Disaster


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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What happens when a retailer promotes a sale, creates a viral moment, heightens anticipation among millions of customers, then they can't buy because of a glitch?   This is the marketing/PR disaster that Amazon finds itself in with Prime Day.  For the second day in a row, customers have had problems with its web page.  They can't put things into their shopping cart.  As a result, Amazon is losing millions in sales, and it has upset tens of thousands of customers.  Is Prime Day worth the aggravation the company is causing?  Amazon needs to step back and evaluate its systems, why they are failing when demand surges and what it needs to do to make sure this doesn't happen for a third year in a row.  If Prime Day gains a reputation for being a phony sale,  Amazon will have lost far more Continue reading "Disaster"

Smart Marketing And PR


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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This is smart marketing and PR.  Even drivers with automatic toll payment in their cars would like to know what driving a road will cost.  In fact, they have more of an incentive than those who stop and pay a toll taker because automatic payments are deducted from one's account without a receipt.  Waze is launching the addition to its system in the US and Canada and will expand it elsewhere in the world in the months to come.  It is a good idea well executed.  

From Anywhere


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Criticisms can come from anywhere and become a crisis.  Consider this.  A conservative group is protesting a brief scene in Pixar's Toy Story 4 because they say it shows lesbians.  There is little indication in the movie that this is so, but they have read into the scene and say it isn't for young children.  Disney, Pixar's owner, will now need to defend the animation, especially if the charge becomes viral.  The film has already earned more than $650 million so Disney might not be too worried, but it is a reminder that nothing is safe in the internet age. 

Great PR


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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The Huntington Library is world famous for its 120-acres of gardens and thousands of species of plants.  What could be better for celebrating its 100th birthday?  Why, of course, a new rose.  As the reporter puts it:

"A rose is a rose is a rose, but the new “Huntington’s 100th” is something special – 10 years in the making by Tom Carruth, the award-winning curator of this stunning rose collection. The garden, which was first created for the enjoyment of railroad builder Henry Huntington and his wife, Arabella, is distinguished today by its vast assortment of nearly 1,300 rose varieties."

Centenary celebrations don't have to be extravaganzas.  They should emphasize what an organization has done well through its existence.  In the case of Huntington's 16 themed gardens, little is better than creation of a new hybrid.  It's great PR and fitting for such an amazing institution.  

Smart Marketing


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Uber is making a play to become a transportation hub on the cell phone by selling bus and train tickets along with rides.  It seems to be working in its Denver roll-out.  It's a smart idea, a one-click source for ground transportation needs.  There are so many apps on cell phones that reducing them for the convenience of passengers is helpful.  And, once a person gets used to clicking for bus and train tickets, Uber can expect to gain more ridership as well.  This is apparently what is happening.  Kudos to Uber for figuring this out.

Not Again


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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The Trump administration has yet to learn that nothing stays secret for long in the internet age. One wonders if it will ever learn.  Consider this.  The White House removed all mentions of climate change from a press release announcing a study by the United States Geological Service.  (USGS).  Never mind that the study cited climate change as a serious threat to California's coast line.  Of course, word of the manipulation leaked.  Then, there is this.    Someone created a fictitious quote from Ronald Reagan predicting that Trump would be President.  Trump, without checking, passed it on.  Once again, it didn't take much checking to show the statement was fake.  Trump and his minions do this constantly.  As a result, he has lost many voters, particularly independents who supported him in 2016.  One is tempted to ask what would Continue reading "Not Again"

Second Guessing


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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No matter what a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court does, he is caught in second guessing of decisions, particularly if he is a swing vote.  It would normally be a tough PR position but for the fact that justices are insulated from the opinion of the public.  Chief Justice Roberts has taken controversial stances of late and ticked off both conservatives and liberals, but there is little they can do except vent.  He is apparently charting his own course through the law and one that is not visible at the moment.  So, commentators on both sides of the aisle speculate about what he is up to.  Roberts isn't saying nor should one expect him to.  Justices want to be seen as impartial even when they aren't.  

Wasn’t Ready.


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Joe Biden now says he wasn't ready for the attack on him by fellow Democratic candidate for President, Senator Kamala Harris, in the recent debate.  The question is why not.  Biden has a long legislative record, and he knows he must defend it during the lead-up to and in the primaries.  He has been taking the stance of a front-runner who is above the mud and wrestling other candidates are engaged in.  It isn't working.  Commentators are noting that he seems unprepared, and his ratings are slowly falling.  From a campaign marketing perspective, he needs a new approach -- better briefings, more time in give-and-take Q&As, a willingness to call into question other candidates' records.  In other words, he should not divorce himself from the others but work hard to rise.  Does he have the energy to do that and the understanding Continue reading "Wasn’t Ready."

Compromised?


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Military officers are concerned about President Trump's Fourth of July celebration.  They don't want it to become politicized, but Trump is erratic and might veer from his text into campaign rhetoric.  The services are supposed to remain strictly apolitical and not engage in any activities that smack of it.  Hence, the generals standing with the President this afternoon have a right to be nervous.  They don't want to be seen as endorsing Trump.  There is a question why "the Donald" is holding this celebration anyway.  There already is a major event that has been held for decades on the Mall.  Insinuating himself would seem political even without direct references to his record.  Whatever happens, the generals will have to bear it and hope something like this doesn't happen again.

Expensive


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Walmart is learning that taking on Amazon is expensive.  It is set to lose a billion dollars this year as it grows its online business.  This has apparently ignited tensions inside the company as executives jockey for power.  Walmart might be forgetting that Amazon itself lost billions as it built market share.  There was a point when financial analysts were asking if Bezos could pull it off.  Even when the company turned the corner, its profits were small as Bezos kept diverting funds for other growth prospects.  Walmart might be facing the same road to gaining online presence, and it is a question of how long the company can accept the bleeding.  The company might not be used to this kind of profitless growth.  One shouldn't be surprised if Walmart cuts back on its online effort, which would be a PR blow.

Taking The Blame — Sort Of


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Samsung's chief of mobile phones has publicly taken the blame for the failures of its fold-out phone.  He says he released it too early.  This belated PR move is proper but hardly enough.  There are many waiting with pre-orders for the instrument who now don't know when they will get it, if ever.  Samsung itself said that errors like this are to be expected in a company that is constantly pushing the boundaries.  That's a poor excuse.  If the phones had been tested adequately before they were announced, the company would have seen they were not ready for reviewers.  As it was, the fold-out screens began to fail right away.  A company can take a PR gaffe like this occasionally, but it needs to be careful.  Once it gains a reputation for buggy products, it will lose customers for good.

Great PR


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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NASA has restored the original control room used in the moon landings 50 years ago.  It was at the behest of the flight director at the time, Gene Kranz, who raised $5 million for the project.  The conservators worked to capture the details of the room from its buttons through its screens, ashtrays and coffee pot.  The room had been decommissioned by NASA in 1992 and was allowed to fall into disrepair.  Even though it will never be used again because its technology is woefully dated, it will remain as a stop on tours of the facilities.  The control room will be a reminder of the historic days when man first flew to another celestial body and stepped on it.  NASA has never reached the pinnacle of manned flight since, but it has continued a string of successes with unmanned rovers and satellites.  Continue reading "Great PR"

Perception


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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This article states it is a business decision whether to pay off a ransomware attack.  What it doesn't deal with is the perception of a town that rewards hackers to get its data back.  City officials have to deal with citizens when their essential data is locked and inaccessible.  The public will be angry it happened and hardly mollified when local government forks over funds.  The ultimate answer, of course, is to prevent these attacks in the first place. That might be hard to do, especially if the intrusion comes through social engineering, and nearly anyone can innocently click on a dangerous link that purports to be something else.  What is needed are better methods to crack the encryption these pirates use and detective work to find and prosecute them.  Ransomware isn't going away as long as it is money-making. 

Credibility


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Professional influencers on social media are losing their credibility.  People are wising up to the fact they are brands and there to sell things.  Moreover, there are too many of them and they are all doing much the same things.  This is a marketing gambit that has reached maturity and is now on the backside of consumer awareness.  There is still plenty of room for influencers but they need to take a more impartial role rather than hawking goods they are paid to promote.  You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.  

Better Than Nothing?


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Ten Democratic candidates for president "debate" tonight and 10 more tomorrow night.  There is no time for them to get into issues and there are too many of them.  They are in the stage because it is a first -- and perhaps, last -- chance to be in the national limelight.  For most, it won't make much difference but it might be better than nothing.  Viewership will likely be low for this evening and lower tomorrow.  It is the kind of affair that only political "junkies" like.  The mass of voters either aren't paying attention at this early stage or are waiting for the field to thin.  From a PR perspective, it isn't an ideal event but it is a "must-do" to be taken seriously by supporters.  Right now, none of them have many, and they face months of campaigning before they will.  

Essential


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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It is essential for  online information purveyors to catch cheaters because crooks diminish the credibility of the companies' services. Consider Google Maps.  Millions of businesses have posted false location and phone information in order to dupe potential customers.  Google is working hard to root them out, but it has a long way to go, and it is a never-ending task.  Google can't afford to have users turn from its mapping program because they no longer trust it.  So too, competitors.  When companies started posting business locations on their maps, little did they know it would be a problem down the road.  They have had to scramble to delist cheaters and the exercise has become a major activity.  It is a lesson many technologists have yet to learn.  Every good service has bad actors who will subvert it.

What’s In A Word?


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new member of the House of Representatives, used a word that ignited a firestorm of criticism.  It is "concentration" as in "concentration camps."  Republicans pounced saying she was comparing Federal camps for migrants in the Southwest to the Holocaust.  Historians responded by saying the use of "concentration camp" was a phrase employed well before Nazis started mass extermination.  The reality is that "concentration" is a loaded word when used in conjunction with "camp."  it should be used sparingly and with the context explained.  AOC didn't do that, and she has engaged in a waspish back and forth with members of the Elephant party.  That only makes things worse.  It is a reminder in communications to know the sensitivities of word usage.  What might seem innocent to a speaker can be seem as profoundly offensive to the listener. AOC Continue reading "What’s In A Word?"

Another Worry


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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A cry is being raised about Deepfakes -- audiovisual lying that concocts false information in video and sound.  The spur to the warnings is the slowed-down video of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, that makes her look drunk.  It's not just a political tool of misinformation.  It can be applied to any individual, any organization at any time -- and will be.  With technical manipulation, it is easy to put people into scenes or take them out. It is easy to have them saying things they never dreamed.  PR practitioners and media monitors should be on the alert.  It will become more prevalent as activists learn the software.  Woody Allen's breakthrough of inserting himself as Zelig into historical scenes has become commonplace.  As in all things related to the internet, response time to combat such maliciousness is extremely short.  One Continue reading "Another Worry"

The Big Lie


This post is by Jim Horton from Online Public Relations Thoughts


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Habitual prevaricators tend to believe lies they tell, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.  Here is a case.  Trump is claiming his internal polling shows him ahead in every state his campaign has surveyed.  Other polls not from his campaign show him well behind.  Trump is not the only one to believe himself in the face of reality.  Over the years I have served clients who paid no attention to market research because they knew better.  They believed in their own big lies, and their companies failed miserably.  Because they rejected evidence, they never saw their demise coming.  They were surprised when the rest of the world had already written them off.  Trump is a special case in that he fails to tell the truth time after time.  He has created a self-regarded alternate dimension in which he Continue reading "The Big Lie"