Thursday, June 25, 2015

Taking Off 

I'm taking time off.  There will be no blogging until July 6.

Too Little, Too Late 

The press is speculating that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey will announce soon his candidacy for the GOP Presidential nomination.  One hopes he thinks it better to let others run.  New Jersey is in a fiscal crisis.  The governor's popularity has plunged and citizens are angry about his frequent absences doing speaking tours.  While working on his relationship with the public outside of New Jersey, he has lost the public inside. However, all politicians running for higher office face the same dilemma -- how to keep those who know you best on your side while courting those who don't.  They have to attend to daily business while spending most of their time campaigning.  It is no secret that the mundane tasks of leading get slighted.  If Christie is honest with himself and his publics, he would announce that he is not running, and he will spend his remaining time in office tackling New Jersey's pressing problems.  But, don't bet on that.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Smart PR 

Wal-Mart has accomplished some smart PR in its decision to stop selling products with the Confederate flag.  It read the national mood correctly and acted swiftly before anyone else could make the same announcement -- notably, Sears.  No doubt that some of Wal-Mart's customers will be unhappy, but more will support the move.  It is also likely that products with the Confederate flag did not make up many of the SKUs of an average store, so it isn't hurting the company's bottom line.  This is one more example of what good PR should be -- actions not words.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Death Of A Leader 

This is a case study of what to do when a CEO dies unexpectedly at a young age.  Employees need time to mourn but they also need to be refocused on their jobs.   HR has to parry calls from companies seeking to recruit away staff. Senior executives need mentoring for how to carry on in the absence of the leader.  A caretaker chairman or CEO needs to step in to keep operations running.  The board needs to launch a search for a successor and review its succession plans.  The company's strategy needs emphasis so the business doesn't drift.  PR should show the world how the company is doing and how it is getting back to normal.  There should be a focus on positive messages and rebuttal of negative ones.  The fundamental theme is that no company should be dependent on one man.   There are such companies, but they tend not to rise above proprietorships, and SurveyMonkey is well beyond that stage.  The company might struggle for a while but that is to be expected.  A new CEO can jump-start the business and help employees put grief in the past.  No one will forget the former CEO but they will carry on.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Making It Up? 

Politicians are already on the low side of the honesty scale, but one wonders if they are allowed to make up quotations that people never said.  Consider this case.  Apparently our founding fathers never wrote some of things attributed to them by book author and politician, Rand Paul.  Or, at least, quotes are misinterpretations of what the Founders said.  This kind of sloppiness earns historians poor marks and public shaming.  It is interesting that, other than this one story, not much has been said to point out Paul's errors.  Are voters uninterested or do they expect inaccuracies from pols?  In public relations, making up or bending quotes is a ticket to aspersion.  Reporters have little time for those who aren't accurate in their dealings with them. Politicians can sometimes get away with such truth-bending, but PR professionals can't.  Does that place us above elected officials?  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Moral Authority 

How far does the moral authority of a religious leader extend to the public?  The Roman Catholic pope is about to find out with his encyclical on the environment.  Already he is getting blowback from politicians, Catholics and others who do not agree with his point of view.  That is to be expected.  There are many who believe the pope has no right nor duty to comment on issues of the day.  This pope disputes that and has been active in pushing European governments on the refugee crisis as well as poverty.  There is a chance that he might go too far and earn the enmity of those he is trying to persuade, but so far, he has worked with care to highlight issues and point to humanitarian needs.  As long as he does that and avoids meddling in political issues, he should be a positive irritant and reminder to the world that there are issues we must address whether we like it or not.  What better definition of moral authority than that?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Boorish Clown 

What can one say about this fellow that is positive PR?   Comedians use him as the butt of jokes.  He has been a long-standing embarrassment to society, a self-regarding egotist, and a man filled with a sense of self-importance.  In nearly every way, he is anti-PR yet he continues to get publicity for himself and his projects and he explains away his failures as the other guy's fault.  There must be a businessman in the puffed shell of a celebrity.  He is worth billions, or so he says.  Unfortunately, he gives business a bad name and is a cartoon of what a CEO should be.  There is room for negative examples in the PR business.  He is one but he is so extreme that it is insulting to a CEO to be warned not act like him.  One wonders how many more years the public has to suffer with him on the scene bloviating to everyone, even those who aren't listening.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Slow-motion Crisis 

The Greek debt default negotiations have been interesting to watch.  Greek politicians have taken the position of "Save me or I'll cut my throat."  They are demanding debt relief without any more changes to the country's budget structure.  As European negotiators have tired of  telling them, that is not possible because the country cannot turn around with the ongoing deficits that it has.  Greece has been at the 12th hour for days now, and it is only a matter of someone pulling the trigger.  The country has until this weekend or it will commit fiscal suicide.  This opens a public relations question.  What publics is a country beholden to? Its citizens or the citizenry of other countries?  The answer would seem to be both but Greece's radical government is stalling on behalf of its suffering people.  That might seem heroic within Greece, but it looks like unrealistic stubbornness elsewhere.  No matter what happens, the country has a reputational issue for years to come.  

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