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“[Putin] does his own PR,” Angus Roxburgh, who worked on the account from 2006-2009, told the Daily Beast. “I can honestly think of nothing that Ketchum has ever done that has actually improved Russia’s image.”

“Our work continues to focus on supporting economic development and investment in the country and facilitating the relationship between representatives of the Russian Federation and the Western media,” a Ketchum spokeswoman told The Hill. “We are not advising the Russian Federation on foreign policy, including the current situation in Ukraine.”

That comment was made by Ketchum Public Relations after the Russian occupation of Crimea, and before last week’s surface-to-air (SAM) missile destruction of a Malaysian 747 (MH17) with nearly 300 innocent men, women and children on board.

ukrainianrebels

Here are some questions for Ketchum, a division of Omnicom, that are based on the cumulative impact of Putin’s invasion, the attack on a Malaysian 747 and subsequent cover-up activities:

When is Russia’s behavior just too much for your firm, prompting Ketchum to jettison your $55 million (and-counting) client?

Obviously an unprovoked invasion and a premeditated downing by Putin’s proxies of a defenseless airliner is not enough to trigger a termination of an agency/client relationship.

What will it take? A thermonuclear exchange?

Here’s another interrogative: What happens when a lucrative client (e.g., Russia) doesn’t give a particle about public relations? Do you still offer your best-and-brightest PR advice when your “client” will do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, PR consequences be damned?

Ketchum Has Some Explainin’ to Do?

“We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.” – Vladimir Putin in his Ketchum placed New York Times op-ed, Sept. 11, 2013

putin2

Ketchum is not advising Russia about foreign policy? Really? Any bridges that you would like us to buy?

A plain English reading of the Ketchum placed New York Times Putin op-ed is exclusively foreign policy, particularly the opposition to the United States’ stance toward Syria. The op-ed had nothing to do with “economic development and investment.”

Ketchum, much like its problem-child client, Russia, has some explainin’ to do.

Does the PR firm really think it’s making a difference when it comes to Russia’s brand led by former KGB-chief Putin?

Wonder how Ketchum would explain gulag re-openings, and resumption of forced deportations to Siberia? And who knows for sure that these activities are not already happening in 21st. Century Russia.

russia1

We do know from quantitative research that Russia’s brand is sinking fast.

According to Pew Research, Russia’s unfavorable views have jumped 29 percent in the United States, and by 20 percent in the European Union in the past year. Invading countries and having your paw-prints all over shot-down airliners is not good for your national brand.

It’s particularly noteworthy that Russia’s brand is down 27 points in Poland. Yes, the same Poland that suffered for decades under heels of Russian jackboots.

Cold War II?

“We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” — Vladimir Putin in his Ketchum placed New York Times op-ed, Sept. 11, 2013

The very same Pew Research survey demonstrates a massive negative shift in U.S. respondent opinions about Russia in the past five years. In 1999, 27 percent saw Russia as unfriendly; that figure rose to 44 percent this past March (before the downing of the Malaysian 747). Five years ago, 5 percent viewed Russia as an enemy; the March 2014 result was 24 percent.

Conversely, 44 percent regarded Russia as friendly, but not an ally, in 1999; that figure plummeted to 21 percent this past March. Conceivably the result is even lower now.

Assuming that Putin is aware of these figures does he even care? Or does he want to be seen as the macho hombre that restored greatness to Russia regardless of the consequences. Does he yearn for the good ole days of the Soviet Union? Notice these questions have zero to do with “economic development and investment.”

putin

For Ketchum, which preaches a commitment to corporate social responsibility or CSR, the firm is tied to a client that is a proverbial loose cannon. Putin’s Russia is becoming America’s adversary once again. Is Cold War II already here or just around the corner? Almost DailyBrett is not big on sequels.

Yes there are international PR firms that take money from tobacco companies, despite the fact that 400,000 Americans die annually from tobacco-related diseases, more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, drugs and fires combined according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If PR firms can represent tobacco companies with straight faces, allowing them to participate in the marketplace of ideas, why can’t a PR firm represent invading and (indirect) missile-launching Russia?

These entities (e.g., Big Tobacco, Big Russia) pay big bucks to tell their stories, even if they really don’t give a particle about public relations.

After all, God created all clients equally.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/07/18/russia-has-a-major-pr-problem/?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/17/U-S-Public-Relations-Firm-Bags-55-Million-Representing-Putin

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/ketchums-new-client-in-1938/

http://news.msn.com/world/us-outlines-case-against-russia-on-downed-plane

http://news.msn.com/world/us-vice-president-biden-says-putin-has-no-soul-new-yorker

http://www.ketchum.com/

http://www.theonion.com/articles/who-is-vladimir-putin,36515/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=Pic:2:Default

http://news.msn.com/world/us-no-link-to-russian-govt-in-plane-downing

http://www.ibtimes.com/malaysia-airlines-hired-putin-pr-agency-after-mh370-disappearance-1635740

 

 

 

 

 

Quick question: To benefit society is it better to donate $1,000 to the United Way or buy about five shares in Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) for the same amount of money?

Earns Tesla MotorsUnitedWay

Before you answer, please be reminded this question is not about pure, unmitigated, unadulterated altruism of the giver or investor.

Those who contribute to non-profits (e.g., United Way is one of literally thousands) in many cases are doing so to generate a personal tax deduction, which not inconsequentially adds to the federal deficit approaching $18 trillion.

Conversely, those who invest in corporate shares are doing so in hopes that the stock increases in value, something along the lines of buy low, sell high. This action does not sound charitable in the least … but in some cases it may be just that.

To top it off, a successful buy-low, sell high-action triggers a profit and with it tax liability (either capital gains or personal income tax depending on the timing of the transaction). These transactions lead to greater tax revenues for the feds, states, counties and municipalities.

Back to the basic question: Is it for the betterment of society to donate to a non-profit rather than to invest in visionary companies?

The answer may be surprising.

Non-Profit vs. For-Profit

Certainly, the United Way is not the only non-profit doing good on Planet Earth.

And just as certain, Elon Musk’s battery-powered automobile innovator/manufacturer, Tesla, is not the only global company with a spiffy idea or two.

The Alexandria, VA-based United Way with 1,200 local offices with a reported $103.2 million in assets and $94.2 million in net income provides essential support services to the less fortunate nationwide…and that is as Martha would say, “A good thing.”

Keep in mind when these big numbers are being thrown around, some in power may try to dip into the till. That is exactly what happened in the 1990s when United Way CEO William Aramory defrauded the charity according to a 53-count federal indictment to the tune of $1.2 million. He spent six years in the slam.

The United Way appears to have fully recovered from the PR debacle, and has partnered with the National Football League and others to assist those who need help the most.

Many multi-national corporations have earned near universal disdain for excessive CEO compensation, selling sinful products (e.g., NYSE: MO or Philip Morris), practicing “Green-Washing,” “Pink Washing” or “Astroturfing.” No wonder there were protests/reactions from “Occupy Wall Street,” to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and many, many others.

And yet, there are companies that are sincere about maintaining both their fiduciary responsibility for shareholders and employees, and corporate social responsibility for workers, communities, regions and yes, the planet.

Companies on a Mission

“If you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.” — Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie in her novel, Mrs. Dymond (1885)

University of Oregon business professor Michael V. Russo wrote Companies on a Mission about more than a handful of enlightened corporations that have demonstrated they can be good citizens, while pursuing a profit as mandated by fiduciary responsibility.

lohas

In writing his book, he said these companies doing good for communities and the planet were drawing interest from at least a portion of the LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) consumer market segment, estimated at 43 million Americans in the economic downturn year of 2009. Conceivably that number has grown as the economy continues its stubbornly slow recovery.

Are we daring to think differently in suggesting that investing in shares and/or buying the products of these forward-looking companies is the equivalent of teaching a man how to catch a fish?

And are we merely giving a man a fish, if we donate in a well-meaning non-profit. That’s exactly what Almost DailyBrett is pondering in writing this epistle.

Please send the slings and arrows my way.

NUMMI Comes Back to Life

In a recent 60 Minutes piece on Musk’s battery car builder, Tesla, and privately held rocket-ship innovator, SpaceX, CBS included footage of the once-shuddered/2010 reopened NUMMI plant in industrial Fremont, California. There are now than 1,000 workers building non-polluting Tesla battery-operated cars at NUMMI.

teslanummi1

 

Palo Alto-based Tesla employs nearly 6,000 (and this figure does not include in-direct jobs in the form of suppliers, partners, distributors, resellers, butchers, bakers and candle stick makers).

The $2 billion top-line and $456 million bottom-line company has attracted more than $26.7 billion in market capitalization or market value (based on the present stock price).

The key to building more of these vehicles, which do NOT contribute to climate change, are the availability of ion-batteries with acceptable ranges and reasonable price points. Tesla will soon announce the location(s) for its ion-battery “Gigafactory.” We can rest assured the Gigafactory or Gigafactories will directly employ hundreds and indirectly employ thousands more, using the tried-true indirect-to-direct employee ratios.

Bill O’Reilly once called Tesla a “game-changer” as the way we think of automobiles is changing. And naturally, Tesla is attracting competitors into this space (z.B. Bayerische Motoren Werke oder BMW).

Back to the basic premise of this exercise: Are there instances in which the purchase of stock shares in (gasp) a corporation do more for the economy and the planet than making the traditional charitable contribution?

That seems to be the case in at least one instance, if we dare think out of the proverbial box.

Almost DailyBrett Note: The author of this blog owns slightly more than 100 shares of Tesla. Readers considering investing in Tesla would be well advised to review Tesla’s financials, stock performance, analyst reports and maybe even consult a financial advisor. My knowledge of Tesla is based upon published reports, publicly available information/data and of course, the 60 Minutes piece.

http://www.unitedway.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Way_of_America

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/only-in-america/

http://www.teslamotors.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Factory

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tesla-and-spacex-elon-musks-industrial-empire/

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/give_a_man_a_fish_and_you_feed_him_for_a_day;_teach_a_man_to_fish_and_you_feed_him_for_a_lifetime

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NUMMI

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/07/17/tesla-motors-inc-california-is-back-in-the-race-fo.aspx

 

 

 

 

Did I hear this right?

A devoted wife was essentially ordered by her narcissistic husband to deliver via c-section (e.g., major surgery) her baby four days early in order for the offspring to be born on the birthday of one, Jim Morrison.

jimmorrison

 

The presumed thought-process of the selfish father: “My daughter will forever share her birthday with ‘Mr. Mojo Risin.’” The emphasis is on the first-person singular: “My.”

The mother-to-be was not pleased, but ultimately relented. The  Boomer family’s male OB/GYN thought the idea was really cool.

The baby fortunately was born relatively healthy and happy. Most of all, the narcissistic father of the “Me Generation” through a raw exercise of personal power, and a selfish disregard for the opinions of others, attained what he wanted: A December 8 c-section/birth.

If the baby had been born as scheduled four days later (December 12), she would have shared a birthday with “Old Blue Eyes,” Frank Sinatra. Enough said.

Back to the Jim Morrison birthday c-section: What was the purpose of this trivial and potentially dangerous procedure to the health of the mother and the daughter? One and only person was personally delighted, but in the long run will he ever be totally satisfied? The unrealistic demands will just keep on coming. And most likely there will be no reciprocation offered in any way, shape or form.

morrisongrave

Maybe the mother and daughter will be required to make a pilgrimage to Morrison’s final resting spot? Springtime in Paris?

As it turns out, the youngest daughter also has the same birthday as Kim Basinger, Sammy Davis Jr. and Ann Coulter.

One can only imagine, if Mr. Y-chromosome demanded the c-section be performed on Mick Jagger’s birthday, eight months later on July 26. Wouldn’t it be easier to hold out until December 18  to accommodate Keith Richards’ birthday?

Scar of caesarean section

The real question that comes to mind: What kind of husband demands that his wife hurry up or delay a C-section in order to accommodate the birthday of a rock legend?

“Men Need Better PR”

Walking the halls of the Office of the Governor in Sacramento back in the days when it was “Morning in America,” I was confronted out of the blue by our scheduling secretary.

She was not upset with the author of Almost DailyBrett per se, she was having difficulties with the testosterone-laden gender and needed to unload her frustration.

One could surmise that her anger was compounded by the presence of obsessed males of the Baby Boomer or Me Generation.

Without any further ado, she stated ex-cathedra that men needed better PR. She offered no rationalization, just assuming I would instinctively understand her thought process. Having got this matter off her chest (no double entendre intimated here), she proceeded on with her business.

Even though this exchange was a mere nano-second of my life, I always remember this gender-specific  pronouncement and in many ways one has to concur. Yes, the most important public relations are personal public relations.

Ubiquitous Narcissism

Even though the author of Almost DailyBrett has never taken a psychology course, and most likely never will, he does detect greater societal attention to the subject of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This affliction touches both genders, but for this discussion let’s just focus on “Mr. Light My Fire.”

narcissus

Does this mean NPD is ever-present with male Me-oriented Baby Boomers born after World War II or from 1946-1964? Let’s leave that question to those with a higher pay grade.

Back to the question of a mother, a c-section, a daughter, Jim Morrison and a NPD father, clinical psychologist Dr. Craig Malkin identified some of the characteristics of rampant narcissism. Three immediately jump out at you:

1.) Idol worship (e.g., the lead singer of the Doors)

2.) A high need for (ultimate) control

3.) A lack of empathy

There is also a  fourth characteristic that comes into play: The NPD-type will take immediate and long-standing umbrage to anyone and everyone who points out even the most-minute human frailty.

Let’s not forget that Baby Boomers and the X-Gens that followed through the fruit of wombs and issues of loins gave birth to the Millennials, born after 1980. Some have praised them for being civic-minded and others have derided them for generation-wide narcissistic behavior.

Having worked in both politics and big business, the ones that emerge to the top in these tough professions have a highly inflated opinions of themselves, the majority of whom are men. And yet not all of them display all of the symptoms of NPD.

The best of them (and I was fortunate to work for two of them) certainly had the obligatory ego to withstand the inevitable slings and arrows that comes from being at the top. What was most impressive was they insisted on eschewing the first-person singular: The “I,” the “Me” and the “Myself.” This song was not about them.

Instead, they mandated that all communications whether verbal or written, regardless of the technology, utilize the first-person plural: “We, Us and Our.” Yep, we were a team with a leader who was part of the team. This approach is healthy.

Without expressly stating it, they were also calling for the adherence to “The Golden Rule,” essentially treating others the way one would want to be treated.

Thinking back to NPD Mr. Jim Morrison Birthday C-Section, there is no first-person plural even though we are discussing what was once a complete nuclear family, and certainly no concept of The Golden Rule.

Instead, there was only “Me, Myself and I,” and Jim Morrison too.

Almost DailyBrett Note: The above story is true. Specific details including the particular rock icon and corresponding birth date have been changed to protect family privacy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Morrison

https://www.thedoors.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_generation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesarean_section

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obstetrics_and_gynaecology

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/05/millennials-the-greatest-generation-or-the-most-narcissistic/256638/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Fox Blondes

There has been ample criticism about the mere existence of “Fair and Balanced” Fox News since Rupert Murdoch debuted the new network in 1996.

Today, Fox is the undisputed cable leader, easily beating Melba toast CNN and left-oriented MSNBC by wide margins according to the A.C. Nielsen ratings for 50-consecutive quarters.

foxblondes

To provide  balance, Almost DailyBrett needs to point out that all cable news networks, similar to the Big Three networks of ABC, NBC and CBS, are being duly impacted by the greater choices of content associated with Web 2.0 or social, mobile and cloud.

Despite the overall decline, Fox remains numero uno and shows no signs of going away. Fox News president Roger Ailes knows a thing or two about supply and demand.

To the vast majority of center-right Americans, the perception rightly or wrongly was U.S. legacy media (e.g., NYT, Wash Post, Big Three Networks) tilts left of center, reflecting an east of the Hudson River mindset. There was a void to be filled, a different network that would indeed play in Peoria … Fox News.

Media Monopoly Broken

There is little doubt that Fox News leans right during its prime-time hours, particularly Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, less so with Greta Van Susteren. During daytime and early evening news hours, Fox will state ex-cathedra that it is fair and balanced.

The reaction during the past 18 years to the loss of total hegemony, when it comes to a particular philosophy setting the agenda, has been varied from feigned indifference, to charges and allegations, to announced boycotts, to playing along because of Fox’s impressive ratings, to attacking the demographics of the audience, and recently to mocking the hair color of Fox News’ female talent.

Employing the Kübler-Ross model for the five stages of grief, one could conclude that those lamenting the loss of media monopoly, have moved from anger, denial, bargaining, depression, but are still short of total acceptance.

In some respects Fox News is the Israel of American cable television. Fox has occupied a geographic position once commanded by the Dan Rathers, Tom Brokaws and Brian Williams’ of the world, and not only does it refuse to budge … the network is getting stronger.

And now the same crowd that celebrates broken glass ceilings and decries a “War on Women” seems to be resorting to chiding nine (or more) very talented women commentators on Fox, who also happen to be attractive and blonde.

Rock Center with Brian Williams

Come to think of it, what color is Chelsea Clinton’s hair? Yes, the question pertains to the very same Chelsea who “reports” for NBC News for 600K annually. No one seems to complain about the hue of her locks, but of course her mother is running …

Blondes, Brunettes and Redheads

What is it with our society that when we are referring to hair color we are only referencing the fairer gender? Do we care that George Clooney is a brunette, Brad Pitt is blonde and “Die Hard” Bruce Willis is follicly challenged?

Seems silly to even ask the question.

Switching gears, hair color is a differentiator when the subject comes to women. And then comes the viral stereotypical photo of nine Fox blonde women with a thinly veiled charge that each of them is one taco short of a combination.

One blogger wrote (not me): “The women on Fox, whether they be anchors or guests, are quite different from the women found on other news channels. They wear a lot more make-up. They are a lot more, shall we say, blonde.

“This holds true as well for their behavior, especially when interacting with men at Fox News. There’s a very strange dynamic at work between the men and women of Fox News. The women laugh, giggle, and say silly things. The male host condescends and says that the women are wrong.”

Women wear “make-up, laugh, giggle and say silly things”?

Almost DailyBrett did NOT write that and NEVER will write sexist commentary.

The critics seem to suggest that Fox is somehow objectifying attractive, bright, competent and blonde women by hiring them and putting them on the air. What happened to the notion of breaking through patriarchy’s glass ceiling?

Or maybe the issue here goes beyond the loss of a media monopoly. Could these women working for a center-right network telegraph something more significant, the potential loss of women as always reliable and dependable voters?  What would happen if the “gender gap” closes and disappears?

Maybe we should be saluting these women for what’s in-between their ears and not commenting on the color of the locks on their respective heads. And let’s drop the sexist commentary. If a woman is good enough to work for Fox, CNN, MSNBC or even the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams let’s salute them and hope they all make as much as Chelsea.

Heck one of them may be president someday, and even she may draw silly charges based upon her make-up and hair color.

http://my.firedoglake.com/inoljt/tag/fox-news/

http://www.foxnews.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_News_Channel

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/01/q2-cable-news-ratings-msnbc-cnn-fox_n_5548836.html

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/q2-2014-cable-news-ratings-fox-news-hits-50th-straight-quarter-at-1/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Ailes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

 

 

“There in the floodlit night, jammed together like sardines, in one massive formation, the little men of Germany, who have made Nazism possible, achieved the highest state of being the Germanic man knows: the shedding of their individual souls and minds – with the personal responsibilities and doubts and problems – until under the mystic lights and at the sound of the magic words of the Austrian they were merged completely in the German herd,” William L. Shirer, The Nightmare Years

williamshirerrome

 “The power which has always started the greatest religious and political avalanches in history rolling has from time immemorial has been the magic power of the spoken word, and that alone. The broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech. All great movements are popular movements, volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotional sentiments, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or by the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

It was a disheveled Landsberg Prison inmate who wrote these prophetic words about mass movements egged on by provocative speech and transmitted over recently built networks by newly developed mass-media technology.

Soon he would emerge from his jail cell to take full advantage of a perfect storm of never-before-assembled circumstances to unleash upon the world a gathering storm of fury with profound implications for society then and now.

To many the Perfect Storm is a novel and a movie about the crew of the fishing boat Andrea Gail from Gloucester, Massachusetts, lost at sea during severe conditions while longline fishing for swordfish 575 miles out in the Atlantic.[1]

In this case, the “Perfect Storm” can be seen as a unique confluence of political, economic, philosophical and technological events that produced the backdrop that led to the Gathering Storm of 1930s Nazi Germany. This essay evades discussions about the impacts of the Industrial Revolution, the Rise of Bismarck, the Bolshevik Revolution, Germany’s loss in World War I, the hatred of the Versailles Treaty, the fragility of the Weimar Republic, the Great Depression and the many other macro political and economic events that contributed to or constituted the discontinuous model of history of 20th Century Germany.

The key point for this survey is that all of these historical epochs, coupled with startling new advancements in mass culture technologies and networks, culminated in a unique climate that was fully exploited by Hitler and his disciples, in particular Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945).[2]

Political pros, including the late presidential campaign strategist Lee Atwater (1951-1991), have preached the virtues of “message, candidate, campaign” in this particular order to captivate the masses or an electorate in a democratic setting. In the case of totalitarian Nazi Germany’s use of mass culture for political purposes it must be asked: What were the origins of the message? (There is obviously no need to inquire about who was the “candidate.”) And how was the campaign conducted with frightening results?

This discussion assumes the reader’s more-than-adequate knowledge of the macro political/economic influences that contributed to die Weltanchauung of Nazi Germany. This focus instead touches upon Germany’s philosophical underpinnings that contributed to the message. There is also the need to adequately, but not exhaustively, weigh the impact (at the time) of new mass media technology — most notably radio, cinema, recorded sound and telephony – all of which made their collective power known for the first time in the 1930s/1940s. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill used these tools to inspire. Hitler had other designs for these new breakthroughs in mass media.

FDRmedia

It is no mistake that the majority of these advancements occurred in the mid-to-late 19th Century, basically coinciding with the Industrial Revolution. Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1837; Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone in 1875; Thomas Edison, the phonograph in 1877; Louis Lumiere, the motion picture camera in 1895 and Guglielmo Marconi, the radio also in 1895.

As important as these inventions were, there still needed to be time for related communications networks to be built and expanded to the masses on a global scale. The true, cumulative impact of Bell’s telephone, Marconi’s radio, Lumiere’s cinema camera were not truly felt until the early decades of the 20th Century or about the time that Hitler and his Brownshirts were agitating and fighting in the streets of München and eventually spreading their sinister Nazi web over Germany.

Borrowing from Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s (1911-1980) “The Medium is the Message,” University of California Professor of Sociology Manuel Castells Olivan[3] coined his own version of this concept, “The Network is the Message.” Castells’ contention (even though he was writing about the Internet) is that the network is more important than the message, and without the former the latter is essentially of no consequence. (“If a tree falls in a forest…).

Goebbels would have gladly not argued; simply combining the two – message and network – to completely hold sway over the thinking of the German public.

Most of all, it was how the National Socialists took full advantage of these developments to wage a mass-culture campaign never before seen in the modern world that revolutionized the use of propaganda. It was no mistake that one of the first actions undertaken by the Nazis upon assuming power in 1933 was to secure immediate control of the means to influence and subjugate the masses.

Goebbels and his ministry took supreme control of what French philosopher Louis Althusser (1918-1990) labeled as the Ideological State Apparatuses or ISAs. In his Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses essay, Althusser included religion, education, family, legal, political, trade-unions as ISAs. For this discussion, we are focusing on two of Althusser’s ISAs: Communications (e.g. press, radio…) and cultural (e.g. literature, the arts, sports etc.).

Althusser distinguished ISAs from what he called “Repressive State Apparatus” (e.g. government, administration, the army, the police, the courts, the prisons), which he said “functions by violence.” He said that ISAs “must not be confused with Repressive State Apparatus.” With all due respect to Althusser, the Nazis skillfully used both the tools of repression (e.g., violence) and the new means of ideological persuasion, particularly the spoken word, to physically and mentally dominate the German public and eventually the majority of the populations that they subsequently conquered and enslaved.

“It is interesting that the only developed ‘mass’ use of radio was in Nazi Germany, where under Goebbels’ orders the Party organized compulsory listening groups and the receivers were in the streets,” Welsh academic Raymond Williams (1921-1988)[4] wrote in Technology and Cultural Form. “There has been some imitation of this by similar regimes, and Goebbels was deeply interested in television for the same kind of use.”

“…As the years went by, Dr. Goebbels proved himself right, in that the radio became by far the regime’s most effective means of propaganda, doing more than any other single instrument of communication to shape the German people to Hitler’s ends,” wrote William L. Shirer (1904-1993), in his Pulitzer Prize winning The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich. He was the Universal News Service and CBS correspondent out of Berlin, who obviously understood the power of radio.

goebbels

German-Jewish, philosopher-sociologists Theodor Adorno (1903-1969)[5] and Max Horkheimer (1895-1973), both of the “Frankfurt School,” were compelled to take flight from Germany when Hitler and Nazis claimed power and with it, put in motion what would become the Holocaust. The two exiles introduced the notion of The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. They correctly concluded that the Hitler/Goebbels propaganda machine seized control of this “industry” to make the regime sound more reasonable than it was in reality.

“Society is full of desperate people and therefore prey to rackets,” they wrote. “… The attitude of the individual to the racket, business, profession or party, before or after admission, the Führer’s gesticulations before the masses, or the suitor’s before his sweetheart, assume specifically masochistic traits.” They added that life in the late capitalist era is a constant initiation rite in which everyone must show identification with the power that is “belaboring him (or her?).”

And what were the messages emanating from Hitler’s version of the Culture Industry that constituted required listening im Vaterland?

Several philosophers and prominent German thinkers in the late 19th Century and the early 20th Century contributed to the notion of a strong nation state, the rise of militarism and the glory of modern-day warfare…all of which were wholeheartedly embraced by Hitler and his followers.

German historian Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911)[6] provided a glimpse into this way of thinking in his Formation of the Historical World essay. “The goals of war permeated all parts of (early German) life. They asserted themselves in the relationship of the family to the military order…The military ethos also produced the system of devoted followers that was so important for military and political development.”

Dilthey said that we must add the “individuality of national spirit” to this commentary. “The life-value of the individual person is shifted to his martial qualities.” And what is the highest value and enjoyment of existence? “This characteristic, which finds its highest expression in the joy of battle, influenced the entire development of our political institutions and our spiritual life.”

Georg Wilhelm Hegel (1770-1837)[7] is most commonly known for his dialectrics, which inspired Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin and the founding of Communism. In the case of the Nazis, who violently opposed Marxism, they preferred to gain strength from Hegel’s celebration of the supreme power of the state. The state, he wrote in his Philosophy of History, “has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the state…for the right of the world spirit is above all special privileges.” And what about the individual’s pursuit of happiness? To Hegel this notion needs to be subordinated, if not outright crushed.

“World history is not an empire of happiness,” Hegel wrote. “The periods of happiness are the empty pages of history because they are periods of agreement, without conflict.” Taking it a step further, Hegel said that war makes for “the ethical health of peoples corrupted by a long peace, as the blowing of the wind preserves the sea from the foulness which could be the result of a prolonged calm.”

Dueling Hegel when it comes to the glorification of the state was nationalist political historian Heinrich von Treitschke (1834-1896)[8], who bluntly stated to the individual: “It does not matter what you think, so long as you obey.”

He said that martial glory is the basis of all political virtues, rivaling the “masterpieces of our poets and thinkers.”

“The concept of the state implies the concept of war, for the essence of the State is power,” von Treitschke wrote. “That war should ever be banished from the world is a hope not only absurd, but profoundly immoral.”

Books paying homage to authoritarian disciplines, the magnificence of the state, the subordination of the individual and the glory of martial conflict were not the only ones sitting on the night stands of the Fascists (literally Mussolini’s bedside) during the first-half of the 20th Century. Reportedly, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”[9] drew heavily on the propaganda techniques of French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon’s (1841-1931) [10] The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind.

“The great events of history have been brought about by obscure believers, who have had little beyond their faith in the favor,” LeBon wrote in 1895. “It is not be the aid of the learned or of philosophers, and still less of skeptics, that have been built up the great religions which have swayed the world, or the vast empires which have spread from one hemisphere to the other.” LeBon was obviously referring to St. Paul, Christopher Columbus and others (Hitler no doubt would have liked to mentally associate himself with this elite company).

LeBon said that the leaders of crowds wield a very despotic authority, and whether they are intelligent or narrow-minded is of no real importance because the world belongs to these popular leaders. They persist by demonstrating a force of will that LeBon said was both immensely rare and powerful, “nothing resists it; neither nature, gods, nor man.”

LeBon refers to the tactics of another European conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte, who said that there is “only one figure in rhetoric of serious importance, namely repetition.”

“The opinions and beliefs of crowds are specially propagated by contagion, but never by reasoning,” wrote LeBon. “The conceptions at present rife among working classes have been acquired at the public-house as the result of affirmation, repetition and contagion.” Wonder if there were any public houses in 1930s-era Germany?

Shirer saw as much each day and night in 1934 as thirty thousand jammed into Nürnberg’s Luitpold Hall, packed the city’s narrow streets or participated in a mass rally of a half million strong at the Zeppelin Meadow.

nazirally

“You have to go through one of these to understand Hitler’s hold on the people, to feel the dynamism in the movement he’s unleashed and the sheer, disciplined strength the Germans possess,” Shirer wrote in his Berlin Diary.[11] “And now – as Hitler told the correspondents yesterday – the half-million men and women who’ve been here during the week will go back to their towns and villages and preach the new faith with new fanaticism.”

In his Revolt of the Masses, Spanish liberal philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955)[12] prescribes how skillful propagandists (he was absolutely no fan of Fascism) exploit the masses going about their daily business. He said the majority of men have no opinions of their own, so these have to come from external forces, “like lubricants into machinery.”

“Hence it is necessary that some mind or other should hold and exercise authority, so that people without opinions – the majority – can start having opinions,” he wrote. “For without these, the common life of humanity would be chaos, a historic void, lacking in any organic structure. Consequently without a spiritual power, without someone to command, (author’s emphasis) and in proportion as this is lacking, chaos reigns over mankind.”

LeBon takes up this mantle to introduce the notion that prestige is an essential ingredient in order to influence the crowds and control the masses. “The great leaders of crowds, such as Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Joan of Art and Napoleon, have possessed this form of prestige to a high degree…The special characteristic of prestige is to prevent us seeing things as they are and to entirely paralyze our judgment. Crowds always, and individuals as a rule, stand in need of ready-made opinions on all subjects. The popularity of these opinions is independent of the measure of truth and error they contain, and is solely regulated by their prestige.”

Shirer saw first-hand how Hitler’s oratorical skills held his German audiences spellbound. Der Führer developed a special rapport with the crowds that “it did not matter so much what he said but how he said it…I would pause in my own mind to exclaim: ‘What utter rubbish! What brazen lies!’ Then I would look around at the audience. His German listeners were lapping up every word as the utter truth.”

“No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda,” Shirer wrote. And if someone dared to doubt the message of Goebbels’ propaganda machine?  “…One was met with such a state of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one has blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless is was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were.”

Ortega y Gasset grouped Syndicalism and Fascism together is his 1932 book (one year before the ascension of Hitler) and said that Europeans are inflicted with a strangeness” for “elements of novelty.”

“Under the species of Fascism there appears for the first time in Europe a type of man who does not want to give reasons or to be right, but simply shows himself resolved to impose his opinions,” he wrote. “This is the new thing: the right not to reasonable, the ‘reason of unreason.’”

The reason for this exercise is not to merely recount how the Perfect Storm of history, macro-economic factors, technology and sinister intent led to the most efficient propaganda machine the world had ever seen. Many before have written extensively about what Winston Churchill called The Gathering Storm.[13] This voice will not be added to that chorus.

Instead, present-day society and future generations must be mindful of this history and then ask whether a similar repository of elements and events could ever again form the nucleus of a propaganda machine that has even scarier implications for civilization in this era of terrorism and nuclear proliferation?

Shirer and other observers before, during and after what the German’s refer to as the NS-Zeit have questioned how a nation that produced “some of the most elevated minds and spirits of the Western World” (e.g., Kant, Humboldt, Goethe, Schiller, Bach, Beethoven…) could fall completely under the sway of an Austrian corporal.

We have already answered the question of whether this kind of repressive control of the vehicles and networks of mass culture coupled with the spread of incessant propaganda can occur in the 21st Century. One only needs to look north of the 38th parallel on the Korean Peninsula for the answer. But in all due respect, did the rural and backward hermit kingdom of what now constitutes North Korea ever produce the thinkers and the civilization even remotely equivalent to the major countries (e.g., Germany) of the industrialized world?

Theoretically anything is possible, but Goebbels would have quickly confronted what the People’s Republic of China is combating today: the global impact of a vast network of PCs and servers, guided by ever more powerful microprocessors, governed by clever software operating systems and tied together with a worldwide web of cyberspace.

Wonder what would be the popular reaction to vivid Google Earth satellite photos of Auschwitz downloaded onto millions of computers, replayed repeatedly on YouTube, written into encyclopedic script on Wikipedia.org and served as the subject of blogs, Tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook entries?  How would Hitler, Goering, Himmler, Goebbels et al. explain satellite transmissions of concentration camps or mobilized infantry/armor/Luftwaffe in the face of a digitally informed global population?

moore2

The greatest threat to modern-era propaganda makers, even though he certainly did not know this in 1965, was most likely Gordon Moore.[14] One of the three founders of Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) postulated that year that the number of transistors on a given piece of silicon real estate doubles every 18 months.

“Moore’s Law” has not only been 100 percent accurate since its inception, it may even be judged to be conservative. The net result is an explosion of mass communication access devices (e.g., PCs, tablets, digital readers, cell phones) that are smaller, faster, better and consume less power.

In his Parisian lecture this past September, New York University Journalism Professor Jay Rosen[15] wrote about the disintegration of the atomized “mass” audience. He asked what if society turned away from the television tube en masse, similar to crazed television newsman Howard Beale in the 1976 film Network.

“Immediately people who happened to be watching would alert their followers on Twitter,” Rosen wrote in his The Journalists Formerly Known as the Media: My Advice to the Next Generation. “Someone would post a clip the same day on YouTube. The social networks would light up before the incident was over. Bloggers would be commenting on it well before professional critics had their chance. The media world today is a shifted space. People are connected horizontally to one another as effectively as they are connected up to Big Media; and they have the powers of production in their hands.”

Bottom-line conscious global businesses are moving away from top-down control where everything is designed, manufactured and sold under one roof and instead concentrating on their bread-and-butter raison d’etre and outsourcing the rest. Rosen said a similar worldwide shift from vertical-to-horizontal is occurring in how the public receives news and information (North Korea and few others are exceptions).

There still are some very famous media brand names, but the number of “journalists” harnessing digital ones-and-zeroes to self-publish is growing with every passing day. The vehicles of choice are not just wireline or wireless networked servers and PCs, but a growing variety of mobile communications devices.

tiananmen

The most populous nation on the planet, authoritarian China is struggling against the massive weight of sheer math and the tyranny of numbers: 1.5 billion people, millions of mobile devices, millions of PCs, millions of television sets, thousands of servers, thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable and a vast worldwide web to tie them all together. No one should underestimate the lengths the regime will go to protect its hegemony (e.g., Tiananmen Square in 1989), but nonetheless Moore’s Law continues unabated.

Does anyone want to take a wager that Moore’s Law will outlast the Communist Party of China (CPC) or other despots who try to use mass media to wage a stifling propaganda campaign with chilling impacts for not only the subjugated but for their neighbors as well?

Even though there are no guarantees in life, it can be argued that rapid advancements in innovation and humanity’s insatiable demand for the marketplace of ideas will severely curtail, if not put an end, to systemic, one-sided propaganda efforts such as the one unleashed and waged by Goebbels. The impact of today’s information technology (and the killer apps still to come) will digitally expose the lies and deception behind Goebbels-like modern day messages. It was another form of technology, the cyanide capsule, that put an end to Goebbels’ life in a deep bunker underneath a bombed out city, not far from the remains of what was once his grandiose Propaganda Ministry.

Soon thereafter his loud speakers finally went silent.

  1. [1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Perfect_Storm
  1. [2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Goebbels

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_Castells

[4]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Williams

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodor_W._Adorno

[6] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dilthey/

[7] http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/hegel.html

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_von_Treitschke

[9] http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Le_Bon

[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_L._Shirer

[12] http://www.historyguide.org/europe/gasset.html

[13] http://www.rosettabooks.com/title.php?id=82

[14] http://www.intel.com/technology/mooreslaw/

[15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Rosen

 

Damning with Negatives

I am not a crook.” – Richard Nixon.

Watergate.

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” – Bill Clinton.

Monica Lewinsky.

People will complain, but this is not excessive.” University of Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens about the school’s over-the-top $68 million (at least) football building.

Ferrari Leather.

She’s not out of touch.” – Bill Clinton defending Hillary’s “dead broke” comments.

Hillary’s more than $200,000 per speech; $5 million New York home and more, much more.

hillarysawyer

What possesses some of the best-and-the-brightest to essentially confirm an allegation with a poorly conceived negative response, some of which become eternally enshrined? The same applies with those who use negative statements to try to overturn a mistatement or worse, a damaging gaffe.

Aren’t there more positive ways to deflect charges, clearing the way for a candidate, office holder or organization to move on, avoid less-than-pleasant headlines, and better yet, allow an incident to pass into history (if that is indeed possible)?

“When did you stop beating your wife?”

Reporter: “Would you say that (insert pejorative word)…”

Think of it this way: A reporter, editor, correspondent just handed you a rope and gave you the opportunity to hang yourself and by extension your employer.  As a former gubernatorial press secretary for eight years and corporate spokesman for a decade, the author of Almost DailyBrett is wise to the majority of the tricks employed by the less than scrupulous members of the Fourth Estate.

Reporter thinking: ‘Hmmm…let’s see if I can build a lead and related headline by coaxing an incendiary quote?’

Is Almost DailyBrett accusing the certain members of the media (and they know who they are) of trying to bait flacks and by extension their clients with inflammatory words in this discussion? The answer based upon oodles of experience is an unqualified, “yes.”

reporters

There are two iron-clad rules that one immediately learns from media training:

1.)   Always have an agenda. Know and rehearse your message points and what headlines you want to attempt to create before you talk to the ladies and gents of the media (both legacy and digital native media).

2.)   Never, ever let reporters, editors, correspondents, bloggers et al. put words in your mouth. Deliver your message the way it is intended whether the media representative likes it or not. If the same question is rephrased with the same incendiary or similar word or words, duck the offer and come back with an answer based upon your agenda. If the media rep becomes upset, so be it. Most likely, this will not be your first fight with a reporter.

Self-Inflicted Wounds 

Watergate finally caught up with Nixon, prompting him to read the obvious writing on the wall and become the first president to resign in disgrace. His legacy also includes the aforementioned, “I am not a crook” statement.

Almost DailyBrett will not add to the plethora of commentary about the Monica Lewinsky affair other than to contend that Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” is close to top of mind when it comes to contemplating the former president, eternally impacting his personal brand.

monicabill

Benghazi was expected to be the tough subject for Hillary’s Hard Choices book tour. Instead it was her comment to ABC’s Diane Sawyer about how the Clintons were “dead broke” and “struggled” financially when they left the White House in 2001.

This comment set off the media digging to find out just how “broke” the Clintons actually were including $106 million for Bill, $200,000 a speech for Hillary and $600,000 a year for Chelsea from the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. 

Bill subsequently kept the story going … yes this story does have legs … with his “she is not out of touch” comment. How about just saying the critics are wrong, and detail how Hillary understands the needs of middle and lower-class Americans trying to make ends meet?

That’s a positive response.

Bill’s, she is “Not-Out-of-Touch” explanation triggered a response from Hillary: “My husband was very sweet … but I don’t need anybody to defend my record.”

This story seemingly does not want to die. It has overshadowed the Hillary triumphant book tour, and it was egged on by inartful comments by both Clinton spouses, and a delighted media.

The lessons here are to remain on message. Stay with your preconceived agenda. If a slip does occur … flacks, politicians, executives etc are all human … don’t compound the gaffe with a defensive negative response.

The answer here is to stay positive, eschew any negatives particularly those force-fed by the media, and maybe even flash a winning smile. The net result may be a story that heads to the ash heap of history as opposed to a quote that becomes one for the ages.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-draws-criticism-at-opening-of-book-tour-by-saying-she-was-dead-broke/2014/06/10/c376ceaa-f0b7-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/06/24/bill-clinton-says-hillary-is-not-out-of-touch/?wpisrc=nl_pmpol

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/some-democrats-fear-clintons-wealth-and-imperial-image-could-be-damaging-in-2016/2014/06/22/526746e6-f7eb-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/hillary-clinton-bill-clinton-defense-108292.html

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/06/hillary-clinton-stumbles-from-dead-broke-to-not-truly-well-off/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-clintons-went-from-dead-broke-to-rich-bill-earned-1049-million-for-speeches/2014/06/26/8fa0b372-fd3a-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html?wpisrc=nl%5Fhdtop

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/university-of-nike/

 

 

The old adage: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

The new old adage: “It’s not what you know, but who are your parents.”

Life is not fair, but who ever thought it would be this unfair?

There have been oodles-and-oodles of media hyperventilation about Chelsea’s $600,000 annual salary for NBC Nightly News.

chelseanbc1

If you are scoring at home, Chelsea has cumulatively raked in $1.55 million for 14 special reports or $26,724 for each minute or $445 for each second on the air. Congratulations Chelsea, you are now a millionaire thanks to the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

Guess that explains how she affords her $10.5 million Manhattan apartment.

This network largesse bestowed on Chelsea is not bad for someone who does not have a broadcast news related-degree, such as journalism, communications, public relations or advertising. To be fair, Chelsea has overachieved in the classroom at Stanford, Oxford and Columbia … but that is not the reason she was hired by NBC.

And yes let’s immediately acknowledge that NBC’s Today Show hired Jenna Bush Hager and MSNBC brought on Meghan McCain as a special contributor. Keep in mind Bush’s dad is constitutionally prohibited from running again, and most likely McCain will never run again. Chelsea’s mom is with little conceivable doubt running for president.

NBC with all the expected arrogance that emanates from Rockefeller Center will piously claim that its brand of “checkbook journalism” does not and will not constitute a conflict of interest. And yet the network has paid more than $1 million to the daughter of the former president of the United States and the only offspring of the woman who may be the next president of the United States.

This is not a coincidence.

Is NBC buying access? Didn’t the network have problems with lobbyists, particularly those from business, allegedly purchasing access to the White House and The Hill?

What About Real Journalism Students?

As an incoming assistant professor of public relations and advertising, I am naturally concerned about the job prospects for those who choose journalism, communications, public relations and/or advertising as a career choice.

Almost DailyBrett has refuted commentators in the Washington Post and The Economist, who openly mock and question the sanity of the rising number of students pursuing communications-related degrees in the 21st. Century. As mentioned before, these comments are oh-so-analog. The demand for news and information in our digital society has never been greater, but still this a very difficult job market.

Now we have to enter “checkbook journalism” into the equation.

Wonder how many recent journalism graduates, such as the ones that received their diplomas this month, NBC could hire for $600,000 per year? Even though Almost DailyBrett is mathematically challenged, it seems that NBC could potentially employ 12 budding television journalists starting at $30,000 per year, including benefits.

journalismstudents. jpg.

 

Even closer to the mark, how many out-of-work journalists could be put back to work for a fraction of the amount (e.g., five figures) paid to Chelsea in one year?

There is no doubt that NBC and other networks receive a flood of cover letters, resumes, LinkedIn URLs and online portfolios from hundreds of graduates, all of which are hoping to get their big break.

Maybe their college educations really don’t make any difference, if all you need is a degree in history and a dad who used to be president and a mom who may be president. Is this observation too cynical?

The job market is tough, and it just becomes tougher when the sons and daughters of the political elite get to be the first in line.

America the Land of Opportunity?

Let’s make a disclosure here: Sorry to say the author of Almost DailyBrett has never earned 600 big ones in a given year. In fact, it is doubtful that the vast majority of my colleagues have ever reached this pinnacle. We should not be jealous about Chelsea – you go girl – we should however question the judgment of the brass at NBC News.

Rock Center with Brian Williams

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an achiever, being a doer, being an entrepreneur and building a better mousetrap and being paid for it. Bravo. We need more-and-more of this American spirit and accomplishment.

What we don’t need is questionable “checkbook” journalism that invites valid conflict-of-interest questions, allegations of currying favors, and most likely makes it that much harder for real journalism students to land a job, particularly those graduates without a famous father and mother.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_Clinton

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/chelsea-clinton-nbc-600-k-salary-107827.html?hp=l3

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/13/chelsea-clinton-reportedly-made-600000-for-a-years-work-at-nbc-and-twitter-went-wild/

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/nbc-news-paid-chelsea-clinton-711709

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/06/21/sources-nbc-not-concerned-about-chelsea-clintons-alleged-overpriced-salary/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/some-democrats-fear-clintons-wealth-and-imperial-image-could-be-damaging-in-2016/2014/06/22/526746e6-f7eb-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html?wpisrc=nl_pmpol

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/those-crazy-communicationsjournalism-majors/

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/in-defense-of-journalism-education/

 

“It is long past overdue that these devices of a gas-wasting era were retired.” – Former Sonoma Councilmember Larry Barnett

And to that sentiment, let’s add water-wasting, climate-change contributing and noise-polluting gadgets to the discussion.

pressurewasher1 Want to live in an Oregon tree house?

Ahh…This is the good life. One is surrounded by stately Douglas fir trees, visited by grazing deer, chirping birds, scurrying squirrels and the occasional barn owl or Americana chicken.

Best of all, your neighborhood cares about the environment big time and subscribes to the perils of climate change. If you don’t believe me just check out the front-lawn poetry dispensers or the bumper-stickers on the backs of their non-renewable fuel-burning cars … yep even the Prius’.

Life is just swell in the urban forest that is until it is time for your neighbor to pressure-wash the sidewalk, incinerate tree limbs and branches, blow away the leaves etc. Did we discuss chainsaws? Lots and lots of chainsaws.

leafblower

And each of these (any combo of) water gulping, fossil-fuel burning, carbon-monoxide, nitrous oxide-hydrocarbon emitting, climate-change contributing gadgets could easily compete with Led Zeppelin for volume. The only difference is one can choose when to check out Robert Plant and Jimmy Page; you have no choice when it comes to 7 am Sunday morning pressure washings by your thoughtful neighbors.

Our sidewalks have never looked so good.

Soccer Moms, Mini-Vans, Garage Sales

Before moving north to Eugene, Oregon to pursue an advanced degree, the author of Almost DailyBrett lived in a tacky-tracky, known as “Bird Land” (e.g., Sandpiper Way), in Pleasanton, California.

P-Town is located just over the hill from the Silicon Valley. Some days the community is influenced by the fog from San Francisco and other days the heat from the San Joaquin Valley.

This particular “burb” is flat, which is perfect for bike riding, playing soccer at Pleasanton Middle School or PMS or driving the mini-van (not me) to the next garage sale.

My Monopoly ranch-style residence was surrounded on three sides by five other nearly identical ranch-style houses. Even though our ecosystem was suburban with an occasional raccoon or migrating ducks, it was pleasantly tranquil. In some respects, boringly quiet.

Moving to Eugene after 15 years of making horrific to-and-from commutes to the Silicon Valley, SF Peninsula or The City itself, I was welcoming a change in lifestyle. Would it be bucolic to reside in South Eugene with only the sounds of chirping birds in harmony with nature?

Beware of What You Want

… You may get it.

Second-growth forests are gorgeous. The trees absolutely dig Oregon’s intermittent sunshine (e.g., sun breaks) and about 36-inches of precipitation each year. For the most part, it is neither too cold nor too warm with the annual temps ranging between the 40s and 70s.

Oregonians may grouse about growing traffic, rising real estate prices and polluted campgrounds, but the vitriol about “Californicators” has largely subsided. These progressives are now rightly concerned about global warming and they have the pictures of sad polar bears to prove it.

Words are one thing. Actions are another. pressurewasher

Has anyone ever checked out the specs on a pressure washer, the very same noise polluter that is being used to clean-up a Eugene sidewalk (e.g., first-world crisis)? Let’s see these monsters can put out with incredible force anywhere from 2 gallons to 4.9 gallons of precious water per minute.

Wasn’t there some discussion earlier this year about a drought in much of the Western U.S.? And didn’t the leader of the free world and others point to climate change as the culprit?

Yet these eco-warriors are spraying down their sidewalks, wasting water, and using (gasp) gasoline-powered pressure washers. And where is the exhaust including hydrocarbons from these machines going? Hmmm … into the atmosphere.

Now one can argue that wood chippers, leaf blowers, weed whackers are electric-powered and therefore may be sensitive to one’s ear drums, but maybe not to the planet. The same argument cannot be made with gasoline powered pressure washers and chainsaws.

Yes, some work with trees does require a chain saw and/or a wood chipper, particularly after a major storm. Trees are beautiful, but they are temperamental to a certain extent always reminding us of their presence and urge to reproduce.

Earth Friendly, Low-Tech, Aerobic Devices

Having said that, trees and sidewalks do not require a pressure washer, a leaf-blower or a weed whacker. Has anyone ever heard of the “humble rake,” the “venerable broom” or a dust pan? These low-tech gadgets provide instantaneous aerobic exercise. They do not contribute to climate change. They are virtually silent, therefore not disturbing the deer, owls or neighbors.

rake And yet those who profess deep concern for the plight of Mother Earth are out there with their pressure washers or revving up their chain saws. There is a four-syllable word that begins with…ah…”hip” that immediately comes to mind.

California communities in Los Angeles, Monterey, Marin and Sonoma Counties have taken steps to ban at least leaf blowers or severely restrict their use. Seattle is considering the same.

Would the City of Eugene or Lane County do the same in order to protect the environment and head off climate change? Something tells Almost DailyBrett this ordinance would draw opposition from those who may not be as “green” as they think.

Almost DailyBrett note: The author of this august blog worked for those who used chainsaws to manage forests for four years. He will never be labeled as an “environmentalist.” He will accept the word, “consistent.”

http://sonomacountygazette.blogspot.com/2011/02/leaf-blower-rules-for-sonoma-county.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-bad-for-the-environment-are-gas-powered-leaf-blowers/2013/09/16/8eed7b9a-18bb-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure_washer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chainsaws

Really?

Did you just say that to a hiring manager?

Please tell me you didn’t just say that to a hiring manager?

Do you expect this person/organization will now magically hire you?

Have you ever heard of ROI?

Would you know ROI even if it bit you?

What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)?

June is the traditional month for white weddings, skating the Stanley Cup, college-and-university graduations, and oodles of newly minted graduates sending out cover letters, resumes and hopefully preparing for interviews.

people1

Are hundreds, if not thousands, also warming up the tried-and-true: “I really work well with people”? Maybe these folks should take that phrase and $4.00 to Starbucks for a grande mocha with no whip. Or maybe just the $4.00?

If you are pursuing a career in public relations, employee communications, marketing, investor relations etc., wouldn’t working well with people (e.g., target audiences, stakeholders, colleagues) be a minimum prerequisite for any job?

If the hiring manager returned fire, and asked you to provide examples of how you really work well with people, would you be gasping for air?

Maybe you should be approaching this interview in a different, less-predictable way.

Maybe you should put yourself in the shoes of the manager and rhetorically ask: “What’s in it for me?” At that moment, you realize that really working well with people doesn’t pay the bills.

Think of it this way: the hiring manager’s organization has to expend its limited capital to hire you. You offer your precious college degree. That is only your ticket to play the game. And you “really work well with people.”

What else do you bring to the party?

Buy Low, Sell High

The cardinal sin of job candidates heading into interviews is being clueless about how a company or agency makes money.

If an organization is going to spend capital for your salary and benefits, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know where this money comes from?

Almost DailyBrett strongly suggests that job candidates arm themselves with two differentiators:

1.)   Experience above-and-beyond the college degree

2.)   A working knowledge of the organization that is taking the time and effort to interview you and check your background (let’s hope it is a clean background).

Your resume, which can exceed one page if you have the data to support a greater length, should highlight with quantifiable results your work experience, particularly communications-related internships, projects and jobs. Be prepared to discuss your experience (e.g. summer internships with a PR agency), what you accomplished and how you interacted successfully in a team environment. (Isn’t that better than the generic: “I really work well with people”?)

If the hiring manager’s organization is publicly traded or if the hiring manager’s agency represents publicly traded clients, then you have a literal treasure trove of research available to you with just a few clicks on your mobile and laptop device.

incomestatement

After answering questions about your direct experience, can you imagine posing interrogatives to the hiring manager based upon your knowledge of the company’s income statement, balance sheet, CEO annual report letter or the company description in its required 10-K filing to the SEC?

Ditto reading the financial and industry analyst (they are not the same) reports about the company or the clients, represented by an agency.

If a company is going to hire you, wouldn’t it be nice to know that the organization has the means to pay you going forward. Don’t forget the axiom: Last hired, first fired.

“Why do you want to work for us?”

There is a nearly 100 percent chance that you will be asked some variation of the above question.

For some this question is a wicked curve to use a beisboll metaphor. For you, it should be a lazy soft ball ready for you to clobber it.

This “Why do you want to work for us” question is a great opportunity to reveal that you have done your homework. “Reading financial analyst reports this past weekend, I noted that (insert company) name is a market leader in the provision of … How can I use my digital and conventional media skills to support the company’s business strategy?”

All interviews come to a close with the hiring manager asking the applicant if she or he has any questions. And of course you will be ready, particularly with questions that show interest in the opinion of the hiring manager. (People love talking about themselves. It’s human nature).

people

And instead of sneaking in the traditional-causing-the-eyes-to-roll “I really work well with people,” you could instead talk about how you have been a team player and provide specific examples of how you have worked with others in accomplishing great goals.

Every organization needs good people, who work well in team environments, who bring solid experience to the table and who know the difference between revenues and net income (yes, there is a difference).

And they also know what the acronym, ROI, stands for.

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interview-you/qt/working-with-people.htm

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/11/15/the-20-people-skills-you-need-to-succeed-at-work/

 

 

“If well written, a handwritten letter can deliver extraordinary impact.” – Max Kalehoff, SocialCode senior vice president.

Or maybe a handwritten letter sends some unintended signals to the hiring manager, including a less-than-up-to-date mindset?

thankyounote

One of the first things that mumsy taught you was to always say “please” and “thank you.”

The advice from moms across the fruited plain is timeless and always correct.

Thank you, merci, dankeschön, domo arigato, muchas gracias, спасибо may be the most critical expression in any language

The issue that comes to mind is not whether one should thank a hiring manager after an interview — you should each-and-every-time quickly and professionally communicate your appreciation for the opportunity — but how should these words of thanks be transmitted?

“Transmitted” is a good word to frame this debate.

Using Primitive Tools in a Digital World?

Many times I have heard academics and visiting professionals lecturing soon-to-graduate millennial students about the need to promptly (preferably the same day) send handwritten thank you notes to hiring managers.

This wisdom is reinforced in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, Seventh Edition by Professors Dennis L Wilcox and Bryan H. Reber.

Job applicants … make a much better impression with prospective employers by sending a handwritten thank you note instead of an email or text message thanking the employer for the interview.” – Professors Dennis L. Wilcox and Bryan H. Reber.

Really?

There is the possibility that a hand-written note on nice personal stationery may impress a hiring manager, but in our fast-moving digital age the question must be asked: Will this nice gesture actually backfire in the face of the job applicant?

Keep in mind that Almost DailyBrett exhibited the temerity to question the conventional wisdom of the one-page resume. This is the very same CV that is almost universally submitted online and encoded into binary code ones-and-zeroes before being decoded into readable text on a computer screen or screened by an algorithm for key search phrases. Yes, there are cases in which resumes are actually printed out, but that is just so yesterday.

Now Almost DailyBrett is taking on those who counsel hand-written thank you notes and doing so with great relish.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Let’s say you followed the advice of the Flat Earth Society and dipped your wick into the ink well, and used your elementary school cursive on your expensive Hallmark stationery.

You found the right words to express your sincere thanks and appreciation. You affixed a snail-mail stamp and entrusted the USPS (and a few prayers to a higher being) to send your message to its intended target in a few days or so. (Hopefully the hiring manager still remembers you).

letters

And then it arrives or not.

It sits in a pile of other snail mail or not.

A secretary may open it or not.

He or she may put it into the hiring manager’s in-box or not.

He or she may “round file” the letter without reading it or not.

The variables here are too numerous to count.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the letter makes it to the hiring manager and she or he is able to decipher your hieroglyphics.

Is this really the way that you want to transmit your thanks and appreciation in this age of instantaneous communication and digital conversations?

What signal are you sending? Are you really comfortable with this pre-Johannes Gutenberg and his 1439 printing press approach? Maybe there is another way?

Using Digital Tools in a Digital World

Can one send a carefully crafted email or text message that very same day to express thanks and appreciation to the hiring manager for her/his time and consideration?

The answers are “yes” and “no.” A professionally written, relatively concise email to the hiring manager can properly express your sentiments and reinforce your interest in the job. Sending a terse text (redundant?), even though it is the cool di rigueur method of today’s communication, runs the risk of coming across as flippant and not doing the job.

Here’s another idea:

linkedinconnect

How about sending a thank you note in the form of a LinkedIn connection request to the hiring manager?

What are the benefits of this approach?

1.)   You are using digital tools to promptly convey your thanks and appreciation, and there is a strong likelihood the hiring manager will see your message.

2.)   Without saying so, you are demonstrating through your actions that you get it when it comes to social media.

3.)   Even if the hiring manager does not select you for the job, her or his decision to respond positively to your connection request provides you with another soldier in your networking army.

4.)   This approach provides the hiring manager with another opportunity to take a gander at your LinkedIn profile.

This is the same profile that confidently communicates your professional experience, your educational background, your professional mug shot, your glowing references, your PowerPoint presentations, your impressive list of connections and contacts, your awards, your publications and more.

Think of it this way, your LinkedIn profile is one-stop shopping for those who want to hire you.

So why aren’t you sending a thank you LinkedIn connection request to the person who just took the time and effort to interview you? There is no better time than right after your killer interview.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristian-schwartz/how-to-say-thank-you-afte_b_4722743.html

http://www.job-seekers-edge.com/post-interview-thank-you-note.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/answered-should-you-send-a-handwritten-or-email-thank-you-note-after-an-interview-2012-3

https://gettoworkblog.wordpress.com/tag/handwritten-letter/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxkalehoff

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/thank_you

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/preaching-heresy-to-the-one-page-resume-pharisees/

 

 

 

 

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