One good work of PR is to turn a spotlight onto deserving individuals who work in shadows.  This is what the MacArthur Grants do, and here is this year's group of winners.  They are a eclectic mix of science, arts and social activism, but all do important work that distinguishes them in their fields if not in society at large.  The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has defined a niche for itself with its constant search for "geniuses" who show creativity and "potential for future achievements."  No other organization can make that claim.  It is a wonderful gift to society and one that burnishes the reputations of not only the winners but of the foundation itself.  The annual publicity for the awards is not as large as that for Nobel winners but the Nobels have been around for many decades and the Continue reading "Spotlight"


In a crisis, what kind of connection do you want with an organisation – machine or human? Will you rely on an app or seek a human voice? When you call – and eventually get through – do you want an automated response to push button 1, then 2, then 3 – or to speak … Continue reading Human


We know people lie, sometimes intentionally and at other times through a quirk in personal psychology.  Here is a case in which the American public is lying about its preference for fast food.  It is not that they are intentionally try to mislead. They really believe they are paying attention to healthier options for eating when they aren't.  It is a quandary for communicators who need to address issues when the public at large has a misperception of what they are.  One must start first by correcting the record.  "You say you do X, but you really don't."  This is a hard task because people don't like to be told they are wrong.  But, if a communicator doesn't take on the job, the fiction continues and reality and lie stand side by side. The public has blinded itself to the truth and is Continue reading "Self-Deception"

A Prelude to Innovation: Figure Out How The World is Changing and How To Be More Relevant as It Evolves

There are many places in this world I hope to one day experience. On that list was Sofia, Bulgaria. I use the past tense as I’m so happy to report that I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful city (and country) for the DigitalK conference. What a great event! I presented on topic that I refer to as “A Prelude to Innovation.” It’s meant to spotlight the important actions and events serving as the introduction to innovation itself. Shortly after my talk, I had the opportunity to meet Vassilena Valchanova to answer a few of her questions. Our conversation led to an incredibly thoughtful article that I wanted to share with you here. Even though the context of the article focuses on customer experience and marketing, you can substitute those monikers for innovation, transformation, or any role or industry. It’s very honest and candid advice. I hope
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Clay Feet

President Trump built his reputation on his entrepreneurial savvy, but now it seems he got his money from his father after all.  A New York Times investigation into the Trump family's finances shows tax finagling writ large and avoidance of inheritance tax a major concern.  This is not surprising.  Rich men don't like to pay taxes any more than the rest of us.  What is notable is that the Trump fiction lasted for so long in the public eye. Were he not President, no newspaper would have dedicated a year's worth of investigative reporting to find out his fund sources.  Now, Trump has to live down his tale of personal success and his overweening self-praise for his business prowess.Trump is furious, and why shouldn't he be?  He has been shown to have clay feet.

Another Blow

NASA, SpaceX and numerous other companies are flogging the possibility of deep space travel to Mars.  But, problems in doing so keep cropping up and here is another one.  Sending astronauts on long journeys is likely to destroy their intestines and give them cancers.  There is no effective shielding today from injurious rays that would affect them.  This is not surprising.  The human body is not made for space, and traveling off this planet means carrying everything with one to survive.  The barriers so far do not appear to be insuperable, but the question arises again why NASA and others are so anxious to launch man into space when robots are so effective in doing the job.  Nevertheless, the publicity continues.

#measurePR Recap (September 2018): Ethics of PR Measurement

#measurePRGuest Post by Jen Zingsheim Phillips The September #measurePR Twitter chat featured guests Sultana Ali and Kirk Hazlett. Sultana F. Ali, APR, has a 15+ year career in communications and marketing, and is adjunct faculty in Georgetown University’s Corporate Communication and Public Relations program. She previously served as President of PRSA-NCC, the largest chapter of PR professionals in the U.S. Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Adjunct Professor in Communication at the University of Tampa. He is also the Ethics Officer of PRSA Tampa Bay, and co-chairs the PRSA Tampa Bay PRSSA and New Professionals Committee and is PRSSA Liaison, PRSA College of Fellows Mentoring Committee.  The guest moderator was Jen Zingsheim Phillips, who is a freelance writer and communications strategist with 4L Strategies. As September is Ethics Month at PRSA, the discussion revolved around the topic of ethics in PR Measurement. After kicking off the discussion with
Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips
Continue reading "#measurePR Recap (September 2018): Ethics of PR Measurement"

Social Web Recap 01.10.18

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

According to a study of 2,000 Britons by think tank Demos released in September, “While social media, celebrities and influencers were deemed important by significantly more young people than older people in helping them decide which causes they ought to support . . . non-digital sources are still held to be highly influential across survey respondents.”



Not so much an update, but it’s worth noting that Snapchat has joined other social platforms in encouraging young people in the U.S. to vote by letting users register to vote from the app: “The functionality will be available to everyone over the age of 18 in the US, who’ll receive a voter registration link from the app. Clicking it will launch a Continue reading "Social Web Recap 01.10.18"

Crisis Aid

Walmart and other major fresh food suppliers are taking a major step to alleviate a perennial crisis - contaminated food.  They are implementing a blockchain network that tracks fruits and vegetables from farm to store.  The software has reduced the time it takes to find the origin of injurious product from seven days to 2.2 seconds.  Moreover, it cuts down on the wastage of food that has been the answer to contamination up to the present.  If romaine lettuce caused illness, stores would remove all romaine from their shelves even though most of it was OK.  Now, they will only trash that which has been identified as the source of illness.  This will save time, injury and money.  It will also make PR practitioners' lives easier in managing communications for recalls. The new system is easier all the way around.  Kudos to all the companies that have made this possible.

PR is not just communications

Is PR just communications? That’s the claim I’ve read in two blog posts this week. Is it really? PR is public relations. The clue’s in the name – public relations. Are relationships really so shallow as just to be about… Continue Reading

Limits Of Publicity

Bump stocks, devices that turn semi-automatic rifles into machine guns, gained a horrid name in the Las Vegas massacre a year ago.  There is no excuse for them and they should have been federally banned.  A year later, they are still being sold in 40 states and there doesn't appear to be a movement to get rid of them.  If nothing else, this shows the limits of publicity.  The shooting in Las Vegas was international news and covered for days.  The bump stock was featured prominently in the stories.  Revulsion was universal.  Calls for regulation blared once again.  Nothing happened except in 10 states that saw fit to ban them.  One can call Congress feckless but that would be too simple.  There is no national will expressed in voting and activism.  That takes hard work of building coalitions, grassroots organizing, Continue reading "Limits Of Publicity"

Small Step has been blistered in reporting and on social media for its pay scale for warehouse workers.  It has just announced a raise for its employees.  The increase of two to four percent was at best a small step and will hardly dent Amazon's profits.  Most certainly it will not stop criticism of its wages.  Bezos has long been known as frugal when it comes to remuneration, and it might over time be a differentiation between a successful company and a struggling retailer.  Should Amazon's workers decide to unionize and strike, they can quickly shut the company down.  Poor pay is a prime reason for adverse action. Look for pay scales to continue as a weak point for the company in terms of reputation and credibility.

Instagram? More like InstaSpam

I’m announcing my resignation as a member of the Instagram community. Note: My resignation has nothing to do with the shocking departure of Instagram Co-Founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom. But it’s effective immediately and, to paraphrase what corporations everywhere say when they’ve just dumped a top executive, I’m leaving to pursue other channels. I’m stepping down because I am appalled at the vast spam wasteland that Instagram has become. I doubt I’m alone in making this observation, but I now spend more time deleting unsolicited ads on the platform than I do liking or commenting on member’s posts. I realize Instagram needs to turn a profit, but the sudden tsunami of unsolicited ads is a complete turnoff. I realize the entire advertising universe is going through a very tough time (witness the huge turmoil at the major holding companies), but Instagram is making a huge mistake in terms of customer
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One painful crisis for a company is when an employee sabotages its product and services.  That is why this instance hurts.  The worker was clearly trying to get fired by spitting into food while being filmed, but that makes no difference to appalled customers and the company itself. What motivates a person to take such awful action.  If he was unhappy, he should have quit without making a case of it.  Business can't protect itself from every erroneous action by employees.  It has to trust they will carry out their tasks according to established procedures.  If that trust is missing. a business is forced to shut down.  It can't guarantee customers they will get a product or service as promised.  The ball park ex-employee is going to be prosecuted according to the law but that is small comfort to fans who are Continue reading "Sabotage"

Interesting Proposal

The UK's Labour Party is proposing that as much as 10 percent of companies' shares be set aside for employee ownership and as many as a third of board seats be reserved for employee directors.  The British chambers of commerce predictably opposed the plan.  The idea, however, is interesting.  It has been widely discussed that workers have not seen the fruits of fat earnings from companies in this expansion.  Wages have barely risen although stocks and dividends have.  Companies are rewarding owners over labor, so why not make labor owners as well?  It would serve to deflect much of the criticism that corporations are experiencing.  Labour's idea should be studied further.

Social Web Recap 24.09.18

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.


Last week belonged to YouTube, at least with regard to prominent announcements. Disappearing by March 2019 is the stand alone YouTube Gaming app, replaced by a gaming destination on the main YouTube site: Mashable’s description — “The Gaming page for YouTube, which is now live, features top livestreams, top videos, as well as the top games currently being livestreamed on the platform.” The video platform has also dropped the viewer membership requirements for access to its channel membership benefits. Creators with 50,000 (rather than the previous 100,000) will now be able to offer their viewers a $4.99 membership fee. According to The Verge, “The membership feature, which was expanded from gaming channels in June, is similar to Continue reading "Social Web Recap 24.09.18"

For Immediate Release 155: Did neglect kill SlideShare?

slideshare-tombstone For the September episode of the monthly Hobson & Holtz Report podcast, aka FIR 155, I was the solo host with Shel away. Doing the show like this reminded me of the old days of FIR when Shel and I recorded a weekly show for over ten years, where one of us would typically do it all solo if the other was away. This was one of those times! Anyway, you have a show to listen to so here’s what’s in this month’s H&H Report: In his Tech
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If one is going to make a dumb spelling mistake, it is probably better to do it where all can see.  That way, it can be laughed off.  Still, it is an embarrassment for Cathay Pacific, and it raises questions about the day-to-day management of the airline.  Someone should have seen the error before the plane took to the air and landed in Hong Kong.  The company handled the incident as well as could be done.  It publicly acknowledged the error and fixed the spelling on the aircraft right away.  Meanwhile, the internet had a field day spinning jokes from the mistake.

PR Ethics … “You CAN Handle the Truth”

ethicsGuest Post by Kirk Hazlett Jack Nicholson’s explosive response to Tom Cruise’s relentless questioning in “A Few Good Men” more than a quarter-century ago has always hung out in the back of my mind as I’ve worked with employers and clients over the years. You can’t handle the truth.” It most often bubbles up when I find myself confronted by a situation that presents an ethical challenge.
“Should we, or shouldn’t we?”…“What do we say?”…“What do ‘they’ need to know?”
Public relations is just that … open and honest communication with those publics who turn to us for advice, guidance, simple “do’s and don’ts.” But how should we, as public-facing representatives of an organization, be expected to tell those publics what’s going on or what we’re planning without causing even further damage to our organizational reputation? As those of us who have been doing
Kirk Hazlett
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