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Brave declarations of glorious victory notwithstanding …

Do you think Hillary Clinton and her public relations team would like to press the 2009 “reset” button with Russia all over again?

How about a reset of the “reset”?

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Do they give out PR Mulligans?

The Era of Viral Images

How many ALS campaign “Ice Bucket Challenge” social media videos have you seen so far?

The campaign based upon donors enduring an unceremonious cold-water bath has raised a pledged $62.5 million and counting to fight this fatal disease.

The PR/marketing campaign is beautiful in its simplicity. Accept a friend or colleague’s challenge to video tape yourself being dunked with ice water. Post your video on social media. Invite someone else to do the same. It’s a Ponzi scheme for a great cause.

Former President George W. Bush appeared natural and genuinely had fun as First Lady Laura poured cold water on him at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. He then challenged former President Bill Clinton to do the same.

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Conversely Mitt Romney looked stiff, decked out in his Brooks Brothers’-style suit, as shirt-sleeved Paul Ryan poured water on his former running mate.

No one questions that Mitt and many others should accept the ALS challenge. Having said that, the suit serves as a metaphor for Romney’s stiffness, a characteristic that makes it difficult for Americans to warm up to the notion of the former Governor of Massachusetts in the White House.

It appears that Mitt has not lost his stoicism heading into 2016.

Lasting Metaphors?

Sometimes PR pros need to be careful to not let “props” take on a life of their own, and serve as a not-intended lasting metaphor.

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, how many words can an ill-chosen gimmick, or for that matter a clearly successful backdrop, mean for a personal brand and/or reputation going forward.

Silent Generation-types and more mature Baby Boomers remember Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table at the United Nations in 1960. Obviously, PR was not a consideration when he engaged in this boorish behavior. Nonetheless this angry incident with his shoe was one for the history books.

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The backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate and the hated Berlin Wall served as the framing for John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” and Ronald Reagan’s “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speeches. Both Clinton and Barack Obama (as a senator) visited the same venue, but did not leave the same lasting memories.

And then there was the “Mission Accomplished” banner behind George W. Bush saluting a job well-done in Iraq. Everything is tranquil and peaceful in Iraq. Right?

missionaccomplished

Five years ago, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her post-Soviet Union, Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, a “reset” button to signal that all was getting better with the two former Cold War adversaries, the United States and Russian Federation.

A few eyebrows were raised, when the reset button reportedly “borrowed” from a Swiss spa, was emblazoned with the word, peregruzka. The only problem is the word in Russian means, “overcharge” not “reset.” One would think the Department of State may have at least one Harvard-head that knew a thing or two about the Russian language.

That day now seems so long ago. This past spring, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in the Ukraine, and later its Ukrainian backed rebels shot down a defenseless Malaysian 747. Will Vladimir Putin’s Russia actually invade the Ukraine, directly defying the Western world, including those who once wanted to reset US/Russia relations?

And if so, what will the “reset” button symbolize? Will it bring into question Hillary’s geopolitical judgment?

The aforementioned Romney pointed to the image of smiling Hillary and beaming Lavrov taking turns pushing the magical “reset” button. Hillary has no choice but to not only defend her actions, but to follow the time-tested political axiom: “When in doubt declare victory.”

Will being tough be enough? Or does she deep down inside wish that she never, ever heard of a “reset” button?

http://www.businessinsider.com/mitt-romney-hillary-clinton-embarrassing-obama-reset-button

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1843506_1843505_1843496,00.html

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/07/24/hillary-clinton-stands-by-russian-reset-in-face-of-recent-events/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/03/remember-hillarys-russian-reset-button-guess-where-she-got-it/

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nikita-khrushchev-throws-a-tantrum-at-the-united-nations

http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html

http://www.alsa.org/news/archive/ice-bucket-challenge.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77AuXhORs-E

The omnipotent NCAA is being dragged through the legal muck, kicking and screaming …

The mental image of former University of Washington president/now NCAA chief Mark Emmert wiping mud off his lapel brings a wide smile to the author of Almost DailyBrett.

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The time has finally come for the NCAA and/or the Big Five Conferences to wake up and smell the espresso.

Student-athletes are soon going to be paid, totally and completely ending the romantic, but unrealistic notion they are dedicated amateurs only playing football, basketball, baseball, track, Parcheesi etc. for the love of the game and the greater good and glory of their respective university.

Those days are over.

Questions remain: How are athletes going to be paid, and what about Title IX?

The NCAA is Appealing (e.g., buying time)

Earlier this month, federal Judge Claudia Wilken found the NCAA was colluding to restrain trade. Predictably, the NCAA billable-hour attorneys are appealing. Good luck.

The NCAA also recently granted special autonomy to 62 schools, who comprise the Big Five conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC), setting in motion conceivably a more powerful successor to the NCAA. It will be a sad day when judge, jury and executioner NCAA is finally laid to rest (okay, not really).

The real issue is the NFL and NBA exploits the colleges as their no-cost to them, minor leagues (e.g. no Durham Bulls, no Toledo Mud Hens). The NFL draws more than $8 billion in total revenue, and pays its players nearly $4 billion. The NBA attracts more than $4 billion and distributes half of that amount to its players. The universities of the NCAA generate $10 billion in revenue (donations, tickets, merchandise etc.) and provide tuition, room and board to its players.

That’s all folks.

The argument is the players (e.g., football in particular) are risking injury and schools are selling their likenesses in video games and jerseys, so why shouldn’t they have a cut of the action?emmert3

The purists, who are trying to stem the inevitable tide, claim that these athletes are receiving a free-college education and that means something when you factor in the cost of college, particularly private schools (e.g., Stanford, USC). Almost DailyBrett must ask the question: Why is it appropriate to provide scholarships and stipends for noted academic types and not athletic contributors?

Fully Paid Out-of-State Tuition/Stipend

Four years ago this week, a moving van arrived on my street in Eugene, Oregon.

Yours truly was being offered a fellowship by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Translated: UO was waiving out-of-state tuition, providing family health care and paying a monthly stipend for little ole me to pursue my master’s degree in Communication and Society. In return, I served as a teaching assistant for five quarters.

Now let’s ask the question: Why can’t student-athletes, who provide services to the university above-and-beyond regular students, be offered stipends?

The Economist suggested increasing financial aid to cover the full cost of attendance for student-athletes; guaranteeing scholarships for as long as players need to graduate (e.g., six years is reasonable); paying for all sports-related medical expenses; and letting athletes sign their own marketing deals.

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Serving as a student manager for the University of Oregon and University of Southern California, I know first-hand that football teams are paramilitary organizations. Allowing the best players to sign their own marketing deals (e.g., stud quarterbacks, running backs, wideouts) would end up creating cliques and would divide teams between the haves (skill positions) and have-nots (linemen).

The more equitable solution would be to follow the suggestions outlined by the stately Economist  (e.g., cover full costs, guaranteed scholarships, paying for medical expenses) and the equivalent of academic stipends for all student-athletes, hailing from the major genders (e.g., satisfying Title IX).

The University of Oregon announced last week that it was picking up the costs of insurance premiums for the families of four football players, who chose to stay in school and postponed NFL paydays. The risk of injury is the same in both the college and pro games.

The payment of insurance premiums is just a start to compensation of athletes.

If teaching assistants on fellowships are making extraordinary contributions to a given university, there are logical reasons to offer the same to student-athletes for their role in expanding the brand and encouraging the best and the brightest to attend great universities.

http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=209610114&DB_OEM_ID=500

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21612156-americas-exploitative-college-sports-system-can-be-mended-not-ended-justice-jocks

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21612160-pressure-grows-let-student-athletes-share-fruits-their-own-labours-players-0

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/judge-jury-and-executioner/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/colleges/ncaa-board-of-directors-approves-autonomy-for-big-5-conference-schools/2014/08/07/807882b4-1e58-11e4-ab7b-696c295ddfd1_story.html

 

 

 

“Even when you died; Oh the press still hounded you; All the papers had to say; Was that Marilyn was found in the nude.” — Elton John’s tribute to Marilyn Monroe, Candle in the Wind.

Quick: When you think of Robin Williams, what immediately comes to mind?

robinwilliams

Good Will Hunting?

Mrs. Doubtfire?

Good Morning, Vietnam?

Or his inexplicable suicide this week (after he first tried to slice his wrists … Thanks TMZ) by hanging?

Wasn’t there a suicide at the end of Dead Poets Society?

The Ultimate Negative Story to be Exploited

As singer Elton John (and lyricist Bernie Taupin) correctly surmised in his Candle in the Wind about Norma Jeane Mortenson (a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe), the digital and conventional media critics will always seize on the negative, even the ultimate negative: Death.

When one thinks of Kurt Cobain what comes first flashing? Nirvana?  Or how he blew out his brains with a shot-gun.

Brian Jones? Rolling Stones guitarist? Or drowning and/or murder?

Judy Garland? The Wizard of Oz? Or her self-administered overdose of barbiturates?

Marilyn Monroe: Happy Birthday, Mr. President? Or another case of self-administered overdose of barbiturates?

American Masters: Marilyn Monroe

And now, Robin Williams. There will be no more movies. No more humor. No more humanitarian acts. No more, no more … except for the TMZ crowd and countless others, the mental images of his hanging.

Depression and Drugs

Many will delve into the reasoning behind the decision by Robin Williams to take his own life. Cocaine and alcohol were an on-and-off presence during the course of his adult life. And there was the disease of Depression, which afflicts an estimated 16 million Americans.

What cannot be rationalized comes in the form of the media-taken aerial images of his pad in gorgeous Marin County Tiburon overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island and ultimately the City by the Bay on a beautiful day. He seemingly had it all … fame, fortune, accolades … and now there will be no more.

The likes of Robin Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones and many other celebrities who took their lives and/or lived way too close to the edge with drugs/alcohol (usually part of all of these stories) will always be remembered for more than their tragic end.

For the 12.7 out of 100,000 Americans or the 39,518 who took their own lives in 2011 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most likely very few people knew them let alone appreciated the demons that were obviously part of their respective lives. Another 713,000 were taken to emergency rooms in the same year as a result of “self-inflicted injury.”

And how will most of those who take their own lives be remembered? By how they died: 19,900 by firearms (e.g., Cobain); 9,913 by suffocation (e.g., Williams) and 6,564 by poisoning (e.g., Garland and Monroe).

Covering the Consummate Self-Destructive Act?

For the famous and non-famous alike there will be a service, a eulogy, readings, a celebration of life, an internment or the scattering of ashes by those left behind. Family and friends are sorry. They are confused. They may feel guilty. They are in many cases, embarrassed. In many respects they are victims of the consummate self-destructive act.

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Did any of them consider their own reputation before they fired the gun, tied the noose, and took the pills? For the rich and famous did they contemplate how the most sensational of the conventional and digital media would cover their self-inflicted demise? Do they even care?

Did any of them … famous or not famous … weigh the impact of their suicides on their families and friends?

Did any of them contemplate that others may want to follow their path to the grave in the same egregious way?

The most important public relations are personal public relations, even in the last seconds of life.

And how will they be ultimately remembered, particularly those who attained celebrity? By the last act.

He shot himself.

She overdosed on drugs.

He hung himself.

Do any of us really want to be remembered this way, particularly with the prospect of glaring digital and/or conventional headlines about our self-inflicted death?

http://www.tmz.com/2014/08/12/robin-williams-death-autopsy-suicide-hanging-news-conference/?adid=hero1

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/robin-williams-dead-dies_n_5670050.html

http://www.tmz.com/

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

http://www.eltonography.com/songs/candle_in_the_wind.html

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

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

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

http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/celebrity/brian_jones/index.html

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm

http://www.webmd.com/depression/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-hurley/theres-nothing-selfish-about-suicide_b_5672519.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investing without research is like playing stud poker and never looking at the cards.” – Über-investor and former Fidelity Magellan Fund manager Peter Lynch

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Couldn’t help but note Lynch’s gambling metaphor when it comes to investing in global markets.

There are many who absolutely contend, and will not be convinced otherwise, that investing in Wall Street is nothing more and nothing less than gambling. They even talk about playing the market.

Are the Manhattan-based NYSE and the NASDAQ stock markets, Las Vegas East?

Or is Las Vegas, Wall Street West?

Can’t say the author of Almost DailyBrett is an expert about either gambling (never been to Lost Wages) or investing, but I do know enough about Wall Street to be dangerous.

And based upon this finite knowledge, let me proclaim IMHO: Investing in Wall Street is not gambling, provided that you do your homework, and as Peter Lynch has stated, “Invest in what you know.”

Strategic Business/Financial Communications

The academic paper for my M.A. project at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication provided the backdrop for the creation of an upper division college course: Strategic Business/Financial Communications. I was privileged to teach the course that I created.

Many students thought that Strategic Business was a math class. Ahh … I flunked geometry in high school. Screw the Pythagorean Theorem. Yours (left-brain challenged) truly cannot and will not ever teach a math class. Instead, communications’ students learned a new language – speaking, writing, hearing, reading – the lexicon of Wall Street.

There is a reason why financial communications/investor relations are easily the highest compensated segments of the public relations profession. According to Salary.com, IR directors received in the range of $97,753 to $201,565 annually in 2013. Corporate PR directors received $86,469 to $167,836 in the same year.

This is serious money, not including stock purchase plans and options. And why is that? Both jobs demand qualitative excellence (e.g., developing relationships with analysts, investors, reporters, employees) and quantitative skills (e.g., reading income statements, balance sheets and cash-flow statements).

investorrelations

Which brings us back to the point as to why Wall Street is investing and not gambling. The answer lies with responding to a basic question: How does a company make money?

Microsoft sells software and video game consoles. Boeing produces airplanes. Google is the No. 1 search engine. Apple is Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. Nike makes athletic shoes. Amazon is the No. 1 digital retailer etc.

And backing up the answer to these questions is a plethora of facts, figures and information. Looking up a stock on Yahoo Finance, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, MarketWatch.com, The Street.com and others is the easy part.

There are also the aforementioned income statements (revenues and net income…there is a major top-line and bottom-line difference), balance sheets (assets and liabilities), CEO letters, annual reports, analyst reports and more. The sheer volume of this data can be overwhelming, but it is all there, free of charge.

Leading or Trailing Indicator?

“ … Don’t care where a stock has been, only where it’s going.” – CNBC Mad Money Jim Cramer.

Cramer is fond of stating that he really does not care about a stock’s past, only its future. That answers the leading vs. trailing indicator question. Stock prices are an indicator of the expected/anticipated/projected/forecasted upward or downward direction of a company’s business prospects.

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How do we know whether a company is doing well or not? Certainly there are oodles of information online, maybe even too much data. There is also your personal experience.

Ever observe the perpetual line out the door at Starbucks as people queue to pay $4.00 for that overpriced grande mocha with no whip.

Ever notice that Southwest Airlines only offers peanuts and a soda; you can choose your own seat; the airline only flies Boeing 737s; and the flight attendants are actually Pharrell Williams Happy?

Ever note the high prices, superior quality, commitment to service and high-traffic stores at Nordstrom?

And did you ever wonder about all the hoopla about “The Cloud” or the access of Big Data contained in mega servers and offered in manageable chunks by a company such as Salesforce.com?

When one mentions “Hog,” your mind may conjure a barnyard or you may think about high-performance, big muscle motorcycles. Want to invest in one of the country’s great comeback stories? Just enter NYSE: HOG or Harley Davidson into the search engine.

“The House Always Wins”

When one is mathematically challenged, it is best to stay away from Texas hold-em or the black-jack table. Can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase: “The House always wins.”

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That’s not to say that there are not legitimate complaints about Wall Street, particularly as it applies to executive compensation for underperforming CEOs. And there are those who contend the market is rigged against the little guy, the retail investor.

There is no doubt that cash is king. And the buy-side (e.g., PERS, Fidelity, Putnam) and the sell-side (e.g., Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan) own the lion’s share of company shares. The respective analysts for these investment houses naturally draw the most attention from publicly traded company execs.

Having said all of the above, there are still opportunities for the retail (e.g. Charles Schwab, eTrade, TD Waterhouse) investors. The time-tested tenets of diversification, doing your homework, know who you are buying and why, still apply.

Sure beats investing in a 0.02 percent passbook account, plunging hundreds of thousands into real estate that could go underwater, stuffing dollars under the mattress or even playing the Roulette wheel in Vegas.

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

http://25iq.com/2013/07/28/a-dozen-things-ive-learned-about-investing-from-peter-lynch/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838187

http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/jim-cramer-stock-picks-money-tips/

http://www.salary.com/

 

 

 

“I pledge allegiance to the Hemp Flag of the United States of Intoxication, and to the Reefer for which it stands, one Stoned Nation under Bong, Incomprehensible, with ‘Medicine’ and Cannabis for all.”

Forget July 4 as our national holiday. Let’s break out the extra-special brownies on April 20.

hempflag

Sorry Barack. If you don’t believe that you are already a lame duck … Elizabeth Warren is already measuring the White House drapes … just be reminded that The New York Times always sets the agenda for everything and anything that happens in the United States of Intoxication (USI) from the upper west side to the banks of the Hudson and every other place across the fruited plain.

And now that very same New York Times editorial Pharisees have called for nationalization, taxation, regulation and most of all legalization of the fledging big marijuana industry, once again preempting those 50 annoying states, each of which may have their own ideas on the pot question.

“We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

“But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.” – New York Times editorial, July 26, 2014

Herb in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah?

Ready to get stoned, Sweet Home Alabama?

It’s for “medicinal” purposes, South Dakota?

Hey Oregon, why should your voters even vote on the issue of legalized marijuana this November considering that the New York Times has already spoke ex-cathedra on this issue?

Why not just mail it in?

Replace the Stars with Pot Leaves

Guess Betsy Ross got it all wrong. Or maybe she was inhaling from a bong.

She included the seven red stripes (not the Jamaican beer) and the six white stripes. She knitted the navy blue field. And then she added the first 13 stars. And later came 37 more.

betsyross

Is it time for a redo?

Let’s see, Colorado and Washington have already legalized marijuana and bundles of “Benjamins” are being spent on kosher weed because the banks will not offer their debit/credit card services for fear of running afoul with national money laundering statutes. That means the new flag only has two marijuana leaves for now with certainly more to come.

The Gray Lady wants to cut to the federal chase. Screw the cumbersome state-by-state approach and impose Roe v. Wade style preemption. And maybe even include a national sales tax on legalized pot (logical extension).

And as mentioned before in Almost DailyBrett, it will soon be time for publicly traded marijuana companies (e.g., NASDAQ: WEED) and even pot suppliers (e.g., NASDAQ: BONG), regulated by the Securities Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and others.

“Minor Problems”

“There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco.” – New York Times editorial, July 26, 2014

The editorial even claimed that moderate use (e.g., intoxication) “does not appear to pose a risk for healthy adults.” The Times also said that marijuana should be legalized nationally for those over 21-years of age.

Darn those pesky neurologists and their MRIs. They keep on letting their doctorates in medical science get in the way, even having the audacity to document long-term emotional and motivational issues for casual uses of marijuana.

“This (Society for Neuroscience) study suggests that even light-to-moderate recreational marijuana use can cause changes in brain anatomy,” said Carl Lupica, PhD, who studies drug addiction at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “These observations are particularly interesting because previous studies have focused primarily on the brains of heavy marijuana smokers, and have largely ignored the brains of casual users.”

neurologist

Guess this “interesting” study by scientific types is irrelevant because it contradicts the premise of the predictable New York Times editorial. And how clever to throw in comparisons with alcohol (potential intoxicant) and tobacco (fatal attraction).

It looks like we will all soon be living in the United States of Intoxication whether we like it or not.

Now let’s grab our bong (and munchies) as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the USI.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/27/opinion/sunday/high-time-marijuana-legalization.html?op-nav

http://www.sfn.org/Press-Room/News-Release-Archives/2014/Brain-Changes-Are-Associated-with-Casual-Marijuana-Use-in-Young-Adults

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/the-worlds-most-evil-product/

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/420_(cannabis_culture)

 

 

 

“It’s the edge of the world
“And all of western civilization
“The sun may rise in the East
“At least it settled in a final location
“It’s understood that Hollywood
“Sells Californication” –
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication

They received the same welcome as a swarm of locusts.

Blue Tarp Tenting at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island

They polluted campgrounds.

They clogged freeways and roads.

They had the audacity to pay cash, and drove up real estate prices.

They were the dirty, rotten Californicators and they were coming to the pristine Pacific Northwest in droves.

That was the 1990. This is now.

Six Californias, One Oregon, One Washington?

When the author of Almost DailyBrett left California for the first time in 1990, the destination was Portland, Oregon … long before it became known as the city, “where young people go to retire.”

It took awhile, but eventually I learned to answer “Sacramento” when people asked: “Where did you come from?”

Oregonians who immediately equated the word, “California,” with gag-me-with-the-spoon, “San Fernando Valley” didn’t know how to process, “Sacramento.” The “Valley” with its sprawl of cookie-cutter neighborhoods (e.g., Chatsworth, Reseda, Encino) with the Ventura Freeway and Monopoly ranch-style houses epitomized everything that was wrong with California.

Keep in mind, California at the time indeed was a “Great State with a Great Governor.” I proudly worked for that governor, George Deukmejian, for eight years, the most popular California chief executive of the modern era.

Sorry AH-Nold.

One sensed that the resentment for Californicators was born out of envy and jealousy. California has wunderbare Wetter, Silicon Valley, the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country, great beaches, Venice’s weightlifting platform, the San Francisco Giants, USC Trojans, Los Angeles Kings …

Oregon and Washington were recovering from twin economic downturns in forestry and aircraft manufacture (e.g., Boeing in Seattle). The weather changes every five minutes. Hey, check out that sun break before it goes away!

Now the proverbial shoe is on the other foot. California still has Silicon Valley, but the rest of the state is suffering with clogged freeways, skyrocketing housing prices, chronic budget snafus, foreclosures and food stamps. One rich venture capital-type – Harvard-Stanford educated Tim Draper — has even proposed submitting a 2016 ballot proposition to divide California into six states with 12 U.S. senators and scads of House members.

sixcalifornias

Maybe this contemplated action and others in the Golden State are just another tangible sign that the quality of life is simply better in the Pacific Northwest, and everyone knows it.

The End of Californication

“The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland!
“Sleep ‘til 11,
“You’ll be in heaven.” Theme Song for Portlandia

Maybe the Northwest’s now superior quality of life explains the profound change when I moved to no sales tax Oregon for the second time in 2010 to pursue my master’s degree from the University of Oregon in Eugene (e.g., University of California at Eugene).

Naturally, I took immediate steps to get the offending California license plates off my little green chariot. And this time when I  asked where I came from, I simply replied: “Silicon Valley,” even keeping my 408-area code cell phone number to prove it.

Certainly, the Silicon Valley suffers from the same indistinguishable communities (e.g., Milpitas, San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale) and butt-ugly topography that is the case for the San Fernando Valley. The difference is that Silicon Valley is the home of Apple, and UO academic types love their Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. They really don’t associate their Apple Kool-Aid consuming cult with California or even (shudder …) corporate America.

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There does not appear to be even remotely the same California envy and jealousy (save Oregon losing to Stanford in football the last two seasons…the Cardinal visits Autzen on November 1).  Oregon pinot noirs command top dollar. Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Amazon, Costco, Nordstrom, Microsoft, Starbucks are some of the coolest publicly traded companies on the planet.

And just in case you forgot, the Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers for the right to win the Super Bowl. If you don’t believe me, just ask Richard Sherman.

And if you want to relive the 1990s, retire young, forget all about your fellow Californicators, the Pacific Northwest is just beckoning for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlUKcNNmywk

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Californication

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/redhotchilipeppers/californication.html

http://geocurrents.info/place/north-america/northern-california/tim-drapers-proposed-six-californias

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_C._Draper

http://cnsnews.com/blog/lars-larson/portlandia-no-joke-city-where-young-people-go-retire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZt-pOc3moc

http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandcityhall/2010/12/portlandia_the_place_where_you.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portlandia_%28TV_series%29

 

 

 

 

 

 

“[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

 

 

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