Friday, May 22, 2015

PR For A Major Culture Change 

This is PR for an ongoing,culture change.  Some day, not far into the future, a car will drive itself.  The public is not ready for it -- yet.  They need to be by time the first robotic cars reach dealerships.  Major automakers are edging into the technology by providing elements of self-driving without offering the whole package.  Thus we see lane guidance, rear driving sensors to prevent collisions, automatic braking to avoid striking another car.  Only a few companies are striving to provide the whole package -- notably Google whose bug-like vehicles self-drive at a speed of 25 mph.  It is interesting that none of the major auto manufacturers have entered into partnership with Google.  That is either NIH (Not Invented Here) or caution.  Google's cars drive 10,000 miles a week and have had 11 accidents -- none the fault of the car.  The idea that one can safely sit in the driver's seat and text, chat on the phone, watch a movie, scan through one's e-mail is still too new to transportation agencies and law enforcement.  But that day is coming quickly.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Osama Bin Laden understood the value of propaganda.  That is why until the end of his life he urged Al Qaeda to continue to attack US targets.  The value of showing US weakness was greater than capturing a city or territory in the Middle East.  The US has been the leader in trying to rid the world of terrorists, and to show that it could not through spectacular assaults was success.  It would provide terrorists with the hope that they could win in the end.  It would demoralize Americans and their allies.  It might convince the US to leave the Middle East as the Soviets did before them.  Bin Laden didn't live to see his wishes carried out, but the files retrieved from his compound paint a picture of a determined enemy.  Instead, Bin Laden himself became a propaganda symbol of the progress the US has made in warring with terrorists. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Ride-sharing services, such as Uber, are causing a collapse in the taxi medallion market.  It's about time, and publicity about medallion holders being hurt is expected.  The dirty secret of medallions is that they forced artificial scarcity.  That caused the price of owning one to rise out of reach of almost all taxi drivers.  Medallions were going for a million each in New York City not long ago.  A driver working 14 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of his life still couldn't afford to own one.  The original idea for shields was to regulate the market for passenger safety and to provide a solid income stream to drivers.  Neither objective worked well, and the artificial monopoly took a life of its own,  One might not like the way Uber operates, but if it serves to bring the cost of medallions down, that will be enough.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Apparently the police warned the manager of a Waco, TX restaurant about having rival motorcycle gangs on the premises.  The ensuing rumble left nine dead and a state of chaos the police had to break up.  Now, 170 bikers are charged with capital murder and the restaurant is shut for the time being.  One wonders what the restaurant manager was thinking.  It couldn't have been good for public relations to have swaggering gang members downing beers among regular customers.  The ensuing melee was a mortal danger to diners who are unlikely to return.  There is a chance that the restaurant will go out of business, and if it does, the company only has itself to blame.  There are times when refusal to serve customers is a matter of safety.  This was one.  At very least, the manager should have ordered that weapons be checked at the door.  

Monday, May 18, 2015


Appearances lend to or subtract from credibility.  That is why this ABC anchor is in trouble.  He should have known that by donating to the Clinton charity he was compromising the perception of objectivity that reporters try to maintain.  He also should have known that failure to disclose the significant sums was putting himself in the crosshairs of the Republican Party's wrath.  So, what does he do now?  ABC says that it stands by him, but by his own admission, he can't report on Republican candidates during this campaign season.  How could such an intelligent individual made such a gaffe?  He probably didn't think much of it when he wrote his checks.  He has been close to the Clintons for a long time.  If he survives this uproar, one can be sure he will be more careful in the future.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fact Checking 

Leave it to political campaigns to turn fact checking into a weapon.  And when the fact checking doesn't go their way, they make up facts to use in TV advertising.  Political campaigners are often people who believe the end justifies the means.  That politicians go along with them says something about the moral rectitude of candidates.  Fact checking should be non-partisan and a tool to get to truth.  It has turned into a cudgel to hammer opponents.  Perversion of purpose makes it unreliable and voters should be wary of claims.  Yet, campaigners will continue to use fact checking as long as it serves their purposes.  Fact checking is a fundamental step in PR and not because we slander opponents.  Rather, we don't wish to be rejected by the media for lack of accuracy.  It is a defensive tool for PR, and that is as it should be for political campaigns.  Too bad it isn't.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What's In A Name? 

It seems the cable television/internet industry is trying to shed its name -- as if that will make up for decades of poor service.  The industry's main conference, previously called "The Cable Show"  is now "The Internet and Television Expo.  It is as if the cable industry suddenly got rid of its coaxial wires strung past millions of homes in the US.  A name change might work within the industry -- although that is debatable -- but it is unlikely to gain much credence with users.  The first step in a new moniker should be a service change -- i.e., better response overall to cable customers.  Were that to happen, a name change might be easier and might actually work.  PR isn't in a name.  It is in action.  The cable industry still has a long way to go to improve customer service.  

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