Friday, August 28, 2015

Maybe Now 

European governments haven't been ignoring the refugee crisis, but they haven't come up with solutions for the tens of thousands seeking better lives in the Eurozone.  Maybe now the negative publicity from this tragedy will spur them to action.  It was bound to happen given smugglers who are operating with impunity.  As long as there were no headlines like this, governments could express alarm and try to seal their borders, but a truck filled with dead bodies brings the tragedy home.  The solution is not to barricade countries but to find ways for refugees to stay home.  That is easily written but difficult to do with wars underway that Europe wants no part of.  Yet, the continuing refugee flow may force the Eurozone's reluctance to engage and get them involved in Syria and Africa.  More incidents like the present one will make neutrality hollow.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hiding In Public 

If you read the Chinese Communist Party newspaper, there is no crisis in the stock markets there.  There is no denial in print.  Rather, there is nothing at all.  This is hiding in public.  A few dictatorships and oligarchies can get away with this kind of sham but it is impossible in democratic countries with press freedom.  The cost of silence is damage to reputation.  Incidents line this can turn the public against the government and create long-term problems from strikes to rioting to a fall in leadership.  The Chinese government understands this.  The mystery is why it persists in silence.  It might be that it doesn't know what to say, and it is trying to fix the problem before speaking.  The problem with this approach is that it might take a long time for the equities markets to stabilize.  Meanwhile, millions are watching their life savings disappear.  It would be better if the government made some public gesture other than an interest rate cut.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Left To Die 

How do you do PR for a business left to die?  This is the conundrum facing Quicken, the personal finance software, that Intuit is selling off.  Quicken was once the face of the company, but with the rise of cloud-based software, it no longer belongs in Intuit's portfolio.  The question is whether it belongs to anyone else, and if so, how should it be marketed?  Apparently as a declining brand, there isn't much in the way of income to be derived from selling the software.  PR might be along the lines of "We're not dead yet."  But that, of course, is a hollow statement for a tool that people rely on for years.  Whoever buys the software, if a buyer is found, will need to ponder next moves carefully.

Monday, August 24, 2015


I'll be away tomorrow and won't post until Wednesday.


Resurrecting a by-gone brand is a tough PR job and none is more difficult than this effort.  Cadillac was long known as the car for the demographic of 65 to dead, and it has had a tough time shaking that reputation.  Today's models compare well to BMW and Mercedes but younger, affluent buyers would rather have the foreign mark.  It is unclear whether moving the head offices of Cadillac to New York City is going to make much difference, especially with design and manufacturing remaining in Detroit.  GM is willing to give anything a try to save the brand, and it has a proven leader in place who insists on Manhattan.  So, it is off to the East Coast.  One wonders why he didn't choose Los Angeles, which is the mecca for auto brands, but he has his reasons and time will prove him right or wrong.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Nightmare Scenario 

What could be a worse scenario for a struggling restaurant chain than to lose its principal spokesperson over child pornography charges?  That is what happen to Subway, the sandwich shop franchiser.  Subway had used Jared for 15 years in every part of its marketing.  He was the face of Subway and its home-grown celebrity.  It is a lesson not to depend on any one individual too much because one can never know what might happen. It should be axiomatic in publicity and marketing that if something can go wrong, it will.  With spokespersons, one should always have a backup or a plan for proceeding without the individual in case a nightmare scenario happens.  Think, for example, if Jared had died young from heart disease or clogged arteries.  That would belie Subway's health claims for its sandwiches.  Subway is not alone.  Other brands have suffered similar meltdowns, some more serious.  Marlboro cigarettes used a cowboy for its image for decades until one dying of cancer came out against smoking.  Nike uses Tiger Woods as its face in golf, but Woods went through a period of scandal, a high-profile divorce and an injury that has left him a back-marker in the game.  One who lives by celebrity can die by it.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Drone PR 

How do you rein in a wildly popular consumer machine?  For example, a drone.  Irresponsible operators have been flying them at airports near landing aircraft.  Other users have flown them over private homes and back yards where they spy on the activity of neighbors.  Still others have flown them over popular venues like Times Square.  The Federal Aviation Administration by law can't control their use, so they must find ways to stop illegal activity without direct regulation.  One way to proceed is to mount a PR campaign on proper and improper drone use.  That will reach users who are unaware of the limitations.  It won't stop those who flagrantly violate the law, but it might reduce incidents of casual users violating air space.  The FAA will still have to find anti-drone systems to catch deliberate misuse of quadro-copters.  Better communications will help and at this point, PR appears to be the only way to control drone use.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


This article is worth reading.  It analyzes the editing and entry-building process at Wikipedia. PR practitioners should have an idea of the iterative procedure used to develop then expand an entry, especially if a practitioner wants to influence the progress of the piece.  There is a growing concern at Wikipedia over the "intrusions" of PR people in the editing process.  Even slight word changes can influence the accuracy of an article.  Having developed an entry myself, I can say that editors want primary sources for nearly everything in an entry.  This means print publications, such as newspapers and magazines. 

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