Sunday June 13, 2021
 

Leadership By Example

 In Brazil, a country rife with bribery and corruption, the caretakers of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ statue have pledged to become a model of transparency.  As the news story relates:

“The Rio branch of the international accounting firm KPMG has signed an agreement with the administration of the Sanctuary of Christ the Redeemer to ensure operations are aboveboard.
“’With this partnership, Christ the Redeemer becomes an important milestone for establishing ethical relations, committed to values,” Rev. Omar Raposo, rector of the sanctuary, said at the base of the statue.”
One might ask why this wasn’t done a long time ago, but starting is still good and an example to all.  

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Tough Testimony

The CEO of Colonial Pipeline is going before Congress to explain why he paid a ransom to internet attackers.  It is likely to be an unpleasant session and tough testimony.  The company wasn’t ready for ransomware and when it tied up its operations, the company folded quickly and passed 75 bitcoin to the extortionists worth $4.4 million.  The explanation at the time was that Colonial needed to get its pipeline working again to avoid fuel shortages in Mid-Atlantic states and Southeast.  There was panic buying and service stations ran short of gas.  All this will be in the hearing but senators are likely to hone in on Colonial’s lack of systems to counter ransomware.  It is a blackeye for the corporation’s reputation and a PR disaster.  A roasting of the CEO will serve as a warning to other executives to get their companies ready — or else.

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We’re Sorry

Indigenous people of Canada are blasting the pope for failing to apologize for mistreatment and deaths of native children. The pope expressed pain and sorrow but not the words, “we’re sorry.”  The background of the situation were Catholic-run schools to educate young indians in the ways of the so-called first world.  They were forcibly removed from their families and sent to these institutions for a “proper” education and to remove any trace of indigenous language and lifestyle.  It doesn’t help that the Canadian government thought it was doing the right thing at the time and the Catholic Church was complicit in that view.  When hundreds of children die and are interred in a mass grave, it shows a lack of empathy and concern for them by the religious authorities. It shouldn’t be difficult to apologize for the past but something is holding back the pope.  What it has created is a PR blackeye for the Catholic Church in Canada, one that won’t be overcome for a long time, if ever.  

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Betting On A Dream

United Airlines will buy 15 supersonic passenger aircraft from a company that hasn’t built even one yet.  That’s betting on a dream.  The company, Boom Supersonic, wants to fly passengers by 2029, but that assumes it can get certified by the Federal Aviation Commission by then. A big if.  UA has gained a temporary marketing coup by announcing the buy but it won’t last long if Boom Supersonic falls behind its delivery schedule, which it almost certainly will do.  Call UA’s move a publicity success but not a PR one — not yet.  The aircraft has to fly safely before anyone can claim anything other than pursuit of a figment of the imagination.  

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Patrolling

Tesla understands social media and the damage false reports can do.  It patrols the web in China for inaccurate statements about its cars and demands apologies from miscreants.  And, it is getting them.  The company knows false statements that go viral damage its brand and sales.  It turns out some consumers who post lies do it for recognition.  They don’t grasp the damage it can do or they are trying to pull down the company for personal reasons.  What Tesla is doing is essential for every other corporation as well in the internet age.  A difference is that Tesla has remote reporting from each of its vehicles that covers the auto’s mechanicals, the speed it was going and the driver’s reactions.  It has little trouble outing falsehoods.  Most companies don’t have that granularity yet but they need it.  

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Loose Lips

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has stated that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has violated his agreement with the SEC to have his material tweets approved by his lawyers before issuing them.  The agency cites two violations from 2019 and 2020.  Musk has run afoul of the SEC before and that is the reason it signed an agreement with him to monitor his tweets before they were issued.  Apparently that did not happen on two occasions.  Musk is known for loose lips, stating whatever comes to mind whether or not it runs afoul of regulations.  His fans love it.  The SEC and investors do not.  His pronouncements often have a tinge of flackery, promoting what is to come whether it does or not.  The government is not amused by publicity that doesn’t come true because it is stock manipulation. Musk is getting himself into PR hot water and he could be scalded if he fails to pay attention.  He could lose the privilege of tweeting, much like the former president of the US.    

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Two-Faced

The French Open’s tennis officials don’t seem to know what to do with an athlete who fails to attend a post-match press conference.  World star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the tournament because she said her mental health was at risk while meeting the media.  She had previously declined to attend a post-match session after winning her match and was fined for it.  French officials said the player’s well being was of high concern but penalized her anyway.  It was a two-faced move, and the result is the Open has lost the participation of a star tennis player.  The French Tennis Federation needs a better policy and response to such requests.  For now, it looks foolish and has been roundly condemned for hypocrisy.  It has only itself to blame for this PR crisis.    

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A Culture Of Silence

Tulsa, OK is remembering the race massacre of 100 years ago when a section of the town was burned, people killed and dumped into mass graves and a community shattered.   The Greenwood District never recovered from the conflagration, and it is only now that horrors of the day are receiving attention in the media and in local government.  Why the culture of silence?  African-Americans kept quiet out of fear.  City fathers said nothing because of the PR problem it presented.  Generations grew without knowledge of the incident and expressed dismay when they belatedly discovered the facts.  Tulsa now is trying to excavate the mass graves and to rebury the dead into individual sites.  It is the least the city can do.  The stain on the city will not disappear now that it has been revealed.  It is part of the city’s fabric of history and a reminder to the nation at large of the segregation and intolerance that characterized the 20th Century.

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Forced March

Exxon lost two board seats to an upstart investor worried about its efforts to address climate change.  It was a stunning outcome for a company that dominated Fortune 500 rankings for decades.  Exxon’s leadership was confident in its focus on oil for energy and was dragging its feet on responding to shifts in the environment.  It stuck to its knitting at a time when new technologies have come to the fore and petrol is no longer as important a driver to economies as it was.  The change of directors won’t turn the company around right away but it will give a voice in the boardroom to concerns for global warming.  It was a public and humiliating rebuke of staying the course and a PR disaster for the CEO.  


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Bad Idea Multiplied

More states are auditing presidential election ballots six months after the contest was concluded.  It was a dumb idea when Arizona did it.  It’s still not smart for other states to rehash results.  Republicans, under Trump’s thumb, can’t shake loose from the lie that the election was stolen.  The facts and truth don’t matter.  If they look hard enough, they will certainly find fraud where it doesn’t exist.  What this is doing to the reputation of the GOP is incalculable at the moment.  We will know in the 2022 midterm elections whether the party has damaged itself permanently.  While the Trump faithful do not question their allegiance, it is the independent vote that counts the most, and so far, it seems to be poor marketing to ignore them.  At some point, the elephants must let the past rest, but it isn’t time yet.    

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