Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Educational PR 

What happens when the people on whom you rely to sell your product know little about it?  They won't sell it or they will represent the product badly.  This is the dilemma facing manufacturers of electric cars and their relations with dealers.  Car salespersons have been steering consumers away from electric vehicles and back to gas engine autos.  There are reasons for this. The salespersons know little about electric vehicles, and they can't sell follow-on service because EVs need little maintenance.  There is, in other words, not as much incentive to sell a battery auto.  There is one way auto manufacturers can attack this problem -- educational PR.  That is, getting dealership sales staff into electric vehicles and showing them the advantages.  It is interesting if auto manufacturers haven't done this already.  One wonders about their commitment to the EV.  Then again, it is a new world for builders as it is for sellers and the transition takes time.  Autos have relied on internal combustion engines for more than 100 years, and the engines are not going away soon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Old Style 

This article condemns the payment of journalists in China to run one's news.  It's old style publicity.  Modern publicity started at the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 20th Century with agents who paid local editors to run news stories about the wonderful new invention, the telephone.  Editors and reporters were given gifts and money during the holidays right up to the 1970s when post-Watergate news organizations put an end to such remuneration.  It smacks of the immaturity of the Chinese news organizations that they tolerate such behavior and perhaps, even encourage it because of the low wages they pay reporters.  There is no way of knowing when Chinese media will walk away from the red envelope and meanwhile corporations have to get their news out in some way.  So, they pay.  Earned media becomes bought and paid for news coverage, an ethical dilemma.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Name Association 

Hundreds if not thousands of individuals and organizations have been victimized because of their name -- ISIS.  ISIS belongs both to an Egyptian goddess and the terror group in Syria and Iraq.  The name association between a divinity and the killers is coincidental, but that doesn't make it any easier for those who are not linked in any way to the Islamic State.  Some companies are changing their name.  As for individuals, they might have to do the same.  Part of the problem is ignorance.  Many in the modern day do not know that ISIS was a goddess in Egypt.  Hence, they are incensed whenever they come across the name in modern usage.  Still, that is a small justification for their acts. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tough PR 

It is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain positive public relations when a CEO is rumored to be leaving a sinking ship.  This is the situation that Marissa Mayer of Yahoo finds herself in.  Key executives have already departed, morale is low and Mayer seems to be out of ideas for turning the ailing company around.  If she does leave voluntarily or not, the future of Yahoo will be in peril.  Mayer was billed as the last, best hope of the company, which never made the transition post Google to a mature but growing business.  This is the fate of many internet companies, so Mayer needn't be embarrassed by the failure, but if she is to continue trying to stabilize the franchise, she will need to work on morale.  Now is not a time to be trumpeting the company publicly.  It is the hour when she has to mobilize the troops to storm the hill one more time and see if they can hold it.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Not Our Problem 

The tally is out and the most deadly terror group in the world is not ISIS but West Africa's Boko Haram.  Why then has the group not received the same news coverage and headlines as ISIS?  The answer appears to be that they are exploiting their own in Africa and not working outside of the continent to spread terror.  In other words, it is not our problem.  That's sad because the people of Nigeria are suffering terribly from the group's raids and indiscriminate murder.  Let Boko Haram attack in France, Spain or somewhere else in Europe and the headlines will be there plus the attention of the governments to wipe them out.  But, as long as they stay in West Africa, diplomats can express horror but armies remain idle.  The power of news media coverage is on Paris now, but it could have easily been on Nigeria.  We express sympathy for the citizens of Paris but do we think about Africans?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Costly Lesson 

A celebrity tries to hide something in the internet age.  It costs him $10 million in extortion, and he still can't keep it a secret.  That is the predicament in which Charlie Sheen finds himself.  He finally told the world that he is HIV positive in an interview on national television.  That is what he should have done in the first place.  It would have saved him a pile of cash.  Instead, he is much poorer and one hopes, wiser.  His experience should be a lesson to all that transparency is the better route and outcome.  PR practitioners have long known this, but they are dismissed as often as they are heard when they push for openness.  Charlie Sheen must have a publicist and one wonders whether he told that person of his condition.  I suspect not.  Otherwise, his publicist should have urged him to make an announcement as he ended up doing anyway.  New articles paint Sheen as a troubled person with dissolute behavior.  One wonders if this $10 million lesson will change his trajectory in life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Freedom From Speech 

A prerequisite of public relations is freedom of speech, the ability to take popular and unpopular positions and argue for them persuasively.  That is why this trend on college campuses is disturbing.  One can no longer voice one's opinion, wear a costume or publish anything that might offend a student's view of what is correct.   The prohibition has reached the level of absurdity and has created a generation of students for whom the First Amendment is only acceptable if it fits their values.  What is worse is that campus administrators are bowing to their demands rather than affirming the need for many types of opinions.  College is a time to study a broad range of ideas -- some innocuous, some dangerous and some dated.  Students should finish their studies with a well rounded view of the world.  The sad part is that is no longer happening on many campuses. We're creating a generation for whom freedom from speech is the ideal.

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