Tag Archive: Marketplace of Ideas


“With best wishes to Kevin who understands what this is all about” – Jody Powell

“When the news seemed to me then and now, to be wrong, unsupportable, and unfair.” – President Jimmy Carter’s press secretary Jody Powellpowellsignature

One of my most cherished possessions is a personally signed copy of Jody Powell’s 1984 book about presidential public relations and the media, “The Other Side of the Story.”

Powell passed way-too-young (65) of an apparent heart attack seven years ago, making my copy of this hardbound book irreplaceable.

Today, the author of Almost DailyBrett assigns new PR students Powell’s remembrances of his brain-fart disclosure to the media of Jimmy Carter smacking a “the killer rabbit” with a canoe oar, “A Grave Mistake,” and more importantly do PR pros in extreme circumstances have “The Right to Lie”?powellbriefing

Powell is seen through the lens of history as one of the very best to serve as the chief spokesman and communications strategist for the leader of the free world. Without a doubt that will be Jody’s lasting legacy. Alas, he served a president who was besieged with 52 Americans held hostage in Iran, out-of-control inflation and economic malaise.

Despite Powell’s best efforts, Carter was excused from the presidency in 1980, winning only six states + DC or 49 electoral votes. Powell eventually shook off the loss, and provided wisdom to all PR pros with his “The Other Side of the Story.”

This simple title also should serve as a reminder to us all that with all issues, there is indeed another side to the story.

To my horror, your author remembers being told there is no other side of the story when it comes to a major criminal justice issue. My training as a political/business public relations professional is there are indeed two sides to every story, and you are simply not doing your job if you don’t comprehend the opposing argument.

How can you fashion a winning rebuttal?

Getting Out of Our Filter Bubbles

One of the tenets of public relations theory (don’t glaze over) is Cognitive Dissonance or the practice of re-examining a hard-felt position upon the presence of compelling new information. John F. Kennedy through his charm and conviction was able to gain support from Republicans despite setbacks (e.g., Bay of Pigs). Conversely, Ronald Reagan’s success and communication skills led to the formation of a new-at-the-time political force, The Reagan Democrats.

Does Cognitive Dissonance still apply today in our woefully divided, gridlocked society?

Looking into my crystal ball, will President Hillary Clinton be “primaried” (new verb) in 2020 by Bernie-Sanders-progressives, if she works with Speaker Paul Ryan? There is zero doubt that Clinton and Ryan see the world differently, but at the same time it is their job to work together for the benefit of the country.powellbook

 

In order to do just that, both sides need to appreciate there is indeed The Other Side of the Story. Even more germane, is this notion is at the heart of the Marketplace of Ideas.

For example, many decry the fact that an estimated 2 million are incarcerated in American jails and prisons, a disproportionate number hail from minority communities. Is that the only side of the story that matters?

As press secretary to former California Governor George Deukmejian, our administration doubled the size of the state’s prison system, which was a godsend considering the massive overcrowding issue the Golden State faces to this day.

Were we being mean, hateful and vindictive or were we responding to the public who did not want criminals in their neighborhoods and in the streets?

Are there indeed two sides (mass incarceration and public safety) to this criminal justice issue?

In a more intense sense, there is a reason why ISIS is so evil, so angry and so violent? Is there a side to their story we should try to comprehend? Yes. At the same time, we need to respond to their attacks on soft targets in the United States, Western Europe and the Middle East. We have our side of the story as well.

Almost DailyBrett knows instinctively that Donald Trump will soon and thankfully fade from the airwaves and digital screens. The ensuring period of global Schadenfreude will pass as well.

Will we reach a point in which we respect there really are two sides to virtually every story? When and if we do, we will become a much more civil society.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/us/politics/15powell.html?_r=0

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/14/AR2009091402738.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/the-right-to-lie/

 

 

“This person is an idiot … Perfect for Ph.D candidacy”

“This whole blog is an audition for a commentator position on Fox News! If so, well-played, sir. Your inability to look past the length of your nose and complete lack of logic make you a shoo-in.”

“I’m puking in my mouth.

“Total Douche-o-Rama.”

gtf

Maybe this Perfect Idiot Douche-o-Rama should compete for a doctorate?

Or a pundit on Fox News?

Never in recorded history has a humble blog drawn so much vitriol when the stakes were so low.

At Least The Name Was Spelled Right

Far worse than being misquoted is not being quoted at all.” – Former Presidential Communications Director Pat Buchanan

“Communicators need to learn how to handle the hecklers on social media.  It is now a required skill. I know of two agencies and three Silicon Valley companies who include this in their pre-employment tests. What a great real-life example to show them (students)!“ — Colleen Pizarev, PR Newswire Vice President

Writing a provocative blog (e.g., Almost DailyBrett) is not for the meek and mild. My December 3 post about the recent strike by the Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTF) at the University of Oregon is a case in point. Fortunately, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation union (GTFF) finally caved in to the university and no further damage was done to the school’s 25,000 students and/or faculty.

If one is not willing to venture an opinion and take calculated chances, then why write a blog in the first place? Think of it this way: A blog is the most discretionary of all reads.

There is a huge difference between being provocative-controversial and being notorious. The first is responsible; the latter, irresponsible.

So what are the best ways to respond to online hecklers, yes even those who take issue with: “Your tactics here are a clear sign of your ignorance and privilege”?_MG_1292 (3)

 

Dem’s fighting words, but one must pick her-or-his battles.

Taking the High Road

The juvenile level of discourse you’ve displayed in these comments makes me embarrassed that you have a degree from my alma mater (e.g., M.A. from the University of Oregon).”

What are effective strategies when it comes to responding to the most determined of online hecklers?

  1. Avoid Writing Blogs When Upset and Frustrated in the First Place

There are times when you want to give someone or some organization a piece of your mind. That is not the time to write a blog. Your posts need to be thoughtful and based upon concrete facts to back your assertions. This is not to say that you cannot be provocative and controversial. Most blogs do not draw comments, generate Facebook “shares” and/or cause fur to fly. Every once in awhile this is indeed the case

  1. Never Engage in a Public Urination Contest

Learn how to be offensive without being OFFENSIVE. Dirty Harry (e.g., Clint Eastwood) always expressed his point of view (sometimes with his .44 Magnum), but most of the time he went just a tad too far. For a blogger you can respond to the heckler and parry back the verbal volleys, but you should never lose your cool and engage in a public urination battle. The results will not be pretty. There are times you want to engage the heckler, and there are others when you want to leave unanswered the charge/allegation. Your pride is not injured, if you allow the heckler to have the last word.Dirty Harry (1971)

 

  1. Pick and Choose Your Battles

The intent of the heckler is to bully, intimidate and silence dissent. Some are just not used to anyone standing up to them. We all have the First Amendment of Free Speech. A blogger has just as much right to compete in the Marketplace of Ideas as anyone else. If the heckler resorts to childish name calling, utters ugly slurs or demonstrates racist, sexist or other nasty behavior, it is best to NOT post that individual’s comments and to disengage.

  1. Allow the Heckler to Build Your SEO, Then Disengage

Keep in mind, the heckler is doing you the blogger a huge favor. The search engines (e.g., bots) take note of digital activity … the ones and zeroes of binary code … flowing to-and-from your blog URL. Every foray from the heckler can be met in kind with a witty and/or clever reply. For you this is a victory in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) arena. Let the invectives fly across cyberspace.

  1. Always Take the High Road

Turning the other cheek results in two throbbing cheeks even in the online space. Engaging the heckler to demonstrate that your dissent will not be silenced is noble, provided you are cool, calm and collected … and always take the high road. Remember: You wrote the blog. The heckler(s) is/are responding. As the instigator, you are the one driving the story.

  1. Don’t Lose Any Sleep

As a tadpole, you learned some variation of “sticks and stones will break my bones … “ These wise words still apply all of these decades later. Get a good night’s sleep. Maybe your next blog will draw even more hecklers.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

http://www.prnewsonline.com/water-cooler/2012/07/27/5-tips-for-dealing-with-hecklers-on-twitter/

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/03/09/how-to-deal-with-blog-hecklers/

 

“We are all liberals. Right?”

And the second question was: “Are there any in here, who are not liberals?”

While you are at it, why don’t you ask if the turds in the punchbowl would kindly raise their hands?

This line of question brings with it visions of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, asking if there are any present who are not members of the Korean Worker’s Party. “Oh, you’re not?”… (Sounds of bullets being fired). “Good we are now all members of the glorious Korean Worker’s Party.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Il-sung

I raise last night’s questions posed on one of America’s finest college campuses, not because I am shocked…but because the presumption was being made that just because we are students, particularly in the “liberal” arts field of Journalism, therefore we must be liberal or should I say “progressive?”

The timing of the questions is really curious because the nation is poised to make a major rightward shift next Tuesday; the question is not one of “if,” but more of “to what extent?” Will the Republicans win just one house of Congress or both houses? There is little doubt they will also reverse next week a small deficit in governorships to actually take the lead, maybe even a commanding one, and they may also flip several state Legislature’s in the process as the most recent issue of The Economist predicted. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2010/governor/2010_elections_governor_map_no_toss_ups.html

One of my favorite quotes was uttered by warm-and-fuzzy General George S. Patton who stated: “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” We glorify, particularly in Silicon Valley, the phrase “thinking out of the box” to the point that it is almost cliché. The question I am asking today is do American universities really foster an environment for out-of-box thinking or the oft-recited and less-followed, “marketplace of ideas?”

In case you are wondering, I am philosophically a smidge to the right. I worked for a Republican Governor, George Deukmejian of California, for eight years. My political orientation is secular, not religious, conservatism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Deukmejian

My biggest concerns are twofold: 1.) The explosion of deficits at all layers of government mainly because of too much spending (The federal government is running a cumulative deficit of $13.6 trillion or 94 percent of GDP, rising to $16.3 trillion or 101 percent of GDP in 2012 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt) and 2.) That someone, anyone, will be forced to once again choose between being incinerated by jet-fuel heated up to 2,000-degrees Fahrenheit or jump to her or his death.

One of my responsibilities as Governor Deukmejian’s press secretary was to present his positions and policies accurately and completely to the media, leading to a well-informed public. Along with that task was to clearly understand not only the administration’s point of view, but our critics as well. Some call it “opposition research.” I call it appreciating where the other side was coming from to better retort their contentions. Occasionally that even required picking up the phone and calling a legislator’s office, talking to their staff or even the member, to make sure that I understood the proper context of their comments.

Believe it or not, there are reporters out there that will hype a comment hoping in turn to elicit a more provocative response than what would be normally the case from your side of the debate. A good public urination war is always a good thing in selling newspapers or producing higher Nielsen ratings.

The bottom line is being exposed to all points of view, even if it requires listening to both Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter. Think of it this way, if you don’t learn anything well at least it may be entertaining…even though you may be grinding your teeth in the process.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”  — General George S. Patton.

“…Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” – Thomas Jefferson.

Neither General George nor President Thomas could conceive of fiber-optic cable. Breaking the German siege of Bastogne would have been so much easier with Internet telephony. Imagine Thomas Jefferson tweeting about the Declaration of Independence and then letting all of his friends know about it on Facebook?

The Economist’s http://www.economist.com/  special report on Social Networking offers some staggering numbers. Facebook www.facebook.com has 350 million users, making it the third largest “nation” in the world after China and India. That’s pretty impressive for a firm that was created in a Harvard dorm room by Mark Zuckerberg in 2003. Sorry Thomas, the Facebook nation is even bigger than the one that you and an earlier George W. founded.

There is more, much more. Facebook, the world’s second most accessed URL after Google, is updated 55 million times daily and 3.5 pieces of content are shared among the users each week. Facebook is bigger than any television network on the planet. The tremendous growth of Facebook, Twitter www.twitter.com, LinkedIn.com www.linkedin.com validates the “network effect,” meaning that the value of a communications network rises exponentially with the number of connected users.

Does that mean the hot social media site of today will be the hot social media site of tomorrow? Ask MySpace, which saw its share of the US social media market plummet from 67 percent to 30 percent in just one year. The innovators will keep innovating and those on top should never be comfortable. The winners of tomorrow may not even be born today.

What does the growth of conversational marketing via social media mean to professional communicators? One thing is certain is that we have to compete in this digital marketplace of ideas. Suppression of competing thoughts and ideas as difficult as it was in the past is just impossible now.

China may temporarily block this social media site or that social media outlet, but pretty soon the math gets out of control. Let’s see: 1.2 billion people, millions of PCs, thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable and oodles of ideas, ideas and even more ideas.

As Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) in the “Dead Pool” said, “Opinions are like (fill in the blank). Everyone has one.”

As professional communicators, we need to use our diplomacy and tact to deliver an important message to management: We aren’t just competing to make the sale, attract investors, hire the best and the brightest, we are in an eternal public relations tug-of-war made both easier and more difficult by ubiquitous uploading of information via digital technology. Just as social media with its ones and zeroes can make it easier to reach literally millions of users instantaneously, these same tools can be harnessed by competitors to “deposition” your company, your NGO, your educational institution, your government entity.

As we set out to compete, we need to realize that getting unanimous agreement for the product, concept or idea that we are peddling is not possible (save Steve Jobs and the iPad). Instead, we need to employ our skills and wits to develop winning strategies, bringing a critical mass behind our noble cause.

What did General Patton say about letting the other guy die for his country?

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