<![CDATA[Silvers Jacobson - Info And Influence Blog]]>Sun, 05 Dec 2021 14:50:48 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Alec Baldwin Did the Right Thing and Did It Well]]>Fri, 03 Dec 2021 20:42:30 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/alec-baldwin-did-the-right-thing-and-did-it-well
by Paul Jacobson, Partner

NPR’s television critic Eric Deggans says actor “Alec Baldwin gave a master class on how to get in front of the news without creating more problems for himself.” 

He’s right.

Baldwin sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to tell his story about what happened at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a western film set, outside Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 21, 2021. 

As the world now knows, a bullet from a Colt 45 held by Baldwin during rehearsal killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured the director.

Baldwin said he was speaking out now, despite incomplete official investigations and multiple pending lawsuits, because he needs “to combat a number of misconceptions”, especially from official sources, and that he “can’t wait for the process to end.”
Wait! 

What about the risk-averse lawyers and corporate executives whose default positions are almost always to clam up and offer no comment in the face of ongoing litigation and police investigations? Their job is to protect their client and it’s understandable that they often advise shutting down all talking when litigation and criminal probes are afoot. 

But entities in crisis shouldn’t immediately accede to the lawyers, whose training defers to measured procedure and assemblage of facts before commenting, preferably in an official, exhaustively vetted legal document.

It takes a strong CEO or equivalent leader to listen carefully to legal advice but then reach an independent decision that accounts for other issues like reputation damage and response to gross misinformation from dubious sources.

One of the greatest pitfalls of real-time crisis is a CEO who folds to the lawyers and discounts the instincts of the communications team. Lawyers often present their views as forceful arguments because, well, that’s what lawyers are trained to do. PR folks, who tend to be more compliant, lose out. 

This time it was different.

Baldwin is a co-producer, which in the film world equates him to a co-CEO of the production. He has decision-making authority. As a communications-savvy actor he either had the foresight to know this was the right course or had some good crisis communications advisors. 

As NPR’s Deggans observed, “It's not something a big-name celebrity at the heart of a gigantic public controversy usually attempts. But after his measured, prime-time interview with ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos — where the actor broke down in tears several times while describing aspects of the tragedy — Baldwin emerged as a man who pushed back on criticism and told his story, without raising any new, damaging questions.”

In addition, Baldwin was prepared and well-rehearsed, something one would expect from a trained actor. He and his advisors clearly thought ahead and prepared answers for all the questions Stephanopoulos might ask, and Baldwin responded in an unprogrammed way that seemed natural.

Easy for him. He’s an actor.

The lesson for non-actor business leaders in the same situation is to drop the ego and hubris. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Consider going through or refreshing media training before the interview. 

Want a good example of what happens when you don’t follow these guidelines? Look no further than Prince Andrew
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<![CDATA[SilversJacobson Client Dikembe Mutombo Foundation Dedicates New School in Congo]]>Wed, 10 Nov 2021 00:01:49 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/silversjacobson-client-dikembe-mutombo-foundation-dedicates-new-school-in-congo
by Paul Jacobson
Partner

In late July we were privileged to provide support for our client the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation’s project to build a modern pre-K through 6th grade school in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Last week the new school was officially dedicated and opened by NBA Hall of Famer and Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo and a host of local dignitaries.

Mutombo’s humanitarian work inspired Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Charlie Marie Lyons to dedicate her latest single “Change” and its streaming revenue to support the school, which is located in a rural area outside the Mbuji-Mayi district.
She also released a music video set to "Change" that showcases Mutombo’s philanthropic efforts in his native land. 

The new school is serving 440 girls and boys in pre-K through 6th grade classes, with an emphasis on science, technology, mathematics and the arts. In the future, the foundation hopes to expand the school to higher grades.

Named after Dikembe’s late father, a teacher and school principal, the Samuel Mutombo Institute of Science & Entrepreneurship serves a region where 240,000 children have no access to modern education. The DRC spends 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product on education, 166th in the world. By comparison, the United States spends 5 percent. France spends 5.5 percent.
​Those familiar with international humanitarian work know that the DRC is a particularly difficult place to work, which makes this accomplishment all the more impressive. 

The Mutombo Foundation’s previous work in the DRC include supporting a three-day polio vaccination drive that inoculated 8.2 million children and construction of a new 170-bed hospital, the first new hospital of its kind built in the DRC in 45 years.

To donate, go to the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation web site at dmf.org.
See the “Change” music video on YouTube.

“Change” is available on Apple MusicSpotifyiHeart Radio or wherever you stream music.
For more on the artist, visit charliemarielyons.com.
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<![CDATA[Tesla-Musk-Hertz's insane message mayhem]]>Wed, 03 Nov 2021 22:32:25 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/the-communications-insanity-of-it-allBy Paul Jacobson -- Let us count the ways of insane dysfunction found in the Tesla-Elon Musk-Hertz schlimazel.  We have Hertz, a global brand just out of bankruptcyannouncing last week -- complete with a video from Tom Brady -- that it’s ordering 100,000 electric cars from Tesla. And this is followed by a  tweet from Musk saying, "I’d like to emphasize that no contract has been signed yet.”
But wait. There's more.

Hertz said Tuesday that deliveries are already underway, and directed people to a link on the Hertz web site where one can reserve a Tesla.

But there's no confirmation that there’s actually a done deal between Hertz and Tesla. To which the company says, “We don’t discuss the details of our business relationships or discussions with any auto maker or partner." 

Never mind that Hertz CEO Mark Fields had just recently appeared on 
CNBC’s Squawk Box to talk up the deal.

Stock for both companies shot up. Tesla became a trillion-dollar company, which increased Musk’s personal wealth to more than $300 billion. On Tuesday after the Musk's tweet, Tesla’s stock dropped three percent. 

Peter M. DeLorenzoa former Detroit auto marketing executive and one of the industry's most acerbically astute observers, summed it up best:

"Hertz is insisting that deliveries have already started. Either Hertz is making that up, or Musk is so out of the loop in Tesla's day-to-day affairs that he even has less credibility -- if that's even possible - than he already has when it comes to his remarks."


DeLorenzo coined the “St. Elon” title in recognition that Musk gets away with stuff that no other CEO of a listed company could. 

The SEC investigated a 2018 Musk tweet about a potential Tesla buyout. He and the company each paid $20 million in fines, and Musk agreed to have lawyers approve his tweets going forward. 

But on Monday, those Musk lawyers were either asleep or out of the loop.  But gee heck, what's  another $20 million fine to a guy worth around $300 billion running a company valued at around $1 trillion?

Here's the weird reality: If any other automaker announced a big fleet deal with a rental company, its stock would happed drop because that signals weak consumer demand.

Not so in the surreal world of Tesla, where its stock jumped and Musk tweeted that Hertz is going to pay full price for the cars. That's more than $4 billion. 

There's not an airline company in the world that pays retail for new airliners. And there's no rental car company, especially one just emerging from Chapter 11, that pays list price for cars. Not even if they come from St. Musk's company.

What does this all mean? More confusion and contradiction, leading to new shareholder lawsuits and maybe another SEC investigation.
​ 
The Wall Street Journal reports the Hertz-Tesla deal was under negotiation for months. So it's reasonable to wonder what the corporate communicators were doing to  plan for such a big announcement.

But wait: Tesla doesn’t have a PR or communications department*.  So the WSJ went with, “Tesla and Mr. Musk didn’t respond to requests for comment.

It was online media site
 electrek.com that unearthed the dissolution of Tesla’s PR shop, and the topic was expanded upon in a hilarious post by Jalopnik reporter Jason Torchinsky, who shared his escalating, albeit one-sided, email communications with the company.

So, we have an egotistical CEO, the world’s richest man, whose company has gone from a $100 billion to $1 trillion valuation in a year – something that took Amazon eight years to accomplish. Musk apparently believe he has license to do whatever he wants, and no PR or legal department is going to get in his way.

Fine, but Tesla shareholders – happy now no doubt – may bitterly regret the day the PR shop died.

Here's why: The company just recalled 12,000 vehicles to address automatic emergency braking software that may activate unexpectedly while driving. U.S. safety regulators were already peeved. Before this latest recall, Tesla chose to not issue safety recalls for over-the-air software update that address safety threats.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is already investigating autopilot problems on 765,000 Teslas, following reports of dozens of crashes into roadside emergency vehicles that killed one person and injured 17.

If the government finds Tesla is deploying driver assist technologies into the real world before they’re perfected, the lawsuits will commence -- as will the very real reputation damage.

And Elon Musk’s super-stardom won’t shield the company while the board demands to know why the company isn’t responding cohesively to attacks coming from all sides.

In which case I recommend they hire some good crisis communications. Like us.
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<![CDATA[Facebook name change: Yea, that'll fix everything.]]>Thu, 28 Oct 2021 23:36:08 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/name-change-thatll-fix-everythingBy Paul Jacobson -- After CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would change its name, the brilliant Dispatch web site noted that "Kanye isn’t the only one ... Facebook is reportedly planning to rebrand the social media giant next week like Google did with 'Alphabet' a few years ago. That’ll fix everything!
When Zuckerberg announced the new name, "Meta," that same cynical thought no doubt ran through the heads of many crisis communications people like us. One thing we know is that timing is a key part of any corporate name change. And Facebook's timing is bad.

The one thing you don't do in the midst of a PR crisis is change your name.

It looks like you're trying to hide the bad news behind a new moniker. Change the name 
after you've weathered the crisis, addressed its issues and restored trust in the business.  

Google changed its parent name to Alphabet to underscore the company was more than a search engine. Dunkin' Donuts changed to just Dunkin' because most of its sales came from products other than donuts -- mostly coffee. (Though I still don't get it. Dunkin' what? And as a native New Englander I find lopping "donuts" off the name a mild form of sacrilege.)


Neither of those companies were in the middle of a PR crisis when the new names rolled out.

​Other companies in crisis were smart enough to wait until it was over. Remember ValuJet, the 1990's east coast discount airline that plowed a DC-9 into the Florida everglades killing 110 people? Subsequent investigations showed the airline guilty of multiple safety violations. It suspended operations. Numerous official investigations were launched. When it finally returned to the air as a much smaller operation business plummeted. 


It was more than a year later, after investigators found the cause and the rest of the poor maintenance dirty laundry was aired that ValuJet merged operations with a smaller airline and changed its name to AirTran. AirTran grew into a successful regional discount carrier until it was bought by Southwest Airlines and ceased flying in 2014.

Now comes Facebook in the middle of a bad news deluge courtesy of whistleblower Frances Haugen that is still unfolding. Internal documents showing the company knew its platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram, were spreading misinformation and causing self-esteem issues for teenage girls. Then came further revelations of special VIP users with a different set of rules and poor control of inflammatory rhetoric that led to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and rioting in India and Ethiopia. 

Of course, when CEO Zuckerberg rolled out the new "Meta" name at a company event there was no mention of the ongoing crisis, just a lot of corporate blather about a "new North Star" of bringing the metaverse to life. 

Immediately the media and a lot of observers saw through this, putting Facebook in the company of other corporate bête noirs like tobacco, agrochemical, oil and private mercenary companies that tried the same thing. Philip Morris became Altria, Bayer dropped the Monsanto name, BP rolled out “beyond petroleum” and Blackwater turned into Academi. 

Even if Zuckerberg’s name change motivation was pure, the timing gives every media organization a reason to repeat the whole “Facebook Files” storyline -- and late-night comics grist for their joke writers’ mills. 

One of Facebook’s harshest critics, “The Real Facebook Oversight Board,” puckishly announced it was not changing its name, saying “Changing their name doesn’t change reality: Facebook is destroying our democracy and is the world’s leading peddler of disinformation and hate.”

We may never know Facebook’s internal decision process that led to the timing of this announcement, but chances are one or more of their smart corporate communicators advised against it -- but c-suite and CEO hubris ruled the day. 
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<![CDATA[Here is Colin Powell's leadership primer.]]>Mon, 18 Oct 2021 23:12:07 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/colin-powells-leadership-primer
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By Paul Jacobson -- The death of former Secretary of State, National Security Advisor and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Colin Powell reminded me of a hard copy file stashed away from my days in Washington. 

It’s a presentation by General Powell called “A Leadership Primer.” I can’t remember how it came into my possession except that I acquired it when I was on the communication staffs of Senators Dole and Rudman. 

Some of the companies and people mentioned are not around anymore or in today’s business headlines. The internet was still relatively new, but his rules remain relevant today for anyone in a leadership position. 

A copy of the presentation is on our web site. Probably a photocopy of a photocopy, it’s the antithesis of today’s standards for presentations with high visual content and little text, but the substance powers through with every word. 

Here’s a brief summary of General Powell’s leadership rules, quoting directly from the presentation:
  • BEING RESPONSIBLE SOMETIMES MEANS PISSING PEOPLE OFF.

  • THE DAY SOLDIERS STOP BRINGING YOU THEIR PROBLEMS IS THE DAY YOU HAVE STOPPED LEADING THEM. THEY HAVE EITHER LOST CONFIDENCE THAT YOU CAN HELP THEM OR CONCLUDED THAT YOU DO NOT CARE. EITHER CASE IS A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP.

  • DON’T BE BUFFALOED BY EXPERTS AND ELITES. EXPERTS OFTEN POSSESS MORE DATA THAN JUDGMENT. ELITES CAN BECOME SO INBRED THAT THEY PRODUCE HEMMOPHILIACS WHO BLEED TO DEATH AS SOON AS THEY ARE NICKED BY THE REAL WORLD. 

  • NEVER NEGLECT DETAILS. WHEN EVERYONE’S MIND IS DULLED OR DISTRACTED THE LEADER MUST BE DOUBLY VIGILANT.

  • KEEP LOOKING BELOW SURFACE APPEARANCES. DON’T SHRINK FROM DOING SO (JUST) BECAUSE YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE WHAT YOU FIND. 

  • ORGANIZATION DOESN’T REALLY ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. PLANS DON’T ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING EITHER. THEORIES OF MANAGEMENT DON’T MUCH MATTER. ENDEAVORS SUCCEED OR FAIL BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED. ONLY BY ATTRACTING THE BEST PEOPLE WILL YOU ACCOMPLISH GREAT DEEDS. 

  • ORGANIZATION CHARTS AND FANCY TITLES COUNT FOR NEXT TO NOTHING. 

  • NEVER LET YOUR EGO GET SO CLOSE TO YOUR POSITION THAT WHEN YOUR POSITION GOES, YOUR EGO GOES WITH IT. 

  • FIT NO STEREOTYPES. DON’T CHASE THE LATEST MANAGEMENT FADS. THE SITUATION DICTATES WHICH APPROACH BEST ACCOMPLISHES THE TEAM’S MISSION. 

  • POWELL’S RULES FOR PICKING PEOPLE: LOOK FOR INTELLIGENCE AND JUDGMENT, AND  MOST CRITICALLY, A CAPACITY TO ANTICIPATE, TO SEE AROUND CORNERS. ALSO LOOK FOR LOYALTY, INTEGRITY, A HIGH ENERGY DRIVE, A BALANCED EGO, AND THE DRIVE TO GET THINGS DONE.

  • GREAT LEADERS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS GREAT SIMPLIFIERS, WHO CAN CUT THROUGH ARGUMENT, DEBATE AND DOUBT, TO OFFER A SOLUTION EVERYONE CAN UNDERSTAND. 

  • PART 1: USE THE FORMULA P=40L TO 70, IN WHICH P STSNDS FOR THE PROBABILITY OF SUCCESS AND THE NUMBERS INDICATE THE PERCENTAGE OF INFORMATION ACQUIRED. PART 2: ONCE THE INFORMATION IS IN THE 40 TO 70 RANGE, GO WITH YOUR GUT. 

  • THE COMMANDER IN THE FIELD IS ALWAYS RIGHT AND THE REAR ECHELON IS WRONG, UNLESS PROVED OTHERWISE.

  • HAVE FUN IN YOUR COMMAND. DON’T ALWAYS RUN AT A BREAKNECK PACE. TAKE TIME WHEN YOU’VE EARNED IT. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILIES. COROLLARY: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO TAKE THEIR WORK SERIOUSLY, BUT NOT THEMSELVES, THOSE WHO WORK HARD AND PLAY HARD.

  • COMMAND IS LONELY.
  • LEADERSHIP IS THE ART OF ACCOMPLISHING MORE THAN THE SCIENCE OF MANAGEMENT SAYS IS POSSIBLE. 
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<![CDATA[Colorado Supreme Court engages SilversJacobson]]>Tue, 01 Jun 2021 06:00:00 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/colorado-supreme-court-engages-silversjacobsonFrom Denver PR Blog  -- If you have been following The Denver Post‘s exhaustive coverage of the issues at the Colorado Supreme Court (conveniently tagged “Colorado Judiciary Scandal” on its website for easy reference), you know that it has been a tough few months. It could have been much tougher, though.

Word on the street is that the Colorado Supreme Court hired Steve Silvers and Paul Jacobson from SilversJacobson shortly after David Migoya at The Denver Post broke the story about allegations of widespread sexual harassment, discrimination and unethical behavior throughout the Colorado Judiciary Branch.

The result has been some positive developments – Chief Justice Boatright took full ownership of the situation, asked the other branches of government to oversee an independent investigation, and has hammered the idea of wholesale culture change.


Silvers’ crisis and controversy consulting goes back to the 1993 Aurora Chuck E. Cheese murders and the building of Denver International Airport.

​Jacobson spent years on Capitol Hill and in corporate communications director jobs, including the largest corporate bankruptcy reorganization in U.S. history.


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<![CDATA[Gallup poll: America's food chain earns most public love]]>Thu, 24 Sep 2020 18:25:23 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/gallop-poll-americas-food-chain-earns-most-public-lovePicture
InfoAndInfluence.com - The reputations of industry sectors that take care of people and improve well-being are on the rise during the pandemic era.

For the first time in the 20-year history of the Gallup Organization’s tracking of industry sector reputations, farming and agriculture sits on top as the clear leader with a net positive rating (positive minus negative ratings) of +58 percentage points.

The grocery industry is second with a 51 percent net positive. Restaurants are third at +46 percent, the computer industry fourth at +44 percent and the retail industry fifth at +35 percent.

The pharmaceutical industry’s positive rating improved seven points from last year to 34 percent, but it still ranks next to last with a net positive rating of -20 points. It yielded 2019’s dead last position to the federal government.

The federal government’s drop to the bottom is undoubtedly linked to its mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the divisive, conflicting messaging coming from the White House, CDC and FDA.

The largest drop was the sports industry. Its positive rating fell 15 points from 45 to 30 percent and it’s now in negative territory with a -10 net positive score, down from last year’s net positive score of +20 points.

Almost all of industry’s decline was among Republicans and independents, with no change among Democrats.
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<![CDATA[We take a shot at COVID-19 vaccine's big PR problem.]]>Wed, 16 Sep 2020 17:21:59 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/we-take-a-shot-at-covid-19-vaccines-big-pr-problem
InfoAndInfluence.com - There’s a chance that the COVID-19 vaccine won’t work because more Americans will chose to delay or not get it than is needed to create the herd immunity that a certain leader of the free world keeps misrepresenting.
 
How do we solve the vaccine’s public relations problem?
What we need – now would be good – is leadership.
 
Truly inspirational, unfaltering Winston Churchill-type unifying crisis leadership.
 
It’s only through visionary crisis leadership that Americans will confidently roll up their sleeves, despite our society’s increasingly pernicious amalgamation of:
  • People who refuse to go along with the other party – facts and logic be dammed.
  • People who reject experts or factual data because it differs from their established opinions or what they read in Facebook.
  • Right-wing and left-wing conspiracy theories.
  • Aggressive, sophisticated anti-vaccine activism and pre-pandemic public sentiment.
  • Distrust of “big pharma” principles, safety measures and profit motives.
  • An intensifying information and propaganda war fueled by irresponsible social media companies, discounted journalism, disguised opinion media and infiltration by Russian provocateurs that raise less government ire than our expired emissions sticker.
  • Increasingly heated and divisive partisan conflict, adding to the very real potential of political violence before, during and well after the November elections.  
 
It’s going to take a lot more than a McGruff the Crime Dog campaign.
 
CLOSE THE TRUST GAP
 
The single most important factor for any leader to worry about when managing crisis is trust.
 
Whoever wins the election will have a significant deficit in this regard, and it must be eliminated to reach critical mass of vaccinations – as well as continued compliance with social distancing and other responses to the pandemic.
 
The most immediate way to do this is by dropping the political bombast and allegations, the intentionally creating distrust against the “other side.” 
 
As previous presidents have responded to crisis, we should establish a national war-like footing to beat COVID-19. 

The president will send a clear message to all Americans by forming strong bipartisan leadership group and put opposite party members on the cabinet. Leaders must be ruthless in marginalizing partisan blowhards from both sides who obstruct the work at hand.

 
The president must make clear that he or she is committed to putting the best people and resources, regardless of party, toward a single, understandable objective that is easily repeated by every American:
 
Win the COVID war.
 
Get 90% of Americans vaccinated so we eradicate this threat to our way of life.
 
COMPASSION & EMPATHY
 
You might remember when the president fluffed-off the pandemic’s rising death toll with this little bit of national disunity: If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at.”
 
Whatever self-serving claptrap this was, it dangerously expanded the already enormous trust deficit between the government and Americans. The public inherently has little trust in a leader who so far has exhibited little feeling for dead and dying victims of COVID-19, while playing down its mortal risks from the very beginning.
 
To close the trust gap and get people to accept the vaccine, our crisis leader needs significant emotional intelligence, or EQ. Research shows that leaders with high EQ are effective at creating confidence and reducing anxiety. They’re socially aware and intuitive about what’s going on with other people, which they use to solve complex organizational and social problems.
 
No matter how caught up in the faceless data that define crisis at the highest level, whoever is trying to convince Americans to take the shot must show that they legitimately feel the suffering caused by this pandemic.
 
CLARITY & CONTIUITY
 
“Crisis communication best practice is remarkably simple and consistent,” wrote two governance experts recently in Government Technology. “It emphasizes the need for clear, timely, consistent and repeated messaging and actionable advice, delivered by credible sources. Yet it remains surprising how often crisis communication turns out to be an Achilles heel of crisis response.”
 
Government, like corporate America, is often its own worst enemy: Its number one reputation and operational risk is that an otherwise manageable public-facing issue will become a raging PR crisis because of it mishandles the initial response -- if it responds at all.
 
More than anything, communications in a crisis has to be instantaneous to fill the inevitable information vacuum that is quickly filled with speculation and misinformation.
 
Crisis communications must stay connected and responsive to the obvious but difficult questions, with each being answered in one of the three “straight up” ways:
  1. We know the answer and here it is...
  2. We are working on the answer and hope to have it soon...
  3. We can’t answer the question for the following reason… (it’s a stupid question, there’s no way of knowing, it’s confidential, my clothing is on fire, etc.)
 
Unfortunately, it’s the important obvious-but-difficult questions that government people are too often loath to answer straight up because they are terribly unprepared, politically afraid or too arrogantly dismissive of the Americans they work for.
 
But they shouldn’t be. As those professors correctly noted, “Fifty years of crisis research has shown this almost never happens as most citizens can handle ominous information when given clear guidance on how to act.”
 
NOT MANDATORY, YET.
 
As the vaccine becomes available, our crisis leader will be under considerable pressure to make it mandatory, right away.
 
We agree with experts who say this is the wrong move, strategically and logistically – especially if we actually have the strength of true unified leadership running the show.
 
Making the vaccine mandatory too quickly will exacerbate the anti-whatevers and conspiracy cases, mitigating potential for buy-in to develop organically as families and communities get their shots in the midst of a huge national information campaign.
 
Once we’re left with the remaining percentage of people who should get the shot but refuse to, then the nation’s leaders and vaccinated major-majority will be more appropriately single-minded about how to deal with them.

And even there, we will act with resolve.


InfoAndInfluence.com is written by Steven Silvers and Paul Jacobson, founding partners of SilversJacobson Crisis Management & PR Strategies
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<![CDATA[The bankruptcy storm is coming. Here are four critical strategic communications rules to survive it.]]>Fri, 21 Aug 2020 17:46:33 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/the-bankruptcy-storm-is-coming-here-are-four-strategic-communications-rules-to-survive-it
Bankruptcy Crisis | SilversJacobson
InfoAndInfluence.com -- The New York Times predicts a “tidal wave” of Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filings resulting from the pandemic’s devastating impact on our nation’s economy.
 
Terrible enough. But here’s the bigger problem: Experts believe that bankruptcy courts will be so swamped that they won’t have time or resources to protect many companies worth saving, especially small to medium-sized enterprises (SME).
These companies must place even greater emphasis on the strategic communications function to manage their bankruptcy’s complex information requirements, crisis, controversies and related PR strategies.
 
Obviously, protecting a company’s enterprise value during Chapter 11 is in the best interests of creditors, and helps operations continue. That’s why bankruptcy judges often approve the hiring of bankruptcy litigation communications experts* to oversee a comprehensive communication plan and work alongside the lawyers and accountants.
 
If your company or client is part of the coming Chapter 11 storm, here are four strategic communications considerations that every executive leader must take into account:
 
DOING IT BADLY WILL COST YOU BADLY … Your company’s hard costs, disruption and reputation damage will increase exponentially if you get bankruptcy litigation PR wrong.  This is a complex arena that demands long, detailed interaction with legal and accounting teams -- not to mention having a precise understanding of what, how and when something can and can’t be disclosed.
 
HELLO WE MUST BE GOING (UNDER) … For SME companies, bankruptcy litigation communications and PR is even more critical to surviving the process. That’s because  the Chapter 11 filing may be the first time that most judges, reporters and other people have ever heard of them.

Add to this the fact that an astonishing percentage of ill-informed local influencers -- social media gadflies, non-financial reporters and anchor-people – assume that a Chapter 11 reorganization is the same as a Chapter 7 liquidation.
 
REPORTERS YOU WON’T INVITE FOR DINNER … Editors and reporters that cover corporate bankruptcies are smarter, more suspicious and aggressive than general business media or trade press. They know how to read court filings, have equally-suspicious expert resources and will interview your creditors. And they don’t care that your company supports local charities.

If your company has a PR agency or in-house staff whose job is to generate positive marketing publicity, then the rule is this: Keep them away from bankruptcy and litigation reporters. It’s a whole different game.
 
THE PARTNERSHIP MUST WORK … Your bankruptcy legal and crisis PR team must work together to achieve a challenging multifaceted objective: To address court, compliance and creditor concerns while simultaneously translating a complex, impersonal procedure in ways that humanize the issues, protect enterprise value and position the business to re-emerge successfully as a going concern.
 
Good luck out there.

InfoAndInfluence.com is written by Steven Silvers and Paul Jacobson, founding partners of SilversJacobson Crisis Management & PR Strategies. Mr. Jacobson's bankruptcy expertise goes back to when he served as communications director and spokesperson for one of the nation’s largest, most complex and high-profile corporate bankruptcy reorganization, which was successful in paying off $17 billion in debt while saving some 14,000 American jobs.
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<![CDATA[Big investor alliances and media combine to accomplish what government regulators can’t make stick]]>Sat, 01 Aug 2020 06:00:00 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/demand-for-disclosure-of-mine-waste-dump-safety-records-latest-example-of-private-regulationPictureWaste from collapse of iron ore mine dam. (The Guardian)
InfoAndInfluence.com -- The New York Times reported this summer that the Trump administration had gutted more than 70 key environmental regulations, with another 30 rules under the knife. No doubt many of these will be re-instituted if the White House changes hands.

In this era of hyperbolically partisan federal and local governments, environmental regulations are no more permanent than political appointees.

Enter the emerging “private regulation” movement.

Relatively small activist investment houses and high-profile individuals have always had a public relations impact as they usually get plenty of love from environmentally-friendly mass media. (Yes, this includes those pesky Fake News outfits that report bona fide scientific evidence as being credible).

They haven’t moved the big needle, however.  And they certainly haven’t stopped the often kneejerk-political backtracking of environmental standards in the U.S. and around the world.

But now, some of the world’s biggest mainstream global investment houses and retirement funds -- frustrated by the constant vacuum of zero-sum partisan politics – seem more and more inclined to create a de facto environmental regulatory oversight by forcing the issues in ways that governments can’t. Or won’t.

For example: Following the collapse of a mining tailings dam in Brazil that killed some 300 people, a coalition of 100 investor groups sent a letter to 600 mining companies to which they control more than $10 trillion in assets. The investors group includes top-tier entities like The Church of England Pension Board and Sweden’s public pension fund.

The investor alliance – no formal name, just a letterhead -- told the companies that they they’re creating a global database to track every operation’s mining waste dump disclosures and other data – information that could have possibly helped prevent the Brazil tragedy and other accidents involving toxic waste.

The message to the mining companies was clear: Fail to comply with these new higher standards, say goodbye to our money.

Industry takes positive action after media amps the volume

Its significance underscored by the actions of the investors, the Wall Street Journal launched its own investigation into the Brazil disaster.

The combination of global investors and news media – plus pressure from activist groups and social media – did what government hearings, proposed new regulations, threatened litigation and breaking small businesses windows in Portland could not.

It compelled the mining industry to take meaningful action:

- It put substance over style. Instead of launching a defensive, dismissive “but look at the good we do” industry image PR campaign, mining companies established a plan to address the issues surrounding the Brazil tragedy and other related problems.

- It answered with true, proven expertise. The International Council on Mining & Metals, released guidelines for building and monitoring - mine waste dams.

- It elevated responsibility to the C-Suite by recommending each mining company employ an internal mine waste expert who reports directly to the CEO.

- It added transparency and accountability.  The guidelines address potential conflicts of interest in the inspection of dams, call for a mine waste expert at each company and establishment of formal whistleblower channels.

Of course, the mining industry’s guidelines aren’t mandatory. So no doubt there will emerging a spread between companies that embrace a new “private regulation” reality – and those that will make future headlines by testing the willingness of large investors to put corporate responsibility over returns.

Stay tuned.

InfoAndInfluence.com is written by Steven Silvers and Paul Jacobson, founding partners of SilversJacobson Crisis Management & PR Strategies
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<![CDATA[Four crisis lessons from United Airlines' PR mega-fiasco]]>Tue, 14 Apr 2020 06:00:00 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/four-crisis-lessons-from-united-airlines-pr-mega-fiascoPictureThis image isn't going away anytime soon.
InfoAndInfluence.com -- With all the turmoil we've been having just remaining 1) healthy and 2) a working democratic republic, it's already been three years since United Airlines ignited one of the most avoidably self-inflicted corporate public relations disasters ever.
 
Hopefully United has learned that its mission statement to “make every flight a positive experience” precludes dragging bloodied, screaming customers away from the product.  

For the rest of us, here are four essential lessons from United’s experience:

1. An otherwise manageable bad news event becomes a PR disaster usually because the company bungles its initial response.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz threw gasoline on an already raging fire by apologizing “for having to re-accommodate these passengers” -- ignoring that millions of people around the world were watching with outrage the phone videos of Chicago airport security men violently dragging a non-violent, 69-year-old doctor down the aisle while other passengers screamed to stop.
 
And just like that... An inexcusable but isolated, maybe even containable incident of barbarity by a third party becomes United’s global PR fiasco.
 
Consider how things might have played out had United's leader instead come out seething with fury, demanding immediate answers as if it had been his own father dragged down the aisle, breaking his nose and knocking out teeth. 
 
United's first response epitomizes a reputation risk that exists at many good companies. In first hours after a bad news event, many of those same companies suddenly treat their stakeholders as liabilities -- threats to be mitigated by dancing around the issue with words that say nothing and admit even less.
 
This is where a PR problem mostly likely becomes a raging PR crisis.
 
In this era of hyper-transparency and real-time information, stakeholders aren’t spectators to how your company responds to negative events. They’re participants.

Treating them like anything less is a sure-fire way to make the PR problem worse.


2. The cost of a PR crisis is ultimately determined by your company’s ability to respond to situations that nobody saw coming.
 
United Airlines has at its beck and call a global army of crisis-savvy experts in law, risk, reputation management and strategic communications. That the company shot itself in the foot so severely underscores how difficult it can be to manage PR emergencies in real time.
 
Consider your own company’s preparedness: Does leadership include loss of reputation value as a strategic risk consideration? How would you organize, vet the situation and communicate under extreme duress? Can the company be empathetic toward victims of the bad news events and the public’s reaction to them?   
 
The less certain you are of how your company would navigate a similarly intense and fast-moving bad news situation, the more likely that things are going to get real bad, real fast.

3. The brand is responsible for the bad behavior of its beholders.

Consumer brands usually take most of the negative PR for the bad behavior of downstream support companies. This is partly a matter of who has the deepest pockets to pay a possible settlement, partly a simple name recognition issue.

But when the company escalates public outrage as United did with its dismissive first statement, the brand’s perceived top-down culpability expands to include all aspects of the negative situation.

 
While it was the United crew that called them in, it was Chicago airport security that violently dragged a paid, boarded and seated passenger from the plane. Yet the victim's lawyers made clear they intended to vilify United, promoting their client as the “poster child” for how the airline industry mistreats its customers.
 
“Are we just going to continue to be treated like cattle?” Dr. Dao’s lawyer asked, saying he’s been “deluged with hundreds tales of woe, of mistreatment” and that “for a long time, airlines — United in particular — have bullied us.”
 
Consider how quickly this kind of disparaging, escalating allegation could be made against your company, singularly or as the face of your industry.

4. Corporate PR crisis is a spectator sport, often disproportional to whatever event started it all.
 
In his 2014 book, Glass Jaw, Eric Dezenhall calls out the entrenched “crisis creation industry” of vested interests, information leakers, publicity mongers, competing news networks and click-hungry media sites – all working to exploit the advantages and failures of the internet age.

The result: An over-amplified, distorted echo-chamber where some idiot’s sexist tweet from a small company nobody’s heard of is reported as hard news on CNN International, and United’s seemingly dismissive response to the Chicago incident slashes more than $1 billion from the company’s market value in the span of a day or two.

 
True, the potential negative impact of any corporate crisis is often mitigated by the next day's fresh scandals and controversies. But protagonists know to push out new information, revelations and allegations to keep their issues active in the court of public opinion.

Meanwhile, the company must deal with the real-world fallout of its PR crisis: investigations, lawsuits, recruiting challenges, customer concerns and other costly byproducts. For many small or mid-size companies, what happens behind a PR crisis is as devastating as the public view.

 
Which is why it’s so important to be prepared for whatever might be from around the corner.

InfoAndInfluence.com is written by Steven Silvers and Paul Jacobson, founding partners of SilversJacobson Crisis Management & PR Strategies
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<![CDATA[GM’s Wiffle Ball at Detroit’s Comerica Park]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2019 04:05:35 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/gms-wiffle-ball-at-detroits-comerica-parkPaul Jacobson

Managing Partner

You’d think a company that flew its CEO to Washington on a private jet for $20,000 to beg Congress for a multi-billion dollar government rescue would by now have developed sensitive enough PR antenna to spot a corporate reputation dog’s dinner on the horizon.  Apparently not so at General Motors.  The “new” General motors, with a different CEO, recently struggled with PR mess that shows when it comes to public outrage —  it’s less about the numbers — and more about symbolic value of the transgression.

As Dr. Daniel Diermeier of Northwestern University observed in his 2011 book Reputation Rules: Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset, the cost of the CEO flying private to DC was a drop in the bucket compared to the $25 billion bailout the U.S. auto industry sought at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. The symbolic cost, however, was much higher as taxpayers grew outraged over the disconnect between the huge financial ask and the mode of transport.

The Detroit big three soon sold their company jets. 

Eleven years later it’s springtime and opening month for that most American of institutions, major league baseball, including the Detroit Tigers. Those of a certain age will remember Chevrolet’s ad slogans that painted Chevy as part of the American fabric much like baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. Keeping with that tradition, for the past ten years Chevy has displayed its newest models in the outfield of Detroit’s Comerica Park.

This year it was a Chevy pickup — good so far — and the new Chevy Blazer — not so good.  The Blazer is assembled in Mexico and, as the irreverent automotive blog Jalopnik said, “this pissed a lot of people off.”

The public outrage followed recent GM announcements that it’s closing the Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown, OH assembly plants plus three others. Let’s remember that Donald Trump won Michigan by three-tenths of a percent because the auto workers there grew tired of seeing their jobs go to other countries. 

As the outrage mushroomed GM quickly swapped out the Blazer for another vehicle but not without first noting that Blazer production contributes about a half-billion dollars annually to the U.S. economy, as if that fact would somehow counteract the absurdity of putting a truck assembled in Mexico above center field of Detroit’s major league ballpark. 

Getting the facts out about the Blazer’s contribution to the U.S. economy was not the right answer. Eleven years ago the symbolism of a $20,000 private jet flight to beg for a taxpayer bailout obliterated any rational thinking and cost GM’s CEO his job. Today, the Blazer’s half-billion dollar contribution to the U. S. economy meant nothing to the out-of-work auto workers throwing beer cans at it from the outfield bleachers. 
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<![CDATA[A Different Playbook for Robert Kraft]]>Fri, 22 Feb 2019 20:46:42 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/a-different-playbook-for-robert-kraftPaul Jacobson

Managing Partner

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is charged by Jupiter Florida police with soliciting a prostitute in a strip mall massage parlor. Kraft denies any wrongdoing but this is one time when Bill Belichick’s vaunted playbook won’t be of use. How will Kraft and his advisors follow a different playbook — one for crisis communications?  We may not know the full answer for weeks or months but in the initial hours the answer is mixed.

Kraft, through his spokesman, was right not to clam up (that’s a New England term) with a strict no comment. Within the first 20 minutes the story was exploding across all forms of media and already headed for the late show monologues.  Absent any comment the void would be filled with the kind of colorful, speculative scenarios that any sports talk show host can brew up with ingredients like sex, the NFL, a billionaire owner and a seedy massage parlor. That’ll still happen — but at least Kraft’s statement will be part of the mix. 

A closer look at the statement reveals some flaws. His spokesman said that Kraft and his organization“categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”

Time to call a flag on the play.  One of the prime rules in an unfolding crisis is to say only what you know to be absolutely true. Are they really sure there was no illegal activity?  After all, the police hid video cameras in massage parlors and videotaped interactions between men and the female employees. Then, at a news conference the police chief clearly identified Kraft, the Patriots owner, as the one charged. Someone is walking out on a limb.

The second mistake was use of “no comment” phraseology. In the public’s mind “no comment” stands alongside  “I take the fifth” as a euphemism for having something to hide. Changing a few words can make a huge difference in perception. “No additional statement will be made at this time” would have worked just as well. 

And then we have the classic response to any court action with the phrase “Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.” There’s the courtroom, and then there’s the court of public opinion. This isn’t the CEO of some unknown company allegedly caught at a rub and tug, it’s the celebrated NFL, one of American’s most valued and protected brands. NFL policy holds players and owners to high standards and they can be punished for“conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the league. 

To cut off all future public comment at this early stage because it’s a“judicial matter” is a classic legal response geared to courtroom procedure when the more important venue is outside the courthouse in the crazy, uncontrolled world of the media, which has no procedures.

Although over-responding is a common mistake in a crisis when not responding is often the best way to make it go away, it’s poor strategy to shut off all future public statements when there may come a time where something surfaces in the media that is so outlandish it demands a response. 

The Patriots and the NFL have lots of PR and branding wizards. Use them. For Kraft and the League to safely navigate this crisis they shouldn’t rely on personal decisions clouded by emotion, or personal lawyers, who may focus too narrowly on their client and the actual courtroom.  The more important venue is the town square where the damage to the reputations of Kraft, the Patriots and the NFL will be decided.
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<![CDATA[The Cost of Damaged Trust]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 00:36:44 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/the-cost-of-damaged-trust
Another study confirms what those of us in the crisis PR field know and many senior business executives acknowledge: a lot of capital destruction takes place — and it happens fast — when a company’s reputation takes a hit. 

Accenture studied more than 7,000 companies around the world and found more than half of them suffered reputation damage that cost them up to $180 billion in revenue. The study was reported in The Wall Street Journal 
and can be found here

The report defined trust as comprised of consistency, integrity and transparency.  Others have identified key elements as commitment, empathy, expertise and transparency. Whatever the exact words, the unmissable conclusions and observations are that bad news corrosive to a company’s trust travels like wildfire on social media and is magnified beyond reason. 

It can be especially devastating to companies and brands with a fiduciary or safety element: banks, utilities, airlines and car makers. The Accenture study found, for example, the a two point drop in a bank’s “trust index” score slowed revenue growth by about 22%. The impact wasn’t as great on consumer goods and the services sector. 

For many businesses, especially those not normally in the media spotlight, how they decisively handle the situation in the minutes and hours it unfolds can define their public trust, or lack of it, for months or years to come. Good executives instinctively know this and there are plenty who casually assert confidence in their management team’s ability to control any situation. 

But when a real trust busting crisis shows up what usually develops is a bad case of the Grand Klong. Symptoms include a sinking feeling, dry mouth and intestinal distress requiring multiple trips to the bathroom and an inability to act with clarity and decisiveness.

As much as business likes to criticize government as inefficient, there’s one place where the opposite is true: communications. On Capitol Hill I recall one time when my U.S. Senator boss told me he agreed to headline a news conference that started in 30 minute sand he needed a set of talking points. I wrote them and in a half hour he was in front of more than 35 TV cameras doing riffs off what I wrote. 


Ask many private sector managements to move that fast under media deadline pressure and their heads would explode — unless they had the foresight to plan for that day and practice how they would behave —  in real time.

Unfortunately, not enough do.  While they’re still debating internally about what to do, the bad news story blows out the tube and torpedoes their trust factor, market cap and revenue prospects. And while the Accenture study looked at large public companies the same dynamics can affect private firms and small to medium sized enterprises that may not have the resources to even survive. 

--Paul Jacobson
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<![CDATA[Week Links: Muckrakers, marches & more bad publicity]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:53:07 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/week-links-muckrakers-marches-more-bad-publicity Picture
By Steven Silvers, Partner & Senior Counsel

Hello fellow occupants. We're still experimenting with Week Links to ascertain what our fan base likes best.

​Ok, maybe it's not a fan base in the typical sense of the word. But it's more than 12 people not counting us or our moms. So let us know what you think as you review these few noteworthy items from the trenches of influence:

That’s just so Chicago, isn’t it? – Protesters around the country demanded President Trump’s tax returns with the usual assortment of derogatory signs and march ditties. In at least one city, however, protestors took things up a notch by using The Magic Word.
 
New rakes for modern muck. -- This year’s Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism are the first since President Trump proclaimed that the news media “is the enemy of the American people.” (I hate to correct presidents and all, but "media" is plural, so it should be they "ARE the enemy of the American people.")

Actually, this sentiment is fueling a resurgence investigative reporting, which has  become  increasingly rare as the internet decimates local newsrooms. “Pulitzer prizes reminds us that we are not in a period of decline in journalism,” said one official. “Rather we are in the midst of a revolution."


But who will play him in the movie version? --  Will a book titled The case for impeaching President Donald J. Trump influence if, when and how it actually happens? Hard to say.

But it's worth noting that the author is the same American University professor who has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1983 – including the current leader of the free world.
 
Having a moving influence on voters.  -- Perhaps inspired by how Donald Trump majestically rode an escalator down to announce his presidential candidacy, former Colorado state treasurer Cary Kennedy announced that she’s running for governor while driving her car.

Of course, the resulting new coverage focused on how she put citizens at risk by looking down at her notes instead of watching the road. Good to get that first campaign blunder over with early. 


Sieg Hokum! – Maybe this trend of comparing political opponents to Hitler has finally jumped the shark: In North Carolina, a state lawmaker arguing for a ban on same-sex marriage pointed out that Abraham Lincoln was “the same sort of tyrant" as Der Fuhrer.

Where's your next brand black eye coming from? – Proving again that PR screw-ups are often born of the best intentions, someone at Adidas approved an email congratulating Boston Marathon runners “who survived” this year’s event -- despite the deadly bombings being only four years ago, despite a movie about the tragedy still being viewed by millions of people, despite the hyper-sensitivity that ostensibly permeates risk-averse mega-corporations.


And in case you missed it: United Airlines learned the hard way that its lofty goal to “make every flight a positive experience” isn't helped by dragging bloodied, screaming customers away from the product.  

The self-afflicted PR crisis underscores some important truths that your own company should consider in preparing for and responding to bad news events.
Read it here.
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<![CDATA[Week Links: Conspiracies, realities & crunchy goodness]]>Sat, 08 Apr 2017 14:33:41 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/week-links-conspiracies-realities-crunchy-goodnessPicture
InfluenceChronicles.com -- Welcome to Week Links, a lovingly curated demi-collection of digital destinations, fresh from the front-line trenches of influence minus the dirty words. It took us all week to write that first line and we ran out of time for the next one, so here we go:

Is that before or after we eat it? … There are two ways to create a brand tagline that rises above the clutter. One, you can proclaim a compellingly simple truth, like Levis’ “Quality never goes out of style” and De Beers’ “A diamond is forever.” Or two, you can proclaim a compellingly weird idea, like Nature Valley’s “Everything you need to know about life, you can learn from granola.

Flake News … Take a look at the #deepstate Twitter feed and you’ll notice how people get all lathered up about shocking but totally fabricated news reports from fake news sites. It’s almost wackily entertaining, except for the part about them being voters. Wikipedia – also a cog in the big wheel of globalist conspiracy – has a list of 50-plus known fake news sites. You’ll know which relatives need a copy.

Treachery Central … Donald Trump isn’t the first president to bring conspiracy theory to the Oval Office – that was GW – but nobody so brazenly wallowed in it as a political and publicity tool. This includes giving high praise to an egocentric Texan named Alex Jones, whose high-production InfoWars network is headwaters for conspiracies like how millions of people voted illegally, that both the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing were staged government hoaxes, and that the Democratic Party ran a child sex ring out of a D.C. pizza joint. See for yourself.


Never saw it coming … Skin care brand Nivea went out with an ad campaign featuring the phrase, “White is purity,” earning two thumbs way, way up from white supremacists on the Internet (who knew?). We’re going to take a shot in the dark and guess that the company’s reputation risk management person wasn’t invited to the ad agency’s presentation.

A nation of touchy adult teenagers … Here’s how some sociologists explain why Americans are losing their ability to respectfully disagree with each other: The internet and social media are providing people with a constant self-affirming feedback loop, which is conditioning them toward a growing intolerance and indignation about anything that doesn’t jive with their customized Facebook reality. “New technologies are shaping behaviors and dissolving civilities,” writes columnist George Will. “There will rarely be disagreement without anger between thin-skinned people who cannot distinguish the phrase you’re wrong from you’re stupid.”

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<![CDATA[Week Links: Lies, damn lies & general Twitterpatedness]]>Fri, 31 Mar 2017 14:48:55 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/week-links-lies-damn-lies-general-twitterpatednessPicture
InfluenceChronicles.com -- An impressive rookie performance … In his first 63 days in office, President Trump made 317 “false or misleading claims,” calculates The Washington Post. That’s on average about five per day. 

Not exactly Profiles in Courage ... President tweetacks his own party’s conservative caucus, threatening to get them unelected for spurning his tremendous tremendous plans like the yanked healthcare bill. Caucus members launch tweetalitory tweetacks dissing D-Man with eyeball-burners like "It didn't take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump."

And it's way more fun than filling potholes … In California, Berkeley's city council is struggling to address underfunded pensions, homeless people going number one and two on the sidewalks, crumbling streets and a severe lack of affordable housing. So of course it took the time to pass a resolution calling for President Trump to be impeached.  

Tune in your way ... If you haven’t yet, try out National Public Radio’s “NPR One” app. Though user-clunky – we haven't figured out how to go backwards to a story we skipped – it’s still a great way to hear the newscasts and radio stories you want, whenever you want.

At long last, room to spell out dudu-hed  … Twitter announces that “@usernames” won’t count toward the 140 character limit when replying to one or more people. Good news: It makes Twitter conversations less cluttered. Bad news: It's now much easier for users to spam many, many users all at once. 

WEEK LINKS appears in the Influence Chronicles Blog most every Friday. Send suggested links and comments to comments(at)influencechronicles.com. We reserve the right to do whatever, etc.

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<![CDATA[March 30th, 2017]]>Fri, 31 Mar 2017 02:49:21 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/week-links<![CDATA[Here's why even obvious phishing emails are increasing.]]>Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:03:53 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/heres-why-even-obvious-phishing-emails-are-increasingPictureAn Apple account scam from March 2017. Typical fraud give-aways include "Dear Client," and "verify your account informations..."
InfluenceChronicles.com -- In the good old days, phishing emails were easy to spot because the Nigerian prince who wanted to split his 12 million dollars with you also split his infinitives and wrote things like “All your base are belong to us.” Supposedly some of this was on purpose, so the poorly written emails auto-qualified only the most gullible recipients. (We're not mentioning names, Bob.)
 
It's not so funny any more. If you have elderly parents or other less e-savvy loved-ones who bank and shop online, it’s downright terrifying -- especially since banks are increasingly refusing to reimburse consumers whose accounts are raided because they gave their information to email scammers. 
 
Here’s why: In our nation right now, an amazing 30 percent of all phishing emails get opened. We did the math -- that's three out of ten.
 
With this kind of return, cybercriminals will continue getting more sophisticated at making people think that the counterfeit email from their email service, bank, credit card company, doctor or favorite retail store is exactly what it appears to be. So be careful out there, and help others who aren't.
 

Check out and share this article from security and risk experts CSO: 5 ways to spot a phishing email.  

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<![CDATA[What happens when a big chunk of the nation rejects its core governing and social institutions? ]]>Sat, 11 Mar 2017 18:23:08 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/what-happens-when-a-nation-no-longer-trusts-its-core-governing-and-social-institutionsPictureSource: Washington Post
InfluenceChronicles.com -- We’re finding out. A new USA Today -Suffolk University poll finds that one in three voters agrees with President Trump that the nation’s news media is “the enemy of the American people.”

Not biased, inaccurate or irrelevant. Not hard to read or too preoccupied with weather. But the enemy.

Of course you have to put this result in context to the fact that many Trump supporters and rattle-the-cagers endorse his hyperbole on purpose. It’s part of the middle finger they’re giving the establishment, including news media.  So when a pollster calls one of these folks on behalf of – you get where this is going – USA Today, then, why yes, this American agrees that the news media is "the enemy of the people."

​But the study also is another warning to companies that make the mistake of thinking they can fix a reputation crisis just by "getting our story out there."  Considering these same polls show that people distrust corporations and CEOs even more than the news media, this notion might make the crisis situation even worse.

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<![CDATA[At Disney's annual meeting, new standards of reputation]]>Sat, 11 Mar 2017 15:57:28 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/at-disneys-annual-meeting-new-standards-of-reputationPictureDisney protesters (Thanks Freepress)
InfluenceChronicles.com -- Walt Disney Co.’s annual shareholders meeting was marked with protests outside and pointed questions inside about how the company represents social themes in its content and CEO Iger’s service on one of President Trump’s advisory groups.

Sure, when you’re as big and visible as Disney the annual meeting will always attract activists. Some will wear funny hats. But what happened this year highlights how companies are increasingly being judged by customers -- especially but not exclusively millennials – based on their perceived political and social behavior as much if not more than on their products, services and financial performance.


​Whether those perceptions and reactions are justified is a whole other issue.

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<![CDATA[SilversJacobson hangs shingle in Washington D.C.]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 18:31:29 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/silversjacobson-hangs-shingle-in-washington-dc
SilversJacobson is now officially established in our new Washington D.C. office, located at 1100 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 410.  We're located across the street from the historic Mayflower hotel, one block from K Street and four blocks from the White House.

We’ll be splitting time between Denver and D.C. for now, so just let us know in advance where and when you need us. 
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<![CDATA[Buzzword of the Year winner keeps coming back for more]]>Thu, 22 Dec 2016 18:50:06 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/buzzword-bowl-winner-just-keeps-coming-back-for-more
InfluenceChronicles.com -- Our Buzzword of the Year winner is resilient.  We mean, resilient the word, which is itself resilient. Or resiliency, which is what resilient has. You get the idea.
 
True, resilient has been around for many years. But not since “step up to the plate” has a buzz-utterance gained such prominence in so many spheres of influence, from politics to self-help, sports to economic development. Resilient is a place, emotion, idea, behavior, product, strategy or outcome.  
 
In choosing the winner, we consider the level of publicity attempts centered on the buzzword or phrase. This year saw a big spike in articles and posts, including several that list the traits of resilient people. And as with other buzz-think, much of the punditry doesn’t get beyond a firm grasp of the obvious. 
 
Take for example the performance coach who advises that “resilient people know how to bounce back.” Well, yea. That’s like saying swimmers know how to get wet.
 
Another pro-resiliency advocate quoted research saying that 92 percent of Americans “report suffering at least one significant negative event in their lifetime.”  We suppose the remaining eight percent are those happy people in the TV ads singing about their cheese.
 
Given that more than half of the nation’s voters must bounce back from November’s 

election outcome, resilient could be next year's first repeat buzzword champion. Or it might be one of this year’s runners-up: opticsstory-telling, wheelhouse, gravitas or Buzzword Hall of Famer stakeholder engagement.

But don’t be surprised if something from the President’s signature Trumpology rises above all contenders.  We’ve already picked braggadocious as 2017’s long-shot favorite.

Until then, congratulations to our winner.
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<![CDATA[Bad news happens with you or without you]]>Wed, 23 Nov 2016 01:25:46 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/bad-news-happens-with-you-or-without-you
InfluenceChronicles.com -- ​At one of our crisis communications workshops, a general counsel said his company would use a strategy of ignoring reporters to delay or kill a negative story. It's best to ignore news media until all the facts are known, or until there's some “good news” to tell.

But this works only if your company is Boss of Everyone. If it isn't, then you can’t stop media from reporting a legitimate news story any more than you can push water uphill with a fork. Not only do your pants get wet, but you look like you're clueless about gravity and other forces of nature.

What drives media coverage of your company's crisis or controversy is being first with the headline, and then being first with new information as the situation unfolds. An editor or producer has no obligation to include -- much less wait for -- your company's spin of the story. 

In the analog days, we'd say that a news story didn’t have to be complete because “there’s always another newspaper tomorrow.” We'd wait for it on the porch with our Tab and Space Food Sticks.

Today, however, updated and expanded versions of a story are delivered as fast as it takes to upload. Confirmations and clarifications, new discoveries, allegations, comment strings, Facebook posts, Tweets and real-time video spread across the ether with mind-blowing speed to form an information ecosystem that didn’t exist only hours before. 


Not responding to a negative news story means you're adding another layer of risk to your company's reputation. You leave it to reporters to discover details you don’t have or don’t want to share. Information and speculation get rushed into the narrative, regardless of accuracy. 

In most cases you prolong the bad publicity you were trying to avoid.

One more thing. The more obstinate your company in not responding to bad news, the more it becomes part of the story -- even the more damaging PR crisis.

Does that mean you must have answers to every question? Of course not. But there’s a huge difference between hiding under the desk and making a sincere effort to explain what you can and can't discuss. Engaging news media with sincerity during an emerging crisis -- including why you can't comment -- is a credibility factor. You may even get some breathing room to put new information in your context before it goes live.

​The rule is the same whether you’re dealing with good or bad news: Say only what you know to be true. 

But say it. Your company will be better for it. 

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<![CDATA[Yahoo's huge data breach underscores challenges of cybersecurity PR crisis]]>Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:53:10 GMThttp://silversjacobson.com/info-and-influence/-under-reporting-of-network-data-breaches-underscores-the-unique-challenges-of-preparing-for-a-cyber-pr-crisisPicture
InfluenceChronicles.com -- With cybercrime against U.S. corporations increasing beyond already epidemic levels, its victims remain largely ambivalent about when, why and how to communicate about it.   

According to the advocacy group Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, U.S. companies have been hit with more than 2,600 significant network hacks and breaches since 2010.  Yet the Wall Street Journal reports that in that same period, barely one percent of all publicly traded corporations disclosed any cyber-crimes in their Securities Exchange Commission filings – an apparently glaring contradiction in this era of hyper-transparency. 
 
For some of these companies it’s also a precarious position.  Consider the potential fallout should a company be forced by events or law to disclose a significant data breach, which in turn unveils previous incidents that were kept hidden from investors and customers.
 
So why are so few companies not communicating beyond what's required by current disclosure regulations?  Here’s one reason: As a reputation risk management problem, a network hack or data breach constitutes a uniquely complex corporate PR crisis:
  • A large breach can suddenly transform an unknown B-to-B enterprise into a public-facing company, subject to clamoring criticism of news media, pundits and social media.  How a previously unknown company behaved prior to, during and after a cyber crisis might be the public's first and last impression about it, good or bad.
  • Based on its scale or origin, government could escalate a company’s cyber breach as a matter of national security or some other agenda, like when the Obama administration unilaterally retaliated against North Korea for hacking Sony’s email servers.
  • A company’s cyber crisis could continue over months or even years if hackers use the tactic of incrementally leaking embarrassing or controversial emails, records, photos, business plans, abysmal karaoke performances and other digital content snatched during the network break-in.  (And worse if the material was taken in an earlier unreported hack.)
  • Preparedness planning must take into account the fact that the next big cyber threat to a company’s good name is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.  It’s the training that some people aren’t taking seriously, the mega-destructive code that hackers haven’t written yet, the hidden data breach that the connected vendor hasn’t discovered, the unhappy employee with too much access to highly sensitive, confidential information. 

It’s no wonder that senior execs are more concerned with managing cyber threats than with almost any other risk to their companies’ reputations.

And it’s why many tried-and-true rules for crisis communications no longer apply.

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