Thursday April 15, 2021
 

Unmovable Power

The generals who have seized power in Myanmar are unmovable.  They are killing their own citizens who are protesting the coup.  As long as they maintain control over their soldiers, they will continue to shoot protestors until they regain total control.  This is the fate of those who cannot muster an equally powerful response to tyranny.  The generals may well win this time and the next and the one after that as long as they don’t blink and maintain a hard shell of indifference to the cost of human life.  It’s ugly.  But, they are falling back on thousands of years of technique to retain power.  There is no communication between the two sides except at the point of a gun.  As long as soldiers have ammunition, there won’t be.  It is a sad come-down for a country whose people crave democracy.

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Defamation

When a company’s reputation is imperiled by false stories, it might have no alternative but to file suit for defamation.  Legal redress might not clear its name completely in public opinion but it is a point of fact on which to place its claims.  That is why Dominion Voting Systems has levelled a $1.6 billion tort against Fox News for claiming Dominion’s machines had rigged the 2020 election.  Fox’s anchors had amplified the false story and, in Dominion’s claim, made a business decision to continue because it boosted ratings.  It would seem this is an open-and-shut case since abundant investigation showed no vote rigging, but Dominion has a tall order to prove Fox made managerial decisions to stick with the lie.  This will play out over months, if not years, and should Fox lose, it will be a significant blow to its bottom line.  That would be as it should.  No company deserves public lying about its products without retribution.

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Is An Apology Enough?

The owner of the ship that is blocking the Suez canal has apologized for the accident.  It may not be enough.  Ships are stacked in the waterway above and below the container vessel and world trade has been disrupted.  It might cost the Japanese owner millions in reparations if salvage companies can’t refloat the ship in a matter of days.  This is a PR disaster for the shipping company and probably one that had nothing to do with piloting the vessel.  The owners are pointing to high winds and a sandstorm on the day it turned crosswise in the narrow portion of the canal.  The canal pilot lost control in the worst possible spot.  Now, it is an intense 24-hour-a-day race to refloat the vessel and get it out of there.   

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Unforced Error

 AstraZeneca shot itself in the foot with an unforced error in reporting COVID vaccine data to health authorities.  It apparently cherry-picked results to make its vaccine look more effective than it is.  The National Institutes of Health came down hard and publicly on the company.  It created a breech of trust that will be hard to overcome even though the company promises full results by tomorrow.  The question remains why AstraZeneca in a pandemic environment would choose to fudge results. Did they think they could get away with it?  Was it just a dumb mistake?  Any way one chooses to interpret the botch, AstraZeneca doesn’t come off well.  It is a PR crisis for the company.  Its executives must make sure the next data release is meticulously correct, even conservative to avoid another blowup.  One dumb error was one too many.

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March Madness

The NCAA is guilty of running a two-track playoff system — one for men, which is worth billions and one for women, which is denied the March Madness logo and reaps no money at all for the teams.  One would think the NCAA would be a leader in equality for women and men.  But, no.  It places female athletes in a second position when it comes to promotion, marketing, facilities and funds.  Women players and their coaches are complaining, and it has created a PR challenge for the Association, which is now saying it will listen and act accordingly.  Time will tell whether that is true.  But, for every year equality is denied, it only serves to increase the embarrassment for the NCAA.

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Burning Out

Citizens of the world are burning out over COVID restrictions.  They want it to end, to take off masks, to go to restaurants and pubs again, to visit with friends without social distancing.  But the virus is tenacious and France once more has gone into lockdown.  Meanwhile, a senator is blistering Dr. Fauci over mask wearing for those who have been vaccinated. This has created an enormous PR problem for governments around the world.  How do they keep the public conforming to sanitation rules.  People don’t care any longer.  Their attitude seems to be, “Let me get sick and be done with it.”   Health authorities are pleading for citizens to stay the course, just for a few months longer.  Some are, many aren’t.  The world has reached a limit of persuasive communication.  Words are falling on deaf ears, and enforcement is nearly impossible. 

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Fads

Fads are tricky times of mass psychology affecting organizations and individuals.  One can ride them for momentary marketing and communications advantage but they come to an end soon enough.  Then, one is left with proceeding in relative obscurity where the company or individual had been before mass enthusiasm.  There is an investing fad now that is going to end badly for many investors but for the moment Wall Street is pumping it for profit.  That is the SPAC, the special purpose acquisition company.  It is a stock-based shell with a time limit to find and merge or purchase a company.  The shell is not real but for the monies it has raised.  The company it merges or buys might not be real either, but could be a concept, as some current SPAC holdings are.  The SPAC is a fad ripe for fraud and the SEC is looking into them but many investors for the moment can’t get enough of them. They are buying into SPACs with blind greed and they aren’t listening to rational voices warning them away.  Fads overtake conservative thinking and spark gold rush mania.  Marketers and communicators should be wary of them and understand what they are getting into before leaping aboard the rush.

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Greenwashing

Environmental groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against oil giant Chevron.  They allege false advertising on Chevron’s part in its claims to be more responsible in climate control.  Chevron says their charge is frivolous.  The protestors assert that oil companies are engaged in greenwashing, making their products look friendlier to earth, air and water than they are.  The FTC has yet to reply but the situation is potentially a PR crisis for large oil companies.  They may need to increase investments in clean energy by massive amounts to satisfy critics — tens of billions instead hundreds of millions.  This won’t sit well with shareholders who might not see a return right away — or ever.  But, Big Oil is one key to getting climate change under control.  The corporations need to reduce emissions at refineries and in fuel they sell.  That won’t be easy and there is little wonder they are accused of slow-walking efforts in cleaning the environment.  

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Greenwashing

Environmental groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against oil giant Chevron.  They allege false advertising on Chevron’s part in its claims to be more responsible in climate control.  Chevron says their charge is frivolous.  The protestors assert that oil companies are engaged in greenwashing, making their products look friendlier to earth, air and water than they are.  The FTC has yet to reply but the situation is potentially a PR crisis for large oil companies.  They may need to increase investments in clean energy by massive amounts to satisfy critics — tens of billions instead hundreds of millions.  This won’t sit well with shareholders who might not see a return right away — or ever.  But, Big Oil is one key to getting climate change under control.  The corporations need to reduce emissions at refineries and in fuel they sell.  That won’t be easy and there is little wonder they are accused of slow-walking efforts in cleaning the environment.  

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Reputation — Again

 AstraZeneca is having trouble getting its COVID vaccine to market.  Its problem is causing supposed blood clots in recipients.  Once a pharma company gets a bad reputation for its medicine, it is hard to come back.  The onus is on the company to prove that its therapy is safe and effective.  Ireland and the Netherlands aren’t waiting for more data.  They have suspended use of the vaccine as have several other countries.  It now has a reputation for being second best and harmful.  The pharma has a major task to rehabilitate the drug, and it may take months to do so.  

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