Cruz Iowa Rhetoric Trumped In New York

Donald Trump has certainly said and done some really cringe-worthy things during the 2016 Republican primary season. From his feud with Meagan Kelly to tweets about Heidi Cruz, Trump is often his own worst enemy. Lacking any inner filter, he should hire someone to act as one.

But nothing can compare to the blunder of Ted Cuz and his “New York Values” remarks made before the Iowa caucus. Cruz later explained that this phrase was used to sum up all that was wrong with the liberal establishment and attendant media located in New York City. It’s probably no coincidence that his chief rival for the republican nomination is from the same city and he was taking a swipe at Trump at the same time.

New York's message to Ted Cruz over his New York values remarks were not terribly subtle.
New York’s message to Ted Cruz over his New York values remarks were not terribly subtle.

Cracks like this will play well in Iowa and even in Texas.This probably seemed really clever at the time and Cruz did win the Iowa caucus and the Texas primary. Unfortunately for Senator Cruz they are not as well received in places like say, New York and now January’s winning phrase is an albatross in April.

Ted Cruz is a smart man which makes calculus like this hard to understand. It does not take the gift of prophecy to know that New Yorkers would not respond favorably to a negative characterization like this. Even Donald Trump called Senator Cruz on this remark during one of the republican debates.

I cannot pretend to know what the Cruz strategy was in Iowa and what may have led to his ‘New York Values’ remarks. Unlike Trump, Cruz has a staff and an organization of party apparatchiks who should know that knocking an entire state, which happens to be among the most populace in the union, could come back to haunt him. Maybe Cruz thought that unless he won in Iowa, he was finished and that the gamble was worth the risk? Maybe he thought he would lose in New York anyway regardless? But I doubt he foresaw the beat down now delivered hourly from the same New York media and Donald Trump. Even Geraldo Rivera of Fox News has characterized Cruz’ remarks as code for anti-semitism. Fox News!

Cruz' New York Values remarks opened him up to a lot of criticism from New Yorkers.
Cruz’ New York Values remarks opened him up to a lot of criticism from New Yorkers.

It is too early at this writing to know whether Trumps many rhetorical goofs will cost him the nomination. He is ahead in delegate count at the moment and seems certain to win the New York primary. But Ted Cruz will certainly lose in New York and will be pressed to prevail in other, non-southern, non-bible belt states. He will also be asked to explain his loss in New York. If he were brave, he would say that his unfortunate mischaracterization of New Yorkers was what did him in. But his ego will not allow that and he will more likely double-down on the statement. Some people are not capable of admitting a mistake. For Cruz, being right is more important than getting votes.

So what is the lesson for communicators? Easy. Never badmouth potential customers, especially if they number by the millions and work at large media conglomerates. It does not seem that challenging of an idea.

 

Don’t Do What Bernie Sanders Did Seven Ways To Avoid Media Gaffes

Some of the worst media relations techniques in recent memory are on full display as the candidates from the two major parties vie for our votes. In the interest of being a non-partisan I promise to ridicule each of the four remaining candidates from both parties equally as they screw up.

The latest is Bernie Sanders ill-conceived interview with the New York Daily News as recapped by The Washington Post. You can read what the post has to say here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/04/05/9-things-bernie-sanders-shouldve-known-about-but-didnt-in-that-daily-news-interview/

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivers a foreign policy speech on March 21. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivers a foreign policy speech on March 21. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

So here is what you can learn from this interview.

  1. Have a message in mind before the interview starts. From reading the transcript it is impossible to tell what Sanders wanted the readers to know as a result of the interview. So before it ever starts, decide what it is that readers will know that is different from what they knew beforehand.
  2. Know who you are talking to and why. Sort of related to number one in that a communications goal for an interview needs to be that the message is audience appropriate. For example, when addressing the Candy and Confections magazine editor, it’s a good idea to relate to what the readers are expecting which is sweets. Similarly, people who read the New York Daily News will expect a fellow New Yorker like Sanders to be able to answer pretty basic questions all related to his previously stated positions. You want to break up the banks? Great, just tell us how. This was not “gotcha” journalism. Sanders stump speech covers all these topics. He should have expected to be asked these questions and been ready with plausible answers.
  3. Stay on message. Sanders let’s the reporter control the content of the interview. Big mistake. Have a list of 3-5 messages for the reporter and stick to those. If he asked about Palestinian settlements and you want to talk about banks, bridge from the question to the thing you really want to talk about. Here is how that might look: “I know the situation in Israel is complex and will take a lot of time and work to resolve. But we can start fixing the banking system here at home in far less time by referring charges of specific bankers to the attorney general…..”
  4. If you do not know, say so. People hate to say ‘I don’t know’ but it is a perfectly acceptable answer. ‘I don’t know right off the top of my head, but let me call you later with a more informed answer….” and then do so. It’s way ahead of answering “I assume so” when asked about statutes and laws. Aren’t you a senator?
  5. Avoid spouting nonsense. For example, when asked how he would know which banks were to be closed, Senator Sanders replied, “you would determine is that, if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. And then you have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination.” Pure and unadulterated gibberish. A clever high school kid could come up with a better answer.
  6. Do your homework. Clearly the reporter doing this interview had done his. So whether someone is running for president, announcing a new product, or addressing the local chamber of commerce, show up with the knowledge that people most associate with you and your business. If you are a baker and have limited knowledge of flour, decline the interview.

I’m exasperated that someone who is as smart as Senator Sanders surely must be with the resources to hire the best handlers anywhere, comes off looking like such a dope. Sanders should be schooling the reporters on bank policy, rules of governance and responsibilities to shareholders and customers. Instead he blathers on with nothing but platitudes. You can almost feel him shrugging his shoulders.

The same is true of his answers about Israel and dealing with ISIS. ISIS members have attacked Paris, Brussels and threaten Western Civilization. That he has no answer for dealing with them as president is completely indefensible and unacceptable.

7. If your client is an inarticulate idiot, keep him/her away from reporters. President Reagan used to pretend that the helicopter noise was preventing him from hearing reporters questions so he did not have to answer. Someone should get Bernie a helicopter.

Pez Easter Egg Hunt Provides Lesson In Bad Event Organization

Pez Easter Egg Hunt Provides Lesson In Bad Event Organization. Yes PEZ, it was your fault.

In a public relations disaster that reminded me of the WKRP-AM Thanksgiving Day Turkey Drop, the third and what is likely the last ever Easter Egg Hunt at the Pez Museum in Orange, CN. deteriorated quickly into a shoving match between parents who feared their children would not get any free candy. The only way most people would consider eating the fruity/sweet candy tablets is if they were free. The dispensers have a nice following by collectors, but they do not approach any other collectible like LEGO, or even bottle caps.

PEZ are now the poster children for terrible event planning. If there were an award for, they would surely win.
PEZ are now the poster children for terrible event planning. If there were an award for, they would surely win.

But if you want a lesson in how to not organize a special event, the Pez people have provided a world class example. Here is how to really screw up your next event.

  1. Understaff your event. Instead of extra security or even temporary employees to help keep order, make sure mom and dad are behind the ropes, etc. just trust God and luck that everyone present at a free event will be kind, generous and polite.
    1. The Remedy: Have a lot of staff and event security on hand and make sure they are very visible. There are lots of companies that provide services like these for stadiums, ball games, concerts and yes, sigh, egg hunts. Brief them in advance about their roles, locations and responsibility. Make sure they can communicate via walkie-talkie with you, the PEZ organizer. And while you are at it, hire some extra uniformed police officers as off duty security. They can use the money and you are likely to have a better event.
  2. Do not issue tickets or wristbands. When you invite everyone, everyone will show up. Add the word ‘free’ to anything and the demographics of the crowd just got really bad. Life’s overachievers are not attending anything with the ‘free’ label. I learned in college that when hosting a beer party at the frat house during rush to charge at least $.25 cents for beer. Party goers will run out of quarters eventually and the hobos will seek refreshment elsewhere.
    1. The Remedy: Charge something even if it is just a dollar donation to a charity. When you say it is free is has that value stamped on it which is nothing and will be treated that way. Charging a donation will help to weed out the riffraff. When people give their dollar, the child gets a color coded wrist band based on his or her age and is directed to the field where they belong.

      With free eggs in plain site, no boundaries or security present it was a wonder that more people did not get hurt in the PEZ Easter Egg Melee of 2016.
      With free eggs in plain site, no boundaries or security present it was a wonder that more people did not get hurt in the PEZ Easter Egg Melee of 2016.
  3. No ingress or egress that is clearly marked. The fields were wide open and the eggs were clearly in view and remember they are free, right? So given that they have no value, why obey any rules? Don’t ask, just take.
    1. Have a gate or turnstile that allows people entrance to the hunt area one or two at a time. Since you already hired extra security people they are watching the entrance to make sure that there are no jumpers or freeloaders present.
  4. No learning from the past or other similar events. No need to study up on what could potentially or has gone wrong for organizers at other, similar events. Every day is a brand new day!
    1. Remedy, do your homework.  It does not take a genius to search Google for information on events like this and learn the do and do not do’s of special events. This article for example will show up in the do not do list next year.

Texas Needs A Law Against Texting While Driving

I’ve lived in two other states and this our second time to be in Texas. My wife and I were born here and my great great grandfather was a Texas Ranger. I’m no newcomer or Yankee. That we allow texting while driving is beyond me. Last May the Texas legislature failed to pass a law against this and Texas is one of just six states in the U.S. to not have at least a statewide ban on texting behind the wheel. (Texas bans younger drivers from any cellphone use while driving, along with barring all drivers from texting or hand-held cellphone use in school zones.)

Why does Texas need a law against texting while driving? Easy. We have a lot of people who own cars in the state who simply lack the good sense not to text while driving. That’s why.Ban Texting.jpg

Anyone who believes their personal freedom is at stake over such a law cannot be taken seriously and are the reason the rest of us need to be protected. Don’t wear a seatbelt? No problem, I don’t care. You’ll grab serious air flying through the windshield and will not harm anyone other than yourself. Not going to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle? Hey we need organ donors now more than ever. But when you text while driving you put others at risk. Kill yourself through ignorance and arrogance if you like, but leave the rest of us to die quietly of natural causes.

Martin Shkreli An Awfully Rich Guy Who Is Really Awful

Martin Shkreli An Awfully Rich Guy Who Is Really Awful.

Martin Shkreli Beyond Any Help from Public Relations Pros.

With a smirk that would be the envy of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, former drug company CEO and future convict, Martin Shkreli made his disdain for human kind even more clear during his recent testimony before congress. Shkreli has a future of both prison and anal rape he will experience  sooner than not, which should help reassure people that Karmic justice is real and visited on d-bags like this. But the site is about public relations, so let’s deal with that.

What serious adult would post something like this about his congressional testimony?
What serious adult would post something like this about his congressional testimony?

Is All Publicity Really Good?

No, oh goodness no. Shkreli attracted lots of coverage and all of it was the wrong kind. Revealing to the world that you are a dick of epic proportion is not in your best interest or of your employees, customers or shareholders. Flaunting your success and thumbing your nose at people who have no choice but to buy medicine from you is a bad strategy. A friend or trusted ally would tell people like Martin that his communication strategy was poorly thought out and yielding the opposite of image building. Bad guy wrestlers are more appealing than this former business leader. Of course it is not likely that Marty has many friends.  It’s more likely that those close to him are delighted to see him fail. I know I am.

Martin Shkreli; an awfully rich guy who is really awful.
Martin Shkreli; an awfully rich guy who is really awful.

Pathological?

It’s odd to see someone who has been so financially successful embrace failure on such a grand scale. Maybe there is something wrong with him, like borderline personality disorder or narcissism or something like that? Who knows. Dammit Jim I’m a flack not a head shrinker.

If He Were My Client?

If he were a client of mine I would suggest he avoid any public venues, make no statements about anything and check into some kind of rehab or mental hospital. Change the story from the one out there and make him a victim of some type of mental health challenge. Then get him a puppy from a shelter, make a big donation to same shelter all while apologizing for everything and stating that he will spend the rest of his life ‘working to make things right.’ What are the odds?

No Chance For Marty

I have no sense that Marty is contrite in the slightest. Quite the opposite in that he seems very pleased with himself and how much more clever he is than the rest of us. Until the reality of anal rape starts to register with Marty, I can’t envision him adopting a puppy or being sorry or even pretending to be. I can envision him getting bent over a prison cot often and deliberately, over and over and having to sit on one of those doughnut pillows.

“Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli pleads the Fifth before Congress but has plenty of snark on Twitter

 

Social Media Lessons From National Signing Day

Social Media Lessons From National Signing Day. Never mind that I graduated from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Political Science or that my graduate alma mater (The George Washington University) does not play football. There is a lot those of us in private business can learn from recruiting high school football players. Here are a few brief lessons.

Whether recruiting football players or bank customers, let them know you appreciate them with every opportunity.
Whether recruiting football players or bank customers, let them know you appreciate them with every opportunity.
  1. Have fun. If you look at what the people at Houston did on Twitter the morning of signing day, it was clear they were having a good time.
  2. Ask your famous friends for favors. If you are lucky enough to have famous friends, and they really are your friends, they will not mind.
  3. Win. If you have won industry awards show them on line. People like to be associated with winners.
  4. Publicize testimonials. If you have customers who like and appreciate what you do for them, ask them to go on the record with their recommendations.
  5. Relate to the audience. In the case of head coach Tom Herman it was betting the team that if they won their conference championship he would get and wear a gold and diamond ‘grill’, a piece of jewelry popular with the young people.
  6. Think big and act big. Houston is not in a Power 5 conference and should not get the attention it does. But by ignoring the old stereotypes about the school they have completely repositioned themselves as the place to be.
  7. Ignore haters and trolls. We live in the age of the so called internet thought leader. One persons’ leader is the other persons’ troll.

To read the entire article, go here:

Houston Brought In Everyone From Paul Wall To J.J. Watt To Help With Signing Day

 

A Client On American Idol?

A client on American Idol? After spending my career in mostly business to business public relations, marketing communications and more recently content marketing for the chemical manufacturing industry, I now have a client who is a very talented singer and songwriter. But that is not the point of the story. The point is to introduce an  extremely bright, talented young person who at the age of 16 was organizing national publicity for a new song. Not a cover of a song by someone else but an original tune. A new song she had not just performed but had helped write. Her name is Mary Desmond. You can read more about her in the release below. The surprise (and frankly source of pride) for me was how I came to know her and what I learned from her.

Mary Desmond with her “golden ticket” to Hollywood Week as part of the farewell season of American Idol.
Mary Desmond with her “golden ticket” to Hollywood Week as part of the farewell season of American Idol.

Last summer I had just started getting serious about consulting on a full-time basis and it was slow going. Anyone who transitions from employee to entrepreneur will tell you that this is not an easy change. To get the ball rolling, I had done several things to introduce the business including press announcements and even some advertising on Google. One afternoon my phone rang. A nice young lady on the other end asked if did press releases? Yes, I do! She described a new song she had co-written with another songwriter and that they were looking for publicity. The release was for their song ‘Lily’ which has a touching story behind it, but we’ll save that for another time.

I wrote the release, put together a media list and went to work. The news was reasonably well received by the entertainment media, and her You Tube hits on the song jumped from a few hundred to over 10,000 in just a couple of days. Noteworthy results  for an original song by accomplished artists, though neither was a household name.

A few days later I spoke to Mary again about her schedule and the possibilities for her to make time for some interviews. She replied, “I have school during that time.” School, of course. I wondered aloud where she went to school, thinking it was probably UCLA, USC or Cal Berkely. “I go to Mission Viejo High in Orange County,” Mary said.

During this time, Mary had paid her bill on time and was easy to work with and understood the value of publicity. That she was a wise beyond her years as a 16-year-old was what was interesting. I do not know what anyone else was doing when they were 16, but organizing public relations campaigns for my career was not on my list. So what can the rest of us learn from this story? The value of focus and determination.

Mary has a single vision and goals for her career. She works hard on achieving those goals every day. While she experiences occasional rejection, she shakes it off and keeps going. Of course, she is talented and has a great family and those things count. But what counts more, in my opinion at least, is just the sheer grit, sticktoitiveness and optimism a girl in southern California has for her future. That is remarkable.

Since then we have had the chance to work on several things together, including work to help benefit the California March of Dimes. Along the way her father asked me to help promote the non-profit “High Hopes Head Injury Program” where he and Mary’s mother both work. They too achieve great results and inspire me as well.

Regardless of how things turn out for Mary on American Idol, my opinion is that young Miss Desmond will be extremely successful. I appreciate the example she sets and hope others will as well. And yes,  a guy who spent most of his adult life doing public relations work for a really big chemical company, now has a client on American Idol. Isn’t that cool!

Prevent Cyber Predators From Targeting Your Children This Christmas

Tips To Prevent Cyber Predators And Hackers From Targeting Your Children This Christmas. Ryn Melberg is a client of mine and someone I like and respect a great deal. So I wanted to share her tips here for readers of my blog. While this is not really a public relations or marketing communications issue, it is timely advice for everyone who expects a visit from Santa tomorrow evening.

Heed Ryn's tips to protect your children from cyber crime this Christmas. It's what Santa would want.
Heed Ryn’s tips to protect your children from cyber crime this Christmas. It’s what Santa would want.

America’s children can have their identities stolen and worse this Christmas unless their parents take steps to prevent cyber criminals from stealing information about them. Corporate governance, I.T. and Agile Project Management expert Ryn Melberg has advice for parents and others who will give their children electronic toys and games that link to the Internet this Christmas. This is in light of the hack and theft of 6.4 million records of children from Hong Kong-based toy maker, VTech. According to a published report in The Wall Street Journal, the information stolen included the names and birthdates of those children along with photos and chat messages.

“Parents should protect their children’s’ identity on line just like their own,” Melberg said. “While it may not be obvious, their private information is vulnerable to online hackers, if not more so than adults.”

Here are the steps Ms. Melberg suggests:
1. Never use a child’s full name online.
2. Never publish a child’s birthday online.
3. Never publish a child’s street address or even the city or state where they reside.
4. Do not disclose the name of the school where your child attends.
5. Never disclose a location where the child will be, particularly if parents are not there, too. This could be a camp, school trip, etc.
6. Actively monitor online chats in real time with your child and explain to him/her why this matters.
7. Use fictitious information when answering security questions and remember it.
8. Use a fake online or screen name when working or playing in cyber space.

Online Protection From Predators
Putting full names with the city of residence will make a child vulnerable to a predator or even a disgruntled parent in a divorce or custody settlement. “The online world makes it very easy to find someone,” Melberg warned. “This is especially true if your child has an unusual first name,” she stated. “My name ‘Ryn’ is rare enough that finding all the ‘Ryns’ in my hometown would be pretty easy, and the same is true for your child.” The practice of careful online engagement extends to chat rooms associated with games, as children are known to share personal information in those, as well.

Guard Your Child’s Future
Melberg strongly urges parents to be extremely careful about what they post online about their children because it could affect their financial future and even put them in physical danger. While the majority of children do not have bank accounts or credit cards, thieves will use their stolen identities to create phony accounts and loan applications. “I have a client who found they had a delinquent student loan that was made 7 years prior to their turning 18,” Melberg said. “The bank admitted it was unlikely they would have given a college loan to an 11 year old, but that did not spare them the hassle and grief of setting their own credit right so they could get a legitimate student loan.”

Ryn is the host of a weekly podcast entitled, “The Guardian”. Ryn discusses Agile, Scrum, Scaled Agile and issues of corporate governance. It is the only podcast of its kind in the world. To contact Ryn Melberg, go to her web site at: www.rynmelberg.com.

GSD&M Takes Bad Taste Several Levels Higher

GS&DM Takes Bad Taste To A New Level

This is what happens when there are no grown-ups around. The “creative” staff at GSD&M, an Austin, Texas-based ad agency took the occasion of Christmas to design and sell gift wrapping paper that pushes well past the boundaries of taste and good judgement and came up with these gems (see photos). While the proceeds go to a musical charity in their hometown, it does not excuse this low market publicity stunt.

Trees once stood where the gift wrapping paper from GSD&M was made.
Trees once stood where the gift wrapping paper from GSD&M was made.

Yes, it garnered them a lot of attention, like why I else would I or anyone pay any attention to these refugees from Neverland? But there is fame and infamy. What do clients think about this? Clients are notoriously conservative. Would any of them be caught dead wrapping a gift for a relative, colleague, customer or casual acquaintance with this nonsense? Doubtful.

Even more confounding is how enthusiastically Ad Week reviewed the new wrapping paper, “This particular wrapping paper replaces seasonal sayings such as “Joy to the World” and “Peace on Earth” with cocksure copy alerting those who are about to tear open their packages of the orgasmic awesomeness nestled within.” I doubt anyone will have any of those reactions to the paper or the gift. More likely they will reassess you and the future of your relationship.

Here is a look into the creative process at GSD&M: “When you give the perfect gift, it takes everything you have not to tell the person how amazing it is,” says Ryan Carroll who is the group creative director. “Now you can let your wrapping paper do the talking for you. Also, we really wanted to use a ‘Pee yourself’ joke.” I went to the GSD&M website and saw a photo of Mr. Caroll. He does not appear to be eleven years old, his quote to Ad Week notwithstanding. But I am sure he and his fellow creatives have the sophomoric market “wrapped up” so to speak.

Maybe it is not fair to judge these people based on a single article or one idea. But unfortunately, that is what people do. They make decisions based on what they see.  There are better ways to demonstrate creativity. One of my favorites is to write campaigns that sell more of what the client is offering than were sold before I was hired. Now that’s creative!

To Get More Done Stop Multitasking!

You will miss more than you get while multitasking.
You will miss more than you get while multitasking.

To Get More Done Stop Multitasking.

The most valuable employees in the workplace are not necessarily the ones who seem busiest, send the most e-mail or go to the most meetings. In fact, while the activity level is high the accomplishment level is generally low. If that seems counterintuitive you are not alone. I did not buy this either, but science and physiology have shown the way of our errors. It turns out that the human brain was not meant to focus on more than a single thing at a time and that it is virtually impossible to do so.

Science!

Workplace and scientific studies demonstrate that humans are not able to do more than a single task at a time because of the way the brain is engineered. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain used for focus and attention. The brain will pay attention to what it perceives is the most important. That is not to say that we cannot chew gum and walk at the same time, but those activities do not occur in the prefrontal cortex. But we are not able to give our full attention to more than a single thing. So those who are multitasking are essentially doing more than one thing a time very poorly. Overall, this is very bad for a lot reasons.

What You Missed At The Meeting

Those who multitask at meetings are likely to miss whatever it was they were called to the meeting for and will end up asking about a topic that was already covered, thus wasting their time in the meeting and the time of the person whom they must ask. If someone is bored while at a meeting or not interested in the subject matter then they should probably not even be there.

Banned From Meetings

It is not uncommon for leaders to ban multitasking from meeting and to send offenders packing. “t’s not only unproductive, it is incredibly rude and disrespectful of the other people in the meeting to divide your attention. “f there is something you need to do that is really that important, better to excuse yourself from the meeting than be asked to leave.

Your Brain On Multitasking

When multitasking the brain is split. Instead of getting the full frontal cortex that uses both sides of the brain, we only get half of it. When focused on a single task, more gets done. That is why the best coaches ask teams to focus, to get more done sooner. Humans are more successful when focused where multitasking goes against human design. This is not the fault of the brain, the brain’s owner or creator. No, but it is a failure of the workplace.

Counting The Wrong Thing

So why do leaders and their followers persist in this counter-productive activity? Easy. Because they are rewarded for it. The workplace is now comprised of knowledge workers. But measures of success have not kept pace. Our metrics date back to the industrial age when the number of buggy whips we turned out, cars that were made or acres plowed were what mattered. No one uses buggy whips any more, cars are made in Asia and farms are kept by high tech machinery. Business and industry need to start measuring innovation, customer satisfaction, and time to market. Those are measures from the knowledge age that are relevant and important. Not the number of meetings one attends.

 

Reporters are looking for stories like yours. Customers are searching for experts like you. Get found!