Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The US Olympic Committee (USOC) had hoped to steamroll Boston's bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Bostonians had other ideas and USOC heard the public at last. Boston has now been dropped as the official bid for the games. Call this public relations in reverse. The public made known its opposition to the games and USOC listened. Now the committee has to find another city that will welcome the games, and it has little time to do it. In retrospect, Boston's citizens were correct in repudiating the games. They are wildly expensive to host and every city that has done so has been left with huge deficits. The games in Athens nearly bankrupted the country. Why, then, should Bostonians open their arms to the games? Boston's revolt might be the start of a general questioning of the expense of the games and what might be done to restrain costs. Olympics on a budget is a good idea and it is time to try it.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Google is finally giving up on force-feeding Google+ to users of its search and YouTube services. It is facing the fact that it has not nearly enough members and probably never will. For a company that has been wildly successful with its search engine and algorithms, it might be embarrassing to admit it doesn't know how to engage people. Facebook has led the way in person-to-person connection and has both scale and ease of use. The best Google+ can do is to chip away at Facebook's leadership in the hope that its modest service can appeal to segments of the market. Google+ should be a case study. The problem with it seems to be that it never offered enough differentiation in service that users wanted and couldn't do without. It was a resounding me-too. Facebook had the advantage and took it, never looking back. It should be a lesson to PR practitioners. Fast and flexible movers can stave off competition just as Google has done in the search business.
Monday, July 27, 2015
While I was away, this story appeared in the New York Times. It's a case of too little too late to rescue an individual's reputation. When the court document leaked that Bill Cosby had sex with numerous women and drugs were involved in some of these cases, he lost his reputation as America's Dad. The lawyers should have spoken then. Instead, they let the allegations fester and the wound to bleed. Today, Cosby is a tarred man who has lost endorsements and whose career is finished. That might not be so bad because he is older now and already had a stellar time in the public spotlight, but his legacy is lost. He is no longer the wholesome comedian we thought he was. So, he beat the lawsuits thus far, but that isn't saying much. Using a female attorney to plead his case is spin that doesn't cover what he admitted doing.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
I will be away tomorrow and Friday. There will be no posting for the next two days.
One outcome of automated cars has been little talked about -- the fate of car insurance. With a driverless car, the number of times one is in a wreck will plummet -- at least if you can take Google's driverless cars as evidence. Who needs insurance when a vehicle with a never-tired computer traverses the roads? Auto insurance companies are assuredly paying attention to the growth and maturation of telematics and vehicle guidance. Look for them to start giving breaks to vehicle owners who have back-up cameras, self-parking systems, lane watch controls and automatic distance keepers that are already in showrooms. The final step of getting rid of the driver will be the big disruption. Will auto insurance companies go away? Not right away and perhaps, never, but their offerings will have to change along with their actuarial estimates of how often a driver is in an accident. Look for mergers among car insurers in the coming years as fleets turn more and more to automation. Although I am happy with my insurer, USAA, I would be even more content if I didn't have to shell out hundreds of dollars a year.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
It is painful when an institution supposedly built on love and religion erupts into a public fight over worldly matters. One would hope there are still places left on earth where spiritual practices are foremost, and perhaps, there are, but in this case, there aren't. It is hard to say or know who might be at fault here for open warfare between aging nuns and the diocese of Los Angeles. It is knee-jerk a reaction to support the nuns over the bureaucrats, but the nuns haven't been quiet. The net result is scandal, an unseemly fight between two forces that leave the laity to fend for themselves. The newspaper reports the situation with a sense of reality. See these people aren't that much different than you and I. They might have dedicated themselves to God but they haven't let go of their worldly selves. In this case, the newspaper might be right. This case will work its way through the courts and eventually be settled, but in the meantime, the faithful in Los Angeles and elsewhere are being treated to a display of dirty laundry.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Opening an embassy is an act of mutual trust between two nations. That is why this act has significance and is a PR step for both the US and Cuba. Rather than choosing the decades-long standoff, they are now warily relating again. Progress will be slow. The Castro brothers will continue to be communists and their philosophy will continue to dominate the island's view of the world. The US has a decades-long task of rebuilding relationships with the Cuban people, many of whose relatives dwell in the US after leaving the island more than 50 years ago. Generations have grown and passed on since the barrier went up between the two nations. It will take years for the fence to come down and for the two countries to reach normalcy. But the embassy is a first step and a good one.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Puerto Rico is Greece -- a bankrupt nation unable to pay its bills. Unlike Greece, Puerto Rico potentially can rely on the US government to help restructure debt and get out of a hole dug deeply into the earth. Like Greece, however, and Argentina, Puerto Rico has damaged its reputation as a fiscally conservative country. This will make its debt more expensive, and will have investors and rating agencies looking carefully at its financial health. Puerto Rico's mismanagement of its affairs has been known for some time. Now it faces the penalty for it. The question is whether the Puerto Rican citizens are ready to accept restrictions on the country. They can revolt like Greek citizenry but ultimately, they, like the Greeks, may need to accept an onerous bailout -- bitter medicine. This might start an exodus to the US which wouldn't be the first time many have left the island.