Category: PR Miracles


“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

 

 

 

 

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We all lost a great one today.

He was one of the most popular governors in the proud history of California.

George Deukmejian was much more than the 35th chief executive of the Golden State.

For Almost DailyBrett, a former cub reporter with a fascination of all things political … and a little hair at the time (see photo above), meeting and working for George Deukmejian changed my life.

Instead of taking and keeping an eternal vow of poverty as a reporter, your author was serving as the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee at 27-years-very-young.

My salary was $18,000 annually, but quite frankly I would have worked for nada for the experience. My transformation from a registered Democrat to a proud Reaganite Republican began in 1982. More importantly, my three-decade-plus career in public relations ensued with the gubernatorial primary and general election campaigns; we almost lost both until we won.

Sacramento was a hostile place in 1983. The other party controlled literally everything with the exception of the corner office. We needed the “Iron Duke” more than ever.

Feb. 26, 1983: California Gov. and Mrs. Deukmejian, left, watch as Mrs. George Finlayson, wife of the British Consul General, curtsies before Queen Elizabeth II in a reception line at the Broadway Street Pier in San Diego. This photo was published in the Feb. 27, 1983 LA Times.

Our friendly adversaries in the Capitol Press Corps, who were not predisposed to our way of seeing the world, deep down respected “The Duke.” They would state that George Deukmejian was a little dull (his favorite color was … “gray”), but his team was well-organized. The Deukmejian administration spoke in one voice from the first day to the last day eight years later.

It was well known that others were offering their champions as press secretary when the job came open in 1987. There was little secret that I wanted the job, primarily based upon my institutional memory about everything and anything George Deukmejian.

The governor had faith in me, and gave a chance so many others would have denied me. For three years, I served as his spokesperson and a chief message developer. The first day became the next day. The first week became the second week. The first month …

Looking back on his years as governor, your author still remembers pushing the media horde back just to give him a glimpse of the horrifically damaged Cypress Structure the day after the October 17,1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

LOS ANGELES – JUNE 07: Governor George Deukmejian campaigns for George Bush on June 7, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Grecco)

Each year after leaving the Office of the Governor in December 1989, George Deukmejian never missed sending a holiday card or a note now and then. When my first wife, Robin passed away, (he attended our wedding as governor), he called me to offer his condolences. That is the George Deukmejian I knew, kind and considerate right up to today … this sad, last day.

“We”, “Us”, “Our”

George Deukmejian always spoke in first-person plural, never wanting to draw undue attention to himself even though he was the chief executive of the largest state of the union. In a rare occasion in which he would employ the first-person singular, he once said: “my tear ducts are close to my eyes.”

His lifelong campaign was for public safety. He bravely called for California’s assault weapon ban when little Korean children were murdered by an AK-47 on a Stockton schoolyard. The NRA went crazy. What else is new?

The suffering endured by his ancestors in the 1915 Armenian Genocide always brought sad memories every April 24, and opposition to the Reagan administration’s stance on Turkey.

Many focus on his judicial appointments (yours truly wrote the vast majority of these news releases), his expansion of the state prison system, and his support for highways to get people to work … but seem to forget his lifelong dedication to human rights.

Then California Attorney George “Duke” Deukmejian and wonderful wife, Gloria at the Deukmejian for Governor headquarters opening in Manahattan Beach sirca 1982.

George Deukmejian was a committed fiscal-integrity, public-safety conservative. There were no flip-flops with the governor. He was at total peace with his philosophy.

And when the day was done, it was done. He went home to Gloria, his children, the noisy beagles and his one consistent vice, jamoca almond fudge.

Almost DailyBrett sensed this day was coming. My only regret is that I wished for the time and at least one more opportunity to be with him in these last years … just to say hello, and goodbye.

Your author will sign off with a tear from the ducts close to his eyes. He will make a promise to only use the first person plural. He will always remember the man who gave him a chance, when others would not.

George Deukmejian was the Governor, who changed my life.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-george-deukmejian-20180510-story.html

 

 

Tuesday was the day that Facebook Wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg came to Capitol Hill.

As Zuckerberg spoke on the right-side of the CNBC split screen, the left side told the story of surging Facebook shares.

Facebook’s market capitalization (share price x # of shares) vaulted $21.5 billion that day … that’s serious money.

When the dust settled Tuesday, Facebook’s total market value was $479.4 billion.

Who says you can’t quantify effective public relations? You can … let Almost DailyBrett illustrate at least $21.5 billion reasons why branding, marketing and reputation management make a world of difference.

If you are scoring at home, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) yesterday jumped $7.11 per share or 4.5 percent to $165.04 at Tuesday’s close of markets. The stock continued to climb today (Wednesday) to $166.32 or a total market cap of $483.2 billion … nearly $4 billion more.

For Zuckerberg, there was no hoodie, no t-shirt, but instead a nice navy blue suit with a royal blue tie.

The 33-year-old Phillips Exeter Academy grad/Harvard University “dropout” said all the right things (at least in his prepared testimony).

Was it a day in which Zuckerberg … Veni, Vidi, Vici … Came. Saw. Conquered?

Maybe not the latter … He was indeed grilled by U.S. senators Tuesday and members of the House of Representatives today, bringing a sense of Schadenfreude to many of the misguided, who want to see these daring entrepreneurs brought down, crashing to earth. Indeed, no good deed goes unpunished.

Nonetheless, Zuckerberg reassured his investors, who have placed their faith and their hard-earned discretionary cash into Facebook shares.

The largest communications platform – let alone social media site — in the history of the planet with its 2 billion-plus subscribers lived to fight another day, albeit government regulation is likely on the way.

Apology Tour?

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg was chastised by members of Congress for repeatedly apologizing. Keep in mind these are the same critics who rant-and-scream that Donald Trump never apologizes. Which is worse: Saying you’re sorry or never giving a rat’s behind about anybody else’s feelings?

Almost DailyBrett has a habit of coming down in favor of the risk-taker, the entrepreneur, “The Man in the Arena” as described by Teddy Roosevelt in his famous address at the Sorbonne.

Mark Zuckerberg is surely not perfect as this blog has reported, but at the same time he obviously takes PR advice. He wore the suit, demonstrating respect and deference to the hallowed halls of Congress. His statement was well crafted, not overly long, not legalistic and most of all, it was humble.

He was coached and for the most part was prepared for the grind, the pressure and the questions.

Certainly, the Cambridge Analytica mess harkens concern. Facebook was five-days tardy in responding and the social media post was TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read). The last few months have not been the best of times for Facebook. They have not been the worst of times either as the company has the opportunity to do better.

What scares Almost DailyBrett is that members of Congress contend they are tan, rested and ready to craft, pass and enforce regulations to fix Silicon Valley, not only Facebook but Google, Apple and Amazon.

Watching Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) reading a prepared set of questions developed by his staff, one comes away with the sense that the honorable senator wouldn’t know an algorithm if it bit him on his gluteus maximus.

How will the senator and the majority of his colleagues, who are virtually clueless about Silicon Valley, develop regulation legislation that does not stifle the creativity of an American $40.7 billion market leader, employing 25,105, just 14 years after being created in Zuckerberg’s dorm room?

Almost DailyBrett must ask: Who are more vital to America’s future – entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Zuckerberg – or the regulators?

Has there ever been a Harvard Business Review article about regulators, let alone museum exhibits.

There are zero statues erected to honor critics, let alone regulators.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/silicon-valley-to-washington-why-dont-you-get-us-1523451203

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/10/us/politics/mark-zuckerberg-testimony.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/11/facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-testimony-key-points.html

http://variety.com/2018/digital/news/facebook-stock-mark-zuckerberg-testifies-senate-1202749625/

http://fortune.com/2018/04/10/heres-why-facebook-just-gained-21-billion-in-value/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/too-long-didnt-read-tldr/

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

 

 

 

 

 

“We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.” – Tim Cook, Apple chief executive officer

The largest taxpayer in the world is paying more … $38 billion more … in one lump sum.

Apple is repatriating $200 billion in the world’s largest amount of overseas corporate assets, $252 billion.

The company also announced $350 billion in direct investments in the U.S. economy, not just share buy-backs. Apple will create 20,000 jobs right here in America.

Almost DailyBrett is proud to be an Apple shareholder, for more than the 83 percent in share appreciation since 2015.

Tim Cook and his lieutenants are proving to the world that a great company can be more than the innovator and producer of wonderful products (i.e. iPhone X, iPads, Mac). Apple is more than 123,000 jobs with full benefits and a terrific return for its shareholders

Apple is also redefining the relationship between fiduciary responsibility and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

To a few misguided, well-meaning souls, major corporations are somehow the enemy of the masses. And yet how does one who holds these views explain Apple’s good deeds?

The $38 billion is happening right now. These are additional revenues for the government that would have remained trapped overseas without a reduction in the world’s largest 35 percent corporate rate to 21 percent.

Think of $38 billion in terms of 38 x 1,000 x $1 million. That amount can start to make a quite a dent in fixing our highways, airports, bridges and other major infrastructure needs.

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Campus 2 is seen under construction in Cupertino, California in this aerial photo taken January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger/File Photo

So much for those who say that tax reform is not a dynamic scoring stimulus.

These are the same folks who conveniently forgot the nation’s largest peacetime expansion occurred during the Reagan Presidency years in which 19 million jobs were created.

Yes, there will be a $1.75 billion-over-20 years impact to the federal treasury using static scoring.

But how much additional economic stimulus will come from putting more revenues back into the economy and lifting time-consuming, expensive regulations? This is the serendipity of dynamic scoring.

Now that Apple has announced the one-time payment of record taxes, a flood of domestic investment and five-figure increases in hiring, will Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Oracle do the same?

According to Standard & Poors, Microsoft has $132.1 billion in overseas holdings; Cisco, $69.1 billion, Google, $60.5 billion and Oracle, $58.5 billion.

Messrs Satya Nadella (MSFT), Chuck Robbins (CSCO), Larry Page (GOOG) and Mark Hurd (ORCL), it is time for each of your companies to follow Tim Cook’s lead and to give back to America.

Great Time To Be A College Graduate

As a tenure-track assistant professor of public relations, integrated marketing communications, corporate communications and investor relations, the author of Almost DailyBrett could not be more excited for my graduating students.

Please do not dismiss my excitement as Greenspanesque “Irrational Exuberance.” There is little doubt that our 26,000-point Dow is in need of a healthy correction, maybe 10 percent or more.

Nonetheless, when was the last time that our GDP (gross domestic product) was growing at a 3 percent annualized rate?

Our unemployment rate stands at 4.1 percent, very close to full employment.

Wages and salaries are rising, reflecting a labor shortage for skilled employees.

Our inflation rate (e.g., Consumer Price Index) was 2.1 percent in December.

The Federal Reserve’s Fed Funds rate is 1.25 percent.

Hmm … bull market, expanding global economy, low unemployment, labor shortage, low inflation, miniscule interest rates … sounds like a Goldilocks Economy. What’s not to like?

To top it off, we now have tax reform and regulatory relief.

Certainly, all of these factors will not last forever. They can’t and they won’t.

Having said all of the above, this is a great time to start or revive a career. Your author could not be more stoked for his students.

And he has more than once cautioned his students against taking the first offer. Don’t be arrogant. At the same time, don’t be afraid to be confident and maybe a tad bold.

Tim Cook and Apple have the wind in their sails. And to prove it, they are paying record taxes, investing in America and hiring Americans.

We have at least 200 billion repatriated reasons to rejoice.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-to-pay-38-billion-in-repatriation-tax-plans-new-u-s-campus-1516215419

 

 

 

It was the agony of defeat … over and over again.

All throughout the garbage-time fourth quarter in South Bend, the voyeuristic NBC cameras kept focusing on the deadpan face of an obviously hurting 20-year-old college student.

He was anything Saturday but “So Good, So Cool, So Cal.”

The Associated Press pointed out that USC has already turned over the ball 19 times in eight games, emphasizing that 16 of these were committed by quarterback Sam Darnold.

There will be no all-expense-paid trip to New York in December.

Someone else will receive the Heisman.

There will be better days for Sam Darnold, maybe this coming weekend in Tempe.

He will celebrate his 21st birthday next June 5.

As a college professor, who once roamed the sidelines as a student football manager for both USC and Oregon in the mid-1970s, Almost DailyBrett must ask:

Are pre-season Heisman Trophy hype campaigns launched by university athletic departments/sports information offices in the best interest of a college-student/athlete, who is not old enough to legally order a beer?

Is the young stud ready for the plethora of writers, camera lenses, microphones and fawning stories? The media is absolutely superb at building up a celebrity; the beast is even better at crashing the new hero down to earth and stomping on him.

Some may contend these premature campaigns draw national media attention that carries over to the season and may lead to holding up the most famous stiff-arm in all of sports.

USC athletes need extra media attention in the second largest television market in the country?

Almost DailyBrett wonders whether more times than naught these athletic departments are setting up these young people, students at their school – most not ready for the limelight – for failure by the jury-judge-executioner media (e.g., MSESPN).

Believe it or not, these kids have to go to school, attend classes, submit papers, work on projects and take exams (okay, maybe not the University of North Carolina basketball team).

Your author knows as much as any other writer, how a mere university cannot control the Fourth Estate. If the folks in Bristol, Connecticut or Sports Illustrated wish to build up their list of Heisman candidates before the season starts, who is going to stop them?

Cats are easier to herd.

Halloween and The First CFP Rankings

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will not release its rankings for the real contenders for the sport’s four playoff spots until Halloween, safely past the mid-point of the season.

If the NCAA is “wise” enough to put off the hoopla surrounding who could be playing in the first semifinal at the Rose Bowl and the second in the New Orleans Superdome, then why can’t this august body put a kibosh on overactive athletic departments, exploiting underage students?

Many say: “Where are the parents?” Almost DailyBrett asks: “Where are the university presidents?”

It doesn’t matter whether a student seeking the NFL degree attends a heavily covered traditional power (e.g., USC Heisman campaign for Sam Darnold and Matt Barkley) or less heavily covered sometimes power (e.g., Oregon with the Joey Harrington Times Square billboard and Marcus Mariota), the respective athletic departments/sports information departments need to remember the football team represents the university … not the other away around.

Football is a team sport. Yes, everyone knows a quarterback is the most equal-of-the-equals and has the best chance of holding up the Heisman hardware, but the trophy is not presented on a Southern California beach in August.

The 12+-week season is a grind. This year’s team may not be the same as last year’s team. Conferences abound with college towns and trap games. College football is much more unpredictable than the brand played by the National Field-Goal League (NFL).

Sam Darnold is talented, but clearly does not have the hogs in the offensive line or the skill players beside him. The Trojans are good, maybe the best in the Pac-12, in a down year for the conference. The league will not send a team to the playoff unless there is dog-eat-dog chaos in the other conferences.

Hopefully, Darnold’s parents will be wise enough to steer him to return to USC for another year. He needs the time to work on his game, hit the books and earn a degree in communications. There may even be a Heisman Trophy and the NFL dollars in his happier future.

Wonder if the USC Athletic Department/Sports Information Office can dial back the P.T. Barnum/Donald Trump hype and let a good college kid be a good college kid?

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

http://www.espn.com/college-football/undefined

http://www.latimes.com/sports/usc/la-sp-usc-notre-dame-20171021-story.html

http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/news/college-football-playoff-rankings-2017-2018-release-date-schedule-cfp-selection-day-committee-national-championship/t22jkpo01wej1j8dzmr925m28

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/should-matt-barkley-be-canonized/

https://247sports.com/college/usc/Article/Sam-Darnold-says-Irish-were-a-little-too-much-to-handle-109296081

 

 

 

 

Angela Merkel is not a feminist.

There is no need for her to talk about breaking through any glass ceilings. In her own characteristic quiet and unassuming way, Merkel smashed it 12 years ago, and just did it again for the third time.

For maybe the first time since the end of occupation in 1949 Germany is a quiet, normal and happy nation, an obvious contrast to the Brexit Brits or the Trump-era Americans.

Today she is the thrice re-elected Chancellor of the patriarchal Fatherland, who just happens to be a woman … a great woman.

The soft-spoken Merkel is the most powerful voice in Europe. Some refer to her as the leader of the free world, a designation she does not want and a role that is simply too big for Germany and its 82 million people. The Economist accurately portrays Merkel’s Germany as the “reluctant hegemon.”

Merkel is on track to becoming one of the longest serving and most likely one of the greatest Kanzlers in the history of the Federal Republic of Deutschland (Bundesrepublik). Her only historical rivals are the memories of Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Best of all, there is no need for Merkel to speak in the first-person singular: Ich, Mein, Mich. She prefers to talk about das Land, Deutschland.

Her campaign motto: “A Germany where we live well and gladly.” To Almost DailyBrett, this wordy mantra conjures pleasant memories of “Morning in America.”

Missing The Real Story … Again

Alas, despite Merkel’s historic accomplishments the media seems preoccupied with the initial third-place entrance of the anti-EU, anti-refugee Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) into the legislative Bundestag with about 13 percent of the vote.

With all due respect to the all-knowing and hyperventilating Fourth Estate, that’s not the story. Think of it this way: 87 percent of German voters opted for other parties, while re-electing Angela Merkel.

Maybe Merkel has unintentionally taught the world an answer to unfortunate/systemic misogyny and sexism:

Undoubtedly influenced by her Ph.D in quantum chemistry, Merkel scientifically examines the issue at hand, seeks input from a variety of sources, prepares soundly, and announces a reasoned decision. There is no place for high oratory about glass ceilings in a nation that no longer wants oratory and political symbolism/pageantry. Instead her secret is to get the job done and to do it well.

Indeed, good government is good politics.

Dealing with Germany’s past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), the nation now more than ever seeks order (Ordnung).

Merkel does not rattle the collective cages of the Fatherland’s patriarchy. She has been pejoratively labeled “Mutti,” a German diminutive of “mother.” Merkel wears this soft-sounding invective as a badge, once proclaiming that Germany is in good hands (and care) with her leadership.

Despite being labeled as the leader of the Western world, the center-right chancellor wants to work within the framework of the European Union and NATO. Since the founding of the EU, Europe has enjoyed the longest period of sustained peace in the continent’s history.

In her victory speech — that didn’t sound like a victory speech – Merkel said that she will examine why some Germans voted for the AfD, and explore how her CDU/CSU party can appeal to these poor souls.

The immediate task is the formation of a coalition government, most likely a Jamaica coalition that mirrors the colors of the island nation’s flag: CDU/CSU (black); Free Democrats (yellow) and Die Grünen (naturally … green).

After the coalition building process is done, Merkel will go back to systemically addressing issues at home and throughout Europe in her time-tested consensus building approach. There will be no time to talk and muse about her place in history.

And when it comes time for an assessment about “What Happened” during her tenure, Merkel will gladly leave that task to others.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41376577

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/world/europe/germany-election-merkel.html?mcubz=1

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/bundestagswahl-im-sz-liveblog-bundestag-waechst-wohl-um-mindestens-sitze-1.3671253

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/sunday-review/angela-merkel-feminist-germany.html

https://www.economist.com/blogs/kaffeeklatsch/2017/09/next-bundestag

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21728641-assessing-leader-inscrutable-sphinxes-divas-and-queens-how-angela-merkel-changing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

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

It’s not whose army wins, it’s also whose story wins. And we have to think more about narratives and whose narrative is going to be the most effective.” – Harvard Kennedy School Political Science Professor Joseph Nye, 2010 TED Talk

The U.S. ranks No. 1 for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at $18.56 trillion, and holds the top position in The National Brand Index.

When it comes to “hard power,” including its military and its economy, the U.S. has no rivals … at least for the immediate future.

Despite these clear hard-power advantages, the U.S. reportedly spent $670 million for “public diplomacy” in 2014, according to George Washington University professor of political science David Shambaugh.

In contrast, China spends $10 billion annually to project itself as a “soft power.”

China as a soft power? In essence, the answer is affirmative. China recognizes it needs more than the collective power of its 1.37 billion people, its second-ranking $11.39 trillion economy, and its growing military strength. China is trying to promote its distinct culture, its language and market its country as a place to invest and visit.

The aforementioned Professor Nye is widely credited with formulating the notion of “soft power” or projecting what you have in terms of culture, language, business, tourism etc. to those who may want the same.

Some contend as mentioned in the stately The Economist that a totalitarian state (e.g., China) may not effectively exhibit soft power as it may be interpreted as single-party propaganda. And yet China created The Confucius Institute in 2004 to entice the appreciation of its culture, to lure hundreds of thousands to study its difficult language and visit and invest in China.

Is the Politburo in Beijing trying to buy love?

From The Devastation of War, Occupation, Division and the Holocaust

The activities of the Goethe Institut improve Germany’s reputation abroad, enhance the quality of German-language teaching, contribute to the development of the German language, promote German artists worldwide, and attract talented youth and professionals to Germany.” – Tatiana Lanshina, “The Goethe Institute and Soft Power”

Germany experimented twice in “hard power” in the 20th Century … and lost big time, both times.

In 1951, Germany’s public relations (Öffentlichkeitsarbeit) were understandably at an all-time low … most likely the deepest nadir experienced by any country at any time. Interest in German Kultur, Sprache and Land was close to nil.

These facts did not stop Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the German government from creating the Goethe Institut in 1951. The mission of this 350-Euro non-profit organization, drawing the majority of its funds from the German foreign ministry, was to use the forgiveness of time to eventually and systematically regain interest in Das Land in der Mitte (The country in the middle of Europe).

Fast forward to today, Germany is No. 2 in the National Brand Index trailing only the United States. The country’s transformation from an international pariah to revered is nothing less than a public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder).

The author of Almost DailyBrett has a framed Goethe Institut Zertifikat B1 for German language study in his office at Central Washington University. Is the Goethe Institut solely responsible for Germany’s resurrection? Of course not.

There are many other determinants including the reunification, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Economic Miracle, the Marshall Plan, Made in Germany, four World Cup wins, German business success, Germany’s hegemony in the European Union, the popularity of Angela Merkel and many other factors.

Germany understands more than other nations that hard power is not the answer. China obviously appreciates this fact as well. Ditto France with its Alliance Francaise, Italy with its Societa Dante Alighieri, Great Britain with its British Council, Spain with its Instituto Cervantes and Portugal with its Instituto Camoes.

All of the above brings up the obviously question: Who and what projects “soft power” for the United States? One other question: Are we satisfied with the answers?

Donald Trump, Hollyweird, American Media?

Certainly, the U.S. is nowhere near the lousy image that Germany endured – and still suffers – as a result of the 12 years of Hitler and the Nazis. Nonetheless, the U.S. image at home and abroad is less than ideal regardless of the nation’s military and economic hard-power advantages and the country’s number one ranking in the National Brand Index.

Who sets the tone for the United States of America?

Try traveling abroad and see how many times you are asked about Donald Trump once it becomes known that you reside in the Land of Uncle Sam? Does the intemperate, nocturnal Tweeter-in-Chief send the best of image of the red, white and blue across the fruited plain and across the ponds?

How about Hollyweird and the denizens of the TMZ?

The entertainment industry can’t even deliver the right envelope for its biggest announcement of the year (e.g., Oscar for Best Picture) at its most celebrated venue (e.g., The 2017 Academy Awards). Do we really want to entrust our soft power to this motley crew?

When it comes to our elite media, the American public sold the stock and voted them out of office. According to Gallup, the Woodward & Bernstein media of 1976 enjoyed a 72 percent approval rating. Last year, the same polling firm recorded a 32 percent approval rating for the boys and girls of the Fourth Estate, a 55.5 percent decline in the last 40 years.

If the American public is turned off by our nattering nabobs of negativism, why would those beyond our borders respect their interpretations of American soft power?

Maybe the time has come for a non-profit, soft-power Mark Twain, Will Rogers or some other American literary giant institute to celebrate American culture (e.g., baseball, hot dogs and apple pie), our unique take on the English language, and the USA as a wonderful place for investment and tourism?

Or maybe we can instead just leave the task to Donald Trump, Hollyweird and the failing American elite media?

https://www.economist.com/news/china/21719508-can-money-buy-sort-thing-china-spending-billions-make-world-love-it

http://www.ted.com/talks/joseph_nye_on_global_power_shifts

http://www.demdigest.net/tag/soft-power/

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

https://www.goethe.de/en/index.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/enemy-of-the-american-people/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx

 

 

“It’s a great photo that demonstrates genuine bipartisanship. At one time they were political enemies, but they came together for a good cause. In the midst of a nasty election season, people are hungry for anything that can unify us.” — Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics

A great photo can be worth a 1,000 words, and can go viral too.michellebush

The best part about First Lady Michelle Obama hugging former President George W. Bush is what it says about what could be as opposed to what is today’s reality.

Last September was the opening ceremony for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Bush signed the legislation creating the museum. Obama was there to formally open its doors to the public for the first time.

As the Obama presidency comes to a close with disparate interpretations of the 44th president’s legacy, and Donald Trump prepares to take the Oath of Office Friday, the nastiness of the partisan divide has seemingly never been greater.

Some would argue that Aaron Burr outdueling Alexander Hamilton was worse, but only by a smidge.burrhamilton

What should be seen as a celebration of our enduring democracy (inaugural of #45) – the peaceful transfer of power – is degenerating into a cavalcade of boycotts by politicians/entertainers and demonstrations – some of which will almost-certainty, turn violent.

For a prelude, just take a stroll through the digital world of social media. For some reason so many of us are compelled to inflame Facebook and other sites with partisan broadsides … even though most are already fully aware of the sender’s political predilections.

Almost DailyBrett has already rhetorically asked why we choose to fire off these salvos on a social media platform intended to our family and friends. Is this the way we treat our family and friends, when we see them face-to-face?

If so, do you still have any family and friends? Guess, mumsy will always love you.

“Forgive Your Enemies, But Never Forget Their Names” – John F. Kennedy

A great read is “The President’s Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity” by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.

The 2012 book tells the story about how presidents and former presidents from Truman to Obama were able to repeatedly work together (e.g., Bush 41 and Clinton 42 on Tsunami relief), putting aside the proverbial political hatchet for the greater good.

The repeated examples catalogued in this book do not suggest that everything is forgotten, but many real-and-perceived transgressions are eventually forgiven.

Does this mean that Bush 43 and Obama 44 see eye-to-eye on the body politic? Absolutely not.

Having said that, can they set aside differences, work together and actually develop a real friendship? Michelle’s sincere embrace of George W., and his very real expression of gratitude, serve as a great symbol for the country.

With this example in mind, could incoming President Donald J. Trump give his Twitter handle a rest? Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly been exposed to the Big Apple world of insults and never apologizing, but are we going to endure daily Twitter broadsides for the next four-to-eight years?

trumptwitterbird

Whatever happened to the notion of being a statesman, someone who can literally reach across ponds to represent America as an exceptional nation?

Whatever happened to political discipline, having the strength and courage to fight off coarse instincts and emotions, and to stick to the script on behalf of a presidency, but more importantly for our Republic?

Whatever happened to never forgetting the names of your enemies, but eventually forgiving them instead of trying to even the score?

The viral hug between First Lady Michelle Obama and former President George W. Bush produces 2.6 million results on Google and more than 4,000 videos on YouTube. That’s relevant.

What have we learned here? Almost DailyBrett will offer that the nation understands advocating and defending our principles, but civility still matters. If the 100 million-plus political animals in this country could pull one punch this week … that would be 100 million instances of less political invective on blogs, social media or verbally.

What a beautiful thought.

Maybe a great photo is indeed worth a million words.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp2JZH1sfiM

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/michelle-obama-embraces-george-w-bush-why-photo-was-so-n654451

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/theoval/2016/09/26/first-lady-michelle-obama-displays-genuine-affection-george-w-bush/91124646/

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/24/politics/michelle-obama-george-w-bush-friendship/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-lewis-feud-could-be-harbinger-of-new-round-of-hyper-partisanship/2017/01/14/f72db5a2-da8d-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?utm_term=.9c86ee86bb59&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/why-even-discuss-politics-on-facebook/

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn103659.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/books/the-presidents-club-by-nancy-gibbs-and-michael-duffy.html

 

Sometimes we are too quick to fast-forward, skip, turn-down or mute the sound when inevitable ads intrude into our lives.

We have all seen way-too-many-times-to-count the AFLAC Duck, Flo for Progressive, the Sprint dude and/or the AT&T dudette. We could almost scream.

fitzgeraldbachelor

And then every blue moon there is that one special ad, which makes us sit up, think deeply and maybe even brings a tear to the eye. And that very same ad may change the way we think about a given firm or a marketed product.

The University of Phoenix has major PR problems. The online college only graduates 17.5 percent of its enrollees. It charges an eye-opening $9,812 in tuition. Way too many former students have zero degrees, but they are saddled in thousands of dollars of debt (estimated $493 million total). Some CEOs believe that for-profit colleges are simply selling degrees, and their diplomas are not worth the fancy paper in which they are printed.

These are tough charges and allegations. And there lies the origin of perceived and real public relations issues for the University of Phoenix.

University of Phoenix stadium, site of this years Super Bowl.

University of Phoenix Stadium.

The University of Phoenix has the resources to have its name adorned on the stadium of the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona. Which brings us to wide receiver Larry Darnell Fitzgerald, Jr., #11 of the Cardinals.

There is also no doubt that Fitzgerald will be enshrined in Canton. In his 12 years with the Arizona Cardinals, he has caught more than 1,000 passes for more than 13,000 yards and 101 touchdowns. The team came one eyelash from winning Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.

Bachelor of Science in Communication, 2016

And yet there is more to the Larry Fitzgerald story, much more. It concerns a promise to his mom. His mother, Carol, passed away from breast cancer in 2003. The two were not speaking to each other, which he now regrets.

Nonetheless, he remembered his promise. He opted for the NFL draft after only two seasons with the Pittsburgh Panthers. Despite all the fame and the reported $20 million contract, something was missing in his life, a college degree.

namathgrad

Maybe knowing it or not, he was following in the footsteps of some very famous “non-traditional” students: Joe Namath (Alabama), Isiah Thomas (Indiana) and Shaquille O’Neal (LSU) … and just this year, Larry Fitzgerald.

Namath finished his degree 42 years after leaving Tuscaloosa. Thomas fulfilled his commitment made in a legal contract drawn up by his mother, Mary, attaining his college degree from Indiana University. It was nearly a quarter-of-a-century between Shaquille departing LSU and receiving his degree.

What fascinates Almost DailyBrett is the drive that still exists for a few celebrity athletes, who have reached the top of their game and attained the enviable position of being financially set for life, who realize something is missing in their life – the satisfaction of a college degree.

Your author teaches at Central Washington University, which will never be confused with Harvard and Stanford. Having said that, it is exciting to realize how many of our students will be the first in their family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and how many are “non-traditional” – beyond, sometimes way beyond, the traditional 18-24-year age range for most college students.fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald is a non-traditional student. Maybe the fact that University of Phoenix is primarily online made going back to college a little bit easier from an awkwardness standpoint. Something tells Almost DailyBrett that Fitzgerald is very comfortable in his own skin. Still he needed to fulfill his promise to his deceased mom.

Fitzgerald dials his mom’s landline and hears her voicemail greeting. He wants to appreciate her voice yet again. He then tells his mom he kept his promise, he graduated (the University of Phoenix diploma hangs on the wall). He loves her.

The fact that he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication brings a smile to the face of the author of Almost DailyBrett. The simple-and-effective “We Rise” tagline works from a marketing and branding standpoint.

There is no doubt that Larry Fitzgerald rose above the inclination to eternally procrastinate, to settle into a comfortable life, and to not fulfill his promise.

Thank you University of Phoenix and Larry Fitzgerald for telling this wonderful story. Hopefully, more than 29 percent of our population will be inspired to attain their bachelor’s degrees or even more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fWLmf1O8oQ

http://www.larryfitzgerald.com/

http://www.phoenix.edu/

http://www.phoenix.edu/partners/larry-fitzgerald.html?intcid=mktg-home-page:hero:banner:top

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/11/sports/thomas-keeps-promise-to-mom.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/12/15/football-great-joe-namath-earns-college-degree-42-years-later.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/story?id=100078&page=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/07/09/these-20-schools-are-responsible-for-a-fifth-of-all-graduate-school-debt/?tid=sm_fb 

 

Does a Led Zeppelin concert photograph of singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page go with marble Romanesque columns?DSC02649

How about a sketch of Mick Jagger with his signature protruding lips combined with Moorish arches?

For that matter, should an operations manager attempt to incorporate Eric Clapton’s Gibson Les Paul electric guitar with Spanish tile?

One would think an acoustic guitar would fit better into the classic Castilian style, but no one will ever confuse Andres Segovia with heavy metal.

For months including the critical last three weeks before opening night in Sevilla, the team behind the Hard Rock Café worked diligently to fully respect Spanish tradition, while swearing allegiance to the rocking iconic restaurant chain.DSC02651

Carlos Gil, the Venezuelan-born Hard Rock Café operations manager out of Amsterdam, visited patrons on the opening night this past August 4. He said local authorities insisted on the preservation of the Romanesque columns. The chain was more than happy to comply and even to incorporate them into the setting for customers.

Hard Rock in the Land of the Flamenco?

Sounds like a potential prescription for integrated marketing communications (IMC) disaster, but from all appearances it is working in Sevilla, Spain as evidenced by the turnout on opening night.

Starbucks and The Prado

About the length of one futbol pitch is the distance between Madrid’s famous Prado art museum and the usually well-located, Starbucks.

Howard Schultz and his Starbucks team certainly have a knack for finding great locations for the 33,000 stores of the $19.28 billion largest coffee roaster in the world.

Without doubt, each of Starbucks’ venues is consistent with the company’s brand from the green aprons of the baristas to the coffee posters from all over the world. But what is different in Spain’s capital city is that Starbucks also incorporates the Spanish style into its store.DSC03188

As the inevitable pace toward globalization and a flatter world intensifies, so will the demands on multi-national brands to respect the culture while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the brand.

Many are opposed to multi-national chains, and will naturally opt for local choices. Others will yearn for the consistency of product. A Starbucks latte tastes the same in Seattle as it does in Madrid as it does in Dublin or München. There is a beauty in predictability in an unsettled world.

Starbucks wants to deliver a consistency of product wherever and whenever patrons come-in for a latte, mocha or cappuccino. At the same time, the company’s stores do not have to be indistinguishable cookie-cutter designs with each one mimicking the very first one at Seattle’s Pike Park Market.

Seasoned PR and marketing managers instinctively can sense a departure from the “conscience” of the brand, but are they are equally adept when it comes to incorporating a local culture and traditions into the presentation of the brand?

What is the smart solution? The answer lies with respecting a local culture, not going “native,” and at the same time be consistent with brand management.

Cultural Dimensions

Professor Geert Hofstede is famous for his Cultural Dimensions Theory measuring national differences in six arenas: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-Term Orientations and Indulgence.

Before dipping their collective toes into another culture’s waters, it is best to weigh the very real differences between what you know and call familiar, and what you don’t know.

Wal-Mart succeeded big time in Mexico and failed miserably in Germany. Unilever’s Dove “Real Curves” campaign was a hit in the United States, but went over like a lead balloon (not to be confused with Led Zeppelin) in Taiwan.

Under Hofstede’s theory, Spain is high in power distance (57 percent), average in individualism (51 percent); low in masculinity and high in compassion (42 percent), skyrocketing in uncertainty avoidance (86 percent); below average in long-term orientation (48 percent) and low in indulgence (44 percent).DSC02656

There are zero issues when it comes to Brand über Alles. The brand must be respected and maintained. At the same time, there are cultural considerations that need to be considered as well.

Can they work together? Hard Rock Café and Starbucks are at least two global companies that have responded in the affirmative.

http://www.hardrock.com/corporate/history.aspx

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9s_Segovia

http://investor.starbucks.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=99518&p=irol-presentations

https://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html

 

 

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