Monday September 28, 2020
 

Influencers

Makers of cleaning products are reaching out to food and lodging companies to promote their brands.  It’s a wise move in response to the pandemic.  Consumers see their labels in donut shops and are spurred to buy them in the grocery aisle because if it is good enough for the vendor, it is good enough for me.  This is a powerful source of influence and recommendation.  It appears to be third-party endorsement even though it is the result of promotion agreements between the companies.  As one marketer said, it is great publicity.  The only stronger step would be for the retailers to adapt a brand without input from a company then promote its use.  Either way, it is stronger than TV advertising and print insertions in shelter books.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Hypocrisy

Saying one thing and doing another is poor PR and hypocrisy.  Many companies suffer from it, and high tech is now being called to task.  Silicon Valley has been male-dominated and overwhelmingly white.  Tech entrepreneurs think of themselves as diverse and equitable, but too often they are not.  It never occurs to them that dissident employees might have a point.  They get rid of malcontents for insufficient loyalty, and force remaining workers to drink the Kool-Aid.  All the while they dangle the carrot of riches for those who slave in their systems and endure the whims of founders.  This goes back to the beginning of the PC era, well before the rise of the internet.  Yet, the media fawned over tech CEOS until recently as cracks begin to show.  Now, as reporters follow up negative stories, tech entrepreneurs need better HR practices.  If they can’t do it voluntarily, lawsuits will help.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Does Anyone Care?

CNN fact-checked the first night of the Republican Convention and reported there was more dishonesty than in all four nights of the Democratic Convention.  Does anyone care?  Those opposed to Trump will nod their heads in agreement.  Those favoring him will say it is fake news.  One would hope it would have an impact on reputation and public relations but citizens are so used to politicians lying that they seem to take misstatements in stride.  It would be good for democracy if voters took into account the claims of their leaders, but it is not reality.  Instead, they look at their own circumstances and evaluate statements on how it affects them.  “If it doesn’t hurt my pocketbook, why should I care?”   There is mistrust of politicians for promising more than they can deliver, and voters act when a President, Senator or Congressman don’t produce what citizens want, but that is narrow interest and legislators balance tens of thousands of competing needs.  Some win, most lose, and voters are left with asking, “What have you done for me lately?”

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Ask First

Sometimes it is better to seek permission rather than ask for forgiveness.  Consider this example.  Rio Tinto, the mining giant, blew up ancient aboriginal caves in Australia while expanding an iron ore mine.  It was a black mark on the company’s reputation and earned much-deserved criticism from the government and archaeologists.  What is worse is that the executives in charge received a slap on the wrist from the company — a cut of $5 million in their bonuses.  They knew better.  The issue had been around for some time.  It smacks of management that should be removed.  It is clear Rio Tinto has no respect for native peoples.  Maybe this will generate enough heat that no one will ever attempt such an act again in Australia.  

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Cute

There is always room for a good publicity stunt, even in the midst of a political convention.  Rhode Island figured out a way to highlight its seafood in the midst of a roll call for the Presidential nominee.  It was a cute exposure for the official state appetizer, for restaurants and for tourism.  It didn’t cost much — the expense of a plate of calamari — but it gained millions of views and a social media storm of wit and appreciation.  Rhode Island might be the smallest state of the Union but it punches far above its weight.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

In The Crosshairs

The US Postal Service is in the crosshairs of political and economic debate.  Everyone agrees the giant agency is a budgetary disaster and isn’t competing well with Federal Express or United Parcel Service.  That’s where unanimity stops.  Postal unions insist it is not a business but an essential service for citizens.  Congress should regularly pony up the money to keep it going.  The Trump administration’s Postmaster General wants to run it like an enterprise and stop the bleeding.  The USPS should at least break even.  Both sides have meritorious arguments but they are lost in an election year fraught with COVID-19 worries.  The USPS has been retiring letter sorting machines because first-class mail has plummeted in the internet age.  Unfortunately, those machines are needed to process voting by mail, which more states are doing in response to the pandemic.  Republicans are on the back foot PR-wise in this debate.  The Donkeys are charging the Elephants are sabotaging the upcoming presidential election, and they might be if the Postmaster General gets his way.  Would the heat have been the same in a non-election year?  Probably not.  The USPS is slowly moving toward a package service as its market shifts, but it must continue to deliver first-class mail unlike its competitors.  There are no good answers to its dilemma but in this election, it should concentrate on ballot delivery.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Serial Lies

Some people are pathological liars.  They cannot recognize facts nor want to, and they make up stories as they go along.  Sometimes they keep them straight, sometimes not.  This fellow is a pathological liar.  He has spent years in office lying whenever it suits him.  Strangely, there is a minority of the American public who believe him and condemn attacks on his lack of truthfulness.  It is a curious position to be in.  The majority of citizens have caught on to his prevarications and are infuriated.  Those who continue to support him are equally stalwart.  From a PR perspective, Trump is toast and should go down to defeat come November, but it is too early to make a projection.  He might lie his way out of harm once again.  Historians 20 years from now will have their hands full sorting truth from fiction.  The biggest question of all for them will be how a pathological liar became President.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

The Sound Of Silence

When Presidential candidate Joe Biden formally introduced his VP-candidate Kamala Harris yesterday afternoon, the room was deathly silent as they spoke.  The energy of an audience was missing and the media, the only ones there, couldn’t applaud.  This is a severe penalty of the COVID era and a marketing challenge.  How do you project the excitement of the party faithful and the electorate when they are watching from home?  In spite of the lockdown, Biden and Harris might be forced into some crowded venues to give their campaign speeches.  The internet is good but the two of them need visceral feedback.  They need to know their views are going over with the electorate.  They need to build a body of believers and volunteers who will bring voters along with them.  Trump has few inhibitions, and he will attend rallies if he can get away with it.  By doing the right thing, Biden and Harris might be disadvantaging themselves.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Uncounted, Unmourned

There is an estimate that tens of thousands of small businesses are closing their doors without going bankrupt.  Nobody knows how many because there is no record of them in the courts.  One can only guess.  They are uncounted and unmourned.  It is a reminder that data drives the economy and much of what we do.  In marketing and PR, numbers are at the heart of decisions and messages.  If we can’t count, we have a weak communication that will fail more often than it succeeds.  The nation will learn slowly, if at all, how damaging the pandemic has been.  That will come from samples of empty storefronts that will be surveyed eventually by either the government or research entities.  No one will ever know an exact number, and that’s a pity.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Culture

This story is a prime example of culture and why it takes time to reconcile opposed ways of working.  NASA, cautious and bureaucratic, and SpaceX, entrepreneurial and bold, required years of working together in the trenches to iron out their differences.  The first commercial passenger flight to the International Space Station wouldn’t have happened had not Boeing, NASA’s preferred contractor, not run into trouble.  Employee communications, newsletters, town halls and meetings meant little in the end.  It took teams of engineers meeting, hashing out disagreements, giving a little, taking a little, finding a path forward.  SpaceX today is a mature manufacturer and launcher of powerful rockets that take man into space and soon, to the moon with an eye toward Mars.  It has won its spurs and is a vital part of America’s space program, but it wouldn’t have gotten there had not two cultures found ways to work effectively.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post