Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Monday, November 29, 2021
Friday, November 26, 2021
A new COVID variant has emerged and Wall Street is hitting the panic selling button at this hour. There are fears of worldwide shutdowns, useless vaccines to stem the spread of the mutated virus and economies once more going into the toilet. Authorities are deeply concerned and the rush to examine the new disease has begun. The situation is a reminder once again that it is impossible to predict the future and one of the key qualities of a leader is to remain humble. There are events that are out of one's control. One can only back and fill and attempt to get ahead of the situations. Limiting damage is the best one can do. As communicators, we should never advise CEOs to make bold predictions. We don't know nor do they what is going to happen. The future remains unknown.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
JPMorgan's CEO, Jamie Dimon, is the latest businessman to kowtow to China's communist party. He did it because he wants the bank to operate in the country and its authorities are notoriously sensitive to perceived slights. In this case, Dimon's remarks were that JPMorgan would last longer than China's communist party. He knew better when he made the comment but he did it anyway. Now he is bowing and scraping and apologetic. Dimon, of all CEOs, should understand the lack of free speech in China. The government shut down Hong Kong because it was too open in its criticisms. It has imprisoned activists. It tolerates no public demonstrations against the government. Outsiders are subject to the same restrictions. PR in China is targeted toward bureaucrats who have the power to end one's presence in the country at any time. It is not fair nor liberal but that's the way it is.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
There is a school of thought that US corporations are using inflation to boost prices and earn more than they historically have. In other words, much of the inflation that Americans are enduring is due to corporate greed. If true, big business will have its reputation dinged again and progressives will seek to rein them in. In a capitalist society, profit maximization is an imperative. Business has no responsibility to pay attention to the needs of citizens other than how it affects their bottom line. This is the University of Chicago School of thought. CEOs have been edging away from that philosophy in light of global warming and corporate governance concerns, but it is still in the back of their minds. They must satisfy investors to keep their jobs. This sets up a clash between corporate and societal needs. It is no wonder CEOs are taking the opportunity to earn as much as they can. The future will be a more difficult environment in which to operate.
Monday, November 22, 2021
Two conservative contributors to Fox News have resigned over its relentless support of former President Trump and his lie that he won the 2020 election but for fraud. They are being celebrated by liberals and some right-wing commentators for their honesty, but it won't make a difference at Fox, which continues to pound its false messages. Fox understands that if one broadcasts a consistent theme over and over that people will come to believe it. Viewers will accept its lies and propaganda as truth. George Orwell wrote about this in Animal Farm and 1984. It is hard to believe that such miscommunication exists in the US in 2021, but it does. The two conservatives did the right thing but it won't stop Fox which is hiding behind the First Amendment. One wonders if Fox is a clear and present danger.
Friday, November 19, 2021
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Republican Congressman Paul Gosar says he didn't mean to foment violence against Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and President Biden in a posted video. He said no threat of injury was intended by himself or his staff. Democrats were not convinced and Gosar became the 24th House member to be censured. Communicators should be aware that in the present time, violent rhetoric, whether visual or written, is against the interests of the country. That is because of the Jan. 6 uprising, which took over the Capitol building and the existence of nationalist groups who espouse a forceful takeover of Washington DC. One can be forceful in opinions but not call for injury as a consequence of disagreement. This is the not the first time anger has motivated both sides. Before the Civil War in 1856, a southern Congressman caned an Abolitionist Senator in the well of the Senate. There has been no physical act of violence yet in today's case, but the potential is there and the potential is what led the Democratic majority to react. Republicans were outraged and said it was unfair. Look for them to return the favor should they retake the House next year. Meanwhile, all sides should cool down and try to be more reasonable.
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
President Biden and members of his administration are fanning out across the nation to sell the new infrastructure law to the American people. Their message is likely to fall on deaf ears. The law is a multi-year grant of billions to states and municipalities. It doesn't impact the cost of food and fuel, both of which are rising quickly. It won't help the logistics backup at ports where hundreds of thousands of shipping containers sit undelivered. Citizens want action now on those pain points, and they are unlikely to get them. Democrats' control of Congress is likely to hinge on inflation -- whether it can be controlled early in 2022 or it continues to soar. Sometimes a positive communication comes at the wrong time, and this is one. The challenge for the Biden administration is how to refocus attention on infrastructure from prices in the supermarket and at the pump. It won't be easy.
Monday, November 15, 2021
How does a bad businessman maintain his reputation for being an extraordinary dealmaker and builder of major properties? This is a question that should be asked about former president Trump. His organization has just sold the lease for his Washington DC hotel after losing $70 million on the property. Trump had boasted he had made millions from it. This is not the first time he has lied about his business acumen. The records show he has lied about his prowess since the beginning of his career. Yet, his followers continue to believe he is successful and has a golden touch. Perhaps it is Trump's' narcissistic believe in himself that has made the difference. He cannot accept that he has failed at anything. For the dispassionate observer, the facts are damning, but for Trumpists his actions are only for the better.
Friday, November 12, 2021
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, conducted an unscientific poll on Twitter asking if he should sell 10 percent of his shares in order to pay taxes. Responders said yes. So, Musk sold but only 3 percent. While one might admire him for paying Federal taxes after paying nothing in 2018, he is apparently relying no optics rather than forking over the full amount he promised. This makes for a curious bit of PR. He complied but only partially. Does one praise him for being a billionaire who isn't hiding behind capital gains? Or, does one criticize him for not going the distance? It depends on your stance toward the ultra-rich. On paper, he is the wealthiest man in the world with two successful companies -- Tesla and SpaceX. He built these companies in the face of skepticism and disbelief. He deserves the capital he has earned. But, how much is too much? It is a judgment call only Congress and regulators can make in how they shape and apply tax law. Optics or not, Musk will pay taxes this year, but maybe not enough.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Tuesday, November 09, 2021
The Las Vegas Raiders cut a talented cornerback when video of him holding a gun and making death threats surfaced. The Raiders stated that such behavior had no place on the team or in the community. The Raiders' general manager had sharp words for what the CB had done. It was proper PR with an ethical position clearly expressed. The GM said it was a painful decision for the team and certainly it was since the CB had been a first round pick in the 2020 draft. But, the GM said no individual player is bigger than the team or the community. It is not the job of a team to coddle disturbed individuals. They need to turn themselves around before they can play. The CB has now entered a netherworld. He will have to convince other NFL owners he has changed his behavior and is worth a second shot. It won't be easy.
Monday, November 08, 2021
No live concert producer wants the audience to get hurt. It's a PR disaster if it happens. But, this is the situation facing Live Nation and performer, Travis Scott. An audience surge toward the stage where Scott was performing left eight people trampled to death and dozens of others injured and unconscious. Scott was apparently unaware of it for 37 minutes into his set. Now Scott and Live Nation are being sued and there is a good chance that should it not be settled out of court, a jury trial won't go well for either the performer or producer. Should they have known that an audience surge could occur? It has happened at other venues with predictable injury and death. There should have been a plan for it and rehearsals. Scott is devastated but it is too late. Live nation is humiliated. It will take time to live this incident down and rebuild trust among concert-goers.
Friday, November 05, 2021
Thursday, November 04, 2021
Wednesday, November 03, 2021
Tuesday, November 02, 2021
Barclays Bank's American CEO has quit over his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. The board had accused him of a lack of transparency over the connection while he was the head of JPMorgan's private bank, a job he held prior to Barclays. This is a case of contamination of reputation. There is as yet no evidence the CEO knew of Epstein's sex trafficking or that he participated in sexual assault of the young women Epstein had recruited. But, association was enough for the board, which feared for the reputation of the company should the CEO stay on. Is it fair? No, but that is the way life works. A CEO serves at the pleasure of the board and if the board turns against him or her for any reason, it is time to step down. Communications and PR are helpless in such instances. They can only issue a board's decision. Defense of the CEO is out of the question.