How To Lose The Presidential Election, Again

How To Lose The Presidential Election, Again

(With Advice That Applies To None Political Accounts)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was victorious not because his message had the broadest public support – he received almost 3-million less votes less than Hillary Clinton – but because of infighting among the various constituencies that make up the bulk of the Democratic Party.

The Bernie Sanders fanatics helped destroy Clinton’s chances by demonizing her throughout the campaign, and she didn’t fight back. The Vermont senator also refused to endorse Clinton for months, even though it was clear that she would be the nominee. But most damaging to her election chances was that African-American voters stayed home rather than vote for a candidate who wasn’t Barack Obama in states that Trump won by the narrowest of margins.

The same defeatist scenarios is currently repeating itself: Even though he has endorsed Joe Biden, Sen. Sanders wants state primaries to continue so he can amass delegates that can push for goals that he supports at the national convention; women advocates are pushing for a woman to be the vice-presidential candidate; black activist politicians are saying that Biden must choose an African-American as his running mate or black voters might again stay home. What’s missing? None of these fractions are saying what they should say: “Biden should select the best qualified person.”

The “I’m going to take my ball and go home” attitudes of these groups if they don’t get what they want are a major problem for Biden. Because the Republicans always gather around their presidential candidate, whether they approve of the person or not. Biden must receive the votes of these disappointed Democrats in order to defeat Trump.

My first job in public relations was with a political agency, where I worked on campaigns ranging from local to statewide to presidential campaigns. I learned important rules there that apply to political and none political accounts: Unity does not always lead to success. But disunity will always lead to failure.  

It’s been a while since I strategized campaigns for candidates, and began planning PR efforts for non-political clients. But I know a losing political strategy when I see it. And to date, Biden is on a losing trajectory. The reason, in my opinion? As Hillary Clinton did in 2016, and as many self-anointed PR crisis practitioners in our business do, they are following rules that were written years ago, instead of trashing them and writing new ones that match the situation, as Trump did in 2016.

There are loads of nitty gritty tactics that must be followed during any political campaign. I’m going to ignore those because I’m sure they are being followed. What are missing from the Biden campaign are the “out-of-the-box” approaches that distinguish a candidate from others.

Below are four tactics that I would advise being implemented immediately if I was advising Joe Biden:

  1. Immediately announce his preference for vice-president.

Why: It would stop the infighting among the different Democratic fractions early in the campaign, providing time for a healing process. 

2- He should appoint an advisory committee composed of representatives of all segments of the Democratic Party and publicly announce the members.

Why: It would demonstrate to all the disappointed fractions that their views will be taken seriously.

3 – He should publicly announce that all future Democratic primaries should be held.

Why: It would show that he believes everyone should have the opportunity to express their views, and it would be a welcoming gesture to voters that supported other candidates.

4- This is the most important advice I would give Biden: He must show leadership; which thus far he hasn’t. The fact that he is limited from doing so because of his being confined in his 

house shows a lack of out-of-the-box thinking by Biden and his advisors.

Why: In order to be trusted in a time of crisis, a leader must lead during the crisis.

Here’s a simple way that Biden can demonstrate leadership without leaving his home:

He should form different advisory committees, one composed of medical scientists, the other of economists and business people. The medical people should devise a plan of action that can be enacted if a future pandemic develops. The business people should concentrate on the present, proposing their plans for reopening the economy. 

The announcement of the “Biden Committees” and their plans would be certain to achieve continuous major media coverage in these days when the media is struggling to find fresh approaches to covering the coronavirus pandemic. 

Thus far, Biden’s not-so-secret weapon has been Trump’s inept leadership skills during the coronavirus pandemic. But still support for Trump among Republicans remains high; Democratic constituencies are still divided. Also, the margins between the candidates in some battleground states are this close.

Also, thus far, Biden has forfeited the Democratic leadership to governors, making many people wish that one of them would be the presidential nominee. 

If Biden wants to be the leader he must act like the leader, instead of playing follow the leader to other Democratic spokespeople.

Thus far Biden’s main message seems to be, “Barack Obama trusted me.” That might have been enough for him to sweep the African-American vote during the primaries. And it surely will help him do the same during the November election. But African-Americans aren’t the only voters and President Obama is not everyone’s hero

During the early primary days, many new ideas were floated by Biden’s opponents, mainly by Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. None by Biden then; none by Biden now. And that’s a problem, especially in these sad days of the coronavirus pandemic.

I’m still waiting for the former vice-president to propose ideas that work for 2020 and after. Ideas that can correct the many problems in society. Instead his ideas date back to the days of President’s Clinton and Obama.  

Because Biden is running against the worst president in America’s history, an egotistical, narcissist, perpetual lying machine president, the former vice president might win re-election without announcing new approaches to the health and economic problems the country now faces. Better than a Trump re-election? Certainly.  Better for America’s future? Only if the Biden administration announces bold, new ideas to correct America’s problems.

And he can’t wait until the Democratic convention to do so.

Many years ago, I coined a phrase about clients with PR crises: “There is no such thing as a one size fits all PR crisis plan. Every crisis deserves original thinking.” (Since then many PR practitioners have used that phrase in their writings, without giving credit to the originator. Not a surprise in our copycat business.) 

The same rule about the need for original thinking also applies to political campaign strategy, as does another truth: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That is probably the most famous line written by George Santayana, the Spanish-American philosopher. Thus far Biden is repeating the Clinton mistake of playing it close to the vest.

There’s also another, more cynical saying, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” that is being played out during this sorry time of the coronavirus. President Trump is using the crisis to push for his political goals; not so Biden.

The former vice president’s campaign is ignoring all of the above truths. By doing so he is helping Trump win re-election.

Bold action with new thinking by the Biden campaign is needed for him to compete with Trump for media coverage. The same is true for PR people who play it safe by refusing to think “out-of-the-box.” One thing is certain: Playing it safe will not separate you from the herd whether you’re a politician or a public relations practitioner.


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.




OP Ed: Another Victim Of The Coronavirus: TRUTH

Another Victim Of The Coronavirus: TRUTH

(And a Not-To-Forget Lesson For People In Our Business)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

The deadly coronavirus hates people. It has separated people from their families. It has separated people from their friends. It has caused massive unemployment. It frightens people. It is also responsible for an increase in hate messages on social media, targeting all minority populations, ranging from African-Americans, to Asian-Americans to religious Americans who practice Orthodox Judaism and to Jews who don’t. It has destroyed our way of living. The virus makes people very ill. Worst of all it kills people.

But there is also a victim that was only made possible with the assistance of humans – TRUTH.

President Trump’s revisionist remarks about the coronavirus, which is happening as I write this, on April 26, continues. The result: For many Americans is there is no TRUTH. And politics and the media have played a large part in aiding the virus to put TRUTH on life support.

While TRUTH had been ill since January, it took a sudden turn for the worse in the U.S. on February 28, during a rally in South Carolina, when President Trump described the virus as a Democratic “hoax.”

Other presidential remarks like saying, anyone who wants a test can get one; there are plenty of PPE supplies; doctors and nurses are hording them; we have the situation under control; his hawking of medicines for people infected with the disease as if he was a medical scientist, and his contradictory remarks about blaming the coronavirus on China, to name a few of the president’s comments, all added to put TRUTH in a grave condition.

On January 22, President Trump, in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” surprised everyone by using his previously unknown experience as an epidemiologist by describing the coronavirus as “one person coming in from China.” We have it totally under control. “It’s going to be just fine.”

Never a believer in what scientists say, the president, on April 23, shocked the medical world and disinfectant manufacturers by asking medical researchers if injecting the sanitizers into people’s body might kill the virus.

The president’s remarks caused Lysol, on April 24, to issue the following statement, in part: “As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),”

Also on April 24, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against using hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that President Trump has suggested, to treat coronavirus outside of a hospital or drug trial. The FDA said, “The drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm in coronavirus patients, and should be used only in clinical trials or hospitals where patients can be closely monitored for heart problems

The president often says, “What do you have to lose? When he pretends to be a medical scientist by touting his Common Sense Degree from Trump University, the answer is people’s lives.

What finally moved TRUTH to the intensive care unit were the comments of Trump’s lackeys, on his staff and in the media.

For weeks before Trump declared a national emergency TV personalities on Fox News played down the seriousness of the coronavirus. They support anything the president says. It’s safe to assume (even though assuming is a “no-no” for serious journalists) that many of Fox’s viewers have been infected with the virus because they believe the Fox News opinion entertainers version of accuracy. Many viewers also probably died. And for those illnesses and deaths Fox management and commentators are responsible. (How they look themselves in a mirror is beyond me. They are as guilty of causing illnesses and deaths as is Trump and his staff lackeys. Maybe more so, because Fox News parrot’s what Trump says on various programs throughout the day and evening, with no fact checking as major publications do.)

When the president accuses the media of reporting “fake news,” he should be pointing fingers at Laura Ingraham, who for weeks promoted the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a cure for coronavirus illness, along with her Fox News colleagues Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. During a discussion about the anti-malaria drug on his “Tucker Carlson Tonight” program, the host introduced Gregory Rigano as an advisor to the Stanford University School of Medicine. Stanford said Rigano has no affiliation with the school. Rigano also touted the drug on Ms. Ingraham’s program. A prime example of “fake news,” which the president disregarded while claiming that accurate news reports were “fake news.”

  • (Media Matters For America reported, “During a two-week span between March 23 and April 6, Fox hosts and guests promoted hydroxychloroquine nearly 300 times.
  • “Of these nearly 300 mentions, the vast majority came from four Fox shows: The Ingraham Angle(84 promotional mentions), Fox & Friends (76, including Fox & Friends First and Fox & Friends Weekend), Hannity (53), and Tucker Carlson Tonight (22).”) 

But the New York Times reported on April 25, when Fox’s prime time commentators, the most closely watched shows on Fox, had a chance to warn viewers against ingesting disinfectants as a cure for coronavirus, as the president had mentioned, they sidestepped that matter entirely on Thursday, (April 23) said the article.

Of course, Ingraham, Hannity and Carlson aren’t the only Fox entertainers to earn the title of Trump lackeys. On “The Five” telecast on April 24, Greg Gutfeld defended Trump’s statement about how a disinfectant might help in curing the coronavirus by saying, “how could anyone believe that Trump meant it when he said people should inject Clorox into their bodies.” Also Dana Perino said the president wasn’t suggesting that people should drink bleach. (What about injecting it, Ms. Perino?) And as usual, as she does on all her “Media Buzz” appearances, another lackey, Mollie Hemingway, a senior editor at The Federalist, bashed the media’s coverage of Trump on the April 26 program.

Whether he meant it or not Trump’s remarks showed the danger of his delving into medical issues. Maryland’s hotline received more than 100 calls about using a disinfectant after the president’s comment. And The Maryland Emergency Management Agency issued a warning for people not to ingest or inject disinfectant on social media shortly after Trump suggested doctors could study whether disinfectants could be injected or ingested to fight coronavirus. In Washington state, officials urged people not to consume laundry detergent capsules.  In New York City, the Daily News reported that the Poison Control Center saw 30 cases of “exposure to Lysol, bleach and other cleaners in 18 hours after Trump’s suggestion” that cleaning products might be used to treat coronavirus. (April 24 was not a good day, scientifically speaking, for Trump, and he refused to take questions after making his opening remarks at his daily presser.) 

A headline on CNBC on March 17 said, “Trump dismissed coronavirus pandemic worry in January — now claims he long warned about it.”

But that didn’t prevent the lackeys on the president’s staff (including Dr. Jerome Adams, the Surgeon General, who fails to correct the president’s pseudo science medical statements) to pretend that everything Trump says, along with his Fox News sycophants, about the virus is handed down to him from God. Led by chief lackey Vice President Pence, the president’s other lackeys thank him for his leadership almost every time Trump takes a breath. Prominent among them are Attorney General William Barr, the president’s lawyer, and Robert C. O’Brien, the White House national security advisor.


On April 9, after the president said he wanted to open the economy, The Hill, the political insiders’ web site, reported, “Attorney General William Barr late Wednesday suggested that the federal government in May should begin relaxing some of the “draconian” social distancing restrictions imposed throughout the U.S.

Barr said in an interview with Fox News that the U.S. had to be very careful to ensure some of the measures being adopted are fully justified, and there are not alternative ways of protecting people amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, said the article, written by Justin Wise. (I assume Barr made his suggestion based on his medical training at Trump University’s health facility. I also don’t recall the president’s lawyer being concerned about the states ordered shut downs until Trump said it was time to reopen the economy. Just a coincidence, I assume.)

Further down in the article by Wise: “The comments arrived as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, continued to climb in the U.S. As of Thursday morning, the U.S. had reported roughly 432,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 14,800 deaths from it.” (That was then. The numbers as I write at 4: 25 pm on April 26 are much worse now. According to CNN in the U.S: Infected 957016, deaths 54435.)

In a Wall Street Journal April 21 Op-Ed column titled, “Seven Fateful Coronavirus Decisions,” national security advisor O’Brien’s opening paragraph said, “Facing a once-in-a-century pandemic, a crisis that some have likened to a world war, the U.S. is fortunate to have President Trump in charge. I have witnessed him make the tough decisions necessary at every turn to keep America safe. Seven of these decisions stand out.” (Google the Op-Ed to read the entire revisionist history article.

The Op-Ed concluded with O’Brien, or maybe his ghost scribe writing, “In my assessment, the president’s decisions outlined here have saved tens or even hundreds of thousands of American lives. The war on this virus isn’t over. But I am confident that under Mr. Trump’s leadership, America will prevail.”

The president’s chief lackey, Vice President Pence, who always praises Trump’s leadership, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that appeared on April 23, that the coronavirus epidemic can be “largely in the past” by early June. (I assume he based that remark on his medical science degree from Trump University, the medical school of choice for Trump defenders.)

What type of leadership is President Trump providing? My opinion: Trump’s leadership reminds me of another president’s leadership: Jefferson Davis during the Civil War, or closer to our time Neville Chamberlain.

What the country needs now is leadership like Franklin Delano Roosevelt showed during the great depression and during World War 2. Leadership like Winston Churchill showed during the blitzing of London, when England alone battled the Nazis. Leadership like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani showed after 9/11.

A close relative of mine, a supporter of President Trump, told me that no matter what Trump does he should be respected because he is the president. I’ll respect the president when he respects the people and stops lying to them.

Because of the lackeys in the media and on Trump’s staff TRUTH is now hooked-up to a ventilator. But there is hope that it will recover. Poll after poll, even among Republicans, have shown that people do not believe what the president says about the coronavirus situation. (An Associated Press poll released on April 23 said that only 23% of Americans believe that what Trump says about the coronavirus is truthful. That’s 22 % more than I do.) They believe governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, and Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, and Ohio governor Mike DeWine, another Republican, all of whom have gained national recognition.

Hopefully, because of medical scientists, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to a Very, Very, Very, Very, much lesser extent Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, who too often tries to placate the president, and explain what he really meant to say, instead of telling him that his junk medical science remarks are dangerous and wrong, and Dr. Rick Bright TRUTH will recover.

(Dr. Bright was removed as the Director, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he had been leading the federal effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine because, the medical scientist said, he disagreed with the president’s attempt to fund hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug as the preferred coronavirus treatment without thorough vetting by medical researchers. Dr. Bright also served as Director of the Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division in the BARDA, where he was responsible for preparing the nation for influenza pandemics and coordinating production, acquisition and delivery of medical countermeasures during a pandemic response. In that role, he managed a portfolio of projects for advanced development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and respirator devices to aid in the response and protection against pandemic and seasonal influenza. But, it appears, that his medical/scientist background didn’t match up with the ones that Drs. Trump, Pence, O’Brien, Barr, Ingraham, Hannity and Carlson received from Trump University.)

The U.S. has always recovered from other epidemics caused by viruses. But recovery from the coronavirus will be a very slow one because the president’s lackeys will continue to spread the president’s lies, along with his snake oil remedies. The president will continue to say, and his lackeys will back up his claims about the virus being contained, like he has said numerous times on his pressers, while the virus was spreading and is still efficiently distributing its deadly toxins. And new “hot spots” emerge.

How long it will take for the epidemic to subside is any ones guess. But what isn’t a guess is that Trump’s witch hunt of blaming everyone but himself for the spread of the virus in the U.S., despite his inept delaying actions and denying there was a problem by calling it a Democratic “hoax,” will continue at least until the November election, if not longer. And his lackeys will provide the broom sticks for the president to fly on as he searches for the witches. You can bet the farm on it. He has already blamed China and the World Health Organization. He has already blamed Democratic governors. He has already blamed the media for over blowing the extent of the coronavirus. It’s only a matter of time before he blames reporters for causing the virus because they didn’t clean their computers properly.


Intentionally or not, President Trump has provided people in our business with a not-to-forget lesson: Never lie to the media. Because once you’re caught in a lie even when you tell the truth reporters will be skeptical of what you say. It’s called the “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” syndrome, which apparently has spread to Trump and his lackeys.

Some years ago, there was a philosophical, political comic strip called “Pogo,” (by Walt Kelly) in which Pogo would occasionally say, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Substitute “Trump” for “Pogo” and the word “me” for “us” and you have a real life comic reality show featuring medical/scientific advice gleaned from the president’s comments on his daily corona virus pressers.

An article in the Sunday, April 26, New York Times magazine tells of a former White House employee who tweeted that Trump is a “pathetic human being.” In my estimation, that’s too compassionate a description of the president.


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

 




Wanted! This Man and Woman for Walking on the Beach

Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

It’s hard to believe all the angst my Open Letter to The Mayor of Boca Raton, Florida caused this week.  I dared to request that he open the “private” beach in front of our condo, just for runners and walkers like my wife Rita and me seen here in this WANTED PHOTO. 

Wanted. This Man and Woman for Walking on the BeachA virtual mob of people attacked me online calling me a rich, arrogant bastard who only cares about himself and not all those who are suffering and dying from coronavirus.  Really?  It’s a net worth issue?

Was I being selfish, ignorant, pathetically heartless and uncaring about those suffering from the virus to ask the mayor to lift his ban so we could have a shot at staying healthy and fit?  Perhaps strong enough to fight the virus if it catches us?  

After a story about my letter to the mayor ran on FOX NEWS, most of the 100- plus commenters slammed me, one saying he’d like to dump a truck load of broken glass on my beach for me to walk on.  How nice.  I told him walking on the beach is a good way to get his anger out.     

I asked all my critics to just think for a minute before sending me to the electric chair.  

My defense, your honor, is that walkers and runners on a wide open, often deserted beach will have plenty of room to maintain more than enough social distancing, unlike those relegated to the narrow, congested sidewalk along Ocean blvd.  

Also, I pointed out that there is evidence the virus might dissipate and become diluted in the open air as opposed to it staying concentrated and therefore more lethal in our enclosed spaces indoors, like in our elevators.  

Elevator Scare

Yesterday, Rita and I were riding the elevator to the lobby with our masks on when it stopped on a lower floor and a woman without a mask got on.  We held our breath for the few floors remaining as she didn’t seem “all there.”  If I were running on our uncrowded beach, I could have run not six or 10 feet from her but 10 or more yards from this careless woman, yet all I see on the private beach in front of our condos are police patrols ordering everyone to walk on the sidewalk. 

The nearest public beach is closed and probably that’s a good thing temporarily as there people are used to congregating, lying on blankets together, hanging out and sun bathing.  

Technically all the beaches in Florida are public, but our beach you can’t access directly unless you live in one of the beachfront condos so you might call it functionally private. 

But the point that’s gotten buried in the sand is that walking on the beach is a way to stay healthy?  And there is no safer place to walk or run than on a wide beach regardless of your age.  Or even your net worth.  

That’s right, several of my critics concluded I must be wealthy, another selfish fat cat who can afford to live in an expensive oceanfront condo and now thinks he owns the world and could care less about the plebeians trudging along the narrow sidewalk.  

Will you tell me what ones’ net worth has to do with wanting access to your front yard, which mine happens to be a beach?  

So, that makes me a rich son-of-a-beach?  

Will you tell me what the hell ones’ net worth has to do with wanting to exercise on the beach, walk in the sand, to stay healthy and fit? 

Can Sunlight Weaken Our Enemy?

Then there is this finding.  I’m not a scientist, but I’m reading that research shows that sunlight, heat and humidity could weaken the coronavirus on hard surfaces and in the air, a federal official said at a recent White House coronavirus task force briefing.

William Bryan, the acting head of the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, presented what he called “emerging results” that showed that the virus within droplets of saliva survives best in indoor and dry conditions.

“Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both surfaces and in the air. We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus,” Bryan said.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request to share the research for review. Some preliminary studies have suggested that hotter temperatures could be unfavorable to the spread of the virus. However, the virus still spread in countries in which it was summer.

The virus dies the quickest in the presence of direct sunlight under the conditions studied, Bryan said.

“While there are many unknown links in the COVID-19 transmission chain, we believe these trends can support practical decision making to lower the risks associated with the virus,” Bryan said.

President Donald Trump asked task force member Deborah Birx if it’s possible to use light and heat to kill the virus in people. She said it’s not something she is aware of but added that fever is a “good thing” that helps a body respond to infection.

“I hope people enjoy the sun, and if that has an impact, that’s great,” Trump said.

Bryan said it would be “irresponsible” to say that the summer will completely kill the virus. Instead, he said any downtick in the outbreak over the summer could be used as an “opportunity to get ahead.”

Feel Good

One last thought, dear critics.  Walking on the beach is an excellent way to get your anger out . . . and feel good about yourself.   

Stay well!  Stay safe!  

TM




My Take Your Child To Work Dream

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

Maybe because April 23 is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in United States, I had a dream about doing so last night.

In the dream, I took my children to the PR office that has been my home away from home for many years. As we walked the halls, here’s what they witnessed.

In the reception room: They saw a sign reading, “There’s no such thing as a despicable client (as long as they pay).

In the H.R. office: They witnessed training on how to convince employees that anything told to them would not be reported to management (even though in reality it is reported to management).

In the product PR corridor: They witnessed account people being threatened and berated by supervisors, who couldn’t do any better than those they were terrorizing.

In the crisis PR department: They witnessed self-proclaimed crises specialists trying to convince clients that tenets written many years ago still are relevant and work.

In the new business sector: They saw management trying to decide which employees could best convince potential clients that they have the answers to problems.

In the media training department: They saw trainers using methods that seldom work – like “getting ahead of the story” and “turning a negative question into a positive.”

In the sports marketing PR area: They saw account handlers being trained on how to convince a client that exposure is more important than the sales that failed to emerge after being involved in international mega sporting events that cost a fortune.

In the measurement room: They saw account handlers try to convince a client that a 700 word story, devoid of client talking points, with the only mention of the client saying, “Joe or Jane is a product manger at the XYZ company,” was worth the $5,200 in agency billing time. 

In the medical PR department: They witnessed attorneys looking for loopholes in Federal Trade Commission and  Food and Drug Administration regulations that would allow account people to make misleading statements about a product without fear of breaking the law.

In the make over department: They heard various tactics about how to make a despicable individual or company look good.

In the financial PR department: They saw a list of statements, using different words that said, “Despite this temporary setback, we expect robust growth in the future.”

In the executive wing: They observed discussions regarding how to convince employees that larger offices without salary increases are better than money.

In the political department: They heard account handlers and political operatives figuring our how to clean up politicians’ verbal flip flops with backtracking statements. Classes were conducted by members of Congress, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, who used his own flip flops as teaching tools.  

In the disclaimer room: They witnessed lessons on how best a client can deny making a statement, even if it was said before thousands of people and recordings and tapes of the remarks were made. President Trump led the session. 

Then we took the elevator to our parent company, an advertising agency. Here’s what the children observed:

In the disclaimer room: They saw account executives with stop watches timing how fast an actor can read a disclaimer so a person couldn’t understand what was said. In another corner of the room, font technicians were experimenting how to make disclaimer statements so small that they were impossible to read.

In the account exec department: They saw account execs trying to convince clients that spending millions on a mega event is a better strategy than more targeted advertising; also ad execs pleading with clients to give a campaign a little more time, saying that the results will come.

In the creative department: They previewed TV commercials showing an eye candy beauty in a bikini, accompanied by misleading copy suggesting that if you try this diet (or exercise routine) you could look like “number 10.”

In the financial advertising department: They witnessed a crash course in how to say “things will improve in the next quarter,” even when it was obvious a company was in deep trouble.

In the medical advertising department: They witnessed attorneys looking for loopholes in Federal Trade Commission and  Food and Drug Administration regulations that would allow account people to make misleading statements about a product without fear of breaking the law.

In the political advertising sector: They monitored a lesson on how to take comments out of context to use in a negative campaign ad.

There were areas in both the PR and advertising agency floors that were off-limit, except to “cleared” individuals. They were the “makeover rooms.” 

In the advertising agency, the makeover room was where secret discussions were held to find a way to convince consumers that Product A was really superior to Product B, when only the packaging was changed.

Then we entered a room with an American flag on the door. This was the we support and honor room. There they heard discussions on how to make a company appear that they truly honor servicemen and first defenders (even though they do nothing to help them). 

But there was one room, the winning is everything one, where the deceitful work done by individuals was considered a badge of honor. That was the room where creative people worked on political campaigns. Their assignments were to destroy the reputations of upright, caring candidates by using anything goes distortions of reality. Promotions to account handlers were awarded based on the quality of the lies they created. (In my opinion, that’s much more prevalent today than during my first job in PR, which was with a political agency that would not engage in tactics that included falsehoods or destroying reputations. After a few political campaigns I moved on to corporate and marketing PR, both of which has its own problems with truthfulness.) 

There was also a don’t blame me room. It was where high ranking execs and account supervisors hold meetings to discuss how best to blame innocents A.E.s for mistakes made by the brass. 

And there was a room known as the swamp. A picture of Donald Trump was on the wall, with an inscription reading “lie like a pro.” A.E.’s assigned to accounts being discussed were limited to graduates of Trump University. It was where strategy was discussed, my children were told, how to make dreadful entities look like caring 

corporations and disgraceful individuals look like empathetic citizens. (“Everyone deserves a defense,” was often the phrase used during these sessions, even though we are not lawyers, merely propagandists.) Because my Master’s from Yale and my PhD from Harvard were scoffed at, and I didn’t have a degree from Trump University, I was always viewed suspiciously by account handlers assigned to those tasks. 

Probably the most sought after job in the agency was to be an instructor in the celebrity salesroom. That was where actors and athletes were recruited and taught how to appear to have expertise about products they knew nothing about, when hawking them on TV commercials. When my children asked an athlete for an autograph, they were told, “I usually sign my name at autograph shows for $25 a pop. But I’ll make an exception. I’ll sign for you for $10.00.”

Then we looked into the coronavirus room, where masked creative types were tossing out “feeling” lines for advertisers to use on TV and radio commercials. “During these difficult times we are there for you,” and “We’ll get through this together,” were scribbled on the chalk board. Two copy chiefs were arguing about should it be, “During these times” or “In these times.” “Do you think President Clinton will let us use his “I feel your pain” remark, asked a novice copy writer. “Too political,” said someone else. “What about, ‘In these times there is no such thing as a Democrat or Republican,” someone said. “Great,” the copy chiefs said, and again started to argue if it should be, “During,” or “In.”

But the most closely guarded area was where promotions were made because of loyalty to agency brass instead of a person’s ability. This area was cynically known by employees as the no office politics in our company room.

On the way out of the building, we passed a door with a SRO sign affixed to it. It was the hypocrite’s room, a place for account handlers to cleanse their minds after promoting clients’ actions and messaging that they personally despise or disagree with. When my children asked why they couldn’t go into the room, I said. “It’s so crowded, you have to make a reservation.”

In the dream, one of my children asks me, “Daddy, does PR and advertising ever mislead people?” My other child asks, “What does caveat emptor mean?” Luckily the alarm clock woke me up before I had to answer.

Both the public relations floor and advertising floor had a skeptic’s room. They were the most comfortable rooms in the building. Urns of coffee, a free bar, and platters filled with fruits and cakes were continually replenished, when necessary, because that was where clients talked it over when deciding to approve or reject a program 

Then reality set in. In these terrible coronavirus days, with so many people having to work from home, take our children to work day is not limited to April 23; it’s every day.


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.




Why Sen. Sanders Is The Winner

(With Lessons Learned From Sanders That PR People Should Heed)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

Sen. Bernie Sanders, on April 13, officially endorsed Joe Biden saying “we’ve got to make Trump a one-term president.”

“I will do all that I can to see that that happens, Joe,” Sanders promised.

The quick endorsement came as a surprise, given the fact that during his concession speech last week, Sanders didn’t speak enthusiastically about Biden and sounded more like the candidate he was before suspending his campaign.

Sen. Sanders isn’t running for president. The primary season is not yet over. But already the results are clear: Regardless of who is elected president the winner is Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont. And helping him, most definitely not at the senator’s request, was something he hoped never happened, the 2020 plague known as the coronavirus.

 

 

Here’s why I say Sen. Sanders is the winner: Two of the issues that Sen. Sanders has campaigned on for years – health and economic matters – will be the most important issues during the presidential campaign, because of the plague afflicting the U.S. and elsewhere:

Health – The coronavirus epidemic will change Americans views on health forever. Good and affordable coverage for everyone will be a major campaign issue in every future election; in fact, in this November’s election it will be the major subject. Eventually, Medicare for All, one of Sen. Sanders most important wants, will become a reality.

Economics — There are many issues that Sen. Sanders campaigned on that will be issues in the November election and in every future one. But the most pressing current one is having the government provide money to out-of-work citizens during the coronavirus epidemic. And a Republican led government is doing so. (Just as there are no atheists in fox holes, there are few GOP politicians crying “anti-socialist” during a plague, it appears.) Once the plague abates, the normal help for the unemployed, state’s unemployment payments, will have to change. Many states have extended their unemployment benefits during this crises. But will citizens of states like Florida, and North Carolina, with maximum weeks of benefits limited to 12, support going back to the “old normal?” I doubt it.

There are many other Sanders’ issues that because of the economic turndown caused by the coronavirus will now become campaign issues in this November and future elections. A few: Income inequality, paid leave, college cost and student debt, and drug costs, to name a few. And while another of the senator’s important issues, climate change, took a back seat to the health and economic issues caused by the coronavirus, it certainly will be revived during the presidential campaign.

The victory of Sen. Sanders’ ideas have also caused the Republicans legislators, or if not them, many GOP voters, to change their attitude about the role of government.

Now that so many Americans and businesses are depending on the federal government for help, no longer will the GOP be able to convince most Americans that big government is bad government.

And no longer will President Trump be able to get people to believe his promise that he has a perfect, beautiful health plan to replace Obamacare. Only GOP legislators who want to be defeated will campaign on the repeal of Obamacare this November and in future elections.

Trump will continue to call Democrats socialists. But people in need of help, Democrats, Republicans, independents, American firsters or internationalists, won’t care.

Pundits will continue to say that Sen. Sanders’ campaign has moved Joe Biden to the left. While true, that’s only half of the story. Because of the popularity of many of Sen. Sanders’ positions, many GOP elected officials have also moved to the left, along with many conservatives who before coronavirus believed that socialistic ideas, like helping businesses and tax loop holes should only benefit big business and the wealthiest of Americans.

During my long career in the PR business, I’ve never believed, that a successful short-term PR campaign had a long-term positive affect for the client. Neither do many businesses. That’s why PR budgets are a fraction of advertising expenditures and why advertising campaigns can often continue for years, unlike PR campaigns hat have a short shelve life.

Unlike many short-term PR programs that attempt to capture the moment, over the years Sen. Sanders’ campaigns have resembled an advertising one. He has advocated essentially the same ideas during his two terms in the Senate and before that in the House, from 1991, until he was elected a Senator. in 2007.

Many of Sen. Sanders’ positions, once considered socialistic, have now become part of the American landscape. This is not a new occurrence when someone introduces progressive legislation. FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Medicare were viciously attacked by most Republicans as socialistic.

During part of my PR career at Burson-Marsteller, I was asked to take the leadership position in a client’s national campaign that always received negative publicity. I changed the messaging. By using the same themes for the eight years that I managed the account, much like an advertising campaign repeats the same messaging, the negative aspects of the client’s campaign were overcome and replaced by major media favorable publicity. (I tweaked the program each year to keep it fresh for the media, but the messaging didn’t vary. The campaign ended when the client decided to go in a different direction because of the increase in rights fees. I also went in another direction, and was assigned to manage or play key roles in other flagship national and international accounts, that included being a media consultant to government leaders while at B-M.)

In many ways, using the same messaging for eight years for the same client is similar to how Sen. Sanders’ has been promoting his ideas over the years.

In his concession speech, Sen. Sanders said, “Few would deny that over the course of the past five years our movement has won the ideological struggle. In so-called red states and blue states and purple states, a majority of the American people now understand that we must raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, that we must guarantee health care as a right to all of our people, that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, and that higher education must be available to all, regardless of income. It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe. Today they are mainstream ideas, and many of them are already being implemented in cities and states across the country. That is what we have accomplished together.”

Sen. Sanders’ dream of becoming President Sanders will not be achieved. However, history will remember him as the most influential none president of the U.S. His two presidential campaigns have not failed. Much of what he preached over the years is now a reality, unmatched by the great majority of past presidents and the current one.

What Sen. Sanders has campaigned for has been or is in the process of becoming accepted American policy. That’s why regardless of who is elected president in November, the real winner is Bernie Sanders.

There are important take-a-ways from Sen. Sanders’ long-term technique that PR people should remember. Thinking long-term can help a client.

There’s also an important lesson that PR people should remember from President Trump’s short-term technique. It might work once, (as it did in 2016) but in the long-term it doesn’t.

But, perhaps, the most important lesson is to be flexible in your public relations approaches, because as in all aspects of life, things are fluid. Much of what Sen. Sanders was championing was thought to be unattainable several years ago. They are now an accepted part of American life.

However, in our business, especially in the PR crisis sector, tenets that date back before many of you were born are still implemented, even though history shows they don’t work.

It’s important for young PR people to think for themselves and to change PR approaches to fit the situations, instead of relying on past models. Because, as I’ve said for years, “There is no one size fits all solution to a PR crisis or to any PR initiative.”


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.

 




Pivoting in a Pandemic

Dr. David Hagenbuch, Ethicist and Professor of Marketing, Messiah College, Author of Honorable Influence, Founder of MindfulMarketing.org  

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  Evaporating demand due to COVID-19 has caused many industries to sour, yet some innovative organizations continue to score in unexpected sweet spots.  Thanks to creative thinking and agile adjustments of their marketing plans, certain companies have rapidly repositioned themselves for productivity uninfected by the virus.

Serious fans of basketball are familiar with an offense skill, not often employed in the current era of three-point shooting: the pivot foot.  In order to move with the ball, a player must, of course, dribble.  Once he stops and holds the ball, he can’t dribble again; however, he can still move provided that one ‘pivot’ foot remains planted on the floor.

Few basketball players use their pivot foot to its full potential, but those who do can adeptly avoid defenders’ grasps by turning their bodies 180 degrees, or even in full circles.  Doing so, they can make what may have looked like a lost possession into an amazing pass or a spectacular shot.

The coronavirus has caused many organizations to ‘pick up their dribble,’ stopping them in their tracks.  Some companies, however, have realized that both feet don’t need to be bolted to the floor.  They can still pick up one foot and pivot, finding profitable new opportunities, sometimes in a direction opposite the one they were facing.

A few firms that have made very ‘hard pivots’ are those that have decided to manufacture products they never made before, including ones crucial for lessening the pandemic’s impact:

  • 3M, Ford, and GE are partnering to produce respirators desperately needed by those suffering from the harshest effects of COVID-19.  The companies are “repurposing existing parts and hundreds of workers in a wartime-like battle against the outbreak.”   
  • Leveraging its 3D printing capabilities, Ford is also expecting to produce 100,000 face shields per week, which frontline healthcare workers need to protect themselves from the dangerous droplets that coughing and sneezing patients propel.
  • Many companies have started manufacturing for the first time the smaller, lighter face masks that people increasing wear to avoid spreading the virus if  sick, or to avoid contracting it if healthy.  Some of the mask producers include Carhartt, Eclipse International, and Gap.  Even high-end fashion brands like Burberry, Dior, and Giorgio Armani have promised some of their production capacity. 
  • With Purell and its competitors unable to meet demand, several companies we wouldn’t expect also are now bottling hand sanitizer, including distilleries of Anheuser-Busch and Pernod Ricard, the maker of Absolut Vodka.  According to FoodDive, “Drinking alcohol and rubbing alcohol are not identical substances, but they can be used as substitutes for each other.”

The preceding pivots are in the spirit of President Trump’s invocation of the Defense Production Act, which allows a commander-in-chief to divert civilian manufacturing capacity and resources to the production of goods that promote national defense.

Meanwhile, other organizations have seen market disruption in their own industries and moved decisively to capitalize on the resulting opportunities.  Those pivots have often involved emphasizing specific goods and services that complement the ways many of us have been forced to adapt our daily lives, for instance:

All of the above are prudent pivots; however, one of the most significant ones I’ve seen comes from an organization you may not know, unless you have a child between the ages of two and eight who likes soccer.

“Driven by the belief that a positive experience with sports can make a lasting impact on a child’s life,” Soccer Shots teaches soccer skills and life skills in affirmational ways to the youngest of athletes.  Since opening its first franchises in 1997 in Charlotte, NC and Harrisburg, PA, the company has grown to nearly a half million enrollments in 37 states and Canada.

As one might expect, Soccer Shots’ business model is based on face-to-face interactions between coaches and kids in physical spaces.  So, how does an in-person organization respond when social distancing directives don’t just spread the field, they end the game?  The player pivots. 

The company has swiftly created “Soccer Shots on the Go,” a virtual sports education program that allows young people to learn soccer skills with Soccer Shot coaches, in the safety of their homes.  Soccer Shots Franchising (SSF) describes the program:

Soccer Shots On The Go uses our expert-approved curriculum to help families get moving and have some fun…at home! Each week, you’ll receive an age-appropriate video packed with soccer skills, character development and creative ways to stay active. Soccer Shots On The Go also includes activities and resources for the entire family delivered directly to your email.

The notion that learning soccer ‘online’ can’t be quite the same as learning it on the field is not lost on Steve King, executive director of the company’s Harrisburg-York, PA region.  He readily acknowledges the difference and puts in perspective:

“Certainly there are some different or missing components compared to being in-person, including the child-coach interaction for which we are so well- known, but the quality of the video sessions is terrific, and our longtime experience with child development and curriculum-based programming is seen in both how the videos are produced and how the child is engaged with the coach who is on-screen.”

Helping others survive the devastating health and economic impacts of coronavirus comes first, then individuals and organizations should think how they can thrive amid the challenges.  In the face of unprecedented disruption, Soccer Shots co-founder Jason Webb cheers his team for making just that kind of “impressive pivot,” skillfully creating “a quality, professional-produced program alternative” for all those Soccer Shots serves.

Sometimes anguish is unavoidable, but pivoting in the face of pain is Mindful Marketing.”


About the Author: Dr. David Hagenbuch is a Professor of Marketing at Messiah College, the author of Honorable Influence, and the founder MindfulMarketing.org, which aims to encourage ethical marketing.




Democratic Debate # 12: Was it Necessary? Did It Happen? What Would I Have Written?

(Plus A Test And A Lesson To Remember For PR People)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

Because many Democratic primaries have been postponed because of the coronavirus epidemic, and former Vice-president Joe Biden’s has a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead, Democratic Debate # 12 was not scheduled during the first six days of April. But it was still a possibility. Then it became unnecessary, when on April 7 Sen. Sanders ended his campaign, delivering the most ungraceful concession speech I’ve ever heard. (He sounded more like a fanatic than most fanatics do). Missing from his speech was a single nice word about Joe Biden.

Democratic Debate # 8: So Long, Iowa. Hello Mike?On April 10, a news analysis column in the New York Times by Mark Leibovich said of Sen. Sanders remarks, “”Today I congratulate Joe Biden, a very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward.” “While not quite a full-throated tribute,” wrote Mr. Leibovich,”perhaps the most significant aspect of it was that it occurred in April, as opposed to July, which was when Mr. Sanders finally came around to endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016.” A less generous analysis of the Vermont senator’s speech was written by Kimberley A. Strassel, also in the April 10 Wall Street Journal.  Her column was titled, “Bernie Campaigns On.” She wrote of Sander’s remarks that he will work with Biden ” to move our progressive ideas forward” wasn’t an endorsement. It was a threat. “He’s not conceding gracefully; he’s not rallying Democrats behind a nominee; he’s not going anywhere – not without extracting  a significant show of fealty from Mr. Biden,” wrote Ms. Strassel.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) originally said there would be an April TV debate. And I was looking forward to it. Because of popular demand (my wife says writing these columns keep me out of the way), here’s what I would have written if there was a Debate # 12.

In my analysis of Democratic Debate # 11 on March 15, I said: Health advice for political junkies: Don’t hold your breath waiting for the next debate. Even though the Democratic National Committee announced that there would be 12 debates, the final one has not yet been announced. If Biden sweeps Tuesday’s primaries and greatly extends his delegate lead over Sanders, Debate # 12 might never be held. (Alas, to my disappointment I was correct.)

As I watched my imaginary Debate # 12, I thought given Joe Biden’s big delegate lead over Sen. Sanders, was this latest in the made-for-TV debate series necessary. (More on this later.)

Before commentating on the above, a recap of the last Debate, # 11:

 (Thus far in my opinion, Sen. Sanders has outperformed Biden in every previous debate.)

 This was the best of all the debates because it was limited to just Biden and Sanders, providing them both with more time to explain their positions. There was a major difference between the approaches of the two candidates: Sanders talked in generalities; Biden in specifics.

  • Sanders attacked Biden on the former veep’s positions on social security, student loans, the Defense of Marriage act, the Hyde Amendment, gay rights, the Iraq war and NAFTA. Biden denied some of Sanders accusations.
  • Biden attacked Sanders on his positions regarding Central America and particularly his comments about how some conditions in China and Cuba have improved. The Vermont senator replied that facts are facts but that he condemns dictatorships everywhere.
  • Both Biden and Sanders agreed on many positions, but split over how to achieve them.

Because Biden provided specifics about how he would achieve his aims, I awarded this debate to him. Saying that, Sanders also did well, as he always does in these debates. (I thought this was Sen. Sanders best debate; it was also the best by Biden.)

I also thought the CNN-Univision moderators, Ilia Calderon, of Univision, and CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash and anchor Jake Tapper turned in the best moderated debate of the series.

They began and ended the debate with the major news of the week, questioning the candidates about how they would tackle the coronavirus.

The trio of moderators made CBS’ Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King look like they flunked journalism 101, because even though the coronavirus was the big news on February 25, the day of their debate, they followed their prepared list of questions and didn’t discuss the coronavirus situation until late in that debate. That was also one day after Sen. Sanders made his partial defense of Fidel Castro, which should have been the second questions asked. Just awful journalism.

I also said: In the aggregate, I thought that the first 10 debates did nothing to help the Democrats in the 2020 election. What it accomplished was the damaging of other Democratic candidates. Too many circular firing squads; too few attacks on Donald Trump, except by Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. And what did that get them? Thumbs down by the primary voters. After the first 10 debates, my score was Democrats’ 6, Trump 4, not because of the Democrats’ actions, but because of Trump’s manic, childish, narcissistic, grandiose behavior, and setting a U.S. presidential record for lying. And that was prior to his calling the coronavirus outbreak a “Democratic hoax” and fibbing about everything else associated with it. Thus even before Debate # 11 began, the score was Democrats 7, Trump 4.

Notably. even on the night of Debate # 11, the after-the-debate analysis was cut short because of coronavirus news.

I continued: Because Sen. Sanders’ followers are true believers (aka as fanatics in my dictionary), the caronavirus scare should play to his advantage during Tuesday’s voting. Fanatics are much more likely to wait in line to vote, despite being advised by medical pros to stay away from crowds, than rationale voters. The flip side is that young voters that make up the bulk of Sanders’ supporters don’t vote in large numbers. It turned out that they didn’t turn out for Sanders and Biden added to his delegate lead by winning Arizona, Florida and Illinois.

Did anything happen between Debate # 11 on March 15 and imaginary Debate # 12.Yes, some were the same old, same old. However, there were some significant occurrences:

  • Because of the wall-to-wall coverage of the coronavirus, limited next day media coverage and analysis was provided by the cable political TV networks.
  • A big question on the night of Debate # 11 and the following day was how would the coronavirus affect the voting in the March 17 and other primaries? The answer: Many primaries, not only Ohio, which was scheduled to vote on March 17, were postponed, meaning that the eventual nominee might not be known until mid-to-late June, or later. (Good news for political         fanatics; bad news for candidates.)
  • Even though Joe Biden’s best debate performance received much less coverage than it normally would, because of the criticism by health experts regarding President Trump’s inept handling of the coronavirus situation, all Democratic candidates  received unexpected help in their election campaigns.
  • On primary day, March 17, Biden’s sweeping victories received minimal coverage because even the political cable shows devoted the majority of their programs to the coronavirus.
  • Though coverage of his victories was limited because of the coronavirus, Biden and other Democratic candidates for offices were buoyed by print and TV coverage detailing the lies and mishandling of the coronavirus situation by President Trump.
  • Not that it mattered, but on March 19, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard ended her presidential campaign and endorsed Biden.
  • In its March 21-22 edition, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bloomberg campaign will transfer $18-million to the Democratic National Committee, a boost for Biden, who has been struggling to raise money.
  • Because of the coronavirus spreading like wildfire throughout the United States, the economy, immigration, financial markets, and all other issues will now be confined to the bleachers during the lead-up to the presidential election. Voter views of President Trump’s handling (mishandling?) of the coronavirus situation, his attempts to kill Obamacare and other health care concerns will now be the main campaign topics.
  • The active campaigning might be postponed but the endorsements for Joe Biden keep occurring; On March 22, Biden received the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers.
  • Better Late Than Never: On April 7, Rep. John Lewis endorsed Biden, causing some pundits to say it shows the strong support that Biden has among Africa-Americans. Question: Wasn’t that apparent weeks ago?
  • Because of a Supreme Court ruling, over the objection by the Democratic governor of Wisconsin, who attempted to lengthen the time necessary for the more than a million of mail-in primary ballots to be counted until April 13 because of the coronavirus epidemic, only mail-in ballots postmarked by April 7 will be counted. And results will not be announced until April 13.

Here’s my evaluation regarding imaginary debate # 12

At long last, Joe Biden was able to gain some TV time. Between the canceling of the primaries and until this debate, the lackluster response by the Biden campaign during the weeks that President Trump (and Gov. Cuomo) dominated the news, demonstrates that Biden’s campaign needs an influx of individuals who know how to create national TV news. Surely Biden has blown an opportunity to present himself as a leader during this time of coronavirus crisis by not proposing his “Biden Plans” to combat future epidemics, or to ensure that the economy would not go into a tailspin if anther health crisis occurs, as well as talking about the current crisis. Doing so should have been easy for him by consulting the many health officials and economists that he must have consulted with during his long tenure in government. Announcing Biden Plans would have have made national news. It’s a failure of his and his advisors to let such an opportunity be wasted. In order for Biden to challenge Trump later this year, Biden must show leadership. Only Trump’s inept handling of the coronavirus situation hasn’t resulted in Biden from appearing unable to lead.

My Take:

An Op-Ed: The most important take from the political scene during the primary season had nothing to do with the candidates, their campaigns and the voting. It has to do with the importance of leadership during a crisis. Until a crisis develops, it’s impossible to know how a person will act. During a crisis, decisive and intelligent leadership is needed, devoid of politics, and the person in the White House has shown that he cannot provide it.

Instead of lies, bluster and blaming others for reporting on his shortcomings, President Trump and Vice President Pence, the lackey, are examples of what this country doesn’t need in the next president. What the country needs is a person to act like Mayor Rudy Giuliani did after New York City was attacked on 9/11, how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is now acting on a daily basis and how FDR and Winston Churchill acted during World War 2. If Joe Biden wins the presidency, we hope that he will show that type of leadership. If Trump is reelected, the country will be in trouble. He has demonstrated during his term that the only type of leadership he is proficient in is protecting himself, lies and divisiveness.

In times of emergencies, some people flourish, like Gov. Cuomo, and others ebb, like President Trump. Because of his leadership during the coronavirus epidemic, Gov. Cuomo has become a national political “rock star” and in my opinion has superseded Biden as the politician that can handle a crisis best.

Gov. Cuomo has proven that he has the leadership qualities that are lacking in Trump. Biden should rethink his commitment to name a woman as his running mate. What the country needs now is a proven leader. Biden should select Cuomo as his vice president.

If for no other reason than endangering the life of so many people by calling the coronavirus “a Democratic hoax,” President Trump deserves to be defeated in November. And Fox News deserves condemnation for disseminating the president’s falsehoods, which have endangered the health of so many of its viewers. End Op-Ed.

Even though he lost the primary elections to Joe Biden by a significant margin, Sen. Sanders pushed the former veep to back positions that the Vermont senator has been championing for many years. In order to gain the support of Sanders’ backers, Biden will probably select as a running mate an individual that is also to the left of what Democratic candidates have campaigned on in recent elections.

The coronavirus outbreak will strengthen Sen. Sanders call for Medicare for All, and at the very least will get Democrats to campaign for much better and greater comprehensive health insurance even more than they did in the 2018 election.

The importance of pro-active programs to combat the coronavirus highlighted the importance of state governors and underscored the delayed and inept actions and original denial by President Trump of the coronavirus situation.

No matter how many tweets he sends, the president can’t tweet himself out of the coronavirus epidemic. For every tweet he sends congratulating himself on his actions and criticizing others, the record of his lack of urgency was recorded on tape and has been, and will be replayed, during this year’s election. Along with his impeachment, he will go down in history as one of our worst presidents.

Exit polls showed that even Biden supporters agreed with positions of Sens. Warren and Sanders. So why did they not cast their ballots for the two? In my opinion, it was the way they acted during the TV debates, which I believe were the biggest mistakes of the primary season. Instead of stating their positions in calm, dignified manners like Biden, Sen. Klobuchar and former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Warren and Sanders resorted to Trump-like campaigning – attacking Biden and Bloomberg in booming voices that could make an opera soprano diva jealous. In contrast, Biden made his case in a calm, dignified, confident manner that obviously attracted voters. It was apparent from the first debate that the attack-mode would not be popular with voters. Sen. Kamala Harris’ early “I was that little girl” attack on Biden backfired on the California senator. That should have provided a “do-not-copy” warning to the others candidates. It should have, but it didn’t. (In our business, there are many supervisors who use the “scream and threaten” tactic as a means of getting better work from their subordinates. That never works. Shouting at someone doesn’t make them more proficient. Speaking in a reverberating and accusatory voice didn’t help Sens. Sanders and Warren either. The take-a-way from their performances was “Being nice might not have helped them; but being nasty certainly didn’t.”)

The title of an Op-Ed by Allysia Finley in the March 17 Wall Street Journal about why younger voters didn’t support Sen. Sanders in the primaries hit the nail on the head. It was labeled “Young Voters Outgrow Bernie Sanders,” which from my personal experience is true. College students are among the most fanatical supporters of far left political figures and their agendas. But when they enter the real world and have to make a living they grow, not necessarily more conservative, but more realistic about what can be done regarding injustices. During the international phase of my PR career, I witnessed similar attitudes in foreign countries. (Ms. Finley’s article gave specific examples of how younger adults voted during the primaries. But the titled of her column said it all.)

President Trump said on a scale of 1 to 10 he considers himself a number 10 for the way he is handling the coronavirus epidemic. My friend at Sesame Street said that’s an insult to the number 10.

Now that the Bloomberg campaign has transferred $18 million to the Democratic National Committee, isn’t it time for Sen. Warren to apologize for her vicious attacks on the former NYC mayor?

During his first inaugural address in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” After listening to virologists contradict the daily cononavirus lies emanating from President Trump and his lackey, Vice President Pence, a new phrase will go down in history — “The only thing we have to fear are the lies told by the president and his vice-president at their daily coronavirus pressers.”

Subject: New dictionary definition: Histrionic Personality Disorder: — Donald Trump.

It’s obvious that the daily White House pressers regarding the coronavirus situation, are nothing but self-serving PR events. I say that because as soon as President Trump and veep Mike Pence, the lackey, announce their own versions of events, health experts contradict the propaganda.

What About The Future: 

New York State’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo will become a major player in national Democratic politics because of the praise he has received for his aggressive handling on how to tackle the coronavirus situation. Many of his suggestions have been adopted by other governors and eventually became Trump administration policies, even though vice president, the lackey, continually praises Trump for his leadership.(With Cuomo receiving national plaudits from health experts across the country for his leadership in trying to control the coronavirus, unlike the poor grades given to President Trump and Vice President Pence, the lackey, both who have lied about the situation, I wouldn’t be surprised if Biden is sorry that he said during his last debate that  he would have a woman as his running mate). Aside from Cuomo’s policies during the outbreak, there was a major difference between him, Trump and Pence, the lackey. From the outside, Cuomo made it clear that the coronavirus epidemic was a danger that needed immediate aggressive action to contain it. Trump and Pence, the lackey, along with another lackey, Larry Kudlow, portrayed the situation as something that will evaporate in a few days.

The above is what I would have written if my imaginary Debate # 12 was a reality.

The title of this column is: Democratic Debate # 12: Was it Necessary?

In my opinion it was. Here’s why:

It was originally announced that there would be 12 Democratic TV debates during the primary season, the last one to be held in April. A good public relations strategy would have been for the Democratic leaders to show respect for Sanders and let him make his points even though he had no chance of winning the nomination. Doing that would prevent President Trump and Vice President Pence, the lackey, from saying the Democratic Party conspired against Sanders. Holding the debate wouldn’t have damaged Biden, but it would have provided a welcoming, understanding hand to Sanders’ supporters. In a New York Times article on March 26, Biden was quoted as saying, “We’ve had enough debates.” His comments were in response to Sen. Sanders saying that he would participate in a debate if one was held in April. In my opinion, Biden’s comments were a major blunder if he hopes to attract Sanders’ supporters. The Vermont Senator’s followers are very loyal and might stay home in November, as they did in the 2016 presidential election, if hey feel that Sanders was treated badly.

A Test And A Lesson To Remember For PR People:

Question: How many candidates were campaigning for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination?

Answer: 27 (extra credit if you can name them).

Lesson to Remember: Read Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse,” which includes the lines, “The best-laid schemes of’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley.” Keep it in mind when planning programs and promising results to clients.


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.




Bonnie & Clyde & COVID-19

Sorry Gov, we couldn’t stand being holed up in our condo

Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

We got away with it.  Pulled it off.  It was like we were Bonnie and Clyde robbing a bank.  We made off with not thousands, but trillions.  And hehe, to this day they never caught us.

And what did we do to feel like bank robbers?   I’ll confess, Gov. DeSantis.  Before the sun came up early one morning, quarantined out of our minds, my wife Rita and I broke out of our beachfront condo in Boca Raton.  We brazenly disobeyed your order.  I’m sorry.  We walked out on our deserted beach before the sun was fully up.  I feel particularly guilty over this because it was so exhilarating!

Beach Walker Guilt! 

We were the only ones on the beach walking briskly toward our club, The Boca Raton Resort and Club, when we saw headlights on a vehicle fast approaching us from behind.  We thought the game was up.  We had had it.  We were ready to throw down our cell phones, put our hands up and have our lawyer, Peter Ticktin, beg the court for a merciful sentence.

Then suddenly we were relieved to see it wasn’t the police, it was a man on beach patrol, maybe looking to help birds.  Not make jailbirds out of us.

Those of you who remember my book “King of the Condo,” will recall I like to take a humorous approach to life in a Florida condo.  That satiric book enabled me to fire back at all the residents who had tormented me when I was their beleaguered   President as Trump is today.  I had dared to push through an assessment to pay for upgrading the lobby and other improvements.  Well, I’m still concocting levity behind the humor counter like in one of my previous blogs: https://maddenmischief.com/2020/03/20/sometimes-laughter-helps-to-relieve-the-tension/

These days we live in an oceanfront condo near the building we own in downtown Boca where my PR firm, TransMedia Group, is headquartered.  During this crisis, we’re all working remotely and I had to close our office in Rome, Italy.  Yes, these are crazy coronavirus times we’re living in, or hiding out from, that’s producing  fresh crops of condo commandos on steroids and making renegades of people like me occasionally sneaking out on a deserted beach in defiance of the law.

Despite all the fears, tension and claustrophobia of being quarantined in our apartments, I still see traces of humor lurking in the lobby, elevators, hallways and common areas of our condo.  Sometimes when I get off the elevator and see one of the masked cleaning people pointing a vacuum cleaner rod, I hold up my hands like I’m under arrest.  It gets a muffled chuckle.

Today in front of each elevator, there’s a box of tissues and signs exhorting you to use a tissue to cover your finger when pressing your floor button.  The other day, my wife Rita and I got on an elevator and there was a man in it who promised not to breathe until we reached the lobby. It was a joke, but I found myself holding my breath for eight floors.  We’re all sort of looking at each other, wondering, worrying, trying to judge how healthy someone is and we dare not cough or it could start a stampede.

Today we don’t leave our apartment without our masks and rubber gloves on.  The picture below is Rita and I kissing with our masks on.  I suppose you could say we’re masking our gallows humor.

Who really knows who’s next to test positive.  Also, many of you may not have heard I remarried after losing my beloved Angela to breast cancer last year.  I was sleepless in Boca for months until I met Rita after some adventures with Internet dating, which I tell all about in my latest book “Love Boat 78” available on Amazon. And where did I meet my Brazilian wife?   Where else?   Duffy’s!

Since the pandemic, the Board of Directors at our condo has been taking measures to keep our buildings safe, as it believes, and I couldn’t agree more, it’s prudent to take extraordinary measures to limit the number of visitors to our building and to dramatically increase the cleaning cycle in the common areas.  Oh man, are we clean.  Residents who were sitting in beach chairs six feet apart now can’t even go on the beach.  The jacuzzi’s closed.  The gym is shut down. No one’s allowed in the pool. Everyone’s masked.  And some of us just can’t help ourselves.  Sometimes we become Bonnie and Clyde.

 

 

 




As Good As It Can Possibly Get

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

My entire working life has consisted of newspapering or PRing.  Both of these businesses are not known for dealing with the most forthright individuals. But I’ve been blessed. During my career, I’ve never been lied to, misled or harassed by people I reported to or worked with.

Here are some examples why I say my working experience has been as good as possible:

During my PR career:

  • I’ve always been fortunate enough to work at an agency where management wouldn’t put up with and would resign a client who badgers account people for no reason.
  • I’ve always been fortunate that I never had to work with a nasty client.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where management thought moral values of a client were more important than the size of the budget.
  • I always been fortunate to work at an agency that refused client accounts that weren’t considered ethically correct.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where management would ask an employee if working on a controversial client would go against the employee’s beliefs. 
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where top management would admit being responsible for a client disaster that they created instead of looking for scapegoats.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where, when you tell something to H.R. that is negative about the agency it will not immediately be reported to top management.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where there was no office politics.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency that was free of back stabbing jealous employees.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where management wouldn’t look to replace employees with new communications school grads because they would work for less money.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where management would never mislead employees.
  • I’ve always been fortunate not to have someone take credit for my work.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where supervisors had to know more about public relations than those they supervised.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work an agency where top management would not permit supervisors to bully or threaten lower-level account people.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where top management truly cared about the welfare of its employees. (See addendum.)

A Few Fortunate Aspects Of My Days As A Journalist:

  • I was fortunate that I never was forced to cover an event that I didn’t think newsworthy.
  • I was fortunate that I never had a story spiked because an editor said, “It would upset an entity or individual.”
  • I was fortunate that I never was told by an editor to rewrite a story.
  • I was fortunate that I never was told by an editor that I was burying the lead. 
  • I was fortunate that I never was told by a “kindly old editor” about how easy we new timers have it.
  • I was fortunate that whenever I interviewed a person I was always told the truth.
  • I was fortunate that every story I wrote was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize, and won it three times.

I had two career highlights, (excluding my Pulitzer Prizes), one as a journalist, and the other as a PR practitioner.

As a newsperson, I was assigned to do a week in the life of Donald Trump feature and followed him around during his business and personal life. I can truthfully say that I was treated most kindly. Before writing the story I fact checked everything he told me and found no exaggerations or mistruths. He requested that any flattering remarks about him from friends, his employees or business associates not be included in the story. “Just tell it like it is, warts and all,” he told me. He is the most unassuming person I ever met.(As Nikki Haley said in her book, I always experienced Trump to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And I’m certain that Ms. Haley would have said the same thing even though she wasn’t seeking a place on a future GOP presidential ticket.)

Because of the above assignment, Mr. Trump hired me to be the lead PR person at his company. During the eight years I was there, (I finally left when he decided to enter the political arena), I was treated with more loyalty, respect and kindness than at any other time during my PR career. Every morning, he would come into my office and say, “Thanks for your hard work. Let me know if you need anything.” I also was struck by how often he told his staff, “Flattering me will get you nowhere.”

And if you believe the above, you’ve been April Fooled.

Addendum: Actually, I once worked at an agency whose owner truly cared about the welfare of employees. It was at a boutique political agency (my first job in PR). During election campaigns we often had to work close to midnight, sometimes later. On the days we did, the owner of the agency would always treat us to supper at a good restaurant and arrange for transportation from the office to our homes, regardless of where we lived. And the mornings following late nights, when we arrived for work, there were always platters of bagels, spreads and urns of coffee.

Just like where you work. Right?

E-Mail Warning Disclaimer to Journalists:

The information in this pitch or story gives the individual receiving it permission to plan a story or contact me regarding any additional information needed to result in positive coverage. If this e-mail has been sent to the wrong individual by mistake, there are no legal restrictions prohibiting you to forward it to the journalist that you feel is most likely to cover the subject. Doing so will prevent you from receiving a follow-up call if I am notified by return e-mail within 48 hours. (In order to keep my anxiety level down a faster reply will be appreciated.) You may also contact me via telephone and, unlike other disclaimers, you may have received, I will accept collect calls, if the response is positive.


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.

 

 




Diane Silberstein, Former Playboy Publisher, To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “This Is A Time For Reinvention.”

The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

“I am very privileged. I’ve worked with some amazing people in my career, and it’s not over yet. I’ve met some incredible people… I’ve worked with some of the most incredible marketers around, people at agencies and on the client’s side. And my colleagues that have never failed to impress and inspire me. And we just keep going. This is a time of reinvention, that’s for sure.” … Diane Silberstein

Playboy is folding the print component of its iconic brand, citing the Coronavirus as the reason. A victim of the pandemic and its tragic hold on the world as a whole right now? Some may believe that, but as for me personally, I don’t think so. I believe the brand as a whole, and not just the magazine, lost its relevance long before Hefner’s death or the Me Too movement.  But rather than lead with my assumptions, I decided to go to an insider who has been at the helm of Playboy and ask her opinion.

Diane Silberstein is no novice when it comes to the world of magazines. From launching Allure to  being at Elle and The New Yorker, combined with her days at Playboy and Opera News, she is a woman who knows her way around magazines and publishing. And when it comes to Playboy and being the first female publisher at the gentlemen’s magazine, well, she is definitely a groundbreaker.

I spoke with Diane recently about her illustrious career in publishing and all of those wonderful brands she worked on. It was a delightful conversation and one where she agreed that Playboy was Hugh Hefner and Hef was Playboy: “Mr. Hefner was a big part of the brand. I wish that Playboy had continued on building the brand in a way that evolved it for the next generation.” The idea of being a part of a brand that was at one time untouchable in circulation when it came to men’s magazines, makes Diane an inimitable part of magazines and magazine publishing.

So, I hope that you enjoy this informative interview with a woman who has had a magnificent career in the past and has no intention of slowing down when it comes to the future. Once this pandemic has passed, and she firmly believes it will, the time for reinvention is at hand. For magazine brands and their publishing mantras. And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Diane Silberstein, former publisher, Playboy.

But first the sound-bites:

On being a former publisher of Playboy and her reaction to the news that the print magazine was closing up shop: My first emotions were very sad, another iconic brand shuttering its doors. I had the same reaction when I heard that Glamour magazine was suspending publication, which is the first place I worked; it was my first job out of college. But here was an iconic brand that meant so much to such a great number of men. The circulation was three million when I was there. I was there in 2003, 2004, and 2005. So, that’s going back a number of years, but with a circulation of three million, the readership was up to almost seven million. We reached a lot of men in America. So it was just heartbreaking to hear that it was going away.

On whether she feels the reason the magazine didn’t make it was because Hefner was no longer there: I think Mr. Hefner was a big part of the brand. I wish that Playboy had continued on building the brand in a way that evolved it for the next generation. During the early 2000s, Playboy was battling against Maxim, which was a huge brand at the time as well for young men. And I don’t think there’s been another brand that has taken over and stepped into the role to really capture the attention of young men today.

On whether she was comfortable showing the photography to the ad community considering she was a female publisher for Playboy: It was very comfortable for me to talk about the magazine and it was very comfortable to be in a presentation, and especially talk to other women who were buying media, about the magazine and explain the mindset of women talking about Playboy, and marketing Playboy, with it being the magazine that was entertainment for men.

On the transition of going from working at Elle and fashion to Playboy and skin: You’re not necessarily working with solely the editorial content, you’re really working as a publisher with an audience, and that’s what you’re marketing. So, at Elle, we were really marketing an audience of women who were interested in fashion and beauty. At Playboy we were marketing an audience of men, red-blooded American men, who were interested not just in women, but who were also interested in cars and electronics and in looking good and grooming. And that was the audience that we were marketing.

On Diane Silberstein the publisher and the difference between working for a nonprofit and a profit publication: My publisher self and my experience in sales and marketing stays with me and continues with me now into my career in real estate. I think the differences between not-for-profit and profit is everything looks at the bottom line for profitability. In my own experience in the nonprofit world, I found change to be slow in spending and very challenging, because the approval process is many layered between management and reporting to a board that has varying points of view. So, it just takes much longer to get things accomplished. And to me that’s the biggest difference.

On some of the highlights of her career: When I look back on the whole of my career, one of the highlights that stands out in my mind is launching Allure magazine, because rarely do you have the privilege of working for a man like S.I. Newhouse. And being able to launch a magazine where you have incredible resources at your disposal and the top talent that’s in the business, and the ability to create something from the ground up. And probably the most interesting as a highlight was certainly working at Playboy, because it was so varied and it was the first time I had ever worked for a public company, so it involved quarterly reporting; it was a different set of skills that were needed and I was able to work with so many different areas.

On whether visiting the Playboy mansion was ever part of an advertising coup: (Laughs) Every client wanted to go to the mansion, but no, that wasn’t a prerequisite for signing, not at all. But a lot of clients did use the mansion for events and programs, and we certainly allowed that. But no, that was not a carrot for clients. Not at all.

 On what Hefner was like as a boss: Well, I reported to Christie Hefner who was CEO of the company, I did not report to Hef. I think to get more in depth knowledge that probably came from Jim Kaminsky, who was editorial director during my term there. But Mr. Hefner, from my observations, did make the final call on everything.

On the advice she would give someone today (after the tragic pandemic is behind us) who wanted to launch a new magazine in this digital age: I think you have to be really honed in on a niche topic. And you have to build your audience really from the ground up. It has to happen organically and it’s a tough thing to do today. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it, especially if they’re investing their own capital in it. It’s a very difficult time for all media brands and everybody is struggling for support. And when I say support, I mean marketing and advertising support.

On her vision of the future of the printed magazine: I think it’s obvious that the migration to online and how we consume media is in a digital world going forward.

On how she proposes people can make money from digital media: With digital media, you’re either charging the consumer for exclusive content or you’re very specifically charging for your audience that you can target and micro-target.

On whether anyone today can replicate her own footsteps in the marketplace or advertising world or those were the good old days: I hate to discourage anyone from going into the business today, because obviously we need journalists and people to report on what’s happening today in the industry. So, I would say if your passion is writing, definitely do it. But there is a new way in which we do business. My friends who are still in the industry on the business side, they are all stretched so thin because they’re not doing single titles anymore, they’re working on multiple titles, everything has been condensed. We do talk about the fun that it used to be. It was such a great business, both from the client side and our side as media sellers. It was fun and it was great, money was free flowing because advertisers only had the choice of print media or television to get their eyeballs. That was it. Business wasn’t as fractured.

On any other career highlights she’d like to mention: Other highlights that were very challenging for me; my time at Ziff Davis Media, Yahoo! Internet Life magazine, which was back in 2001 and 2002, I was there as publisher at 9/11 and right after 9/11, Ziff Davis Media closed its entire consumer magazine division and that included Expedia Travels, Yahoo! Internet Life, and a small magazine called Family Internet Life. And there was no advertising. Certainly nothing in the travel industry, because no one was traveling after 9/11.

On being the first female publisher of Playboy magazine: It was an amazing time to be there. It really was. And Christie (Hefner) was my role model because I was on the fence about working there, but she was so smart, she pointed out to me that many of the writers who wrote for The New Yorker also wrote for Playboy. I took home two years’ worth of the magazine and read them. My whole background had been basically marketing to women and here was my opportunity to market to men on a very grand scale. And it just made sense. And to be able to work for a public company, which was a big draw.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her: I think the biggest misconception people have about me is that I don’t eat junk food, (Laughs) I’ve always been pretty much the same size. But I have a wicked sweet tooth and a weakness for ice cream. And I’ll never turn down pizza.

On what keeps her up at night: What really keeps me up is what will happen to this country should Trump be reelected. And I’m very worried about the Coronavirus, but I feel that this too shall pass if everyone will stay in and stay home. But I’m worried about longer-term when it comes to what’s going to happen in this country.

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ interview with Diane Silberstein, former publisher, Playboy.

Samir Husni: Amidst the horrible reports of Covid-19 all over the world came the news that Playboy has decided to stop its print edition. As a former publisher of Playboy magazine, were you surprised by that decision? What were your first emotions when you heard the news?

Diane Silberstein: My first emotions were very sad, another iconic brand shuttering its doors. I had the same reaction when I heard that Glamour magazine was suspending publication, which is the first place I worked; it was my first job out of college. But here was an iconic brand that meant so much to such a great number of men. The circulation was three million when I was there. I was there in 2003, 2004, and 2005. So, that’s going back a number of years, but with a circulation of three million, the readership was up to almost seven million. We reached a lot of men in America. So it was just heartbreaking to hear that it was going away.

Samir Husni: Did you ever have the feeling that without Hefner being there the magazine wouldn’t make it, as though he and the brand were one in the same?

Diane Silberstein: I think Mr. Hefner was a big part of the brand. I wish that Playboy had continued on building the brand in a way that evolved it for the next generation. During the early 2000s, Playboy was battling against Maxim, which was a huge brand at the time as well for young men. And I don’t think there’s been another brand that has taken over and stepped into the role to really capture the attention of young men today.

What are young men looking at? I feel like I have almost a focus group here between my own sons and their friends. What do they look at and what do they read? They’re not really consuming media, lest it’s a complete vertical. They’re not consuming general interest media, unless it’s online. And I think addressing young men, you really had to morph brands online much quicker and include much more content. They all talk about Thrillist, they all look at Thrillest. And then they go vertical; they go into the sports; they follow food; they listen to podcasts; they all follow their entertainment online, but there’s not a general interest option. And Playboy was general interest, but Playboy was a little bit too risqué for general interest tastes. It didn’t follow the times; it needed to adjust itself and take the nudity out of the magazine to be much more politically correct. Certainly in today’s times with everything that we’re going through with the “Me Too” movement.

Samir Husni: Steve Cohn said to me that you once told him that being a female publisher at Playboy was to your advantage because you were more comfortable showing the pictures, the photography, to the ad community than your male sales people were.

Diane Silberstein: Yes, that’s true. It was very comfortable for me to talk about the magazine and it was very comfortable to be in a presentation, and especially talk to other women who were buying media, about the magazine and explain the mindset of women talking about Playboy, and marketing Playboy, with it being the magazine that was entertainment for men.

Samir Husni: You’ve been at Elle, The New Yorker; you’ve worked with Tom Florio and Tina Brown, you’ve been there. How was the transition going from working with Elle and fashion, to Playboy and skin?

Diane Silberstein: You’re not necessarily working with solely the editorial content, you’re really working as a publisher with an audience, and that’s what you’re marketing. So, at Elle, we were really marketing an audience of women who were interested in fashion and beauty. At Playboy we were marketing an audience of men, red-blooded American men, who were interested not just in women, but who were also interested in cars and electronics and in looking good and grooming. And that was the audience that we were marketing.

Samir Husni: The last time you and I talked, you were the publisher of Opera News and I asked you if there was a difference between being a publisher for a not-for-profit and for a profit publication. And you told me that once a publisher, always a publisher. Tell me more about Diane, the publisher. I know you’re in real estate now, but you were in publishing for years. Tell me about that time.

Diane Silberstein: My publisher self and my experience in sales and marketing stays with me and continues with me now into my career in real estate. I think the differences between not-for-profit and profit is everything looks at the bottom line for profitability. In my own experience in the nonprofit world, I found change to be slow in spending and very challenging, because the approval process is many layered between management and reporting to a board that has varying points of view. So, it just takes much longer to get things accomplished. And to me that’s the biggest difference.

And wearing a publisher hat is really the managerial and executive skills that I take now into my own business; I’m my own boss now. And how I run my business are the same marketing skills and the same bottom line skills, I’m running a P & L for my business. And the same people skills that I use now in meeting people every single day. Each person is a new client and it’s a new adventure. It’s wonderful.

Samir Husni: If you were going to tell me three highlights of your career so far, what would they be?

Diane Silberstein: It’s very hard to edit it down to three highlights, but when I look back on the whole of my career, one of the highlights that stands out in my mind is launching Allure magazine, because rarely do you have the privilege of working for a man like S.I. Newhouse. And being able to launch a magazine where you have incredible resources at your disposal and the top talent that’s in the business, and the ability to create something from the ground up.

The idea of launching Allure was very controversial at the time because the industry said who needs another magazine about beauty, but it was a different approach and it was the new face of beauty, but there were a lot of naysayers. It was a very tenacious group of people and staff that we hired to get it off the ground. It was so much fun; it was hard work, but it was so much fun and we were all in it together.

When you hire a staff and you pick people and you put them together, it’s such a cohesive bunch when you’re working together on a launch, there’s really nothing like it when you’re creating something from the ground up. So, I would have to say that’s one of the highlights of my career.

Certainly, working at Elle magazine was another highlight, because being publisher at Elle, at the time Elle was in the third place position after Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and we were able to rebuild Elle into the number two position behind Vogue. That took a lot of hard work, and again it was the team there and they were amazing.

And probably the most interesting as a highlight was certainly working at Playboy, because it was so varied and it was the first time I had ever worked for a public company, so it involved quarterly reporting; it was a different set of skills that were needed and I was able to work with so many different areas. I worked with the group that did international licensing, I worked with product licensing; I was able to work with our dotcom team, somewhat with the entertainment division. The brand had so many different legs that it just made the job so much more interesting.

 Samir Husni: One of your colleagues said that the reason advertising flourished at Playboy during some stages of the magazine’s lifespan was that before some signed the deal they wanted a visit to the mansion. Did you get a lot of requests to visit the mansion before you closed a deal with clients?

Diane Silberstein: (Laughs) Every client wanted to go to the mansion, but no, that wasn’t a prerequisite for signing, not at all. But a lot of clients did use the mansion for events and programs, and we certainly allowed that. But no, that was not a carrot for clients. Not at all.

Samir Husni: What was your experience with Hefner? I had heard he was somewhat of a control freak, but in your view what was he like as a boss?

Diane Silberstein: Well, I reported to Christie Hefner who was CEO of the company, I did not report to Hef. I think to get more in depth knowledge that probably came from Jim Kaminsky, who was editorial director during my term there. But Mr. Hefner, from my observations, did make the final call on everything.

Samir Husni: Was he involved with the advertising at all, as he was with the editorial?

Diane Silberstein: No, he wasn’t involved in the advertising.

Samir Husni: What advice would you give someone today, after this tragic pandemic is behind us, on launching a new magazine in today’s digital age?

Diane Silberstein: I think you have to be really honed in on a niche topic. And you have to build your audience really from the ground up. It has to happen organically and it’s a tough thing to do today. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it, especially if they’re investing their own capital in it. It’s a very difficult time for all media brands and everybody is struggling for support. And when I say support, I mean marketing and advertising support.

Samir Husni: Can you envision a future without print magazines and being only online? What is your vision of the future of the industry?

Diane Silberstein: I think it’s obvious that the migration to online and how we consume media is in a digital world going forward.

Samir Husni: And how do you propose people can make money from digital media?

Diane Silberstein: With digital media, you’re either charging the consumer for exclusive content or you’re very specifically charging for your audience that you can target and micro-target.

Samir Husni: Can anyone replicate your steps in today’s marketplace or those were the days?

Diane Silberstein: I hate to discourage anyone from going into the business today, because obviously we need journalists and people to report on what’s happening today in the industry. So, I would say if your passion is writing, definitely do it. But there is a new way in which we do business.

My friends who are still in the industry on the business side, they are all stretched so thin because they’re not doing single titles anymore, they’re working on multiple titles, everything has been condensed. We do talk about the fun that it used to be. It was such a great business, both from the client side and our side as media sellers. It was fun and it was great, money was free flowing because advertisers only had the choice of print media or television to get their eyeballs. That was it. Business wasn’t as fractured.

When digital was introduced, and I was there at the early beginning with Phase 2 Media, it was the wild, wild west in 1999 and 2000, because no one knew what the Internet would become or how to advertise on it; how would they reach people? And no one knew that ecommerce would become such a big part of how we live, especially today. With how we’re living today, thank God for ecommerce because we can sit home and we can order electronics and no one has to go out and shop. You can have anything delivered to your doorstep. It’s wonderful and keeps you from feeling isolated. But no one ever thought that 15 or 20 years ago.

It was just a very different way in which we all lived. The way we entertained clients; the way we went out; the events; the way we had sales meetings. You tell these stories and the young people in the business today scratch their heads. You did what? You took your whole staff to Puerto Rico for a sales meeting? I can’t believe you did that. (Laughs) Those are the days that will probably never repeat themselves, that’s for sure.

Samir Husni: Any other highlights from your career that you’d like to add or mention that we haven’t talked about?

Diane Silberstein: Other highlights that were very challenging for me; my time at Ziff Davis Media, Yahoo! Internet Life magazine, which was back in 2001 and 2002, I was there as publisher at 9/11 and right after 9/11, Ziff Davis Media closed its entire consumer magazine division and that included Expedia Travels, Yahoo! Internet Life, and a small magazine called Family Internet Life. And there was no advertising. Certainly nothing in the travel industry, because no one was traveling after 9/11.

This was in September, so Yahoo! Internet Life was about to close its holiday issue, which was all about electronics and gadgets and gear. No one was advertising so we had no revenue streams coming in, everyone pulled their marketing and media budget. And finally Ziff Davis just said they couldn’t support it; they couldn’t go forward. I think we published two or three more issues and then they pulled the plug. We had to tell the staff that the magazine was closing. We didn’t even own the title of Yahoo! Internet Life; Ziff Davis’s contract said that it was licensed with Yahoo and it said that if they made any changes that Yahoo got the title back, they weren’t even able to retain the Yahoo title.

The hardest thing was facing an entire room of people and thinking my first job now as publisher is to help everybody get a new job. And I did. I called everybody I knew in publishing and everyone had a new job within two and a half weeks. Then I thought, what am I going to do. (Laughs) So, I started talking to people and that’s when I ended up at Playboy.

Samir Husni: I remember that was groundbreaking. You were the first female publisher of Playboy magazine.

Diane Silberstein: It was an amazing time to be there. It really was. And Christie was my role model because I was on the fence about working there, but she was so smart, she pointed out to me that many of the writers who wrote for The New Yorker also wrote for Playboy. I took home two years’ worth of the magazine and read them. My whole background had been basically marketing to women and here was my opportunity to market to men on a very grand scale. And it just made sense. And to be able to work for a public company, which was a big draw.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Diane Silberstein: I think the biggest misconception people have about me is that I don’t eat junk food, (Laughs) I’ve always been pretty much the same size. But I have a wicked sweet tooth and a weakness for ice cream. And I’ll never turn down pizza.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Diane Silberstein: That’s a loaded question. What really keeps me up is what will happen to this country should Trump be reelected. And I’m very worried about the Coronavirus, but I feel that this too shall pass if everyone will stay in and stay home. But I’m worried about longer-term when it comes to what’s going to happen in this country.

But overall, I am very privileged. I’ve worked with some amazing people in my career, and it’s not over yet. I’ve met some incredible people, including yourself and Steve Cohn. I’ve worked with some of the most incredible marketers around, people at agencies and on the client’s side. And my colleagues that have never failed to impress and inspire me. And we just keep going. This is a time of reinvention, that’s for sure.

Samir Husni: Thank you.




OP-ED: Corporate America’s Coronavirus Failure

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

First, let me define myself before others do it for me:

  • I am not a communist, never was a communist and never thought that communism had merit.
  • I am not a socialist, never was a socialist, do not believe in socialism, even though I believe that some of what Sen. Sanders says about our economic system is correct (although I disagree with everything he has said about the good things accomplished by totalitarian, communist governments).
  • I never supported or voted for Sen. Sanders. I originally was a fan of Sen. Warren, but switched to Michael Bloomberg when he announced.
  • My first job in public relations was with a Republican agency where I worked on all levels of political campaigns, including presidential ones. (Full Disclosure: It was a different Republican Party in those days; the crazies were not in charge.)
  • I am not a fan of President Trump or of Corporate America. I blame them both for America being held captive by the coronavirus today: Trump for delaying and limiting Federal help to states and providing false information to the public. Corporate America for its long history of putting profits above what’s good for America and its workers.

    The spread of the coronavirus has probably made the United States the world’s leader in the disease. (I say probably because who can believe what the Chinese and Russian governments say.)

    It is also difficult to believe what Corporate America says, given the facts that so many executives of large firms have been accused of not always being truthful and producing less than optimal products. In our business, not a large sector of the economy, ever since independent agencies became profit centers for larger entities misleading and treating workers as employee numbers, instead of people, has become the norm as the agencies are squeezed for higher profits.

    The coronavirus outbreak has left medical supplies in short supply. And I believe that Corporate America is mainly to blame.

    For decades, Corporate America has been largely interested in increasing profits and raising the value of company stock. This was accomplished in several ways, but one method has now come back to haunt us: Outsourcing much of the U.S. manufacturing capability to low wage countries.

    As a result, the U.S. now can not ramp up its manufacturing facilities to meet the demands of urgently needed medical supplies. We are now at the mercy of other countries to provide the medicines and equipment we need in normal times. In atypical situations, like now, the U.S. is largely helpless. Some people might say the chickens have now come home to roost. Except it’s impossible to get chicken in many supermarkets.

    All the pep talks by the president and other Federal government officials cannot change the situation. All the PR hype that Corporate America is volunteering to help lessen the shortage problem cannot change the situation. Only Corporate America can do so by rebuilding manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. Doing so would mean less profits, lower stock prices and higher salaries that are paid to workers in China and other low-wage countries.

    Don’t bet on it being done.

    Years ago, I helped hype the message that internationalizing our manufacturing capability was the proper thing to do because it would lead to a better world. Obviously, history shows that I was mistaken.

    I can’t re-do what was done. But, knowing what I now know, I would refuse to work on such accounts (as I did on others whose objectives were those I disagreed with).

    There’s an important lesson that PR people should learn from the coronavirus situation: There’s more to life than pleasing an employer by working on an account that goes against your beliefs.

    If you’re ever asked to work on an account that troubles you, say so to your company execs. If you’re a valued employee, they’ll honor your request. If they say you must work on the account or leave, you’ll know that they think of you as nothing but an employee number, and that it’s time to seek other employment.


    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.

     

     




    The Handling Of The Coronavirus Pandemic Provides A Lesson On How Not To Make A PR Crisis Worse For All Types Of Crises

    Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

    As someone whose first PR job was with a political agency, where I learned on-the-job lessons not taught in communication’s schools about how to deal with the media and approach problems that changed on a daily basis, I have long said that paying attention to the happenings on the political scene provides a tuition-free Master’s Class in public relations.

    Among the most important lessons, years before PR crises specialists advised clients to tell the truth (but not necessarily the whole truth and nothing but most of the truth) political PR operatives knew that trying to hide the truth often leads to making a situation worse. Google how President Nixon attempted to conceal the truth during the Watergate scandal. More recently, President Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinski. And President Trump was impeached for soliciting foreign interference to help his 2020 re-election and then instructing his colleagues to ignore subpoenas for documents and testimony, obstructing the inquiry. Obviously, not coming clean made these individuals’ problems worse. Telling the truth might have resulted in a mere slap on the hand.

    The Handling Of The Coronavirus Pandemic Provides A Lesson On How Not To Make A PR Crisis Worse For All Types Of CrisesAll three examples had a similar theme which applies to individuals and many entities in a crises situation: Trying to deny and then hide the problem only leads to drip-by-drip negative media coverage.

    Some attempts to hide the truth during a PR crisis can result in negative media coverage for decades. Prime examples are the National Football League denying the science showing that repeated concussions can lead to life changing health problems and even death, and Big Tobacco denying that smoking can cause serious health problems.

    Each year during the football season, and especially prior to the Super Bowl, the NFL receives negative media coverage regarding their concussion problems. A better strategy by the NFL would have been to admit to the problem when it was first reported and say they are looking for ways to alleviate it by cooperating with health experts. At least that would have provided the league with some positive overage.

    In 2002, Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered the link between football-related brain injury and dementia when examining chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame Center Mike Webster. In 2009, the NFL said there might be a problem. But it wasn’t until 2016 that the NFL officially acknowledged that there was a concussion connection with CTE. (A New York Times article on March 14, 2016, reported, “In perhaps its clearest admission that football can cause degenerative brain disease, the N.F.L.’s top health and safety official admitted Monday that there was a link between the sport and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease found in dozens of retired players).

    Similarly, Big Tobacco saying that there was no evidence that smoking causes health problems has cast the smoke makers as a business that should not be trusted, even though many years have past since their denials of a problem. (On April 15, 1994 the New York Times reported, “The top executives of the seven largest American tobacco companies testified in Congress today that they did not believe that cigarettes were addictive, but that they would rather their own children did not smoke.”)

    Today, the same original sin of trying to hide the truth when their PR crises first developed  have made Boeing and Wells Fargo targets for negative press coverage because the companies first denied that there was a problem, attempted to hide it and then lied about it. All failed, in their attempts to camouflage their problems, as did President Trump in originally denying that the U.S. had a devastating coronavirus problem.

    In a “what was done, what should have been done” format, here’s how Trump turned a situation not of his making into a major PR crisis for himself.

    The “what was done, what should have been done” “answers apply to all PR crises. They are not a comprehensive PR crisis plan. It’s a primer on how important it is to answer questions truthfully during a crisis because history shows that not answering honestly will make a crisis worse.

    Examples:

    What was said: When the news about the coronavirus first broke in January, President Trump assured people “We have it totally under control.”

    What should have been said: We are doing our best to prevent the virus from coming to the U.S.

    Reason Why: A client should never make a declarative statement unless the facts of a situation are under control. Declarative remarks indicate that something is definite. In the coronavirus situation it was far from definite that the virus would not travel to the U.S.

     

    What was said: The president, like high executives at Boeing and Wells Fargo, originally denied that there was a problem.

    What should have been said: At the present time, we are having all our experts look into the matter so we can address any problem that we find.

    Reason Why: Statements like the above provide cover for clients by admitting that there might be a problem. It prevents them from being labeled untruthful.

     

    What was said: President Trump, as did execs at Boeing and Wells Fargo, said that any problem would be easily solved and short lived.

    What should have been said: It appears that it will take a little longer than we expected to fix the problem and will provide additional information in a timely manner.

    Reason Why: Statements like the one above would give the impression that President Trump, Wells Fargo and Boeing execs were not attempting to cover-up bad news.

     

    What was said: President Trump, like execs at Boeing and Wells Fargo, blamed others people and entities for their problems.

    What should have been said: While it’s our problem, it is not entirely our fault and we are leaving no stone unturned to correct the problem.

    Reason Why: Claiming that the problem was caused by others is never a good idea; it invites responses from those accused, resulting in additional coverage of the crisis.

     

    What was said: President Trump, execs at Boeing and Wells Fargo, continually said that they had the problem under control, which was not the case.

    What should have been said; We are cooperating with the best minds in the health field, government agencies and private sectors to find a fast solution to the problem.

    Reason Why: Because that’s the way problems are solved.

     

    What was said: President Trump, Boeing and Wells Fargo execs, bashed the media for over blowing the problem.

    What should have been said: Certain elements of the media are being unfair to us and are misreporting what is happening and what we said.

    ReasonWhy: That’s a statement that no one can deny. There is exaggeration in reporting by both the right and left wings of the media.

     

    What was said: Probably the biggest mistake in the coronavirus situation was when President Trump claimed the virus was a “Democratic hoax.”

    What should have been said: This is a time for politics to be put aside, not to make political points.

    Reason why: It would have positioned the president as acting in the best interests of the country instead of playing politics.

    The lessons I learned during my time at the political PR firm are more important today than ever when dealing with media during a PR crisis. They were:

    • Treat reporters respectfully. Unlike some opinion columnists, beat reporters are not the enemy.
    • Always assume that everything you tell a reporter is “on the record” and nothing is ever “off the record.”
    • Never provide misleading information.
    • Always be truthful.

    Importantly, the change in the manner that journalism is practiced today makes it more essential than ever for PR people to adhere to the points above.
    Here’s why:

    • Unlike when I first entered the PR business, it’s more difficult today than ever to create close relationships with reporters and columnists because so many of them never go to the office. They file their stories using their computers.
    • Unlike years ago, when reporters would write one story a day, usually when they returned from their assignment to their office, today’s journalists are always on deadline. In addition to writing their main story, they have to report for their publications’ web sites and often twitter feeds. Thus, they don’t  have as much time as in the past for “get to know you” lunches, which could lead to close relationships. The way to forge a relationship with a reporter today is by pitching strong stories that work for the reporter and the client. Client-centric stories are not welcome by journalists and should be avoided.
    • Media analysis is now in vogue. How stories are covered, how they are reported and what they say is now checked carefully. Thus, the days of having a reporter pal do you a favor is largely gone.
    • Major newspapers publish corrections every day. If a correction is published because of faulty information provided by a PR person trust will be lost.

      Statements by Boeing and Wells Fargo executives have proved to be untrue many times as new details regarding their PR crises were uncovered by the media and government regulators. Regaining the trust of the media will not be easy.

      In the coronavirus situation, statements by President Trump have changed so frequently that they are fact checked immediately. Many of the president’s comments are not accepted as factual because most of the science-based health experts disagree with many of his remarks. His past record of speaking untruths has come back to bite him.

      There are important lessons to be learned that usually occur during every major and lengthy PR crisis:

      Lesson # 1

      • As the crisis continues, statements from the beleaguered entities or individuals become more dangerous to Jane and Joe Public. In Boeing’s case, the CEO kept assuring that the 737 MAX was safe and it was pilot error that caused the two crashes. Those statements were proved to be untrue, and
      • In the coronavirus situation, remarks from President Trump actually led to the death of an individual because the president hyped the use of medications even though they have not yet been approved effective against the virus. (A man in Arizona died on March 23 after consuming a form of chloroquine, a medication touted by Mr. Trump during his daily pressers.)

      Lesson # 2

      This is the most important lesson regarding how not to make a PR crisis worse for all types of crises:

      • Everything a person says during a crisis will be fact checked for truthfulness, remember that, and
      • PR people should learn from the action of the president, the NFL, Big Tobacco, Boeing and Wells Fargo that not telling the truth will make PR crises worse.

      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.

       




      Standing Out Among the Election Crowd

      Hamed Wardak, Entrepreneur

      With all the publicity and hoopla among candidates for office, how does a brand stand out in the crowd? As if the democratic presidential primary didn’t create enough chaos in the marketplace, the recent impeachment proceedings and subsequent fallout from publicity over it have created enough pandemonium to divert attention away from brands seeking attention.

      Environmental and social issues have also dominated the headlines. Issues like climate change, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo have added to the media landscape and are often interwoven among some of the politics. Mix these issues together and throw in priorities of our different demographics and what does one have? There are brands going after Gen Z’ers who have strong interests on most of today’s big social issues. Then there are brands marketing to boomers who are a lot more traditional and concerned about the next recession and the growing federal deficit

      Standing Out Among the Election CrowdOne thing is for sure. For most brands, one size (of marketing) doesn’t fit all. For pretty much most of this year, brands need to target their marketing to each demographic it wishes to reach. Jeep did that to reach boomers in its Super Bowl ad by creating nostalgia.

      This kind of reminiscence doesn’t work with Gen Z’ers which is more prone to support causes, but there may be some common ground that the younger and older generations occupy that brands may consider. Many boomers fought for things and issues they believed in and which they had won like gender and racial equality. But variations of inequality for both generations exist today.

      Today’s consumer wants more information. They want to gain knowledge beyond the product they’re interested in possibly purchasing. More also want to know what the brand stands for as well as the value behind a product.

      Remember when the federal government shut down for a record 35 days between December 22, 2018 and January 25, 2019? Several national brands including The North Face, REI and Columbia voiced their displeasure loudly and publicly via ads.

      Seventh Generation, a company that bills itself as an eco-friendly and sustainable product brand went a step further. It bought and ran a 60-second ad about climate change that aired right after U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent state of the union address.

      More consumers want to know how a brand relates to them and their values. Marketers that recognize this and craft messages that touch these publics will see greater success. More importantly, today’s consumer is savvier and can see through fabricated ads, brands taking stands must also reaffirm where they stand by their actions on a daily basis.

      As written in earlier articles, brands wishing to craft tailored messages to targeted audiences need to first identify their audiences and then understand them. A/B tests can be extremely valuable to gauge receptivity among these publics. So, too, are community advisory boards which feel empowered and have a voice with the brand.

      Last but not least, all campaigns must have measurable goals which are assessed and can be adjusted on a regular basis.


      About the Author: Hamed Wardak is an entrepreneur. Recently he wrote for CommPRO biz here.




      Democratic Debates Round-Up (And A Very Important PR Lesson From The Political Scene)

      Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

      So now that Super Tuesday 2020 is history, how did the candidates’ performance in the Democratic Debate Debacles (DDD) affect their vote?

      The truth (except you’ll never hear it on cable TV) is “Who knows?” There are many factors in a voter’s decision. Pundits who claim they know really don’t know, as their history of being wrong about election outcomes show.

      In 2016, these know-it-alls knew that Hillary Clinton would be the next president. In 2019 and 2020, the same crowd knew that Joe Biden would be the run-a-way favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president. They were wrong on both accounts.

      One thing we know for certain: The TV know-it-alls will have all the answers about why Joe Biden did well on Super Tuesday and why Bernie Sanders, Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren didn’t. But only after the results are in.

      If you believe that the 10 debates affected the vote, your opinion is as valid as those on TV who make their living predicating, making excuses, and second-guessing.

      I’m not sure if the TV debates helped or hurt a candidate. But I do have an opinion on how the candidates performed during the first 10 debates.

      Here’s my opinion. (In the alphabetical order after the South Carolina Debate.):

      (Important Note: The analysis of the candidates below was written prior to the South Carolina primary vote on February 29, and was not changed as a result of the vote. If it proves me right, I accept full credit; if wrong, blame someone else.)

      • Joe Biden: After a sluggish beginning, his last two debates were on-target and should help him with African-American voters. (If only he would stop talking about his family.)*
      • Mike Bloomberg: I thought his much improved South Carolina debate keeps him viable until Super Tuesday and after. His smartness was on display during the South Carolina debate by scheduling two ads during it. Because he is not a great debater, the ads augmented his on-stage performance.
      • Pete Buttigieg: I don’t think he was helped by his debate performances. He sounds too strident (like a moderate Bernie Sanders, without the Vermont senator’s following.) He makes my basic training sergeants seem soft-spoken.
      • Amy Klobuchar: Her calm demeanor, never screaming, always sticking to her talking points, helps her gain national recognition as a person to watch in the future. Not well-enough known to win the nomination, but definitely a veep candidate or a Senate leadership position. (If only she would stop talking about her upbringing during her closing remarks) *
      • Bernie Sanders: It’s not difficult to see why he has such a loyal following; he means what he says, been saying it for many years and lets attacks against him roll off his shoulders, like lies emanating from Donald Trump’s mouth. But will his positive remarks about Fidel Castro hurt him with moderate and conservative Democratic voters? Will those remarks be his Waterloo? I don’t know, but I bet your friendly TV political pundit has a definitive answer (subject to excuses of course, if proven wrong).
      • Tom Steyer: Obviously s good debater. In fact, during the first eight debates I thought he was always among the top three, often among the top two. But he changed his talking points in the last two debates, to his determent, in my opinion. Out of the running for 2020, (although he never had a chance from the beginning. Not well enough known nationally). Should run for           another office before trying the presidential lane again. Many Democratic voters agree with his wants.
      • Elizabeth Warren: My original choice for the nomination (for many months). But she lost me because as her hope of gaining the nomination was fading she transformed into a shrill, interrupting individual, not letting others finish their remarks. Especially distasteful to me was her vicious attacks on former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, who has done more to help Democratic office holders get elected than all of the other candidates rolled into one. If only she would stop talking about her early struggles)*

      *There is no such thing as the Sympathy Party.

      After watching 10 weeks of circular firing attacks, I thought that Sen. Sanders would have to be in a protective booth during the South Carolina debate. While he was attacked by all the others, (the hardest by Bloomberg and Buttigieg), in general his in-coming were more duds than explosives.”

      In the aggregate, I thought that the debates did nothing to help the Democrats in the 2020 election. What it accomplished was the damaging of other Democratic candidates. Too many circular firing squads; too few attacks on Donald Trump, except by Steyer during the debates and Bloomberg’s TV commercials. While Bloomberg also attacked Trump, his appearances in only two debates paled besides Steyer’s consistent ones. But the former NYC mayor’s TV commercials were the best political ads I saw since LBJ’s famous “Daisy Girl”one against Barry Goldwater in 1964. They all hit the target.

      Democratic Debate Column #10: Biden’s Last Stand? was the title of my last column. So how did the former veep do in South Carolina?

      He did very well, winning the primary with margins that left the other candidates far behind, causing Tom Steyer and Mayor Pete to drop out.

      Nevertheless, the pundits, both on TV and in print pubs, said that polling shows that Sen. Sanders has a large lead in the delegate-rich state of California, which might make it difficult for any other candidate to catch up with him.

      Did anything happen after the South Carolina debate and before the Super Tuesday voting on March 3? Yes, some were the same old, same old. However, there were also significant new occurrences.

      • March 1 was probably President Trump’s worst day since he last stepped on a scale: Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg suspended their campaigns, meaning that the vote on Super Tuesday would be less splintered among the remaining moderate liberal candidates.
      • March 2 was just as bad a day for Sen. Sanders. Sen. Klobuchar suspended her campaign and endorsed Biden, followed a few hours later by Buttigieg, meaning that the “stop Bernie” movement was now a reality. Sen. Tim Kaine and former Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid also endorsed Biden, as did Terry McCAuliffe, a former Democratic Party chairman and Virginia governor.
      • The Bloomberg ad planners were quick to jump on the day’s headlines. Immediately after Sen. Warren’s assaults on the former NYC mayor regarding treatment of women at his firm, ads appeared featuring women employees at Bloomberg’s business commending the treatment of women there. And after President Trump’s presser regarding the coronavirus, ads attacking the president’s handling of the situation, and how the former NYC mayor would handle the situation, appeared. The ads are similar to the workings of a newspaper – highlighting the day’s important news on page one.
      • Bloomberg also released detailed information about his heart health and asked Sen. Sanders to do the same.
      • Former veep Biden corrected his statement about his being arrested in South Africa, when visiting Nelson Mandela, saying instead that he had been detained.

      Here’s my evaluation and thoughts of the candidates after the results of the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries were counted.

      • Joe Biden: The former veep said that he considers himself a liberal, but a look at his record suggests he’s a liberal – moderate, more liberal than most members of the Senate, but less than Sens. Sanders and Warren. If Biden becomes the candidate, he might have a tough time convincing Sanders voters to back him, instead of staying at home as they did in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was the nominee. While Biden had a generally liberal voting record as a senator he’ll have to defend his vote for the Iraq war and his sorry performance when, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he presided over the confirmation hearings in which Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court hearings in 1991.Nevertheless, his Super Tuesday performance was terrific and Bloomberg endorsing Biden the following day is certain to gain him additional support.
      • Mike Bloomberg: Even before he suspended his campaign after a poor showing on Super Tuesday, the former NYC mayor has already done damage to President Trump. His support of Democrats running in the 2018 election helped Democrats win control of the House, which resulted in Trump being impeached. And his ads obviously have irked the president, who keeps on attacking Bloomberg. The Bloomberg candidacy shows that in order to run for a national office, a candidate should not run a truncated campaign. But even though he is no longer a candidate Bloomberg can still do considerable damage to Trump’s reelection efforts by continuing to do what he did in 2018 and during his 2020 campaign.
      • Pete Buttigieg: Unlike some of the other candidates he’s young enough to make his name better known nationally if he wants to try again in four years. But he has to remain in the public spotlight, best done by running for a Congressional seat, difficult to win in Indiana, accepting a post in a Democratic administration if they win or speaking out on national issues during the next four years. (But his dropping out speech sounded more like a traditional campaign speech, unlike Steyer’s, who told it like it is.) I was anti Mayor Pete from the beginning because of three concerns: I don’t think that being mayor of a small town prepares anyone for the presidency, I think his speaking style exposes a grandiose personality and he talks in platitudes with little specifics.
      • Amy Klobuchar: By dropping out of contention prior to the Super Tuesday vote and endorsing Biden, the Minnesota Senator positioned herself for a high-level post in a Biden administration, if he wins, or for a future Senate leadership position. Both would keep her in the national spotlight for a future presidential try.
      • Bernie Sanders: The Super Tuesday results showed that the senator’s support is a mile long and an inch deep. In order to have a chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination he has to attract more than his fanatical supporters. That would mean moderating his policies, which could turn off some of his current base. No matter what Sanders does, I don’t think he can attract liberal-moderate voters. And I don’t think he will be nominated at the convention.
      • Tom Steyer: Obviously s good debater. In fact, during the first eight debates I thought he was always among the top two or three. Even though he suspended his campaign after failing to reach his goal in the South Carolina primary, much of his programs have appeal to Democratic voters, but he’s not well-enough known. But unlike some of the other candidates he’s young enough to make his name better known nationally if he wants to try again in four years. But he has to remain in the public spotlight, best done by running for a lesser office than the presidency, accepting a post in a Democratic administration if they win or speaking out on national issues during the next four years.
      • Elizabeth Warren: My original choice for the nomination (for many months). But as the campaign continued, she reminded me of a female Bernie Sanders, sounding like she’s the only person who knows what’s right for the country. She positioned herself as the alternative to the ultra-liberal Sen. Sanders, and suggested the other candidates were not liberal. While some people think that her debate performances of interrupting other candidates before they concluded their responses to questions and her vicious attacks on Bloomberg, who has done more to help liberal and Democratic office holders than all of the other  candidates rolled into one helped invigorate her campaign, I think it damaged her chances for the presidential nomination,    even if there is a brokered convention.

      What About The Future:

      Barrowing the orbuculum used by cable TV political pundits, here are my predictions regarding future happenings of the primary campaign:

      • Now that Joe Biden is back in the running for the nomination, the Republicans will launch continuous attacks on him and his son regarding Hunter Biden’s serving on the board of Burisma Holdings, the major Ukrainian natural gas company.
      • If Biden is the Democratic presidential candidate, he’ll choose Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.
      • The cable pundits, who have been predicting that “Sen. Sanders cannot be stopped from gaining the nomination after his victories on Super Tuesday,” will not admit that they were wrong.

      My Take

      No matter who the Democratic candidate is, the person cannot completely ignore Sen. Sanders’ campaign messages. Together with Sen. Warren’s ideas they make up a large portion of what the Democratic base believes. The Democratic platform must embrace some of their ideas, and the candidate must include some of them while campaigning during the lead-up to the election. (While I am not a socialist and disagree with Sen. Sanders’ remarks about U.S. foreign policy, I do believe a large portion of his economic message about conditions in the U.S. is correct and should be addressed.)

      The South Carolina debate on CBS was the worst one yet. The candidates acted like a grade school class does when the teacher leaves the room, except this time playing the role of the teachers were CBS moderators, who, to be polite, were less than proficient at their roles. The candidates were unruly throughout the debate. I’ll give the moderators a pass on that; it’s difficult to get people to behave when they don’t want to, especially ones with over-sized egos. But the questioning was horrible. The talent had a list of prepared questions and followed the script even when good journalism demanded it be revised because more important news happened shortly prior to the telecast. (Makes me think that they need a script as a security blanket and they can’t change courses unless someone thinks for them.) With the coronavirus outbreak expanding, one would think that subject would be the lead question, or Sen. Sanders’ remarks about Cuba and American foreign policy of overthrowing governments in Latin America. Instead most of the telecast was devoted to the same old questions that have been asked in the previous debates and during interviews with the candidates between the debates. CBS did the impossible: By comparison, it made the cable TV political programs look respectable – at least for two hours.

      The way the cableists were going Ga Ga during the lead-up to the South Carolina debate and primary, you’d think the winner would automatically ascend to the presidency.

      Re Rep. Jim Clyburn joining Rep. John Lewis and endorsing Joe Biden, which got the TV pundits excited, as if they were covering a truly important presidential changing story. Let’s put things in perspective: The endorsements were only important in conjunction with the South Carolina primary and, a big maybe, in a few other states with a large percentage of black voters. But most of those states are in the GOP dominated South. The endorsements have no legs regarding the presidential election, or even in South Carolina general elections. The Palmetto State is solidly Republican and has two GOP senators. (Closest Thing To A Sure Bet: No matter which Democrat won the South Carolina primary, the state will still vote Republican in November.)

      After months of tying himself to President Obama, the former president acknowledged that there was a candidate named Biden, but in an indirect way. A New York Times story said, lawyers sent a cease-and desist letter to a Trump super PAC demanding that they stop a misleading ad accusing Biden of betraying blacks

      Just Asking: Wouldn’t an infectious disease expert be the better individual to lead and coordinate the coronavirus task force instead of a vice-president who sucks up to President Trump? Answer: Not if Trump was thinking of dumping Pence as his running mate again if things get worse.

      If I was advising the Democrats, I’d tell them to begin talking about how President Trump has decimated the public health agencies and appointed a bunch of politicians to lead the coronavirus problem.

      With so many candidates being permitted to run for the presidency, it permits a minority-favorite candidate to win the nomination even though the remaining candidates in the aggregate get more votes. Ridiculous! There has to be a better method of eliminating the lesser supported candidates early in the primary season.

      (If the Presidential election were held today, my car bumper sticker slogan would be, “Who would you rather have as president? A democratic socialist or a totalitarian fascist?”)

      You can bet the farm on the following: If Sen. Sanders does win the nomination it will not be the first time that a Democratic president or nominee has been called a socialist (or worse). Actually the Republicans and conservative Democrats have been using “socialist” as a scare word since the 1930s, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was accused of being a socialist because of his progressive programs. In1952, former President Harry S. Truman said the following in a campaign speech, “Socialism is what they called farm price supports. Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance. Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations .Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.” Truman also said when the Republicans called the Democrats socialists what they mean is “…down with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal,” and “down with Harry Truman’s Fair Deal.” And one thing is certain: No matter who is the Democratic nominee for president in 2020, that person will be attacked as a socialist, as were former presidents Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, both of whom Sen. Barry Goldwater considered socialists.

      But labeling programs by a Republican president as socialist seems to be forbidden.

      Example:

      President Nixon enacted or recommended economic legislation that if proposed by a Democratic president would have been attacked as socialist. An article on the website of The Miller Center, a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, included the following,”

      “Probably more new regulation was imposed on the economy,” wrote Herb Stein, the chairman of Nixon’s Council of Economic Advisers, “than in any other presidency since the New Deal.” Nixon in 1970 signed into law a bill to create the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); concern about the environment led him to propose an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and to sign amendments to the 1967 Clean Air Act calling for reductions in automobile emissions and the national testing of air quality. Other significant environmental legislation enacted during Nixon’s presidency included the 1972 Noise Control Act, the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, the 1973 Endangered Species Act, and the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

      He also proposed a massive overhaul of federal welfare programs. The centerpiece of Nixon’s welfare reform was the replacement of much of the welfare system with a negative income tax the purpose of the negative income tax was to provide both a safety net for the poor and a financial incentive for welfare recipients to work. He also proposed an expansion of the Food Stamp program. A part of his welfare reform proposal became a lasting part of the system: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides a guaranteed income for elderly and disabled citizens. The Nixon years also brought large increases in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, according to a Miller Center article.

      Of course today, Nixon might be called a traitor to the Republican Party by President Trump or a socialist or even worse in Trump’s opinion, a disloyal person.

      The Very Important PR Lesson From The Political Scene: Be realistic when preparing a budget for a program. An inadequate budget will make it impossible to accomplish the program’s goals. But an enormous budget will not guarantee that a program will be successful. If you don’t believe me, just ask the candidates who were completing for the Democratic presidential nomination.

      Hey, Political junkies don’t despair. The Democratic National Committee announced that there would be 12 debates, so there are still two more to look forward to. The next will be in Arizona on March 15; the site of the last has not yet been announced. Will these debates have any more affect on the outcome of the November presidential election? Probably not. As in the previous 10 debates, the candidates were seeking the support of voters who probably were going to vote against President Trump regardless of who the Democratic candidate is.


      About 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.

       




      Body Language and Leadership Effectiveness – How to Achieve ‘Executive Presence’

      Dr. Nick Morgan, Author

      Most of us think of charisma, or executive presence, as something mysterious and elusive that certain executives are born with or are trained to achieve in some executive school we haven’t been invited to.  We all know we need that mysterious quality when we’re in front of an audience, or in an important meeting, or taking part in a crucial negotiation.  But what is executive presence, or charisma, exactly?  Is it sprinkled like fairy dust on a few lucky individuals, or is it something anyone can learn?

      Charisma or executive presence is something we all can learn.  In fact, it is relatively simple to understand.  But it takes real work to demonstrate it when it’s needed.  It consists of three related activities involving body language and your unconscious mind.

      First, you need to understand that we are always communicating two conversations simultaneously – the content, what we’re saying, and the body language underlying it – which reveals our actual attitude toward what we’re saying.  So, to take a very simple example, if I say I’m excited to meet you, but my body language indicates that I’m unhappy, or distracted, or angry about something – I’ve got my arms folded, or I have a scowl on my face, or I’m looking over my shoulder at something else – then you won’t believe what I’m saying.  The body language always trumps the content.  It’s how we determine what we really are feeling toward each other.

      So the first step to executive presence is to align your body language and your content.

      The second step is to become clear about your intent, because if you are not clear, then you will fail to keep your body language and content aligned.  Becoming an intentional communicator means deciding how you are going to show up for that speech, or that important meeting, or that negotiation.  Are you going in with high energy and excitement?  Or are you letting your nerves distract you and cause your body language to display a lack of confidence?  You must decide how you wish to be present in the moment, and then work to achieve that feeling.

      The third step to achieving charisma, or strong executive presence, is to focus.  Most of us go through the day with a complicated, ever-growing to-do list in our heads.  We’re thinking about where we’ve been, where we need to be, what’s for dinner, that vacation coming up, the balance on our credit cards – anything but the present moment.  When you carry that to-do list around, your body language looks distracted, unfocused, and ultimately weak, because your body signals what your mind is feeling – that you’re pulled in several directions at once.

      In order to prepare for that important meeting or speech, then, part of the work – in fact, the most important part – is to spend a few minutes focusing your mind on how you’re feeling, what the meeting or speech is about, what you want to achieve in it, and eliminating any other distracting thought that might cause you to be less than fully present.  This focus is not simple to achieve, at first, but it does become easier as time goes on if you practice it.

      So that’s executive presence, in three steps.  First, align your message and your body language.  Next, decide on your intention for the important meeting or speech coming up.  And third, focus just before the event so that nothing distracts you.  If you can achieve emotional focus and walk into the event with that focus clear and strong, then you will have executive presence.

      It’s almost impossible for most people to take control over every aspect of their posture, their gestures, and their motions during an important event, while also thinking about what they’re going to say, listening to anyone else who’s talking, and to make sure they pay attention to anything else that’s going on in the room.  But you can take these three steps, and if you do them rigorously enough, your body language will take care of itself.


      About the Author: Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication coaches and thinkers. His clients include leaders of Fortune 50 companies, and he has coached people to give Congressional testimony, to appear on the Today Show, and to take on the investment community. He is the author of several acclaimed books on public speaking and communication. His most recent book is The Washington Post bestseller Can You Hear Me?: How to Connect with People in a Virtual World.

       




      Put A Cap On Your Trash

      Put A Cap On Your Trash

      To the Tune of ‘Show Me’ From My Fair Lady?

      Here’s ‘Unchoke Me’ From My Fair Mother Earth

      Caps!  Caps!  Caps!
      I’m so sick of caps!
      Blighting my beaches through;
      A bottle here, toothbrush there, is that all you plastics do?
       

      Don’t talk of love, shining above.  If I’m planet you love?  Don’t choke me! Tell me no dreams filled with perspire.  On climate change fire? 

      Why choke me?  Don’t just exclaim.  Why choke me?  Unchoke me NOW! 

      See sweat on mom’s brow, wrinkles to boot.  You careless galoot.  Put your snoot to the ground, be house guest not clown and cowtow.

      Don’t choke me!  Unchoke me NOW! 

      When you’re together in the middle of the beach, don’t be a leech.  Don’t talk proud. Boasting aloud.  You enviro liar!

      Don’t choke me!  Pick up those caps.  Throttle those bottles.  Global warm burns.  So don’t just exclaim.  Stop with the game.  See my ire!

      Don’t choke me!  Unchoke me NOW!


      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.  




      Democratic Debate Column #10: Biden’s Last Stand?

      (And the Democratic Debacles Continue, Along with Some Important PR Lessons)

      Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

      For the better part of a year, maybe longer, former veep Joe Biden has been boasting of his ability to attract African-American voters, and has said that the Democratic primary on February 29 in South Carolina will validate his claim. He better be right. Because recent polls show his support of brown and black voters in the state has declined, as has his support among all voters in national polls.Democratic Party leaders will again also be waiting for the results to see if Sen. Sanders and Mayor Pete can attract minority voters. Their opponents have been saying they can’t, but Sanders showed he can, at least, in the Nevada caucuses.

      Democratic Debate # 8: So Long, Iowa. Hello Mike?But prior to the voting, Democratic Party leaders were seeking the answer to, maybe, an even more important question: “Was former NYC Mayor Bloomberg able to improve as a debater?” The answer to that question has been answered. Not only did he improve but he was exceedingly good.

      Those topics were on the agenda February 25, in Charleston, when the Democratic Debate # 10 took place.

      Before we opine on what happened since the February 19 Nevada debate, and during the lead-up to the one in Carolina, a brief review of how the hopefuls, in my opinion, did when they were making their case in the city of Lost Wages.

      Here’s my take-away from the debate in the gambling capital of the U.S., where the word “never” is prohibited. (Remember when the National Football League said that it would never” permit a team to move to Las Vegas? Maybe that’s not a good example because the NFL always lies).

      As expected, all the candidates attacked Bloomberg, probably envious of his success as a businessman. The former NYC mayor responded that he’s the only person on the stage that has started a business and is giving away the profits from it.

      • The most vicious attacks on Bloomberg were by Sen. Warren, who also seemed the most desperate, probably because her hope of winning the nomination is fading away.
      • Former veep Biden, as usual, presented a cafeteria style of reasons that he said made him the best qualified candidate.
      • Sen. Klobuchar was her usual confident self; nothing outlandish, nothing new.
      • Mayor Pete, as usual, came across as Mr. Perfect, as if only he has the leadership qualities to lead the country. In fact. Sen. Klobuchar chided Mayor Pete by saying no one is as perfect as you are. (It would be unfair to say that mayor Pete has the biggest ego of the candidates. Anyone who thinks they have the ability to run the country has to have an over-sized ego. But because of his demeanor when speaking about other candidates Mayor Pete’s ego is always on display.)
      • Surprisingly, early in the debate, Sen. Klobuchar, Biden and Mayor Pete ganged up on Sen. Sanders, regarding his health plan.
      • Mayor Bloomberg uttered the most intelligent remark of the debate, when he said the entire discussion was ridiculous. All it does is help re-elect Trump. Whether you agree or not about Bloomberg’s other answers, an unbiased person would have to admit that they were well thought out, unlike the usual attack gibberish that has become the norm of the other candidates, with the exception of Sen. Klobuchar, who is always well-spoken.
      • As usual, Sen. Sanders had the most consistent message, as he has had since the first debate.

      But the big question everyone wanted answered was, “How would Bloomberg handle the incoming flak?”

      He handled it fine, in my unbiased opinion. When criticized, he didn’t immediately start waving his hands or interrupting others, like Sen. Warren, to defend his position. He waited until it was his turn to speak before correcting mischaracterizations about him. He, and Sen. Klobuchar, acted like the adults in the room. But unlike Sen. Klobucher, Bloomberg’s comments were based on facts, instead of generalizations.

      If I had to choose the debate winner, it would be Bloomberg because the others were even worse. (Okay, maybe I am the only person in the universe who didn’t think the former NYC mayor was worse than horrible. It wasn’t surprising that the self-anointed cable TV political experts couldn’t drop the story line about Bloomberg’s bad performance; if they don’t have anyone to criticize they don’t have a program. But to say that any candidate is severely damaged because of one or two debates in 2020 is as ridiculous as the cablests’ 2016 comments about Hillary being a sure winner, or their more recent “you can bet the farm” analysis that Joe Biden was sure to easily win the nomination.)

      I awarded the Nevada debate to the Democrats and said they now had a debate advantage of 5-4 over President Trump.

      (Re the above: All of the candidates were terrible, with many of them barely hanging on until they reached what they consider the promised land, the South Carolina. primary on February 29. Some seemed desperate to prevent the inevitable – that they are not going to achieve their egotistical goal –the presidency of the United States.)

      The attack by Democrats on Democrats only helps one person – President Trump. I might award individual debates to the Democrats, but in the aggregate the damage they have done to each other might be

      difficult to overcome. Only Trump’s consistently revengeful, totalitarian- behavior keeps the Democrats close. While I give the Democrats a 5-4 debate lead, it’s only because of Trump’s behavior. If Trump didn’t act like the egotistical, depraved person he is, I would have him leading 9-0.

      Biden, in particular, should not attack others for their views, given his sorry performance as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings and his subsequent vote to authorize the Iraq War.

      It’s true that I’ve written that it’s what candidates stand for today, not in year’s past that should be the deciding factor. But if Biden will not accept Bloomberg’s apology for past actions, whey should anyone accept Biden’s?

      Did anything happen after the Nevada debate and before the South Carolina one on February 25? Yes, some were the same old, same old. However, there were also significant new occurrences.

      The Old: The day after the debate, Sens. Warren and Sanders, continued attacking Bloomberg. (They would attack a rock, if they thought it blocked their way to the presidency. Attacking a front runner means to many people that they are afraid of the person and Bloomberg wasn’t the front-runner on February 19. But still they were afraid of him.

      The New: The day after the debate, three Democratic House members came out in support of Bloomberg.

      The Buck Stops With Me: Bloomberg said he is responsible for the problems he had in the Nevada debate, and the advice he received should not be blamed.

      Offering To Disclose The Non-Disclosures: Bloomberg said that he was releasing three women from the non-disclosure agreements regarding the sexual harassment or discrimination suits filed against him over the last three decades. He also said, “I’ve decided that for as long as I’m running Bloomberg LP, we won’t offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward. This goes the same for our campaign.”

      The Unexpected: All the Democratic candidates received a surprise gift, from of all people President Trump on February 20, when it was revealed that he tried to keep an intelligence report saying that the Russians were interfering in the 2020 election from Congress and the public (which certainly will keep the Mueller Report in play during the campaign).

      The Questionable: As his support with African-American voters has diminished, Biden has been telling the story of how he was arrested on a trip to South Africa in the 1970s, when he attempted to visit Nelson Mandela in prison, according to a New York Times story on February 22. Problem, according to the Times’ article, is that Biden, a U.S. Senator at the time, didn’t mention the episode in a 2007 memoir, has not spoken prominently about it  until his support with black voters has dropped, and a check on news accounts by the Times of Biden’s visit to South Africa did not mention any arrests. The Times story quoted Andrew Young, the former congressman, Atlanta mayor and ambassador to the United Nations, who traveled to South Africa with Biden as sying, “No, I was never arrested and I don’t think he was, either.” (Young is supporting Bloomberg for president.) Former Senator Gary Hart said, “I know nothing about that,” and former Senator Bob Kerrey (a Biden supporter), told the Times that he never heard the story before.

      What To Do?: With Sen. Sanders convincing victory in the Nevada caucuses, it’s time for the liberal moderates (Sen. Klobuchar, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg) to face the inevitable and throw their support to one liberal moderate if they want to prevent the nomination from going to Sanders, the far- left Democratic candidate, (but not a Socialist in the true meaning of the word; you can look it up). And they better do so before March 3, Super Tuesday.

      Another One For The Books? “Read my lips: no new taxes” was spoken by then- presidential candidate George H. W. Bush at the 1988 Republican Convention. But in 1990 he supported raising taxes and doing so contributed to his losing reelection in 1992. Will Sen. Sanders praising Fidel Castro’s literacy program also be detrimental to the candidate? Too early to tell, but it definitely can’t help.

      What Happened During The South Carolina Debate?

      (The debaters were the usual suspects: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, plus novice debater Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, who missed the Nevada one.)

      Here are what I considered the highlights:

      • The Democratic candidates’ attacks on each other continued. It’s as if they’ve taken a “how to Master’s Class” in insults, belittling each other, half-truths, whole lies, exaggerating accomplishments and demagoguery from President Trump.
      • As expected, because of his leading the pack, Sen. Sanders played the role of the piñata this time. He was as usual attacked by all the candidates because of hi health plan. This time his positive remarks about Fidel Castro’s literacy program also drew incoming fire.
      • Former Mayor Bloomberg was, perhaps, the best on the stage. He answered all questions with details instead of generalities. He also was the first to attack President Trump, doing so the first time he spoke.
      • Sen. Warren again thought she has a winning strategy by attacking Bloomberg because of the non-disclosure agreements issues, even though the three women who signed them are free to talk about them because Bloomberg has released them from the agreements.
      • Biden refused to say if he would drop out of the race if he failed to win the South Carolina primary.
      • Mayor Pete emphasized that this election was more than just about the presidency. That a candidate who could help the Democrats take control of the Senate and keep control of the House must be considered.

      This was the last debate before Super Tuesday. But there are still three factors that can affect the vote:

      • The analysis of how the debaters did by the TV pundits, which, unfortunately, can sway the decision of people who can’t think for themselves.
      • The efficacy of the candidates’ campaigning until the vote.
      • And the most important: How people actually vote.

      My Take:

      If Sen. Sanders is elected president, he’ll not be the first chief executive who espouses a semi-Socialist agenda. Many voters are too young to remember, or are too ignorant of our history, to know that we’ve already had such a person. His name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was elected four times and is always considered by historians as one the best presidents (and denounced by Republicans for his programs as a Socialist or worse). Even as I write this, they are still attempting to do away with many of his accomplishments.

      There will be a slew of Democratic primaries in March, beginning with Super Tuesday, March 3, and ending on March 29 with the Puerto Rico primary. Unless some candidates can control their egos and drop out in early March, or before, in political history books the Ides of March will refer to the 2020 Democratic primary field, with candidates including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete, all playing the role of Brutus. The title of this column is Democratic Debate #10. A more accurate title would be Democratic Debacle # 10. What this debate, as did all the previous ones, show is that all the candidates have some Trumpish aspects. Instead of doing what’s best to defeat Trump, the candidates are doing what’s best to defeat their opponents. As Trump does what’s best for him, the Democratic candidates are doing what’s best for themselves. Many, but not  Sen. Warren and Joe Biden, both of whom I originally supported, although I backed Biden because I thought he had the best chance of defeating Trump, not because of his senatorial record, should have called it quits before they started. It’s obvious that doing what’s best for themselves tops anything else. There are only two candidates that deserve my admiration – Sen. Sanders and Bloomberg: Sanders because he is the only candidate who has not altered is beliefs, despite continuous attacks from his opponents, (although having a president without flexibility is not the greatest of ideas) and Bloomberg, who said from the outset he’s spending his money for one purpose, defeating President Trump, and will continue to do so even if he is not the nominee. As long as he’s in the race, count me in the Bloomberg camp, although I reserve the right to change my mind if new candidates emerge.

      Sen. Warren, my original choice for the presidency, lost me because of her vicious attacks on Bloomberg, who has done more to defeat President Trump than all the other candidates combined. Biden lost me because if he has expressed any new ideas in the last 30 years, I must have missed them. Specifically, I’m tired of him saying that “President Obama trusted me and all the diplomats around the world know me.” So what?

      Another reason for my abandoning the Warren campaign: Her continuing attacks on Bloomberg re his employees who signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). With so many more important problems facing the country, Warren has exposed herself to be like most other politicians – switching campaign approaches as needed, even if the new approaches are minor compared to the problems most Americans face daily.

      Remember what Michelle Obama kept saying in the 2016 presidential campaign about Donald Trump? ‘When they go low, we go high.” Trump is certain to go low again in this campaign, because that is what low life’s do. Who ever the Democratic candidate is must be able to take Trump’s insults and throw them back at him. Thus far, only Sen. Warren, Michael Bloomberg, Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff have demonstrated the ability to match Trump blow by blow. As former baseball manager Leo Durocher said, “Nice guys finish last” The Democratic candidate must remember that, instead of turning the other cheek.

      Why people should not rely on cable TV for their political knowledge: Since the beginning of the primary season, and for months prior, the cableists have been reporting on the national polls. But recent history shows they do not mean much. Just ask Hillary Clinton and Al Gore, both of whom received more votes nationally than their opponents.

      The winner depends on the outcome in 50 individual state elections, but a viewer not knowledgeable about politics would not have known that from watching cable TV.

      Thomas Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, should resign and if he doesn’t should be fired for arranging so many debates. If he didn’t expect the candidates to attack each other viciously when he agreed to the cable TV shows, that’s another reason for his dismissal.

      Re: After the Democratic debate comments from the TV cableists: They will denigrate the performance of any candidate if it fits into their narrative. Without controversy, they would not have audiences. A good example: They all thought that Bloomberg was terrible during the Nevada debate. Obviously, not everyone agreed. After the debate Bloomberg picked up three new endorsement s from  Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Nita Lowey (N.Y.) and Pete Aguilar (Calif.) At that time, the former New York City Mayor only trailed Biden in Congressional support. But the three Reps. don’t have an always open mike, and don’t have to issue statements to attract TV viewers in order to keep their jobs. Disregard the TV talking head comments. Think for yourself.

      The Nevada debate was the most-watched Democratic presidential debate in history. About 33 million TV and online streaming viewers, tuned in. That might be good news for NBC and MSNBC, but it was bad news for the Democrats. All the viewers witnessed were a bunch of egotistical candidates attacking each other, some viciously, led by Sen. Warren, and claiming, “I’m better than you.” Lacking, except for Bloomberg, was any coherent vision of defeating Trump in November.

      Remember the following when watching the cable TV political shows: Their main goal is to create excitement and gain viewers. Take whatever their pundits and hosts say with a grain of, “what’s the rest of the story.”

      My Case For Bloomberg: Actually, if the nomination was given on merit, Bloomberg would be the clear winner. He accomplished what the other candidates only talk about, providing thousand of jobs, when he accomplished what was said to be impossible in our today journalism age – creating an international news service. Unlike the other candidates who berated the former NYC mayor, Bloomberg deserves much credit for helping the Democrats regain control of the House in 2018 by giving generously to the Democratic party and to candidates’’ campaigns. Add to that the millions of dollars he has given to liberal political and social causes and charitable organizations that help people and no one comes close. Despite what the other candidates say, since when is being a successful honest, wealthy business person a crime in America. Importantly, unlike Biden and Sen. Sanders, Bloomberg is the only candidate to publicly say he was wrong about past happenings. Sen. Warren has a plan to correct everything a person can think of. But Mr. Bloomberg has a long record of providing substantial funding for programs that help people.

      In my opinion, with millions of people not being able to afford suitable shelter, have a livable salary, find a job commensurate with their ability, get optimum medical care, buy healthy food, and feeling unsafe when they walk the streets, if Ms. Warren thinks her non-disclosure issue is a reason for viciously attacking an individual who has for years used so much of his fortune to help people, that shows me that Ms. Warren is out-of-step with the country she wants to lead. Note to Sen. Warren. I don’t like people who attack other people viciously for their own benefit. Perhaps you’ve been learning from Bernie Sanders supporters, or watching Fox News, or tuning in Trump rallies, or studying his tweets. I’m suspicious of the motives of politicians who abandon their previous talking points and resort to attacking others in order to attain power, because I believe as Lord Acton, the English politician wrote, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (My first job in public relations was with a political firm, where I worked on local, state and presidential campaigns. The owner of the firm once told me, “When any politician suddenly changes approaches and wants to win at all costs, that’s a politician you shouldn’t trust or support.”)

      While I think Mike Bloomberg would be the strongest Democratic candidate, I’m not one of those people who say that Sen. Sanders can’t beat Donald Trump. Sanders is very popular with many Democrats and his message of doing what’s best for all Americans, instead of only the very wealthy, and wanting economic and social justice for the forgotten Americans (similar in ways to what Trump said in 2016) can attract independents and disgruntled voters who feel Trump’s policies veer to the wealthy.

      Important PR Lesson # 1: All the PR crises expertise that money can buy can’t stop negative press coverage. Just ask Bloomberg after his debate debut in Nevada.

      Important PR Lesson # 2:  “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” as Robert Burns wrote in his poem, “To a Mouse.” Just ask Biden. So be careful of what you promise a client.

      Important PR Lesson #3: Biden’s and Sen. Warren’s dismal showings in the early voting and caucusing states, show why the savvy account supervisor should always have a back-up plan that can be instituted immediately if the original one fails. (Changing account handlers is not a back-up plan.)

      As they have since the first debate, the Democratic candidates engaged in parricide. But because of President’s Trump’s actions I’m again saying that the Democrats won.

      The debate score is now Democrats’ 6, Trump 4, not because of the Democrats’ actions, but because of Trump’s demented behavior.

      But unless the Democrats clean up their act fast, they will have no chance to defeat the Republican’s Trump-Putin ticket in the general election.


      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.

       




      Harvey Weinstein’s Conviction a PR Victory for the #Metoo Movement

      Roman Polanski Fires Back at the #MeToo MovementHis Lawyers Vow to Appeal But He Now Faces an LA Trial on Similar Charges

      The Undoing of the Poster Child for #MeToo Men Likely Means More Such Cases and a Continuing Change in Hollywood and Corporate America

      Andrew Blum

      No amount of spin can change the fact that Harvey Weinstein has been convicted and his just concluded New York trial has bolstered the #MeToo movement, sending more ripples through Hollywood, corporate America and politics. More #Metoo complaints and charges are likely in the future.

      Weinstein’s lawyers are already appealing his conviction but he now faces sentencing in New York and a trial in Los Angeles on similar charges.

      Despite his protestations after the verdict that he was innocent, the Weinstein conviction is clearly a watershed moment for the #Metoo movement. However, it was a split verdict by the jury as it convicted him on the lesser charges and was hung on the most serious charges,

      As with any movement, there is always the chance the pendulum goes too far and then it comes back the other way. For now, this is not the justice system run amok, as Weinstein’s lawyers argued.

      As New Yorker reporter and author Ronan Farrow tweeted after the verdict: “Today’s outcome in Harvey Weinstein’s New York trial is the result of the decisions of multiple women to come forward to journalists and to prosecutors at great personal cost and risk. Please keep those women in your thoughts today.”

      The conviction sent more #MeToo ripples through corporate America’s legal and HR departments which need to continue dealing with how to address and prevent sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.

      Even before the Weinstein trial, his use of non-disclosure agreements to settle complaints by women he abused was under fire. After the Weinstein allegations and his use of NDAs first surfaced in 2017 in The New York Times and the New Yorker, 16 states introduced legislation to limit their use in lawsuits or complaints.

      The NDA issue also hit the 2020 Democratic primary battle. In a debate before the Nevada Caucus, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was pressed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to release women at Bloomberg News from NDAs they had signed with his company. Bloomberg stammered under questioning at the debate, then relented afterwards and agreed to release three women from their NDAs.

      In the wake of Weinstein’s conviction and Bloomberg’s tepid response on the NDA issue, it’s a sure bet his Democratic opponents won’t let the issue drop.

      There are other ripple effects here – Weinstein was a big Democratic donor, and President Trump himself is the subject of multiple complaints and lawsuits from women saying he harassed or abused them.

      Lastly, there is the issue of other #MeToo men who made noise over the past two years of trying to mount career comebacks.

      Not every man caught up in #MeToo is a Weinstein. Few if any deserve to be totally forgiven. For those who seek another chance, PR should and does have a long-term role. But the Weinstein conviction will make it harder for those other men.


      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




      Democratic Debate # 9: Bloomberg’s Las Vegas Gamble

      (Prediction: In Vegas More Losers Than Winners, As Usual; And Three Important PR Lessons)

      Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

      It’s appropriate that the February 19 debate, the first after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, will be in Las Vegas, Nevada. Because it’s time for the two front-running candidates, Sen. Sanders and Pete Buttigieg to wager a few bucks of their own money to show they have the confidence in what they have been saying for months: That they can attract peoples of all colors to their candidacy.

      Democratic Debate # 8: So Long, Iowa. Hello Mike?Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada has a more diverse population and candidates from states with large minority populations have said that the two front runners cannot win the support of people of color voters.

      (For a few years I spent time in Las Vegas, when playing key roles on accounts during the annual CES, the consumers electronics show, which despite its name was not open to consumers. At the CES convention, if you weren’t in the electronic trade, you were banished to the casinos. The display of electronics was only for individuals affiliated with the consumer technology business, disproving Gertrude Stein’s “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” and William Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Prohibiting consumers from attending a convention with the name consumer in its title might make sense to some people; to others it’s a bit misleading, but that’s not unusual  when you go down the list of names given to public policy organizations or statements issued on behalf of clients by people in our business.)

      In Vegas, it’s not unusual for poker players to say, “Put-up or shut up.” It’s also time for the two front-runners to put up or shut up about their ability to attract people of color voters. Right? Maybe not. Vegas casinos stay in business because of people who know their luck will change with the next poker hand or roll of the dice.

      The Nevada caucuses will be held on February 22. Early voting was allowed several days earlier. In keeping with the Las Vegas spirit, I’m wiling to bet a few $5.00 chips that regardless of the results, some candidates will say, “We’re hearing great things from our operatives regarding the South Carolina primary on February 29 and from the Super Tuesday primary states on March 3. Unlike a few other candidates who should have called it quits, Sen. Michael Bennet, Andrew Yang and Deval Patrick folded after New Hampshire, causing a colleague to say, “Patrick was a candidate? Surprise to me.” I’m also willing to place several $10 chips on black that other candidates will fold their cards before Super Tuesday.

      However this column is about how the candidates who participated in the debate did.

      But first, a brief review of how the hopefuls, in my opinion, did during the New Hampshire debate on February 7:

      • There was no clear winner. I thought Sens. Klobuchar and Sanders, along with former veep Biden and businessmen Tom Steyer all did well. However, Biden was the most improved. (The TV pundits disagreed with my evaluation regarding Biden. But they’re wrong much more often than I am, so I’ll not change my position.)
      • Sens. Klobuchar has the best closing statement.
      • Extra credit for Sanders and Steyer for being the first to turn their fire on President Trump. Sanders, early on, said, we re all united against Trump, and Steyer continually attacked the president throughout the debate, as he has in all the debates and reminded everyone he has been calling for Trump’s impeachment for much more than a year.

      I also predicted that If Sen. Sanders overwhelmingly wins the New Hampshire primary on February 11, the less liberal candidates will band together to try and stop his momentum. If the New Hampshire results are close, it’ll be every man and woman for themselves until after Super Tuesday on March 3. Then the field will be winnowed to a few, all less liberal than Sanders, but all definitely on the liberal side of the political spectrum and all exceedingly more liberal than President Trump. If after Super Tuesday, Mayor Pete is still a viable candidate, the other remaining ones will form a “Stop Pete” strategy, not because they are necessarily against his positions, but because a mayor of a  small city with a little over a 100,000 citizens does not have the national governmental experience to be president of the United States. If this scenario plays out, it’ll open the door to some other Democratic senators or governors to declare their candidacy, and also strengthen the candidacies of Sens. Klobuchar and, maybe, Bloomberg. (My experience at the tables during the CES show proved one thing: It’s easier to lose than win. But at least if I’m wrong about this, it won’t cost me any money.)

      To paraphrase former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, “How am I doing in the prediction biz?” So far, it’s a push. I’m now betting a few dollars that Sen. Klobuchar will draw closer to Sen. Sanders and Mayor Pete after the Nevada results are counted, and I’m also wagering money on a long shot candidate in the futures market – that Michael Bloomberg will be in serious contention after Super Tuesday. 

      Did Anything Happen After the New Hampshire Debate And Before The Nevada One On February 19? Yes, Some Were The Same Old, Same Old. However, there were significant occurrences.

      • The New: Three-and-a-half lines in a Wall Street Journal February 8-9 political column caught my attention. It said that President Trump’s State of the Union speech audience “dropped 20% from last year, from 46.9 million to 37.2 million, according to Nielsen. That’s a significant loss of audience that could mean people are tiring of his act and are tuning him out. (None of the TV pundits mentioned this nor did I read it anywhere else, but I know I didn’t dream it because my WSJ invoice was tucked inside the paper.)
      • The Old: As soon as the Iowa caucuses were history, the candidates loaded up their ammunition and trucked them to New Hampshire, unloaded it and began attacking their competitors. Examples: Former veep Biden and Mayor Pete assailed each other about the experience of both, with Biden also stressing Buttigieg’s inability to attract black voters; Sen. Sanders attacked former mayors Pete and Bloomberg; Mayor   Pete and Sen. Klobuchar traded blows. But there was also something new about the inter-party feud: The new Fighting Joe appears to have discarded his Democrats shouldn’t attack Democrats credo. Now the candidate who loves the others the most is Steyer. (Unfortunately for Biden his new demeanor might have come too late.)
      • Significant occurrence # 1: In my opinion, the most significant event to emerge from the New Hampshire primary was the February 11 election night speech by Sen. Sanders in which he said, ‘What I can tell you with absolute certainty, and I know I speak for every one of the Democratic candidates, is that no matter who wins,… we’re going to unite together and defeat the most dangerous President in the modern history of this country,” His speech was noteworthy because in the 2016 election he didn’t issue a call for party unity and didn’t endorse Hillary Clinton until July.
      • Significant occurrence # 2: That Michael Bloomberg qualified for the sound bite TV program; another first for Bloomberg was that for the first time, on February 17, he criticized another hopeful by name, Sen. Sanders, saying his tactics were similar to President Trump.
      • Significant occurrence # 3: Bloomberg’s announcement that (unlike President Trump, who still owns his business) if elected president he would put Bloomberg L.P. into a blind trust with the intent of selling it. The company could be valued at up to $60 billion, according to reports.
      • The Dirty: A few hours prior to the debate, the Sanders’ campaign, which has been accused of playing dirty, did it again, when Sanders’ press secretary Briahna Joy Gray told CNN that Bloomberg had heart attacks. When confronted, she said that she misspoke.
      • One question Quiz: Was it Sen. Warren or Sen. Sanders who said the following, the day prior to the debate? “The financial system isn’t working the way it should for most Americans. The stock market is at an all-time high, but almost all of the gains are going to a small number of people.” Answer: Neither of them said it. The correct answer is Michael Bloomberg.

      (By now, anyone who has been following the happenings on the campaign trail can recite the attack comments forward, backward and sideways. So let’s assume that the circular firing squad attacks will continue and unless something out of the ordinary occurs I’ll not mention them again in this column.)

      What Happened During The Nevada Debate?

      In addition to the former New York City mayor, others that were on the debate stage were Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.  Because there were fewer candidates, they should have had more time explaining their policies. Did they? Short answer: No.

      That’s because, as usual, the candidate going into the debate with the most momentum was the target of the other candidates. So, it wasn’t a surprise that Bloomberg would be attacked because of his past policies, which he apologized for, and the money he is spending on his campaign, as if that’s a crime. (Notably missing from the attacks was the generous contributions he has made to liberal organizations over the years.) They didn’t ambush him, as Sen. Kamala Harris did to Joe Biden with her “I was that little girl story.” It was a full-fledged frontal attack, and they made it known days before the debate that Bloomberg’s past would be a significant topic during the TV show.

      All of the candidates zeroed in on Bloomberg, as if he was the reason that they were cast as pawns in a made for television series that had them begging for time from inquisitors who probably don’t know the fine print details of the candidate’s policies.

      Here’s my take-away from the debate.

      • As expected, all the candidates attacked Bloomberg, probably envious of his success as a businessman. The former NYC mayor responded that he’s the only person on the stage who has started a business and is giving away the profits from it.
      • The most vicious attacks on Bloomberg were by Sen. Warren, who also seemed the most desperate, probably because her hope of winning the nomination is fading away.
      • Former veep Biden, as usual, presented a cafeteria style of reasons that he said made him the best qualified candidate.
      • Klobuchar was her usual confident self; nothing outlandish, nothing new. Actually, very little specifics about her policies.
      • Mayor Pete, as usual, came across as Mr. Perfect, as if only he has the leadership qualities to lead the country. In fact. Sen. Klobuchar chided Mayor Pete by saying no one is a perfect as you are. (It would be unfair to say that mayor Pete has the biggest ego of the candidates. Anyone who thinks they have the ability to run the country has to have an over-sized ego. But because of his demeanor when speaking about other candidates Mayor Pete’s ego is always on display.)
      • Surprisingly, early in the debate, Sen. Klobuchar, Biden and Mayor Pete ganged up on Sen. Sanders, regarding his health plan.
      • As usual, Sen. Sanders had the most consistent message, as he has had since the first debate.
      • Mayor Bloomberg said the entire discussion was ridiculous. All it does is help re-elect Trump.
      • Even thought they are miles apart politically, Sen. Sanders and Bloomberg had one thing in common during the debate. They both were consistently attacked by the rest of the field.

        But the big question everyone wanted answered was, “How would Bloomberg handle the incoming flak?”

        He handled it fine. When criticized, he didn’t immediately start waving his hands or interrupting others to defend his position. He waited until it was his turn to speak before correcting mischaracterizations about him. He, and Sen. Klobuchar, acted like the adults in the room. But unlike Sen. Klobucher, Bloomberg’s comments were based on facts, instead of generalizations.

        If I had to choose the debate winner, it would be Bloomberg.

        (Advice to the candidates who didn’t do well during the debate: Don’t go to the casinos. Chances are you’ll also lose there.)

        My Take:

        • I’ve been asked why Tom Steyer is dong so poorly. Here’s my answer: Mike Bloomberg is known nationally for his public-service campaigns on a range of issues, including climate change, gun violence, public health, women’s rights, anti-tobacco programs and education. People know about his interest in these subjects because he lets the public know about them through PR and advertising. Tom Steyer is campaigning “as a progressive outsider with a business record, calling for    term limits in Congress, decriminalizing illegal border crossings and expanding the Supreme Court”. He says his top priorities are breaking the influence of corporations and addressing climate change. A good platform for a Democratic candidate. His problem is that most of what he has done has not been publicized nationally, and until he began his impeach Trump campaign he wasn’t well-known outside of the West Coast.
        • A nationally-known candidate like Bloomberg can skip the early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. But for new faces like mayor Pete and Steyer, participating in them was a must. They provide a vehicle to introduce themselves to a national audience.
        • Now that the results of the Iowa caucuses are official, (I guess), before I take the last horse and buggy leaving the friendly state, a question: Do you think that except for individuals who are personally involved with the campaigns, (and I include the media, who depend on the campaigns’ happenings for news material, even though it’s often a rehash of yesterday’s news) that the average Jane and Joe Voters are upset that the results were delayed. I don’t. The situation is similar to most PR crises. People involved with the crisis are certain that what happened, what they do, how they respond is the subject of conversations at every meal. Nonsense. In all the years that I’ve been in the business, the only time I heard “civilians” talk about a PR crisis          is when it happened and, maybe the next day, if it is of extended public interest.
        • Far be it for me to tell anyone who to vote for, but fanatics should consider one thing: It’s better to win with a compromise candidate than to lose with a minority support candidate.
        • Best statement from a candidate in New Hampshire: “Speaking about Donald Trump: “He is trying to divide us up. We are going to bring our people together, black and white and Latino and Native American, Asian American, gay and straight around an agenda that works for all of us, not just for one person.” – Sen. Sanders on Sunday, February 10.
        • Most surprising, and best, action by a candidate in New Hampshire: Sen. Warren, on February 11, when she refused to end her conversations with supporters, even though MSNBC’s Ali Vitali wanted to interview her. The interview took place a few minutes later.
        • The gap between President Trump and Sen. Sanders’ beliefs aren’t limited to political differences. On February 8, Trump tweeted that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, despite his betting on baseball games. (Not a surprise since Trump seemingly doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong.) Referring to reports that Major league Baseball was seeking to change the minor league system, Sanders said,: “If the multibillionaire owners of Major League Baseball have enough money to pay hundreds of millions in compensation to one superstar ballplayer, they damn well have enough money to pay minor-league players a living wage and prevent 42 minor-league teams from shutting down.” (Not a surprise considering Sanders policy statements.)
        • Are the cable news political commentators really unable to add two and two and get as an answer four? Or are they really unable to make a sensible report? All during the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary they kept saying that Sen. Sanders will not be able to repeat winning the primary by the margin he had in 2016, when he won more than 60% of the vote. It would have been nice if they added that in 2016 his only opponent was Hillary Clinton. In 2020, there were enough Democratic candidates in the primary to field a baseball team. (Some        commentators finally started to mention that the field was much larger than in 2016, but not for a few days. Maybe they had trouble figuring out two plus two equals four.)
        • I never take seriously what the candidates say on the debate stage. Their off-the-stage comments are more revealing of their positions to me. (Read the print pubs for that information.)
          But I will take seriously what the eventual Democratic nominee says when debating Trump.
        • The two candidates that have been most consistent with their messaging are Sen. Sanders and former mayor Bloomberg.
        • Candidates attacking others on the debate stage are meaningless to me. If the attacks against certain candidates were consistent, I might take them more serious. But they change according to the candidate that polls show is leading (for the moment).
        • Anyone who has closely been following the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates’ race should have noticed a similarity between TV political pundits, professional campaign mangers and self-anointed PR crises specialists: They all speak a good game but the results are often less impressive then their rhetoric. Important PR lesson for people in our business without impressive titles: Not having a supervisory title does not mean that you know less than those you report to. Do not let your good creative ideas and other work be co-opted by others. Keep a diary of your contributions to the success of a program and, if necessary, send them to top management if others take credit, which is another similarity between political and PR people—taking credit that they don’t deserve, but freely assigning blame to innocent staffers when things go sour.
        • I enjoy reading the New York Times’ political Op-Ed columnists, even the conservative ones I don’t agree with. Politically, I lean left of center. But I was taken back when liberal columnist Charles M. Blow suggested I can’t be a liberal unless I trash Bloomberg. To quote from his February 17 column, referring to Bloomberg’s past positions: “That doesn’t sound like the kind of leaders liberals should want, followed by “…and writers kept telling him he was doing massive damage…” Golly gee, whiz. Now I should have writers telling me what to think? And further down in this most one-sided Op- Ed column I’ve read in weeks, (which in some ways reminded me of President Trump’s long tweets) “Bloomberg knows that he is twisting the truth here. He just hopes you won’t notice.” Mr. Blow obviously thinks he has all the answers (like President Trump) and unless you agree with him he’ll decide if you are a liberal or conservative. There are many issues that should define a person’s place on the political spectrum; more than a few purity tests. Mr. Blow’s column reminds me, not of something that Mike Bloomberg would write, but something Donald Trump would write.

        In my opinion, holding a grudge against a candidate for what they did in the past is ridiculous. It’s the positions a candidate has now that should be the determining factor, and in this election, I’ll throw my lot in with the person who best can stand up to and defeat Donald Trump. While my heart belongs to Liz, my brain tells me that at this moment the best candidate to take on Trump is Bloomberg. And if circumstances change, so will my preference for a candidate, because as in all things in life, I believe flexibility trumps rigidity.

        (Re the above: I don’t believe in going down with the ship supporting my favorite candidate, even though the chance of winning is unlikely. Instead I’m a believer in the philosophy of Tacitus, the famous Roman Empire historian, who said, “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.”) 

        Another important PR lesson from the political scene: Never assume. Always remember that your tenure at an agency is not secure. For over a year, Joe Biden was the assumed candidate. Now he’s barely hanging on. In the 2016 election, because she was assumed to be a shoo-in, Hillary Clinton didn’t campaign in “certain” Democratic states. They voted for Trump.

        And most important: Do not assume that praise from higher-ups for the good work you are doing will assure you of a lengthy career or promotion at an agency. It will not. At agencies, it’s not what you did yesterday to help the agency; it’s what are you doing today.

        And one more important lesson to remember from the political scene: Do what’s best for you, not your agency, as the candidates have been doing for themselves for the better part of a year, because in the final analysis, you are nothing but an employee number. In the political world, candidates and office holders always do what’s best for themselves. So does your agency management. So should you.

        Debate # 9 did provide a truly unique situation: Never before have I heard candidates bragging about not having a large amount of money.

        Solely because of Trump’s vindictiveness after the Senate voted to acquit (a picture of the president will now be aside the definition of “sore winner,”) I award this debate to the Democrats. The score is now Democrats 5, Trump 4.


        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.

         




        Wear Masks for Protection, But Take Them Off Your Communications

        Wear Masks for Protection, But Take Them Off Your Communications

         

        Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

        Three things we crisis managers learn early on is the mantra: Tell It All, Tell It Early, Tell It Yourself, which has been repeated so often it’s almost a cliché, but it works!

        When a crisis rears its ugly head, like the humongous one in China now spreading its deadly wings worldwide, it’s still good advice applicable in dealing with the biggest crisis to rock the world since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

        China’s delayed reaction to the coronavirus outbreak appears to have sewn deep concerns, including among the Chinese people, that the lack of a swift governmental response was almost Chernobylic, to say the least.

        Sorry Xi Jinping, if this virus becomes a true global pandemic, the actions by Chinese leaders, of which you’re top dog, will come under fire as the initial slow response could have been much faster, more decisive as it has now become.

        Xi Jinping, as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, president of the People’s Republic of China  and chairman of the Central Military Commission, you will have to bear the brunt of the criticism although now China seems to be much more forceful in taking action and there’s evidence the country might be gaining the upper hand, both in controlling the spread of the virus and in reporting the facts.

        President Xi Jinping, as the first general secretary born after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, who has introduced far-ranging measures to enforce party discipline and to impose internal unity, you must now meet the greatest test of your leadership skills and legacy.

        So here’s my advice to you, Mr. President and general secretary.

        I would like to see you personally leading comprehensive daily news conferences reporting the situation exactly as you learn the facts and do it with yourself very much appearing to be in charge of the situation.

        Crises are a time when we most need to see leaders in action, taking charge like the way our president swiftly eliminated that Iranian general plotting to kill Americans.

        You also to need to meet with international journalists to give them the latest news and updates on your measures to stop the virus from spreading.

        President Xi Jinping, you need to open all communications channels and report your nation’s progress regularly in this all-important battle to kill this virus.

        The whole world is watching and rooting for you to stop it dead in its tracks!

        Yes, wear the mask to protect yourself, but remove all masks from communications about your progress in controlling and defeating the deadly coronavirus.


        Don't Be DOA! What They Say About First Impressions Goes Double for News Releases - Tom 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.