Weekly Press Release Picks

Here are some of this week’s press releases for marketing and public relations pros

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On a positive note

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Logo courtesy of Scholastic website

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Marley Dias. Photo courtesy of Elle magazine website

“Scholastic To Publish Activism Book By Marley Dias, 12-Year-Old #1000BlackGirlBooks Founder, In Spring 2018” – Scholastic via PRNewsWire

“Marley Dias, the 12 year-old social activist behind #1000BlackGirlBooks—an international movement to collect and donate children’s books that feature Black girls as the lead character . . .is using her voice to advocate for social justice, a commitment reflected by her ambitious life goals: she dreams of becoming an editor of her very own magazine and plans to use media to spread positive messages and to perpetuate more socially conscious pop culture.”

 

And the award goes to . . .

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Tim Cook, Apple CEO. Photo courtesy of CNN Money

The Newseum in Washington, D. C., announced today that Apple CEO Tim Cook will receive their distinguished Free Expression Award “for his leadership in creating technology that has had a profound impact on how we communicate. Further, he has used his spotlight to take a public stand on major societal issues, including racial equality, privacy, protecting the environment, access to education and LGBT rights. Cook will accept the award during a special event to be held at the Newseum on April 18, 2017.”

Other awards to be given at the event include”

This is the Newseum’s 2nd Free Expression Awards Event.

 

Public Relations Event of the Week 

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Logo courtesy of PRNewsWire

“Seattle Children’s Research Institute succeeded in a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS attempt for most people conducting a DNA isolation experiment simultaneously. The record was set to celebrate the groundbreaking for Seattle Children’s newest pediatric research facility, Building Cure, which will be located in Seattle’s South Lake Union biotech corridor at 1920 Terry Ave. It is scheduled to open in 2019.

“We set this record with the support of the community, from policymakers to elementary school students, and we’re honored to have everyone here to celebrate the future of pediatric research in Seattle,” said Dr. Jim Hendricks, president of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “Building Cure allows researchers to conduct life-changing pediatric research. We also designed spaces for young people to do hands-on science with expanded STEM education programming.”

Read more about this event at  PRNewswire.

 

Marketer of the Week

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Logo courtesy of Flex Jobs website

TeleTech named to this year’s Flex Jobs’ Top 100 Companies to Watch for Telecommuting and Remote Jobs list.  TeleTech, a business process/customer service outsourcing company that services a wide range of business industries, employs more than 40,000 employees worldwide, half of which are telecommuters and home-based employees. TeleTech is based out of Colorado.

 

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Brand USA troubles

Last week I came across a press release from Brand USA about appointments to its board of directors in December.  The press release was your standard fare, but something about these appointees made me want to learn more about Brand USA.

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Logo courtesy of the Brand USA website

Brand USA is a marketing “company” that “works in close partnership with the travel industry to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel. These benefits include fostering understanding between people and cultures and creating jobs essential to the economy.” – Brand USA website.

From that description of who Brand USA is, you’d probably not realize that Brand USA is actually not a company at all. Rather Brand USA is a U.S. federal government organization “established by the Travel Promotion Act (2009 & 2014) as the nation’s first public-private partnership to spearhead a globally coordinated marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and communicate U.S. entry policies, Brand USA began operations in May 2011.”- Brand USA.

The 2014 extension of the 2009 Travel Promotion Act allows Brand USA to operate until 2020.

The core activities of Brand USA are:

Promotion:

  • create programs and platforms that add value for partners that add and support the National Travel and Tourism Strategy
  • work with federal agencies to communicate U.S. entry and security and create a welcoming experience for international tourists
  • lead the nation’s global marketing effort to increase inbound travel to the US
  • enhance the image of the US as a diverse, exciting and premier travel destination

Advocacy:

  • As the leading voice of the US Travel Industry, increase travel to and within the US
  • Advocate for and advance pro-travel policies and remove travel barriers
  • provide authoritative research and networking opportunities
  • leverage the collective strength of everyone who benefits from travel
  • communicate the positive widespread impact of travel to policy makers and the media

 

My Simple SWOT Analysis for Brand USA

I would love to sit here for days making a SWOT analysis (seriously, I would) for Brand USA, but I just don’t have that kind of time.  Instead, I’ll just share a couple of points of what I have found out about the organization that are relevant to current events.

Strengths/Opportunities

  • Brand USA is an advocate for the National Park Service.  The IMAX film National Park Adventure (MacGillivray Freeman Film) was commissioned by Brand USA and presented by Expedia and Subaru; Giant Dome Theater Consortium was a major supporter.

The Good: Brand USA may be able to take advantage of recent public support for the National Park Service as key destinations within the US for both international and domestic travelers. 2016, the centennial celebration year for the National Park Service, was a record setting year for visitors.

The Not-so-Good: 

  • Less Americans take time off for vacations.
  • Lifetime National Park passes available to senior citizens increased from $10 to $80 with approval from Congress in December.
  • International travelers to the US are expected to slow/decline in numbers, meaning less visitors to national parks and monuments.
  • The federal government hiring freeze puts a hold on hiring seasonal employees at the National Park Service and the National Forest Service.  Seasonal employees do important work at the National Park Service during peak travel months, such as grounds maintenance, give tours and handle fires/public safety issues.

 

Threats/Weaknesses

  • The executive order on travel to several countries issued by President Trump last week may decrease the interest in travel to the US by foreign nationals.
  • In light of recent detainment of some international travelers at US airports and the public relations fire storm this brought, Brand USA’s new “Market the Welcome” campaign directed at international travelers entering the US through airports may have to be ditched.  If the campaign has to be stopped or put on hold, this further hurts the public’s perception of wasting tax dollars on public relations.

“Brand USA and our partners can provide the most inspirational and compelling storytelling about our country around the world,” said Christopher L. Thompson, Brand USA president and CEO. “That story begins the moment international travelers arrive in the United States where we have the opportunity to extend the spirit of hospitality to and thank our guests for choosing the USA for their travel experience.” –Brand USA press release, June 2016

 

Conflicts of Interest

I started writing this post last Friday because I was concerned about potential conflicts of interest.  Anytime a governmental agency has corporate partners and board members, there is potential for conflict of interest.

  • Brand USA has been known to host events at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

“Amanda Davis on earning a Train Pass Award due to being the point person for the German MegaFam Finale that was held in Washington, DC.  The whole global trade team was out traveling and she planned coordinated the event with Destination D.C. and the newly opened Trump International Hotel.” –Brand USA

  • Christopher Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA, is facing allegations of giving favors to Florida’s tourism agency in return for a $9.1 million taxpayer contribution to Brand USA.
  • Board Member Daniel Halpern, CEO of Jackmont Hospitality the franchisee of TGIFriday’s and Brand USA Treasurer and head of Brand USA’s conflict of interest committee, was a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.
  • Board Member Andrew Greenfield has publicly spoken out against President Trump’s executive order on travel, stating that the order will not just affect travel, but the recruitment and hiring process for all companies, and he expects that after the 90-days of the order is up, there will be more countries added to the ban.

“And that provision could lead to “further restrictions” beyond the seven named countries, Greenfield said. Germany, for instance, might decide that it values its citizens’ privacy enough to withhold their information from U.S. intelligence agencies, he said. “Could you imagine” the disruption “if Germans couldn’t travel to the United States?” he asked.

Whether that would happen politically is another matter, he said. But according to the text of the order, “any country in the world could be included on the list if they failed to cooperate with U.S. authorities in this effort to collect data,” Greenfield said.

 

I believe that in the coming days and weeks, expect to hear more about Brand USA in the news. They will be speaking out about the executive order on travel, communicating about travel visas and trying to save the US tourism industry amidst waning confidence in travel to the USA.  They will be also busy helping the National Park Service.

But, I believe that we are just beginning to see the conflicts of interest that exists within Brand USA.  And that’s the really bad news for this governmental agency.

 

 

The customer is always right

Some may argue that the old adage that “the customer is always right”, coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge in the early 20th century, is no longer true.

I disagree.

Selfridge’s statement is not only more true than ever, but the phrase should be embraced by companies in order to avoid public relations crises.

 

 

The Very Bad

Marketers and public relations pros used to accept the theory that when one customer is unhappy, they tell 9-10 people and those people tell 9-10 more, etcetera, etcetera . . . until word spread.  It wasn’t until probably the 100th person heard about the bad experience, and quite some time had passed, that companies might have gotten wind of the bad experience, if at all.

Ah, those were the good old days.

The days before social media.

Social media expedites public relations crises. 

Social media allows everyone to have an instant voice.  The worse stories, the ones with the most shock value, spread the quickest.

Take my 20-something friend Debbie’s* experience with a local restaurant at lunch today.  She ordered a medium-rare burger as take-out.  Someone at her work picked up her order for her.  When she opened up the take-out container, all looked fine.  That is until she bit into her burger to discover it was completely raw.

Debbie is very sweet and kind, and doesn’t like to complain about these things.  Instead, her co-worker called the restaurant and shared the concern. The restaurant told Debbie’s coworker, “You should never order a burger medium rare, it will always be too rare.”

At this point Debbie was frustrated, so she did what nearly everyone does.

She posted her experience on Facebook with a picture of the burger.

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“So apparently it’s my fault that they severely under cooked a burger.” Photo used with permission.

 

Within a couple of hours, 19 people chose an emoji expressing different levels of dislike , and 24 different people commented their disgust.  One even shared Debbie’s misery with similar experiences from the same restaurant.

With the current social media algorithms, all of those 43 people’s Facebook friends may have seen Debbie’s post, multiplying Debbie’s bad experience far greater and faster than the old word-of-mouth way could have ever accomplished.

I wonder how many of those people

  • would not patronize this restaurant again because of Debbie’s post?
  • would not even try this place at all if they have never been?
  • would tell others about Debbie’s experience via word-of-mouth or social media if they heard the name of the restaurant spoken or posted?

 

Consider these scenarios developing from Debbie’s bad customer service.

  • What if Debbie also posted the same complaint on her other social media accounts. She didn’t , but how many more people may have seen her bad experience if she had?
  • Imagine if more than one customer had a bad customer service experience at the same restaurant on the same day. Imagine that the same bad customer service continues day after day. How many more social media posts will there be?
  • Imagine if customers visiting the restaurant overheard the phone conversation with Debbie’s co-worker. Is the worker/manager/owner rolling their eyes while speaking? Is the tone of their voice relaying their own frustration?

 

Without realizing it, within minutes, this restaurant has a public relations situation on their hands because of one bad customer service experience.

Selfridge’s phrase “the customer is always right” is not 100% correct.  After all, not every one is right all the time, and some customers can be downright nasty.  However, the spirit of Selfridge’s phrase is accurate.  All customers need to feel like they are right, especially the ones with the biggest social media voices.

The Bad

Bad customer service resurfaces, especially on social media.

The restaurant refused to refund Debbie’s money, but did offer her a free one of the same value.  Debbie is giving the free sandwich to a friend because she no longer wishes to patronize this restaurant. And she said so in one of the comments on her post, which only solidifies the bad experience for her friends.

I would guess that if another co-worker asks Debbie in the future if she would like to order lunch from this place, she will decline and explain her experience to them, maybe even showing them her Facebook post.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

In the old days, a person rarely had a visual aid to back up their bad customer experience. Social media had changed that.

Even if Debbie regrets her post and deletes it, a whole bunch of people have already seen the post and will remember it. They’ll remember the name of the restaurant and associate it with that horrible looking picture of raw meat.

People don’t often share good customer service experiences.  The old theory was that happy customers rarely share their good experiences is still true for social media.

When I asked Debbie if she would have posted this at all if the restaurant had offered her better customer service and a satisfactory resolution, she said that she wouldn’t have.

While it’s good that Debbie wouldn’t have posted the picture of her raw burger if she had better customer service, it’s bad for the restaurant that she wouldn’t have even shared her favorable customer service.

Another bad thing about social media is that people don’t often want to hear the good.

Earlier this month, I sent my husband to the store to pick up a few things.  One of those items was dry cat food.  He ended up choosing the right brand, but a different variety than what we normally use.  No big deal.  But when we opened the bag, it smelled horrible, like rotten meat.  We were ready to just throw out the bag, or take it back to the store and go get another, when my sister-in-law suggested that we call the company.  My husband got on the phone, and within days we received a pile of coupons, including one for a completely free bag up to $23.79.  I was so impressed that I decided to post the experience on my Facebook page.

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A few people liked the post, but others just wanted to pick apart my choice of cat food brands. One person who commented is not my Facebook friend, nor do I know them.

 

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Even though my intentions were to praise the company for it’s excellent customer service, some weren’t buying it.  Even after I tried to stop the discussion by saying “I just really just wanted to commend Purina for their excellent customer service because so often we don’t hear about the good things companies do” they couldn’t help themselves from continuing the argument.

Which, brings me back to my point how social media has changed customer service.

Even when you post good customer service experiences, someone somewhere, even people you don’t know, have an alternative opinion that they are not shy about sharing.

Sometimes public relations can be an uphill battle on social media.

 

The Good

Before social media, unhappy customers rarely told the company that they had a bad customer service with about their experience.  Often companies were blindsided when the news finally got back to them.  Sometimes, it was too late.  The damage had been done, and it was a really, really hard, costly and long marketing and public relations process to earn back trust.

Social media allows companies to quickly respond to complaints.

A company that adapts Selfridge’s theory that “the customer is always right” can set themselves apart from their competition by almost instantly responding in the customer’s favor.  And that response will become a part of the social media discussion, not just the original complaint.

Let’s revisit Debbie’s experience.

Since she mentioned the restaurant’s name in the post, the restaurant may see it.

If you were in charge of the restaurant’s social media, how would you handle the situation? Would you defend your initial response to Debbie, or would you do everything possible to change the situation in your favor?

If you were a smart public relations manager, you’d do everything possible to change the narrative.

Which means you would have to accept that Debbie is right and you are wrong.

It might be as simple as saying

“We’re sorry we didn’t cook your burger to your liking.  Can we make it up to you with a free burger, fries and soda? We’d love to keep you as a customer!”

If all of Debbie’s 43 (and counting) friends saw that, not only would Debbie be happy, but they would be, too.  People are more readily to accept that not every company gets it right 100% of the time when they see you are able to admit your mistakes and make the customer happy.

Admitting the customer is always right changes the narrative of Debbie’s post, Debbie’s friends and their friends would see your excellent customer service, and admitting you’re wrong can quickly put out the public relations fire.

 

 

*Debbie is not her real name, but has been changed with permission.

 

As always, thanks for following!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Press Releases

Here are my press release picks for the week of January 20-27, 2017 for PR (and marketing) people.

I have just two this week.

 

Contest:

In the UK:  “Veterinary practices, PR agencies and industry marketers are being invited to showcase their PR campaigns by entering this year’s Veterinary Marketing Association (VMA) PR Award for 2016.” – Deadline is Feb. 10, 2017

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Logo courtesy of the VMA UK website  

 

 

Ethics:

Public Relations in America issues statement on “Alternative Facts”

 

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Logo courtesy of PRSA website

 

Coming next week to prdoctorit:

  • A look at Customer Service
  • Brand USA
  • CSRA new appointments
  • and more!

 

As always, thanks for following and commenting on prdoctorit.

 

Public Relations Defiance: Updated

Recently, the White House has placed a gag order on several federal agencies and sub-agencies.

The sub-agency that started the whole thing was the National Park Service.

Could it be that the National Park Service is making a bold move, acting defiantly against the new White House administration?

A social media manager for the Badlands National Park sent out a barrage of tweets about climate change yesterday.  The tweets have since been deleted, but not before being retweeted by thousands.

The official statement from the National Park Service is that the tweets were made by “a former employee who is not currently authorized to use the park’s account” (CNN).

On Twitter, many are applauding the NPS for making a bold move against the White House gag order.  Do you agree?

Do you think that we’ll see more of these acts of public relations defiance? 

As public relations pros, we all know that it’s our duty to uphold the message that our employer wants to convey.  If we were to stray from that message, we’d probably find ourselves on the unemployment line pretty quickly.

But, the United States government is different.  The government exists for the benefit of the people.  And the people have a right to know what is going on in the government.

We have several entire agencies that have been issued a gag order from the White House and I have some important questions for you regarding this.

  1. Do you think that the public relations employees of this agency should uphold the gag order, or do you think that they should act defiantly?
  2. If you think that they should ignore the gag order, do you think that this is an ethical or unethical public relations practice?
  3. If you worked for one of these agencies, what would you do regarding the gag order?

 

As always, thank you for following, and I invite you to comment on these questions.

Update

Almost as soon as I finished this post, another item of interest regarding the National Park Service came to my attention.

I guess my question Do you think that we’ll see more of these acts of public relations defiance? is answered.

Some active employees of the National Park Service have been tweeting on  an independent Twitter account

@AltNatParkSer

AltNatParkSer has been on Twitter since 2015

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And tweeted this defiant message to President Trump late last night.

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What do you think about this? Who will win this public relations war? President Trump or the employees of the National Park Service?  Will other public relations employees follow suit? 

 

War on Public Relations

I really hate to keep posting public relations and the government topics.  There are so many other topics and events out there to cover.

But, we are living in a time when our profession is being pushed front and center in a way that we probably never would imagine, especially in the U.S. where we are guaranteed freedom of speech and the press.

But so far this week, we’ve had the White House Press Secretary (WHPS) criticize the press without engaging them, and a former presidential campaign manager and current presidential consultant use the term “alternative facts” in describing the WHPS’, and most likely our president’s, perception of inauguration crowd size.

Phew! It’s a lot to take in. But, wait.  There’s more.

Probably the most important thing that has happened in regards to public relations this week is that governmental agencies are being ordered to not release any public information via the press, social media or verbally without the consent of the White House.

It started on Friday night, the day of President Trump’s inauguration with the White House halting the Department of the Interior’s and its sub-agency the National Park Service’s social media posts unless it was a matter of public safety.  The temporary ban came after a NPS staffer retweeted a crowd size comparison photo of the inauguration on the NPS’ account.

I know it sounded bad, for the White House to do this, but I was willing to give Sean Spicer and the White House the benefit of the doubt on this one.  After all, it’s the job of the WHPS to make sure that all agency messages are coordinated with the president’s, and they had only just taken office.  It’s expected that a slow-down of information would take place during the initial hours of the transition of power.

What’s not expected is a complete gag order.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services,  and Department of Agriculture have been added to the Department of the Interior as agencies who have been issued limitations of public communications from the White House.

It seems as if the White House has declared war on public relations and public affairs, especially on agencies that generally disagree with President Trump’s opinions and policies.  What’s even more, is that we have a WHPS and public relations consultant upholding the idea that it’s okay to keep a gag order in place.  I expect more from members of my own profession.


According to several news sources there are to be no “public facing” documents including, but not limited to news releases,  photos, fact sheets, news feeds, speaking engagements, webinars and social media content from any of these agencies.

We don’t know how long this gag order will be in place.

All of these agencies are funded by tax-payer dollars, and the public has a right to have up-to-date information about the goings on without censorship. We have the right to receive this information in a timely manner, without having to make an official request through the Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA) of 1967.

However, under the current climate at the White House, the FOIA is the only way we can receive this information.  And that requires a lot of red tape.

“Agencies typically process requests in the order of receipt.  The time it takes to respond to a request will vary depending on the complexity of the request and the backlog of requests already pending at the agency.  A simple request can be processed faster by the agency than one that is complex.  Simple requests are typically more targeted and seek fewer pages of records.  Complex requests typically seek a high volume of material or require additional steps to process such as the need to search for records in multiple locations.  The agency’s FOIA Requester Service Center is available to assist you with any questions about the status of your request or any steps you can take to receive a quicker response.” – FOIA website

I imagine that the agencies FOIA offices will be buried with requests from the press and private citizens, creating a backlog that they will have a hard time unearthing from.

It’s reasonable to expect that the White House and its press secretary would want to coordinate messages.  It’s not reasonable when they suggest “alternative facts” are the norm. The press cannot do it’s job when we are given selective news when the public relations managers and public affairs specialists are issued gag orders.

The agency gag order issued by the White House is not a partisan issue.  It’s an issue that no one should accept or sit idly by and watch happen.

I will leave you with these sentiments:

“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

 

“Freedom of conscience, of education, or speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” – Louis Brandeis

 

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is afraid of its people.” – John F. Kennedy

 

“The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech.” – Justice Anthony Kennedy

 

“A democracy ceases to be a democracy if its citizens do not participate in its governance. To participate intelligently, they must know what their government has done, is doing and plans to do in their name. Whenever any hindrance, no matter what its name, is placed in the way of this information, a democracy is weakened, and its future endangered. This is the meaning of freedom of press. It is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.” – Walter Cronkite

Brand Building Blunder

Driving down the NY State Thruway from Herkimer to Albany, there are two large billboards, one more visible from the eastbound lane, the other from the westbound.

The question both ask drivers is

How do you build a brand?

Good question for all public relations and marketing managers.

But, not for the company who purchased space on these two billboards.

 

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Photo taken on 20 Jan 2017

Can you see the billboard?

No? Well, let me zoom in for you.

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When I first saw the eastbound sign, it was too late for me to take a photo.  Plus, I was driving.  So, I made my husband promise to remind me to take a picture when I came back from my trip.  Not that he would remember, but it’s my way of making a mental note.

After five days away, I remembered.  As we got closer to the billboard, I spotted the one in the photo above.  I totally missed it the first time.  Good thing I got a picture of this one because by the time that I got to the other one, a passing tractor trailer obstructed the view.

But, both are about equal-distance away from the Thruway and have the same design and message.  Except this one is even more obstructed than the other one by the power tower and trees.

The question the company asks is a good one, and I can only assume that the company is a marketing firm, but who could tell? I still can’t read the phone number or the company name.

Maybe I’ll make another trip out to Albany, NY soon and will be able to answer that question, but for now an extensive Google search and look on Google Earth did not reap any results. I be sure to update you.

Questions for you

  1. Given that this large billboard is costing this firm anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 per month per sign, is this the most cost effective strategy?
  2. Given that the billboard is poorly designed so that motorists traveling between 65 and 75 mph cannot read the phone number or firm name, how will it help generate traffic for the firm?
  3. Would you trust this company to help build your own brand?
  4. Would you call this sign design good, or a brand building blunder?

I look forward to your responses.

As always, thank you for following, commenting and sharing.

 

 

A letter to Sean Spicer

Dear Mr. Spicer,

I had such high hopes for you as our new White House Press Secretary (WHPS).

A couple of weeks ago I posted “Accountability & the Press Secretary“, all about my idea of how you could ethically and responsibly carry out his duties.  I was ready to give you the benefit of the doubt that you could make me proud to be in the public relations field. I wanted you to be the best Public Relations in Chief not only for President Trump, but as a champion of the press, the people, the nation and for general freedom of the press.

I’m not naive to think that you could be all things to all of the people groups and constituents at all times.  There’s going to be times when you will and should chose to protect President Trump’s message.  After all, that’s your main job.

But ideally, you have to do that job in a way that carries out the great responsibility of the First Amendment to our Constitution.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

I believe that the framers of the Constitution knew what they were doing by placing this as the First Amendment.  Without the freedoms that this amendment guarantees – religion, press, speech, assembly, petition the government – we would not be free, for lack of a better term.  These freedoms are the basis for our union and general welfare, not to mention our individual rights.

So it pains me to watch your first “news briefing”.

I call this a “news briefing”, but it was more of a diatribe with no time for questions from the press.

The overall message, or warning, you gave to the press was “be careful how you cover President Trump and frame your news stories or we will go above you, use only social media to share our message, and cut you out of the process.”

Unlike a lot of the media who is blasting you for lying today, these are the things that are verifiable or understood about your job.

  1. You were right in saying that Time reporter Zeke Miller was hasty in his assumption that the president removed the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the oval office.  Miller apologized.  And since it is customary for every new president to choose the art and decor of the Oval Office and White House, it was unfair and inflammatory for the press to make a big deal of this.
  2. It is true that ever since the 1995 Million Man March crowd count was botched by the National Park Service, that department no longer counts attendees of events, and the government uses other methods for estimating crowd counts.
  3. You were properly doing your job in chastising the National Park Service for their retweet of the controversial inauguration comparison photo.  After all, it is your duty as WHPS to make sure that all departments of the federal government are on the same page when it comes to sharing the president’s message.  It’s pretty safe to say that the public relations employee for the Department of the Interior who tweeted the photo probably no longer has their job. If I were in your shoes, I would probably do the same. I disagree with you denying federal agencies from using social media altogether, but I get why you did that.
  4. The day before the inauguration, the Smithsonian posted information about the Mall grass restoration project, so when you said this, you were correct.

 

But this is where we part ways.

I disagree with the statement that the media incorrectly framed the story about the crowd size at the inauguration.

inauguration-day-from-plane_ink_liMy flight was to leave Washington, D.C. for Albany, N.Y. at 11:30 on the day of the inauguration.  I was a bit disappointed that I would be in the air for the ceremony, but excited that I would be at least able to see the sights before I left.

My flight was held up on the runway for 15 minutes because the runway was cleared for a VIP plane arrival that was running late.  That’s what the pilot told us as we impatiently waited our turn to take off.  Perhaps someone important was late getting to the inauguration? I don’t know.

Finally at 11:45 AM we were cleared for take-off.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, but it was overcast and drizzling, and just as I had a clear shot of the Capitol Building, the pilot took a sharp left turn. I mumbled under my breath that he ruined my perfect shot.

Anyway, in the circled area, you will see that there were indeed lots of empty chairs and/or grass covering protecting the restoration project for the inauguration ceremony that was just 15 minutes away from the time that I took this picture.

From my vantage point, I don’t see “hundreds of thousands of people” around the mall waiting to get to the inauguration but being held back by fencing and magnetometers. I do know that these things, along with “cement-laden dump trucks” were used; I saw the perimeter of the Mall being set up on my way into D.C. from Reagan National Airport on the Monday before the inauguration. But, I don’t see those things preventing attendees from getting to the ceremony. I do see a large group of people hanging around the Washington Monument, but they weren’t moving towards the ceremony.

My photo only shows about 5 of the grass sections of the Mall from the Washington Monument to the Capitol. There are 7 in this released photo courtesy of Google taken by DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway.

030926-F-2828D-307

Even if you take into account your crowd estimation mathematics and base it upon other crowd size estimation methods, it is quite clear that there were more people at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration than President Trump’s.

 

Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States

Photo courtesy of CBS 20 Jan 2017 as provided by Emily Barnes, Getty Images 20 Jan 2009

 

I’m sorry, Mr. Spicer, but I witnessed the facts about the crowd size for myself, and I am not a member of the press that you so harshly criticized in your very first “news briefing”.

Which brings me to my final point.

Is this the way that you wanted to start your tenure as WHPS? By not engaging with the press? By publicly demeaning the process of a free press?

Mr. Spicer, I will support your message fairly and agree with you when you are right.  But,  I cannot and will not support you when you threaten to take away our freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

You and president Trump may not like the press, but you cannot go around our constitutional rights.

As a member of the public relations field, I know what a difficult job you have in front of you.  You are first obligated to the President of the United States.  But do not forget that you are also obligated to the press and the people of this nation, too.

Please do not continue to take away our rights of a free press.  If you want the press to be fair with you and President Trump, you have to also be fair with them.

I know that there will be briefings where you won’t be able to take questions from the press out of concerns for national security or other issues.  But this wan’t one of those times.  This was your first official briefing, which wasn’t a proper briefing at all.  This should have been a time for you to establish a good working relationship with the press.

Please, Mr. Spicer, hear my concerns.  I’ve been fair with you. I ask that you do the same to the press and the American people.

Sincerely,

Carol A. Kinney

 

 

 

 

 

Announcement

Saturday night, my husband and I received a call that every parent dreads.

“You’re daughter’s been in an accident.”

While walking to a friend’s house, a car “rolled” through a stop light and hit our daughter. Initially, the doctors thought she had a broken leg, but thankfully aside from being very scraped up and badly bruised, she is physically okay.

However, she is still quite shaken up by the ordeal, and the doctor’s recommended a full week of rest.

So, I am off to Washington, D.C. until Thursday to take care of our first-born, who just wants her mom and some pastries from a local bakery that she can’t get anywhere else in the world.  During this week, I will be concentrating on her care and will not be posting, unless something absolutely huge breaks.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

While caring for my daughter, I will continue to look for Public Relations cases to present when I come back.  It won’t be hard, especially since I will be in our nation’s capital during the last week of the Obama administration, amidst protests and events leading up to the inauguration.

Have a great week, and I will “see” you back here on prdoctorit Friday.

Thanks for following and commenting.

Sean Spicer revisited

Last week I had high hope for incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

I talked about ways that Spicer can ethically fulfill his public relations duties and obligations to President-Elect Trump and the Trump administration while also protecting freedom of the press and keeping the public informed.

Well, it looks as if Spicer’s only concern is protecting Trump and forgetting ALL of the constituents he is obligated to.

Look at some of the recent stories involving Sean Spicer:

Trump’s press secretary on healthcare goals, fight with Rep. John Lewis


Trump spokesman calls on Schumer to denounce protesters at Sessions’ confirmation


Trump Team: Top Adviser Talked With Russian Ambassador Before U.S. Hacking Response (Gen Flynn is the subject of the story, but Spicer’s comments is in the 2nd paragraph)

 

But the one that has me the most concerned is this:

While Spicer indicated Sunday that no decisions have been made yet as to the nature and location of daily press briefings, transition officials are mulling several potential changes that would allow more reporters to cover the Trump administration. One of those may involve moving the daily briefing from its current quarters, where just 49 reporters can have seats, although that proposal has alarmed veterans of the White House press corps.” – Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner

Accountability and transparency of the White House press room requires that the press have access to the incoming president and his administration.  Moving the White House press room takes away both of these important ethical public relations practices and thwarts freedom of the press.

Protecting the president from the press may be Spicer’s first order of business, but as White House press secretary, he also is obligated to be a champion of the press and is accountable to the American people by making certain that the press has access to the daily goings-on in the federal government and Trump’s administration.

We need to stand up for our freedoms and make sure that Trump and Spicer do not take this away from us.