A Liar

Trump's spokesperson says it bothers her to be called a liar because one's reputation is all one has.  She is right about that, but her words belie her. The article cites four instances in which she lied about facts and says there are more examples as well.  Perhaps Sarah Sanders doesn't know the facts or, as her boss does, makes them up as she goes along.  This administration has a peculiar relationship to the truth.  It is whatever someone says in the moment, facts be damned.  Unfortunately, the media keeps track of facts and is only too eager to point out when there is a discrepancy between what one says and what is right.  Sanders can be hurt by words about her, but she had better get used to it, or best of all, resign her position.  She can let someone else who Continue reading "A Liar"

Are You Ready for Some Football (Controversy)?

  Today’s guest blog is authored by Steve Goodwin, a principal at Brand Foundations, a strategic branding & purpose partner of Peppercomm’s. As you’ll read, the National Football League once again finds itself knee deep in controversy. Enjoy….. The NBA and NHL playoffs are nearing their final rounds. The MLB All-Star break is within view. Yet even though team training camps won’t open for another couple of months, the National Football League is grabbing headlines. And one of the league’s fiercest rivalries promises to make the upcoming season anything but predictable… for corporate America. Redskins/Cowboys? Raiders/Chiefs? Packers/Bears? Nope. Fiercer than those legendary matchups. We’re talking owners vs. players. This week, NFL owners unanimously approved a new policy that requires players and team personnel to stand for the national anthem if they’re on the field while it’s being played. Players will have the right to remain in the locker room.
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Creative Storytelling: Picture This: It’s Not Just the Words – It’s What You Do with Them

Creative StorytellingGuest Post by Mary Wascavage Every morning I listen to the Elvis Duran Morning Show on my way in to work. I like to be entertained throughout my commute, and Duran’s show doesn’t disappoint. It’s talk-show-meets-freak-show with popular contemporary music added in for good measure. This one day, in particular, Duran told a story about the man who inspired his career choice. By chance, he met his idol – a fellow on-air personality – who gave Duran one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard:
Paint a picture with your words.
That sounds easy, but it honestly isn’t. You know that phenomenon when you arrive at your destination and you have no idea how you got there? That was me on that day. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just heard, and how excited I was to tell you about it in this post. Of Pictures and
Mary Wascavage
Continue reading "Creative Storytelling: Picture This: It’s Not Just the Words – It’s What You Do with Them"

Bucking A Trend

It is deeply satisfying to be proven right when everyone says one is wrong.  Target, the brick-and-mortar retailer, finds itself in that enviable position.  Contrary to conventional wisdom that retail is on the way out in an era of e-commerce, Target's CEO spent "$7 billion to remodel 600 stores, open new small-format stores and grow its private label brands." Wall Street hated the idea.  Target's same-store sales grew by a hefty 3 percent compared to a 1.3 percent decline in the previous year.  The retailer is back and healthy compared to struggling companies such as Sears and JC Penney.  Doubling down is a risky strategy but it is working for Target.  From an investor relations perspective, there wasn't much to say until the company proved its approach.  Stock analysts are tough to persuade without numerical evidence.  It must be interesting to listen in to the quarterly analyst calls.

Plugging into the Future of a Connected Humanity: Exploring the Human API


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In 2012, I had the opportunity to present at LeWeb in Paris. The theme of the conference explored the Internet of Things, where devices and things connect to one another to perform certain tasks and/or track activities to improve what we already do or make possible what we’re trying to do. The Internet of Things is bigger than we may realize. We are experiencing a shift from a world of inanimate objects and reactive devices to a world where data, intelligence, and computing are distributed, ubiquitous, and networked. My fellow analysts and I at Altimeter Group refer to the Internet of Things (IoT) as the Sentient World. It’s the idea that inanimate objects
Continue reading "Plugging into the Future of a Connected Humanity: Exploring the Human API"


One sure way to destroy good employee relations is to chisel on wages.  But companies are doing that with their time clocks constantly. It is a nickel-and-dime ploy but it adds to real money over a year that workers don't get.  There is no excuse for it either.  The days when pay was calculated by hand are gone and the onerous addition of minutes is taken care of by software.  So why do employers keep doing it?  Every penny saved in wages drops to the bottom line.  Inevitably, a worker will sue for missing income, and the company will have to defend itself in court.  That is expensive for employee and employer.  It would be far easier if a company compensated people for work done, but the real fear is that it would lead to abuse by employees chiseling the company.  Good Continue reading "Chiselers"

Strategic Move

Sony is the ultimate hardware company -- TVs, cameras, phones, PlayStations.  But, it is becoming a software company by design.  It is a risky move for its image and long-time strategy.  The company embarked on the new course in 2012 with its incoming CEO who was tired of earning pennies on the dollar for its gadgets.  He is now heading a company that makes a record operating profit, primarily from software and intellectual property.  Sony has been guiding investors toward its new strategy but they are still uncertain it will work in the long run.  Left unsaid is the PR for consumers the company needs to do.  Will they be confused about the Sony's new path?  Will they forget Sony's hardware and move easily to its software?  This is a situation in which only time will tell.  Sony ruled home Continue reading "Strategic Move"

Spot On

Richard Edelman’s Linkedin essay posits powerful and accurate views on the rapidly emerging role of the chief communications officer AND her/his PR counselors in this new, dark era of school shootings, a president who changes his mind more often than the wind shifts direction in Chicago and the disturbing rise of fake news or, False News, as we board members of The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) prefer to call it. Peppercomm and the IPR are about to release the results of our third, in-depth series of interviews with 25 Fortune 500 CCOs and a smattering of senior marketing executives who direct crisis response for their organizations. The vast majority have already created, or are in the process of developing brand new “societal” crisis plans that anticipate future events, develop responses pre-approved by the CEO, CHRO and CLO, and scenario plan the expectations and reactions of a public comment
Continue reading "Spot On"


Nicholas Maduro has won-re-election in Venezuela, but how he did it verges on fraud, if not outright illegality.  He jailed likely opponents.  He bribed the poor with boxes of food at a time when there is none available for anyone in the stores.  He set up tents near polling places to distribute prizes for those who did vote for him.  He ran the election in the face of a boycott at the polls.  The negatives about him are abundant.  He is presiding over a country whose economy has collapsed despite having the largest oil reserves of any nation on earth.  He doesn't know how to handle hyperinflation, which has rendered Venezuela's currency worthless.  He has done nothing to slow the outflow of citizens who can no longer deal with the country's chaos.  Maduro positions himself as a strong man, but Continue reading "Jiggered?"

Social Web Recap 21.05.18

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

It's hard to know whether to feel sorry for Snapchat or not. A survey released last week by YouGov Brand Index identifies a substantial decline in positive sentiment towards the app among its core demographic — 18 to 34 year olds. As researcher Paul Hiebert comments. "Since Snapchat began rolling out its controversial redesign late last year, the app’s Impression score — which asks consumers if they have an overall positive or negative impression of a specific brand — has tumbled . . . Indeed, the 73% decrease has essentially wiped out all the positive consumer sentiment Snapchat has gradually built since the beginning of 2016."



YouTube is adding a new music streaming service. YouTube says it will Continue reading "Social Web Recap 21.05.18"

Media’s lost art of public debate keeps Trump in power

In his just published book Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth, Howard Kurtz, a former Washington Post columnist, explores how the media became the ‘opposition party’ to an unlikely President. It delivers a compelling account of how,  by refusing to engage in proper debate and resorting instead to insults and fear-mongering, the fourth estate betrayed its historic mission to hold power accountable to the public. He warns that the media’s failure to grapple with the major issues of the day risks damaging their reputation to such an extent that it may never recover. Kurtz accuses his colleagues in the media of living in a like-minded bubble. He says journalists feel that they have a duty to oppose and if possible depose the President. Thus the media increasingly believes that the rules of reporting the news, with their emphasis on balance and objectivity, Continue reading "Media’s lost art of public debate keeps Trump in power"


Google at its recent developers' conference demonstrated an artificial intelligence voice that was so real people were saying it could past the Turing test.  But now, doubt has been raised about the demo because no one outside the company can say whether it was staged or real.  Google won't reveal which salon it contacted, if it did, and a news organization has taken to calling salons in the Silicon Valley area to determine if they answer the phone the same way as heard in the demo.  So far, they haven't.  The medium claims Google's demo was fake.  This has sparked a discussion.  How much artifice is too much?  If Google did construct a false demo, it would be a gaffe in this instance.  Google was trying to show it has mastered the human voice and response to some human queries.  If Continue reading "Gaffe?"

How social media became toxic

Do you remember the advent of social media when they were praised for being disruptive, positive innovations? The talk was of long tails, wisdom of crowds, the end of old-fashioned business models (dead tree press is dead) or statements like the new world is bottom up – or flat – rather than top down. Now they are being discussed by the same enthusiasts as if they were managed by oligarchical villains selling addictive, toxic products and lifestyles to an inert audience that is blind to reason. But the commentators’ new-found pessimism is as misguided as their abandoned optimism. In 2009, I debated online Neville Hobson, who describes himself as a blogger, podcaster, communication leader, social media strategist, digital change agent and public speaker. In a post titled There’s no social media revolution I questioned his claim that social media were responsible for a revolutionary shift that was changing the Continue reading "How social media became toxic"

Taking The Fall

This fellow is taking the fall for an error in contracting with Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer.  He could have pointed to the former CEO who was a co-signatory on the agreement, but he didn't.  He took full responsibility.  That is old-fashioned, stand-up obligation to the role he served in the company.  He should be commended.  PR would be easier if more executives admitted errors instead of ducking and/or covering.  it is not often one sees a senior manager who publicly admits to being at fault and takes action to correct it.  Novartis should do what it can to keep its general counsel involved with the company as a consultant or something else.  He deserves it.

It’s As If Those Parkland Kids Learned from a Pro

parklandGuest Post by Paula Kiger “You have to promise me you won’t share this.” The coordinator of a group of social media advocates said this via Facebook one night about eight years ago, on our private page. What could be so bad that I was being warned strongly against sharing it outside of a closed Facebook group? When the time came to watch the video, our coordinator appeared—no makeup, sweats, not as put-together as she would have required of herself for a broadcast beyond a small and trusted group. It would not have mattered to me what she was wearing or whether she had makeup on. She proceeded to tell us, with resounding sincerity, how grateful she was for our work on the project.
She put her pride aside and spoke from the heart.
More about her later. For now, I want to talk about what the students from
Paula Kiger
Continue reading "It’s As If Those Parkland Kids Learned from a Pro"

Addressing A Challenge

Kaspersky Lab has been dogged with the suspicion that it is in cahoots with the Russian government and helping implant malware throughout the internet.  Denials have done no good.  Now the company is taking steps to move some of its core processes to Switzerland, far away from Moscow.  That, plus a new transparency institute funded by the Lab, are intended to lower fears that Kaspersky is compromised.  While the move addresses the issue of proximity to Russia, it still doesn't answer the question whether the company has secret alliances with Putin's agents.  Only time can resolve that, and it may take years.  There is little a company can do when it is cast in the position that Kaspersky finds itself.  

Letting Go of Perfect

Drive the latest car, go to the best restaurants, boost sales month on month. It sounds perfect, right?
But is it really perfection? Do these things guarantee happiness and fulfillment? Probably not and the dogged effort to maintain them can… The post Letting Go of Perfect appeared first on Bryan Kramer.


Harley-Davidson is involved in a dumb tactic.  It is about to rehash bad results at its annual meeting so it has barred the media from attending.  This is a change from its practice in previous years when it threw its function open to all.  Predictably, governance commentators were not impressed.  As one said, "They can run but they can't hide."  Now the local media, especially, will make an effort to report what was said and questions shareholders asked.  The company would have been far better off if it had just opened its doors.  Chances are that its meeting would have been reported in a few paragraphs at most.  One wonders if some companies ever learn transparency or whether it is a lesson that has to be repeated year after year.  

Our Industry, Your Answers: Breaking Down the 2018 JOTW Communications Survey

communicationsGuest Post by Scott Kaminski Corporate communications and PR can be a lonely business of sorts. As communicators, we are sometimes holed up in self-imposed exile creating content for others to deliver on ever-shrinking budgets. Or are we? A recent survey conducted by Ned Lundquist’s Job of the Week (JOTW) in partnership with Sword and the Script Media, LLC sought to find out the true status of our industry. Conducted in February 2018, the online survey solicited the thoughts and opinions of 5,500 JOTW newsletter subscribers, mainly consisting of senior in-house and corporate communications professionals across a variety of industries. Let’s hit it. Let’s Talk Money The idea of doing less with more is not uncommon to communicators. And 63% of survey respondents cited budget as their top challenge – even as business and employers expected them to do more with a rapidly increasing list of things to do. As
Scott Kaminski
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5 Street Photography Tips (and Articles)

Red - Taken at the National Gallery of Art Street photography offers a refreshing authentic glimpse into the human spirit in a time of over-contrived selfies. Newcomers to street photography often feel a sense of trepidation about taking shots of other people in public. To help I have assembled five tips, each taken from a larger roundup article on street photography tips. Enjoy, and if you have any tips to add, please do so in the comments!
Explore Georgetown with Geoff

1) You Can Ask for Permission

Robert Moore When I take street shots, I feel excited. You never know who you will meet along the way. Taking portraits of other people can be frightening, though. Some are afraid of intruding on people’s privacy. Say you see a remarkable person, and you want to take their photograph. Go ahead and ask them. That’s how I got this street portrait of Robert Moore, an entrepreneur in DC. This Digital Photography School article
Foggy Morning
The Streets of Havana
United/Divided 2 Winner
Little Cubs Fan
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