Tuesday July 23, 2019
 

The Big Lie

Habitual prevaricators tend to believe lies they tell, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.  Here is a case.  Trump is claiming his internal polling shows him ahead in every state his campaign has surveyed.  Other polls not from his campaign show him well behind.  Trump is not the only one to believe himself in the face of reality.  Over the years I have served clients who paid no attention to market research because they knew better.  They believed in their own big lies, and their companies failed miserably.  Because they rejected evidence, they never saw their demise coming.  They were surprised when the rest of the world had already written them off.  Trump is a special case in that he fails to tell the truth time after time.  He has created a self-regarded alternate dimension in which he is always a winner.  It will be interesting to watch the elections in 2020.

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Losing The Workforce

A struggling company faces a challenge when it loses the confidence and dedication of its workforce.  In order to turn around it needs hard work from employees and not complaints and slow-downs.  This is the HR problem Tesla is facing.  Workers are losing faith in the company and its leadership.  Meanwhile, Tesla continues its struggle to stabilize Model 3 production and shipments.  Elon Musk is taking criticism from many sides.  Wall Street has turned on him and the company.  Analysts are skeptical that the market is big enough for the company to survive other than as a niche maker.  Its stock has swooned.  What the company doesn’t need now is restive employees.  It should launch a communications effort to reassure them of its strategy and execution.  

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Looking For A Market

Boston Dynamics, the research company that builds pedal robots, is releasing its first product, called Spot.  Spot is a yellow and black quadruped canine whose head is a television camera and teeth a robot arm.  The only challenge for Spot is whether the marketplace needs a robot that can walk like a dog and is hard to push over.  The market is unproven and there is no guarantee it is large.  The company has been a master of PR in the years its machines were under development.  It released regularly videos of humanoids and four-legged creatures that walked difficult terrain and resisted the jabs of engineers trying to knock them down.  The videos went viral and the company was much discussed.  It didn’t bring a product to market, however.  It kept developing and engineering for year after year.  Now it says it is ready.  The question is whether the world is ready for it.  We should know soon.

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Unintended Consequences

Sephora, the beauty products retailer, is facing a social media storm that comes from an Instagram mistake.  An online query whether it shipped to Israel followed by another query whether it shipped to Palestine produced a botched answer through no fault of Sephora.

Sephora does not ship to Israel or the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, but in screenshots circulating on social media, Instagram’s collapsed comment layout makes it appear as if the company responded to the question “Do you ship to isreal??” with the statement “We do not ship to Palestine at this time.”"

This produced an instant social media storm with charges, counter-charges, nasty comments and vile language.  Sephora didn’t see it coming.  How could it?  But, it has to deal with the fall-out and quickly.  For one, it has to adjust for the vagaries of Instagram that caused the problem in the first place.  For another, it has to explain again cogently that it ships to neither country.  It’s enough for a social media practitioner to pull hair out in frustration.

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Smart Publicity

Young Russians have no memory or understanding of the notorious Gulags that incarcerated 20 million people under Stalin.  The Gulag History Museum set out to change that.  Rather than writing history targeted to youth, it chose the graphic novel to tell survivors’ stories.  This is smart publicity — reaching an audience through familiar and universal visual media.  The production was done on a negligible budget and completed through fund raising.  It reached a vast audience and generated numerous stories. Most importantly, it educated a new generation about sorrowful and tragic period of the country’s history.  Creative ideas can come from anywhere. Making them real can be difficult.  This is one that survived and deservedly so.

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Too Soon To Declare Victory

This article posits that Joe Biden is only running against himself and not the other 22+ candidates for President in the Democratic party.  But, it is too soon to declare him the front-runner.  There are an innumerable series of PR and publicity gaffes that can occur before the first primaries in 2020.  Biden has been involved in many of them through his career as a politician.  He was looked upon as a joke, and he still must apologize for his excessive touching and hugging of both genders.  At this stage of the race, it pays to run scared and work unceasingly. There is never enough time to be better known, even if a former vice president.  Biden might be husbanding his energy because he is no longer young, but that could well work against him if the electorate decides it needs a vibrant candidate.  There are so many ways to fail that one should ask why would anyone want to be President.  Not only is it a tough job, it is miserable trying to get elected for it.

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Web Site Advocacy

Apple launched a web site to combat allegations that its App Store is a monopoly that hinders competition.  It reads like an advocacy ad one might read in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.  It’s questionable whether the extended screed will change anyone’s mind, particularly those who have had their software rejected from the App Store.  Apple has run afoul of the law already with a Supreme Court case that went against it, and developers have not stopped criticizing the company.  One wonders why the corporation bothered to put up a such a site — one long page that requires extensive scrolling.  It is not an example of good design and as convincing as the language may be, who is going to read through all of it?  The site might be targeted to developers and not the public at large, but even they might question its timing and length.  If it is an attempt to get ahead of the issue, it is lacking.

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NIMBY

Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) is a public relations statement.  It reveals the intent of the speaker and one’s true stance on an issue.  In the case of affordable housing, it demonstrates practical racism, such as this case.  Wealthy Connecticut towns have stalled higher-density building projects for as long as 30 years through use of zoning and citizen protest. The rich don’t want to deal with the poor who are largely minorities.  These are people who apparently believe they are even handed unless building takes place in their communities.  Then, suddenly, it is different.  So, the lower middle class and poor are pushed into communities that exacerbate the gap between have and have-nots.  There is no good way to break down this kind of racism   Persuasion is futile and legal action is the only recourse.  

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Undercut

It is a difficult PR and reputation situation when a successor is undercut by a former boss.  That is what is happening in Germany.  Angela Merkel, the chancellor, has apparently decided that her chosen subordinate is not up to the job of running the Christian Democratic Union.  The CDU has stumbled since Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer took over from Merkel last December.  There was a failed power grab and a botched national election.  Now, Merkel is faced with political difficulty all around and she can’t depend on her chosen one.  So,what are she and AKK to do?  It is too late to try a turnaround although Merkel has apparently decided to remain in office for her full term.  The upshot is a mess for everyone concerned.  The two are fated to live uncomfortably side by side and only when Merkel steps down will the situation be resolved.

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Reputation And Taxation

TurboTax is making a name for itself, and it is not good.  According to this article, the company is tricking members of the military service into paying for filing their taxes although it is supposed to be free.  If true, the company deserves a poor reputation.  Why do corporations persist in the internet age in trying to cheat customers?  They can’t away with it for long and when discovered, they have explaining to do.  The explanations usually ring hollow.  In TurboTax’s case, the company has to reveal why it buried the free page beneath others, and why it intentionally diverted customers to pages with for-pay services.  The company says it stands by its dedication to the military soldiers, sailors and marines.  If it does, it seems to have an odd way of showing it.

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