Monday, April 20, 2015

No Repeat 

Google's social media platform, Google+, has been a failure.  Some are declaring it dead.  The question that has not been answered is why a company that is so successful in search is unable to launch a popular social media site?  There have been plenty of reasons given for it, but it is likely that it is a case of too little too late.  Facebook got there first and won the market share.  Google had missteps along the way from which it has never recovered.  Given that, what kind of PR campaign would Google need to be competitive again?  Or, as with many technology products, is it too late and the company should just shut down the whole operation?  It must be painful for the firm to see its hard work go for naught, but it is the Darwinian nature of high tech for this to happen.  Google might have to content itself with being the largest search company.

Friday, April 17, 2015


It is not often that one witnesses true humility in a public figure.  Here is a rare case.  The Chief Justice could have made known to the court and his fellow citizens who he is, or he might not have shown up at all, claiming privilege of his high office.  He did neither of those things.  Instead, he took his place in the queue and he was questioned like any other juror.  The only sign that he might be someone special were two security officers accompanying him.  That was almost certainly a requirement.   In PR, we spend too much time burnishing the clay feet of clients and trying to make digits look like metal.  It's nice to have a leader who doesn't need it.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

High Stakes 

When the stakes are high, companies spend millions in PR and lobbying to win.  That is the case over the competition to build the new stealth bomber for the Air Force.  The face-off is between Boeing-Lockheed Martin teamed together and Northrop Grumman.  Both sides are using retired generals to make their cases, and they are fighting for a budget of at least $55 billion. The odd part of the competition is that no matter who wins, the victory will be short-lived because the other side will appeal and the bid might be run again.  Winning the right to build the bomber is a long-term campaign with as many twists and turns as a mystery novel.  It should be simpler than it is but that is the way of contracting to the Pentagon.  It will be many months yet before a final decision is made.  Meanwhile, the largesse of campaign contributions will run freely to Congressmen and Senators who are in a position to influence the outcome.  It's not a pretty sight. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Good Stunt 

A dry lake bed, 11 cars and as many drivers produced a good publicity stunt -- a message to an astronaut in space.  This is the kind of creative idea that PR has long been known for, although it is not clear that PR had anything to do with coordinating and making of the message.  The stunt was designed and filmed to go viral, and it has.  Hyundai also has submitted its message to the Guinness Book of Records as the largest message ever made using car tire tracks.  It's a feel-good stunt that works because it is the daughter of an astronaut signalling him in space.  Hyundai has done well by doing good.  Kudos to the company. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Google has announced that it is going to install high-speed fiber to the home in Charlotte, NC.  Suddenly, Time Warner Cable announces it is going to provide six times faster speeds to Charlotte subscribers at no extra charge.  How come TWC didn't offer it before?  This kind of action opens a credibility gap for the incumbent.  If TWC really cared about its users, it would have boosted speed all along.  It won't be surprising if Google takes major market share in Charlotte once it has fiber installed.  It might cost a little more but it is so much faster than what cable has to offer, even after TWC boosts speed, that it is worth it. Monopoly continues to give cable providers a PR black eye.  Perhaps, they should welcome competition to keep themselves in better touch with their markets.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pay Transparency 

The Federal Government and corporate CEOs are in a stand-off over pay transparency -- i.e. the use of a ratio to determine how much more a CEO is paid than the median income of employees.  The government wants to highlight how much more CEOs earn than workers.  Its reasoning is that inequity in pay will  regulate itself eventually for CEOs whose compensation packages are too rich.  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to measure a CEO's annual compensation, especially when much of it is incentive pay with multi-year vesting.  Proxy numbers mix together short- and long-term CEO pay.  Further, it is hard to determine the median income of employees, especially when a company has international operations where pay scales might be much lower than domestic earnings.  So while the PR intentions of the government are noble, they are flawed, and in need of revision.  However, that won't happen unless companies show a willingness to work with the government to determine how best to develop a pay ratio.  That won't happen soon, if ever.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cyber Attack 

Although not stated in this article about a cyber attack drill, there is a role for PR in the event of an invasion.  That comes in for development and transmission of messages about the incursion to the media, customers, suppliers and employees.  The writer states the case implicitly by saying that the company must prepare a media message and train employees in the use of social media.  It is not clear that Deloitte has a PR person in the room with other top corporate executives during the drill, but if she isn't, it is an oversight.  Lawyers and marketers are unqualified to frame an accurate message without hype that is also easily digestible.  The lawyer will come with caveats, the marketer with adjectives.  The PR person should come with an understanding of what the media and public want to know and be willing to fight for it at the conference room table.  It is this connection with the external world that is important once an attack has begun because cyber-criminals take down the connection to the public or steal information of importance to external audiences.  If PR practitioners haven't run drills for what to do in the event of a cyber attack, they should start.

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