Category: International Public Relations


“My country tried to kill me” – An Anonymous Baby Boomer Source

The Vietnam War has been over for 43 years … It’s time, actually it’s past time, to get over it.

Almost DailyBrett has run into more than a few fellow Baby Boomers, who are always stubbornly angry, refusing to even acknowledge anything positive about the United States of America.

In almost each and every one of these cases, the culprit was the seemingly never-ending war slowly starting in the early 1960s and ending with the visions of overloaded helicopters departing the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975.

The Vietnam misadventure was truly the nation’s first television war. Just like other scenes of mortal combat it was not a pretty sight. For the record, the conflict reigned during the administrations of two Democratic and two Republican presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.

There are those who lost loved ones in the rice paddies and jungles of Southeast Asia. Their eternal bitterness is understandable.

And there are those who could have gone, but for one reason or another missed the plane to Saigon.

In way too many cases, these folks (e.g., Baby Boomers) were not posting the red, white and blue on July 4 … or any other day of the year.

Some are nostalgic or still engaged in the communal poverty of the hippy movement. Everything from bras, draft cards and college administration buildings were publicly burned.

When in doubt, take to the streets. There are those who protest. There are those who invest.

The Vietnam Aggrieved has next-to-zero to say positive about living in an exceptional country.

How about Denmark? How about Sweden? How about Norway?

There were zero Vietnam Wars for this Nordic trio.

“This Country … “

Whenever a sentence begins with or/includes the phrase, “This country …,” don’t you instinctively know the dependent clause depicts a better life somewhere else/anywhere else.

Can’t tell you how many times, the author of Almost DailyBrett has mentally suggested a one-way ticket for the Vietnam Aggrieved to that somewhere else.

A man walks next to empty shelves in a supermarket in Caracas on January 22, 2012. According to the Central Bank (BCV) shortage of goods reached 16.3% in December 2012, the highest number in the last four years. AFP PHOTO / Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

“Venezuela has social justice … “ ‘Ticket to Caracas?’

“Denmark is a happy little country … “ ‘Did the Danes put a man on the moon?’

“Vietnam is so much better off …” ‘You didn’t want to go there in the late 1960s/early 1970s … do you want to go there now?’

Almost DailyBrett has zero issues with the Nordic countries, but still must ask what major role each played in defeating Nazism (there were resistance efforts for sure in Norway and Denmark) and Communism?

The United States is the global beacon for both opportunity capitalism and individual freedom … not bad, not bad at all.

The quality of life may be just swell among these Scandinavian countries, but collectively they are not even close to the productivity and influence of the world leading $20.19 trillion GDP generated by the United States of America.

Denmark has a beckoning mermaid in Copenhagen harbor. The United States has Lady Liberty in New York Harbor, who serves as an icon of freedom and a better life for literally millions and millions.

Is the United States perfect? Absolutely not. Stanford provost and former National Security Advisor/Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled slavery as America’s “birth defect.” Guilty as charged.

And yet, she took full advantage of her awesome skills and opportunities provided  to her. Condoleezza is  to be wonderful example about what each of us can potentially achieve.

Instead of Baby Boomers bitching, moaning, bemoaning and watching Ken Burns’ documentary about a war that ended almost five decades ago, they would be better off using these last years on the planet to embrace America and make it better for their presence on the fruited plain.

Sure beats bitching, moaning and bemoaning.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/09/vietnam-war-ken-burns-us-imperialism

 

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Can’t tell you how many times this familiar admonition has been heard in classes taught by Almost DailyBrett.

Even though the pre-flight instructions are boilerplate, mechanical and dull, this one statement always gets your attention.

Put on your own air mask first … before assisting others.

The point is how can you help anyone else, if you are gasping for air? You can’t.

Americans are recognized as the most generous and giving people on earth. That’s part of the reason we are an exceptional country.

Please feel free to argue in favor of Norway, Sweden, Denmark or any other über-government nation of choice.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), charitable giving by individuals as a percentage of GDP: America led the way at 1.44%, New Zealand 0.79%, Canada 0.77% and the UK 0.54%.

If you are scoring at home that means that Americans are contributing nearly 2x more than their nearest competitor.

Is generosity based upon heredity and examples of kindness demonstrated by parents? These are certainly factors.

There is another reason: Many Americans have bought low and sold high. They have invested in their own education. They have used their discretionary income for their retirement, their children’s education, the dream vacation, that new business they always dreamed about starting.

They have put on their own mask first by building personal/family wealth and prosperity.

They have realized that taking care of No. 1 is not selfish, but selfless. They are now in a better position to assist others, to write checks, to give back, to volunteer time to make a difference.

Taking Money Away From The Generous?

There is an unfortunate movement calling for ever-expanding governments in the name of the “public good” to penalize societal achievers with redistributive taxation. In return, there is the vision of guaranteed public sector jobs, free college, healthcare for all and maybe even the ultimate in entitlements: universal basic income.

Who needs college, a job or frankly anything else, when one has direct deposit for governmental largesse and the option to sleep until noon?

Will these souls be willing to part with even a small portion of their entitlement money for little or no work performed to assist others? Is it selfish or selfless to receive government subventions for simply breathing, eating, sleeping and performing biological functions?

Or is there another way?

How about coming up with a great idea? How about becoming an entrepreneur? How about having a dream? And if your vision is realized, then how about giving back big time to those less fortunate?

A great example is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which donated $41.3 billion so far to fight extreme hunger and poverty in developing nations. Bill Gates through his dreams, the creation of Microsoft, the unveiling of the ubiquitous Windows OS, and earning $92.9 billion in accumulated wealth, has made sure his air mask is tightly bound.

In return, he has assisted literally millions of others through his philanthropy and generosity.

Gates and his co-founder Paul Allen actually created Microsoft in 1975, not government.

Almost DailyBrett can’t stop thinking about how the Obamacare website repeatedly crashed and even its calculator didn’t work. “If you like your doctor or health plan … “

In contrast, how many tens of thousands transactions do Microsoft, Amazon, Apple … process per hour? And they overwhelmingly get these calculations right thanks to ingenious algorithms.

Shouldn’t the mission of a wise government be to foster an environment in which entrepreneurs can continue to dream, to build wealth and to give back to society?

The United States did not become the most generous nation on earth by accident. Our exceptional distinction was powered by those who put on their own mask first, and then … they assisted others, millions upon millions of others.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/america-new-zealand-and-canada-top-list-of-world-s-most-generous-nations-a6849221.html

https://www.donnaschilder.com/articles/life-coaching-articles/put-your-oxygen-mask-on-first/

https://thedijuliusgroup.com/put-your-own-mask-on-before-helping-others-your-best-is-unacceptable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/universal-right-to-a-paycheck/

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Foundation-Factsheet

https://www.forbes.com/profile/bill-gates/

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

Tact also counts more than ever, even for those not known for gentile diplomacy.

It’s way too easy to obsess about our digital world with instantaneous global communication in mere nanoseconds, which was unthinkable three decades ago.

These “destructive” technologies have forever changed the world (note Facebook and Google privacy concerns).

Even more destructive is the ability to plunge the world into an unthinkable thermonuclear exchange.

And let’s not forget trying to deflect attention from the ubiquitous, addictive smart phone.

Despite all these seismic shifts in the form of digital ones-and-zeroes, personal relationships are more than ever taking center-stage, particularly in the global political arena.

Think of it as “The Art of the Deal” on steroids.

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

Do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have the best personal PR, let alone Kim Jong Un?

This question seems almost silly, but the ability and willingness of these gents (and at least one Frau) to establish and maintain fragile bromances and romances in our scary digital world are absolutely vital for our survival.

Consider that Trump and Kim (dubbed by The Donald as “Rocket Man”) were bragging about the capability of their nuclear buttons a few months ago, yet they still may or may not meet in Singapore on June 12.

Despite the low expectations for lasting, meaningful success, the prospect of a Trump-Kim summit is far better than a potential nuclear war.

Arm-in-Arm gehen Francois Mitterrand (l) und Helmut Kohl (r)

When it comes to war and peace, bromances and romances matter. The longest sustained peace in Europe has been maintained by the establishment of The European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, followed by the European Community (EU) in 1993.

If you are scoring at home there has been peace for the most part on the European continent for 73 years and counting. The relationship between the two most influential EU members – Germany and France – has survived and prospered by means of the relationships between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, and then Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand, and now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As the lone woman in this equation (all due respect is afforded to the UK’s Theresa May), Merkel is rightfully regarded as the most powerful woman on earth – a title she did not seek and obviously does not cherish.

Nonetheless, Merkel has proven she is more than a match for some of the most self-absorbed men on this planet including: Trump, Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and to a lesser extent, Marcon.

Merkel’s relationship to Messrs. Trump and Putin are not warm and fuzzy, but she has been an effective foil. She rolled her eyes at Trump and reportedly insists on speaking German to Putin, while Putin speaks Russian to her – even though they are fluent in their respective languages.

Macron has obviously concluded that Trump is the leader of the world’s largest economy and power. Some have scoffed at the bromance between the two, and questioned what Macron has received in return (e.g., US pulled out the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear deal). Keep in mind that Macron has Trump’s ear, and may be Europe’s closest confidant to POTUS.

Trump’s bromance with China’s president Xi, including a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, is a complicated relationship including strategizing about Kim Jong Un’s nagging North Korea and the question of tariffs and intellectual property (IP) protection. A solid, even though conflicted, relationship between the world’s two largest economic and military powers increases – not decreases – the prospect for world peace and maybe even, harmony.

President Donald Trump talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan as they pose for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Time will tell whether Almost DailyBrett is correct on this point; hopefully that is the case.

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

But you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.

Russia’s leader will play games, including inviting his black lab Koni to a 2007 summit with canine-phobic Merkel (see earlier Almost DailyBrett blog on this Machiavellian topic). How will Putin exploit perceived Trump weaknesses? How will Trump counter?

And yet these two leaders appear to enjoy each other’s company, at least in front of the cameras.

Will Trump develop the same kind of rapport with Kim Jong Un?

Kim has already kibitzed with Xi and most recently on both sides of the most heavily fortified and dangerous border with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.  The overriding subject of their historic encounters: the prospect for a summit between Kim and The Donald, regardless of the potential for success.

In our increasingly dangerous world – in which the digital ones and zeroes work for us and hopefully not against us – Almost DailyBrett takes the humble view that talking is far better than fighting.

Bromances and Romances matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/common-market-founded

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

“You guys are obsessed with Trump … You pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. … He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. – Michelle Wolf speaking to the White House Correspondents Association dinner

Michelle Wolf once again proved the old adage: A stopped clock is indeed right twice a day.

Supposedly, Alec Baldwin is getting “tired” always playing Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” Somehow, someway Alec makes a go of it, even bringing in the real Stefanie Clifford (e.g., porn “star” Stormy Daniels) to play herself as SNL ratings soar.

Speaking to media expert Howard Kurtz, former RNC chairman and Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus, pointed to the universal improvement of media business models and share prices, and proclaimed:

“Trump is Money.”

Whether you are a conservative switching on Fox News, a liberal watching CNN’s angry talking heads or a socialist getting his or her red-meat fix on MSNBC, all three of these news networks are virtually 24/7/365 Donald Trump … and their ratings are upwards to the right.

Everyone and anywhere, the conversations are about Trump. As Patrick Buchanan once said: “Worse than being misquoted, is not being quoted at all.” Trump never suffered from this malady.

Since June 2015, the media has been in a foaming-at-the-mouth state of Schadenfreude waiting to stomp on Trump’s political grave … and yet the news of his demise has been greatly exaggerated.

As Almost DailyBrett and others have stated, Trump is a walking-talking-breathing, daily-outrage via Twitter or his own verbal expression machine. He is catnip to the media, and the Fourth Estate felines are stoned.

Some have suggested the American media (e.g., Wolf quote above) created Donald Trump and made his presidency possible. The mediaQuant estimates are America media provided the wealthiest presidential candidate in history with $4.6 billion (advertising equivalent) in earned media coverage.

Like him or detest him, Trump — “The Apprentice” — knows how the media works and plays it like a violin. There is nothing the media animal loves more than a good fight or a sordid controversy. Trump delivers in spades.

Show Me The Trump Money

The stately Gray Lady, The New York Times, (“All the News That’s Fit to Print”) at one time set the national agenda, providing us mere mortals with the daily subjects to think about and discuss over the dinner table.

That all ended with Twitter, particularly Trump’s nocturnal tweets – most outrageous, some not. Instead of the NYT being the poster child of Agenda Setting Theory, Trump with his presidential bully pulpit is posing the questions of the day … even before the Times hits the streets.

The inhabitants of the New York Times ivory tower have been preempted and leveraged, and they hate it. Let’s … yes, let’s write another front-page editorial chastising this rogue in the White House. That’ll show him.

Here’s the rub. Counterintuitively, negative publicity actually helps Trump. And in turn, Trump sells newspapers, raises Nielsen Ratings and boosts book sales.

We are approaching the three-year anniversary (June 16) of The Donald descending the Trump Tower escalator to declare his candidacy. The media was laughing back then, and going to the bank today.

Shares of the aforementioned New York Times are up 62.48 percent in the same three-year time period. 21st Century Fox, the parent of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, increased 11.62 percent. Comcast (NBC and MSNBC) is up 12.64 percent. Washington Post, 7.75 percent. Time Warner (CNN), 9.99 percent … How’s that for creating shareholder value?

The media is making money – lots of money – off Donald Trump. They can’t wait to collectively dance on his political grave, but just not now … pretty please with sugar on top.

Hold your collective ears New York Times Pharisees: When it comes to Donald Trump, you are only too eager …  yes, too eager … to buy low and sell high.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/06/arts/television/snl-stormy-daniels-donald-glover.html

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/30/17301436/michelle-wolf-speech-transcript-white-house-correspondents-dinner-sarah-huckabee-sanders

https://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/30/breakingviews-trump-cold-shoulder-for-tv-ads-may-set-the-trend.html

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13896916/1/donald-trump-rode-5-billion-in-free-media-to-the-white-house.html

 

 

 

 

“After the United States gobbled up California and half of Mexico, and we (Nazi Germany) were stripped down to nothing, territorial expansion suddenly becomes a crime. It’s been going on for centuries, and it will still go on,” – Hermann Goering at the Nürnberg Trials

The charges at the Nürnberg Trials focused on Nazi Germany’s conspiracy to wage global war, and as a result millions were left dead across devastated Europe, and more than 6 million perished in the Holocaust.

The 1945-1946 Nürnberg judicial proceedings had zero to do with the 19th Century US acquisition of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas following the Mexican War. Goering’s lame attempt at “WhatAboutism?” ultimately failed as a legal tactic.

And while Goering dodged the hangman’s noose via a cyanide tablet, the practice of “WhatAboutism?,” clumsily evading inconvenient subjects with rhetorical deflections, is alive and well in our 21st Century discourse.

If the subject is the #MeToo movement, why do more than a few Democrats say “WhatAbout Donald Trump (e.g., Stormy Daniels)?” and more than a few Republicans chime in with “WhatAbout Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky)?” Neither gent is a paragon of virtue. We all know that.

Isn’t the real subject about sexual harassment/abuse targeting women regardless of the perpetrator’s side of the political divide or profession (i.e., major networks, Hollywood …)?

Shouldn’t we address and endeavor as a civilized society to solve these widespread abuses targeting women? Or should we deflect attention (“What about … ?”) to avoid an uncomfortable subject, and better yet score political points?

Is “WhatAboutism?” the first-and-last recourse of the intellectually vanquished?

Does “WhatAboutism” Say More About The Perpetrator or The Receiver?

“He (Vice President Mike Pence) thinks abortion is murder, which first of all don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it—you know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there.” – Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Association dinner

“Essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse.” – Merriam-Webster definition of WhatAboutism

Every time, Almost DailyBrett hears a “WhatAboutism?,” a series of stages ensues in this order:

  1. Eyes roll (again); 2. Concludes that a nerve has been hit by the impulsive “WhatAbout?” reaction. 3. Realizes the “WhatAbout?” rejoinder is only intended to deflect attention/change the subject 4. Almost DailyBrett is even more determined than ever to stay on the subject, triggering a second “WhatAbout …?”

You can run Mr. or Ms. “WhatAbout?,” but you can’t hide.

If Hermann Goering can reference the Mexican War, why can’t we raise the “WhatAbout?” question about the Norman Conquest, and maybe even the Romans?

If a decent person with integrity questions Michelle Wolf’s absolutely hilarious abortion/tampon jokes at the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) dinner, does mere dissent instinctively draw a “What About” rejoinder from the defenders of “Oppositional Journalism”?

Hey just think. … Maybe … just maybe … Michelle Wolf’s lame attempt at below-the-belt, bathroom humor (e.g., cruelly directed at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and others) was totally inappropriate for a black tie dinner of the objective Fourth Estate in Washington, D.C.?.

Instead of deflecting questions about the Wolf’s vile, hate speech with an “WhatAbout?” interrogative, why can’t the responder instead ask whether the WHCA actually vetted the speaker?

Why can’t the receiver of incoming rhetorical arrows actually make a stand, and put up a spirited defense? How about the tried-and-true response from your author’s Sacramento days:

When all else fails: declare victory.  Thinking: (“Yep, we won … And here’s why).

Instead of affixing our rhetorical bayonets and rallying all the ethos, logos and pathos at our disposal, way too many “WhyAboutists” are simply deflecting their responses to some other notorious example (e.g., Mexican War) – many times unrelated —  to return fire.

The “WhatAboutists?” think they are so smug, when in reality they are waving their intellectual white flags.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hermann_G%C3%B6ring

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whataboutism-origin-meaning

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/whataboutism-what-about-it/2017/08/17/4d05ed36-82b4-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6f53b84cac9f

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-dogs-breakfast-of-a-dinner-1525388174

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

 

 

 

 

 

Is the Pope, Jesuit?

Do bears fertilize Yellowstone?

“Most of the literature supports that argument, which is incredibly destructive because professors are dumbing down their classes for better evaluations.” -University of Oregon Professor Bill Harbaugh

“Professors to some extent can ‘buy’ good evaluations by giving high grades, so the evaluation process is probably a major factor in grade inflation.” – Richard Vedder, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Dumbing down classes?

Buying good evaluations?

Why do SEOI (Student Evaluation of Instruction) results hold a disproportionate impact on whether an assistant professor achieves tenure at major universities or small colleges?

Sure there are other contributors particularly august, empirical research, but student evaluations are given so much weight that some professors may be prompted to go easy on their students.

Are these students ready for the reality of a boss? Have they become, the boss?

If tenure is the Holy Grail for academics, do college professors literally sell their collective souls to drink from the golden chalice?

Will professors avoid teaching difficult classes at unpopular times (e.g., communications research at 8 am) to protect tenure?

If they knew they had to bite into the forbidden apple by sweetening an undergraduate’s grade would they do so in order to earn tenure, making it nearly impossible to be terminated?

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to exit the academic world stage right in two months and one day (who is counting?), there are thoughts that keep coming back about how to improve higher education … if that is still possible.

My sentiments are not based upon cynicism, but a realistic acknowledgement about how difficult it is too meaningfully change the culture on our campuses, particularly when the adversaries are powerful professor unions and their CBAs (collective bargaining agreements).

What Is The Purpose of College, Anyway?

“Student evaluations can be useful when they are divorced from tenure, retention and promotion evaluations.” – Former Duke University Professor Stuart Rojstaczar

Walking along faculty office hallways, your author has been repeatedly stunned by assertions that the purpose of a university is to ensure that a student succeeds in her or his chosen … major.

Is the major an end in itself? Finis? Endo Musico?

If that is true the onus is not on whether a student is preparing for a career, but how a professor teaches courses and advises these fledglings in order to simply graduate.

Faculty über alles?

Almost DailyBrett has a differing view:

The mission of a college or university should be to prepare students to land positions with full benefits – not just jobs – in their respective fields of study. The results should be a happy and lucrative professional careers.

The curricula for a Department of Communication or a School of Journalism and Mass Communication should emphasize real-world courses, which lead to a recognized profession including: Digital Journalism, Film and Public Relations.

Are parents envisioning their child prodigy with tons of theory stuck in between the ears moving back home at 22-years-young?

How about reducing the tenure impact of the Student Evaluations of Instruction (SEOIs), and instead introducing a measurement that weighs how many of a professor’s students actually land positions in their respective fields of study and build meaningful careers?

Some are entitled to dismiss the musings of Almost DailyBrett, considering that your author is retiring after four years as a tenure-track assistant professor. This writer will NOT achieve tenure. Believe it or not, there are more ways than tenure to measure a meaningful career and life.

What is more exciting is how many of my students have moved onto the professional ranks and are thriving. As the airlines instruct us: “Put on your own mask before assisting others.” These newly minted professionals can buy low and sell high with their discretionary income because they have been prepared by professional schools.

Let’s see how they are doing in their fields? How can a university measure career accomplishment?

Every university has a “development” arm in the form of alumni associations. Similar to the IRS, alumni associations without fail will always find you.

You can run, but you can’t hide from … alumni associations. Rarely does a day go by without a communication from the University of Southern California and/or the University of Oregon.

Practicing evolution and not revolution, let’s retain but lower the impact of student evaluations and academic research. Let’s add into the mix how well our students are doing in landing real positions and building happy careers.

As Sheryl Crow sings, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/09/17/professors-and-the-students-who-grade-them/student-evaluations-offer-bad-data-that-leads-to-the-wrong-answer

https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/student-evaluations-grade-inflationdeclining-student-effort/24926

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2017/07/18/uo-study-finds-correlation-grade-inflation-student-course-evaluations/

 

The four basic tenets of crisis communication:

Tell The Truth,

Tell It All,

Tell It Fast,

Move On.

Can Almost DailyBrett add? Don’t take 937 words or more to tell your side of the story, five days late.

In this age of texting and social media, even 500 words are too much … way too much.

In the wake of Cambridge Analytica’s improper use of data from at least 50 million Facebook subscribers for political purposes, the social media company was conspicuously slow in replying.

The company’s common shares have already lost 13 percent in terms of market capitalization, two class-action lawsuits have been filed, and most likely, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened an investigation, and most likely Facebook’s CEO will be subpoenaed by both houses of Congress.

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally stepped to the plate last Wednesday with his mammoth Facebook post/statement. Reportedly, Zuckerberg has already lost $10 billion in net worth.

Responding to Zuckerberg’s lengthy epistle about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica affair, Kelly Evans of CNBC declared the company’s statement was TLDR or Too Long, Didn’t Read.

There was no question that Facebook needed to issue a statement from founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Mission accomplished … finally.

Actually reading and re-rereading Zuckerberg’s prose, one is convinced this is a classic case of CEO statement by committee. The world’s worst news releases are those composed by six, seven, eight, nine … or more (including lawyers), each with at least one point that needs to be incorporated.

Forget about zero based budgeting (e.g., one deletion for each addition), the Zuckerberg post comes across as both agonizing and defensive.

Beware Of Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

What does Almost DailyBrett recommend when it comes to composing a statement in a crisis situation?

First, keep the numbers of cooks in the kitchen to a minimum, no more than six people … including the principal, Zuckerberg, and the general counsel, Colin Stretch.

Second, ask who else needs to be there? COO Sheryl Sandberg? Okay who else? The determination for participation should be based exclusively on need to be there, not nice to be there.

Third, the lead public relations pro should serve as the editor for the post, coming into the meeting with a “strawman” draft, thus providing a starting point for the exercise.

Fourth, the goal of the statement should be completeness but not exhaustive completeness. The question: ‘Have we told our side of the story?’ Don’t expect to answer every question by means of a post. Make your points, and make them clearly.

Fifth, quarterback your disclosure process. Ensure your employees (e.g., Facebook, 25,105), customers (e.g., advertisers), shareholders, investors … everyone receives the message simultaneously.

Sixth, Zuckerberg’s post is “material” under SEC’s Reg FD (Fair Disclosure provision). The issuance of the post/statement requires the immediate filing of an 8-K disclosure, preferably upon the close of the U.S. markets at 4:01 pm EDT/1:01 pm PDT.

Seventh, Facebook’s communications team and hired-gun public relations agencies need to be disciplined, keeping their related chatter with business-political-trade reporters/editors to a minimum. Be deliberately boring. Don’t walk on the statement from the boss.

Looking back on the four tenets of crisis communications in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica case:

Did Facebook finally tell the truth? Only time will tell, but it appears the company is trying to do just that.

Did Facebook tell it all? From the size of the statement, the company told it all … and then some.

Did Facebook, tell it fast? Five days for a CEO response is untenable. For a social media leader, 937 words is inexcusable (more than three Twitter posts).

Is Facebook moving on with its Sunday newspaper ads?

Facebook is trying, but this story has legs (e.g., lawsuits, congressional testimony, stock under pressure). It appears that Facebook will have to do a better job monitoring the content on its site (most likely with future government regulation), even if it comes from 2 billion subscribers.

Wonder if Mark Zuckerberg wants to go back to his Harvard dorm room?

 

Hard Questions: Update on Cambridge Analytica (937 words)

Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced measures Facebook is taking to better protect people’s data, given reports that Cambridge Analytica may still be in possession of Facebook user data that was improperly obtained. We shared more information on the steps we’re taking to prevent abuse of our platform in a post on our Newsroom.

Mark Zuckerberg

on Wednesday

I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we’ve already taken and our next steps to address this important issue.

We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.

Here’s a timeline of the events:

In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social. Your calendar should be able to show your friends’ birthdays, your maps should show where your friends live, and your address book should show their pictures. To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them.

In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.

In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Kogan’s could no longer ask for data about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from us before they could request any sensitive data from people. These actions would prevent any app like Kogan’s from being able to access so much data today.

In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent, so we immediately banned Kogan’s app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. They provided these certifications.

Last week, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified. We immediately banned them from using any of our services. Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to confirm this. We’re also working with regulators as they investigate what happened.

This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.

In this case, we already took the most important steps a few years ago in 2014 to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information in this way. But there’s more we need to do and I’ll outline those steps here:

First, we will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.

Second, we will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo, and email address. We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data. And we’ll have more changes to share in the next few days.

Third, we want to make sure you understand which apps you’ve allowed to access your data. In the next month, we will show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you’ve used and an easy way to revoke those apps’ permissions to your data. We already have a tool to do this in your privacy settings, and now we will put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it.

Beyond the steps we had already taken in 2014, I believe these are the next steps we must take to continue to secure our platform.

I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/21/zuckerberg-statement-on-cambridge-analytica.html

https://www.cnbc.com/quotes/?symbol=FB&tab=profile

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/FB/profile?p=FB

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

 

 

 

H

“Invariably, when people read the headline about Martin Shkreli, they hate Martin Shkreli. When they get to know Martin Shkreli, they love Martin Shkreli.” – Martin Shkreli on Twitter

“He (Shkreli) needs to be mythical. He needs to be larger than life. He needs to be a rags-to-riches story. That image is his mansion. His Maserati.” – Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis

Martin Shkreli will be celebrating his 35th birthday next Saturday … behind bars.

Earlier, he labeled his federal prosecutors as the “junior varsity.” The JV team won.

His final destination will not be “Club Fed” as Shkreli once boasted on Twitter.

The sentence is seven years in prison with credit for the six months already served, and a $7.4 million fine.

Last month, CNBC dedicated its season debut of “American Greed” to Martin Shkreli. It was a personal branding and reputation management horror show, plain and simple.

There are zero public relations pros — regardless of their years of experience and skill – who could have saved Martin Shkreli from … himself.

No one loves Martin Shkreli – maybe with the exception of Martin Shkreli.

Among his litany of sins – the always smirking, taunting, arrogant Martin Shkreli — violated the cardinal rule of public relations (as if he ever weighed his own PR):

The most important public relations of all … is personal PR.

Former hedge-fund Wunderkind/drug-price fixer Shkreli received a seven year sentence for three counts of securities fraud.

 

His attorneys fought against a full 15-year sentence recommended by the U.S. Attorney, arguing he reportedly should not receive the maximum simply because he is … Martin Shkreli.

Shkreli long ago lost in the courtrooms of public opinion, where he was convicted for being … as the Brits would say, an arse.

For some reason, he refused to even acknowledge the myriad of societal stop signs, which constrain mere mortals. Even on Capitol Hill when he was taking the 5th (Amendment), he was even taunting Members of Congress with his characteristic smirk, and later insulted them on social media.

And today there is a worldwide breakout of Schadenfreude. We are all happy, including Almost DailyBrett, that Martin Shkreli is so sad.

Bringing The Donald and Hillary Together

“That guy is nothing. He’s zero. He’s nothing. He ought to be ashamed of himself.” – Donald Trump

“He still hasn’t said how much the drug will cost going forward, and in the meantime, sick patients still have to wait and worry and continue to pay $750/pill. So Mr. Shkreli, what’s it going to be?” – Hillary Clinton

“If there was a company that was selling an Aston Martin at the price of a bicycle, and we buy that company and we ask to charge Toyota prices, I don’t think that that should be a crime.” – Martin Shkreli on raising the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent

Martin Shkreli performed magic during the divisive 2016 presidential campaign; he managed to bring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton into an one-time agreement.

He defrauded his MSMB Capital investors, and raised the price of AIDS drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

With his indefensible actions Shkreli also indicted the entire American pharmaceutical industry, leaving the impression that every company was gauging patients with unjustifiable drug price increases. Some are guilty. Some are innocent.

Eventually, Shkreli called upon his social media followers to steal a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair as a bounty. He subsequently lost his $5 million bail, and was remanded to jail in Brooklyn.

Shkreli’s attorneys were hoping for a 12-18 month sentence. Federal prosecutors were asking for 15 years or even more. The judge played the sentence right down the middle: seven years.

The reality of jail and the prospect of more than one decade in prison seemed to make an overdue impression on Shkreli.

“There is no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli. I took down Martin Shkreli, with my disgraceful and shameful actions … This is my fault. I am not a victim here.” – Martin Shkreli at his March 9 sentencing.

Did Shkreli finally listen to his lawyers?

Was his statement before the judge, and by extension the world, written by a public relations counselor?

Did he in the end, get religion?

Too little, too late Martin.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/09/pharma-bro-martin-shkreli-sentenced-to-7-years-in-prison.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/martin-shkreli-sentenced-to-seven-years-in-prison-1520621915

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/23/the-american-greed-report-how-to-beat-the-pharma-bros-and-save-money-on-your-prescriptions.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/martin-shkreli-found-guilty-in-securities-fraud-trial-1501873444?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=35

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/donald-trump-blasts-martin-shkreli-826848

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Shkreli

 

“I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works.”

“It’s not a mere threat, but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office.”

Almost DailyBrett quiz question: Which quote was uttered by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and which one was tweeted by Donald Trump?

Both quotes appear to be almost identical, except one obviously followed the other. Sounds like two testosterone-enhanced males comparing the size of their “buttons.” And what are the consequences of these intemperate remarks?

Does it really matter? Ask the Hawaiians.

Where and when did we hear the quote before: “This is not a drill”?

Hawaii has been infamously bombed before. Just yesterday, the entire State of Hawaii was contemplating nuclear annihilation, collectively kissing themselves good bye.

The “Oops” moment in the Aloha State capped a week filled with public discussion of sphincter-aperture countries, a potentially paid off porn actress, and even Oprah running for president.

 

And that is only for one week.

It used to be the four-letter, s-word was verboten on the pages of our family newspapers and by means of FCC regulations of our air waves. Now the word, shithole, is freakin’ everywhere.

The media, particularly the 24-7-365 talking heads on your affirmational media of choice (i.e., CNN, Fox News, MSNBC), are seizing upon each newest outrage.

Wasn’t “Sloppy” Steve Bannon, “out of his mind”?

Was that “Fire and Fury” last week or the week before? Hard to keep track.

One outrage begets the next outrage. Are we as a society becoming increasingly numb to non-stop outrage?

Is everything coming out of the White House an outrage, and then the knee-jerk media response to the outrage … or does it seem that way?

Four presidents (e.g., #41, #42, #43, #44) called for Jerusalem to be recognized as Israel’s capital. Trump did the same, and that constitutes an outrage. The unstable Middle East will become more … unstable. Outrageous.

Is the media obligated to bloviate about every outage? And when they do, is the result more outrage following outrage?

How do we turn down the temperature as a society?

Does the media want to turn down the thermostat when glaring headlines are good for ratings and readership?

Media Treatment of Black and Brown Countries

“If the earth had an anus, it would be located in Yemen.” – Best Selling author Nelson DeMille, The Panther.

“In the storm of mainstream anger, it is hypocritical of the media to fail to reckon with and correct its own practices of reporting on black and brown countries and how this coverage affects perceptions about very real people.”—Karen Attiah, Washington Post Global Opinions editor

Is Trump saying out loud, what many people in-and-out of the media (not all, of course) have been thinking for years?

Karen Attiah in her piece in the Washington Post reminded the Fourth Estate that its ledger is not exactly clean, when it comes to derogatory characterizations about Third World locales.

And yet they are the first to yell and screen about Trump’s alleged “shithole country” remarks. How do we know these exact words were uttered? U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said they were genuine.

Does Senator Durbin have a competing political agenda? Does that matter?

Former George H.W. Bush was roundly criticized for being out of touch, when he was amazed that supermarkets used scanners at the checkout counter. He failed to secure re-election.

In contrast, Trump by contrast seemingly has something outrageous to say about every topic.

Will we all be exhausted by this never-ending stream of controversy by 2020?

Or will we accept that outrage du jour is the new norm in American life?

Does it have to be this way?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/01/12/its-not-just-trump-western-media-has-long-treated-black-and-brown-countries-like-shitholes/?utm_term=.064b1ace58a9&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

https://www.amazon.com/Panther-John-Corey-Novel/dp/0446619264#reader_0446619264

 

“My finger said what I was feeling, I’m angry and I’m frustrated.” – Former Marketing and Communications professional Juli Briskman

TOPSHOT – A woman on a bike gestures with her middle finger as a motorcade with US President Donald Trump departs Trump National Golf Course October 28, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

As we all know: You cannot yell “Theatre!” in a crowded fire station.

There are indeed reasonable limits to our cherished First Amendment Right of Free Speech.

As an employee of any organization, one instinctively knows that not all speech is protected.

When are you on the clock working for the boss?

And when are you on your own time?

Is there a distinction (without a difference?)? Are they one-and-the-same?

Last month, Juli Briskman went out for a Saturday bike ride. During the course of her ride, she encountered a convoy of limousines and secret service protection. It was indeed the caravan of the 45th President of the United States.

Briskman utilized the opportunity from the bike lane to give the occupant the infamous one-finger salute.

As another sign of our digital 21st Century times, the photo of her gesture went viral. After becoming a 15-minute-plus celebrity, Briskman reportedly posted her middle-finger image on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

As it turns out her employer, a federal contractor by the name of Akima LLC, found her gesture toward POTUS neither funny nor amusing. Briskman claimed she was just a simple bike rider on her own time flipping off the president.

Akima, located in an employment-at-will state (e.g., Virginia), quickly made the decision to fire Briskman for twice-at-least posting her single-digit salute to the nation’s chief executive on social media.

Considering the divisiveness of today’s politics, the coverage of her gesture/firing quickly became big-time news for affirmational journalists. GoFundMe reportedly even raised $30,000 to support Briskman, bringing into question whether subsequent coarsening-of-America actions will become charitable giving opportunities?

Still the basic interrogative needs to be answered: Are you really on your own time and as a result able to express yourself however/whenever you want, when you are employed on an at-will basis?

Pleasure Appointment

Five years ago, the author of Almost DailyBrett wrote about his “No Second Beer Rule,” reflecting on his tenure as a lead media spokesman/Press Secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian.

As a “Pleasure Appointee” of the 35th Governor of the State of California, yours truly never separated my official role in the Office of the Governor from my personal life. They were essentially one-and-the-same for eight years.

Many times media calls came in the middle of the night. Here’s where the no two-beer rule came into play: If I was quoted while under the influence and subsequently uttered a major gaffe, there is little doubt the governor would have relieved me from my duties.

Worse if I was pulled over for DUI, your author would NOT be just another irresponsible sap arrested for drunk driving. Instead, one can easily envision the headlines: “Governor Deukmejian Press Secy Arrested for DUI.”

There is absolutely no distinction in this case between private citizen/government employee in a sensitive job working for the governor of the largest state in the union.

Yours truly would have been immediately terminated with cause by the former attorney general and would understand completely why my foolish actions led to my dismissal. It was truly a privilege to serve the governor, and with that opportunity came a sacred responsibility.

There would not be any $30,000 support payment for me.

#HasJustineLandedYet

I’m an IAC employee and I don’t want @JustineSacco doing any communications on our behalf ever again. Ever.” – Unnamed IAC employee responding Justine Sacco’s tweet

Justine Sacco had it made.

At 30-years-young, she was the senior director of Corporate Communications for InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ: IAC), a $3 billion+ internet and media services company with more than 100 recognizable brands (i.e., The Daily Beast, Match.com, Vimeo, Angie’s List …).

During the 2013 holidays, Sacco was flying from JFK with a stop at Heathrow and then continuing on to Cape Town, South Africa. She was firing off acerbic tweets about English teeth and German body odor during her trip. And then she hit the send button on an immediately viral, less-than-140 characters tweet, which changed her life forever.

Sacco was terminated before her plane landed in Cape Town. She slept during the course of her 11-hour flight from London to Cape Town with her phone in “airplane” mode.  She did not understand the consequences of her tweet until she turned on her phone.

As a college professor teaching public relations, advertising, corporate communications and investor relations, my students are simply stunned when Sacco’s PowerPoint slide of her tweet is first presented.

Was she simply not thinking? Was she trying to be cute or clever? Is she, racist?

The answer to the first is certainly, yes. The response to the second is, most likely. The fact the third question is even asked in a serious vain is damning in-and-of itself.

She may have been on a holiday trip to South Africa and may have seen herself as simply exercising her guaranteed First Amendment Rights as a citizen. Nonetheless, she was the senior director of Corporate Public Relations for a major publicly traded company and she fired off an acerbic and insensitive tweet that comes across as racist and not caring about the spread of AIDS in Africa.

InterActiveCorp was well within its rights in terminating Justine. In fact, the company really had no choice.

Maybe if she had just flipped off the President of the United States, she may still be working for IAC today … or maybe not.

Alas, life is just not fair.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/woman-flips-off-donald-trump-fired_us_59fe0ab4e4b0c9652fffa484

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/no-second-beer-rule/

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/359727-crowdfunding-campaign-raises-over-30k-for-woman-fired-for

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/11/07/woman-fired-after-flipping-off-trumps-motorcade.html

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/politics/juli-briskman-motorcade-protest/index.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=0

http://uproxx.com/webculture/what-happened-to-justine-sacco-the-woman-whose-life-was-ruined-by-an-aids-joke-she-made-on-twitter/

 

 

 

 

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