Like the passing love affairs that Donald Trump has with each new wife, cracks seem to be appearing in the I-Heart-Obama campaign by American media. Today’s article by marketing columnist Denny Hatch is a fair criticism of PR gaffes by the current administration. And this critique is from a man who was an unabashed supporter of the current president. Regardless of your political bent, his comments are right on the mark when it comes to perception vs. reality. It’s an interesting read: http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/barack-obama-ceos-dont-understand-art-science-public-relations/2. What’s more, among the many links in the article regarding possible replacements for his presidential press secretary (both Democrats & Republicans), I found this particular video clip from an interview with George Will on the Charlie Rose show circa 2008. Note this juicy quote: “The three great love affairs in world history were Romeo & Juliet, Abelard and Heloise and the American Media and Barack Obama. And we’ll see how long this one lasts.”
According to an article from the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/14/AR2010051405390.html?hpid=topnews, Toyota recently conducted opinion polls designed to test messages that would discredit researchers who criticized the company’s actions following the sticky accelerator problems of recent months. At the heart of the story, are the actions of a polling firm (and its associated PR agency) that were designed to debunk the credibility of experts who testified before Congress about Toyota’s failure to respond adequately to this safety issue. And there you have what seems to be a straightforward story: influencing public opinion using research practices designed to directly attack “unfair or false assertions.” However, the story seems even more misleading, or confusing the more you read: the individuals involved appear to already be biased against the automaker! One is an auto industry safety consultant who authors a blog critical of Toyota. The other man is an auto technology professor in Illinois who conducted a study that supposedly revealed Toyota engine design flaws. (Toyota officials claim the same test would generate the same results for all automobiles.) Oh, and by the way, the safety consultant works with victims’ attorneys. Is the headline of this story misleading? The idea of intimidating witnesses is wrong and likely illegal, but what of the credibility of the witnesses themselves? If your business was threatened by nasty bloggers (allied with lawyers intent on destroying your company or suing you for millions) or a “test” conducted by a vocal critic, wouldn’t you deem it fair to present the facts and tell your side of the story? It goes on every single day in American politics with candidates and elected officials fighting each other through research, opinion polls, pseudo-science, etc. Case in point: When was the last time you had a rational conversation with someone about the Theory of Global Warming (now called “Climate Change” by proponents) without getting into a heated discussion–pun intended–with someone who has plenty of evidence and science that appears to be politically motivated? Ugh.
Apparently more details of this particular Toyota poll will be made public next week. Then we’ll likely hear more about how egregious the actions were by Toyota…but perhaps what will be lost in the message is whether or not the critics themselves are legitimate. Ask yourself this, do they have a personal investment or professional credibility at stake? What is their motivation? What do they have to lose or gain? Of course Al Gore will promote his environmental world view. He stands to make a lot of money by promoting hysteria. Perhaps this post didn’t go where you thought it would, but let me leave you with one more thought: follow the money trail and it will always reveal much more. Your thoughts?
The Wall St. Journal technology blog, “digit,” posted commentary yesterday about the ongoing feud between Adobe’s Flash product and Apple. (http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2010/05/13/from-adobe-to-apple-with-love-not-really/?mod=rss_WSJBlog&mod=) This is an instance of companies competing over technology standards, prompted by new product capabilities (in this case, the proprietary Apple software running iPhones and iPads) and the ever evolving Internet. What’s interesting about this debate is the tactic that Adobe has used to draw attention–an advertising campaign. This is not unique in and of itself, however, the company has put itself front and center in the spotlight and resulted in a more public “back and forth” from the PR teams at the two companies. Yesterday’s blog post was updated today with a comment from the Apple PR spokesperson who confirmed the company is a supporter of open Web standards, unlike the Adobe Flash product. It seems Apple is correct, according to the W3 consortium that sets web standards. The consortium has officially endorsed HTML5 as an open web standard, which may eliminate the need for the Adobe Flash product. So, it’s a war of words, if you will.
The NY Observer announced a new policy of offering cash bonuses as an incentive to entice reporters to write about popular subjects and boost web visits to their stories. Read more here: http://www.theawl.com/2010/05/pink-weekly-debuts-cash-for-traffic-reporter-bonus-jackpot-scheme.
While this publication is not the NY Times or the Wall St. Journal, the idea behind it may open the door for editorializing, opinion pieces and entertainment for other news outlets. It made me think of the lead-in to the local TV FOX news affiliate last night. The top “news” story was about the TV show “24″ and star Kiefer Sutherland and that fact that his alter ego, a.k.a. Jack Bauer is ending his final crusade against terrorists in the final season of this hit TV show. Since when does prime time TV programming constitute news? According to FOX TV, that would be nearly every night. Recent studies indicate that the majority of Americans still get their news, in this order of priority: TV (local news first, national next) and now the Internet (Source: Pew Internet research: http://www.pewinternet.org/Media-Mentions/2010/CNN-Tech-Online-News.aspx)–and newspapers third. How do you get your news fix and do you care if it’s packaged as entertainment?
Read a post today that was highly critical of Facebook. Well, to be more accurate, it actually recommended deleting your Facebook account and provided the top ten reasons why this made sense. First, read the article here: http://www.rocket.ly/home/2010/4/26/top-ten-reasons-you-should-quit-facebook.html and then post your own thoughts about it. Is this just a rant of an unfriendly blogger or a well-thought out post by a disgruntled customer. Or, is it perhaps a thinly disguised attack piece by an employee of a competitor? The main question you need to answer is this: Should the company ignore it or respond?