On International Women’s Day — Just STOP! #IWD2012

March 8, 2012: International Women’s Day — first observed in 1909 as a day to celebrate women, their accomplishments and contributions to society — is a day when I ask everyone to just STOP!

STOP devaluing women in the workplace.  Equal pay for equal work certainly sounds like both a logical and inherently American principle especially in 2012. But, as I’ve written previously, it remains an unobtained goal

STOP eroding women’s rights. Women are not second-class citizens and should not be treated as such. Attacks on rights granted by the Supreme Court should not be eroded by individual states that increase barriers to participation, such as, requiring a medical procedure prior to exercising your court sanctioned rights (yes, I am talking to you, Virginia and even worse, Texas), as that is as un-American as the old poll taxes and intelligence tests required by some states before African-Americans could vote until outlawed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

STOP attacking women in the workplace, in particular one of our most important resources – teachers. Yes, the education system needs a major overhaul but that involves issues related to policy, accountability and funding. Teachers are being attacked en masse (yes, I am speaking to you Pennsylvania with your “special rules” for the Philadelphia school district and to you New York) because they are an easy target for people frustrated with government, taxes, crime, etc. Oh yeah, and they’re 76% female.

STOP demeaning women in the media.  Please view this trailer for the documentary “Miss Representation” by filmmaker Siebel Newsom to understand how media affects women’s self-esteem, skewed body image and aspirations.

Now,that you’ve stopped– GO! Get mad and do something about it.

Calling the News Corp. Situation a “PR Problem” Is Wrong

Rupert Murdoch - World Economic Forum Annual M...

Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr

I keep seeing the situation with Rupert Murdoch’s (photo right) News Corp. and the circumstances that led to its closing ‘The News of the World‘ (“NotW”) after 168 years referred to as a “PR problem.” That is just wrong.

Certainly, the unethical hacking activity into private citizen’s email and voicemail by NotW journalists is worthy of both scorn and retribution, legal and otherwise, but calling it a PR  problem implies that good PR practices could have mitigated or even prevented the consequences News Corp. continues to face. And that’s not true.

As with any crisis response, News Corp. needs to follow the Five A’s of crisis management (amended to six by me):

  1. Assess
  2. Admit
  3. Address
  4. Atone
  5. Adapt
  6. Abridge

No amount of “good PR” could’ve saved NotW, and it remains to be seen what the ultimate ramifications are for News Corp. It’s not a PR problem— it’s a PR issue.

Let’s not confuse the two. 

First Ever White House Tweetup? More Like an Old AOL Auditorium Event

Jack Dorsey and President Obama courtesy BET.comCommander in Tweet? Not quite. Don’t take me wrong, I’m in favor of anything that promotes social media and incorporates it into the mainstream. But, in an attempt to capitalize on the “now”, the White House stumbled in both the promotion and execution of the “first ever White House Tweetup”, and inadvertently paid homage to yet another online feature made prominent by old AOL.

By definition and popular acceptance, a Tweetup is a F2F (face to face) meeting of people who interact primarily online. Hosted by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, this was admittedly not a Tweetup, but more of a Twitter Press Conference. Dorsey stated:

“Neither the President or I know the questions that will be asked today.  That decision is driven entirely by the Twitter users.”

Well, I guess that depends on your definition of “driven.” True, any Twitter user could submit questions via the service by appending the hashtag #AskObama to their tweet. And sure, neither Dorsey nor Obama knew precisely to what the questions would pertain. However, the submissions were previewed, reviewed. culled, vetted and ultimately selected by at least two levels of editors: First, a “team of seasoned Twitter users” helped pick the questions that would be considered. Next, Twitter assembled “eight curators” to further subjectively winnow the field to those they considered appropriate.

And so the questions, while submitted by Twitter users, were carefully selected to reflect a limited number of acceptable topics. More than once, Dorsey mentioned that the questions were coming in “real time”. Hmm, did they not get enough participation beforehand to fill the approximately 20 or so questions and comments fielded in the 1 hour eight minute event? And what luck that three of the questions were submitted by a White House journalist, Speaker of the House Boehner and the President himself, making at least 15% of the questions not submitted by John Q. Tweeter.

So why is this like old AOL? Read more of this post

The Five “A”s of PR Crisis Management — Plus a Sixth

ap_anthony_weiner_presser_ll_110606_wgI came across a great article written by Jessica Klieman titled, “5 Tips for Handling a PR Crisis Like Weinergate” (in case you heaven’t heard, it’s the law that all political scandals must have a ‘-gate’ suffix ever since Nixonian times) that gives five tactics for what to do when bad private behavior goes public. I’d like to add a sixth.

Briefly (as Jessica does a great job describing each) the steps are:

  1. Assess – Objectively examine the situation to determine its “legs” and maximum potential impact.
  2. Admit – As I wrote previously, the truth will out. Once a secret is no longer a secret, own the message and ‘fess up.
  3. Address – A full ‘mes culpa’ is required. Make it complete of face the death of a thousand cuts.
  4. Atone – Make things as right as you can especially to those directly affected by your actions.
  5. Adapt – Have a game plan for what happens next. Note: the basis for any game plan should have already been designed as part of your crisis management contingency plan. Waiting until after the fur starts to fly is too late.

I’d add a sixth “A” – Abridge – state the facts; state your case; cover the five “A”s’ and retreat.

While thought noble to stand up and take the slings and arrows thrown your way (perhaps in an attempt to “get it all over with”), just as in most of life when it comes to crisis management, “less is more.” Find that sweet spot of enough time to cover your “A”s (so to speak) then leave. Cut things off too short you run the risk of coming across as abrupt, insincere and unrepentant. Stay too long, you maybe viewed as pathetic or pitiful (“Methinks the politico doth repent too much”). At his presser Weiner went on and on, repeating his message to repetitive questions that morphed from inquiry into condemnation. Is that the lasting image you want associated with an attempt to come clean?

Messed up? ‘Fess up; Retreat; Rebuild.

Accuracy; Integrity; Transparency — A Social Media Lesson For Anthony Weiner (and Everyone)

“… but at the length truth will out.”
– from ‘The Merchant of Venice’ by William Shakespeare

Those words, the bane of politicians, ad men, PR flacks, marketing gurus, titans of business and wayward spouses throughout the ages, are as true today as they were when written 415 years ago.  But instead of waiting for a pamphlet to be printed on a 16th Century mechanical press (the origin of the word “Press” regarding news) and hand delivered, read aloud or nailed on a church door, what happens today can spread  across the globe via social media before the next sunrise.

Those following me for a while know that I am a social media professional who strongly suggests to companies, organizations and yes, politicians, that to take advantage of the vast benefits social media has to offer while avoiding its pitfalls you need two things: 1) to conduct your social media (both brand related and personal use) with accuracy; integrity and transparency and, 2) to consult with or have on board a social media professional to lead the way.

Rep Anthony Weiner courtesy ReutersWhich brings us to U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who shorts(sic)-circuited his political plans by engaging in questionable social media and phone-based relationships. For a politician — (one of the few professions where you are expected to always be on the job), this can be a career-breaker causing us to collectively sigh, “What were you thinking?” Regardless, let’s take a look at what he admittedly did and the social media pillars he ignored:

Read more of this post

Newspapers: Not quite dead yet.

Quick Post: There are 10,000 online newspapers in the world, find out where,  here:

To newspapermap.com

A Scorpion, a Frog and an Aflac Duck

By now you’ve heard that Aflac insurance fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried as the commercial voice of its Aflac duck for tweeting insensitive and offensive remarks (since removed) about the disaster in Japan on Twitter.

True, tweets like these  (here are two of 12 issued in total) are insensitive and could be considered offensive:

Charles Sykes/SYKEC, via Associated Press“I was talking to my Japanese real estate agent. I said, ‘Is there a school is this area?’ She said, ‘Not now, but just wait.’”

“Japan is really advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them.”

The company stated the tweets were “lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac.”

Fair enough, and the fact that Aflac does 75% of its business in Japan is certainly a valid business reason to end their relationship. The company was entirely within its rights — and indeed had no choice — but to do so, even though Gottfried’s voice is not used in the Japanese versions of the ads and most of Aflac’s customers likely never knew that Gottfried supplied the duck’s voice.

Insensitive, offensive and ill-timed. But that describes Gottfried who has a long-held and well deserved reputation of being, as Howard Stern recently put it, “the most foul-mouthed comedian” out there.

Example: Shortly after  9-11, Gottfried was part of a Comedy Central/Friars’ Club roast of Hugh Hefner where no one was in the mood to laugh. There, a joke about his plane having a connection at the Empire State Building was met by catcalls and cries of, “Too soon!” Concluding that it was time for a comedy “Hail Mary”, Gottfried broke into an obscene, graphic, vile, extended version of the recognized “dirtiest joke of all time” – ‘The Aristocrats.’ It is also accepted as the best performance of that joke ever.

And that brings us to the fable of the scorpion and the frog. A scorpion approached a river and Read more of this post

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