Tag Archive: Pete Townshend


… 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

 

 

Even though I am not in a position to write a musically educated concert review of blues legend Riley B. King, known to the world as B.B. King, my expenditure of $138 for two tickets permits me to sadly conclude this should be the last global tour of the “King of the Blues.”

Last night at the Hult Center in Eugene, Oregon should have been a night of celebration of a musical giant. Instead the audience quietly walked away when it became evident that after a little more than an hour the cumulative impact of 87-years young and his 20-year fight with Type II diabetes had prompted B.B. to call it quits for the evening.

bbking

Promptly at 7:30 pm PDT, the eight-piece B.B. King band started its performance of down-home Southern blues. Everyone knew the time was coming closer for the arrival of B.B. He walked out onto to the stage to a standing ovation. “Lucille,” his Gibson ES-355, was carefully placed beside his chair.

One problem: Lucille’s amplifier was kaputt. Kein Problem. B.B. sat down, smiled and introduced the members of his band, including his drummer twice. A second amplifier was brought on stage…and it didn’t work either. Did anyone bother with a sound check?

B.B. seemed to take it in stride as Amp #3 was carried on stage with his band guitarist taking the lead. Finally…after 15 minutes…we heard the first distinctive B.B. King chords. Except B.B. really wasn’t pleased with Amp#3, prompting the arrival of Amp#4.

The high-points of the night came in succession with B.B. leading the audience in singing You Are My Sunshine (encouraging the kissing of your loved one) and then his signature The Thrill is Gone…a truncated version. Soon after, B.B. King announced he was over his allotted time.

Being able to say and remember seeing “The King of the Blues” made the night worth the high price of admission. Still it was not the same as the memories of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, Billy Gibbons and The Edge, all in their prime, playing before packed houses.

Age inevitably wins. No matter how hard we try (and we should), age will prevail. Watching Muhammad Ali in his last fight against Larry Holmes (it wasn’t pretty) or the Terry Bradshaw-era Pittsburgh Steelers grow old and lose a step or two all at the same time, sends a sad but certain signal that it is time to move on to the next era of life…whatever that may be.

Reportedly, B.B. King works up to 225 nights per year. He is a “doer” and a “maker” and needs to be saluted and praised. For his fans (and count me in that grouping) his YouTube videos and digital recordings are better than hearing him live. There was exhilaration from hearing the chords coming from “Lucille” for just a few minutes and then the thrill was gone.

There comes a time…I’m sorry to say, for the legend B.B. King that time has come.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.B._King

http://www.bbking.com/

http://www.biography.com/people/bb-king-9364839

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/in-celebration-of-national-diabetes-month-bb-king-tells-it-like-it-is-55482772.html

http://www.hultcenter.org/

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

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucille_%28guitar%29

“Don’t cry. Don’t raise your eye. It’s only teenage wasteland…” – Who Guitarist and Songwriter, Pete Townshend, “Baba O’Riley.”

Is the monumental political and philosophical divide in America more than the separation between mere blue states and red states, liberals and conservatives, 99 percent vs. one percent etc.?

Shouldn’t we be equally concerned by the growing number of Americans (e.g., 47 million on Food Stamps) becoming even-more dependent on Washington, D.C in the face of the shrinking number of workers that are left to pay the tax bill?

Is there a growing separation between the dwindling “makers” and the ever-growing “takers?”

And aren’t those fighting words anyway?

Sorry for the string of interrogatives, but this is really not a new subject. At the same time, it is also a topic that is not going away anytime soon.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and reporter Theodore H. White wrote passionately about this subject three decades ago in his book, “America in Search of Itself.” Is public largesse and those who promote it, ensnaring literally millions of Americans into wasted lifetimes of dependency on the federal government?

white

And with it do the takers then become beholden to their pimping masters every two-or-four years (whatever applies)? Will there ever be enough money from the makers to be redistributed to the takers?

Writing in 1982, White said that every addictive program was passed through Congress in the “name of virtue.” He said that “all entitlement programs tend not only to grow in cost but, more important, to create their own constituencies (the takers?).” He added that with the growth of the federal government comes a “legacy of bureaucracy.”

“…Those dependent on federal money grouped together, while communities organized to demand federal funds,” White wrote. That was about $15 trillion ago.

Defeated GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney is getting rhetorically beaten up and becoming persona non grata for suggesting that President Barack Obama and his campaign consistently and persistently cherry picked Entitlement Society constituencies and systematically distributed the federal goodies. Romney called them “gifts.”

That top-down, command-and-control approach sounds like great (patronage) politics as evidenced by the electoral result, but is it sound and sustainable public policy?

Those who dare to even raise the subject (could that include little ole me?) may be the recipient of a swift poke with a sharp stick in addition to being branded as cruel, insensitive and callous. Romney is being co-signed to the ash heap of history (the usual resting spot for losing presidential candidates…Whatever happened to Michael Dukakis and Bob Dole?). In the meantime, Republican hopefuls, such as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, are running for the exits. They are contending the GOP needs to stand for 100 percent of the public and by extension, not just the “makers.”

But isn’t addiction still addiction? When do we as a society cross the line between offering a helping hand and slapping on the golden hand cuffs?  One must wonder whether federal constituencies will ever rebel against the notion of being labeled as “takers.”

Literally millions who worked all their lives for their Social Security and Medicare benefits would take umbrage against this designation, and for good reason. Ditto for military veterans, who earned their pensions under fire. But what about the oodles and oodles of the rest?

There is no argument about the need of a safety net for the disadvantaged and unfortunate, but what about those who can be productive and can hold down a career-path job. Isn’t a well-paying job with full benefits the best anti-poverty program that Darwin ever created?

google1

How can we stimulate the entrepreneurs, the innovators, the creators who made America an exceptional nation to continue to do great things and employ millions in the process? Shouldn’t the federal, state and local governments be seen as helpful partners as opposed to regulators and check writers?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was no such divide between the makers and takers? Instead there would be a robust entrepreneurial sector coming up with the breakthrough innovations of tomorrow and a public sector providing the all-important defense and a safety net. That sounds like a balanced approach.

We would have all the government that we need. We can pay down the deficit. We could once again be strong economically. One can only dream.

Right?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/romney-obamas-gift-giving-led-to-loss/2012/11/14/c8d7e744-2eb7-11e2-89d4-040c9330702a_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/11/15/republicans-to-mitt-romney-exit-stage-left/

http://foxnewsinsider.com/2012/06/26/federal-government-spends-3m-on-ads-promoting-food-stamps/

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-republicans-abandoning-romney-gifts-20121118,0,7640109.story

When is not enough, not enough? When is too much, too much? And is just right, just right?

Finally, when is it time to get off the stage?

As I contemplate the to-the-point immediate communication demands of our 2012 attention-driven society (particularly via social media), I keep on pondering the lessons of four legendary English rock n’ roll bands of the 1970s.

After standing in the rain for nearly eight hours outside some sterile Southern California department store in 1975 (amazed the call of nature didn’t intercede…ah to be young again), I finally reached the front of the line and bought two precious tickets to see Led Zeppelin.

page

In my mind’s eye, I could envision Jimmy Page laying on the first riffs of “Rock n’ Roll” with his Gibson Les Paul, Robert Plant hitting the high notes, workmanlike John Paul Jones on the bass/organ and John Henry Bonham pounding away on the drums.

A friend, who saw the show a few nights earlier, implored me to sell the tickets. I should have listened to him. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Led Zeppelin fan owning the band’s entire catalogue on both vinyl and CD. Listening to the band’s recordings is one thing; sitting through four hours of guitar, organ and drum solos comprising only 15 songs (do the math) was exhausting. When it was over, no one was demanding an encore.faces

During that same year, I saw the last tour of Rod Stewart and the Faces (Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagen and Kenney Jones). All-in-all, I have checked out four Rod Stewart shows, including the aforementioned Faces concert. Each one was over in approximately 90 minutes. And each time the audience wanted more but there was no more. The crowd felt jipped and there was a smattering of boos. We were not even close to being exhausted and we were far from satisfied.TheWho2

 

 

The Who was a different story. I saw the band for the first time at Anaheim Stadium in 1976 with the original lineup of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle (The Ox) and Keith Moon. The second time was in Los Angeles with the Faces’ Kenney Jones replacing the deceased Moon on the drums. The band played for more than two hours and ended its regular set with “See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Alas, the encore was an anti-climatic throw-away.

Early this month, the Rolling Stones announced the availability of a bootleg recording of its July 13, 1975 concert at The Forum in Los Angeles. I was 20-years old at the time and vividly remember Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” dramatically introducing the band at that very same concert to thunderous applause. And then there was Mick Jagger and Keith Richards singing the chorus to “Honky Tonk Woman” with Charlie Watts on drums, Bill Wyman on bass and Woods just joining the Stones from the Faces.

Since the 1969 “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” tour, the Stones have always been masters of choreography and pacing, starting their concerts at a kinetic pace (i.e., Honky Tonk, All Down the Line, You Can’t Rock Me) and then slowing down (e.g., You Can’t Always Get What You Want). The 1975 concert concluded with a series of Stones classic rockers including: Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, Street Fighting Man, Jumpin Jack Flash and the encore, Sympathy for the Devil.

Stonesya-yas

The show was 22 songs and ran about two hours or so with the audience coming away satisfied (Who says you can’t get no satisfaction?), but wanting more. The Stones knew when it was time to get off the stage. Led Zep played a four-hour concert; The Stones gave us a show. All together, I have seen the Stones six times live, and if they tour as rumored next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band, my attendance will be a pilgrimage as it will for literally thousands and thousands of people.

The purpose of this epistle is not to simply recount how fortunate I have been to see some of the greatest rock n’ rollers of all time, but to deduce the lessons of these bands and project them to our 21st Century world of communication.

Recently, I was imploring a very bright colleague to drop her plans to market a 4.5-hour AUDIO ONLY tape. I borrowed the famous line from the late Texas Governor Ann Richards (no relation to Keith) stating: “That dog won’t hunt.”

A NFL game takes an average of 3.5 hours obviously accompanied by video and audio. The Led Zep show ran four hours with amplified sound, lasers and lighting. My entrepreneur acquaintance wants to market a 4.5-hour audio tape, broken into nine chapters, but still 4.5 hours. I urged a series of two-to-three minute YouTube videos as an alternative. No go…so I had to go.

My failure to convince someone (not the first) about the merits of quick messaging social media reminds me of The Diffusion of Innovations Theory by professor Everett Rogers. The theory is represented by a curve with innovators on the extreme left and laggards on the extreme right of the page (not implying any political connection). I am afraid that 4.5 hour audio tapes are heading in the laggard direction akin to the buggy whip. We live in a world of 140-character Tweets/20-second sound bites/quick Facebook posts.

We can either embrace this new world or coming into it kicking and screaming. We are not going back to Johannes Gutenberg and his 15th Century printing press or the modern-day equivalent in the form 4.5-hour audio tapes. The Stones and The Who proved four decades ago that less is more in rock ‘n roll. This same wisdom applies to 2012 communications choreography as well.

http://www.rollingstones.com/news/rolling-stones-release-la-friday-live-1975

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faces_(band)

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

http://www.biography.com/people/ann-richards-9457298

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

“The older you get the more risk you should take. If I were to die tomorrow, I have no complaints. I’ve experienced more than anybody should have expected in a lifetime,” Micron CEO Steve Appleton to a reporter after escaping death in a 2004 plane crash.

He was not so lucky in 2012.

appleton

I first met Steve Appleton in the middle of the night, trying to combat jet lag after a nearly 10-hour flight from San Francisco to Tokyo in 1994. The venue? The hotel bar? Nope, the fitness room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo. He couldn’t sleep either. Time to hit the weights.

Steve was the president of Micron Technology, the leading US producer of memory chips known as DRAMs (pronounced: dee-rams) or Dynamic Random Access Memory. I was the humble director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). We were trying to open up the Japan market to foreign chips.

Steve was five years younger than me, and was a classic overachiever. He was also a genuine good guy, who never talked down to anyone and treated me and everybody else with respect. He was a great success story, starting on the Micron factory floor in 1983 and rising to the rank of company chairman 14 years later. Steve was also known for taking risks.

Attending an SIA meeting 10 years later, I went down to the weight room and Steve was not there. I saw him later and joshed him about missing a workout. He made some reference about recovering from an “accident.” That particular accident was an experimental plane crash east of Boise that almost took his life. He suffered a punctured lung, head injuries, a ruptured disk and broken bones. You would think that would be the end of his stunt plane flying. Knowing Steve, that was not the case.

Steve also took his hand (or life in his hands) at skydiving, triathlons and off-road vehicle racing, such as the 1.047 Baja Challenge. Asked about he said in typical Appleton style:

“I don’t know what would be worse than being in the memory business for risk taking. If we were in some stable, monopolistic business, I’d probably get objections from my executive staff about doing this, but they’re all dying to go.”

It was Steve, who died.

Last Friday, Steve took off in a Lancair from the Boise Airport and soon after takeoff, he tried to turn back, the plane stalled, plunged to the ground, and he was dead. There is no doubt that Steve died taking a risk, something he always enjoyed. However, corporate governance experts are starting to wonder out loud whether chief executive officers and other C-level corporate execs should be restricted from yacht racing (e.g. Oracle head Larry Ellison), running with the bulls at Pamplona (US Airways CEO Doug Parker), balloon racing around the world (Virgin founder Richard Branson) and other dangerous activities.

Being an entrepreneur is about risk taking and the rewards (and failures) that come from taking chances. It is one thing to bet it all with shareholder and/or venture capital funding; it is something else to bet your own life thrill seeking.

Reportedly, there have been no securities lawsuits against corporations not reporting dare-devil CEO activities as “material” events under the provisions of the SEC’s Regulation FD or Fair Disclosure. One must wonder how long it will be before securities litigation firms start launching lawsuits for non-disclosure of CEO daredeveil activities as a new way of dipping into corporate deep pockets.

According to the Villanova School of Law, all four professional sports leagues (i.e. MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) have “other activities” clauses written into player contracts. For example, MLB strictly prohibits players from engaging in boxing or wrestling. Players must receive written consent from teams before going skiing, car or motorcycle riding.

Of course, weird things do occur. Detroit Tigers pitcher Joel Zumaya missed an appearance in the 2006 American League Championship Series as a result of an injury incurred playing “Guitar Hero” on Sony’s PlayStation 2…go figure. Maybe he was practicing a Pete Townshend pin wheel swoop at his Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster?

Should Micron have grounded Steve Appleton after he endured his severe injuries in 2004 upon the crash of his stunt plane? In hindsight, the answer is obvious. However, even without knowing Steve’s ultimate fate, the 2004 accident should have prompted the board to act decisively to prevent these activities.

That doesn’t mean he couldn’t continue to be a risk taker in the production, sale and marketing of DRAMs against entrenched competition, mainly from Asia. That’s what the board was paying him to do, take calculated (business) risks. Dodging death once in the wake of a stunt plane crash, and then doing it again would not be regarded as “calculated” by most observers.

If the Micron board had acted then and there, Steve would still be with us…Maybe he could have played “Guitar Hero” for thrills instead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/micron-says-ceo-steve-appleton-has-died-in-a-boise-plane-crash/2012/02/03/gIQA5LCKnQ_story.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-daredevil-ceos-worth-risk-micron-thought-so-2012-02-07

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/07/insurance-ceo-risk-idUSL2E8D6HDM20120207

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/story/2012-02-03/micron-ceo-plane-crash/52949164/1

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