Some 3 weeks have passed since my last post, and daily readership is holding fairly steady. What’s up with that? Someday, when I figure out the blogosphere, I’ll tell you all about it. Until then, I’ve decided to break the silence with a mishmash of PR-related topics. Sort of.
Eye of the Tiger
David Brooks’ column this week discusses the mental toughness of Tiger Woods. Tiger’s dad began teaching the kid to focus at an early age, and clearly it has paid off. Nike’s ad, which ran during the U.S. Open this week, captures Earl Woods saying…”Tiger, I promise you that you’ll never meet another person as tough as you in your entire life.”
I hate golf, and almost never watch it. But I set aside my chores Monday afternoon to catch the last three holes of the playoff. I did it mostly to root for another old guy from Western Pa., Rocco Mediate. I watched, and I wondered: Do you think Rocco is a multitasker with a Blackberry? Do you suppose his computer pings him each time an email arrives? Does Tiger Twitter between holes? And how often does he check his Facebook page?
Maybe it’s the unfocused nature of my own life that prompts me to pose these questions. I don’t worship jocks, but I do admire the mental discipline of folks like Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. When was the last time you set aside everything for 4 or 5 hours to concentrate on doing one thing exceptionally well?
Unless the word “pleasant” accompanies it, a surprise in PR tends to be bad news. I read of two unpleasant surprises while scanning the news last Friday.
Surprise No. 1: Where’s my tree, dude? Duke Energy made the front page in Cincinnati for its policy of felling any tree that might threaten power lines and disrupt the flow of electricity. The corporate mandate doesn’t sit well with those living adjacent to the lines, and they especially don’t appreciate Duke’s “cut now, answer questions later” approach. One resident who lost 15 mature trees from his property learned that Duke Energy bears no responsibility for the $2,200 cost of stump removal.
Let’s be fair. Just five years ago the utilities were pilloried for neglecting line maintenance – neglect that led to the great blackout of 2003. Congress called for electric companies to fix the problem, and they have responded. But isn’t there a better way? The policy of “cut and run” is bad community relations, and the PR staffs should be speaking for those who live in the path of the chainsaws. A little dialog may help the company avoid negative editorials like this one.
Surprise No. 2: Your friend is dead. Ha, ha! Just kidding! I’m a big fan of infusing drama into our our messages. Makes them memorable, you know. But some folks in California think CHP and El Camino High School went a bit far when they faked the drunk-driving deaths of several classmates in an effort to dramatize this social problem. For details, read the story in SFGate, then ask yourself where the PR people were this time.
Yes, it is the job of public relations to develop creative campaigns that arrest the attention of our stakeholders. But it’s also our job to look management straight in the eye and ask: Have you lost your f#@*ing minds? At El Camino High School, it appears they have.
But some in California are getting it right
PR pros everywhere should celebrate with the gay and lesbian couples getting hitched in California this week. Know why? Because public relations flourishes in an environment that respects freedom of choice. It thrives when civil liberty overpowers narrow-mindedness.
Loyal readers know that I don’t discuss politics on this blog, but this isn’t a political issue. Same-sex marriage is a human rights issue. The good guys are winning this round — at least on the Left Coast. And yes, I’m the same guy who carries an NRA card. Don’t try to figure me out, OK?
An online social network for PR students?
Yep, and it calls for a big round of applause for Auburn’s Robert French, who this past spring founded “PR Open Mic,” a social network for PR students and faculty. I’ve had little time to spend at the site since signing on as “Member No. 301,” but plan to explore it in greater detail this summer. If you care about the profession and PR education, take advantage of the platform Robert has created for all of us. You can become member No. 1291. I’m sure Tiger Woods would urge you to “just do it.”