Friday, March 07, 2014
The cultural fear of nuclear waste is so deep that even a minor incident can spark calls for removing a storage facility from an area. The nuclear industry has a public relations problem that it never has really solved and probably won't. It is a NIMBY business in which there are no safe places to store waste because it is always too close to someone's backyard. Yet, it has fission products with half-lives of hundreds of thousands of years. It has to store this material somewhere, and even if no more nukes are built, there is enough spent uranium in ponds through the US and elsewhere to create a disposal nightmare. It seems that most of society would prefer not to think about it -- as long as it doesn't come here. Sooner or later, the government must confront the problem head-on and by time that happens, there is a good chance of leakage into soils and more serious problems. The legacy of fear is buried deeply in the psyche of citizens and there is no answer for it.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
The regional airline industry has an emerging crisis and reputational issue. It's called crappy pay for pilots. The carriers pay so little that pilots won't or can't afford to work for them. This, of course, means those who do are flying either out of love for the craft or out of desperation. Let one plane plunge to the ground as a result of inept pilot error and the industry is going to be held accountable. The airlines plead poverty for themselves. They say they can't afford to pay better because they need to hold down costs in order to win contracts from major carriers. Something is fundamentally wrong with the business if that is the case. A pilot's skill and responsibility demands better pay than that of a janitor. Local airlines are gambling with the lives of passengers. One wonders why pilots and passengers haven't rebelled yet.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Chevron won a long-standing fight with Ecuador's native peoples by proving a court judgment against it for polluting was obtained through fraud. The case was egregious, but that doesn't help the company much in the court of public opinion. There it stands convicted of fouling the Amazon rainforest. The public case against the company has run on for so long that those who are aware of it assume Chevron was at fault because it took on the liabilities of Texaco, which it acquired. It will take a prolonged effort on the part of the company to prove that it wasn't, and even then, activists won't accept the court's ruling. This is one of those cases in which the company can't win. Granted Chevron might be satisfied to avoid paying a $9.5 billion judgment and could live with the reputation of a polluter. Still, no company wants a black mark against it that it doesn't deserve. Look for the company to play up its environmental consciousness in months to come.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
One tough task for a software company is to migrate customers to newer software, especially if they are happy with what they have. This is the problem that Microsoft has with its 13-year-old Windows XP operating system. It is ending support for the software and wants everyone to move to Windows 8. The way it is going about it has sparked criticism. It has asked its customers to help persuade those still using XP to change over. Its customers not only don't want to do that, they are unhappy Microsoft asked. This has created a PR and customer relations problem for the company. Is there a better way? It is hard to say. Probably the company would have been better off to end support and let customers move gradually as they change machines, but that takes time, and Microsoft is impatient to get on with the shift. However, the company has lost its dominance in operating systems and can no longer tell customers what to do. It must be a humbling experience.
Monday, March 03, 2014
One can accomplish a lot when he doesn't care what others think. Like take over part of a country. The world is condemning Vladimir Putin but he isn't worried. There is little chance anyone will force him out of Crimea. He will find his dealings with other leaders to be more difficult as a result of his adventurism, but he doesn't seem worried about that either. And the people of Ukraine? Who cares what they think? Putin has set Russia on a course of dictatorship and returned the country to a status near that of the Cold War era. The invasion might make for good publicity within Russia but nowhere else. Europe must again be concerned about its Eastern neighbor and cannot rest on the expectation that Russia will continue to ship its gas if it doesn't get its way. Relations have returned to caution and watchfulness, and any semblance of harmony has been lost.
Friday, February 28, 2014
One principle PR holds is never to get too high and mighty because there will come a time when things change. Then, arrogance is rewarded with revenge from those who have suffered under the overbearing presence of the haughty. Take this person. He dominated politics in New Jersey for several years with his bullying, take-no-prisoners style. Then, he slipped with a scandal now called "Bridgegate" when his people shut two lanes to the George Washington Bridge to punish a mayor of a town. Since then, the governor has been on a down-slope, doing damage control, trying to hold back flood waters of bile roaring his way. Had he been more accommodating in the first place, there is less likelihood the political position he is in today would be as severe. Of course, this isn't always true. The President started by trying to get along with Republicans, and it got him nowhere. Still, had New Jersey's governor been more persuasive than blunt, citizens would have been more supportive. Now voters wish he would go away, but there are four more years.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
A medical marvel is always great publicity for the institution that produces it. Take, for example, this case. A surgeon at the Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville Kentucky used a 3D printer to build a model of a child's defective heart so he could determine how to operate on it safely. It was a novel use of the printer and creative medicine. The hospital can justifiably take pride in the breakthrough and the publicity puts it near the forefront of medicine where researchers are building body parts out of human tissue. Moreover, it is good PR because it demonstrates what the hospital and its surgeons can do -- a plus for worried patients and parents. Hospitals have never been slow to take marketing advantage of the breakthroughs produced in their wards. It is tried and true technique and still best.