Friday, April 29, 2022

More Positive PR 

NASA is a positive PR machine.  It reports on one success after another and constantly buffs its reputation for breakthrough science.  This time it is news that the James Webb Space Telescope is fully aligned and ready to take pictures of distant galaxies in the infrared spectrum.  But that is not all.  The scope has exceeded engineers' expectations in its ability to focus.  That means the instrument's mirror segments are fixed in positions that are tuned to less than the width of a human hair.  And, NASA has done so while the instrument is a million miles away.  NASA has had tragedies over the decades, notably in manned missions, but it always seems to recover.  Kudos to the agency.   

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Just The Facts 

The American public wants to know the facts of the Russia-Ukraine war.  They fear misinformation and they blame Russia for its spread.  That is the result of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.  Unlike Russian citizens who seem to have accepted Moscow's lies and support the war, Americans are far from taking Putin's word for anything.  That is a good for the Biden administration, which has worked hard to unify allies against Russia.  It is bad in that Putin maintains support at home and has squelched what opposition there was.  Russian citizens and soldiers are motivated to win the war.  That makes Ukraine's defense all the more difficult.  Twisting facts into lies works if done correctly, and Putin's government appears to be a master of it.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


Harvard has now recognized and publicized the university's use of slavery in its early years.  The fact is that it was no different than any other institution at the time.  That it should now come forward is overdue, but it has descended from the ivory tower and that is good.  With the expenditure of $100 million to research and fully explicate the university's complicity in holding men, women and children in bondage, Harvard will set a benchmark for the public and scholars in the years to come.  Now, if only the university could see its way to reparations. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022


Leaked texts have shown that Republicans were spinning the truth even as the Jan.6 insurrection was underway.  They were proposing to blame the incident on the media and Antifa rather than the "peaceful" MAGA demonstrators.  That there were lies even during the height of the event is typical of people for whom facts are malleable and the only thing that counts is winning.  This is not PR but propaganda and misinformation.  One would expect those in power to bend the truth a little to get what they want.  To publicly lie when the evidence is all around one is despicable.  But that is what they were doing -- and still are.  

Monday, April 25, 2022

What Do Investors Want?  

The Twitter board is meeting to consider Elon Musk's offer for the company, which is at a premium to its current stock price. Directors owe it to investors to get the best deal possible if a company is to be sold.  It is part of governance duties.  They could decide to resist the tender offer as being too low but they also need to consider Twitter's earnings, which are due out on Thursday afternoon.  A board is the proxy for individual holders of the stock.  It is not supposed to be in management's pocket, although often it is.  Twitter had adopted a poison pill to fend Musk off, but Musk upped the ante and announced he has lined up the financing to buy the company out.  If the board elects to resist, it will turn into a PR battle until Musk secures enough shares to name his own slate of directors and take the company over.  It could be fascinating to watch.  

Friday, April 22, 2022

PR Headache  

The Disney company's opposition to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill has created a PR headache for the company.  The governor and the state legislature has retaliated by stripping self-governance from Disney World.  This takes the responsibility for the infrastructure -- roads, water, sewage, power -- away from Disney where it has resided since 1967 and gives it to the local counties.  There is no provision for how this is going to work and whether the counties are equipped to handle the addition of four theme parks, two water parks and one sports complex.  Disney will have to pay local taxes, which it didn't have to do before, and deal with the bureaucracy of local government.  It is not enough for Disney to leave Orlando, but it is a burden contracted by the company's speaking out on a political and cultural issue.  Sometimes you can't win.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Claiming Victory 

Vladimir Putin is claiming victory in the port town of Mariupol while leaving an estimated 1000 Ukrainian fighters holed up in a huge steel plant.  He will starve them out but not before they claim more Russian soldiers' lives.  It's a sad end to a brave and doomed defense of a destroyed city.  For Putin, however, it is propaganda success.  He has something positive to show to his citizens while the war for the Donbas region continues. Russian strategy appears to be a grind of men and material until the opponent is worn down. It is a successful but horrible way to fight.  Were Russian citizens told what is really happening, they would be shocked, but Putin controls the media and says what he wants.  He has positioned his onslaught as a triumph and his people believe him.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Bloom Is Off 

Netflix, a darling of Wall Street, has fallen in grace. It reported losing 200,000 subscribers in the last month and is estimating a loss of 2,000,000 for the year.  Predictably, its stock has plunged.  What kind of PR and IR does the company need?  It needs to tell its story while it works to bolster its base.  The company has plenty it can talk about.  It led the way into streaming and it has produced some of the most compelling shows in recent years.  Investors will retort, "That was then.  This is now."  They do not take into account past performance in pricing a stock.  But, Netflix has a substantial core of users who aren't going anywhere.  The company needs to cater to them while working through its subscriber challenge. It might also have to accept that it is no longer a growth stock but a mature company.  That might be the hardest of all.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Official Silence 

For the time being, Americans and Russians are working cooperatively on the International Space Station.  Both sides have stayed with an agreement to maintain silence on the Russian-Ukrainian war although their handlers on the ground have not.  The Russians are breaking away from the space station for good, and there is a strong likelihood that the complex will fall back to earth as a result.  It will be a pity that a symbol of togetherness has a sad end because nations are opposed at home.  But, that is the way of human events.  Conflict and colliding views are an inherent part of human existence.  Messages of peace are ignored.

Monday, April 18, 2022


Say what you want about former President Trump, but he is consistent in his messages of rage. Even his Easter greeting was a complaint.  Political handlers work hard to keep candidates on message.  Trump has never varied and he maintains a core of believers as a result.  In that regard, he should be the envy of politicians everywhere.  Unfortunately, his words are lies and the more he states them, the more ridiculous and dangerous he becomes.  Political communications tend to pander to the public and promise more than they can deliver.  Trump's promise to Make America Great Again is a throw-back to discontent and broken promises designed to make voters angry.  In that, he has succeeded and taken the Republican party with him.  As long as he is consistent, he will maintain some support.  One hopes his believers are small in number.  

Friday, April 15, 2022

Whistling In The Wind?  

Amazon's CEO says the company doesn't need a union now that its Staten Island warehouse has voted for one.  He noted the company pays more than other vendors at $18 an hour and employees can deal with management directly.  He also says the company's injury rates are misunderstood.  His comments are a little late now that Staten Island employees have decided on collective bargaining and other warehouses are trending the same way.  The company has been strenuously anti-union since its beginning and is continuing to work to keep it out.  It has denied employee complaints about working conditions and appears set in its ways.  Maybe the best message to employees is that it is listening to what they have to say -- really paying attention -- rather than head nodding and not changing anything.  It would be a start.   

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Tit For Tat 

Russia threatens to deploy nuclear warheads in the Baltic should Finland and Sweden join NATO.  Is it an empty threat or a serious message to prevent the growth of the defense alliance?  Russian communications have been bellicose for months and will likely stay that way as long as Putin is in power.  Putin is flexing the strength of his military in Ukraine and trying to reassemble a semblance of the old Soviet state.  His communications demonstrate a firmness of intention.  The US and EU are taking him seriously and well they should.  His action is bloody and his warfare indiscriminate. Finland and Sweden could face a similar fate should they become NATO members.  It would be a world-changing tit for tat if Russia were to invade them and a looming threat of nuclear war.  No one in the West wants that but it is in the realm of possibility.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Out of Control 

Inflation is still out of control in the US at 8.5% for the month of March. Although President Biden is trying to jawbone the surge down, it is clear nothing he says will make a difference.  There are times when messages fail and the only option is action.  In this case, it is the Federal Reserve's job to raise interest rates until climbing prices settle back.  The Fed can't act quickly enough for the upcoming elections and there is a growing probability that Democrats will be savaged in the midterms in both the Senate and the House.  If that happens, Biden's agenda is finished for the remaining two years of his term.  There are limits to communication and this is one.  The public is demanding an end to high gas prices and surging costs of food and housing, but there is little to nothing the President can do.  Like the rest of us, he will have to wait it out.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Pick A Number 

The mayor of Mariupol, Ukraine, is saying the Russians have killed 10,000 citizens of the city and were cremating them to dispose of evidence.  There is no way of knowing whether the statement is accurate or a number picked out of the air to gain more support from NATO and the EU.  It could be propaganda and probably is. Counting the dead takes time and care, neither of which the town's leaders have while under constant assault.  There is concrete evidence of hundreds who have lost their lives to bombs, rockets and artillery.  That should be enough to sustain the outrage against Putin's military without exaggeration.  Both sides are using propaganda to support their cause, but the Russians are worse.  They have admitted no impartial observers to their ranks.  Ukraine has done so and reporters from the world over are in the country taking testimony from survivors and walking the battlefields.  That is why it is hard to believe anything the Russians claim and easier to accept the words of Ukraine leaders.  

Monday, April 11, 2022

Refreshed, Somewhat 

A week away from news is what is needed sometimes.  In this case, it was all Ukraine all of the time on CNN, the only source I tuned into on vacation.  The news organization seems determined to document every outrage by Russian forces, and there is plenty to cover.  Russia violates human rights with impunity.  Putin and his generals inflict terror on populations to get what they want.  It is a chilling message to the West and one NATO cannot ignore. Add to that the sophisticated disinformation campaign the country is conducting.  It proves that you can fool some of the people all of the time. It is deeply concerning and a warning to countries that believe in a free press as a correction to government.  It is also a reminder that it can happen here as well.  Even on vacation, one can't remain isolated, it seems.  

Friday, April 01, 2022


 I'm taking a week off.  Time to relax and get away.   


The Washington Post is catching flack from irate readers for a mistake in an article about pregnant women and COVID.  The newspaper used the words "pregnant people" in the headline and several times in the text.  It was swiftly pointed out that only women can be pregnant and a vague reference to "people" was dumb.  I'm sure the writer and editor of the article heard from colleagues over that error along with hostile tweets and emails.  If the Post was trying to be politically correct in its use of words, it needs remedial training.  There are times when gender counts, especially when discussing pregnancy.  My guess is that it won't happen again.  

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