Tag Archive: Crisis Communications


“If the Earth slammed into the Sun (or vice versa), what would the president do?” – CNN correspondent

“Guess, we would all fry and die.” – White House Trade Hawk Peter Navarro

Couldn’t believe that Navarro would answer CNN’s hypothetical question Friday about whether President Trump would impose $200 billion in even more tariffs on China, if the next 90 days of trade negotiations go nowhere.

Instead of bobbing, weaving and ducking the question, Navarro answered in the affirmative.

Why Peter, why?

American markets tanked Friday, led by a 558-point decline on the Dow.

The psychology on Wall Street is so negative right now. Traders are selling the bounces instead of buying on the dips. Forget about Buy Low, Sell High.

Why did the White House Press Office allow Navarro take an interview with CNN? Isn’t “prevention” one of the key components of effective crisis communications?

The liberal network openly despises … being nice here … Navarro’s boss (see Jim Acosta antics), and will not do the administration any favors whatsoever (e.g., benefit of the doubt).

Were you media trained, Peter?

Obviously, not.

Why didn’t you coordinate your talking points with Larry Kudlow?

Instead it was administration bad cop, trade hawk (Navarro) contradicting an administration good cop, trade dove (Kudlow), resulting in the media and markets seizing upon … Navarro’s negative response to a hypothetical question (e.g., more tariffs on China).

Shocking or more of the same from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue … or both?

It’s now painfully obvious the happy talking points/tweets emerging from last weekend’s G20 Xi-Trump summit over Argentinian steak were over-done … way over-done.

Earth And Sun Collide?

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett has been asked hypothetical questions, posed by the media to generate headlines particularly on slow news days.

If asked by a member of the Capitol Press Corps in Sacramento what my boss would do if the earth did indeed slam into the sun, your author would without doubt take the following approach:

“The earth and the sun vary between 91 million and 94 million miles a part each year, and the earth has been around for 4.543 billion years. We are confident this trend, which is our friend, will continue.”

Always remember, conditions can and most likely change between now and later. If that is indeed the case, why answer a hypothetical?

Here’s an even better answer:

“As a policy, we do not answer hypothetical questions. We will say is that we are cautiously optimistic about our trade negotiations with China. We are not going to prejudge this process.”

Boring? Sure. That’s the point.

Do the markets sell off, putting more pressure on the U.S. negotiators? Not likely.

Are the reporters/correspondents disappointed? Oh well …

Should an administration speak in one voice? Always.

Kudlow and Navarro should not be separate spokesmen with conflicting philosophies on the same question. The Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr duel would have gone viral in the 21st Century with the NASDAQ dipping into correction territory.

Kudlow mentions the potential of extending the moratorium on tariffs for another 90 days Friday, if the negotiations are making progress … markets go up.

A little later Friday Navarro confirms the possibility of raising $200 billion in additional tariffs, if the negotiations go nowhere … and the markets are pounded.

Who’s on first?

Maybe, Mr. Art of the Deal wants to deliberately send confusing, ambiguous signals to the Chinese to keep them off guard … Good Cop vs. Bad Cop?

Unfortunately, this latest market selloff and the related overly negative market psychology could have been avoided by simply refusing to answer hypothetical questions, and by an administration speaking in one voice.

Is that too much to ask?

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/hypothetical-question.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/07/investing/stock-market-today-navarro-kudlow/index.html

https://www.space.com/17081-how-far-is-earth-from-the-sun.html

https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/19833/about-how-many-revolutions-has-the-earth-made-around-the-sun

 

 

 

“I must be a mushroom because everyone keeps me in the dark and feeds me bullshit.” – Urban Dictionary

The rocket scientists at General Motors made the decision to close five factories in the United States and Canada, impacting 14,000 workers/15 percent of salaried employees. Meanwhile the GM truck production lines would keep on humming … in Mexico and China.

GM tenderly issued a Monday news results about these Ohio, Michigan and Maryland facilities/people … saying they will be unallocated in 2019.” 

Unallocated?

Hard to believe that any PR pro worth his or her salt could actually write these words, and with a straight face actually advocate for their approval with management.

Almost DailyBrett concurs with CBS Money Watch in its designation of “unallocated” as one of the worst corporate euphemisms ever employed, if not the absolute worst.

No one is laughing, General Motors.

Before going further, Almost DailyBrett will remind readers of the four tenets of Crisis Communications:

  1. Tell The Truth
  2. Tell It All
  3. Tell It Fast
  4. Move On

There is little doubt that GM’s corporate PR types toyed with the idea of dumping this dead-dog factory closure announcement on the ultimate bad news distribution day of any year – Black Friday or the second day of the long Thanksgiving Weekend.

Nice way for big bad GM to give thanks to its affected workers during the holidays?

Ultimately, the folks who used the ridiculous, twisted in knots verb – “unallocated” – couldn’t bring themselves to drop this bomb the day after Thanksgiving, so they opted for the following Monday, November 26.

And yet, there was the little matter of the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, who carried Ohio and Michigan.

The Fifth Tenet of Crisis Communications

There may even be a fifth tenet of Crisis Communications: Never Blindside The Boss.

Could GM inform Donald Trump concurrently with the factory closures/14,000 layoffs announcement? Not a chance.

Even at the risk of a leak/premature disclosure, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra had no choice but to pick up the phone and call the president this past weekend.

The alternative of the mushroom treatment, keeping POTUS in the dark and feeding him fertilizer, was clearly not an option. The resulting Trump tweets about being disappointed could well have reflected that he was furious, if he was not informed in advance.

In a series of wrong calls, give GM credit for getting this one right … there was absolutely no upside in blindsiding the president.

Seven Layoffs in Three Years

When the Internet Bubble burst in March 2000, the technology business – particularly semiconductors — crashed into the wall … and there were no skid marks.

For Almost DailyBrett’s employer, LSI Logic, we enjoyed a post-split share price of $90 in 2000, full-running factories, $2.7 billion in revenues, and about 7,700 employees.

Within three years, our stock price plunged to $3, we eliminated two factories, revenues sank to $1.8 billion, and our workforce was reduced to 3,900.

In short, we did everything we could … to survive.

Included in this effort was the issuance of seven news releases, announcing a cumulative series of job cuts and factory curtailments-closures (i.e., Gresham, Colorado Springs, Santa Clara). Eliminating jobs and closing factory gates does not get better with age.

We also instinctively knew there were certain audiences, who needed to be briefed in advance, preferably hours before the news release crossed the wires. Predictably, they (i.e., governors, city council members, county supervisors …) were disappointed, but they understood the economic imperative of our decisions.

The GM case is much trickier. The company received a $39.7 billion taxpayer bailout in the dark days of 2009. Is this “unallocation” of factories and people the way GM says thanks to America during Thanksgiving?

At least Mary Barra picked up the phone and called the big boss.

Can you imagine being a fly on the proverbial Oval Office wall?

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=treat%20em%20like%20a%20mushroom

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worst-corporate-euphemism-ever-gms-unallocated-factories-a-contender/

https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2018/11/28/General-Motors-layoffs-factory-shutdown-Lordstown-Ohio/stories/201811280038

 

 

 

“Being Native American has been part of my story, I guess, since the day I was born” – Senator Elizabeth Warren

What is the definition of a story with “legs” (No pun intended)?

From a public relations standpoint, it’s a negative story that can’t or will not be stopped.

BP couldn’t contain the gushing oil into the gulf.

British Petroleum or BP is eternally synonymous with “The Spill.”

Hillary was unable to stymie the drip-drip of the 2015/2016 home server/emails scandal?

Madam Secretary is now a distinguished private citizen with yet another book to sell (Look for it on your Walmart discount rack in about six-months).

And then there is the Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Massachusetts) self-inflicted wound about whether she has Cherokee blood somewhere, somehow, anywhere on the maternal side of her family.

President Trump lovingly labels her, “Pocahontas,” clearly getting under the skin of the honorable senator from Massachusetts, once taunting her to take a DNA test to clarify her ancestry.

And yes, she took the Stanford University test and the results indicated she was at best 1/64th Native American and no worse than 1/1024th Native American. There may be (or not) a smidgen of Cherokee Nation in her blood line, which originated somewhere between 150 and 250 years ago.

The Cherokee Nation was not impressed.

From assessing the reaction from the Washington D.C. Punditocracy (95.2 million Google results in 0.33 second), Almost DailyBrett must ask: Why Senator Warren is egging on a story that should simply die a quiet death?

Is there some crisis communication wisdom that lies beneath the surface?

Crisis Communications Time and Place Rule

Trump challenged Warren to prove she was a “person of color” by taking a DNA test.

The senator responded by submitting to the much criticized blood exam. The real question is whether the almost certain Democratic candidate for president made a terminal move against her interest in becoming POTUS #46?

Maybe? Maybe not?

What are the four tenets for Crisis Communication: Tell the Truth. Tell It Quickly. Tell It All. Move On.

We can argue whether Warren is telling the truth, let alone telling it all.

We can agree that she is telling it (relatively) quickly and trying to move on (if she can).

Consider the calendar. A few days after the most likely inconclusive No Blue Wave (e.g., Dems may take the house, Republicans remain in control of the Senate) November 6 midterms, the pundits will quickly shift focus to the 2020 presidential cycle.

When a candidate has bad news to bury, when is the best time to exorcise this demon?  Your author counsels at a time and place of your choosing.

As Almost DailyBrett wrote three years ago, the failure of candidate George W. Bush to address his 1976 DUI arrest at a time and place of his choosing well before the 2000 presidential election cycle almost cost him the presidency.

The DUI was shockingly revealed just five days before election day. It was “breaking” news.

Senator Warren well knows that her Massachusetts colleague, John Kerry, was “Swift Boated” by Bush in the latter weeks of the tight 2004 presidential campaign. Kerry never recovered.

Perhaps Warren is dealing with the Cherokee Nation issue now, making “old news” of an anticipated attack line in the upcoming Democratic Party presidential primary season. You can envision her crossing her eyes when this ancient issue is brought up.

Undoubtedly Trump will charmingly continue to label her, “Pocahontas.” She in turn will have a few choice rejoinders for him.

For Warren she is hoping the “Native American” issue becomes “old news” in 2020, dispensed with glaring headlines/cartoons/jokes about a controversial DNA test … way back in 2018.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/18/just-about-everything-youve-read-warren-dna-test-is-wrong/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c1ca6028cbc4

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/us/politics/elizabeth-warren-dna-test.html

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tammy-bruce-elizabeth-warren-and-her-little-dna-story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2PAVv5so2s

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/how-one-dui-in-1976-led-to-hanging-chads-in-2000/

 

 

 

 

The four basic tenets of crisis communication:

Tell The Truth,

Tell It All,

Tell It Fast,

Move On.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beware Of Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Facebook moving on with its Sunday newspaper ads?

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

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

 

Hard Questions: Update on Cambridge Analytica (937 words)

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

Mark Zuckerberg

on Wednesday

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

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

Here’s a timeline of the events:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

H

… 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

 

 

Damn the Teleprompters!

Planes sometimes land at the wrong airport.

When we were kids we practiced huddling under our desks, if heaven forbid something really unpleasant was happening.

There is a reason every team has a backup quarterback.

And every good organization should have a Plan B, and maybe even a Plan C.

Anybody at Samsung ever heard of Murphy’s Law?

baystage1

What can go wrong, will go wrong.

Caca happens from time-to-time. Be prepared to deal with it.

Think of it this way: Prevention is as much a component of effective crisis communications as responding to an actual debacle.

Typing in the name, “Michael Bay” and “CES” into the Google search engine and the result is 21.7 million web mentions devoted to the producer’s viral walkout of the biggest gizmo trade show on the planet, The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, attended by 140,000 techies.

This public relations train wreck has become a metaphor for Samsung’s underwhelming recent financial performance. That is the conclusion of the stately Economist.

Comedian Tina Fey even made fun at Michael Bay and by extension, Samsung, at the Golden Globes.

Let’s face it, life is not perfect. Sometimes airplanes filled with passengers land at the wrong airport. Southwest Airlines is practicing crisis response today.

And to many, that is their definition of crisis communications being cool under fire and following the mantra: Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell it Fast. Move On. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was practicing just that last week. Hopefully, the airline can take steps to ensure that its Boeing 737s always land at their intended destinations and move on.

The point here is that crisis communications is not just an after-the-fact exercise. Good crisis management is to take steps to ensure that what should be a victory does not turn out to be a viral defeat in our digital age.

Repeatedly watching the video of Michael Bay, one is immediately struck by his nervousness. The Transformers director/producer is clearly a guy, who likes to call the shots, to be in total control. He wants to be behind the camera, not in front of the lens.

baystage2

At CES, his performance right from the start was akin to someone walking on a tightrope. He clearly did not want to be there. If that was the case, why was he there? Yes, he fit into the marketing theme for Samsung’s new 105-inch curved ultra-high-definition television. (Personally, I am holding out for the 105-foot curved ultra-high-definition TV).  He may have been paid handsomely for his services.

Was it worth it, Samsung?

Bay was exhibiting all the signs of Glossophobia, combining the Greek words for “tongue” and “dread,” or fear of public speaking. Did Samsung put Bay through presentation training? And if not; why not? And if so, did the company practice what happens if the teleprompter goes down?

Let’s ask another question here: Why a teleprompter? It makes sense when POTUS delivers the nearly one-hour (or more) long State of the Union address. Why does one need a teleprompter to read to an audience? Why not engage in a conversation?

Some disdain PowerPoint or Prezi. Nonetheless Steve Jobs was a master of the format. Wearing his signature black turtleneck, jeans and tennis shoes and strapping on the lavaliere microphone, he confidently used each graphic as a prompt. He was obviously comfortable with the Apple message, after all he pretty much invented the technology (e.g., Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad etc.). The Macworld audiences fed off of his energy. All was good at Apple’s marketing department.

jobskeynote

Having checked out more than a few trade shows and investor conferences, the audience is ultimately looking for and expecting information about a company’s products and how they fit into the corporate business strategy.

Does Michael Bay know any of these facts when it comes to Samsung? Or did Samsung just want him to lend his name and cool reputation and mindlessly read his company produced lines and depart stage left? Well, Bay departed stage left but not in the way that Samsung wanted.

Another question that comes to mind revolves around co-presenting Samsung exec John Stinziano, who had the opportunity to reassure Michael Bay and save the day. He made a feeble attempt to make it all better but in the end just punted the presentation.

Couldn’t Stinziano pick up the ball and make the presentation about the 105-inch curved  TV? In football parlance, the term is next guy up. In this case, the star attraction just left the building. This was no time for the deer in the headlights look.

To use even another metaphor, The Show Must Go On.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4rMy1iA268

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-michael-bay-ces-slips-up-slinks-out-of-samsung-event-20140106,0,2153575.story#axzz2qIb9AJLg

http://www.today.com/tech/michael-bay-flames-out-stage-during-samsung-presentation-ces-2D11869413

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/12/tina-fey-mocks-michael-bays-ces-bomb-at-the-golden-globes/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy%27s_law

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

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21593488-south-korean-giant-has-lousy-start-new-year-fluffed-lines

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101331658

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

The shattered pieces of the glass ceiling may lie on the floor, but no one is partying.

In case you haven’t noticed it, women dominate the profession of public relations.

When I was a senior vice president at A&R Edelman in San Mateo, CA, there were 134 on our staff, 110 were women.

There was no line for the men’s room; physiology had nothing to do with it.

Teaching and lecturing upper-division public relations courses at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, more than once I entered a classroom and there was not a male face to be found.

Who invited me?

The ratio of women-to-men students majoring in Public Relations at UO is north of 7-to-3. Similar women-to-men out of balance ratios can be found at other university PR departments.

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Women may be dominating in numbers, but compensation is sadly a very different story.

San Diego State School of Journalism & Media Studies Professors David M. Dozier, Bey-Ling Sha and Hongmei Shen reported the pay differentials between men and women in public relations in their Why Women Earn Less Than Men: The Cost of Gender Discrimination in U.S. Public Relations.

The quantitative study of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) members, published in Public Relations Journal, revealed that male public relations practitioners earn on the average $84,368, compared to women at $76,063. That amounts to an $8,305 difference in annual salary between the two genders. At first glance, that figure sounds relatively close.

However, the magnitude of the different pay for equal work comes into play when you multiply the $8,305 over the course of a 40-year career, bringing the total to a staggering $332,200 loss of earning power for women practitioners, their children and their families.

That’s serious money.

You could outright buy a very comfortable house in Eugene, Oregon with that amount or maybe make a down payment for a home in Silicon Valley. More than $300,000 is the difference between a comfortable retirement, and being forced to flip hamburgers in your Golden Years.

Dozier, Sha and Shen offered several potential explanations for this inequity including differences in experience, career-interruptions (e.g., babies and family) and simply because of gender.

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One area that was studied by these San Diego State profs that still needs more attention are choices of specific jobs made by the two genders. The academics noted that corporate PR shops ($88,823 average salary) had more men, while non-profits ($62,275 average salary) were composed of more women. There is a major difference in pay and yet more women gravitate to non-profits than men. America is a free country, but are non-profits the right choice?

Community relations pays on the average $63,437 annually. In contrast, financial relations provides the highest rate of compensation in the industry, an average of $117,233 per year. Are enough women focusing on investor relations and corporate public relations? IMHO, they should. Not only do these categories pay extremely well, they also require one to be talented both qualitatively (e.g., developing relationships with buy-and-sell-side analysts) and quantitatively (e.g., reading income statements and balance sheets).

There is also the question of the technician vs. manager divide as the former will most likely always be compensated in five figures, while the latter potentially leads to the six-figure salaries. Every profession needs worker bees, but there is no justification for one gender making up the majority of subordinates.

What can college and university instructors do to help rectify this inequity? The word “mentoring” comes immediately to mind. What if…

● We encourage women public relations majors to take Strategic Business/Financial Communications and other business communications classes to have a better understanding of businesses. Every organization – for profit or non-profit – operates on the basis of an income statement and a balance sheet. Remember GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) is your friend.

● In group settings, more times than not, it is the male of the species that is clamoring to be the group leader. Why don’t we quietly encourage more women students to lead these groups? If this experience is positive, it could spur more women to pursue the road-to-six-figure managerial jobs. Yes, industry always needs its technicians, but skilled managers as well.

● Another huge positive that comes from group leadership is the management of people. Keep in mind, not everyone is cut out to supervise and encourage employees. Having said that, organization management is a skill that will always be in demand, and it cannot be effectively outsourced.

● We present the full gambit of positions that are available in public relations, not just community relations, internal communications and non-profit communications, but corporate public relations, investor relations, reputation/brand management and crisis communications.

Guess which ones pay the most?

● The same also applies to chosen end market. There is more to life than just non-profits and PR agencies (I served in both), but also corporate and government (I toiled here and there as well). Where is the compensation the greatest? The answer usually revolves around where the supply is the smallest; the demand and challenges are the greatest.

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Almost DailyBrett wishes for a magic wand to wave away the last vestiges of ugly and flat-out wrong sexism and racism from global societies.

Absent supernatural powers, we can instead take positive mentoring steps to help close and eliminate the pay inequity between men and women in public relations. Today is a great day to start.

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/Documents/2013DozierShaShen.pdf

http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/sexual-discrimination/a/Corporations-Sued-For-Gender-Discrimination-Against-Women-And-Men.htm

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/pr%E2%80%99s-endangered-species/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/where-are-the-guys/

 

 

 

“The cab driver boasted that his daughter had just graduated. But then he admitted that her journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin had cost $140,000. Since journalism is an ill-paid job that requires no formal qualification, this sounds like a waste of money.” – The Economist, Universities challenged, August 31, 2013

cabdriver

Those are fightin’ words.

Doesn’t The Economist benefit from well-trained and clever journalists?

Should we just shut down all journalism and mass communication schools nationwide, if not worldwide?

Would the last J-school student be kind enough to turn out the lights?

This revealing provocative lead in which the Economist writer shared her/his intimate conversation with a Chicago area cabbie (so much wisdom is imparted in cabs) actually concerned the state of affairs of higher education. Namely, the upcoming federal Department of Education (DOE) ratings system in which colleges and universities conceivably will be judged for federal hand-outs based upon cost, graduation rate and how much students earn in their careers.

And you thought the Bowl Championship Series (BSC) metrics were Byzantine? Thank Darwin we only have to endure this system for one more year. The DOE standards/regulations could be with us into the indefinite future…which could be, forever.

Now that we have clarified the basic premise of the article, let’s go back to the notion that journalism is “ill paid,” that it requires “no formal qualification” and the implication that university journalism schools are a “waste of money.”

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Considering that I have two journalism-related degrees (one undergraduate and the other post-graduate) and I spent more than three-decades as a reporter (a few years) and as a public relations practitioner (a lot of years) and lately as a college instructor (a few more), I have a problem or two with the gross oversimplification exhibited by The Economist.

There is no doubt that college is damn expensive and not getting cheaper anytime soon. And yes, traditional Gutenbergesque journalism is in trouble. The business model doesn’t work anymore. Having acknowledged the obvious, these conclusions miss a major point: The global desire and yearning for instantaneous-and-accurate information on a 24/7/365 basis has never been greater.

The ability to tell the story, and to tell it well whether it be a reporter/editor, a public relations practitioner or advertising professional is in constant demand and cannot be effectively outsourced or offshored en masse.

The methods for telling, reporting and disseminating the story are changing. The world has moved from analog to digital. The demand for information outstrips the supply, and this trend is accelerating. This is an upward-to-the-right market.

And how will future journalism, public relations, advertising, social media and multi-media professionals learn these information development and dissemination skills? How about these supposedly “waste-of-money” journalism schools?

lecturehall

1.)  Writing effectively will always be in demand, particularly by those who can quickly come to the point, provide insightful analysis, and write professionally and skillfully, employing AP Style.

2.)   Understanding the concept of the inverted pyramid in which the crux of the story is in the lead and all the supporting information flows from there.

3.)   Determining whether a story is newsworthy (or not) for target audiences. Learning how to ask the What? When? Where? Who, Why? And How?, ascertain these answers and transmit a complete-and-clear picture succinctly to news transmitters, whether they are conventional or digital.

4.)   Grasping and using “Big Data” in the form of compelling infographics to quickly and efficiently present useful information to critical audiences.

5.)   Appreciating that social media is not monolithic. There is a distinction between “connections” and “friends” online. Yes, you can digitally self-publish in 140-characters or less. Blogging is alive and well. Social media can be radioactive as digital miscues are eternal.

6.)   Comprehending the societal and technological shift from two-way asymmetrical communication theory (one to the masses) to digitally enabled two-way symmetrical communication theory conversations (message receiver responds publicly to the message sender).

7.)   Gaining the skill sets to generate professional digital photos, audio and video and use state-of-the-art software (e.g., Final Cut Pro) for compelling multimedia pieces.

8.)   Garnering the knowledge of financial communications including relevant SEC disclosure rules and being able to distinguish between fiduciary responsibility and corporate social responsibility.

9.)   Overcoming glossophobia and becoming more confident in delivering presentations, particularly those that are conversational in style and using supporting graphics.

10.)  Securing the confidence to perform instinctively in a crisis communications setting, quickly develop relevant messages and ultimately protect an organization’s reputation and brand.

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There is little doubt that journalism, public relations, advertising, social media and multi-media educators, graduates and students can add to the Almost DailyBrett list of J-School attributes cited above, including cultural distinctions inherent in international communications.

What’s more important is that when one considers and weighs the skill sets that are being taught and learned, particularly in a rapidly changing technology landscape, the value of a solid journalism education is maybe as valuable as it has ever been.

Society’s insatiable demand for news and information has never been greater.

The Genie is simply not going back into the bottle.

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21584393-barack-obama-wants-degrees-be-better-value-money-universities-challenged

 

 

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.

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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

Almost DailyBrett editor’s note: The following open letter is written to a long-time colleague, who in her own words feels like “fish out of water.” She is presently making the seismic shift from a successful career as a reporter/editor for three regional newspapers to becoming a public relations executive for the first time. Her name, venue and present and past employers will remain confidential, but I will share my humble advice to her on the chance it may help other journalists in making a similar career change.

Even though many of your Fourth Estate colleagues and friends may chide you for abandoning your virtues and taking the plunge to the dark side, keep in mind that most of them are simply envious of your courage and opportunities. Many newspapers will not survive the year, let alone the decade. You have made a proactive change that has the potential of being much more lucrative than if you merely stayed the course.

Keep in mind that not all journalists are cut out to be good public relations “flacks.” Yes, there are the same demands associated with making deadlines, exercising news judgment, getting your facts straight and applying the same journalistic techniques (e.g. adherence to AP style), but that is where the majority of the similarities end.

Now that you have made the switch, here are a few techniques that will hopefully lead to a successful transition to the bright lights of the dark side:

● Your former colleagues at your previous publications are not your friends, especially if they are covering your client. They are now friendly and skeptical (hopefully not cynical) adversaries, but adversaries nonetheless. What you say to them, even in a casual conversation, can be misquoted. You are now a spokesperson for your client, and your client signs your pay check.

● When working with reporters, just assume that everything is “on the record.” Avoid going on “deep background” or the rare instances of employing “off the record” for your conversations. If you assume that everything is “on the record” there will be no misunderstandings and naturally you will be much more disciplined with your words.

● Never be afraid to respond with “I don’t know.” Ask the reporter about her or his deadline and get back as soon as you can with the information that is required in the way that you want to present it. The old joke is: “How many press secretaries does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer is: “I don’t know, but I will find out for you.”

● Only approach reporters to pitch a story that is legitimate news. As a reporter, you inevitably rolled your eyes (if not a stronger reaction) when a flack approached you and wasted your time with a “news story” that didn’t pass the giggle test. The declining number of reporters that remain are inundated with pitches; make every one of your pitches count. One of the toughest parts of your job will be telling your internal clients that their activity is simply not newsworthy.

● As you well know lying is not an option. Having said that, managing information is your job. How a message is developed, how it is presented and when it is made public is what you are being paid to manage. Reporters refer to this technique as “spin control.” I call it managing information for the benefit of your client.

● Your job is 24-7-365. A crisis can occur at any time of day or night. I have taken reporter calls at 1:30 am and before the alarm goes off in the morning. When someone calls and says, “Gee, I hate calling you at home…” you are now on the record. The trick is to be always prepared to respond, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance…easier said than done. I rarely consumed a second beer or glass of wine, particularly during my service as the press secretary to the Governor of California, knowing full well that a genuine crisis could occur at any time of the day or night.

● Crisis communications is not a manual or a three-ring binder (even though key contact information is vital). Instead it is who, what, where, why and how are you going to make it right. Remember when it comes to bad news (and there will be bad news), you can make the disclosure or let someone else (an adversary, competitor, enemy) make it for you. This choice should be easy: manage or be managed.

● Looking at a financial statement, PR should not be seen as “SG&A” or Selling, General and Administrative (an expense) unless you want an unsympathetic Finance Department to zero out or greatly reduce your department. Instead, you need to demonstrate ROI so that your role is seen as positively contributing to the top line (revenues) and contributing to the expansion of gross margin and ultimately the bottom line. The key here is to document everything that you are doing for your client. Aligning your department with Sales, Marketing and in the case of publicly traded companies, the CFO, IR and Legal, is battle-tested job protection.

● Don’t be trapped into just using conventional tools to do your job. Pitching reporters, writing contributed articles, researching editorial calendars and issuing news releases still are effective in the second decade of the 21st Century. The thinning of the journalistic ranks means that self-publishing and using digital tools (e.g. blogging, podcasting, webcasting, social media) are absolutely critical to establishing thought leadership in your field. It is your job to convince management of this truth.

● Don’t allow the perception of your success or failure be dependent on the local paper that your superiors read every morning. You need to feed this 300-pound gorilla, but at the same time the trade publications, bloggers in your company’s field and of course your own self-publishing need to receive equal, if not greater attention.

● You would be wise to remind management that an organization’s most valuable asset is not bricks and mortar, fancy machines, but those women and men who leave each night and hopefully come back in the morning. Naturally, the focus is on customers and shareholders…and this is justified…but employees are just as important, if not more important, to the bottom line.

You have been honest about your feelings when you described yourself as a “fish out of water.” This is normal. Look at it another way: This is an important reset in your life that employs all of your professional skills in a different way. You respect your employer. They have a great story to tell. Go out and tell that story in the best way possible and let the chips fall as they may. This is an exciting time of your life and a challenging new opportunity.

Embrace the spirit of Carpe Diem and seize the day.

 

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