Category: PR Miracles


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

Advertisements

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

 

 

Some contend that you can’t quantify, “free media.”

Oh, really?

How about $2 billion in estimated free media for one, Donald Trump?trumpratings

To be more accurate let’s be sure to call publicity, public relations and dealing with the media for what it really is: Earned Media. There is absolutely nothing “free” about facing the music posed by the Fourth Estate.

And when it comes to wall-the-wall conventional-and-digital media coverage, no one rivals Donald Trump. The media just can’t get enough of the developer-reality TV personality-turned presidential candidate. They may instinctively not like him, but who cares for now; he’s good for ratings.

When a Republican presidential debate (e.g., sometimes a sophomoric verbal food fight) comes to an end, the host network each-and-every time interviews Trump first before turning to any other contender.

Is all the fawning attention on The Donald emanating exclusively from Fox News? Consider the ongoing feud between Trump and network boss Roger Ailes and the answer is an obvious, “no.” The GOP populist (oxymoron?) is also in demand on CNN and (gasp…), MSNBC.

Trump’s two remaining challengers for the Republican nomination have not even come close when it comes to earned media. According to mediaQuant and its analysis of media exposure equated to advertising dollars and media outlet influence and reach, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has drawn $313 million and Ohio Governor John Kasich has secured only $38 million.

Guess who is winning the Republican nomination fight?trumpmedia

On the other side of the great political divide, Senator Bernie Sanders has repeatedly complained about the influence of money in political campaigns and has called for the overturning of the 2010 U.S, Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC.

In all due respect to the honorable senator, the possible future government imposition of advertising spending limitations (e.g., paid media) for political action committees (PAC), corporations and unions would have zero impact on earned media … and for that matter owned media (i.e., websites, social media, blogs, events, brochures …).

What’s ironic is Trump is certainly the wealthiest candidate to ever contest for the presidency (e.g., somewhere between $4 billion and $10 billion in personal net worth), and yet he doesn’t rely on advertising (only $10 million) or extensive PAC contributions. Why would he have to, if the media will provide gobs of free access to its airwaves, digital content and newsprint?

How about $400 million worth of media time in the last month alone?

Schadenfreude Journalism

“They [the Marines] break you down in order to build you back up.” – Oft-heard description of the tender-loving care exhibited by the U.S. Marine Corps

“The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” — Chicago Evening Post journalist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne

The danger that comes from overreliance on earned media can be exhibited by the U.S.M.C.’s Camp Pendleton boot camp in California, but in reverse.

Instead of breaking you down in order to build you back up, the media loves to build you up only to gleefully bring you crashing down into a pile of personal wreckage. Almost DailyBrett has been known to refer to this practice as either ‘Vulture Journalism’ or ‘Schadenfreude Journalism.’vulture

The media is just so darn happy that you are so sad.

Remember President Gary Hart, President Newt Gingrich or President John Edwards?

What movie won this year’s Academy Award for best picture? Spotlight, the story of how the special investigative unit of the Boston Globe exposed the systemic neglect of Cardinal Bernard Law, allowing literally hundreds of pedophile priests to prey upon literally thousands of young boys and girls.

It’s hard to imagine a bigger target than the Catholic Church. Guess the comb-over scalp of Donald Trump will serve these purposes for now.

The Big-Three networks and the 24-7-365 cable news types are basking in the advertising dollars that come from Trump-driven higher ratings, but do the media elites and Washington political class really want Republican Trump to be sitting in the Oval Office? The answer is obvious.

Let’s ask here and now, has there ever been a bigger political target for a salivating carnivorous media in the post-Richard-Nixon era than one Donald Trump?

Those who live by earned media die by earned media.

Most reporters, editors and correspondents literally take a vow of poverty in order to enter the brutal and volatile profession of journalism. They can only imagine a Donald Trump lifestyle, but will never have the personal resources to even come close. Will they care about a Comb Over smack down?

They will relish in afflicting his personal comfort, and most of all denying him the White House.trumpratings1

Republicans often complain about a double standard, not only having to contest the Democrats but the media as well. Take this equation and multiply it by 10 … or how about 100?

When the dust settles in early November, there is little doubt the undisputed earned media champion will be Donald Trump.

And also when in the dust settles in early November, will the earned media whipping boy also be Donald Trump? Don’t bet against it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-mammoth-advantage-in-free-media.html?_r=0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/03/15/the-medias-2b-gift-to-trump/

http://time.com/money/4260127/trump-free-media-coverage-2-billion/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._FEC

http://breakingmuscle.com/sports-psychology/what-the-marines-know-about-discipline-that-will-make-you-a-better-athlete

http://breakingmuscle.com/sports-psychology/what-the-marines-know-about-discipline-that-will-make-you-a-better-athlete

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/persona-matters/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/megyn-kelly-and-the-beast/

http://www.poynter.org/2014/today-in-media-history-mr-dooley-the-job-of-the-newspaper-is-to-comfort-the-afflicted-and-afflict-the-comfortable/273081/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/06/movies/review-in-spotlight-the-boston-globe-digs-up-the-catholic-churchs-dirt.html

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/special-reports/2002/01/06/church-allowed-abuse-priest-for-years/cSHfGkTIrAT25qKGvBuDNM/story.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Why won’t our leaders work to accommodate each other, employing civility as they cooperate to accomplish goals in the country’s best interests? What in our national character, in the ways we choose to deal with one another and respect different viewpoints, has changed so much since the days of Reagan and O’Neill? How can we win back the faith that our republic is working?” – Chris Matthews, staffer to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.DSC01433

Can we have a national chill-out … even for a day?

Can we respond affirmatively to the question Rodney King posed a generation ago?

Can we truly embrace the marketplace of ideas?

Can we reject the coarsening of America?rodneyking

As an eternally optimistic blog, Almost DailyBrett believes we can do all of these things … but first we have to climb out of our filter bubbles. We were all given two ears and only one mouth for a reason.

We have to accept that everyone is entitled to express their own opinion. It’s this First Amendment Freedom of Speech thing. Have you ever contemplated why the very first mod to our Constitution guaranteed the right to speak out, and even to offer dissent?

One has to wonder why violence is breaking out at campaign rallies, fights are more common than ever at American sporting events, and obscene F-bombs and sexist C-words are flying across movies and digital screens without any consideration whether anyone is hurt in the process. And don’t think for a second the racist N-word is finally dead and buried.

Can We All Get Along?

Governing Party and Loyal Opposition

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” – John Maynard Keynesfilterbubble

The author of Almost DailyBrett is not campaigning for a medal.

Considering that yours truly is a political animal (and has always been one), it probably would not surprise anyone that I devour political books (e.g., one of my first: Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President, 1960).

Recently, I read both Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence and David Axelrod’s Believer. Needless to say the two gents, one on the right and the other on the left, have a different take on American politics. Why read both, if one’s politics lean to the left or conversely to the right?

Why not?

These two overachievers were the architects of the last four successful presidential campaigns. They made presidents. Besides Rove’s accounts of Texas wheeling and dealing, and Axelrod’s stories about Chicago politics are downright fascinating.

And yet when I posted on Facebook that I had read both books, I received either silence or negative comments about one gent or the other.

Ladies and gentlemen, why are we so insecure or downright scared to entertain someone else’s point of view?

Didn’t our Founding Fathers envision three branches of government with the requisite checks and balances? My experience is that Americans are much more comfortable with divided government with a governing party and a loyal opposition.

Does the public embrace the bickering and name calling that seems to be out of control? Of course not.

There was overpromising and underperforming. The optimism that flourished on the cold January day in 2009 has been transformed into anguish, angst and despair, if not downright anger.

Maybe instead of demanding perfection in our own eyes, maybe we should settle for good for a while and actually see some positives in others?

If there is class warfare, it is still war. And what is it good for? Nothing.

Let’s see the Republican National Convention is July 18-21 in Cleveland. The Democratic National Convention is set for July 25-28 in Philadelphia.

How about a National Chill-Out Day on Sunday, July 31?chillout

In fact, every last Sunday in July should be National Chill-Out Day. No political ads. No mean-spirited discourse. No name calling. No fights. Actually listening to another point of view for a change? Let the Marketplace of Ideas reign.

Just one day to Chill-Out. How ‘bout it?

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/thinking-the-unthinkable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-latest-ism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/is-the-c-word-the-equivalent-of-the-n-word/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_H._White

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:John_Maynard_Keynes

Always charming Donald Trump thinks Angela Merkel is “insane.”

In contrast, Time Magazine dubbed Germany’s first Kanzlerin as its “Person of the Year” for 2015.merkelsyrians

Merkel’s polling numbers plummeted from about 75 percent approval just two years ago to below 50 percent now according to ARD Deutschland. Keep in mind, she was even lower in the same survey, touching 40 percent at the nadir of the Euro crisis in 2010. She was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2013.

She has received international accolades for Germany’s Willkommenskultur or opening up Germany’s borders to those fleeing death and persecution in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, she is blamed for threatening the European Union’s Schengen (Treaty) open-borders policy for its member countries.

Merkel has also faced serious questions as to exactly how many refugees can Deutschland reasonably absorb, an 80-million soul country about the size of Ohio. In 2015, Germany accepted 1.1 million, with another 1 million or more projected for this year based on the daily in-flows.

The issue literally exploded on New Year’s Eve in Köln as hundreds of immigrant men, ostensibly celebrating the arrival of 2016, forced women to run a sexual gauntlet as they groped, robbed and even raped. The German public reaction was predictable and enduring.

Does all of the above signal that Germany’s Öffentlickeitsarbeitswunder is over? Or if Germany’s public relations miracle lives on, is Angela Merkel after 11 years in office finally in trouble politically?

The immediate reaction by Almost DailyBrett from nine-time zones to the west is that Germany’s epic comeback from the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust is still intact However, Merkel may indeed be facing the strongest and potentially lethal political headwinds in her tenure as chancellor.

No More Walls

In America, there is the clamor by a noisy type to build a wall on the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it. Sure.

Germany has more than enough experience with Walls, in particular die Berliner Mauer. Nein Danke!

A good reason for Germany’s willingness to “manage” more than 1 million refugees per year steams undoubtedly from a collective guilt originating from World War II and the Holocaust. Germany is still performing penance.germanysatellite

Another is that Merkel is the unofficial titular head of the European Union. If Germany does not shoulder (more than) its fair share of the burden of welcoming and hopefully assimilating literally hundreds or thousands of refugees, then how can Deutschland reasonably expect other European nations to do the same?

There is also the issue that comes with Germany’s hegemony in the European Union. Deutschland wants to be seen as a normal country, but it is still das Land in der Mitte … and more. Germany is the world’s fourth largest economy, prolific exporter and is the home of legendary German engineering.

The problem with size and strength is this combination usually leads to jealousy and demands (see: the United States of America). Germany can never wipe clean the tarnish that comes with Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, the Third Reich and the Holocaust. Ironically, the memories and images of die NS Zeit may have been partially attributable to Merkel’s success as chancellor … her measured “Mutti” consensus-oriented style serves as a partial antidote to these horrific times.

Should She Run Again?

The next federal elections in Germany are due in 2017. By that time, Merkel will have served as chancellor for 12 years, just short of Helmut Kohl’s 16 years and Konrad Adenauer’s 14 years. One of the truisms of politics is that one can overstay her or his welcome in the center ring. With each decision no matter how popular comes disappointment, if not enemies.

How much disappointment (e.g., refugee policy) and how many enemies (e.g., CSU boss and Bavaria premier Horst Seehofer), will she trigger/ or has she triggered during the course of 12 years is the subject of conjecture.

Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Germany’s reunifier Kohl waited too long to exit stage right. Their departures were less-than-celebratory.ursula

Almost DailyBrett does not rule out that Merkel pulling out a Kaninchen out of a Hutte. At the same time, Germany’s first woman Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen is waiting in the wings. Will Merkel want to seed her seat to a fellow CDU minister (assuming the voters go along)?

If so, the Feminization of the Fatherland may produce yet another chapter in Germany’s Public Relations Miracle.

https://www.bundeskanzlerin.de/Webs/BKin/EN/Chancellery/Timeline_Federal_Chancellors_since_1949/timeline_federal_chancellors_since_1949_node.html

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21692916-under-pressure-reverse-her-refugee-policy-angela-merkel-faces-court-case-welcome?zid=307&ah=5e80419d1bc9821ebe173f4f0f060a07

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21688418-ultimate-victim-sexual-assaults-migrants-could-be-angela-merkels-liberal-refugee

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21685512-attacks-women-mobs-young-men-inflame-germanys-refugee-debate-new-year-new-fear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8XUinVkCNk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7vMZYuWCsQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxJvXHu0Xf8

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/germany-from-holocaust-to-normalcy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-katarina-witt-brand-uber-alles/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/feminizing-the-fatherland/

https://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/EN/FederalGovernment/Cabinet/UrsulavonderLeyen/_node.html

 

 

 

“It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It.” – Too Many Moms to Count

Donald Trump lost it, Saturday night … Not just the debate, but any resemblance of personal deportment.trumprage

We knew it was coming, it had to happen … and it did.

Too many kisses on the CombOver’s derriere from the lips of way too many lackeys for way too long. And at last … along came former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

He got under The Donald’s skin, enough to make his face as crimson as the horrible CBS red backdrop (Who in the RNC approved angry red behind angry candidates?)

On the other side of the philosophical divide … When Hillary was blown out in New Hampshire by Bernie it was more than people don’t trust her, it was also because people don’t like her.hillaryinlaw

Bernie is a weak candidate, and he still won. In fact, he won big.

Experience is a plus. Business smarts is a plus. You may say all the right things or at least the politically correct things, but in the end analysis, if people can’t imagine you appointing Supreme Court justices, let alone having your finger on the nuclear button … you are not going to be president.

Yep, moms are right … It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

Persona – The Way You Behave

“George Deukmejian’s favorite color is gray.” – Too Many ‘Clever’ Reporters to Count

Supposedly, my guy was boring. My guy didn’t have vision. My guy didn’t have charisma. That was the narrative.

My guy was the most popular California governor in the modern era, even more than Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger.deukmejian2

George Deukmejian barely won the governorship in 1982. He won the biggest landslide in the state’s history (61-37 percent) four years later. He was just as boring in the eyes of the media both times. He was also pleasant and positive on the stump.

Governor John Kasich of Ohio was asked his reaction to being the Democrats favorite Republican candidate for president … including primary endorsements from the liberal New York Times and Boston Globe … designations that are normally the kisses of death in a contested GOP primary.

Kasich took these “accolades” in stride, and scolded his five fellow presidential contenders for their at-times out-of-control behavior. If Kasich is to lose the nomination, he will go down waging a positive campaign … and demonstrating persona (and gravitas too).

Best Hopes or Worst Fears?

“Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.” – President Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address, January 11, 1989

“This back and forth, and these attacks: Some of them are personal. I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this. You know what I would suggest? Why don’t we just take all the negative ads and all the negative comments down from television.” – Governor John Kasichkasich

Fat chance the negative “comparison” ads – television, radio, Internet — are going away. But aren’t they still part of the problem?

This week, the RealClear Politics average of respondents asking whether America is on the right track or the wrong track is 28.3 percent for the former and 63.7 percent for the latter or 35 points below the Mendoza Line.

The Donald Trump crusade pivots off these horrible results and contends that everyone in government is “stupid.” Bernie offers his own revolution and declares that America is “corrupt.” And even the Hillary campaign contends there is a “special place in hell” for women who dare to vote for Bernie.

Stupid … Corrupt … Hell. Let’s throw in “liar” and “liars.” And you wonder why people are tired of the bickering in Washington, D.C., believe the system is broken, and want positive messages for a refreshing change?

Almost DailyBrett contends from a public relations standpoint, it is much easier to point out the problems and resort to the negative. It takes courage to offer solutions and positive optimistic messages. Many will scoff, let them.

Could John Kasich be the George Deukmejian of 2016 American politics?

Sure hope so.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/its-not-what-you-say-but-how-you-say-it/

http://link.washingtonpost.com/view/5483d7e93b35d052478c33d33mv62.4cvh/24e67ed5

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cody-cain/hey-hillary-heres-why-peo_b_9206424.html

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/14/people-dont-have-to-like-hillary-clinton-to-vote-for-her-donald-trump

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/persona

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan

http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2016/02/john_kasich_makes_the_positive.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/direction_of_country-902.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/08/us/politics/gloria-steinem-madeleine-albright-hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders.html?_r=0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl.” – Mark Twain in his 1880 essay, The Awful German Languagegermanbeauty

What do you call someone, who speaks three languages? Trilingual.

What do you call someone, who speaks two languages? Bilingual.

What do you call someone, who speaks one language? An American.

Not my favorite guy, but the last of the three rhetorical questions posed by deposed CBS anchor Dan Rather to the National Governor’s Association meeting in Chicago hit me right between the eyes.

The year was 1989. It was das Jahr die Mauer fällt. That was also the year the author of Almost DailyBrett made a resolution to learn another language, German. Die deutsche Sprache was one of the hottest languages in the world as the Berlin Wall came down and the soon to be reunified Germany started to project “soft power.” German was once again in vogue.

Certainly when it comes to romance, German with its guttural sounds (see Schmetterling above) will never qualify. The closest word in this category may be Gemütlichkeit, which conveys a sense of coziness, a warm fire, an Alpine meadow, a beautiful hike in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald).

I’m Happy That You’re So Sad

There is also Schadenfreude, which roughly translates, “I’m happy that you’re so sad.” Keep in mind that Schadenfreude is also one of the German language’s many compound nouns, making it virtually impossible to play Scrabble in German. How about Arbeitslosigkeitsunterstützung or unemployment insurance?

With a language as tortured as German in which all nouns must be capitalized, is it any surprise there is really no German word for public relations? The closest translation is Öffentlichkeitsarbeit or work with or in the public sphere. If you desire an even longer German compound noun, how about the word for Germany’s public relations miracle from 1945 to present day: Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder?

German is far from the hardest language on the planet to learn (i.e., Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese or even Hungarian), but it is certainly not the easiest. Der, die, das, die (nominative case); den, die, das, die (accusative); dem, der, dem, den (dative) and des, der, des, der (accusative) are all the ways Germans say the word, “the,” depending where and how “the” falls in any sentence.

In English, the word,“the” is “the.” Simple.

And let’s not forget irregular and separable verbs in which a prefix gets thrown to the conclusion of the sentence and with or without the prefix at the end, it changes the meaning of the sentence. For example, rufen means to call and anrufen means to call by telephone … rufen is conjugated, and an is placed at the end of the sentence.

Do you really want to make that phone call?

To get on the Autobahn with no speed limit in long stretches, you follow the Einfahrt, and to exit you follow the Ausfahrt. That’s a lot of Fahrting for one ride on the Autobahn (compound noun).ausfahrt

Similar to Spanish and French (and presumably many other languages), German articles (der, die, das) must be correctly placed before the corresponding masculine, feminine and neuter nouns.

As noted above, clever Mark Twain pointed out German is the only language on the planet that makes a turnip, feminine, die Rübe, and a young unmarried girl/woman neuter, das Mädchen and das Fraulein. Translated: the actual gender of the noun may not matter in determining the article that precedes it.

There is also the issue associated with the fact that many Germans do not believe you can ever learn their language. Go to Berlin or München and ask a question in (near) perfect High-German and more times than naught, you will receive your answer in English oder Englisch.

The good news: they understood your question. The bad news: they are still convinced you will never learn German.

Why Learn German?

“ … People know that you get further in a country if you speak the local and the official language and not just English. For networking and approaching clients, and partially also for business communication, knowing German gives you an additional advantage.Ulrich Ammon, author of The Status of the German Language in the World

Let’s face it, when it comes to learning German, many will instantly equate the language with charming memories, such as Blitzkrieg, Luftwaffe, Achtung, U-Boots, Messerschmitts, Fokkers and dozens of other militaristic terms that harken back to two world wars and the Holocaust.

That’s why it was all the more surprising to learn that German is being offered to 14-to-15 year-old students in Israeli schools or more than 20,000 Israelis have moved to Berlin, the once capital of the Third Reich.

What has changed, particularly when only 104 million of the earth’s 7 billion-plus inhabitants are native German speakers? One answer is these native speakers equate to the 4th largest economy in terms of GNP and the world’s most proficient export machine.

Germany will be eternally tarnished by memories of the Nazis and the Holocaust, but its leadership in the European Union, its popular and consensus-oriented Chancellor Angela Merkel, and its (soft power) powerful export driven economy has made it a land of opportunity. Partially as a consequence of its postwar guilt and its aging population and declining workforce, Germany has been more than generous in opening its borders to those fleeing from Iraq and Syria, and is expected to accommodate 800,000 refugees by the end of the year.schmetterling

Reportedly, there are 15.5 million present day students of die Deutsche Sprache, up 4 percent in the last five years.

Should you become one of them, you will soon be able to translate: Der kleine schöne Schmetterling hat durch den grünen Wald geflogen.

Yep, that is one beautiful little butterfly that flew through the green forest. Pass the schnapps!

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21663257-once-language-schiller-and-goethe-then-hitler-german-hip-again-sprechen-sie-power

http://www.dw.com/en/why-the-world-should-learn-german-and-why-germany-should-care/a-18236069

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlATOHGj9EY

https://www.cs.utah.edu/~gback/awfgrmlg.html

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

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/latest-3000-migrants-cross-austria-33650547

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21663228-refugees-germanys-chancellor-brave-decisive-and-right-merkel-bold

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/germanys-road-to-redemption-shines-amid-europes-refugee-debate/2015/09/10/00955630-57f0-11e5-8bb1-b488d231bba2_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: