Tuesday July 27, 2021
 

By Force

Governments and medical associations are calling for a mandate to force unvaccinated health care workers to get the jab.  The move is occurring from New York to California and is an acknowledgement that persuasion has failed.  All the coaxing, prompting, jawboning, inviting has come to naught for tens of thousands of nurses, doctors, aids and others who resolutely stood their ground and refused.  Authorities are not taking the mandate lightly. There is a worry that some healthcare workers will quit rather than be vaccinated.  And that has been the case but the numbers who have left so far are vanishingly small.  One wonders why this hadn’t happened sooner and an answer is politics.  Republicans were waiting to pounce on any move to force compliance, calling such orders an abridgement of personal freedom.  With the variant of COVID growing madly, governors and mayors are no longer willing to wait.  They have issued do-it-or-else orders.  Communicators take note. There are times when persuasion must yield to the rod.  

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Bipartisanship?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is vowing to move ahead with a Jan.6 riot investigation even if Republicans boycott the process.  The two sides are increasingly nasty to each other.  The GOP is moving to boycott the probe after Pelosi denied two Republican congressmen seats on the committee.  Pelosi has vowed to move ahead with or without the elephants.  The perception is that of quarreling children.  “I’m taking my ball and going home.”  “Yah, we’ll play without you.”  President Biden is seeking bipartisanship in the two houses, but his quest seems fruitless for the time being.  The two sides have taken positions welded in iron and are talking past one another without listening.  They aren’t communicating.  They are posturing, and it is a bad example for the American public.  Communications requires a measure of civility when there is a balance of power.  That is sadly missing in Congress.  

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Bipartisanship?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is vowing to move ahead with a Jan.6 riot investigation even if Republicans boycott the process.  The two sides are increasingly nasty to each other.  The GOP is moving to boycott the probe after Pelosi denied two Republican congressmen seats on the committee.  Pelosi has vowed to move ahead with or without the elephants.  The perception is that of quarreling children.  “I’m taking my ball and going home.”  “Yah, we’ll play without you.”  President Biden is seeking bipartisanship in the two houses, but his quest seems fruitless for the time being.  The two sides have taken positions welded in iron and are talking past one another without listening.  They aren’t communicating.  They are posturing, and it is a bad example for the American public.  Communications requires a measure of civility when there is a balance of power.  That is sadly missing in Congress.  

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Standards

In the tech world, developing a standard that everyone subscribes too, and more importantly honors in development, is hard.  There is always an urge to fiddle, to adapt it to one’s own devices although that makes them incompatible with others’ equipment.  That’s why it is cautiously heartening to see Amazon signing on for an open-source standard for home speakers.   Amazon might not have invented the field but it made it popular and a highly useful device that takes the place of a number of household tools from alarm clocks to weather stations to information resources to music and more.  Amazon’s move is not just good business but smart PR.  It knows what customers need and is willing to give it to them rather than sitting on its technology and refusing to accommodate. 

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‘Fessing Up

President Biden, in whose long political career has misspoken time and again, has ‘fessed up to doing it once more.  This time it was about an offhand remark accusing Facebook of killing people because of vaccine misinformation on its site.  Yesterday, he clarified his statement by saying it was a dozen participants who are harming the unvaccinated public by posting lies on Facebook, and he hoped Facebook would do something about it.  It was the right thing to do, but the press beat up on him anyway, as did Facebook.  He deserves it for being inaccurate.  Leaders can’t afford to spread falsehoods.  We know what happens when they do with his predecessor being a prime example.  So, kudos for Biden admitting his mistake so quickly, but he had better not do it again. 

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Abandonment

Toyota, a major sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics, has pulled all of its advertising for the games and its CEO will not attend the opening ceremony.  This is a stark message to organizers that Japan is not ready for world athletes and the games should not go on.  Olympic officials are not listening, however.  They are plunging ahead into what is becoming an abyss of COVID testing and positive results.  No one is happy — not the public, not the competitors, not the sponsors nor advertisers, not the organizers who are watching their carefully planned games, already a year late, fall apart in the 11th hour.  It is a PR disaster for the Japanese and a costly one as well — tens of billions of dollars spent for no return.  The games are going on because of the sunk cost, but few will attend because of the virus.  Athletes will compete in empty stadia and officials can only watch with deep regret.  

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Pure Publicity

NASA has done it again with a video of a flyby of Jupiter and its largest moon, Ganymede.  The animation of stills is scored to music and includes lightning flashes in the clouds of Jupiter.  It is a beautiful rendition, which humans might never see for themselves given the distance to Jupiter and hazardous conditions of being there.  The scientific value of the video is less than its publicity worth.  It is a reminder to the public once again that NASA is doing extraordinary work in deep space and has the images to prove it.  NASA in its existence has become a master of publicity and public relations.  It has capitalized on its many missions, the space station, the Hubble telescope, rovers on Mars, astronauts and more.  It has built a massive body of scientific research and discovery.  And, because it must fight annually for its budget, it has been a relentless communicator to the public to gain support.  The agency is a credit to America and will go down in history as one of the most successful government organizations ever established.   

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Public Interest Publicity

The US Surgeon General is asking Americans to combat misinformation about COVID shots.  He says errors and lies about the vaccination and virus are a critical danger to citizens. His call is a recognition that health authorities have gone as far as they can to persuade reluctant individuals to get the jab.  Now it is time for personal influentials to step up and deliver the message.  It is disturbing that credibility in health authorities is so low among many Americans.  They won’t listen to their doctors nor to government nor to any expert opinion.  Talk about forcing or penalizing them to get vaccinated have spurred outrage.  “The authoritarian state is infringing on my personal freedom.”  The Surgeon General’s efforts at publicity in the public interest might reach some skeptics but it is unlikely to be many.  Those who resist will only accept the message if they become ill and are hospitalized. 

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Early Obit

This news organization wrote an early obituary for Pope Francis, confidently predicting he won’t last another five years and reciting his achievements and failures in his job.  One must admire the chutzpah if not the accuracy of the article.  The best revenge for the Pope is to outlast the predictions and continue to do his job.  There is little a media relations practitioner can do to stop such articles.  The reporter has the freedom to speculate, and so he has.  It takes patience and serenity to endure and continue on.  A leader should put Monday morning quarterbacking in perspective.  Anyone can be a critic without the pressures of accomplishing anything.  

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No Avoiding The Issue

Sometimes there is no way to duck an issue and communications of intent are forced upon a leader and an organization.  That is what is happening to the Biden administration now with the Cuban demonstrations.  Biden wasn’t ready to deal with the growing hunger and destitution on the island nation.  He left American sanctions in place from the Trump era.  Now he has to decide how to deal with Americans of Cuban descent who want freedom for the island but he has to thread the needle without looking like he is caving to the communist leadership who are blaming Yankee imperialism.  There might be no good answer but a series of postures that look like he is concerned without doing much.  Cubans are a large voting block in South Florida and they are Republican. If Biden says the right things, he might win some Cuban American support in 2022, but that will be hard to do. The Presidency is a stressful job.  

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