Politics can be cynical and often are without a moral center. This is not the first time a bogeyman has been raised to boost an election, but it is so obvious Trump isn't getting away with it.  He painted the migrant caravan as a monstrous, evil invasion of US territory.  He sent troops to protect the border.  He inveighed at one campaign stop after another against the people walking toward America.  Once the voting was over, he dropped the issue and little has been heard since.  Perhaps he was hoping the public wouldn't notice.  The media did and are nicking him for it and well they should.  The bulk of the migrants are fleeing violence and are harmless.  They are coming to the US because it is a "promised land."  If America held true to its principles, they would be processed and Continue reading "Politics"

Faux Pas

The National Rifle Association is nothing if not pugnacious.  As a result, it committed this faux pas in putting down doctors. Telling them to "stay in their lane" and stay out of the gun control debate was a stupid mistake.  Doctors are the ones saving gunshot victims and frequently failing. Physicians see the damage caused by bullets, the torn tissue, the spilling blood, victims never the same again.  Had the NRA taken but a few moments of reflection, it would have realized the medical profession was a group that should not be targeted.  But in its desire to defend its view, it plunged ahead and as a result, miscommunicated.  This is not the first time the NRA has erred.  In its zeal for guns, it takes on anyone and everyone. There is no possibility of a rational conversation with the organization.  The nation Continue reading "Faux Pas"

Smart PR

Google and The New York Times are engaged in smart PR.  They are digitizing the Times' photo archives, some 5 million images dating back to the late 1800s.  The effort will make available pictures that have been stored in file drawers for many decades and were nearly lost when the Times had a water pipe break that flooded its basement.  This store of photographs along with their captions is an immense historical resource for the paper and for the world.  The Times already has put out a special edition in which it printed long-ago photos of California.  Look for more editions on different topics in the future.  It would be interesting and valuable if more newspapers put their photo archives online, especially periodicals like the Daily News, which prided itself on being a picture tabloid.


Misuse of antibiotics worldwide has become a crisis.  Some countries employ too few to control bacteria and some use too many, thereby increasing resistance to their efficacy.  It is an issue of availability and communication.  The World Health Organization has put out an alert, but it needs to be transmitted to individual doctors worldwide who then need to change their prescription practices.  That is the hard part.  There are hundreds of thousands of physicians, each of whom needs to get an appropriate message.  Some will rein in their habits right away and some not at all.  Nature won't be accommodating, however.  Bugs are evolving constantly and developing tools to fight back against antibiotics.  It only takes one noncompliant doctor to keep progression going.  That is why it is urgent to find new antibiotics to replace those that have been compromised.  

Dear executives, find and empower your change agents, innovators and intraprenuers

I’ve spent the better part of 20 years studying innovation and specifically, the past several years studying the people behind digital transformation. One universal truth I’ve found time and time again is that, in the face of disruption, the most meaningful and lasting change is always human. But, that spark, vision, or drive to change doesn’t always come from the top. Many times, there are those unsung heroes who feel, see or know at their very core, what needs to be done, they just don’t always know what it takes to organize or rally everyone else to move in different and challenging directions. These are the change agents, the innovators, the intrapreneurs, those who believe in something so passionately, that they take bold risks to open new doors. In these times of Digital Darwinism, legacy businesses need this talent now more than ever. They don’t just represent a different way
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Social Web Update 12.11.18

My weekly annotated summary of significant social web platform developments from the previous week, with links and carping marginalia as needed . . . Posted every Monday morning or thereabouts.  
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Love the Numbers

So here’s the bad news for the major social media platforms from Recode . . . “Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are no longer adding new users in the United States. Facebook’s daily user base has been the same for the past three quarters. Twitter and Snapchat have both lost users in the U.S. or North America, respectively, in back-to-back quarters.” And because the North American market generates more advertising revenue per user by far than other parts of the world  “these companies need to figure out other ways to grow their advertising businesses.”



A long time complaint about Snapchat is the stinginess of the user data provided to advertisers. Perhaps seeing the numbers above, last week Snapchat Continue reading "Social Web Update 12.11.18"

A Holiday Buying Guide for that Special Photographer

With the holidays right around the corner, many loved ones want to know what their photographers want for Christmas, Hanukkah, or another holiday they might celebrate. I have my desires but decided to ask my colleagues in the DC Focused Facebook community what they want for the holidays this year. Find below a list of potential gifts for shutterbugs, from the most cost-effective to the priciest. I sprinkled in a couple of suggestions, too. Links and prices are from B & H Photo unless the item can only be found on another store. These are not affiliate links. It’s just my favorite photography equipment store. I also use Adorama and Amazon.

Affordable Photography Presents

Everyone’s a Photographer Until… – $18.99 for this super funny T-Shirt. Suggested by Jason Schlosberg. Aputure AL-M9 Amaran Pocket-Sized Daylight-Balanced LED Light An affordable $45. “This is incredibly handy for an on-camera video interview light or just as
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Good Publicity

The memo Google's CEO sent to employees about sexual harassment was good publicity. Only time will reveal if it was good PR.  The reason is that public relations is what is done and not what is spun.  Google's employees know the difference, and they will keep close watch on the actions of the company.  Any lack of promise fulfillment and/or back sliding will be noted and protested.  Google, especially, has to worry about this.  Its employees are outspoken, and they take their case to the media.  There is little the company can get away with, and that is as it should be.  One wonders if more corporations should be under the spotlight as Google is.  There would be less tolerance for managerial misbehavior.  It would never be perfect, of course, because humans are as variable as the weather.  There will Continue reading "Good Publicity"


A pitiless human responsible for dozens of deaths and industrial-sized drug trafficking is petitioning a Federal court to be allowed to hug his wife. It seems he needs a little tenderness.  The court would be within its rights to deny the request.  The prisoner, notorious drug king, El Chapo, has escaped prison twice, and one could well be suspicious that a hug with his wife might be an attempt to go on a lam a third time. American authorities have made a show of guarding him to prevent another mishap.  They are keeping him in solitary confinement.  They are moving him under heavy guard.  They are watching him every second.  Hugging his wife would be a break in the routine.  The US wants to communicate to traffickers that if they are brought here from Mexico, they will get a fair trial and if convicted, Continue reading "Ironic"

All Things Must Pass

I’ve always likened agencies to baseball managers and football coaches. We are hired to be fired. Make no mistake. The termination clock starts ticking as soon as the letter of agreement is signed. The relationship may last a month, a year, a decade or, in the case of Ogilvy, 75 years. But it will end. In Ogilvy’s case, the “Dear Agency” letter came from Ford when the latter decided it was time to seek a divorce from WPP (Ogilvy’s owner). The reasons for the break-up included: “….Ford’s slumping sales, weak demand in Europe and trade tariffs with China.” Mix that toxic potion with the reality that “….clients are increasingly taking work in-house and using the giant online platforms of Google and Facebook” and you have the perfect storm for any freshly-minted CMO whose most logical first move would be to blame the incumbent agency and hire fresh
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Puff Piece

It is not often one reads a puff piece for a hot dog stand.  Here's one.  A celebrity chef has parked a cart outside an exclusive hotel on Manhattan's upper east side.  He is selling $6 dogs with all the fixings.  The reporter liked the one he ate better than a $4 dog purchased from a typical street venue.  So, what is assuredly a publicity gimmick has paid off for the chef.  The reason appears to be that the more expensive meat was better prepared in its bun with fillings.  In other words, the chef is making sure the product meets his high standards.  That is smart PR.  

Too Much Publicity

There are situations in which too much publicity works against an organization.  This is one.  Amazon has apparently decided against one city for its second headquarters and is now considering two.  This knocks the efforts 20 cities have made to gain 50,000 jobs the company has promised.  It's not that Amazon has been publicizing its efforts.  The company has stayed quiet but every scrap of news generates national headlines.  There is overwhelming interest in what it plans to do.  Amazon hasn't been transparent in its search and that is probably a good thing.  There are too many issues to work through, and if it issued updates, speculation would be wilder.  The company doesn't need the publicity it is getting, but it's happening anyway.  Once this process is over, everyone can breathe again.

Three Brand Storytelling Misconceptions That Are Holding You Back

Guest Post by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio In the era of the connected digital consumer, brand storytelling needs to undergo a radical shift. For many companies, brand storytelling has become a buzzword, a way to support marketing campaigns or polished commercials. So much so, that we’ve lost our focus on the heart and soul of brand storytelling. It’s time we took the BS out of brand storytelling and focus on what truly matters: building the meaningful and relevant connections with our customers. In our new book,The Laws of Brand Storytelling, we talk about the impact storytelling-done-right has on your business and provide a roadmap which you can use to plug in your own brand storytelling strategy and approach to achieve that impact. In this post, however, let’s address the top brand storytelling misconceptions that are holding most companies back from achieving that impact:

Misconception #1: “Brand storytelling
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Ready for another walkout or two?

Get ready for another global organization to experience what went down at Google last week when employees around the world staged a walkout in protest of the company’s response to a widespread #MeToo scandal. This time, though, I predict the spotlight will be on three of the world’s best known and most highly admired strategic management consulting firms: Booz-Allen, McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group. That’s because The Sunday New York Times chose to devote front page coverage to the trio’s extensive (and incredibly lucrative) contracts with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who was recently fired for his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Not only are the firms reaping ungodly amounts of money from the repressive Saudi regime but, critically, NONE withdrew from participating in last month’s Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh (at a time when virtually every other company, journalist and executive universally
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Democrats are hopeful today but tomorrow will answer their desire positively or negatively.  The ultimate communication from citizens is the ballot box.  If they are unhappy with an administration, they will express their sentiments by voting against it.  So far, it looks as if that might happen to the Republicans -- at least in the House and maybe in the Senate.  If so, Trump's distant relationship with facts and truth will be punished.  He will be boxed in for the remaining two years of his Presidency and left powerless but for executive order.  That would be as it should.  He has been a disaster for the country on the international scene, booming economy notwithstanding.  It is time for voters to render a judgment.  Get to the polls tomorrow.

Social Web Update 05.11.18

My weekly annotated summary of significant social web platform developments from the previous week, with links and carping marginalia as needed . . . Posted every Monday morning or thereabouts.  


I wasn’t able to find a useful chart to post this week, but numbers are still always around us. The public relations profession’s leading publication — The Holmes Report — published a story this week on the U.K.’s Public Relations and Communications Association’s secondDigital PR and Communications Report’ (Bad form though — no link to the actual report, and I can only find a summary of it on the PRCA’s website.) One interesting finding from the study about who ‘owns’ social among British marketing and communications roles:
The Public Relations and Communications Association's (PRCA) sixth annual Digital PR and Communications Report, produced in partnership with Ginger Research, found a 12% rise in ownership of Continue reading "Social Web Update 05.11.18"

Your Walkout is Coming

Today’s timely guest post is from Ann Barlow, the leader of our West Cost office and the current Board Chair for Watermark.  Too many companies are caught by surprise when fed up people take action. It’s time for them to know where they’re vulnerable, where they need to do better, and step up. Including Google. In a year of so many #MeToo incidents laid bare, I wondered if I was becoming as numbed by reports of sexual harassment and discrimination as I am by the other outrageous behavior reported each day. So I was surprised, but also a little pleased when the New York Times piece and yesterday’s walkout by Google employees stirred up so much anger and frustration within me. Anger that company leaders over and over and over again look the other way when a rainmaker mistreats others. Frustration that even those companies that pledge to do
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Work Hard, Play Hard, Vote Hard

Today’s guest blog comes from our two U.S. office leads, Jackie Kolek of New York and Ann Barlow of San Francisco, ahead of next Tuesday’s election day. Go vote! Peppercomm has always fostered a work hard, play hard culture.  We are constantly looking around the corner to see what’s next, creating new solutions and capabilities to prepare our clients for the new world of social activism and enabling them to address these challenges head-on and leverage the opportunities. On November 6th we’ll temporarily put aside our relentless dedication to client service and put our employee’s civic duty at the top of our to-do lists.  While the past two years have delivered a seemingly never-ending cycle of negative news, personal attacks and arguing across party (and sometimes family and friend) lines, the upside has been the growing passion about, and attention to, the critical issues that matter to
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Fighting Fire

Facebook is spending huge sums to root out hackers and trollers from its service.  It is a fight the company says cannot be won.  The strategy must be to contain and exterminate inappropriate content as quickly as possible when Facebook becomes aware of it.  This hasn't happened quickly enough for regulators and Congress.  Zuckerberg is promising to do better but he cautions that there is no silver bullet.  He is right about that.  Obvious racist comments and other objectionable material can be isolated quickly, but couched language and subterfuge cannot.  The company is locked in a never-ending battle that it didn't envision when the software was developed.  Chalk it up to naivete and a romantic notion that technologists have about the purity of the online world.  They forgot that there is evil and people who do it.  The human race Continue reading "Fighting Fire"