Thursday April 15, 2021
 

Psychological Warfare

China is conducting psychological warfare against Taiwan.  It is sending fighters and ships into Taiwan’s security zone and calling their intrusions “combat drills.”   China has made it clear that Taiwan is Chinese and not an independent country.  Short of invading the island, China is doing everything it can to ratchet pressure on Taiwan’s government and citizens.  It is regrettable but there is nothing Taiwan’s allies can or will do.  China is simply too strong to fight against on an island close to its shores.  So, China acts with impunity and without regrets.  It cares not at all that it is becoming a pariah in the eyes of the world.  It justifies its actions and moves on.  There is no communication that can bridge the gap between China and the West.  The country has become a manufacturing empire and the US relies on it whether it likes it or not.  

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Interesting Media Strategy

White House communications strategists have hit upon an interesting media strategy.  Use the President sparsely.  He is trotted out now and again for media questions but for the most part, he is away from the press.  He is relying on cabinet members to meet and talk to journalists.  This is the exact opposite of President Trump’s all media all the time approach, which caused outrage regularly.  Why keep Biden in the Oval Office?  It shows the American public he is working, and silence is golden.  This is a risky approach admittedly.  Citizens want to hear from their leaders.  Biden’s media advisers are also protecting him from himself.  Biden is a noted gaffe-machine who misspeaks regularly.  It saves time in walking back his remarks by not letting him make them in the first place.  The nation doesn’t need another liar-in-chief.  The question remains whether the absence of the President will work.  Time will tell.  

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Idle Boast

 A partner of Elon Musk has tweeted that he could create modern dinosaurs if he wished in 10 or 15 years.  The fellow is a neuroscientist and not a biologist.  Maybe he could but it is far from clear that technology has progressed to that point.  Rather his communication strikes one as an idle boast and a bit of hubris.  “Science can do anything it wants.”  Working with living organisms still has unknowns, and some of those might be beyond the reach of a laboratory.  The challenge is that we don’t know without trying, and there are social and ethical limits to what a scientist should do.  We learned from building the atom bomb that some technologies are not a benefit to the world but once leashed cannot be put back in the bottle again.  The only prospect is containment and mutual agreement not unleash its power.  Constructing a dinosaur might not harm humanity but how would we know?  At best it would be a sideshow curiosity and there are other urgent problems to tackle in the world.  

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Down The Middle

The Augusta National Golf Club chairman has hit an issue straight down the fairway, bending neither right nor left.  This was the result of his comments on the new Georgia voting law.  He affirmed the right to vote but he did not comment on the law.  He also rejected calls for moving the Masters tournament out of Georgia.  Predictably, both liberals and conservatives are unhappy with him.  But, what could he do?  The Masters is linked inextricably with the Augusta golf course. There is no way to move it.  Stepping into the middle of the controversy with vocal opposition to the Georgia law could upset members of the club whose annual dues keep it going.  So, he chose a high-level position and expressed optimism that there are ways to work out difficulties.  One can read his words either way — in support of or against the new law.  It’s an example of Delphic communications, and probably the best he can do at this time.   

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Clichés

 As this amusing compilation of interviews demonstrates, tech startups aren’t free from clichés.  They are all doing the same things for employees but boasting about them as if they are unique.  They are aping one another and conforming to unwritten rules for launching companies.  Yet, they want to be one-of-a-kind and to succeed.  One wonders what would happen if a start-up didn’t supply collaborative workspace, open offices, beer on tap, a pingpong table, a game room.  Would the fledgling company have recruitment problems, or would it find talented engineers anyway?  The clichés are checkbox items and one wonders if they make a difference.  Perhaps these companies think it sets them apart as “with-it” enterprises.  Maybe it does, probably not.  Their marketing and communications need more creativity.  

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Firing A Shot

Republican senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, fire a shot at US corporations yesterday by telling them to stay out of politics.  He was reacting to the CEO’s who criticized the new Georgia voter law.  From a communicator’s perspective, this might not have been the best warning.  Corporations have been loyal supporters of the Republican party, and should they change allegiance to Democrats, the GOP will lose a vital source of funding for election campaigns.  It is one more sign that the party is well out of the mainstream of public opinion, and as long as it holds tightly to conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods, it will continue to lose support.  What should Republicans be communicating?  There are responsible positions in opposition that look out for the welfare of citizens.  The voter law is not one of them.  

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Propaganda Works

Why do individuals and governments engage in propaganda?  Because it works.  Some people believe lies even if evidence is strongly against them.  Consider Republicans and the January 6 riot at the Capitol.  Half of Republicans believe the lie that it was a peaceful protest or the work of left-wing liberals.  And, they will go on believing the falsehoods because it plays into their mind sets.  They are sheep following false shepherds and traveling a path to destruction of democracy.  There have other instances of propaganda which have survived through generations — notably, the post-Civil-War canard that the clash was about states’ rights and not slavery.  The problem with propaganda is lies can shape history by turning the public against the facts and truth.  Authoritarians depend on that, and they succeed often enough.  Propaganda will always be a part of communications.  It is up to communicators to respect facts and to avoid it.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

If You’ve Got It, Flaunt it.

The essence of good PR is to communicate about what an organization or individual has done that positions them favorably with target audiences.  It is not making up facts and stories.  That publicity and propaganda.  NASA and JPL are practicing superlative PR with the Perseverance rover on Mars.  They already have 16,000 images of the vehicle landing and operating on the surface.  They are releasing these photos to an eager public wanting to see how the robot got there and what the surface of the Red Planet is like.  The two organizations could withhold these pictures if they wanted to, but they are sensitive to public demand to give the photos wide distribution.  The result is that it has positioned them as two planets’ experts in complex rover technology — earth and Mars.  From a scientific perspective, there is no better spot to be in.  JPL, especially, has its pick of world-class engineers and scientists to construct, launch and land these robots and a budget to make it happen again. 

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

April Fools

Volkswagen pulled off an April Fools prank, which unfortunately went bad.  It claimed in a press release that it was changing its name to Voltswagen to recognize its commitment to electric vehicles.  The media believed the company and widely reported the name change.  It wasn’t until later the company fessed up and pulled the release from its web site.  Reporters were not amused.  They don’t like to be taken in.  Still, it was a good joke and it follows in the tradition of companies, notably Google, that for years announced bizarre things as if they were real.  The media caught on and wasn’t taken in by Google’s fun, but no one suspected the buttoned-up, German company to be able to do the same thing.  April Fools.  

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Space PR

Four civilians are now ready to take the a SpaceX flight in September or later.  They had to pay to do it and the cost was not cheap.  It is the first step to making commercial flights with civilians. a long-sought goal.  Several companies are in development with rockets designed to lift ordinary people into near space or low earth orbit.  The first to do it safely will have much to crow about. It will be great PR for the industry.  One wonders what it will be like once the novelty wears off.  The tenth or hundredth trip won’t be as newsworthy as the first or second.  But, what this will do to open space for everyday individuals will be significant.  Man isn’t bound to earth.  The heavens beckon.  

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post