Hidden Messages Behind Public Speaking

Hidden Messages Behind Public Speaking


Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

Over the years I’ve coached a broad range of clients toward the goal of making their public speaking and media appearances more effective.

My clients have included the CEO’s of many of the largest, most successful companies in America, which leads me to my first point.

1) Successful entrepreneurs and leaders of successful companies are the most difficult to train. Why?  Because success spoils them into thinking that because they’ve made it to the top they must know what they’re doing.  So why should they listen to a communications coach who has less money and power then they do?

Answer: because they still need to learn a few new tips and techniques from someone who focuses on communications, and not on building businesses or amassing wealth and power.

The visual

Does it matter how you dress or the color of the clothes you wear?  Answer: yes, most definitely.

The other day I attended a presentation by a man who has built a number of successful insurance marketing agencies across the county that are still growing at an awesome 40% a year.  One of the insurance companies they represent credits them for having sold $1 billion worth of life insurance.

So how was this genius business builder dressed who was once in his own words a financial “train wreck” in debt $30,000 and changing jobs one after another, but now has hit it big and earning millions a year and helping others to do the same thing?

All in black.

Unless you’re a Steve Jobs, why on earth would you wear a black shirt, black pants and black shoes?

Had he asked me how he should dress to speak to a group he’s endeavoring to inspire to take the same road to riches that he took, I would have told him to lighten up, wear brighter colors.

At least wear pastel shades that cameras like better and that will make you look friendlier, happier, more prosperous and what you have to say or to offer, more inviting.

I would have told him to forget the black shirts, once the pride of the paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party and after 1923 an all-volunteer militia of the Kingdom of Italy.

Together with the black pants and black shoes, my friend you’re projecting a dark, almost sinister image that’s the opposite of the impression you want to make.

2) Does the length of your talk matter?

Answer: are you kidding?  TOTALLY!  You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “less is more.”  I’d say the shorter the better unless, of course, it’s a complicated message you want to impart, in which case you might need to speak for more than 20 minutes, but every minute after that you’re out on a cliff near a dangerous precipice of your audience descent into mental blackout.

Besides staying on track with your messages, speakers need to be mindful of urinary tracks in their audience for after 20 minutes, while you’re just getting wound up, some will be thinking of rest room relief and mentally bailing out on you.

I’d recommend speaking for not longer than 45 minutes and leaving 15 minutes for Q&A.  That’s plenty of time for most talks from a stage or in front of a group.  On TV, you can shave that down to 3 to 5 minutes, because that’s all you’ll get to deliver your message.

Back to the whiz-bang successful business builder in black, he spoke for (gulp) over two hours and articulate, smart and accomplished as we was, if he went a minute longer, I thought my bladder would burst.

Thomas MaddenAbout the Author: Madden is the founder and CEO of the public relations firm TransMedia Group.  Books he has written include SPIN MAN, King of the Condo, Is There Enough BRADY in TRUMP To Win The inSUPERable Bowl? and Love Boat 78.  His blog, Madden Mischief.com finds him “Looking at Truth through the prism of Absurd.” Madden started out as a newspaper reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, then rose to the pinnacle of network television as Vice President, Assistant to the Pressident of NBC under then CEO Fred Silverman, for whom Madden wrote speeches when they were both at American Broadcasting Companies. Madden recently launched Madden Talent, a licensed talent agency representing actors, artists and models. Corporate titans like the Chairmen of Kellogg’s Company and AT&T looked to Madden to do crisis management and write influential speeches for them that were reprinted in The New York Times. Madden won the Public Relations Society of America’s Bronze Anvil for a PR campaign he conducted for The City of New York. Rexall Sundown Founder Carl DeSantis credits Madden’s publicity for the firm’s spectacular success, culminating in DeSantis selling the company in 2000 for $1.6 billion.




Diving Into Media Trends With Machine Learning: A Case Study in U.S. Election Coverage

Michael Burke, MSR Communications 

PR practitioners are probably more well-versed in media trends than any other profession–perhaps even more so than journalists themselves–yet, we often find media coverage patterns as baffling as the rest of the public. Undoubtedly, the next frontier for communications will involve using technology to gain a greater understanding of why certain topics, people, events etc. resonate. Fortunately, some surprisingly accessible machine learning tools combined with data that most agencies have at their fingertips can provide insight into some of the hidden currents that would have previously been impossible to identify. 

Those of us who remember collecting media clips from the local Barnes & Noble can attest that media monitoring has come a long way. If you’ve got access to any of the major monitoring platforms you can get an exhaustive list of coverage on any subject you can imagine. In addition to dashboard reports that can track what’s happened, platforms like Meltwater allow you to download Excel files from media coverage reports that contain a wealth of data which can be analyzed with any number of tools for further insight. And while ‘Machine Learning’ may sound a little intimidating, in actuality, machine learning techniques are closely related to much of what you may have learned in a college statistics class.

For example, at my firm, MSR Communications, we were curious about what may happen in a given week of election coverage, so we ran analyzed more than 6,000 election-related articles that ran in top news sources. We used a platform called R-studio to take a closer look at the trends and somewhat mysterious relationships in media coverage, and what we found was fascinating. 

POTUS dominates the news cycle

80 percent of all election coverage in the U.S. included a mention of the President. This may not be terribly surprising on the surface, but considering that the coverage we looked at includes state and even local election coverage, this does indicate how heavily the President plays into the conversation. In the press’ view, it appears that he plays a part in almost every election in the country, either helping or hurting the candidates. Furthermore, it’s rather surprising to see how much more coverage he receives compared to ANY Democratic candidate. The President got more than 4x times as much coverage as anyone else!

Frontrunner Biden is also the media coverage ‘frontrunner’

At a not-so-close second, Democratic front-runner Joe Biden was listed in 17 percent of all coverage. However, in terms of total coverage, he handily beat out his competitors, with Bernie Sanders being listed in 11 percent of the coverage, and Elizabeth Warren in 10 percent.

AOC gets massive coverage, despite not even being in the race

Interestingly, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is not running for president, appears in more coverage than all but the top Democratic candidates, beating out Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro in terms of total coverage. 

Machine learning What machine learning reveals about inflammatory and accusatory language

To discover relationships between various accusatory words and candidates, we applied a machine learning technique called Association Rules. This employs the Apriori algorithm to sort through data describing people’s behaviors and determine how frequently certain actions are accompanied by other actions. This technique, famous for their use in recommendation engines, can be applied to any set of human behaviors, including journalist coverage of election topics. In particular, we were interested to learn how various negative or accusatory terms were used in conjunction with each other, and with candidates. 

“Racist” appeared more than ALL Democratic candidates (except Biden)

Clearly, to the U.S. press, racism and race-related issues are very important in this election cycle. With the exception of Biden and Trump, the term “racist” appears more than the name of any other candidate in the election.

It comes in threes: Homophobic, racist and sexist

Beyond reporting mere frequencies, Association Rules can tell us when the presence of one word is predictive of the presence of another. As it turns out, “homophobic”, “racist” and “sexist” were by far the most predictive of each other, as terms. An article containing the term “sexist” was 50 times more likely to contain the term ‘homophobic’. However, if an article contained the terms “homophobic” and “racist” it was 85 times more likely to also contain the term “sexist”.

Socialists and Communists

Many of these terms, not surprisingly, were heavily associated with Trump. For example, if an article included the terms “racist”, “sexist” and “Trump” it was 57 times more likely to also contain the term “homophobic”. Similarly, if an article contained the terms “sexist” and “Trump” it was 56 times more likely to contain the term “homophobic”. Interestingly, if an article referenced both Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, it was 7 times more likely to contain the term ‘racist’.

But the Democrats have to deal with their own accusatory terms. In particular, the term ‘socialist’ was heavily associated with virtually all candidates. For example, an article that included Biden, Castro and Klobuchar was 6.8 times more likely to contain ‘socialist’. Similarly, an article containing Biden, Booker and Castro was 5.7 times more likely to contain the term.

It should of course be noted that not all of the politicians in this study consider ‘socialist’ to be a bad thing, and both Sanders and AOC embrace it. “Communist”, however, is universally avoided like the plague in American political discourse. While the term was used relatively infrequently in general (in only about .8 percent of the articles, compared to ‘socialist’ which appeared in 3.5 percent of the articles), the combination of candidates was a determinant in whether or not it was included in an article. As it turned out, if an article contained a reference to AOC, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, it was 15 times more likely to contain the term “communist”. If an article contained AOC, Buttigieg and Sanders, it was 13 times more likely to contain the term “communist”.

Lessons in media trends

What does it mean for Biden that being mentioned alongside Castro and Klobuchar meant the article was 6.8 times more likely to contain the term “socialist”? I’ll leave it to Biden’s media team to figure that one out. But this kind of information ought to raise eyebrows with any media strategist interested in presenting their client in the most favorable light possible. We’re certainly only scratching the potential of machine learning, but for any PR or communications professional interested in understanding not just what’s being covered, but why it’s being covered–and I suspect that’s just about all of us–machine learning is the new frontier.

Michael BurkeAbout the Author: Michael Burke has worked with some of the world’s top brands on marketing and PR strategy, including The Myers-Briggs Company and AirBnB, as well as dozens of cutting-edge technology clients. As a director and data scientist at MSR Communications, he’s living his dream of applying data science to MarComm.


The Untruth & Maybe Just A Bit Of The Truth (Birds of Different Feathers With Similar Problems)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances 

The above is the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. But does it give the right for entities or people to tell outright lies? Obviously, the president and his surrogates think so; in fact some have publicly said that they have no obligation to tell the truth to the press. And so, obviously, does Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Czar, whose company has been in the spotlight for running lying advertisements since before the 2016 presidential election, which many people believe tilted the outcome in President Trump’s favor.

The National Basketball Association has a different problem. Some observers believe that its reputation for freedom of expression is not entirely deserved and based on the current situation with China might be a propaganda ploy that has long been promoted with the help of the media.

Not surprisingly, after NBA Houston Rocket’s general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support of the Hong Kong protesters, it resulted in condemnation by the Chinese government. But surprisingly, NBA president Adam Silver and LeBron James’ initial responses didn’t’ support Morey’s tweet, “FIGHT FOR FREEDOM STAND WITH HONG KONG.” Negative U.S. media coverage questioning the sincerity of the carefully honed freedom of expression reputations of Silver and James had them “walk back” (as they say in the political realm) their initial comments and issue “clarification” statements. Surprisingly, it was the totalitarian Chinese government that issued a statement in support of the truth, believe it or not. I don’t think they mean it but nevertheless I feel what the Chinese said should apply to Facebook and other social media networks that point to the First Amendment when justifying disseminating lies.

The state run Chinese television network, CCTV, said that “Freedom of speech does not mean that it can be arbitrary nonsense.” Who would have thought that a media company run by a dictatorial government would issue a statement that should apply to Facebook (and other social media outlets.) But when you think about it, Zuckerberg believes he should be the sole decider regarding his company’s policies, also a dictatorial stance that has never been the policy of any U.S government, even during the days of the Founding Fathers.

Now, Facebook has refused to remove untruthful ads about Joe Biden. Which raises the question, does the First Amendment protect liars and entities 100 percent, and should it?

It’s my opinion that Facebook and other social media giants that report news are similar to far right and left wing commentators, but there’s a difference.

The slash and burn commentators on TV are somewhat balanced out by the news divisions of cable channels and advertisers, some of which have diverted ad money to other programs because they were unhappy with what the commentators’ said. Facebook doesn’t have that equalizing process. The NBA does and it’s called “sports writers.” Maybe not the everyday beat writers, but others who write what was called by my editors during my sport writing days as “writing around the games.”

As history has shown, companies that police themselves, as does Facebook (and the NBA) usually find no wrong doing. Because of its clout I feel that Facebook must have governmental regulations, as does other businesses. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, “a business, is a business is business.” Running advertisement that are false, and knowing that they are, should not be allowed. I’m sure that when the Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment they didn’t want to protect known lies, political or otherwise.

To those who claim that the First Amendment protects all facets of free speech, and that protects Facebook despite its dissemination of false ads, a little research is needed: Perjury, fraud, and false advertising are among the categories that are not protected. So should false political ads because a lie is a lie is a lie. False advertising should not be a part in electing a president.

It’s too late for the coming election but maybe it’s time for the Supreme Court to rule if known false political ads are protected on social media and other platforms.

What does the above have to do with public relations, you might wonder. Plenty.

In our business, misleading advertising and exaggerated and sometime false PR pronouncements are not unusual. Also, both advertising and PR agencies have for generations acted as propaganda merchants for totalitarian governments, bested only by sports organizations who hawk the ridiculous line that sports brings countries together. Like it did between the Russia and the U.S. during the Cold War. Right?

What the NBA-China relationship shows that it’s not what happens in the arena that promotes closeness between countries. It’s the economics of the situation that does.

In its October 21-28 issue, a Sports Illustrated article points out how the NBA has ignored morality since 2016 by opening a training center in a region where “an estimated 1 million Utghur Muslims are being interned in camps.” It ends the article with, “The league has prided itself as progressive defenders of free speech. Maybe someday it’ll actually put its money where its mouth claims to be.”

Both the NBA and Facebook say that they stand for freedom and truth. But as Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, said, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth,” especially, it seems, when it applies to Facebook and the NBA.

However, the Facebook and NBA situations reveal one absolute truth: It’s easier to manufacture a good reputation than to keep it forever.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.


Giuliani’s Staggering Fall from Grace (Op-Ed)

Timothy M. Gay

Two weeks before the gruesome 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, a New York City fireman named Michael Gorumba perished while fighting a three-alarm blaze on Staten Island. What made Gorumba’s sacrifice doubly heartbreaking was that he was scheduled to walk his younger sister down the aisle at her September 16 wedding in Brooklyn. Their father had passed away a year earlier.

When New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani heard about the family’s tragedy, he vowed to take Michael’s place – and he made good on his promise, despite the catastrophic events surrounding 9/11. Throughout the ordeal, Giuliani’s grace under pressure was nothing short of inspirational.

Americans who had been grieving nonstop since the twin towers collapsed wept all over again on Diane Gorumba’s wedding day. The calamity of 9/11 transformed Rudy Giuliani into America’s Mayor, an almost-Churchillian figure who seemed to embody the keep-calm-and-carry-on grit that the country needed in the wake of the terror attacks. He commanded near-universal respect and affection.

TIME Magazine, with a cover showing Giuliani pictured against New York’s now-diminished skyline, named him its Person of the Year, lauding him as a “Tower of Strength.”

Less than two decades later, the Tower of Strength has become a hovel of sleaze.

The only near-universal thing that Giuliani commands these days is contempt, unless you count the soiled cash he rakes in from “representing” petrostate oligarchs and their shadowy henchmen. His global machinations as Donald Trump’s enabler and sycophant are now being investigated by the very U.S. Attorney’s office he once headed.

Giuliani’s television appearances, like his boss’s, have become so erratic and incoherent that we’ve all turned into armchair psychiatrists, debating the personality disorders from which the pair might suffer. Schizoid? Probably. Narcissism? To be sure. But is it “pathological” or “malignant”?

Rudy the Healer has become Rudy the Hater, Rudy the Slime Dog, Rudy the Basket Case.

Has American political history ever seen such a lethal and precipitous fall from grace?

The short answer is “probably not.” But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been spectacular flameouts – triggered, perhaps, by mental instability – from once-respected figures who ended up humiliating themselves and the country.

Our Hall of Shame begins with Aaron Burr. A Revolutionary War hero while barely out of his teens, an early U.S. Senator from New York State, and Thomas Jefferson’s first-term vice president, Burr not only killed his political and business rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel but – in a fit of toxic megalomania (sound familiar?) – raised a band of mercenaries, slithered west to the Louisiana Territories, and schemed with Mexico to forge his own little republic. He was tried for treason but never convicted.

Millard Fillmore, who became president when Zachary Taylor died in 1850, had served as a New York State assemblyman and a member of the U.S. House before accepting a spot on the Whigs’ national ticket in 1848. President Fillmore’s heavy-handed enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act exacerbated north-south tensions in the early 1850s and contributed to the dissolution of the Whig Party.

In 1856, Fillmore ran for president as the standardbearer of the Know-Nothings, a political movement whose anti-immigrant bigotry presaged Trump’s “Make America Great Again” ruse. They got their curious moniker from instructions wrought by their leaders. If asked about their ties to nativist groups, party members were told to volunteer that they “knew nothing.” For Fillmore and many of his compatriots, such a claim wasn’t a stretch.

Perhaps the saddest descent into paranoia and messianic delusion was Theodore Roosevelt’s. A trust-busting progressive as president, Roosevelt grew increasingly embittered in his years out of office, convincing himself that he – and he alone – could save the nation from plutocrats on the one hand and radicals on the other. When President William Howard Taft, his Republican successor, proved too cozy to big business for TR’s tastes, he turned on him in 1912, creating his own third party, the Bull Moosers, which effectively handed the presidency to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

As the 1910s wore on, TR’s behavior became weirdly belligerent; feeling superfluous and fighting off depression, he began attacking figures on both sides of the political spectrum. After war broke out in Europe, he turned jingoistic, demanding that the U.S. enter the fight. When Congress finally declared war in 1917, TR was desperate to reprise his days dodging bullets as a vainglorious Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War. President Wilson, recognizing that the trenches along the Western Front weren’t exactly Cuba’s San Juan Hill, was justified in refusing TR’s plea to lead an all-volunteer unit into senseless combat. Roosevelt’s public rage turned to grief when his youngest son Quentin, an Army Air Service pilot, was killed in a dogfight over France. Dying a battlefield death was supposed to be TR’s fate – not his son’s. Devastated, TR succumbed a year and a half later to natural causes, having never quite recovered the adulation of the American people.

Vainglory, bigotry, narcissism, paranoia: they’re all now signature Rudy Giuliani trademarks – and sadly, trademarks of a Trump White House desperate to distance itself from him. The Gorumba family of Brooklyn deserves better. So does the rest of America.

Tim GayAbout the Author: Timothy M. Gay, the author of four books and a senior consultant at LEVICK, is a Pulitzer-nominated writer and historian.

From Three to 10,000 Contributors and 200,000+ Subscribers: CommPRO Celebrates Our 9-Year Anniversary

The Timeline:

2010: Launched Corporate communications and public relations at PRSA in Washington, DC

2011: Introduced webinars

2012: Added investor relations and financial communications

2013: Hosted a forum with NASDAQ and the NYSE to announce the SEC’s approval of social media to announce earnings

2014: Expanded into global markets

2015: Event collaboration with global media companies

2016: Analysis and discussions about “fake news”

2017: Incorporated financial technology

2018: Integrated discussions about the public’s loss of trust with Bitcoin

2019: Entered the blockchain technology ecosystem with BitAngels NYC and launched first podcast

I’m proud and humbled to be among my industry peers who’ve contributed throughout the years to make CommPRO what it is today. With so many talented writers, it was difficult to identify some of the most popular articles.

CommPRO.biz Celebrates Our 9-Year Anniversary

Here’s a cross-section based on readership and topic:

CommPRO.biz Celebrates Our 9-Year Anniversary - Events

Popular events

Now, your thoughts:

A Salute to Fay Shapiro, Communications Industry Influencer
I  had the privilege to meet Fay when she hosted a panel on May 17, 2005, with the “people who started it all”, the pioneers of the Post-World War II public relations industry, including Harold Burson, David Finn, Al Golin, Margery Kraus, and my father, Daniel J. Edelman.   She called the panel, “The Greatest Generation in PR.”  Fay learned public relations from these PR  industry founders. Also, Robert Bacon, Jr., whose father founded Bacon’s clipping service and media directories,  mentored Fay. She worked for Jack O’Dwyer in 2005 as his publisher.  That’s the year she hosted on behalf of Jack O’Dwyer “The Greatest Generation” panel. Fay then went to InfoCom Group’s Bulldog Reporter as group publisher and launched the Daily ‘Dog, a PR industry newsletter with updates on journalists called “Media Moves.” 
Fay Shapiro has earned the role of industry influencer—a publisher, editor, and convener of conversations at events such as her signature three-part series, “Truth on Trial, ” about lack of trust in institutions, the government and the media.  She founded CommPRO in 2010 as a 21st Century digital media platform and events company aimed at communications professionals in the C-suite She uses her publishing skills every day in securing original editorial content and arranging events with high-profile speakers on both sides of an issue. Renée Edelman, SVP, Global Human Resources, Edelman
CommPRO has built an engaging community of public relations practitioners with an impressive reach. Its events, thought leadership and publications deliver an incredible level of learning opportunities for both young and seasoned talent, and it fosters candid, enlightening discussion on some of our industry’s most critical issues of our time. Barri Rafferty, Global CEO & President, Ketchum

After working in this business for over 40 years, it is easy to get cynical. There are empty suits and worse. Not to mention a pace of change which demands constant evolution. Through it all, is Fay and CommPRO. Her generosity, vision and enthusiasm are on full display 24/7. To think that she started this from scratch and has a business with a distribution list of a several hundred thousand, making CommPRO a must publish and must read. CommPRO is always there with the latest in industry trends. I am delighted to hear she has decided to continue CommPRO for another 90. Richard S. Levick, Esq., Chairman & CEO, LEVICK

I remember when CommPRO.biz was just a vision of Fay’s.  I’m so impressed and proud of what my friend, the fearless and fabulous Fay Shapiro, has built over the past nine years, including an engaged global community of 200,000 communications professionals who have benefited from the rich content and knowledge she has delivered to them from the world’s most prominent and thought-provoking leaders in the field.  Bravo Fay and CommPRO.biz!  Thank you for your contributions to the field of communications in its most dynamic era ever and for championing its critical and growing importance to the world we live in. – Patrice Tanaka l Founder & Chief Joy Officer, Joyful Planet, LLC

I have the opportunity to publish in lots of places, and it’s a particular joy to publish on CommPRO.biz. The editorial suggestions are smart and insightful, and the audience is engaged and engaging. Congratulations to CommPRO.biz on starting your tenth year providing thought leadership for communication professionals.Helio Fred Garcia | President, Logos Consulting

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Fay Shapiro for a number of years.  I knew her well before she launched CommPRO.  Fay is one of the most creative, innovative minds in the PR industry.  With extraordinary energy she is constantly thinking up ideas to engage we mortal PR practitioners. And then she started CommPRO where she had the opportunity to find a landing field for her creativity and innovation. During the past nine years, I can honestly say that I’ve read every issue of CommPRO and continue to learn about the state of the art and what the great thinkers in our industry have to say.  In addition to outstanding contributions in the CommPRO publication, Fay has brought PR practitioners together through special events, panel discussions, presentations and other live and in person gatherings. Fay is receptive to good ideas and is a pleasure to deal with.  She’s sharp, personable, extraordinarily smart and productive.  To my mind, Fay Shapiro is the heart and soul of CommPRO and all that it’s accomplished these past nine years.  Kudos to you, Fay, for becoming a beacon for PR knowledge, education and progress.  I wish you many more years of success.  After all, we really need you. – Art Stevens, Managing Partner, The Stevens Group

It has been a distinct pleasure and a genuine honor to be part of the CommPRO.biz family for the past nine years. The content we’ve been fortunate enough to have published in CommPRO.biz has unquestionably enhanced Peppercomm’s awareness and credibility. –  Steve Cody, Founder & CEO, Peppercomm

I had the pleasure of meeting Fay several years back and learned we had common interests. Since then, I’ve been attending and covering CommPRO events. I’ve met industry and business leaders across a wide variety of industry sectors including, marketing, PR, finance, public affairs, finance, media, journalism, agency, corporate, politics and more. With 10,000 contributors, and articles published daily, Fay Shapiro works tirelessly to educate and inspire people to stay abreast of industry trends and connect with one another. For me, it’s been an incredible journey of learning, writing and meeting new colleagues and friends throughout the CommPRO network. Congratulations on CommPRO’s 9th anniversary:)! I’m honored to be your friend and colleague surrounded by my esteemed peers. Hats off to Fay! – Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

I’m delighted that I was able to be part of the process of connecting people and places that made these amazing and ground-break CommPRO events happen — the “Truth on Trial” series and the #1 most-viewed event in 2017: The Death of Trust:  Real News, “Fake News” and the Cyber Plots Designed to Divide Us.  Congratulations to CommPRO for an amazing nine years!– Danny Selnick, Industry Connector and 2019 PRSA-NCC Hall of Fame winner

Mazel Tov on nine great and growing years. Halfway there to Chai. –Shelley Spector, Co-Founder of The Museum of Public Relations & President, Spector & Associates

We love working with CommPRO and have created some successful programs together over the years. Fay brings a heartfelt dedication to working with her partners and is always bringing creative ideas and solutions to the table. Congratulations on the 9-year anniversary and I wish you many more years of success! – Scott Fedonchik, SVP, Marketing, Photoshelter & Libris

Much love,


Democratic Debates: Keeping Score

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

The fourth Democratic presidential nominees’ debate is history. And now TV entertainers, known as political pundits, will have several weeks to opine whether it changed anything before the next made for TV show in the series is aired next month. Unlike the pundits whose similar, and stale commentary is akin to a loop recording, I’ll limit my opinion (Thank God, you might say) to this column.

But first a recap. 

The score after the first three Democratic presidential debates were, in my opinion, Trump 3, Democrats 0. 

The reasons for the Trump victories? 1) The Democrats are practicing “segmented politics,” instead of agreeing on issues that will unite all Americans. 2) No Democratic candidate has yet produced the excitement to their base that Trump has to his. 3) Trump keeps his messages simple: “Build the wall,” “keeping my campaign promises,” (even though he hasn’t).4) Even though the Democratic candidates probably agree on 99% of the issues, the way they campaign is more like the other candidates are the enemy instead of Trump and the TV pundits exaggerate the differences in order to keep viewers tuned in. 5) GOP surrogates on cable TV back Trump. Democratic surrogates practice parricide and try to kill candidates that they don’t support.6) Democratic attacks on Trump concentrate on his policies. What they haven’t done is attack Trump, the person. They should, in my opinion.

Trump has his “Make America Great Again” slogan. Seemingly, the Democratic candidates, instead of coalescing around a plan to defeat Trump, are campaigning with a slogan that says, “How could you even think of voting for anyone but me?”

Importantly, past debates revealed that no Democratic candidate has caught the imagination of American voters as JFK and Barack Obama did:

Instead what came out of the past debates thus far were:

  • The wannabee presidential hopefuls were like the gang that couldn’t shot straight. Instead of attacking Trump they assaulted their own.
  • Instead of crafting messages that applied to most Americans the candidates campaigned as if people of color, and illegal immigrants were the most important problems in the United States.
  • The closest thing so far to an “OMG, I have to vote for him,” moment was when Beto O’Rourke said, “Hell yes we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” (Gun lobby proponents jumped on that remark, showing they’re fearful of future legislation.)
  • As Hillary Clinton did in the 2016 campaign, candidates are ignoring the needs and concerns of large segments of the population in their messaging. (Suggestion: They should hire some of the GOP strategists that helped Trump in 2016.)

But did the just concluded debate change the score at the top of the column? Yes it did. My new score is Trump 4, Democrats 0.

Here’s why I feel that way.

All the candidates did what they should have done in all the previous debates, with sharp attacks on Trump. Tom Steyer, who has been running ads for more than a year saying the president should be impeached and was making his first debate appearance, called Trump “that criminal in the White House.”

But then the circular firing squad again formed:

  • The piñata target of the night was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was attacked by Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobucher, Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris.
  • Buttigieg attacked Tulsi Gabbard and O’Rourke.
  • Biden attacked Sanders.
  • Sanders attacked Biden. and so on and so forth.

The most intelligent remark of the night came from Sen. Cory Booker, when he opined that Democrats attacking each other played into Trump’s hand.

Because of the candidates attacking each other the winner of the debate in my opinion was again Trump.

But as usual, the format of the debate – 12 candidates with only a few minute each speaking time – made it impossible for someone to fully express their opinion on a subject, as Biden said. As usual, the result was sound bite debating.

If anything positive happened to any of the debaters since the commencing of the made-for-TV shows, it was not because of their on stage performances. It was because of the doings and sayings and generally inept performance of President Trump.

(In the last week or so, Biden started to aggressively attack the egotistical, dictatorial-inclined, foul mouthed Trump, who thinks using gutter language makes him appear tough, when in reality it makes him look like a lowlife thug. The former vice president kept up the attack during the debate. The question is was it too little to late to stop other candidates from closing the money and polling gap? I’ll let the TV pundits answer that, because, as we all know, they know everything. Right?)

Prior to joining Burson-Marsteller, my first job in public relations was with a political PR firm, where I worked on local, state and national campaigns, including presidential ones.

During that time I heard a lot of bromides from candidates and old timers, most of which could have been recorded and sold as insomnia cure remedies.

But there was one bit of advice that made sense then and that still does, even though it dates back to the 1960s. It was known as the Eleventh Commandment and was a phrase used by President Ronald Reagan during his campaign for governor of California, I was told. The Commandment is: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” Democrats should learn from it and stop attacking each other.

Democrats should also learn from the 2016 campaign. Clinton ignored her “sure thing states;” Trump didn’t and won Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by narrow margins, giving him the presidency. Now Trump is eying another “sure thing” Democratic state – New Mexico, and has eyes on New Hampshire, Nevada and Minnesota. Conversely, for decades, Democrats have conceded most Southern states to the GOP, not wanting to waste time or money on “sure thing” Republican states. A big mistake. Because doing so eroded the framework of a Democratic opposition, raising the question, “Are Republican strategists smarter than Democratic ones?” My opinion: You betcha

Thus far what has come out of the debates is that Democrats have mixed messages and that their enemies are the other candidates on the platform. (They continue to attack each other on and off the debate stage, during and in between debates.) Instead of crafting a unifying message to defeat Trump, what the candidates have provided resembles a poorly prepared bouillabaisse that causes heart burn, which, unless corrected, will again result in another Trump victory dinner.

Democrats should talk about Trump as they do about their rival candidates. No more Mr. or Ms. Nice. No more “when they go low, we go high.” In order to level the playing field against Trump they have to temporarily sink to his level. They can wash off the scum and muck emanating from Trump’s mouth and his surrogates after the election.

Years ago, a famous sports writer, Grantland Rice wrote, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Democrats should reject that advice. Instead they should adopt another sports quote, “Nice guys finish last,” which some people credit to Leo Durocher or “Winning Isn’t Everything; it’s the Only Thing,” attributed to several sportsmen. And the feuding Democratic candidates should heed what former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “Good guys don’t always win, especially when they are divided and less determined than their adversaries…” (Note to Standing on Principal Voters: Winning is better than losing. If you don’t believe me ask the losers.)

Of course, if Trump is again “the chosen one,” a major reason, in addition to the Democrats disarray, will be the cable TV political coverage. Despite their hand-wringing over the way they covered Trump during the 2016 election, the cables are doing it again – covering his no news rallies and tweets. (As I’ve said before, I believe that many hosts of cable programs who trash Trump secretly hope he is reelected. He’s good for their ratings and is more interesting than speaking about the next snow storm, heat wave or the price of soybeans.)

Debates that actually will provide information for viewers will never happen as long as the networks control the formats and supply their own talent. They are only interested in making television that will increase viewership. What’s needed is for nonpartisan organizations to control the debates and select respected political beat journalists as the inquisitors. At the minimum you would get journalists who actually know the details and can challenge stump speech answers from the candidates. At the maximum you would get answers that are based on facts, instead of candidates challenging each other over a misstatement.

But for the remainder of this political cycle, and maybe forever because of TV money, instead of calling them debates, they should be promoted as “Politics for Dummies.” Or “Cliff Notes Journalism.”

Or a cure for insomnia programming.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr (at) optimum.net





In Sports, Money Is The Winner

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

When the book about the greatest public relations campaigns is written, near the top of the list, if not leading the list, will be the faux programs related to sports. It will not include the record breaking performances of individual athletes, but the fictional myth promoted by the industry that the sports business is unlike others and should be treated differently than other commercial endeavors.

As someone who has spent a major part of his career in the sports universe, first as a journalist and then managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sporting events, I’ve always known that it’s not winning or the way the game is played that counts with management. It’s the money that the sports moguls bring to the bank that matters.

This was proved again with the recent National Basketball Association censoring its players from talking to the media after its games in China at the request of the dictatorial Chinese government.

At stake for the NBA, the league that made a big splash by permitting its players to speak freely about political and social issues, (unlike the National Football League, the International Olympic Committee and other sports organizations), losing access to a major market after an NBA executive tweeted about the rights of Hong Kong protesters was more important than our first amendment. Obviously, Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey believed in the freedom to speak NBA policy when he tweeted, “Fight For Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” What we now know is that the open mike for players (and apparently for league execs) was just a public relations stance by the NBA. It has now been shown to have limitations if it will cost the league money.

Anyone who follows the international sporting scene should not be surprised by the NBA’s actions. It appears that when money is at stake, American sports organizations, players, networks and its gangs of sponsoring companies, the largest backers of international sporting events, are eager participants in the fairly tale of “bringing the world closer through sports,” even when games are award to totalitarian governments. It’s as if Donald Trump was orchestrating the move to make dictators camouflage themselves as sportsmen.

The NBA freedom to speak policy was for many years the shining light of the sports business. Now it has been eclipsed by the dark side of the sports business and is just another of the entities that care more about money than democracy.

Joining with its employers in the quest for money over democracy were NBA players who have been outspoken about racial and other aspects of life in the U.S. But in China, it appears protecting their brand was more important than speaking freely about despotic conditions. (No Nathan Hale or Martin Luther King-like statements when money is at stake.)

Historians and some sports writers will tell you that sports have always had a checkered career in America’s history, most of it on the debit side of the ledger.

  • For decades, the NFL not only denied that its employees would suffer brain damage from hard hits, but also attempted to destroy the reputation and career of a leading researcher in brain trauma, and
  • It wasn’t until the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson to a Minor League contract, in 1945, that the color line was broken by a Major League Baseball team, and

Ever since the Nazi Olympics, American sports marketers have joined the IOC and FIFA in believing that democracy takes a back seat to international sporting events. In addition to the 1936 Berlin games, and the Sochi (Russia) Olympics in 2014, the IOC also awarded its games to the Soviet Union in 1980, Yugoslavia in 1984 and China in 2008. And still to come, the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and The United States Olympic Committee and its affiliates have a sorry history of ignoring sexual abuse of young athletes until it becomes public knowledge.

A realist would admit that whether the subject is national or international sports what happens on the playing field is secondary to what happens off the playing field. What really matters is what happens to the bank accounts of players and moguls.

There are important PR lessons to be learned from the NBA-China situation: You never know when your client is minutes away from a PR crisis (Be Prepared), and don’t believe your own propaganda.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr (at) optimum.net


How Should Google Put a Lid on Political Discussion in the Workplace So Employees Can Concentrate on Work?

How Should Google Put a Lid on Political Discussion in the Workplace So Employees Can Concentrate on Work

Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group 

A freelance writer’s query the other day on a service we subscribe to called ProfNet got me thinking about this.  ProfNet is a product of Cision whereby journalists announce they’re working on a story and looking for experts to interview.   It’s a way for a PR firm like mine, TransMedia Group, to suggest a client as a news source.

The freelancer cited Google recently clamping down on political talk on its internal bulletin boards, which will be a hard adjustment for Google employees as they have been used to a free-wheeling atmosphere in which anything can be discussed.

Since Google did not forbid political speech from the outset, Google is now taking away something that employees were allowed to do.

The freelancer asks: “What advice would you offer Google or any other company in a similar situation to smooth out such a transition in its internal platforms and bulletin boards?”

I respond as follows:

To your query on workplace politics, here’s how I get employees to stop discussing politics in our office.  I tell those leaning Democrat that they can only talk nice about the President and I tell Trump supporters they can only say kind words about Democrats.  In this way, we get total silence.  And concentration where it belongs, on work!    

Actually, a client of ours, an organization called American Priority, has an event coming up Oct. 10-12 called AMPFEST 2019 at the Trump Doral Hotel in Miami that is attempting to have both political sides speak softly and nicely to each other as the organization stands for diversity and free speech.

I suggested to the freelancer that she interview its president and I’m hopeful we’ll soon be arranging a nice interview for him.

Don't Be DOA! What They Say About First Impressions Goes Double for News Releases - Tom MaddenAbout the Author: Madden’s next book “Love Boat 78” will be published in the fall by Mascot Books and available on Amazon, along with his current book, “Is there enough Brady in Trump to the win the inSUPERable Bowl?”

Why The Democrats Are On The Path To Losing In 2020 (But There’s Still Time For Them To Change Tactics)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

My first job in public relations was with a political PR firm, where I worked on local, state and national campaigns, including presidential ones.

A congressman once told me, “If you ever decide to run for office your messages should always appeal to all people.” That’s good advice. Unfortunately many of the Democratic candidates seeking the presidential nomination do the opposite, as last night’s (Sept. 12) debate confirmed. “Segmented politics,” with messages that emphasize the plights of people of color and illegal immigrants, and largely ignore the troubles of other Americans were again a major focus of the made for TV show.

Instead of banding together with a cohesive message about how best to defeat President Trump, the Democratic candidates again formed a circular firing squad. They attacked each others plans, and it seemed as if some of the candidates’ main message was, “I’m the least racist person up here.”

In this debate it was Julian Castro who led the attack against front-runner Joe Biden, when he accused Biden of forgetting what he said two minutes earlier. Also attacking Biden, but in a much more gentlemanly manner, without the vitriolic verbage of Castro, was Sen. Sanders. Sens. Harris and Booker, who had attacked Biden previously, refrained from assaulting Biden, maybe because they saw their previous assaults on the former veep didn’t help their polling numbers.

In order to defeat the president, Democrats have to stop criticizing each other and stick to attacking Trump for his policies. The “my way or no way” Democrats have to remember that to many Americans race and ethnicity are not the most important issues. They are worried about making ends meets, being able to pay for college, family security, increasing healthcare costs, gun violence and sexual preferences.

Candidates should remember that the “Me Too” movement, other sexually-oriented rights and the plight of people illegally crossing our Southern border are not the most important issues for most Americans, even though to listen to the pundits on cable TV a visitor from another planet would think they are. Most of all

Democratic candidates should remember that the only way that change will occur is to defeat Trump, not beat up each other.

Recent presidential elections show that the policies of Democratic presidential candidates often are disconnected from Americans who do not live along the ocean coasts. And political polling shows that most Americans find fault with Trump. But Trump has a potent weapon: Republican strategists are better than those of Democratic candidates.

The GOP strategists zero in on a few targets, like lower taxes and appointing federal judges to their liking, and stick to those goals election after election, unlike those of the Democrats that are all over the universe and can change positions according to minority pressure groups wants and what cable news reports. Importantly, unlike supporters of the Democratic primary losers, Republicans rally around their standard bearer. That’s why even though Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the popular votes, they lost in the Electoral College in past elections.

Listening to the views expressed on Fox News Channel and MSNBC mirrors the talking points of Democratic and Republican political strategists. Fox mainly emphasizes two topics: Making Trump look good and vilifying everything Democratic. To listen to MSNBC, a newcomer from Mars would think that the most important problems in the United States are the treatment of people of color, including those attempting to cross our Southern border illegally.

That’s why I think that emphasizing the problems of a few segments of our populations, and ignoring the difficulties of most Americans, is a road map that leads to a Trump re-election, unless the eventual Democratic candidate takes a different route. (Of course, following the advice of financial advisors, I’m willing to spread my bankroll around and hedge my bet by placing a few dinaros on a Democratic win. But before I do so they have to come up with a ticket that appeals to all segments of our population, not easy considering the racially-oriented pronouncements of many still seeking a place on the ticket.) 

Recent presidential election history shows that the Democrats are most successful when they appeal to independents, centrists and left of center moderate voters. So far most of the candidates’ messages seem to be directed to the far left fringe segment, many of whom would rather see a Trump reelection than a victory by a candidate that they don’t support.

Today, Democrats not only can’t agree on which issues to emphasize, but on the best strategy to run against Trump. Even if all the Democratic presidential candidates suddenly stop attacking each other and agree on a single candidate, the task of defeating Trump will still be difficult because of Democratic infighting.

Already a Sanders supporter said on television that if the senator doesn’t get the nomination his supporters will stay home on Election Day, as many probably did 2016. And an African-American spokesperson said they must be represented on the presidential ticket in order to get out their votes, meaning that if it’s an all white ticket many will not vote again, mirroring what happened in 2016. Bullying statements like those turn off many voters and bolster the chances of another Trump victory. (These statements prove what has been said of the Democratic Party for decades: It’s composed of various special interest groups that only care about their particular concerns and not what’s good for all Americans.)  

An under reported problem that Democrats must solve if they hope to defeat Trump is that many African-Americans haven’t come to the voting booth since President Obama left the White House. In 2016, in states with large black populations, the less than expected black vote gave the states and presidency to Trump. The same scenario was repeated in Tuesday’s close North Carolina congressional election, resulting in a GOP win.

Also, in what might be a turnoff to middle of the road Democrats – the so-called Reagan Democratsmany of the candidates for president are campaigning as if the Democratic platform should consist of Emma Lazarus’ famous poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty. That’s a path to Ellis Island, not a road map to the White House.

During my aforementioned political public relations days, the owner of the firm gave me a sticker to place on my desk when he hired me. It said, “The object is to win, not get headlines.”

Pre, during and post debate comments by some of the Democratic presidential wannabees, led by Sen. Cory Booker, in my opinion, seemingly think whomever gets the most headlines will be the nominee. Candidates should remember that “any publicity is good publicity” was never a truism. Perhaps if Booker and the other candidates would focus on criticizing the policies of Trump, instead of trying to get cable TV time, their standings in the polls would be higher.

It’s been years since the Democrats emphasized policies that appeal to all Americans. It’s as if the policies of FDR, Harry Truman, and LBJ are outdated, but many of the same problems remain, (including the health care issue, which Democrats successfully campaigned on last year and resulted in their taking control of the House). In addition, some Democratic candidates are attacking today’s most popular Democrat – President Obama. It’s tough enough to defeat an incumbent president. But the Democrats, by emphasizing “segmented politics” and practicing parricide are making it much more difficult.

If I was advising a candidate, I would suggest they change tactics and start campaigning on issues that still affect all Americans today. There’s still plenty of time to emphasize the need to address the problems of the many, while not ignoring the needs of people of color and the illegal immigrants’ problem, and discard “segmented politics.” Doing that, I believe, would put a candidate on the right path to the White House and derail Trump’s re-election. But after listening to the Democratic candidates during the debates, and on cable TV programs, if I were a betting person, I’d put down more dollars on Trump, because presently some Democratic candidates seem to be campaigning for the 2024 nomination instead of aiming for a 2020 presidential victory. (Of course, wagering on outcomes, whether it be in politics, sports or stocks is for chumps. Like me. Hopefully not like you.)

Regarding the made for television debates: What the candidates say today has no relevance to how they will campaign if they get the nomination. So maybe the eventual presidential candidate will campaign on a more inclusive platform. That’s important to remember. History bears that out.

Also important to remember is what the TV pundits say before and after the debates, and until the next debate in October means nothing in the long run. Remember 2016 when Hillary Clinton was declared the winner throughout the campaign with the pundits almost daily predicting by how big an electoral margin she will have. Remember “wave election” predictions. It was only after the election of President Trump that the TV pundits started to criticize Clinton’s campaign strategy. Wednesday morning quarterbacking at its worst.

This year the TV pundits universally criticized Biden for running a “quiet” campaign, saying it will be detrimental to him. Thus far, Biden is doing just fine in the polling. That might change as the field of Democratic candidates narrows. And if it does, it will be because of his past and present policy positions, not because months ago he didn’t take the advice of the TV pundits. But be assured, they’ll say, “We told you so.” They always do. Like the self-anointed PR crises pundits in our business, they never admit they were wrong: In their eyes, they’re always correct, even when they aren’t. (Thus far, the biggest hurdle facing Biden is his too often misstatements, his searching for words and rambling responses to questions, which have raised questions about his memory. Because of Biden’s slip-ups more attention than ever has to be given to his running mate if he wins the nomination. Trump’s mental state is also a concern, although perhaps it is his thin skin that makes him seem at times unhinged. Or as a showman, possibly he’s just acting; but not to be discounted is that he can’t remember his lines.) 

But my main problem with what is ludicrously labeled as debates are the questions asked by the TV performers. Instead of acting as umpires and call balls and strikes fairly, the questions resemble a pitcher’s curve ball and are too often meant to divide the candidates, ignoring that they probably agree on 99 percent of the issues and that over the years their positions might have changed, as if that’s a crime.

In my opinion, asking a candidate about a controversial, complicated topic like health care and not permitting a detailed answer because of time restraints is a disservice to the candidates and voters. (I guess, technically, calling the sound bite length discussions a debate is correct but as Biden has said, the format doesn’t provide enough time for a candidate to fully express a viewpoint. To which I agree.)

If the present polling holds up, Americans will have to decide whether to support a serial liar who has antagonized allies and admires totalitarian leaders, or an individual who at times confuses or deliberately reconfigures facts.(Biden, however, doesn’t try to glorify himself, unlike the egotistic, self promoting, president with his delusions of grandeur mentality.)

Regardless of the new national pollings after the debates, people should not take them too seriously. What really matters are the local polling in various states, which result in a candidate gaining the electoral votes. (Gore and Clinton can attest to that.)  

In my opinion the TV debates should be viewed as political entertainment programs. Because in reality that’s what they are. Having to answer questions about policy in a 30 second to one minute format isn’t really a debate. It’s a reality TV joke.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr (at) optimum.net.



How to Create Content that Gets Read

Jill Kurtz, Owner, Kurtz Digital Strategy

Creating content is a grind. Creating content that no one reads is a bummer on top of the grind. Follow these tips to develop content that gets read.

First, set realistic expectations.

Don’t worry about “going viral,” focus on reaching your target audience. You don’t need to reach everyone, you need to reach only the people who need to know about what you offer.

Further, don’t expect everyone to engage with everything. People have limited amounts of attention to give to you. Embrace what they can offer – periodic engagement.

Produce content that matters.

Quality trumps volume. Every time. Create content to serve your audience. Fewer items of higher quality will serve you best.

Tell personal stories.

Storytelling works. Personal stories give your audience content they can’t get anywhere else.

Bring in other voices.

Select leaders in your industry and community and invite their participation. This can range from submitting posts, to images, to just lending a quote or thought. Adding more voices expands the range of your content and taps into related audiences.

Where’s Shakespeare When PR Needs Him (Or Christopher Marlowe)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

On August 16, the New York Times ran an article about Well Fargo continuing to charge customers overdraft fees for accounts that were closed.

A spokesman for the troubled bank, which has for several years been the subject of government investigations for unseemly practices, told the Times, in part, “Wells Fargo works hard to foster a culture that is centered on doing what is right for our customers and exhibiting high ethical standards and integrity.” 

Statements like the one above are from the public relations boiler plate statements hand book that was created many decades ago and should have been trashed, but still unfortunately survive. Two of the so-called “golden rules of PR” that has always bothered me are the clichéd, parrot-like statements issued after a PR crisis and statements by a corporate entity or individual with a PR crisis that lack any empathy. Like the one above.

Most corporate statements after a PR crisis read or sound as if they were written by individuals who have a master degree in Uncaring from Trump University. It’s as if they were instructed that any showing of empathy would create a bigger PR or legal problem for an entity or individual.

I plead guilty to not being a historian of how responses during PR crises affect the legal outcome of a situation. (Probably those who write them also can’t point to how expressing empathy is harmful to a client. Teacher says, student does, is most likely their rule, even if the belief was originated by a Homo erectus.) But I do know that both boiler plate statements or responses that seem as if the person is being water tortured before admitting responsibility is not good public relations.

Below are a few examples of quotes issued during a PR crisis:

In its May 31 edition the New York Times ran a story about a young girl who was injured when she was hit by a foul line drive in a section of the seats that had no protective netting. 

The Times reported that Major League Baseball said, “Clubs have significantly expanded netting and their inventory of protected seats in recent years. With last night’s event in mind, we will continue our efforts on this important issue.” (If the seats are the inventory, are the spectators the product?)

“Boeing CEO Muilenburg Issues Statement on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Accident Investigation.”

“First and foremost, our deepest sympathies are with the families and “Boeing continues to support the investigation, and is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available. Safety is our highest priority as we design, build and support our airplanes. As part of our standard practice following any accident, we examine our aircraft design and operation, and when appropriate, institute product updates to further improve safety.  While investigators continue to work to establish definitive conclusions, Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs. We also continue to provide technical assistance at the request of and under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Accredited Representative working with Ethiopian investigators.

“In accordance with international protocol, all inquiries about the ongoing accident investigation must be directed to the investigating authorities.”

Boeing also is not beyond using the “It’s not our fault” strategy. On June 20, after being  strongly criticized for its handling of the 737 Max crisis at a House hearing, a spokesman for the company said, “The 737 MAX was certified in accordance with the identical FAA requirements and processes that have governed certification of previous new airplanes and derivates,” according to the New York Times. (That’s like saying that just because the government doesn’t prohibit smoking it doesn’t mean doing so will not cause life-threatening illness and addiction.)

Actress Felicity Huffman’s pleading guilty statement re the college admissions scandal:

“I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office.

I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.

I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.

My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.” 

Perhaps the most long-lived and nonsensical boiler plate response is that issued by corporate America, when it reaches a financial settlement with the Feds for regularity wrong doing. The standard statement is, “We neither admit nor deny guilt,” whatever that means, unless you believe that the business is patriotic enough to voluntarily ante up money to enrich the treasury. (Call me a cynic, but I find that hard to believe.)

Resorting to horse and buggy PR statements earned Paul Parilla, former chairman of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors, a place in this article. In a story regarding the sexual assault charges and victim statements against USA Gymnastics, the New York Times quoted him as saying, “The entire leadership of U.S.A. Gymnastics shares the U.S.O.C.’s commitment to promoting a safe environment for athletes, and we take its views very seriously.” (Boilerplate statements like this, without any empathy or admission of wrong doing or corrective measures, is a PR tenet that should have never been practiced. They position a person or entity as uncaring and unsympathetic to those injured.)

The U.S. Olympic Committee again, when a spokesperson, responding to a Wall Street Journal article headlined, “ATHLETES CALL FOR OVERHAUL,” said, the committee’s “…top priority is to protect, support and empower every athlete in our community.” (Another example of a boiler plate response that has little to do with the reality of a situation And I’m still trying to figure out how the U.S.O.C. planned to “empower every athlete.”)

The statement by Huffman gave the impression that she is truly sorry. The other communiqués might have been issued by an A.I. device that lacks any human emotions. (Even responses by Siri and Alexa have more human qualities than most by-the-book PR crises assertions.)

For years, I’ve been questioning the effectiveness of PR crisis efforts. Sometime I counseled clients that the best crisis strategy was to do nothing; other times to be pro-active. But I’ve never believed in some of the tenets that PR crisis specialists advise, like respond quickly, (before the facts are known?), have prepared statements, (without knowing what the problem is?), rehearse your crisis team so they will be prepared if a crisis occurs, (but shouldn’t every crisis be handled differently because as I have long said, “There is no one size fits all crisis plan?), and especially, plan to “get ahead of the story,” a crisis PR tenet that means nothing to the media or public and accomplishes nothing?)

The April 14 business section of the New York Times had a column about crisis management in which Eric Dezenhall, of Dezenhall Resources, was quoted as saying, getting ahead of a story is a great sounding cliché that has no meaning

In my opinion, the most effective statements by an entity or individual in crisis, which so-called PR experts would probably disagree with, are the ones that admit as soon as the facts are known, that there is a problem that has to be corrected, spoken in every day English.

One that impressed me was, There’s only one thing to do,” David Calhoun, the lead independent director of Boeing’s board, told the New York Times. “And that’s to get a safe airplane back up in the sky. I can’t message my way into it.” Mr. Calhoun has it 100% correct. That statement was the best and most believable PR crisis response ever regarding Boeing and other PR crises.

The efficacy of how PR crisis responses help a client can be debated. But one thing is certain. No matter the outcome of a PR crisis strategy, it will be deemed a success, because PR crises teams certainly know how to make themselves look good

In our business, the opinions regarding statements that are issued by individuals or entities in a PR crisis differ. Some practitioners will agree with my take; others will not. But there is one thing that I am fairly certain of: Many of the statements are written by individuals who do not agree with the famous Shakespeare quote: “To thin own self be true,” or the Marlowe line, “Honour is purchas’d by the deeds we do,” and that includes, in my opinion, being honest with clients about what a PR crisis plan can truly accomplish.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr@juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum,net.

“Pinocchio” and the Two Democratic Parties (Op-Ed)

Elliot Fineman

The very act of the Democrats selecting a presidential nominee for the 2020 election will most likely cost them the election. However, there is a path forward that will assure that the Democrats win the House, the Senate and the Presidency. 

Numerous in-depth studies of the 2016 and 2018 elections by highly qualified groups including The Election Project, NPR and PEW make it abundantly clear that without converting a single Pinocchio’s supporter, the Democrats have the numbers, by state, to win the Electoral College in a landslide. This, provided that a sufficient number of the non-voters in the last election––both registered and non-registered––turn out to vote in the 2020 election. 

Further, the Democrats should not try to convince any of Pinocchio’s supporters to change their vote and, in fact, their message to them is a simple one: if you believe Pinocchio is going to take you to the promised land by taking away your health care, destroying the social safety net and plunging the country into bankruptcy, by all means you should vote for him. 

The fact is that the Democrats are essentially two parties—centrist and progressive. The selection of a centrist candidate will keep many progressive voters and some independents from voting while the selection of a progressive candidate will keep many centrist and some independents from voting. These competing positions cannot be reconciled. 

Pinocchio and the Two Democratic PartiesThe path to victory requires the Democrats commit to do certain things within the first year (provided they win the House, Senate and Presidency) regardless of who the final candidate is. These are “common good” measures that both centrists and progressives currently embrace. With these measures in place, the areas of disagreement would be decided between the two Democratic parties after the election. 

This means an agenda that any centrist or progressive candidate will support irrespective of the final nominee. The Democrat candidates and incumbents will be required to sign resignation letters, effective one year from the election, if they do not accomplish these measures. The reason is the non-voter is critical to the Democrats’ success and their primary reasons for abstaining – that their vote doesn’t matter; that politicians do not keep their word ––must be addressed. Unswerving trust must be built. There can be no better assurance than signing resignation letters. 

Specific common good measures include 1) Expanding the Supreme Court from nine to 11 Justices to undo the stolen conservative majority 2) Reinstating and strengthening the overturned environmental laws and re-joining the Paris climate agreement 3) A commitment to prosecute “Pinocchio,” his family and others for illegal activities to the full extent of the law 4) A commitment to tear down any walls or parts of walls that have been built along the southern border 5) A commitment to prosecute Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for treason because he has given “aid and comfort” to enemy foreign countries by refusing to allow the protection of our elections from their interference. 6) Maintaining and strengthening current health care insurance programs––with a final version that can range from a public option to “Medicare for all” to be decided when the Democrats have taken control of the House, Senate and the Presidency 7) Crippling fines for red states that have refused to accept expanded Medicaid to tremendously reduce the number of people without health care insurance 8) Tuition debt relief for students with current debt and for students who have paid off their student loans, 9) Immigration reform that does not allow open borders but is compassionate, fair and secure 10) Immediate dissolution of horrific detention centers and reunification of separated children with their parents 11) Stabilizing Social Security to ensure it never runs out of money and can pay current or future expanded benefits 12) Expanded minimum wage for workers based on the regional cost of living not an across-the-board flat rate 13) Restore unrestricted Title X family planning grants to family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood 14) Reauthorizing the Violence Against Woman Act. 

Other key issues include, socialism, Presidential debates, food deserts, racism and disruptive technological advances. 

Socialism. Democrats must differentiate between Socialism 1) Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia and Socialism 2) Sweden, Norway and Finland. No Democrat wants Socialism 1. Annual surveys, however, show that the happiest people in the world live under Socialism 2. Further, those countries have millionaires and billionaires and market-based capitalism. 

Presidential debates. Trump is a known liar whether it’s congenital, accidental or uninformed is not important. What is important is to know that lying is cheating and one does not compete in games where the other side cheats. You would not play bingo if you knew the game was dishonest, you would not want your team playing in sports contests against teams that cheated. You would not play poker or golf for money with people who cheated––in fact they would be permanently barred; they would never be allowed to play. 

The Democratic nominee should refuse to participate in Presidential debates with Pinocchio – – you cannot win a debate with somebody who cheats. While the nominee will respond to a question with facts Pinocchio will invent facts or tell lies. 

The next day fact checkers will give hard data that confirms their facts and Pinocchio’s fact checker Motor mouth 1 (Kellyanne Conway) will have “alternative facts.” It will be “he said/she said.” 

Instead, the selected Democratic nominee should hold national town hall meetings to allow eligible voters to get to know them and understand the Democratic Party’s absolute commitment to the common good measures 

Further, the argument that Trump supporters will perhaps be persuaded by watching the debate is irrelevant. Trump supporters are not needed for the Democrats to win the House, Senate and Presidency and pursuing them will cost the votes of Democrat supporters. 

“Cheaters gonna cheat.” That’s why every voting machine must have a paper ballot trail. Does anyone remember that last year China granted initial approval for 16 new trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand, including voting machines? 

Food deserts. There are over 23 million people living in “food deserts”–– areas that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food. While the great majority are in low-income urban areas, there are significant numbers in low-income rural areas. Democrats must make a firm commitment to eliminate these food deserts utilizing innovative existing tools including traveling supermarkets, container farms locally placed and encouraging supermarket outlets with major tax incentives. 

Racism. Calling Pinocchio a racist will not win the election. Racism is a disease –– it’s hardwired into racists from birth and they’re not going to change. Its evil effects can be controlled but it is not relevant to the Democrats sweeping the election. 

Disruptive technological advances. Democrats should insist developers who create disruptive technological advances like self-driving cars/trucks that make them incredibly wealthy by putting millions of people out of work must significantly fund safety net programs to compensate/train displaced workers. 

Pinocchio did not win the 2016 election––Hillary Clinton lost it. She lost it by following a predictably losing strategy.  Democrats cannot make that mistake again.  There will not be another chance to correct. Gerrymandering has been approved by the Supreme Court; Citizens United lets elections be bought. The 2020 election can’t be done wrong––there’s no recovering from error. 

About the Author: ELLIOT FINEMAN: For 25 years, Fineman was a strategic marketing advisor to major consulting firms, including Accenture, KPMG and the Boston Consulting Group, which advised Fortune 500 companies. He was recognized for his extraordinary skills as a marketing strategist. Trained at MIT as a civil engineer, Fineman has debated top-echelon NRA spokespeople on radio and television and has addressed undergraduate and graduate students on the topic of gun violence around the country. He has appeared on CNBC, CNN, and Fox News and been quoted by top media outlets, including USA Today, National Public Radio, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He was the host of a program on WPWC radio in Washington, D.C called, It’s the Guns, Stupid. He is president and founder of the National Gun Victims Action Council™ (NGVAC). His book, “We’re Done Asking: 23-46-40: The Numbers To End the Gun Violence Epidemic In 12 Months,” will be published this fall. 

National Gun Victims Action Council™ (NGVAC) is a non-profit network of millions of gun victims, survivors, the faith community and ordinary people leveraging their buying power to change America’s gun laws. Ten months before the Sandy Hook massacre, NGVAC initiated the successful action that caused Starbucks to change its gun policy. NGVAC pursues novel legal strategies to reduce gun violence and encourages corporations to be proactively involved in advocating for gun safety laws.

History Shows That Words May Have Consequences, But Action Gets Results. (Op-Ed)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

Ever since Trump took office, an old proverb has been repeated thousands of times: Words have meanings.

A quick look at history books show that words can indeed be a powerful tool for good or evil. Prior to World War II, Adolph Hitler proved that words could inspire evil; today, President Trump’s words do the same. Conversely, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill proved that words can encourage people to do the right thing.

Our current narcissistic, morally bankrupt, demagogic-like president knows that words have meanings. He used them during his successful 2016 campaign. He is still using them, unfortunately in the same manner of so many past demagogues.

The proper uses of words are the most important tool in my working life, first as a journalist, then as a PR practitioner.

Of the millions of words that have been written and spoken during my lifetime, the one that has troubled me the most while on and off the job is “egotistical.”

I’ve spent most of my working life dealing with egotistical personalities who think their words are meaningful but have zero influence on a situation while working with athletes, show biz stars and low and high ranking foreign and U.S. politicians as a media advisor. Of the three groups, I found that the politicians are the easiest to work with. The most difficult were the ‘”star” athletes and actors, probably because ever since they were young children they were fawned upon by their handlers and the media. (Unfortunately, too many of them believe they are special or superior human beings because they can dump a basketball, have a sweet voice or follow stage directions. Not that our business doesn’t have its share of egotists. Our halls are filled with supervisors who think that they know more than those they supervise and practitioners who think they know more than their clients. Too many in our business take their titles too seriously.) 

Nevertheless, despite the standoffish behavior of many athletes, of the three groups, the one that I have the most respect for are the athletes, and not because of their skills. Unlike during the McCarthy era, actors can now speak out on political matters but have little to lose as long as they keep the cash register ringing. Politicians speak out, as least some do (but not those in the current GOP Congress) because that’s what their job entails.

The reason I have the most respect for athletes is because they have the most to lose, and some have had their career cut short because of expressing opinions that upset team owners and leagues. (Although it must be noted that relatively few athletes take a public political stand compared to show business entertainers.) A new exception is Chris Borland, a former NFL linebacker, who has asked the Catholic Church to take a strong stand for gun control and against white supremacy and is trying to get other athletes to join with him.

The racist speech of a racist, White Supremacist president has ignited athletes to again speak out.

On August 8, The New York Times carried a story about the Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills criticizing his National Football League team owner Stephen Ross for hosting an election fund raiser for President Trump. How that will affect his career remains to be seen. (Only in the NFL: The teams in Texas and Ohio contributed money to victims’ funds after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, but the owner of the Miami franchise hosted a fund raiser for a president whose inflammatory language against people whose skin colors differ than his have brought the worst elements of our society out from under their rocks and hoods into the open.) Since using his First Amendment to the Constitution right to express his opinion, Stills has received death threats.

At football’s recent Hall of Fame ceremonies new inductees Ed Reed and Champ Bailey spoke out about mass shootings, their sorrows and fears. So did Major League Soccer player Alejandro Bedoya, who said after a game, “Before I’m a soccer player, I’m a human being first.”

The NFL and some team owners have punished and threatened players for speaking out about political issues, even though many owners have publicly supported the president. (Personally, when deciding to use a Hall of Flame player for an extensive international sports marketing program, I received a call from a league office (not the NFL) reminding me that the athlete was instrumental in forming a players’ union. I still used the athlete.)

(In 2016, the NFL came down hard on Colin Kaepernick for kneeling peacefully during the playing of the National Anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans. Since then, all the NFL teams have not found a place on their roster for him. Coincidence? You decide. But if players stand during the playing of the anthem teams find a place for them despite their unsavory off the field actions. History shows that the NFL has only done what’s right for the league, regardless of the damage done to others. For years they said research showing that “big hits” can cause brain damage to its players was the equivalent of junk science, and attempted to destroy the reputations of respected scientific researchers. Other leagues have followed the NFL playbook of canonizing themselves. The National Hockey League still refuses to admit that its player can be concussioned by hard hits. Major League Baseball has a lengthy resume of teams threatening to leave a city unless it pays for a new stadium. Legal blackmail? The so-called major college leagues have never been truly amateur. All were helped for decades by a compliant sports media, some of which still too often acts like the leagues’ or teams’ PR arms. ) 

While some show biz stars have never been afraid to speak out about political matters, and I commend them for doing so, their comments are usually gone with the wind. Entertainers who spoke out shortly after the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton include John Legend, Julianne Moore, Cardi B, Cher, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bette Midler, Kevin Bacon, Reese Witherspoon, Henry Winkler and Rihanna, to name a few. Lady Gaga, in addition to making a statement, will provide funding for 162 classrooms in Dayton, Ohio; El Paso, Texas and Gilroy, California, scene of the Garlic Festival shootings last month. But in contrast to Lady Gaga, whose comments were followed by action, the great majority of show biz performers’ comments are mere words, nothing more. Political stands by athletes get results because they follow it with action.

  • In 1968, American track stars John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in what they said was a protest against racism and injustice on the medal stand of the Olympics in Mexico City. They were banned from Olympic participation and vilified by then newspaper columnist Brent Musburger, who called them “black-skinned storm troopers.” Today, the two track stars are considered civil rights heroes.
  • In 1969, St. Louis Cardinals’ all-star centerfielder Curt Flood initiated the path that now gives baseball players free agency, instead of being forced to play for one team indefinitely.
  • But perhaps it was Cassius Clay, who in 1964 provided the loudest black athlete voice against racial injustice by changing his name to Muhammad Ali, saying his former name was his “slave name.”

Carlos, Smith, Flood and Ali were vilified because of their actions, but they changed American society and are now respected.

Never to be forgotten was how a white team owner and a black ballplayer changed history and baseball, on April 15, 1947, when Branch Rickey brought Jackie Robinson to the major leagues as a Brooklyn Dodger. Robinson promised not to respond to racial insults for the season and let his actions on the field do the speaking. Eventually, he became a civil rights activist.

People with a public following who advocate change should learn an important lesson from the above athletes: It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that can bring change.

People in our business who handle show biz stars, sports personalities, brand and corporate executives or politicians should remember that when writing comments or speeches for them the words will soon be forgotten unless they are followed by action.

PR people should remember that we are primarily propaganda merchants. And that our crafted words, spoken by our clients, unless accompanied by action will soon join the ash heap of past words.

Maybe that’s why the first two letters of the word “PRopaganda” are PR.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.


Sports Talk That Matters

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

Years before switching to the public relations business when newspapers began to fail, my first job was as a sports reporter in what I considered the legitimate news business – journalism – as opposed to the manufactured news business – public relations.

In those days, there were several unwritten rules to which the great majority of sports writers and editors followed:

  • If it happens off the field, it’s not a sports story.
  • Team owners, league presidents, managers and especially the commissioners were written about as if they were demigods.
  • Players who spoke about the poor treatment by management were labeled “clubhouse lawyers” by reporters.
  • Many sports writers protected players who behaved poorly by not writing about their sleazy behavior.

There were also other unwritten rules that were followed by players, team owners, and sports marketing sponsors:

  • Players grumbled about, but hardly any spoke for attribution to reporters about team contracts that resembled those of indentured servants.
  • That the bottom line was the most important aspect of owning a franchise was never mentioned.
  • Because of the hero status given to players by protective sports writers, sports sponsors would team up with athletes despite their despicable off-the-field behavior.

But the most important unwritten rule was that team owners, the leagues, sports sponsors and players would not speak publicly about political issues.

Things have changed since my sports writing days, some for the worse, some for the better, some for the best, and some aspects that have not changed.

The Worse:

  • Serious sports journalism is disappearing, except for a few major pubs, as news outlets cut investigative reporters and beat writers.
  • Coverage of sports on television has followed cable political coverage and has largely become a panel of pundits.
  • Team owners contrive to keep the negative aspects of their business from becoming public, as do all businesses.
  • Most team owners and sports sponsors still wilt when political issue becomes entwined with sports.

The Better:

  • Most sports reporters no longer cover-up when players misbehave.
  • Players have better working conditions, because they have organized and are represented by unions.
  • Some sports marketing sponsors don’t mind if their athlete endorsers speak out on social or political issues.
  • Some sports marketing sponsors speak out about social and political issues.

The Same:

  • Some sports journalists, especially football team TV commentators, still talk about owners as if they were the best people on Earth, neglecting to mention how for years they ignored scientific evidence that shows concussions can destroy an athlete’s life and attempted to cover up the evidence.
  • Some sports marketing sponsors still wilt when asked about how political issues affect their marketing plans.
  • Some sports journalists still downplay the unsportsmanlike conduct of athletes.

The Best:

  • For decades sports was considered to be an element of American society to be protected by sports writers from the realities of our culture. That has changed as many sports writers, marketing sponsors and some team owners admit that sports cannot be a stand-alone protected and encapsulated facet of American life.

The confluence of sports and society was demonstrated once again after the tragedy in Texas and Ohio.

While President Trump tried to explain that his inflammatory language has no affect on the hatred in segments of our society that has become virulent since he first began running for president, a few athletes spoke about their fears.

At football’s Hall of Fame ceremonies last weekend, new inductees Ed Reed and Champ Bailey spoke out about the mass shootings, their sorrows and fears. So did Major League Soccer player Alejandro Bedoya, who said after a game, “Before I’m a soccer player, I’m a human being first.” These athletes know that sports is not the most important facet of American society, unlike those who say politics has no place in sports or that sports journalists should stick to covering ballgames.

Unlike Republicans in Congress who refuse to say anything negative about the rabble-rousing language used by Trump, because they are fearful of being primaried, the above and other athletes who have spoken out about the evils in our society express their views even though it might cost them sponsorships or future employment in the sports industry.

Unfortunately, for many Americans sports is a too important focus of their life. They are more interested in the state of the teams they root for than the state of affairs in America.

The Republican caucus in the House and Senate are largely mute about the un-American views that Trump sprouts out on an almost daily basis.

President Trump’s inflammatory language has made bigotry come out from under the rocks and hoods to become mainstream in segments of our society. It proves that words matter.

That’s why I congratulate all the athletes who don’t limit their views only to what happens on the ball fields. Maybe their words will get through to those among us who only care about hits, runs and errors and to those Trump supporters who are interested in the truth and are tired of the president’s demagogic rhetoric.

There’s an important lesson that people in our business can learn from the present and past athletes who spoke out about conditions in our society that they deplored. Never be afraid of speaking the truth to people you report to. Being a “yes” person will set back, not help you in your career. Speaking the truth might upset your superiors for a while, but experience shows that you’ll be looked at as more than just a run of the mill employee number. You will become known as a person who is not afraid to take incoming flak from supervisors when you tell them that they are wrong. Just be certain that you have facts and ideas that back up your disagreements. And don’t be afraid of going over your supervisor’s head to top management. You can be assured that many of your supervisors, and top management, did the same. Doing so will help your career.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.

250 U.S. Mass Shootings in 2019 and Counting: When Will Something Be Done?

Both Sides in the Gun Debate Roll out Their Expected PR Messaging

Andrew Blum, Principal, AJB Communications 

“Ban Weapons of War,” blared the headline of a New York Post front-page editorial the Monday after the two latest mass shootings struck in El Paso and Dayton within 24 hours of each other.

The right-leaning tabloid is owned by Trump ally and supporter Rupert Murdoch. What was surprising about the editorial and headline was that the Post and Murdoch broke with President Trump and the GOP on gun control.

So how do both sides message the issue of shootings and the second amendment in this era of seemingly non-stop mass shootings?

For weeks, months and years after each mass shooting, the political refrain was “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” There was no federal action on gun laws, not even after 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six adults were massacred in 2012 in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown CT.

For me this is personal and professional: I had a cousin murdered with a gun a number of years ago. More recently, I did PR for one of the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook. I’ve seen first-hand how guns and shootings impact people.

President Trump, in televised comments Monday on the two mass shootings, made no calls for new guns laws – instead he blamed mental illness, video games, the fake media and white nationalists despite the fact that his rhetoric has fanned the fires of hate in this country.

The rest of the GOP took no positive steps on Monday and the NRA stuck to its guns on the issue.

But here’s something that could move the needle. The Democrats and the anti-gun groups – such as Everytown for Gun Safety, Gabby Giffords’ three groups and The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – should keep the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

McConnell – nicknamed “Moscow Mitch” (for his refusal to allow a Senate vote to protect U.S. elections after the 2016 Russian election interference) — should also be dubbed “NRA Mitch” or “Massacre Mitch.” He hasn’t allowed the Senate to take up gun control legislation that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said Monday that if Trump was serious about background checks, he should take it up with McConnell. “Demand Sen. McConnell put the bipartisan, House-passed universal background checks bill up for a vote,” Schumer said in a tweet.

There have been mass shooting at schools, synagogues, churches, concerts, festivals, movie theaters, shopping centers, stores, bars and nightclubs. And we’ve had 250 mass shootings this year alone.

What’s left as a safe haven from guns? And what should the PR plan be to get action?

How about all the survivors and the families of the victims hold vigils outside of Congress and McConnell’s home? They should carry pictures of all those who died in mass shootings. After all, McConnell is up for re-election in 2020. Maybe now is the time for the Democrats and anti-gun activists to shame him into action.

Without action, it is a near certainty we will have more mass shootings. Murdoch and the NY Post are on board to take some action. Why not McConnell, the GOP and Trump?

About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at ajbcomms@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms


Fake News, Fake Anguish, Fake Debates? You Decide

(Even When It’s Real, Radio, TV News and Debates Are Also Shams)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

So episode two of the multi-channel sham TV series mischaracterized as Democratic debates is history. And again a direct line between the president of the United States and the cable networks has been proven: Donald Trump says that every negative story about him is Fake News. As for the cable networks promoting their spectacles as debates: Also Fake News. After the first debate, Joe Biden was entirely correct when he said there’s not much you can say in 30 to 60 seconds. And the CNN debate was corroborative evidence of what the former vice-president said, as candidates were continuously cut short by the moderators.

President Donald J Trump is the master of Fake News. He makes comments about happenings that really are Fake News. And he derides true negative stories about him as Fake News. One would not be wrong to assume that this pseudo patriotic draft dodger learned from the Fake News statements made by another liar – Adolph Hitler. (Sometime when I listen to Trump’s remarks I think he’s representing the party of George Lincoln Rockwell instead of Abraham Lincoln. Not that I’m saying that Trump is a Nazi, even though he speaks Grade A Nazi fluently. But he does seem to admire tyrants and has many of their traits. And he is a population divider and is largely responsible for furthering the antagonism between different segments of our society.) Trump’s act is not new: Convince the populace that the present government is corrupt and that only he can save the country from destruction. (With a White Horse in the barn?)

 A check of past president’s remarks shows that all president’s lie, mostly to advance their agendas. But Trump takes it many miles further. He lies not only to advance his agenda but to cause citizens to distrust immigrants, as well as defenders of our freedoms, like the FBI, intelligence and other governmental services and the courts. (It’s as if all the evils of mankind have escaped from Pandora’s Box and found a home in Trump’s mouth.) To his supporters Trump is a demigod. To me he’s a demagogue.

Trump is not the only disseminator of Fake News. Pay attention to the “hard news” reports on electronic media – radio and television – and you’ll see what I mean, as the producers and reporters strive to make listeners and viewers believe that they are reporting it first, accurately and completely. (Or maybe they are not trying to deceive their audiences. There’s a good case to be made that they really aren’t knowledgeable about what they report.)

A recent radio news report that caught my attention while eating breakfast on July 9 concerned New York Met’s slugger Pete Alonso’s beneficent charitable gesture. It made me put down by morning coffee and take to the computer, because as a journalist during the era when accuracy and completeness was a must for every story, more important than “getting it first,” it disturbed me. (It also disturbs my wife, when I consistently point out the inaccuracies and omissions on cable news networks’ political reporting. That means I upset her quite frequently.)

The radio reporter on WCBS said that ESPN reported Alonso would donate 10 percent of his home run derby winnings to charities, giving the impression that it was new reporting. It wasn’t. No where during the different airing of Alonso’s accomplishment that I heard during different news cycles were the words saying that Alonso said he would do that several days prior to his winning the derby.  Often, I also hear news reported on this station that has been reported a few days earlier on other sites, like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, giving the impression that what the listener is hearing is new. (At least they don’t claim every report is “Breaking News” as their cable TV kin does.)

WCBS radio billboards itself as “More Than Just The Headlines.” Maybe at one time. But not today. Not since they became a quasi sports station and began carrying programming from financial advisors trying to get your business. More accurately, the station should billboard itself as “Not the entire story and not the latest news.”

But except for fanatics and people whose livelihood is associated with sports, the Alonso report was a minor blip in accurate reporting. Not so when the subject is political reporting.

As readers of my media columns know, I am not a fan of the political news delivered on the cable TV channels. I mentioned the report on WCBS radio to show how accurate and detailed reporting has largely disappeared on the electronic media and that people have to read major newspaper to get the entire story.

Too often it should be obvious to political junkies who watch the cable TV networks that reporters really don’t know the details of what they are reporting. Weasel words like ‘bad optics,” “wave election,” and “playing to his base” are used by pundits and reporters instead of new detailed reporting. And when the reporters race down the hall to get a sound bite from a congressperson, they excitedly report what was said without putting the remarks in context. (Terrible reporting; good for sneaker companies.)

A prime example of the above is the overblown coverage that early on was given to a very junior congresswoman with a very limited following – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, with three other congresswomen, (two of whom, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have made overtly anti-Semitic remarks that were whitewashed by the shameful Democratic leadership) have demonstrated media smarts. Thus far they have done more to ensure a second term for Trump than the entire Republican National Committee. It is cable news’ insatiable appetite for yellow journalism that has vaulted AOC from being a minor congresswoman to a media star, comparable to the destructive politics of Donald Trump. 

(In a huge July 13-14 article, the Wall Street Journal reported that Britain’s Labour Party is now in crisis because of anti-Semitic sentiment in its ranks. At one time, Labour could count on the bulk of Jewish votes; now 85.6% of Jews think it condones anti-Semitism. The same could happen here to the Democratic Party if anti-Semitic sentiment in the party isn’t strongly condemned by its leaders. Jewish voters were not always a sure vote for Democrats. From 1860 until the election of President Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, Jews voted for Republican presidential candidates.) 

What makes what AOC says more newsworthy than others in Congress is not the substance of her comments, which are inflammatory and separatist, rather than unifying. It’s cable news’ appetite for making every ripple in the ocean seem like a tsunami in order to stir the pot and gain audience. (And they usually succeed in doing so to the detriment of the American political system.)AOC’s “caucus” of four has as much support among Democrats in Congress as Rep. Justin Amash has among Republican House members. (I’ve been politically left of the Democratic National Committee on many issues, even before I was old enough to vote. But if AOC and her “schismists” are the future of the party, count me out. Full Disclosure: I’m a registered independent who usually votes, but not always, Democratic.) 

What personally irks me about the cable coverage given to AOC and her three congresswomen is that they are always referred to as “the progressives,” intimating that every other member of the Democratic caucus is moderate to conservative. Ridiculous and misleading. But that is to be expected from cable TV political reporting.

What the above has to do with the Democratic debates is everything. If not for the insatiable appetites of the cable channels to make every pebble seem like the Rocky Mountains, AOC and her band’s remarks and the comments by the presidential hopefuls on the debate stages wouldn’t even make the front page of many newspapers. (Nor they should. They’re nothing but pre-rehearsed sound bites that have no relevancy to what the winning candidate will say on the campaign trail.)

During the first sound-bite NBC News debate in June, Sen. Kamala Harris borrowed the deck of cards from AOC and attacked front-runner Joe Biden for saying publicly that in order to get meaningful legislation years ago he worked with members of the Senate, (whose philosophy he disagreed with). The remarks of Ms. Harris, Sen. Cory Booker and AOC remind me of someone saying, “If you don’t do it my way, I’m going to take my ball and go home.” But the home isn’t theirs. In this case, the “home” is the White House, and Donald Trump is likely to renew the lease for an additional four years because of their actions. (AOC, in particular, implies that anyone who disagrees with her is a racist, which in itself is a racist outlook on life. Of course, AOC, Harris and Booker don’t directly accuse individuals, like Biden and Nancy Pelosi, of being racists. Instead they tar them by innuendo.)

As a political junkie, whose first job in public relations was with a political PR firm, where I worked on local, statewide and national campaigns, including the presidential level, I’ve seen the Harris, Booker and AOC act before. It’s reminiscent of the 1950s GOP performances starring Sen. Joe McCarthy, who accused individuals of being a Communist without specifically naming them as Communists and without proof to back up his allegations.

What has largely been under reported is that recently AOC has been sued twice in federal court for blocking negative comments about her political positions from her tweeter account, even though she uses it for policy statements. A federal appeals panel ruled against President Trump for the same reason, saying doing so violated the Constitution. (It appears that the president and AOC have a few things in common: Thin skin, a limited view of free speech and disagreeing with George Orwell’s quote, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” But AOC and Trump seem to believe that free speech only applies to speech they say or agree with.

After listening to comments from the president and the congresswoman, it’s my opinion that Trump has a racist, White Supremacy agenda and AOC has a People of Color agenda, along with Harris and Booker. What’s needed are political leaders who advocate a What’s Good for All Americans agenda, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Sen. Harris’ pre-rehearsed performance during the first debate is a prime example why I say the debates are shams. Instead of cutting her off and reminding her that the candidates were supposed to discuss current issues, the moderators let her supposedly anguished attack on Biden go on uninterrupted. Good television. Bad for viewers who wanted to learn about the candidates position on current issues.

The performances by Harris and Booker, during and after the first debate, and the comments by AOC and her minuscule band of followers in Congress, make me wonder if they forgot who the enemy is. It’s not Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi. It’s Donald Trump. (Or maybe their quest for power is more important to them than who wins in 2020. I’ve long believed that some cable TV talent that is violently anti-Trump in their commentary secretly wishes he wins reelection, which would give them another four years of tailor made commentary. I wonder if AOC would rather burn the House down and see the present Democratic leadership fall victims to a Trump victory so she can lead a coup) 

Trump won the presidency in 2016 because of the economic instability (and racist sentiment?) in three normally Democratic states. After the June debate, his approval margin has increased because the debaters largely ignored bread and butter topics and instead agreed with the far left agenda of its party that is driven by four novice media savvy congresswomen. The presidential hopefuls seemed to forget that there is more to America than illegal immigrant rights. 

Was the July 30 and 31 so-called debate on CNN any better than NBC’s June sound-bite telecast of presidential wannabes? Maybe for CNN, but not for the good of the Democratic Party or political discourse in general. 

Instead of coming together and forming a strategy to defeat Trump, the ego-driven participants still seemingly haven’t learned the basics of a successful presidential political campaign. Instead of each performing as if they were the only person who can save the country, Democrats should become more pragmatic and accept the reality that only winners have the ability to create change. And that when selecting a presidential candidate, electability should be the only consideration. (That’s why while my heart belongs to Liz, the pragmatic side of my brain at this moment belongs to Joe)

Ever since the NBC debate, Sens. Harris and Booker have been treating Biden as if he is a pinata, trying to bust it open and have the nomination fall from his polling lead into their laps. In the second debate, they were joined by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Their continuing attacks on a much improved Biden made President Trump the clear winner of this debate.  

There were two major problems with the CNN format: 1), All the leading contenders for the nomination were not on the same stage, and 2), whenever the candidates started to mix it up and truly began debating each other, the moderators yelled, the equivalent of “the bell has sounded, go to your corner.” (Also, during the debates, CNN kept dividing the candidates into “progressives” and “moderates,” as does MSNBC and other news outlets, even after one of the CNN-designated “moderates” said he was a “progressive,” proving that the CNN storyline was set in cement no matter what the candidates said. A more accurate candidate description would be to deep six the word “moderate” and replace it with “pragmatist.”)

In the days before political correctness became the norm in courteous American society, there was a joke about a Polish circular firing squad. That’s what both debates were like: Democratic candidates firing at each other. (Full disclosure: I’m of Polish heritage and the joke doesn’t offend me. Maybe that’s because I am against censorship, including the language censorship of political correctness. That doesn’t mean I approve of the use of gutter language or language that demeans others. It means I believe in the first amendment to the Constitution.)

As if cable already hasn’t reduced intelligent political coverage to the first grade level, CNN treated their TV debates as if they were a sporting event, holding a draw (on July 18) to determine which candidates will face off against each other. The production was more complicated than a Rube Goldberg cartoon, the difference being that Goldberg purposely contrived his cartoons to be overcomplicated, ridiculous and convoluted. (The draw would have been better suited for ESPN. Not only is cable TV responsible for the decline of significant political discussions, CNN has made the candidates appear as pawns in a TV game.) But CNN accomplished a near miracle with its salmagundi: It made Fox News seem respectable. 

On the afternoons of the two-headed debates, CNN thought an insert of the debate venue or showing the candidates walking through the venue was newsworthy. It reminded me of cable’s coverage of O.J. Simpson’s  white Bronco car chase in 2014, which continued for more than an hour without any true news value.

The hypocrisy of all the cable channels political reporting was made evident on Don Lemon’s July 18 CNN program. Lemon acknowledged that if not for the cable channels’ reporting of Trump’s racist comments at rallies, they would not get substantial coverage. Lemon said, we struggle with what to cover because we know we’re playing into Trump’s campaign strategy. But nevertheless the cable channels cover the local rallies and disseminate it nationally and discuss it on their talk shows for one reason, in my opinion: Trump’s remarks hype ratings. The cable networks said they would change how they cover Trump’s tweets and rallies after his 2016 election. They haven’t. (Maybe they’re Waiting for Godot to tell them what to do.)

A major shortcoming of all cable political analysis is that everyone on a panel must have something to say, even if their comments are rubbish and were repetitions of what were just said by other panelists. During and after Robert S. Mueller’s congressional testimony on July 24, instead of highlighting how the former special counsel continuously refuted Trump’s Fake News version of the investigation, which made page one headlines in major pubs like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, many TV pundits instead highlighted how Mueller’s demeanor had changed over the years, as if that was more important than what he said. (Is the new cable standard of what is important limited to people who come on like John Wayne in one of his Marine movie roles? What has not changed over the years are the shortcomings of cable political reporting.)

The thing that got me to put fingers to keyboard to write this column was: 1- the WCBS Radio report; 2- the alleged and mislabeled Democratic debates and 3- the questions asked to the candidates during the June and July made for TV shows. (Any resemblance to these made for TV shows and actual debates are entirely specious).

As any good novice reporter knows there is a crucial element missing from the TV political shows – follow-up questions to guests, and they were also largely missing from the June and July debates. (The lack of follow-up questions from TV political reporters – whether hosts, anchors, or the “run after the congressperson” staffers to get a sound bite – are a stain on journalism.)

Thus far, the questioning of candidates during the two debates has been less than stellar. I expect similar lame questions to be asked on September 12 and 13, when the next inappropriately-named Democratic debates are on ABC News and Univision.

There are several PR strategies in between the lines of this article that I have always followed and recommend:

  • When crafting sports marketing programs never use a star of the moment like Pete Alonso was for several days after the all-star game. By the time your program is completed and approved by your client Alonso will have been interviewed and reported on so frequently that whatever he would say would be considered stale news by many target media outlets. (Instead, I would use an athlete known for charitable work, with the proviso that the person has been out of the media spotlight for several years, making the person “fresh news.” I would have this individual talk about Alonso’s charitable gift but quickly transition to the unknown charitable work of other athletes. This would provide a new approach to the Alonso story and also make it much more than a sports story.)
  • When crafting a program, never base it on what you have heard being covered on TV or radio, or what has been printed in newspapers. Chances are that account groups at other agencies          are doing the same, and if their programs are more creative, newsworthy and launched first, the chance of you receiving significant news coverage will be greatly diminished.
  • When crafting a program, always do original research. Never base it on what you have seen on TV news shows or read in prints pubs. Too often what is reported is just the tip of the ice burg. Even worse, many reports are wrong. (On TV, especially, wrong facts are hardly ever acknowledged and corrected. I remember it being done and explained why it happened just once, many years ago by Megan Kelly on Fox News.)

With so many research tools available only a search engine away, there is no excuse for factual mistakes by PR people. As for the mistakes by TV political reporters, it is to be expected. After all, when there is “Breaking News” every few seconds there’s little time to check on the facts. Right?

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.

Billionaire Launches First Cannabis-tied Cryptocurrency and Global Hemp Exchange

Billionaire Launches First Cannabis-tied Cryptocurrency and Global Hemp ExchangeCommPRO Editorial Staff 

Alkiviades David and his Swiss-based consortium have launched The Swissx Bank of Cannabis headquartered in Gstaad and with a Caribbean headquarters to be named soon. The Bank also operates SWX Coin, a cryptocurrency based on Bitcoin’s blockchain with single unit pricing is pegged directly to the median global price of premium hemp flower. The Swissx Global Hemp Exchange will also provide the entire industry with a secondary market where futures and other trades can be made based on its global market analytics.

Initially the bank and its coin will manage all of Swissx’s financial transactions with its many partners in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean, but the bank is also a turn-key solution for the entire Cannabis sector, providing a secure, transparent venue for all transactions, and a coin tied to a commodity. The CBD-hemp business is expected to reach $24 billion in the U.S. alone by 2023.

Download the Swissx wallet here: https://wallet.swissx.com

Swissx also announced that former Prime Minister of St. Kitts-Nevis Denzil Douglas has joined the Swissx Bank of Cannabis board. Douglas, who is also known as the Founder and CEO of his social and environmental impact non-profit, the Global Lifestyle Group, has already been acting as a Caribbean business development consultant for Swissx. The Swissx Bank of Cannabis and the Swissx Global Hemp Exchange will soon name a Caribbean capitol as regional headquarters from a shortlist of competing offers.

The Swissx Bank of Cannabis launched with the backing of $750 million dollars worth of premium Swissx Cherry Wine and Donald Trump seeds and $250 million in Swiss Francs.  The Farmer’s Wallet within the SWX Coin block-chain has been set up to pay members of the Swissx Hemp Farmers’ Cooperative. The international cooperative, which is growing quickly across the Caribbean, was set up to keep up with the demand for Swissx Hemp Flower products, and provides proprietary hemp strains, training, and a guarantee to purchase all crops grown by its participating farmers.

Farmers are paid in SWX Coin from the Farmer’s Wallet which is redeemable for cash anytime, without restriction, from the bank’s vaults in Gstaad, Switzerland or regional offices in the Caribbean. Outside of the Farmer’s Wallet, surplus hemp is sold to third party buyers using SWX Coins that they purchase from Swissx Bank of Cannabis.

The Swissx Global Hemp Exchange will monitor and analyze thousands of data streams including predictive crop software linked to partner Chase Ergen’s vast network of satellites, EchoStar. The Exchange will initially handle Swissx’s surplus crop at preferred rates but will eventually become the authority for the entire Cannabis sector for trusted pricing and trading.

For added speed and security the Swissx Bank of Cannabis and SWX Coin operate on D-Wave Technology’s advanced quantum computers.

Swissx, the first company to take safe, legal, CBD products into the mainstream, has recently developed a massive international cooperative farming operation with acres already planted in California and Puerto Rico, and 5000 more acres under contract across the Caribbean. Swissx CBD products are distributed globally in premium health food stores, doctors offices, and in mass market outlets such as 7-11 convenience stores. The products have been endorsed by Mike Tyson,  Scott Disick, of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Dave Navarro of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dogg, Chief Keef, Lil Wayne, Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong, Donatella Versace, Jonathan Rhys Myers and many more.

Swissx Genetics, with labs in Switzerland and South Korea, has developed the purest and most powerful CBD-only strains of hemp available and Head of Genetics Dr. Olof Olson continues to modify using genetic modification and some highly unconventional radiation-based experiments to continue to develop a strain so distinctive it becomes its own genus. (The division of Swissx is also working on animal cloning and de-extinction).

Alki David’s efforts in the Caribbean have been praised by agricultural and business leaders, as well as government officials, for their fairness and their urgency.

“First we changed the game for CBD products, then we created tremendous opportunity for farmers and their regional economies throughout the Caribbean,” said Alki David, CEO and Founder of Swissx. “Now we’ve used Swiss financial know-how to create the first bank and cryptocurrency entirely optimized for the legal cannabis industry. The Swissx Global Exchange will be an authoritative resource for the entire industry, better than Nielsen, bigger than Nasdaq. Together, the Bank and Currency and Exchange don’t just insure Swissx’s international operations run perfectly, it will become the engine for the fastest growing business sector in the world.”

Swissx is supported by Alki David’s companies, FilmOn Networks, a pioneering, global streaming TV service, Hologram USA, the original celebrity hologram and telepresence company, and the digital distribution platform Octiive. Partners of Alki David’s companies include Universal Studios, Capital Cities/ABC, the House of Dior, Universal Music Group, Tyson Ranch, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NBCUniversal, and many more.

Facebook Owns Our Data. Should It Own Our Wallets?

Facebook Owns Our Data. Should It Own Our Wallets

Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

Since 2016, Facebook ( (FB[NGS] – $203.88 0.03 (0.01%) Trade )) has faced numerous scandals, including its news feed, its Beacon program, third-party apps accessing and exposing users’ personal data, its mood-manipulation experiment, the Cambridge Analytica fiasco which exposed ties to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, GDPR, massive data thefts, violations about Germany’s hate speech laws, its facial recognition software and more.

Now, it’s Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, which some lawmakers called for Facebook to pause its development thereof, citing the company’s seemingly endless list of scandals. In their letter Tuesday, the groups said Libra raises questions about everything from national sovereignty to consumer privacy.

The US regulatory system is not prepared to address these questions. Nor are the regulatory systems of other nations or international institutions. If products and services like these are left improperly regulated and without sufficient oversight, they could systemic risks that endanger US and global financial stability,” lawmakers said in the letter. CNET, July 2, 2019.

Yet, since June 2019, after Facebook released the Libra white paper about its “cryptocurrency,” top-tier publications have provided in-depth analyses of some of the major issues, including regulatory, privacy, ownership by for-profit companies, the potential misuse of economic and political power, doubts about permissioned cryptocurrencies, the lack of vetting app developers and more.

Can’t wait for a cryptocurrency with the ethics of Uber, the censorship resistance of PayPal, and the centralization of Visa, all tied together under the proven privacy of Facebook,” said Executive Director of Open Privacy Sarah Jamie Lewis, on Twitter.

Others hype Libra as having the ability to scale with its 2.5 billion monthly users, provide financial access to billions of people worldwide with low-fee payments across borders, the underbanked, and to raise awareness of cryptocurrency worldwide. E-commerce will be extended by providing products to buy on Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook claims that its wallet, Calibra, will not be connected to user data from Facebook and Instagram without permission. The company’s history with user privacy calls for more than a measure of skepticism.

But is Libra a Cryptocurrency?

Geneva welcomed Facebook as the home of the Libra Association, a not-for-profit organization that will govern the payment network and manage a financial reserve for the cryptocurrency. The Swiss State Secretariat for International Finance said it’s a “positive sign that Switzerland can play a role in an ambitious international project. Swiss politicians have gushed about the potential of “Crypto Valley” in the low-tax Swiss city of Zug, and then-Finance Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann last year even talked about Crypto Valley morphing into a “Crypto Nation Switzerland.” Bloomberg, June, 2019.

The Libra Association consists of 28 founding members, including MasterCard, PayPal, Spotify, Lyft, Uber and others that get one vote each along with Facebook. But, just because Libra employs blockchain technology doesn’t necessarily make it a cryptocurrency.

While Bitcoin is a decentralized network exempt from permissions and resistant to censorship, Libra is run by a consortium of large corporations which will be impacted by regulations from various global governments. Also, it’s not a currency, it’s a digital token or – in financial parlance – a “stablecoin.” London Loves Business, July 3, 2019.

Unlike bitcoin which is decentralized and controlled by thousands of nodes worldwide that validate transactions, the Bitcoin blockchain needs more than 51 percent computing power (equal to billions of dollars) for it to be altered. Bitcoin is transparent, anonymous, borderless, permissionless, verifiable and immutable.

The Fuel for Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive technologies like cryptocurrency are defined as such because they’re driven by customers’ demands for faster, personalized, frictionless, cost-effective and more trusted products and services. However, since Libra is slated to launch in 2020, the debate will continue.

Like financial technology (FinTech), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, drones, self-driving cars, cloud, 5G, smart devices, and other new technologies, companies either identify ways to improve existing services like Uber did with taxis or create a new offering like Netflix by creating a low-cost alternative to subscription services like Blockbuster.

In the Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Blockchain Are Challenging the Global Economic Order, Wall Street Journal journalists, Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey write:

Most of the people we talk to seem to think of cryptocurrencies and related projects in terms of two to three years, or five to ten years…. Bitcoin is just six years old. It has gone from what ostensibly was one lonely coder’s pet project to a global phenomenon that has sparked the imagination and activism of libertarians, anticorporatists, crypto-anarchists, utopians, entrepreneurs and VCs.

Society-at-large will play a role, too, partly because of the disruptive impact that technology is having on people’s lives. Cryptocurrency is a potentially powerful new disruptive element. Interconnected computing gadgets give people far greater control over their lives, new markets for their products and labor, and new tools for organizing politically.

But the technology also fuels anxiety. Some fear the surveillance that it permits; others feel overwhelmed by the barrage of information; a good many will have their jobs replaced by machines and software. Technology has fueled a backlash, and cryptocurrencies are no different….

The passionate believers and the threatened masses are already rubbing up against each other in the public square. They are going to meet and mix and mingle and test out each other’s ideas and hash out where this whole thing goes. This is exactly how change happens, a constant, slow-moving evolution by which human society alters and adapts.”

Is Wall Street Bullish on Crypto?

J.P Morgan, RBC, SunTrust, Raymond James, and Baird are some of the Wall Street firms predicting that Facebook’s Libra is a move forward towards global adoption of crypto. Its financial infrastructure backed by heavyweights is a “watershed moment” but will take some time. Other investment banks are open to crypto trading based on customer demand.

Before any real progress can be made, however, cryptocurrency needs to be clearly defined to understand the key differences and potential problems.

First, Libra is centralized meaning its founding members will run nodes, and it’s regulated. A decentralized blockchain, like bitcoin, has millions of nodes so it’s not controlled by any intermediary. Other differences include onboarding. With Libra, you must be approved. With bitcoin, anyone can use it.

Bitcoin is really a people-to-people currency and you can actively participate in the network. Libra is a currency of business-to-people. As a private person, you cannot easily participate actively in the network and, unlike Bitcoin, you must rely on the fact that the companies that operate Libra do not operate in secrecy. In addition, one can imagine that Libra could possibly be frozen and/or censored.

This is not possible with Bitcoin. Bitcoin transactions cannot be censored and Bitcoin accounts cannot be frozen by anyone. This makes Bitcoin a great place to donate to organizations that may be censored and muzzled in their own country. In addition, everyone can actively participate in the Bitcoin network.” CrytoTicker, June 2019.

A Brief Blockchain Primer

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology which uses cryptography to secure every transaction and insures its accuracy for every user in the network. It’s the underlying mechanism for the crypto market and is being used across a wide variety of industry sectors, including but not limited to, banking, messaging apps, voting, internet identity, ride sharing, education, cloud storage, music and entertainment, real estate, insurance, supply-chain, sports, retail, charity, cannabis and government.

“If Facebook can establish Libra as a trusted way for users make their transactions, it will go a long way to rebuilding trust in Facebook itself. Despite all of this, the crypto movement isn’t scared of Libra. “I’d be nervous if I were the US government, but I’m not nervous as a Bitcoin holder,” says Sasha Hodder, a lawyer from Washington DC.

“It’s a good thing… for more people to learn about Bitcoin. One is decentralized, one is centralized; one has a blockchain, the other says it’s a blockchain; one has an anonymous, pretty cool founder and one has Mark Zuckerberg.” The Telegraph, June 2019.

Have Americans Caught the “Crypto” Craze?

Conversely, 85 percent of Americans are not interested in Facebook Libra, a new IBD/TIPP Poll found. Some 94 percent of young adults ages 18-24, and ages 25-44 are not interested. For 45-64s, 91% said they are not keen on Libra. Americans age 65 and older showed the least resistance. But seniors were hardly enthusiastic: 79% aren’t interested in Facebook Libra.

In total 56% of people said they do not believe it is likely they will buy or use cryptocurrencies in the next 10 years. Notably, 57% of self-described investors don’t expect to buy or use cryptocurrencies in the next 10 years. That compares to 53% of non-investors. Investor’s Business Daily, June 27 2019.

Backlash from Around the World

The Senate Banking Committee will be holding a hearing, “Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations” on July 16, 2019, at 10 am ET. Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC) called for a moratorium on Facebook’s activity on Libra.

The House committee will hold its first hearing into Libra and its “impact on consumers, investors, and the American financial system” on July 17 2019.

France’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, asked the Group of Seven including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada to draft a report on the cryptocurrency for its July summit. “This money will allow (Facebook) to assemble even more data, which only increases our determination to regulate the internet giants,’’ declared LeMaire.

On July 3, Cointelegraph reported over 30 advocacy groups have appeared as signatories on a request that Congress and regulators implement an official moratorium on Libra development. Also, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Eugene Stiglitz published an article claiming that “every currency is based on trust, but only a fool would trust Facebook’s Libra.”

“The scrutiny that we’ve seen is something that we expected and welcome. We announce this early by design to have this discourse in the open and gather feedback. Reserves would be subject to monetary policies of countries where funds are located. Calibra does not plan to apply for local banking licenses,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We look forward to responding to lawmakers’ questions as this process moves forward,” but did not agree to pause development on Libra.

But, Facebook is setting its sights on underdeveloped countries. David Marcus, the head of the company’s blockchain group said, “Libra’s great promise is to help people who are poorly served by the current banking system, particularly those in developing countries.

“With Libra, anyone with a $40 smartphone and connectivity will have the ability to securely safeguard their assets, access the world economy, transact at a much lower cost, and over time access a whole range of financial services,” he wrote. “We firmly believe that if Libra is successful, it can be a non-linear step change for billions of people who need it the most.”

The novelty and ambition of the idea does not seem to be discouraging investors: Facebook stock is up about 4% since the company announced Libra. CNBC, July 3 2019.

To learn more about David Marcus’s testimony before the Senate on Libra’s cryptocurrency, listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUQpmEjgFAU. 

Here are the top ten issues:

1. What about the bad actors?
2. How is Libra a non-profit if it will pay dividends?
3. Crypto is decentralized. Libra is centralized
4. Where’s the accountability?
5. It’s business model will provide even more ad revenue for Facebook
6. The sharing of even more data between the tech giants that own a $10  M dollar seat
7. There are major trust and privacy issues
8. Users data will have to be collected
9. It’s open platform raises concerns about how developers might use it in nefarious ways
10. If Libra is designed to help the poor, there are concerns about lack of education, over-spending and scammers
Stay tuned for the continued debate worldwide.
#SXSW - Wendy GlavinAbout the Author: Wendy Glavin is Founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin, a NYC full-service agency. Wendy is a 20-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership. She specializes in B2B2C marketing communications, PR, social and digital media. Her website is: https://wendyglavin.com/. Contact her at: wendy@wendyglavin.com

If I Were Advising The Democratic Approach To The 2020 Election

If I Was Advising The Democratic Approach To The 2020 Election - Arthur Solomon

(A Roadmap To Defeating ‘The Pinocchio President,’ Who Likes Dictators And Demeans Democratic Governments)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

Even though the Democrats haven’t yet decided on their 2020 presidential candidate, the campaign for the White House has been under way even before Donald Trump was sworn in as president. But the first official Democratic primary debate, (which to me seemed more like a promotion for NBC and MSNBC than a true debate) was held June 26 and 27 in Miami. People can differ about which candidate prevailed. But one thing is certain: That will not deter wannabe’s who didn’t fare well from continuing flooding the cable news political shows until the presidential team is decided, (even though most of them have as much of a chance as getting on the ticket as I do).

Watching the debates reminded me of Stephen Sondheim’s famous song “Send in the Clowns” from the Broadway show, “A Little Night Music,” but with one big difference: The clowns were already there, disguised as the after debate pundits with their as usual lame, same analysis.

The format of the none-debate debates was ridiculous. The questions only permitted the candidates to give sound bite type answers. Any resemblance of a genuine debate was absent. (But what can you expect from a made for TV show? In my opinion, the format did a disservice to serious political discussions.)

The truth about the debates is that whatever was said by the candidates doesn’t matter in the long run. (As the New York Times reported in a June 27 story, “Studies show polls don’t change much after a debate.)As the field shrinks, those remaining will have many opportunities to fully express their views in more substantial settings. The real winners were the cable TV political reporters, program hosts and pundits, who now will have fresh talking points to convince viewers that they really know until after the 2020 election (Their commentary reminds me of the song from “Fiddler On The Roof,: during which Tevye sings, “And it won’t make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong. When you’re rich, they think you really know” Substitute the words ‘if they have a TV mike’ for “When you’re rich” and it’s a perfect fit.) Their latest wrong pre first debate analysis was that everyone would go after Joe Biden.  They didn’t. However, in the second debate Biden was treated as if he was the enemy, not Trump. (Better late than never, I guess.)

Then to go from the less than sublime to the ridiculous, the well-known political experts on “The View” chimed in with their analysis. And trite phrases are always part of TV discussions. An aide to Joe Biden, shortly before the second debate, said the Democratic Party is a big tent party. (Original, huh?)

All the pundits went ga, ga over Kamala Harris, who while having a compelling story, didn’t talk as specific as what she would do as president as Kirsten Gillibrand, who I thought was the best of all 20 candidates.

Most people know me because of my career in public relations at Burson-Marsteller, where as a senior VP/senior counselor I restructured, managed and played key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs and traveled the world with high-ranking government officials as a media advisor.

But prior to joining B-M, I was a reporter and editor at New York City newspapers and also worked on local, state, and presidential campaigns at a political PR firm. Thus, while I don’t do it often, I feel I have the background to give political PR advice to candidates. ` (I last did so privately regarding a local race in Westchester County, N.Y. and publicly in a July 2016 column titled, “If I Was Hillary Clinton’s PR Person.” (Trust me on this: You don’t have to be a member of Mensa to give political advice. In the political realm, common sense means more than a high IQ.)

Here’s an excerpt from my 2016 Clinton column:

 “After listening to the Republican congressional assaults on the FBI director and Clinton, if ever an aggressive counter attack against the GOP inquisitors was called for, now is the time.

“Here’s what I would advise:

 “Ms. Clinton is constantly criticized by the media for not being available. Now, as the GOP promises to keep her email use in play throughout the presidential campaign, she should make herself more available to the media.

-“She should hold a lengthy press conference during which she would apologize and again say she made a mistake and answer all media questions. Certainly she has had the time to perfect answers to any questions that might arise. She should do that ASAP.

-“She should go on friendly TV talk shows answering the host’s questions.

-“At the same time, her surrogates should increase attacking Donald Trump’s statements, character and business failures 24/7 every day until after the election. The Hillary backers should make themselves available for all media requests.”

Well, my advice about Ms. Clinton’s media approach was ignored and we all know what happened.  (I’d say, “I told you so. But I’m not that kind of a guy.”)

Here’s my free, unasked for, but pretty good advice to all Democratic candidates, regardless of what elective office they’re seeking.

-When selecting a candidate, electability should be the only consideration.

-Don’t give in to the extremist elements of your party by pushing for the impeachment of President Trump; instead hold continuous Congressional hearings on his administrations wrong doings. (The GOP-controlled Senate will not convict anyway.) 

-Don’t give in to the far left elements of your party. Most Americans don’t like extremes of the left or right. (Remember, Trump lost the popular vote.)

-Don’t nominate for national office candidates like Bernie Sanders, who was responsible for dividing Democrats in 2016. Instead, nominate candidates that can be tolerated by all segments of Americans.

-Democratic candidates should play up Trump’s call for people to break the law: Examples: The border patrols and current and former White House officials to ignore lawful congressional subpoenas should be an on-on going theme. (The candidates should emphasize that if Joe and Jane Smith ignored subpoenas, they’d have to face a judge.)

-Give some young liberal faces, but not extremists like Reps. AOC or Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, media time to better prepare them for future national election runs. (Watching the elderly male Democratic leadership reminds me of a visit to a prostate clinic.)

-One of the candidates on the presidential ticket should have a military background to contrast Trump’s dodging military service. And speak often about Trump’s armchair patriotism, which includes five draft deferments. (Not to worry Joe, Elizabeth, et el; even though I have military experience I will decline the nomination if offered.)

-Do not spend the months until the presidential election demonizing Trump. Instead, gives specifics of how Democratic legislation on healthcare, economic matters, climate change and civil rights will benefit all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, and emphasize how his executive orders have harmed Americans.

-Playing off the government shut down, a call for bipartisanship should be part of every candidate’s speech.

-A major facet of the Democrats’ campaign messages should be, “We must come together like one country,” in contrast to Trump’s divide and conquer actions. But always with specific talking points and legislative proposals without telling people that details are on the candidate’s web page, as Hillary Clinton did.

-But the presidential candidate must have the ability to go toe-to-toe with Trump, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren does. (Remember how Michelle Obama’s Democratic convention speech, which included her, “when they go low, we go high” worked out. Not good.)

-Because the healthcare issue worked so well for the Democrats in the 2018 midterm election, and a Republican-appointed Federal judge declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, Democrats should make healthcare their number one talking point.

-The corruption of Trump allies and appointees should be a constant talking point and they should be subjects of Congressional hearings.

-Democrats too often emphasize and campaign on a few issues, like women’s rights, civil rights, health care and illegal, yes illegal, immigration rights, (I prefer to use the English language as it was written, not the revisionist language created by far left liberals and the despicable verbiage of far right conservatives), The GOP has effectively campaigned with a more expansive message –taxes, jobs, bringing back manufacturing to the U.S., fairer trade agreements, keeping our military strong, and not automatically blaming the police for everything; issues which obviously appeals to more Americans. Democrats and their candidates should do the same.

-Do not make it a must to include a person of color, a specific religion or a woman on the national ticket, the so-called balanced ticket. Nominate candidates with a long history of service to the United States who are popular and familiar to the public.

-When selecting a presidential candidate, electability should be the only consideration.

 -Unfortunately, television plays a large part in our politics. Candidates should be able to shine on television.

-Because so many colleagues of the president have been indicted or have pleaded guilty of crimes, Democrats should push for numerous debates so they can continually refer to the crimes.

-Candidates should stop acting like the ‘sky is falling” as many Democratic office holders did during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings, or when legislation is passed that they dislike. They should study the style of how Sen. Dick Durbin acts in committee hearings and during TV interviews, calm and to the point. Much more effective than shouting.

-Unlike the Sanders supporters in 2016, Democratic presidential candidates should disavow a “my way or no way” philosophy and emphasize the need to compromise. Falling on your petard to prove a point is self-defeating; only by winning can change be affected. (Personally, I prefer the philosophy of the ancient Greeks Tacitus and Demosthenes, depending on which search site you use, who are credited with saying, “He that fights and runs away, may turn and fight another day; But he that is in battle slain, Will never rise to fight again.)’

-Candidates should not give in to vocal protesters. They make a lot of noise but accomplish nothing. (Republican voters are quieter, but on Election Day they vote.) 

Democratic candidates should study the political playbook of a flawed, paranoid, but politically brilliant Republican president, whose policies today would be denounced by most of his party as leftish thinking, Richard Nixon. Nixon knew that when it came to voting, the silent majority was more important than the vocal minority.

-The presidential candidate should stay away from good sounding but meaningless campaign slogans. Hillary Clinton’s “Stronger Together” shtick meant nothing to voters, who were in dire need of government help. President Trump’s “Make America Great” slogan could appeal to everyone and was better than Clinton’s slogan. (She might as well have had bumper stickers with the proverb, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”) 

-Democrats should remember that saying taking care of America’s problems first is not a crime.

-During the 2016 campaign, the problems of minority populations in the U.S. were a major talking point. But the 2020 candidates should emphasize that there are many Americans who are not in the media designated minority population who also need help and the candidates should not be shy of saying so.

-I would urge Democrats to establish a fast response “truth squad” and shadow President Trump as he travels the country so they can challenge his statements within a few minutes of his making them.

-Democrats should also establish a second fast response team that can tap into fast-breaking news with immediate responses.

-The Democratic candidate should run a 50 state campaign and not ignore “sure thing states” as Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

-The Democratic candidate should ignore Trump’s comments; responses to the president’s vulgarities and lies should be delegated to others.

When selecting a presidential candidate, electability should be the only consideration.

-The national ticket should have at least one individual from mid-America.

-The national ticket should have at least one individual new to presidential politics, but has been elected in state-wide and/or congressional elections, the exception being a career military person who is new to politics.

-The leaders of the Democratic congressional committees should adapt a “death by a thousand cuts” strategy regarding Trump: Keep talking about his impeachable actions, but never move to impeach. Instead, keep investigating his abusive deeds in public hearings. However, if Trump should win reelection, they should commence impeachment immediately.

-My advice to all candidates is not to believe the polls. Campaign as if you’re neck-and-neck with your opponent, even though polls show you have a decided advantage. Remember 2016 and the thin margin of victory for many candidates in 2018.

-A good visual gimmick for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates would be to create “Trump Lies Update” charts, which they would refer to at each rally and also be disseminated via twitter to all news outlets.

-It’s important not to make Trump a martyr by impeaching him. Best to let him implode by his own petard.

And Very Important: Primary voters should tune out hosts, reporters and pundits on the cable political shows, whose only interest is gaining greater viewership by creating controversy and describing every drizzle as if it was a hurricane. One of the attention-grabbing gimmicks these entertainment shows use is to play up the “surprising” strength of losers like Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Stacey Abrams of Georgia, both losing candidates. Instead, vote for candidates that were elected. (I truly believe that many of these TV pundits and hosts secretly are hoping for a Trump reelection because if he loses, they’ll have nothing to talk about.)

-Democratic primary voters should be pragmatic and not follow the road map of far left candidates like Bernie Sanders and AOC. Following their road map leaves to a second term for Trump.

-“Promises not kept” should be a major theme of Democratic candidates. Doing so will enrage Trump and his thin skin and over-sized ego will have him lash out like a mad man.

-Unlike Trump, Democratic candidates should not demean primary opponents. They must remember that whatever they say will be used by GOP operatives during the general election. (Thus far, and during the comical and laughable TV spectacles, promoted as debates, the wannabbes are acting like a circular firing squad.)

-Candidates should show independence to voters by condemning appalling statements by members of their own party, like Reps. AOC, Ilhan Omar and James E. Clyburn’s, all of whom publicly made remarks that many people believe are anti-Semitic and/or disparaging of the Holocaust. (The Democrats refusal to strongly criticize members of their caucus reminds me of the GOP’s Eleventh Commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” that was popularized by President Ronald Reagan in 1966.  History Lesson: While largely attributed to Reagan, he did not originate the phrase.)

-My final bit of advice is for Democratic candidates to study and learn President Trump’s 2016 strategy.

Donald Trump is a flawed president whose popularity is not that great among the general public. In order to defeat him, Democrats must not play to the extreme leftish elements of their party. They must choose a candidate who appeals to the majority of Americans, which will give them an opportunity to win back Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016 and 2018, plus the independent vote.

But there is a lot that the Democratics can learn from President Trump. Democrats’ campaign messages are largely idealistic, like bringing fairness and equality to all facets of our society, even though many of these goals can not practically be accomplished for generations, if ever. Too often their campaigners remind me of Don Quixote, tilting at windmills while striving to achieve an impossible dream. Those talking points and goals are fine to discuss after an election, but during a campaign realistic, pragmatic objectives should be proposed.

Trump, on the other hand, campaigns on issues that are relative to today’s news that engages both pro and anti-Trump voters – like the immigration issue, crime, jobs being lost to other countries, NATO countries not paying what they are supposed to, America not being the world’s policeman and even the controversy regarding actor Jussie Smollett, who was arrested for faking what he said was a racial and homophobic attack, and then had charges against him dismissed. Even if all of Trump’s comments are not true, these are issues that people not knowledgeable about the fine print details of important issues can still discuss and have opinions about; few can discuss the tax loopholes,the specifics of the Green New Deal and how to bring the country together, issues that Democratic candidates rage about. These esoteric subjects should be replaced with bread and butter objectives that every one can understand – like better heath care, job creation and keeping America safe from terrorist attacks.

The eventual presidential candidate should study Trump’s 2016 campaign playbook and copy parts of it by making themselves available to every TV show and also calling in when programs are in progress, as the president did. It was a brilliant strategy that kept Trump in front of the public eye at times when he wasn’t actually at campaign rallies.

Trump also outsmarts the Democrats in securing third party endorsements. For years, Democrats have sought the backing of Hollywood stars; Trump, on the other hand, relies on law enforcement officials and family member who have had relatives killed during crimes for his staged TV endorsements. (Much more moving than having another song sung by an entertainer whose first name is an affected spelling of Barbara.)

Instead of being so idealistic, Democrats should become more pragmatic. Often they don’t seem to realize that only winners have the ability to create change.

Politico pros might disagree with my advice. But there is one thing that I am certain of: Who ever wins the Democratic presidential nomination must get a new set of advisors for the national campaign, because the Republican consultants are much better. Twice the GOP nominee was elected president, despite Democratic candidates Al Gore and Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote.

The most important advice that I have is: When selecting a presidential candidate, electability should be the only consideration.

What does the above have to do with public relations? Everything. Watching the White House briefings of Sarah Huckabee Sanders provides lessons in how not to treat the press. And watching how GOP surrogates like Rudy Giuliani, Kellyanne Conway, and too many others to name, shows that when selecting a spokesperson how important it is to choose someone who is respected and believed by the press; also that fudging or outright lying will not deter the press from seeking the truth. And as novice PR practitioners will soon learn, the press is not impressed by corporate titles or organizations when they suspect wrong doing. President Trump can confirm this.

The lessons learned from paying attention to the political scene can be applied to many PR situations that many of us will have to deal with during our careers. Over the years, I have told many PR people that they can get tuition free media relations lessons by paying attention to the political scene. Another way is to volunteer for a campaign. Candidates for minor offices don’t have the funds to hire expensive PR people. They will value your contribution. Both methods were true yesterday and are still true today.

But one of the most important lessons that young PR people can learn from the political scene has to do with dealing with their immediate supervisors and top agency management. It is to remember what Niccolò Machiavelli, an Italian political theorist wrote in “The Prince:” “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.” It was written in 1513 but it could have been written today by agency execs and politicians.

And my own advice to those who live or die for a candidate of either party: 1- “Don’t believe everything your candidate promises to do. You’ll surely be lied to and also be disappointed.” 2- Listen to candidates regardless of their party; you might learn something, and 3- if you are a

Democrat and want your vote to count on the presidential or congressional level don’t vote for dividers, like Ralph Nader, Bernie Sanders. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  or Ilhan Abdullahi Omar. Vote for candidates wiling to compromise because, short of a violent revolution, history shows negotiations are the pathway to progress.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and ArtSolomon4pr@optimumnet.

How to Track Policy Issues in the Media

How to Track Policy Issues in the MediaMadeline McCabe, Senior Analyst, PublicRelay

Today’s modern communications teams are responsible for protecting more than a company’s reputation, they are tasked with communicating their brand position on key issues, influencing target audiences, and even working with the public affairs department to track policy issues and lobby for its interests. To do the job well, professionals need a method of understanding the media landscape and gauging whether key corporate messages around legislative issues are pulling through.

Yet, many busy communicators find issue tracking to be such a daunting task that it is a nonstarter. This is because it is difficult to fully track complex, policy issues that are not summarized by a simple keyword search like: online data security, online content responsibility or immigration reform. Media monitoring tools simply can’t handle such complex topics.

Breakdown the Issues and Find Coverage with Human-Assisted AI Topic Analysis

The key to understanding highly complex coverage is to break it down into topics and subtopics that matter to your business and your stakeholders. For instance, if you work for a major bank and want to track the topic of Regulation, begin by breaking it down into subtopics like:

  • Access to capital
  • Suspicious activity reporting
  • Trump administration regulatory reform
  • Compliance reporting
  • Financial crimes

Public affairs and public relations teams need to harness human-assisted AI to quickly cull through the slew of media content collected and focus on the coverage that matters to their key stakeholders.

Once they do that, they can start analyzing coverage against subtopics to see which are getting the most positive and negative coverage. Determining the frequency of earned coverage, its tonality, the amount of social sharing this coverage receives, and on which social channels, helps pinpoint where you need to focus your efforts. When done right, it will also show you what to do next. For instance, if one or more of your key messages around certain topics are very successful but others are lagging, you could reallocate resources and budget to others that need more attention.

Find Media and Third-Party Influencers to Target

By analyzing media intelligence over time, you will start understanding key figures in your industry like authors, outlets, and third-party influencers. Topical media analysis will make your team more effective and efficient at reaching the right authors to amplify your message. This is where you answer questions like, “who is writing negative articles about banks needing more compliance regulation and are also gaining traction on social media?” or “are there new authors covering the importance of growing rural access to capital?”

These answers will not only help your team keep an accurate pulse on policy issues but inform communications strategy around media relations. Use insights to tailor a media outreach strategy that gets results.

When companies can hyper focus on the coverage that matters most, they can also zoom in on identifying powerful third-party influencers. Third-party influencers such as political organizations, regulatory groups, industry experts and NGO’s have significant clout in their fields and gathering data on the way they shape media coverage is a growing trend for communications professionals.

Through analysis of the significant third-party influencers hidden in the context of their coverage, companies can restructure their key messaging to better address concerns of third-party groups and/or further ally themselves with those who have similar views.

Move the Needle on Policy Goals

Tracking policy issues over time and whether your key corporate messages around these topics are resonating with third-party and media influencers allows you to demonstrate to your executives that your team is moving the needle on key legislative goals. This way, your team can show that it is helping shape policy favorable for your company and all its stakeholders. Helping to ultimately prevent or pass legislation that affects your organization by influencing public opinion is just one way communicators can have a direct impact on the bottom line.

About the Author: Madeline McCabe is a PublicRelay Senior Media and Operations Analyst. Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.