Monday, April 17, 2017

You don't need me to tell what's wrong

Last week, colleagues and former students encouraged me to write about the colossal PR blunders of April:
These tragic blunders didn't need my commentary. News media pundits and late-night comedians carried the ball far across the goal line. They pointed out the universal tone-deafness of Pepsi, United, and Spicer. They didn't need me to spike the ball.

Businesses and government officials have been saying dumb things for decades. There's nothing new about these errors. Each reflects an acute case of self-absorption, and a total disregard for public perception and good judgment.

What is new? None of these entities realizes that any misstep will be captured and shared, globally, within seconds. Social media, a smart phone, and a WiFi connection are all anyone needs to magnify the doltish comments of a Sean Spicer or United Airlines CEO. 

Pepsi ad, c. 1919
That United keeps screwing up -- leggings, broken guitars, now broken teeth -- underscores a deeper reality. The company's practices are in disarray, and its board of directors should demand wholesale dismissals of top managers.

Here's reality: it's 2017. Anyone in the communications business must think of the internet as a camera that is always on. It never blinks. And, if you've heard TV actors complain that the camera "adds 10 pounds," take it one step further. The camera magnifies. Any camera, including the one on your phone.

The world really is watching. Have a Pepsi Day.