Tag Archive: Anthony Weiner


The male of the species has never been the best when it comes to personal public relations.

The seemingly never-ending list of creepy, predatory men (e.g., Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Weiner, Al Franken, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump …) represents the classic definition of a story with legs.

No pun intended.

When will this litany of abuses end?

One thing is for certain, not anytime soon.

The series of lurid and accurate stories of lustful men with next-to-zero self-discipline have resulted in pain, anguish and ruined careers for literally thousands-and-thousands of women.

These awful accounts go beyond the world of politics to include entertainment (e.g., casting couches), jurisprudence, business, military and many other human endeavors, bringing the two genders together.

The resulting anger from the fairer gender, justifiably directed toward males en banc, is warranted.

Having fully appreciated, comprehended and acknowledged the anguish and suffering inflicted on way too many women by way too many men, Almost DailyBrett wants to bravely make one statement, and then duck for cover:

Not All Men Are Creeps, it just may seem that way.

Seemingly absent in this public discussion are the guys who are – believe it or not — semper fi.

There are the men who are 100 percent faithful to the vows they made in marriage. Almost DailyBrett actually knows one of these kind souls.

There are men who are respectful of women, and do not even entertain the thought of using any influence to extract (e.g., sexual) favors from women.

There are men, who would never lay a paw on any woman for any reason (referring to professional settings). There is a time and place for everything.

As Henry Kissinger once said: No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

There are the men who can instinctively sense the dread of a single woman riding an elevator with a lone male. The man may move toward the door, allowing the woman to shift to a position behind him. When the designated floor arrives, he should be a gentleman, holding the door open, and maybe even wishing his travelling companion an absolutely fantabulous day.

Most of all there are actual men who do not think below their waist, but actually use their real brains (gasp) to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.

An Office Door With No Window?

Touring our new office space this past winter, your author noticed to his horror that our new academic caves featured doors with no windows. No bueno. Nicht gut. Hell, no.

When asked, a rocket scientist from Facilities said there were zero dollars for door windows. Time to go to the mat.

There was absolutely no way I was going to teach public relations and meet with students, if I could not shut my door but at the same time the outside world could not see inside. To yours truly, this was matter of safety and common sense.

Your author today has a door with a window, but not one that can be locked from the inside (e.g., Lauer).

When it comes to the all-too-common “he said, she said” disputes, the one making the accusation can win, and the one on the receiving end may be on the downward slide to the end of a once promising career.

What are some common sense behaviors that good men should employ in this ultra-charged political climate?

  1. Never, ever touch a member of the fairer gender anywhere for whatever reason at any time in a professional setting. On your author’s last day after eight years working for the California Office of the Governor, my female colleagues gave me a hug … not the other way around.
  2. Never comment on the appearance of women (e.g., hair, dress, jewelry …). Former National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla once took verbal notice that a Bloomberg TV reporter was wearing her wedding ring on her right ring finger …  Halla was then informed that her late spouse perished in the World Trade Center on September 11.
  3. John Madden has a rule: He will never say in private, what he wouldn’t say in public. Guys, it’s past time to deep six the sexual jokes and comments even among fellow knuckle draggers. Let the locker room be a simple place for showering, changing and talking sports. Period.
  4. The rules of sexual harassment are clear. Quid pro quo is obvious. When you are asked to stop … STOP!
  5. Former ABC correspondent Lynn Sheer suggested the universal adoption of a standard phrase, “That’s NOT okay.” Even bystanders can even use this same phrase when sexual harassment is in progress.

This common sense phrase should even be comprehended and immediately understood by all men, not just semper fi guys.

The latter, exist. Seriously.

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/henry_kissinger_105144

 

 

This is an upsetting event for all of us at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” –PR Week’s “Communicator of the Year,” United CEO Oscar Munoz

Do you really think so, Oscar?

Last Sunday morning, United Continental Holdings, Inc., or more commonly known as United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) positioned its brand as a global airline with the tagline “The Friendly Skies” and backed by the music of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

By Sunday evening the airline’s brand was radically changed, maybe even permanently altered, by what happened on a commuter flight (United Express #3411) from Chicago’s horrible O’Hare Airport to the home of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville.

Note that horses are treated better than United’s overbooked passengers, one in particular.

Almost DailyBrett has researched and written extensively about the loss of branding control. With social media and easy-to-use and outstanding-quality smart-phone cameras and recorders, everybody is a potential reporter, even one sitting in an aisle seat on United.

Just as BP is no longer seen as an oil and gas company, but rather one that caused the massive Deepwater Horizon “spill,” United is now linked to inexplicable violence against one of its own paying customers, whose only crime was wanting to fly home to treat his patients.

The inexcusable exercise of violence and brutality against a 69-year-old Vietnamese refugee, Dr. David Dao, including losing two front teeth, sustaining a concussion, and suffering a broken nose — all because he committed the cardinal sin of refusing to leave a seat he purchased on an overbooked flight to accommodate a United employee — is now a viral social and legacy media legend.

Most likely, this horror video could also be the topic of a heavily covered jury trial (United will try to avoid this scenario at all costs by attempting to settle out of court), and possibly a congressional investigation (United probably will have to respond to a subpoena). There is very little chance United could prevail before any jury regardless of venue.

The author of Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly told students at Central Washington University that company, non-profit, agency, government, politician brands are now “traded” on social media and blogging exchanges every second of every day.

These brands can soar (e.g., Tesla and Elon Musk) on glowing reports (and company common stock usually moves in tandem). They can also plunge into binary code oblivion triggered by a game-changing incident (i.e., Chipotle and E. coli; Volkswagen and “defeat software”; Wells Fargo, phony accounts; Anthony Weiner and his tweeted wiener).

So far, United investors and employees have lost an estimated $1.5 billion in market capitalization on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). On the social media stock exchange, the company has lost even more as millions around the world are shocked and appalled by about 60 seconds of gratitous violence video.

In China as well as other countries in East Asia that serve as United destinations, the bloody treatment of Dr. Dao is seen as a racist act. Is United racist? The answer really doesn’t matter when the perception in the Asian community (and other ethnic communities) is that United perpetrated a racially motivated attack.

Does PR Week rescind Oscar Munoz’ “Communicator of the Year” Award just as the Heisman Trust recalled the famous statue from Reggie Bush? The call seems easy.

What’s Next For United?

“I think corporate America needs to understand that we all want to be treated in the same manner with the same respect and the same dignity that they would treat their own family members. If they do that, wouldn’t it be great? So, will there be a lawsuit? Yeah, probably.” — Attorney Thomas Demetrio

United knows as evidenced by the live coverage of today’s Chicago news conference by Dr. Dao’s lawyers on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Fox Business and others, this story has “legs.” Just as BP found that out every day the Deepwater Horizon well was leaking, United will also realize this public relations nightmare will endure for weeks and months.

So what should United’s PR team do in the interim?

  1. The “service” company needs to dramatically alter its way of doing business. Literally thousands upon thousands are justifiably angry at United and other carriers for their well-documented and long-endured arrogance and disregard for their customers, the passengers.
  2. United needs to forever foreswear the use of violence on its aircraft except in the rare circumstances in which a passenger is a threat to themselves or others.
  3. The days of “overbooked flights” need to come to an end. If someone buys a ticket to a football game that person is entitled to that seat on the 30-yard line. If a passenger buys a ticket for a plane that passenger is entitled to seat 9C.
  4. The airlines need to enshrine this simple notion as a new policy and champion it. If they don’t, one suspects that Congress will do exactly that. Don’t try to lobby against this change. Be a part of the solution.
  5. Be nice. United, American and Delta – the so-called legacy carriers – need to shed their well-earned image of being rude, arrogant, un-empathetic and uncaring. For once an attorney is right: We all deserve respect and dignity.
  6. The lawyers will have a field day, starting with the discovery process. Sell-side analysts will downgrade the stock. Congressional committees will beat up Oscar Munoz. For United’s PR team, this is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.
  7. Time can heal. Keep in mind, United’s brand will never be the same and will literally take years to turn the corner. One suspects United will somehow move forward. A little humility and the willingness to admit wrong, to learn and become change agents on behalf of customers and not just the bottom line, may one day lead to a better tomorrow.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2017/04/12/united-ceo-oscar-munoz-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-communicator-of-the-year/?utm_term=.c0660d2cfa9b&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/loss-of-control-how-to-safeguard-reputations-and-brands-in-a-digital-world/

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/13/attorney-for-united-airlines-passenger-dao-says-there-will-probably-be-a-lawsuit.html

 

 

 

 

Leave it to Lane Kiffin to be fired from a job (Alabama offensive coordinator) that he already quit.

That’s Lame … Kiffin.kiffinsaban

As a result, Kiffin won’t be on the sideline tomorrow for the biggest college football game in America as the Crimson Tide defends its national title in a rematch with Clemson in the “Natty.” His failed USC successor Steve “Moonshine” Sarkisian will be calling the plays for Alabama.

Who will ESECPN’s Kirk Herbstreit gush about for three-plus hours without Kiffin huddling behind his little laminated card? If you took a gulp of beer every time Herbstreit heaped fawning praise on Kiffin during last year’s Natty, you would have been smashed by the second quarter.

It seems as if a little dark rain cloud follows Lane’s every step of his rocky career. With Kiffin, there is an abundance of football talent, and yet a gaping deficit in personal public relations.firelanekiffin

Consider that Kiffin was shown the door by the Oakland Raiders, publicly called a liar by the late Al Davis. He skipped out on the Tennessee Volunteers after one season, leaving the school, team and coach staff in the lurch. He was fired in the LAX parking lot at 2:30 am by then-USC Athletic Director Pat Haden when too much became too much.

And now by “mutual” consent with legendary Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, Kiffin will not be the offensive coordinator for the best team in the land in the biggest game of the year.

If you are keeping score at home, here are the raw numbers for Kiffin’s another-chance-after-another-chance career: Oakland, 5-15; Tennessee, 7-6; USC, 28-15 for a grand total of 40 wins and 36 losses. Give Kiffin credit: He has turned mediocrity into a lucrative (read millions) art form.

And now he is the incoming head coach of the … (drum roll) … Florida Atlantic University Owls (2016: 3-9) of Conference USA. You have to wonder if the administration at FAU is so desperate that it would reach out to such a tarnished commodity behind a laminated clipboard. How long will it take before Kiffin embarrasses FAU? Three years? Almost DailyBrett will take the “under.”

The above question implies that Kiffin will actually spend three years at FAU. Considering Kiffin’s track record, three years is most likely a stretch.kiffinbillboard

How does Lane Kiffin keeping failing only to be given new life time-and-time again? It’s akin to giving Anthony Weiner access to Twitter once again. The result is not going to be pretty.

It would be hard for Almost DailyBrett to make up all of these transgressions: Airport parking lot termination, locker room fights, banned reporters, deflated footballs, missed dinners, departed team buses, jersey changing incidents, recruiting decommits, the hoodie, the sun glasses, even the petty precluding of visiting teams merely walking through the LA Mausoleum before games.kiffinshades

When the Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban hired Kiffin as his offensive coordinator three years ago, didn’t you know the Great State of Alabama was not big enough to hold both of their legendary egos and related arrogance at the same time?

The public explanation for Kiffin’s latest dismissal is that he was not devoting the time and effort necessary for a team preparing for the Natty. Kiffin was also hiring his FAU staff and recruiting players for the Boca Raton-based school.kiffinhoodie

Something tells Almost DailyBrett that Kiffin was garnering way too much attention (i.e., Herbstreit on ESECPN, Gary Danielson on CBS) and taking too much credit away from Saban. If Alabama wins Monday, he will tie the immortal Paul “Bear” Bryant with a record six national championships.

Somebody needed to go, and it was the one who was already going.

What’s curious is after one former failed USC coach being dismissed as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Saban is now relaying on another former failed USC coach.

If Steve Sarkisian learned anything from the legendary mistakes of Lane Kiffin, it’s good to humble and to allow the boss to receive the lion’s share of the Crimson Tide glory.

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/01/kiffin_is_as_kiffin_does.html

http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/lane-kiffin-just-cant-stop-sabotaging-010217

http://www.si.com/college-football/2017/01/02/

http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/lane-kiffin-florida-atlantic-fau-alabama-salary-contract-head-coach-hired-where-is-roster-recruiting-121216

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

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/sec/2017/01/02/lane-kiffin-abruptly-out-alabamas-oc-steve-sarkisian-take-over/96081884/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/media-vultures-circling-over-kiffin/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/a-ball-inflation-needle-in-kiffins-coffin/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/uscs-vietnam/

 

… and again, again, and again …

Why is it that some of the best and the brightest just don’t get it when it comes to personal public relations?

There will always be bad days.

And with these bad days are the prospects of worse days in the future.

Was Yogi Berra referring to Brian Williams, John Kitzhaber, Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, George W. Bush, Tiger Woods …?

Almost DailyBrett seriously doubts that Yogi recognizes the name, John Kitzhaber, let alone his now-infamous girlfriend, and the state in which he until recently served as its governor.kitzhaberhayes

Having extended our due respect to Yogi, let’s contemplate another famous Berra-ism: “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell it Fast, Move On …

The four principles of crisis communications live on, beginning with what mumsys all across the fruited plain have told daughters and sons: “Always tell the truth.”

These four principles or steps in quick order – Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell it Fast, Move On — also translate into another adage: Manage or be managed.

  • Brian Williams with his propensity for self-aggrandizement and exaggeration (e.g., starving at the well-stocked Ritz Carlton in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina) could not or would not recognize the danger signals of his own behavior. Williams became the story (a no-no for any reporter), lost control of this tale and eventually his NBC anchor desk, his position and quite possibly his career as we know it.williamsnbc
  • John Kitzhaber was starting his fourth term as the governor of Almost DailyBrett’s adopted, Oregon. His arrogance mounted over time, including his heavy-handed sacking of the president of the University of Oregon, Richard Lariviere. The ultimate downfall for Kitzhaber pertained to Oregon’s “First Lady” (the governor’s squeeze), her high-salary non-profit job, influence peddling and the governor’s refusal to acknowledge an obvious conflict of interest until it was too late. Yep he had the opportunity to manage, but in the end he was managed and with it he became a poster child for term limits.
  • Anthony Weiner attempted to bluff his way out of the mounting evidence of his “selfies” being sent to designated females from Seattle to New York.
  • John Edwards cheated on his dying wife with his videographer, and stonewalled the media about his love child, Frances, until he was caught by none other than the National Enquirer.
  • George W. Bush had the opportunity to reveal his 1976 DUI arrest in Kennebunkport, Maine (manage), but chose to keep it under wraps until the story exploded four days before the 2000 election (managed).
  • Tiger Woods repeatedly pleaded for familial privacy as TMZ kept listing the names and details of even more women that had affairs with the world’s number one golfer. Woods was managed by the media and his career has never been the same.

Who’s Next?

“I tell our players all the time, ‘As soon as you start going down the wrong track and you start doing something wrong, the clock starts ticking until the day you are caught, because it’s going to happen’…In our world today, you think it’s not going to be found out eventually?” – Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley

“Who’s Next” is the question posed by Pete Townshend in 1971, but in this case it applies to who or what organization is going to fail to recognize the crisis communication warning signs, eventually losing control of an issue, and then being subjected to a seemingly never-ending story with “legs.”

For BP and its Deepwater Horizon oil platform, the media coverage of the 2009 catastrophic spill that immediately killed 11 workers lasted for more than three months. The multi-billion litigation and the permanent damage to the BP brand continues to this day. “BP” and “Spill” are synonymous terms.oilspillbird

For far too many in the reputation business, crisis communications is simply, response. Certainly, there is a response component to crisis communications, but just as important are the words, prevention and management.

Samsung could have prevented or at least blunted the effect of the movie producer Michael Bay meltdown at the Consumer Electronics Show by practicing how to respond to a faulty teleprompter.

Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol team managed the discovery of cyanide–laced capsules and provided a text-book example of management that not only saved the brand, but restored public confidence in pharmaceutical industry and generated an entirely new regime of safety packaging.

There is no doubt that we will soon be reading, commenting, tweeting, trolling, memeing about some preventable human or institutional failing as it applies to legal tender, sexual dalliances or personal aggrandizement that could have been prevented or at least managed.

Instead, the story takes off and spins out of control. Eventually the digital ones and zeroes go critical and the reactor core starts to melt down. The monster grows legs and runs for days, weeks, months …

What did mumsy say about telling the truth?

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/y/yogi_berra.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2011/12/the_rise_and_fall_of_richard_l.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/loma-prieta/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/damn-the-teleprompters/

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

 

 

“When you’re winning, no one can hurt you; when you’re losing, no one can help you.” – Hall of Fame Coach and Broadcaster John Madden

Remember (former Vice President) Dan Quayle?

How about (former Attorney General) Ed Meese?

And (former Defense Secretary) John Tower?

And (former White House chief of staff) John Sununu?

And of course, (former NYC mayoral candidate/personal photographer) Anthony Weiner?

This brings us to present-tense USC coach Lane Kiffin.

What do they all have in common?kiffinhoodie

The answer is the media vultures were out for all of them at one time or another. In the end, the vultures picked (or are picking) their bodies to death.

As the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee, I watched with delight and awe as the media took apart our 1982 opponent for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, former California Lt. Governor Mike Curb.

There was not a book to be seen in Curb’s palatial house, gleefully noted the Los Angeles Times.

Curb had not registered to vote (a 10-minute exercise) for Ronald Reagan (or anyone else) in 1966 and 1970 because he was “too busy” for 17 years with his record company business. Thank you LA Herald-Examiner and Valley News and Green Sheet.

The media vultures were circling over Curb’s dying candidacy. It was time for him to go. He was history. He was toast.

It was “vulture journalism” at its best or at its worst, depending on your point of view. The media had made up its collective mind: Curb was not going to be Governor of California.

“No one’s more miserable than myself. So it’s our job to get it fixed.” – Kiffin quoted this week in the Los Angeles Times deftly moving from the first-person singular to the first-person plural.

USC Athletic Director Pat Haden earlier this year described his embattled head football coach as the “anti-Teflon.” Instead of Teflon, Kiffin is Mr. Velcro…everything and anything sticks to him.

haden

Did the Trojans just hold a “players-only” meeting? Who would normally care? These are not normal times. Apparently, no one told Lane Kiffin. Is he out of touch? The media cares.

When asked in the wake of USC’s home field loss last Saturday night to the Pullman Cougars, whether Cody Kessler or Max Vittek was going to be his QB starter this coming Saturday against Boston College, Kiffin said he didn’t know.

You don’t know? USC is paying you $2.4 million annually, and you don’t know…

Besides being the anti-Reagan, Kiffin is also the anti-Chip Kelly the anti-Jim Harbaugh, and most of all, the anti-Pete Carroll.

Everyone is excited about whether Chip’s fast-paced, Michael Vick running the ball Oregon-style offense will work on a week-in, week-out basis in the NFL. Maybe.

Everyone is salivating over the Sunday night matchup between Harbaugh’s 49ers and Carroll’s Seahawks. Harbaugh’s and Carroll’s paths have crossed before (e.g., “What’s Your Deal? What’s your Deal!!!), which adds to the intrigue.

Do you think USC fans would take Carroll back? In a heartbeat. Would they even accept former Stanford coach, Harbaugh? Deep down you know they would.

Just win, Baby!

Even though the hiring of Carroll was not embraced by Trojan alums, they came to adore him. And why not?

He came across as a great guy with a penchant for winning big time.

There are some who contend that anyone can win at USC. Why not? There are more high school and junior college football studs within a 30-mile radius of the LA Mausoleum than there are within a 300-mile radius of Pullman…And yet…Ted Tollner, Larry Smith, Paul Hackett and now, Kiffin couldn’t get it done at Troy.

Carroll was that magical guy with a special knack. Combine Carroll’s coaching persona and genius with the geographic advantages, wealth and tradition of USC, and the result was orgasmic. USC was back and it dominated the Pac-10…seven straight titles…something that will never happen again.

In contrast, USC alums were giddy when Kiffin was hired away from Tennessee after his limp, low-T 7-6 record in Knoxville. No one is cheering now.

firelanekiffin

The biggest mystery is why did three-storied football programs: the Silver-and-Black Oakland Raiders (5-15), the Rocky Top Tennessee Volunteers (7-6) and now the Cardinal and Gold USC Trojans (27-15) hand the keys to their respective Ferraris only to achieve exploding gas tank Pinto results (39-36)? How do you spell mediocrity? K-I-F-F-I-N.

The latest Kiffin tenure was always a media relations train-wreck going someplace to happen.

Was this former USC Athletic Director’s (the guy who hired Kiffin) Mike Garrett’s parting gift to Haden?

Almost DailyBrett can rightfully be accused of piling onto Lane Kiffin.  After all, this is my third blog as a USC grad on this subject. I plead guilty.

Can effective public relations counsel help Kiffin withstand the media vultures at this point in time? Will simply winning rescue Kiffin from his seemingly inevitable fate? Possibly.

Having said that, one cannot discount the most recent losses to rivals UCLA, Notre Dame and more to the point, embarrassing debacles to Georgia Tech (Sun Bowl) and Wazzu…the latter two should not even be competitive against USC.

One suspects the upcoming trips to ASU and Notre Dame will not be pretty. Ditto for the home games against Stanford and UCLA. Kiffin should thank Darwin that Washington and (gulp) Oregon are not on the schedule this year.

Is Haden quietly going over a list of potential replacements? You know for certain the thought has crossed his mind, more than once or twice…

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1770356-usc-football-top-recruits-turning-on-lane-kiffin?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=college-football

http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20130910/marqise-lee-contradicts-lane-kiffin-on-players-only-meeting

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2013/09/08/analysis-mack-brown-texas-lane-kiffin-southern-california-coaches-hot-seat/2782321/

http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-0912-usc-football-20130912,0,473654.story#axzz2ehZMTeBN

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/uscs-vietnam/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/a-ball-inflation-needle-in-kiffins-coffin/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeS3VeluAmg

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

 

weiner

“It’s only a blow j..”

How many times has the author of Almost DailyBrett heard Clintonistas defend the former president’s eight years in the Oral Office with this almost instinctive reaction?

Is it only an act of oral sex between consenting adults: One the leader of the free world and the other an intern from Lewis & Clark College? Or does it speak to the judgment of the nation’s highest ranking public servant at the time?

As the old axiom goes: “Good government is good politics.”

Does getting caught with your pants down run counter to either good government or good politics? And if so, does that unspeakable act(s) spell curtains for the offenders? Does the Schlange trump the brain? Does anyone care, anymore?

Maybe we should take a hike along the “Appalachian Trail.”

Nearly three decades ago the mere cheating on one’s spouse could spell doom to one’s political aspirations, particularly for the highest office in the land. A perfect example is the 1984 end of former Senator Gary Hart’s “New Ideas” campaign in the wake of his widely dispersed photograph, triumphantly displaying Donna Rice aboard the “Monkey Business.”

The careers of former Oregon Senator Bob Packwood and Washington Senator Brock Adams came to premature ends in the 1990s as a result of the senators intermingling with nice looking office staffers serving boxed wine and Mickey Finn’s respectively.

Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom violated the so-called “Man rule” by having an affair with the wife of his deputy chief of staff/campaign manager. Newsom is now California’s lieutenant governor. His career is far from over.

In 1992, then Governor Bill Clinton accompanied by then Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton heroically defended the governor’s extra-curricular activities with Jennifer Flowers on a memorable edition of 60 Minutes.

As it turns out, Mizz Flowers was a prelude for Kathleen Willey and she was a predecessor for Paula Corbin Jones and then came an intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky.

And for the past 15 years in the wake of the Kenneth Starr Report and the political resurrection of William Jefferson Clinton the rationalization has been oft-repeated: “It’s only a blow j..”

The inference is the conducting of the office was not impacted, so what is the big deal?

This question comes full circle (no pun intended) with the comeback attempts of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the desperate actions of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and the recent election of former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

What unifies these four political animals (and presumably others) is the desire to remain/return to the game despite questionable judgment when it comes to their zippers.

Sanford hiked the “Appalachian Trail” to cover up his affair in Argentina. He was recently elected to a South Carolina House seat, a come down from being the state’s chief executive. He is still in the game for now.

Weiner is attempting to become Gotham’s Mayor despite sexting his junk (Weiner’s Wiener) via Twitter to chosen damsels across the fruited plain.

Spitzer wants to be New York City Comptroller after being “Customer No. 9” run by the madam at the exclusive Emperor’s Club.

And Filner is apologizing to anybody and everybody, even forcing his staff to take sexual harassment training, in an attempt to survive and let the whole thing blow over.

Does this mean the public is numb to sexual escapades and that we really don’t care what goes on in the executive bedroom or even the White House? According to recent polls in New York, the public cares less about sexual adventures than it does a politician putting his or her hand in the public coffer. Both Weiner and Spitzer are benefitting from his lack of overall concern about flexible morals and they are all capitalizing on their respective name IDs.

Indeed, the level of public tolerance has changed, even though we should note and even celebrate that Presidents Reagan, Bush I, Bush II and Obama all conceivably went home to their respective spouses every evening.

My boss, former California Governor George Deukmejian, went home each night to Gloria, the kids, the beagles and his beloved jamoca-almond fudge. As his press secretary, I slept better at night knowing this fact, even though his cholesterol count was most likely higher than it should have been.

john_edwards2_240

Having acknowledged the obvious change in public attitudes, there are limits to popular acceptance. Take would be President/Vice President and former Senator John Edwards. He cheated on his dying wife, Elizabeth, with his videographer. He lied about it. He had a love child with the same videographer, Rielle Hunter. He lied about the child. His wife died after fighting against breast cancer while her husband cheated and lied.

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The mantra of crisis communications is: Tell the Truth, Tell it Fast, Tell it All, Move On.

Edwards got only one right. He tried to simply Move On.

Messrs.’ Sanford, Weiner, Spitzer, Newsom and Filner are trying to Move On as well.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/13/2013-elections-marked-by-candidates-seeking-redemption-will-voters-forgive/?test=latestnews

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/07/16/how-anthony-weiner-and-eliot-spitzer-are-winning/?wpisrc=nl_politics

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/men-and-their-schlanges/

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/AIDE-QUITS-AS-NEWSOM-S-AFFAIR-WITH-HIS-WIFE-IS-2652745.php#photo-2105071

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

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-filner-claims-20130715,0,6397291.story

“Flip-flops are for fa..ots. Flip-flops are for fa..ots.” – Rutgers assistant Eric Murdock quoting fired Rutgers’ Coach Mike Rice screaming at 10-11 year-old basketball campers.

“I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters, and the media … to be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it” – former New York Representative Anthony Weiner finally acknowledging – after repeated public denials — that he tweeted his genitalia to target females across the fruited plain.

It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter (Frances Quinn Hunter), and, hopefully, one day, when she understands, she will forgive me,” – John Edwards admitting that he fathered a love child with staffer Rielle Hunter.

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Coach Rice’s career is over at 44. Put a fork in him; he’s done.

Congressman Weiner’s dreams of becoming New York City’s mayor were thrown into the junk heap at 46.

Future president Edwards’ Potomac Fever dreams of being the leader of the free world permanently ended at 56.

The most recent viral public relations train wreck is bully boy coach Rice. He has been duly convicted in the courtroom of public opinion under the glare of the nation’s largest media market and buried under a video avalanche for assaulting his players, throwing balls at their heads and uttering ugly slurs about their sexuality.

For Rice, who was coaching at a major university entering into the prestigious Big-10 Conference, he is now the butt of a Saturday Night Live skit and the unflattering subject of an ESPN Outside the Lines report. These are the least of his problems.

Contemplating the damaging videos of an out-of-control Rice, one must ponder whether he ever asked himself if he was going too far. Now he is facing the certainty that his career is over at 44-years young. Conceivably, he has another three or four decades to live…and yet he is done.

Who will ever hire Mike Rice? The video will always follow him. It is permanent. It is eternal. He is toast.

The thoughts that must be going through his head right now are hard to imagine. All he had to do is deport himself. His behavior made Bobby Knight seem like a choir boy…even after the legendary coach threw the chair and was terminated by Indiana University. Maybe, other coaches and mentors will learn from Rice’s boorish mistakes.

A question that comes to mind pertains to the always-present, always-on digital media. Some complain that it threatens our privacy, but at the same time it can be seen as a great equalizer. The bully was exposed though grainy video and sensitive long-distance microphones. Maybe technology may be an answer to bullying, oppression and those who through whatever means try to dominate the weak.

The ultimate answer to this kind of misconduct lies with the individual. All of these public relations debacles could have easily been avoided with the exercise of personal deportment, compassion and accountability. Video cameras, directional microphones, self-publishing outlets and marauding media are everywhere. The ever-present, instantaneous and global media are in the “on” position at all times.

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Deal with it or perish.

What are some solutions in terms of protecting individual reputations and personal brands?

Act and behave with integrity even when you think that no one is looking as someone with a digital device very well may be doing just that. There is a time and place for “tough love,” but understand there is a definitive line between constructive criticism and destructive activity.

Assume the camera is on, the microphone is poised, the drones are flying; life will never be the same again.

Some have the chance to recover from public relations disasters (e.g. Michael Phelps had his London; Tiger has his Augusta; AH-Nold has yet another tough guy movie) even though their reputations will never be the same.

Still others have no outlet for a comeback; Rice, Weiner, Edwards and Lance Armstrong are part of this exclusive club. They will literally have decades to contemplate what went wrong and know they will never have a total and complete opportunity to vindicate themselves.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9130237

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

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/edwards-scandal-timeline-john-edwards-rielle-hunter-affair/story?id=9621755#.UWB3vMriVJQ

http://msn.foxsports.com/collegebasketball/story/mike-rice-rutgers-player-abuse-scandal-spoofed-saturday-night-live-melissa-mccarthy-040613

Move over Gordon Moore, there is a new law in town: Digital is Eternal.

Intel Corporation co-founder Moore is famous for his 1965 “law,” stating that every 18-24 months the amount of capability/complexity that can be incorporated into a silicon piece of real estate doubles. The law is still applicable nearly two generations later and it explains how we can have ever-smaller devices (e.g. fourth generation cell phones with tons of apps) that are faster, quicker, more powerful and burn less power in doing so. It all adds up to the serendipity of the semiconductor business.

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A net effect of Moore’s law is the proliferation of the ones-and-zeroes that make digital possible. And with the global spread of digital technology comes the undeniable and inescapable fact that anything and everything that is rendered digital is there forever…and can come back to bite you. Digital is eternal.

Back in my analog days working in the California governor’s office in the 1980s, a frequent refrain heard in the corridors of the capitol was, “If you don’t want to read about it in the Sacramento Bee, don’t write it down.” The big fear at the time was copy machines, lots of copy machines. Members of the Capital Press Corps would soon be receiving white envelopes with no return addresses and inside of these envelopes were photocopied “good dirt.” This practice almost sounds quaint compared to today’s digital TMZ, Deadspin, National Enquirer world

Fast forward to the digital days of the Internet Bubble in which stocks rode the roller coaster up and the same thrill ride to the bottom, we heard another refrain, “Everything digital is discoverable.” Translated: A plaintiff attorney firm filing a strike suit against your company could, and most likely would, demand in the discovery process all corporation e-mails, notes, transcripts, documents, anything and everything even remotely relevant to the matter being litigated. And there was no excuse for digital data being routinely purged after an appropriate period of time; a judge would simply order a company to digitally comply regardless of the IT data recovery costs involved. No wonder so many cases were settled out of court to the delight of the strike suit firm.

Today, we live in the age of Google. The company’s name is no longer just a proper noun, but a verb as in “Google this” and “Google that.” What is being Googled in many cases is a person’s reputation and personal brand.

If you are Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian (you get the digital picture), money and attention is the draw; reputation is clearly secondary, if not tertiary. So a supposedly private sex tape or commando raid becomes public or pubic…or lack of pubic. Will they ever regret that their sexual escapades are permanently captured and literally viewed by millions all by means of digital ones and zeroes? Wonder if Brett Favre and/or Anthony Weiner have any regrets about digitally transmitting images of their respective junk?

Go ahead and “Google” Olympic Gold medal swimmer, “Michael Phelps bong” and 505,000 pages including the infamous stoned photos (first item) come rushing at you. Will the public remember his 16-gold medals or his famous bong pipe escapade? What is really sad is the bong pipe photo, which reportedly cost him millions in endorsements, will not only follow him to his grave, but actually will be a permanently black mark on his reputation beyond his grave.

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“Some day that party picture is going to bite them when they seek a senior corporate job or public office,” said Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital. “I think they should wake up now, and become aware of the extent to which they’re sharing parts of themselves that one day they may wish they had kept private.”

More than one person has labeled college as “Life’s last playground.” And as a teaching assistant, I run into students who are having plain old fun and enjoying their college years to the max. They should also keep in mind, whether they like it or not, that they are also in the midst of making a transition from being student to becoming a professional.

If a student is neck-and-neck with another student for an entry-level job and the employer Google’s both and finds a bong pipe, a drunken stupor or an inappropriate display for body parts that should be private on one student and none of the above on the other, who are they going to be inclined to hire?

And this cautionary note goes beyond the prospective work place and also includes a potential lover. In this era of Internet dating, it is routine for a partner-to-be to surf your reputation to determine if there any game-changing, unpleasant sides to your personal brand. What may be playful and fun to you, may be interpreted as showing a total lack of judgment.

In this era of smaller and smaller cameras and more powerful microphones, all for reasonable prices, it is better to think twice and to exert caution. My intent here is to not be an old-fashioned party pooper. Instead, I would like to ensure that student careers do not come crashing to earth, before they even have a chance to get launched into the professional stratosphere. 

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_Law

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

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=4&oq=Michael+Phelps+&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS373US374&q=michael+phelps+bong&gs_upl=0l0l0l13120lllllllllll0&aqi=g4s1

If I had a dollar for every time a colleague came up to me and suggested that I perform some public relations magic that overcomes a well-chronicled FUBAR, I would be a very rich hombre.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the implied compliment. It is just in certain cases there comes a point when a debacle has passed the point of PR no return. The party in question cannot be saved by effective use of strategic communications. Instead, the situation requires an outright miracle…and PR pros cannot walk on water or change water into wine (even though some egos will claim they have these powers in the name of billable hours).

Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is one of these cases. Even prison inmates have a caste system, and child molesters are the low-of-the-low. Even though this sounds cruel, his life is over. He cannot be saved with an infinite amount of spin or even divine intervention.

A less egregious case (alleged child molestation is hard to surpass when it comes to despicability) is former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. What was he thinking when he decided to tweet his junk to coeds across the fruited plain? Do you think any self-respecting public relations pro would want to develop an Anthony Weiner comeback campaign? Hmmm…Let’s start with an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor”…that will garner some media attention. Maybe Jon Stewart and “60 Minutes” will be interested as well?

OJChase

There are literally dozens of other instances in which the public relations atrocity is beyond the pale. The individual or individuals simply cannot be rescued, and in most cases they do not deserve to be saved. Mike Tyson bit off the ear of Evander Holyfield; OJ Simpson dodged the law once, but failed the second time and remains in the slam; Dominic Strauss-Kahn may have been acquitted, but the image of him charging buck naked at a hotel chamber maid is frankly too much to even imagine. Texas Governor Rick Perry’s nationally televised brain fart, not remembering the third federal department he wants to abolish (that would be the Department of Energy, guvnah), cannot be spun into a positive. Pass the chicken salad.

Having acknowledged that certain people do not deserve to be saved (my list above is way too short, but you get the idea), there are some cases in which time can serve as a healer. For those of you mature enough to remember, Richard Nixon gave his “last press conference” in 1962, was elected president six years later and then resigned in disgrace six years after that. His career was the ultimate Dow Joneser from a public relations standpoint.

Nixon

How many wrote off golf superstar Tiger Woods after his 19th hole activities with a bevy of beauties was revealed? He lost his personal PR campaign to save his marriage, but the focus has returned to his golf game and his place among the best players ever to play in the sport’s grand slam tournaments.

Kim Kardashian’s 72-day “marriage” to basketball stud Kris Humphries (seemed like 10 minutes) will only contribute to her attention-society persona and her handlers will figure out even more intriguing ways to cater to the those obsessed with le affaire of the Thirty-Mile Zone.

Today, we all read about the failure of the congressional super committee to tame the nation’s $15 trillion deficit. The market responded by selling off to the tune of 248 points, but one suspects this stalemate was already baked into the numbers. Now it is time for the blame game between the talking heads of both parties.

One of the key methodologies of crisis communications is to immediately point to the future, making today’s bad news, old news. “Yes, yes, the super committee was hopelessly deadlocked, but we still have a whopping deficit…so what should we do about it?” Keep in mind that those that trade in information (e.g. editors, reporters, correspondents, bloggers, analysts, commentators) always want to know what comes next (e.g. what will the market do tomorrow, next week, next month, next year). Once one presidential election is in the books, the question is who will win four years later? Hmmm…you just won the world title, can you repeat?…

As a society our memories are relatively short. Richard Nixon had a future after losing to Pat Brown in 1962. Tiger Woods has another tournament to play. Mizz Kardashian has another party to make an appearance and what will she not be wearing? There is even a future for AH-Nold Schwarzenegger and his over-eager Schlange, just not in politics. Will POTUS convene another deficit reduction committee? Wasn’t his jobs bill expected to be funded by “savings” identified by the congressional deficit-reduction committee? Sorry for the digression.

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And then there is Jerry Sandusky. Everyone deserves a fair trial. He will have an attorney, and his day in court. For him, there is most likely a prison cell and the people who already live in the same penitentiary, and they don’t like those who molest children. There will be no one to give him PR advice, because quite frankly (if proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty) he does not deserve PR counsel…let alone miracle workers.

“What happens in Vegas…will probably end up on YouTube.”

Since the onset of truly interactive computer-mediated communication more than a decade ago (Web 2.0), pundit questions mainly revolved around whether digital social media could ever be effectively monetized.

Wall Street finally responded last May 19 with enthusiastic institutional and retail investor response to the initial public offering (IPO) of LinkedIn.com. Securities for the business networking oriented social media outlet were offered on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: LNKD) and the results that day constituted the biggest IPO since search engine Google Inc. debuted in 2004. LinkedIn was initially priced at $45, but opened at $83 up 84%. The stock eventually peaked at $122.70 before closing at $94.25, a 109% gain for the day, representing $8.9 billion in market capitalization.

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Despite the impressive results for the initial offering of publicly traded securities for LinkedIn and the fact that there are no longer questions about whether social media has authentic monetary value, the IPO was widely seen by financial and market analysts as preliminary at best.

LinkedIn capitalized on being the “first mover” among social media companies, prompting many to ask what will happen when Twitter, Groupon and most of all, Facebook with its 600 million subscribers, (any or all) decide to take their respective shares to the public marketplace. Will they trigger a second Internet bubble?

Underneath all of the euphoria (irrational exuberance?) about digital interactive media, the use of ones-and-zeroes, transmitted in packets across switches and routers or wirelessly via the satellite, are troubling questions about this relatively new means of communication.

There are publicly traded and privately held companies with products to sell, non-profits with missions to fulfill, governments with essential services to provide, and politicians with electoral messages to deliver. Most are using digital publishing in an attempt to reach their target audiences, but at the same time (and maybe truly for the first time) these very same audiences, some with competing agendas, have unprecedented capability to target the messengers. Instead of “vertical” one-communicating-to-many, it is increasingly “horizontal” with the “audience” participating in the conversation. The game has changed and the rules are still being developed.

Today, we can look back upon a growing litany of examples of how ease-of-use interactive publishing and related conversations are upsetting the best-laid public relations and marketing plans of those charged with reputations to protect and brands to manage.

Consider that one blogger ultimately prompted the recall of Intel’s vaunted Pentium processor; bloggers repudiated a “60 Minutes” story extremely critical of former President George W. Bush, leading to the “resignation” of Dan Rather; a BART passenger video-taped and posted footage of the 2009 New Year’s evening shooting of Oscar Grant, leading to a conviction of the officer in question and setting off civil disturbances in Oakland; undercover cameras and super-sensitive microphones discredited ACORN and NPR;  Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-New York) was pressured into resigning in the wake of his Tweeting of his “junk” to selected females across the fruited plain. Train Station Shooting

What, where, when and who will be next to experience the loss of reputation and branding control to interactive media? Has the digital playing field been leveled to an unprecedented effect? Is this an unintended consequence of Web 2.0?

Think of it this way, reputations and brands are now traded commodities in the marketplace of public opinion. And just like securities, reputations and brand equities can rise with “shareholder” approval or they can crash under pressure from this same audience.

The question is not whether there are unintended loss-of-control consequences of Web 2.0, but instead what are the strategies to safeguard reputations and brands, and how they should be implemented? The birth of micro-blogging/content sharing sites: LinkedIn in 2003, MySpace in 2003, Facebook in 2004, Flickr in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and the 140-character-per-message Twitter in 2006, rapidly accelerated the growth to a staggering number of Web 2.0 subscribers.

The power of each of these social media sites and the ones that will inevitably follow (e.g. Google+) is magnified by the number of friends, connections, contacts that can be reached with a short message and a few key strokes. Will publicly traded and privately held companies, non-profits, governmental entities, appointed and elected officials ever regain hegemony over their cherished reputations and hard-fought brands or must they learn to live with a permanent loss of total control?

The answer is undoubtedly the latter. If this is indeed the case, then what are reasonable techniques and strategies that can be employed in this Web 2.0 era of digital self publishing with ease-of-use software tools? Here are five reputation-and-brand protection strategic recommendations for consideration by public relations practitioners, marketing/brand management professionals and social media evangelists.

1.)   Quality Products; Credible Messaging

The keys to success will be the specific relevance of the message, and the effectiveness of the delivery of the message or program in the time and space where the potential customers want to receive it, not where the marketers want to shout it out,” Irene Dickey and William F. Lewis. 

The point being made by academics Dickey and Lewis is the best way to defend a reputation or a brand is to deliver credible messages in a timely and effective way to customers. Doing the right thing at the right time deserves to be rewarded regardless of the unprecedented speed of global communications. Is a good offense the best defense?

Take Zappos.com as an example. The $1 billion online shoe seller has a distinct philosophy of under-promising and over-performing for its customer base. The company’s leadership is constantly exploring way to sustaining the high quality experience it is known for – to deliver “wow” to its customers, suppliers and partners. The targeted result: Positive and consistent word-of-mouth advertising. Said Alfred Lin, Zappos chairman, CFO and COO: “…Word of mouth works a lot faster on the Internet than it does person-to-person because you can just e-mail out a bunch of your friends and say ‘hey I just had this amazing experience.’ That was one of the reasons that we wanted to keep upgrading shipping.”

lin Erik Qualman in his Socialnomics cited a study by the Strategic Planning Institute that 96 percent dissatisfied customers don’t bother to complain, and 63 percent of these silent dissatisfied customers will never buy from the vendor again. Through networked customer feedback, it is much easier for a company to respond and make things right. Douglas Rushkoff offered very simple advice: “Marketers need to learn that the easiest way to sell stuff in the digital age is make good stuff.” 

2.)   Treating Reputations and Brands As Tradable Equities 

“More young people will learn about IBM from Wikipedia in coming years than from IBM itself,” New York Times Columnist Thomas L. Friedman 

Qualman was just as direct as Friedman when he stated that if you maintain a large, well-known brand you can rest assured (or not rest assured) that there are online conversations, pages and applications being constantly developed around a brand. He cited an August 2008 Facebook search for lawn-care equipment provider, “John Deere,” and discovered 500 groups dedicated to John Deere; more than 10,000 users total in the top-10 groups. Chief competitor, Caterpillar, also maintained a page in John Deere’s top-10 listings and one simply called “John Deere Sucks!!!” also made the top-10 list on the social media site. Along with the ascent of interactive social media has been a corresponding decline of consumer trust in brands.

According to advertising agency, Y&R, consumer trust in brands dropped from 52 percent in 1997 (generally agreed upon birth year of Web 2.0) to only 22 percent in 2008. It should also be noted that the worldwide recession began in 2008, but that does not alone explain the 30 percent drop in brand trust.

Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell wrote that Facebook and other social media sites are extremely effective at building networks, which he said “are the opposite, in structure and character, of hierarchies. Unlike hierarchies, with their rules and procedures, networks aren’t controlled by a single central authority. Decisions are made through consensus.”

3.)    24/7/365 Monitoring and Response

“The digital bazaar is a many-to-many conversation among people acting in one or more of their many cultural roles. It is too turbulent to be directed or dominated,” Author and columnist Douglas Rushkoff. 

What is the direct effect of Rushkoff’s assertion about the turbulent seas of social media with its many-to-many discussants in the conversation? For those charged with protecting a reputation and safeguarding a brand, it means that the most carefully laid marketing and public relations plans can be shattered in record time.

It means that just as global equities are traded virtually every day of the year as the sun moves over the Nikkei in Japan, the Hang Sang in Hong Kong, the DAX in Germany to the FTSE in London to then to the NYSE and NASDAQ in New York, the same is true for brands. The sun never sets on global markets and brands; in fact brands are being traded on a 24/7/365 basis in the digital interactive marketplace of public opinion.

Consider the infamous sucker punch by Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount against Boise State’s Bryon Hout immediately following their game in 2009, and captured in all of its intensity by ESPN’s cameras. Today, there are 17,400 search engine optimization (SEO) results on Google for the keystrokes, “LeGarrette Blount sucker punch.”

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For the University of Oregon Athletic Department and its carefully crafted image, the damage from Blount’s actions was swiftly demonstrated in cyberspace with an immediate YouTube video, Wikipedia post and literally thousands of comments on Twitter and Facebook. A reputation and brand can come under pressure at any time of day or night, requiring constant vigilance and assigning individuals specifically charged and authorized to respond on behalf of a company, governmental entity, appointed or elected official or an educational institution.

4.)   Fiduciary and Corporate Social Responsibility

“Can companies do well by doing good? Yes – sometimes.” Aneel Karnani.

Publicly traded and privately held companies and by extension the public relations and business development firms that counsel them must worship at the altar of fiduciary responsibility. Karnani in his 2010 Wall Street Journal piece stated the global movement for better corporate governance dictates that executives must seek the best return possible for their investors. He said that managers who sacrifice profit for the common good also are in effect imposing a tax on their shareholders and arbitrarily deciding how that money should be spent. If push comes to shove between fiduciary responsibility and corporate social responsibility, the former will usually prevail…but still there are benefits for society.

Wrote Karnani: “Consider the market for healthier food. Fast-food outlets have profited by expanding their offerings to include salads and other options designed to appeal to health-conscious consumers. Other companies have found new sources of revenue in low-fat, whole-grain and other types of foods that have grown in popularity. Social welfare is improved. Everyone wins.”

Should companies spread this fiduciary responsibility (and by extension improving society) message via social media tools? The risk is being accused of “green washing” or something worse by detractors of the brand. Companies do not have a choice about participating in this on-line discussion. The question is how well they do it.

In particular, publicly traded companies have a fiduciary responsibility to generate the best return for their investors – in many cases their own employees – and why shouldn’t they triumph their activities on behalf of shareholder value? If communities, workers and the environment benefit from healthier foods, less-power hungry devices, more fuel-efficient cars, while at the same time related companies are producing returns for investors, then let there be a race to use social media tools for the gratification of the companies as well as their detractors. Truth should be the defense against “greenwashing” charges. Let the conversation commence.

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5.)   Honesty, Openness and Transparency

Companies don’t have a choice on whether they do social media; they have a choice in how well they do it,” Erik Qualman, Socialnomics, 2009

In the case of social media, someone is always watching YouTube videos, posting JPEGs on Flickr, sending Tweets via Twitter, inviting connections on LinkedIn or friending or unfriending on Facebook. There are frankly millions of netizens and they are always on, around the clock and around the world. And the rate of innovation is accelerating at a pace never seen before in human history. It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users;  television 13 years; the Internet, four years; iPod, three years; Facebook added its first 100 million subscribers in just nine months.

Publicly traded and privately held companies, non-profits, governmental entities, educational institutions and appointed and elected representatives live in a fish-bowl world. The rules of the game have changed, and yet there are still rules of engagement. Ghostwriting of executive blogs should to be publicly disclosed. Companies need to focus on quality products, under-promise and over-deliver.

Statements need to be credible and respectful or as John Madden once said: “I will never say in private what I wouldn’t say in public.” The Web 2.0 digital world is demanding accountability, honesty and transparency. If these simple rules are followed the consequences associated with the loss of control should be benign. However, if the conduct is not becoming of a reputation that has been hard-earned and brand equity that has been built, both of these can come tumbling down in just a matter of mouse clicks.

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