Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Change And Inertia 

Chief Marketing Officers are complaining that they are supposed to measure everything in marketing but they don't have tools or authority to do it.  It seems company executives want measurement but they aren't willing to change behaviors to get it.  Welcome to cultural inertia.  Public relations practitioners are intimately familiar with bone-deep reluctance to adapt to shifting environments.  Too many of us are dismissed as press release factories, incapable of advising managers on larger issues.  An organization's leadership might not have gotten counsel from the PR practitioner before, so why trust him now?  This circular argument keeps PR in a cubby writing ledes.  CMOs.on the other hand, are supposed to be at a level where they can order compliance, but in reality, they can't.  They must obtain cooperation from multiple departments in addition to their own and time spent building credibility is onerous.  Change comes glacially, and it might prove too slow for CMOs to keep their jobs. Inertia frequently wins, especially since mid-level managers needn't do anything different to keep their jobs. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Celebrity Comes -- And Goes 

In the news this morning a story about President Obama on the stump in Maryland before an audience that was decreasing as he spoke.  There may have been many reasons for people leaving, but Obama must be aware that there was a time not long ago when voters would queue to hear him and would cheer until hoarse.  The lesson here is that if one depends on celebrity to make his way, he should be ready for the day when the public's attention wanders to something else.  Only a few performers have mastered the art of renewing themselves constantly in order to stay in the public eye.  Among politicians, there aren't many who can command a camera and an audience whenever they want it.  When they do, they become tiresome in time, and one wishes they would go away, give it a rest, step down... shutup.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Peril Of A Poor Reputation 

Comcast, the cable TV company, is learning the fallout of a poor reputation.  The city council of Worcester, MA not only said no, but "Hell no!" to Comcast's petition to serve the town of 180,000.  This isn't going to hurt Comcast's bottom line, but it must sting to have verbal brickbats thrown at company representatives.  Were I an employee of Comcast, I would urge management to mollify the Council and to implement good service to the town. Having been a Comcast subscriber for a number of years, I didn't have much to complain about, but my family did.  Outages were frequent and cut into my wife's business and my daughter's study time. Comcast's system was unstable, even with upgrades.  Today we use Verizon and have no complaints.  Verizon has its own issues, but not when it comes to internet delivery.  This is a reminder that reputation is paramount.  Reputation is hard to win and easy to lose, and one can never rest in providing good service.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PR Disaster 

The Center for Disease Control has a PR disaster on its hands after a second Dallas hospital worker came down with Ebola.  The CDC had projected control of the situation, which proved illusory.  Now it says it will station one of its officials at any hospital in the US caring for Ebola patients.  It probably should have done that at the beginning of the situation.  It is unclear how nursing staff and other workers are contracting the disease.  All we know is where.  The CDC needs to examine hospital procedures and their implementation minutely to determine how the virus is slipping through the prophylactic barriers.  It might not be easy to find the breakdown and it might be something simple that no one has thought about until now.  Either way, the CDC has a distance to go to win back its reputation for protecting Americans against disease. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Attack, Attack 

There appears to be no limit to the attack ads politicians aim at one another.  Consider this one.  A disabled candidate confined to a wheel chair is no safer than anyone else in eyes of the opponent. But, the public is another matter.  If voters conclude a politician has gone too far, they will vote against rather than for the attacker.  From a PR perspective, attack ads are tricky and not that helpful.  One wants to build a relationship with a candidate and not be regaled with the failings of the other side.  Citizens want to know what a candidate stands for rather than not-the-opponent.  People want to like a politician rather than tolerate his or her bomb throwing.  But politicos continue to use attack ads because they believe they work, and maybe they do to a degree.  But, don't be surprised if the public stops listening out of disgust.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Culture Change 

The auto industry, an engine of economies around the world, is facing a culture change with nary a clue how to handle it.  The shift? Teenagers are no longer eager to get their licenses, to drive and to shell out for a car.  Blame for this has been placed on social media but that isn't necessarily so.  Many factors might be a part of the change, including the cost of gas, the initial price of cars, high insurance rates and more.  But whatever the causes, the outcome is harmful to the industry, which depends on nurturing a new crop of drivers annually.  What kind of PR program does the industry need to encourage teenagers to get behind the wheel?  There probably isn't one message nor one program but several.  Hanging out with friends is probably not part of the communication because teenagers spend hours a day on social media meeting and talking to friends.  Adventure might be part of the answer.  Love of the automobile is probably not.  Teenagers consider cars just a mode of transportation and have little sentiment for the curves and eye-catching design of sheet metal.  What is needed now is an in-depth study of this new public and how to relate to them. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Stepping Into It 

A nurse caring for the now -deceased Ebola patient in Dallas has come down with the disease.  The Center for Disease Control proclaimed publicly that the hospital failed to follow protocol.  This has ignited a backlash of criticism against the CDC and the care of Ebola patients.  Some say US hospitals are not equipped or trained to handle the disease.  The CDC says any hospital following the right procedures should be able to handle an Ebola patient.  Let one more nurse in Dallas come down with the disease and the CDC will have a major challenge on its hands.  Should it, as some critics said, set aside a hospital in each city and region to handle Ebola patients after rigorous staff training?  It will be hard to avoid that advice if another nurse or doctor in Dallas with access to the patient becomes ill.  It is more than a PR crisis for the CDC.  It is a systemic situation in which US hospitals have been found wanting, and it will require wholesale changes in operations to bring them up to the standard for handling rare diseases. 

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