Thursday, February 24, 2022

It Starts 

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has finally launched after weeks of buildup along the border.  Putin doesn't care what the world thinks of him.  He has manufactured grievances and propaganda to justify his actions to his people.  He has stiff-armed diplomats and presidents who have pleaded with him to stand down.  His move is that of a dictator who gets what he wants when he wants it.  He has committed his rejuvenated military to taking over the country and there is every likelihood that he will succeed.  Ukraine lacks the military hardware that the Russians have positioned along the border.  The question now is whether Ukraine's soldiers will fight to the end or give up and flee.  No country is coming to their aid other than sending munitions and heartfelt messages.  Ukraine is on its own and now will become a vassal of the Russian state.   

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Crisis For Google 

This is a crisis for Google, the developer of Android software. Stalkerware, which can be uploaded into a phone without the owner knowing and can compromise everything they send or say, is a deep violation of privacy.  Google almost certainly is aware of the situation.  The question is what the company is doing about it.  The longer it goes on, the greater the hit to Google's reputation and the more phone owners will convert to Apple, which has better controls over apps.  The situation is well beyond words.  It is a time for action to fix the code in Android's operating system.  It is time for more discipline in vetting apps before they are allowed on the platform.  Google has work to do.  Is it up to the job?  

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


Neil Cavuto, a Fox News anchorman, has publicly announced that he caught the corona virus, even though vaccinated, and nearly died.  Cavuto is immunocompromised from cancer and multiple sclerosis.  He has been a lone dissenting voice at Fox over the value of the jab.  He supports it and said that had he not been vaccinated, he would be dead.  That, however, has not stopped braying against vaccines from his fellow anchors at the network who fan fear and conspiracies about them.  What are viewers to think?  Do they listen to one who has suffered or to those who have not?  The PR value of a popular anchor is immense but not enough.  His experience might change a few minds but those who are convinced will explain his plight away -- or reject it outright.  Another example of the limits of persuasion.  

Monday, February 21, 2022


It is a curious PR and investor headache to be taken to task for pigs.  Yet, that is what McDonald's is facing.  Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor, is seeking two board seats because the company has not yet stopped using gestation crates for pregnant sows.  The crates are considered unnecessary and harmful.  Of course, McDonald's doesn't raise pigs itself but purchases pork from farmers, some of whom continue to use the confinement method.  Icahn wants it stopped, but it might not be that easy for McDonald's to do.  The company can halt purchases from farms using the contraption, but that could damage the supply chain.  So, McDonald's is caught for the moment and is facing a reputation and boardroom battle -- over pigs.  

Friday, February 18, 2022


By all accounts, the coach of the Russian women skaters in the Olympics is a strict disciplinarian who does not allow anything but success.  He berated the 15-year-old skater, Kamila Valieva, for failing on the ice and ending up fourth.  The International Olympic Committee president said he was "disturbed by the intense pressure on the young skaters."  The silver medalist vowed never to go on the ice again in an emotional moment.  A question one is left asking is whether competition under such weight is worth it and whether the poor reputation of the Russian coach should get him barred from competition.  The coach will defend his methods by flaunting his results.  His adolescent athletes might rejoinder by quitting if they find him unbearable. But, they must be driven as well to continue to train under such intense criticism.  Such cruel coaching is giving Olympic skating a bad name and creating a PR problem for the IOC.  They can resolve it by banning the coach -- if they dare.   

Thursday, February 17, 2022


Russia is claiming it has pulled back some troops from the Ukrainian border.  NATO says not so and actually Russia has boosted its soldiers by 7,000.  Who is right?  Facts are essential in a time of heightened crisis.  The West is relying on intelligence.  Russia says "trust me."  The US and NATO are painting a bleak picture of Russia's intentions and accusing the country of a disinformation campaign while looking for trumped-up charges to invade.  The only result so far is unity among Ukrainians opposed to Russia.  But, what if the Russians are telling the truth?  The US and NATO will be deeply embarrassed and take a hit in reputation.  There is no way of knowing Vladimir Putin's intentions with the military buildup along the Ukrainian border.  He might be using the show of force to gain negotiating leverage, but no one in the West is certain.  Diplomats are trying their best to forestall a war but it might be too late. Only Putin knows what he will do and he is not talking.    

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Dam Has Broken 

Remington Arms settlement for $73 million with the families of nine victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is a breakthrough and a PR and marketing disaster for the company.  For too long, gun manufacturers hid behind the Second Amendment and advertised weaponry that had no useful purpose in hunting or sports shooting.  They resisted lawsuits and like the tabacco business seemed untouchable.  Now, the dam has broken and there will be more legal challenges until AR15-style weapons are removed from the market.  It will deeply hurt the consumer weapons business, which is a niche already in the marketplace.  Arms manufacturing will need to take a new road for financial health and build reserves for payouts to victims of shootings.  It's a difficult position to be in, but the industry did it to itself.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

It Starts 

Former President Trump's accounting firm has issued a letter announcing that no one should rely on the last 10 years of the Trump company's financial statements That's a damning admission.   The accounting firm also resigned the Trump business.  Another warning to regulators and the office of the attorney general.  Accounting firms don't take steps like this lightly.  It's a massive PR headache for the Trump organization, which is already under investigation.  The accountants are protecting themselves and pointing a finger at Trump's CFO and Trump himself.  Now it is up to the AG's lawyers to track down irregularities in Trump filings.  The question still to be answered is whether anything done was criminal.  If so, Trump might find himself in court rather than running in 2024.   

Monday, February 14, 2022

Thinking Big 

Polestar, an electric car manufacturer spun out from Volvo, is thinking big.  It ran a Super Bowl ad that takes shots at Tesla and Volkswagen while featuring its sedan.  While cheeky, the company has a long way to go to catch up with its two competitors.  Tesla is producing a million cars a year now and Volkswagen is converting its entire portfolio to battery power.  While Polestar can make claims, the PR proof is in its performance.  An ad, no matter how good it is, doesn't make the grade.  The company will need to deliver hundreds of thousands of vehicles soon to show it is a force in the market.  

Friday, February 11, 2022

Credibility And Reputation 

The Federal Reserve is faced with hiking interest rates dramatically in order to regain its "credibility and reputation."  Its relationship with the public is its power over the money supply.  With inflation running out of control, the Fed must do something to corner it or the economy will go sour with ever-increasing prices for goods and wage inflation.  However, the Fed doesn't want to tap the brakes too vigorously and cause a recession. Its increases must be delicate but firm -- ramping down public expectations but not too much. The question is how much is too much and the answer is no one really knows. The collective minds of the governors have to come to a consensus and hope their view of the economy is right. It is a tough position to be in.  

Wednesday, February 09, 2022


There are times when transparency is essential in communications.  This is one.  The surgeon general of Florida should disclose whether he has been vaccinated for COVID as a condition of his office.  That he hasn't should be grounds for disqualification.  He apparently is a skeptic about the virus and damage it can cause.  For a medical man to deny the evidence of hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of infections is a sad commentary on his reason and values. The public has a right to expect health leaders will provide unbiased information.  Health shouldn't be politicized, but in the US it has become a cultural football.  Floridians have the wrong man as their top doctor.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Losing Control? 

Is Ottawa, Canada, losing control of a truckers' protest?  That's what some are opining as  crowds grow massive and take over the city.  Demonstrators are against COVID restrictions in the country and want them removed NOW.  The question for the government is how much speech is too much and when, if ever, should it crack down.  The answer to this with an authoritarian bureaucracy is obvious -- right away.  With a democratic government, it is not clear.  Truckers have a right to protest, and they are doing so in a huge way.  As long as protestors refrain from violence, they should be allowed to continue even if it causes inconvenience to the citizens of the city.  Free speech can be messy.

Monday, February 07, 2022

Sticking With Him 

Spotify has descended into a PR mess by its decision to stick with podcaster Joe Rogan who used racist language in at least 100 of his segments.  Prominent artists are abandoning the platform but the CEO hangs on.  The reason is simple.  Rogan commands millions of listeners and Spotify is heavily invested in him.  Losing him would cut deeply into the company's presence and profit.  So, the CEO is gutting it through.  There might come a time, however, when the bleed of artists from the ranks forces his hand.  If so, it will be another major PR gaffe.  Spotify retreats in embarrassment after an uproar.  The CEO is taking a risky stance and most certainly wishes the headache will go away.  It won't.  

Friday, February 04, 2022

Using The Tools 

Extremists are adept at using the tools of propaganda and communications to sway voters.  Consider this case.  A group of far right citizens have taken over a county in California.  They pummeled their conservative opponent with message after message, spewing rage at meetings, making videos, spending money with abandon.  They've almost certainly won a recall.  The author of the article wonders if extremists can have their way at a county level, why not at a state level as well.  They need to enlarge their megaphones and organize at the grass roots but it is possible.  The tools of communications are neutral.  They can be used by anyone for any purpose and are.  On a larger scale, Beijing is using the Winter Olympics to broadcast its propaganda and it will be successful, at least at home.  The rest of the world can condemn the communists for human rights violations, but China is creating a fictional scenario that its people accept.  

Thursday, February 03, 2022


Jeff Zucker of CNN is out after disclosing an inappropriate consensual relationship with a key lieutenant.  Zucker had previously fired anchor Chris Cuomo who was working with his brother Andrew, the former governor of New York, to combat sexual harassment allegations. Such turnabout is fair play and highlights the hypocrisy of leaders when they abuse power.  There is no communications defense for such behavior, no message to smooth it over, no bending of rules to make it right.  The correct PR move is to remove the executive and to tell the world about it, which is what CNN did.  Zucker had worked with this woman a long time and closeness had developed into a romantic relationship.  At that point, one or both should have stepped down. 

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Hanging In 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is staying in his office in the face of wide condemnation.  He has chosen to gut through question time, calls for resignation and open anger.  And, he just might succeed if his party stays with him.  It takes a combination of courage and ambition to hold on in the face of opposition.  Most leaders can't endure it.  Johnson to this point seems to have handled it but there is no saying for how long.   The outcome for his persistence is roiling the country's politics.  Johnson can't turn the page and as a result, legislation isn't moving forward.  It would be best if he did resign, but is he listening?  He seems deaf to pleas to do the right thing and step aside.  What will it take for him to bow to the inevitable?  

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Marketing Headache 

This is a marketing headache for any manufacturer. At issue is how to clear out old inventory in preparation for the new.  When tipsters leak features and functions of not-yet-released products, smart shoppers wait for them and present inventory sits on shelves unsold. Ideally, the manufacturer tapers production and old inventory is cleaned out.  Practically, it doesn't happen if buyers' expectations have been reset.  Hence, mark-downs, end-of-season sales and other incentives to get buyers to change their minds. It is an issue as old as the economic transaction itself and it will never change.  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?