This is a timely reminder for all of us in the communications industry not to get carried away by our literary abilities and thought leadership skills, to the extent that we become insensitive on matters that matter to people most.
A mistake has been made, an apology issued but I wonder what PR professionals would make of the Twitter apology? To me it did not go enough. There was no mea culpa and then it segued straight into intent. It falls short of an ernest apology, especially for professional wordsmiths.
Personally I am saddened by the death of Robin Williams, who has been a part of so much of the lives of people of my generation since Mork and Mindy days.
That he apparently committed suicide because depression only goes to show how vulnerable we all are to this condition. The role that depression plays in our lives, especially when we get older, is rap and scary. We all need to learn more about depression and its link with Alzheimer’s Disease.
RIP Robin Williams.
PR Giant Edelman Apologizes for Calling Robin Williams Death an Opportunity
But says blog post on sparking mental health discussion will remain live
By David GrinerAugust 14, 2014, 10:40 AM
Robin Williams died Monday. Authorities say he committed suicide. | Photo: Jay Paul/Getty Images
Edelman is usually tapped with helping brands avoid or disentangle themselves from public backlash, but the global PR firm instead found itself in the hot seat this week.At issue was a blog post from media relations strategy evp Lisa Kovitz, who said the suicide of comedian Robin Williams created a PR opportunity for groups advocating for better treatment of mental illness.
“As we mourn the loss of Robin Williams to depression, we must recognize it as an opportunity to engage in a national conversation,” she wrote. “His death yesterday created a carpe diem moment for mental health professionals and those people who have suffered with depression and want to make a point about the condition and the system that treats it.”
While she certainly has a point about such a high-profile tragedy bringing mental health and depression into the spotlight, quite a few readers found the post to be in poor taste.
Most of the backlash likely stemmed from Gawkers writeup calling Edelman a “soulless PR conglomerate” using a celebritys suicide to promote its own expertise.
Asked by Adweek whether she regretted the phrasing or the intent of the blog post, Kovitz directed us to Edelmans tweet of apology this morning:
Despite the companys apology, Kovitz said the blog post “will remain live.” Most critics of the post said they felt it was positioned as a sales message for the PR agency:”Using someones death as an opportunity to position yourself as THE PR company to walk potential clients through the best way to benefit from this conversation is callous,” said commenter Erin Blaskie, who shared her complaint with her 30,000 Twitter followers as well. “Instructing potential clients to pay your firm money to help them take advantage of this situation is gross. This isnt a PR opportunity. This is someones life lost.”
(Disclosure: I run a communications consultancy that sometimes competes with Edelman’s local operations, but this posting has more to do with how the profession should behave rather than about competitor firm)
This is a post I wrote for our office blog and it tells of our reaction to a headhunter of an international PR network that has been trying to hunt some MavHeads.
What do you do if you’re running a Public Relations Consultancy in talent-starved Indonesia — and you learn that the chief regional headhunter of a multinational PR network coming to town next week – and suggesting your talents to meet up with her through LinkedIn?
You can, like the knights of yore and their ladies, lock up their assets in chastity belts and put the key on a lanyard close to your heart, or other parts of your anatomy.
Or you can keep very quiet and see who takes leave, or goes MIA for a few hours, on the days that the Headhunter is in town most of next week. That way you know who are the ones that are looking elsewhere.
Or more radically, you can let your whole office know and using this fact to educate them on how to use their LinkedIn accounts. If they have been contacted by Headhunter, they have tarted their LinkedIn profile well; if they haven’t they still need to work on their profiles – or put in more time before they are eligible to be poached.As usual Maverick has chosen the radical approach….read more here
While watching the second presidential debate last night, one of my colleagues posted a trenchant commentary on the progress of the debate at-a-glance:
To Unspun, it really summed up the debate last night: a muddle of unoriginal thoughts, lacking a focal point, confused but if you look closely you begin to see some patterns.
The patterns that we see are Jokowi stuck in concreteness at the expense of demonstrating to the public that he can also think big; Prabowo stuck in thinking in the abstract at the expense of being concrete. Each of the candidates are locked in their default positions and do not seem to be able to move beyond them.
In terms of their argument strategy Jokowi stresses on his achievements and how electronic solutions (his trump card? Sorry couldn’t resist the pun) will solve problems. He stresses on getting things right.
Prabowo hammered on a theme that his brother Hashim spoke about at the Jakarta Foreign Correspondent’s club – lots of money is being wasted now because of corruption, inefficiencies and bad policy. Leakage was his key message. And the solution to that was to get tough.
Both candidates did not display the vision or the courage to go beyond nationalist sentiments. Jokowi espoused the PDIP’s policy of holding contracts sacrosanct, giving some comfort to investors but at the same time spooking them by suggesting erecting barriers as a counter measure to the Asean Economic Community. Probowo has channeled him to champion reciprocity and trying to stench the leakage of Indonesia’s riches to foreign shores.
In terms of style, Prabowo appeared more confident and poised. Jokowi fumbled and mumbled, reinforcing his image as the Forrest Gump of Indonesian politics.
At the end of the night both candidates were disappointing and the question that needs to be asked is if any of them slipped so badly that it would cost them any vote; or if their lacklustre performance was staged purely for the benefit and schadenfreude of the chatting classes of Indonesia with their social media accounts on steroids.
So what lessons can one draw from the second presidential debate?
For Unspun it was that both candidates are somewhat equally limited in terms of espousing a vision that could inspire change and rely the nation. Where does that leave the electorate then?
The answer has to be between, on one hand, Uninspiring Candidate #1, Prabowo who has no record of government, whose success in the military and business is difficult to attribute because of his elitist and privileged upbringing, who thinks he can ride the Islamist-Fundamentalist Tiger and triumph over them, like Lee Kuan Yew with the Malayan Communist Party and whose running mate Hatta Rajasa, who as Coordinating Economic Minister in SBY’s Cabinet, was responsible for the many of the economic ills he rails against.
On the other hand there is Uninspiring Candidate #2, Jokowi, who is good with homilies and getting things done, who is not adept at all at talking about policy, who is from a humble, non-elitist background, whose honesty and integrity has been proven and whose running mate Jusuf Kalla is the man who told the Pancila Youth in The Act of Killing that Indonesia needs preman.
The issues, like the painting above remain murky and confusing. And given the candidates’ inability to embrue the cut and thrust of intellectual parrying as we have been accustomed to expect through television, movies and Western politicians (as well as Rumpole of the Bailey books) things won’t get any less confusing in the few weeks left before the presidential election.
But the pattern is emerging strongly on where Indonesians should place their votes for the future. Provided, of course, that Probowo isn’t able to rise to the occasion and commandeer the emotions of the nation’s wong cilik to vote for him.
Like most people living in Indonesia, Unspun’s impression of the presidential candidates had been confined mainly to a diet of TV newscasts, print news stories and the endless rhetoric – for one side or another – on social media. So like most people Unspun watched the first presidential debate last night with some expectations: a mercurial, fiery orator in Prabowo big on the national issues and a somewhat vague Jokowi who may be good on city administration homilies but all out at sea on national issues. Like most people Unspun was pleasantly surprised. The Tiger of Asia (Macan Asia) proclaimed by Prabowo’s campaign banners turned out to be a doddering pussycat. Instead of being inspiring and articulate, he looked puffy, unsure and unprepared, delivering normative, boring answers. Jokowi, on the other hand, was starting to look versatile and presidential. Instead of wearing his trademarked checked shirt, he wore a dark suit, white shirt and red tie. And although unpolished he demonstrated that he could take on national issues and articulate coherent solutions and policies. How did this come to pass? How does someone of Prabowo’s background – an elite family, good education, stints overseas become so inarticulate and fumbling, while a simple businessmen who stumbled into politics could spur himself toward being presidential? There must be many reasons but if Unspun had to guess Probowo’s folly rested on two intertwining factors: hubris and a New Order mindset. The hubris was evident when a day before the debate Mahfud MD, who is now heading the Team Sukses Probowo-Hatta, told reporters that Prabowo was already prepared for the debate and had no need to practice. It would seem that they were all drinking the Kool Aid at the Gerindra headquarters. Hubris mixed with a New Order mindset can be a fatal combination. The New Order mindset is characterised by a self-perception fed by acolytes and bereft of any reality checks. So in the run-up to the presidential debate Prabowo must be looking at the mirror and seeing a ferocious Asian Tiger. Jokowi, on the other hand, was reported to be mugging up for the debate. Unsure of himself, he nonetheless had the pluck to take on this wholly new level of challenge and, from his performance last night, managed to master at least some of the basics. The question that we have to ask ourselves is what do their performances at the debate, given the context, say about the presidential candidates? To Unspun it says that Prabowo is moribund to the old ways. That there is substance to the rumour that he usually thinks that he’s the smartest guy in any room, and therefore does not need to put in the extra effort to put in a good presentation. he takes things – his abilities, his privilege, his stature for granted. Jokowi, on the other hand, does not have a fixed mindset. He is willing to learn new things and he’s obviously a fast learner. He is adaptable and if he keeps this up he’s likely to master the new skill of managing the presidency. What wasn’t surprising were the performances of the running mates. Prabowo’s Hatta Rajasa was yet another Order Baru creature, spewing out normative without conviction. Jusuf Kalla was more engaging and sometimes witty. His baiting of Prabowo over human rights in 1998 was masterful. Of the partnerships the Prabowo-Hatta relationship looked like a master-factotum relationship while there was a synergy between Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla. Unspun is looking for the next round where the presidential candidates face each other alone. Will Prabowo be able to come down from his high horse and work toward a better performance? Will Jokowi be able to hold the floor on his own without Kalla’s support? This is all shaping out to be a more interesting presidential race than though and the television, much reviled in Indonesian educated society for their usual trashy programming, may yet prove to be the great leveller of Indonesian politics through the presidential debates. And yes, the moderator sucked. So did the moving LED backdrop.
An update of the Cadbury incident in Malaysia, at the Maverick blog. It appears that the Malaysian Ministry of Health may have been mistaken when they said that there was porcine DNA in Cadbury’s chocolate products.
Could it be that our suspicions that the Malaysian Health Ministry had been wrong when they said that two samples of Cadbury Malaysia’s chocolates had contained porcine DNA?In our last posting we wondered why Cadbury had such a curious response to the Ministry’s findings:The curious part about Cadbury’s response is that they did not acknowledge whether the Ministry’s findings were correct; or at the very least whether it was consistent with Cadbury’s own findings and information. Once a Brand knows the batch number of a product it can easily track back to its suppliers and institute an inquiry into the contents of the product. This should take no more than two days by today’s standards.It now appears that Cadbury, either they read our posting, or came to the same conclusion has decided that it is better to come out with the fact that their own tests did not tally with the Health Ministry’s [continued..]