation's money supply and interest rates. The Boston and Dallas presidents have already stepped down because of trading during the pandemic even though what they did was acceptable at the time. The Fed has joined accounting firms, which limit employees and partners on what they can do in investing since they possess so much insider information. Perception is an issue that will never go away.
Thursday, October 21, 2021
The public is experiencing a moment of sausage making in Congress. There, an effort to craft President Biden's legislation to "build back better" infrastructure and benefits, is engrossed in hourly deal-making with no visible signs of progress. Citizens are frustrated and Biden's poll numbers show their dissatisfaction. President Biden for his part is barnstorming the country to deliver messages supporting his bills. He is mobilizing the public along with his efforts to spur fruitful bargaining. What he is attempting is nearly without precedent. He has only a one-vote margin in the Senate and two Democratic senators acting as independents. They are controlling the discussions more than the President. Biden is in a time when he needs to pound his messages. To win, he needs to reach average citizens and gain their vocal and voting support. It's a tough task but that is what Presidents are for.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
No matter what you might think about Netflix's CEO, give him kudos for fessing up to a mistake. He says he "screwed up" his message to employees over a Dave Chappelle comedy special that has sparked controversy. He stands by his decision to run the program but he says he could have been more sensitive to employees in what he wrote. Employee communications are important in a time when workers are withholding labor for better conditions and higher pay. The minions hold the leverage now unlike in decades past. How long that will be the case is anyone's guess, but CEOs can't afford to alienate their staffs now. It is well the CEO apologized. It makes him more human. But, he had better not do it again.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Monday, October 18, 2021
Thursday, October 14, 2021
Moderna reaped enormous positive publicity when its COVID vaccine first came to market. That was then. Now the company is on the defensive for failing to share enough doses with developing and Third World nations. The turnabout in PR came swiftly. The company can still protect its reputation if it boldly and publicly ships millions of doses to the poor and needy. A major consideration is its manufacturing capacity. Does it have enough? If not, it might have to ration the US and Europe in order to ship to Africa and elsewhere. This is something that could be hard for the company to do, especially with pending booster shots in the US. The company is not in an enviable PR position and is faced with potentially hard choices.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The Catholic archbishop for the military has written that members of the armed services who are Catholic can refuse the COVID vaccination on religious grounds. The reason is that individuals should not have to violate their moral conscience. The failure of reasoning is that the vaccination is for the common good and not just for the person alone. While the archbishop has expressed support for vaccination, he is too easy in letting Catholics off the hook when it comes to health. As a Roman Catholic myself, I find the archbishop's logic to be unfortunate, especially since COVID remains a societal health crisis.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
The CEO of Southwest Airlines says he is not in favor of vaccine mandates and he blames President Biden for having to enforce the executive order. He is ducking responsibility for the order and checking out when he could have reinforced the requirement. From a public perception, he looks like he is against the COVID vaccine, whether he is or not. That doesn't put him or the airline in good stead with the millions who have received the jab. It would have been so easy for him to say, "The president has ordered it and we will do it." But, he didn't. So now, Southwest looks foolish.
Monday, October 11, 2021
Politicians understand the public is fickle. Voters' question is constant. "What have you done for me lately?" Given this, President Biden is in trouble. He declared independence from COVID in July and here it is October with the virus still reeking havoc. His poll numbers have plummeted and he is stuck in trying to pass his legislative packages. Right now, he is looking inept, a situation that can turn around but there isn't much time to do it with midterm elections next year. It doesn't help that Democrats in Congress are quarreling among themselves and for all of his jawboning, they still can't see their way to making laws. As a communicator, Biden must be beside himself. His messages aren't getting through no matter how hard he tries. He is in the danger zone.
Friday, October 08, 2021
Thursday, October 07, 2021
Wednesday, October 06, 2021
The Supreme Court will decide how much of the CIA's torture interrogation program can be revealed to the public. The CIA has been hiding behind a veil of secrecy for nearly 20 years. What is known already gives the agency a black reputation from which it can never really recover, and it stains the democracy of the United States. Admittedly, the CIA was under pressure to find, apprehend and punish the culprits for 9/11, but that doesn't justify the torture it undertook nor does it justify aggressive methods on the part of any US organization. Once the program came to light, the US government put a stop to it but it was too late. The damage had been done and the agony of the prisoners couldn't be alleviated after the fact. The US will live with the reputation of practicing inhumane interrogation techniques.
Tuesday, October 05, 2021
Monday, October 04, 2021
No company wants to see this on 60 Minutes. Facebook is in a tough position on the strength of its own research leaked to The Wall Street Journal and the CBS news magazine by a whistleblower. The most Facebook can do is to sputter that its data was inaccurately interpreted and taken out of context. That won't fly in the public perception and in the Congressional hearings about to take place. Facebook is facing a public castigation for inattention to the effects of its system. The company can hunker and hope it blows over or it can take steps to monitor its users better and introduce new controls for harmful information put on its service. Either way, it will be expensive for the company's reputation and bottom line.
Friday, October 01, 2021
Smith & Wesson, a gunmaker in Massachusetts since 1852, is leaving the state and moving its headquarters and manufacturing to Tennessee. It is being chased out by pending legislation that would forbid the production of assault-style weapons. While this is Massachusetts' loss, it might make little difference to the state to sacrifice 750 jobs. The image of weapons builders is in deep trouble with most Americans and even the National Rifle Association can't help. (It has troubles of its own.) How does an industry in decline guard itself against a conventional perception of its harmful effect on the public? The company is finding out along with all the other gunmakers. They are in the same position as cigarette manufacturers when the public finally swung against smoking.