Obama and the Continued Brushfire Wars

48267107

            This year, President Barack Obama will be facing the lowest approval rating he has ever had throughout his presidency. This can be directly related to the utter debacle that was Obamacare’s initial roll out and the technical disaster of the website. Just as Obama’s PR team is attempting to get a handle on damage control, they have another looming disaster that is on the horizon. That horizon is the promised 2014 pull out of American soldiers from Afghanistan. Obama promised to have all US combat soldiers removed rom Afghanistan by 2014. He made this point an essential part of his reelection campaign while he blasted Governor Mitt Romney on not having a definitive plan for withdrawing US Forces from Afghanistan.

120305_military_oped_ap_328

            If the recent reports out of Afghanistan are true, President Obama and Afghani President Hamid Karzai have hashed out an agreement that will have 10,000-16,000 US and NATO troops after the withdrawal of combat troopers. Although these soldiers will not be in an active combat role, such as patrolling cities and villages or hunting insurgents, it is still a significant amount of troops to be deployed in harms way. Many believe that this will ruin Obama’s credibility, amid an already abysmally low approval rating. Obama will need to scramble to save face, especially when troops are still in Afghanistan after 2014 and his political opponents begin to smell blood in the water. It is very dangerous for the leader of a country when the citizens cannot trust what they say. It will be very interesting to see how the White House PR team will react to this in the future.

(Referenced Article)

Advertisements

Rob Ford, Man of the Hour

rob-ford-drunk-2

            By now, everyone and their grandmother has heard of the wild and outlandish antics of Toronto, Canada’s mayor Rob Ford. In what seems to be the plot of a movie, New York based gossip website Gawker announced that Somali drug lords were in possession of a video that showed Ford smoking crack cocaine out of a glass pipe. Ford is now currently refusing to step down as mayor of Toronto as the city council strips him of his mayoral powers. Not only is Ford under scrutiny for using crack, he often spends his weekends getting absolutely wasted and trading around in what he refers to as his “drunken stupors.” This includes but is not limited to multiple DUIs and getting hammered drunk at political functions. For most public figures this is absolute political suicide. Ford, however, isn’t most politicians. The thing about Rob Ford is that the people of Toronto absolutely love him (before they found out about the crack). In 2010, 53% of Toronto’s citizens showed up to the polls when he was reelected (compared to 39% in 2006). By comparison, in the latest Los Angeles mayoral election only 15% of the citizens showed up to the polls.

fordhood.jpg.size.xxlarge.promo

How did Ford manage this you ask? By being a damn good politician that’s how! Ford paid for all of his office expenses with his own money, voted down raises in property taxes, and removed limo privileges and club memberships for himself and his fellow councilors. This guy may be nuts, but he sure knows how to win over constituents. Heck, I’d vote for the guy, crack and all.

The Bashing by Bashir

50153

It seems that everywhere you look; there are political figures, celebrities, and television personalities are making inflammatory comments that send PR teams scrambling to conduct damage control. Some are very egregious and racist remarks that deserve the unwanted attention they garner; others are can be quite comical. This is especially evident in the case of MSNBC commentator Martin Bashir. In a rant against comments made by former vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Bashir said that someone should defecate on her. To some this was an example of one of the news media’s “talking heads” taking a hilarious shot in the dark at a now borderline irrelevant political figure (who has themselves made very boneheaded statements). Though the fact of the matter is, saying something like that on a broadcast is media suicide. And Bashir (knowing very well his job is now on the line) went into full PR crisis mode and issued a live apology a few days later. He made the best decision possible with a PR disaster such as this and made these statements:

Last Friday, on this broadcast, I made some comments which were deeply offensive and directed at Gov. Sarah Palin. I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said.

My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics, and they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said. And at a place where we try every day to elevate political discourse and to focus on issues that matter to all of us.

source

 

Only time will tell if Bashir will hold on to his job, though he did do everything right. He admitted guilt, apologized, and made a promise to change his ways. There may be hope for Bashir yet

Sony Strikes Back: PlayStation 4

Sony's PlayStation Four Midnight Launch

            The next generation of the video game console war kicked off on November 15, with the release of Sony’s PlayStation 4. Within the first 24 hours of release, there already were over a million units sold in North America alone. Sony has a one-week head start on Microsoft, whose Xbox One console is poised for release on the 22nd of November.

For Sony, this new generation of video game consoles is a critical chance for the company to regain lost ground from the previous generation. It is no secret that the Microsoft Xbox 360 blasted Sony’s PlayStation 3 on all fronts. The Xbox 360 had a better and more reliable online service, as well as a better selection of games and console exclusives. Microsoft was prepared for the massive boom of online multiplayer games, and Sony was left to fall behind and lick its wounds.

This is a new generation, however, and Sony is already poised to conquer the living rooms of gamers. Microsoft has already slipped up in a big way, especially in their handling of public relations with their consumers. They initially unveiled a bevy of what was seen to be anti-consumer features that gave a lot of control to developers. This was met with a mass outcry from consumers who felt betrayed by the company. These features have been cancelled since, but the damage was already done. This is also coupled with a $500 price tag (compared to the $400 PS4) have put Sony in a very advantageous position that should have the company licking its chops.

But Mom! All the cool kids have Abercrombie clothes!

abercrombie-fitch-funny

Sometimes in the world of Public Relations, a company’s CEO is its own worst enemy. One such example is lifestyle-clothing line Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, Mike Jefferies. Recently, an interview with A&F CEO Mike Jefferies from 2006 has resurfaced in which he stated: “…we go after the cool kids…a lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Public reaction to these statements was of course, overwhelmingly negative. Interesting take on Public Relations with customers, maybe; yet this is not nearly close to the most inflammatory statements Jefferies has made. A quick glance through a Google search of Jefferies reveals that he has a history of making bone-headed statements that land his company in hot water. Take a look at some of these gems:

“I don’t want our core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing our clothing.”

“People said we were cynical, that we were sexualizing little girls. But you know what? I still think those are cute underwear for little girls. And I think anybody who gets on a bandwagon about thongs for little girls is crazy. Just crazy! There’s so much craziness about sex in this country. It’s nuts! I can see getting upset about letting your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs, but why would you let your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs?”

“Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard” (Seriously Jefferies? This one made me cringe)

“Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong”

“I really don’t care what anyone other than our target customer thinks.”

(Source of quotes)

david-hasselhoff-drunk-abercrombie-300x245

A&F should really consider keeping this guy in the dark, far away from making any form of communication with anyone.

PR and the Dangers of Social Media

           32033

           As some of my posts have discussed before, social media has reinvented many aspects of society and business. This is especially evident in the field of Public Relations. When social media is discussed in regards to PR, it is usually painted in a very helpful and positive light. This is true in many cases, allowing many PR professionals to distribute directed message to a very wide set of publics. It is also an avenue for a business to receive instant feedback from customers.

Social media, however, tends to many times rear its uglier head. With the further integration of the Internet with everyday life, and the blazing fast speed of the acquisition of information it provides; a social phenomenon has emerged. This concept is known as an “instant outrage culture.” People unknowingly are more prone to initial outrage, as a breaking story is reported so fast that information is many times misinterpreted before more concrete details emerge. Social media provides the perfect breeding ground for a PR firestorm to emerge. It allows customers to instantly spread stories of terrible experiences, prompting others to share the story with thousands instantaneously. A perfect example is the McDonald’s Twitter fiasco.

20120124-mcdstories-examples

            In January of 2012, McDonalds purchased a promoted tweet on Twitter and attempted to get #McDStories trending on the social media site. They concept was to have users tweet positive and memorable experiences with the fast food chain. What ensued was a hijacking of the hashtag with Twitter users discussing the chain’s unsanitary practices, poor conditions, and unhealthy products. McDonalds had no way of bringing the hashtag back under control, as once it was released into the Twitter-sphere, it was in the hands of Tweeters.

This is a prime example of how social media can be disastrous for PR professionals and the companies who employ them. Social media is an untamable beast, and PR professionals must be constantly weary of that fact. Messages constructed for the public must be evaluated intensively to ensure an error in message meaning is avoided.

Songza – Good Music Makes Good Times

         songza_feature-585x341

           For many people, music is an essential part of life. Whether people are at work, at the gym, doing homework, relaxing, or getting a party going, music plays an integral role in enriching these activities. In the past few years, the concept of online music streaming has gathered an extensive fan base. Websites such as Pandora Radio and Spotify have massive followings that have popularized music streaming over the web. The success of these sites has given way to the development of online streaming apps for smartphones. One such app is Songza.

            I came across the Songza app while browsing the top free apps in the Apple application store. I decided to give it a shot, even though online streaming wasn’t exactly my preferred way of listening to music. Upon downloading the app, I was instantly impressed with the inviting and simple layout as well as the streamlined “Apple-influenced” look and feel.

songza

         Opening the app, it tells you the date and time of day, as well as six different moods or activities that correspond with that time. Within each of these selections are six different genres that relate to the activity. Then, within each genre, there are three different musical styles of said genre. For example, a common search can go like this: Friday evening, Pregaming with friends, Kick-ass Indie Rock, 21st century kids ( A panorama of indie rock bands that came into the spotlight of the early years of the 21st Century). Not only can you get recommendations for activities and time of day, you can search for playlists of certain bands or styles, such as Rolling Stones Radio, or Emotive Alternative Rock. There are also searchable themes such as 90s One-Hit wonders, Songs in Apple Commercials, and Skins UK: Songs from the hit show. Along with many other internet radio sites and apps, there is the ability to give a like or dislike that allows the app to customize the songs that are generated for you, allowing the app to make educated guesses as to what you prefer to hear.

            Like I said earlier, I am not the biggest fan of Internet radio. This app however, has begun to change that. One of the most important aspects of the app for me is how specific the playlists can get. I cannot get the perfect blend of Tool, A Perfect Circle, Stabbing Westward, Chevelle, and Nirvana all in the same playlist on Pandora Radio. I also feel as though the up and down votes really play into the playlist creation better than other sites. Overall I would highly recommend Songza to anyone who is a fan of not only Internet radio, but also music in general. It has an intuitive and easy to navigate layout and excellent selection of music that caters to anyone’s preference. I would give it an 8.5/10.