Archive for the ‘Political Communication’ Category

Media: Blunders, Bumbles and Bungles

Monday, April 29th, 2013

By Neil Kuvin

My perspective on the media comes from having spent more than 45 years working at major network affiliated TV stations in cities including New York, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit and Pittsburgh. So I don’t come by my extreme opinions by way of a back road.

These past few years we’ve all witnessed journalism, both broadcast and print, at its best and recently its worst. There’s a plenteous supply

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of muddling, blundering and just plain screwing up to make us all sick and ashamed. Examples of shoddy media coverage is not just the mis-reporting of international events. Agree or disagree with network International reporters, we’ve been witness to a growing demonization of the Syrian state by the media. I disagree with the matter-of-fact reaction to their mistakes. Like the purposeful, planned and terribly reported Benghazi incident. In 2011, many news organizations misreported that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died. Recently, in Newtown, Conn., many news outlets wrongly identified the shooter.

I’m sick of the fabrications and then the palms-up denials. The fingerprint of the current cycle is the blisteringly inadequate, unprofessional and embarrassing coverage & then the rush to release incorrect information, painfully surrounding the terrible Boston Marathon tragedy.

It all actually started for me in the last election cycle when WCPO, the ABC affiliate up I-71 in Cincinnati on Oct.19, 2012 declared President Obama had won Ohio. Ummm – wasn’t the election still two weeks away?

Put aside the blunders for a moment and focus with me on the other truly unforgivable media activities; the despicable language and browbeating verbiage being routinely spat forth by print members of the fourth estate. For what? A competitive edge? Competing with whom? “Hustler?” “Playgirl?”

Consider a very recent “Media Matters” column: “Kelley (as in Megyn Kelley) is the most despicable whore among a cast of despicable whores on the Fox Lies news.”

Recently, this same laudable member of the print journalism fraternity, in defense of President Obama and Planned Parenthood and against Fox News, emitted their typical foul-mouthed venom at Kirsten Powers, Monica Crowley and Megyn Kelly, calling them “despicable whores” and other open-minded, free-thinking smears. Tolerance indeed. And “Media Matters” says they are “the nation’s premier progressive media watchdog, research and information center.” Rrrrright!!

How about a recent Washington Post article published the morning after the Boston Marathon bombs left behind their devastating marks. The reporter said two men had been arrested. Even published their pictures! Ratings the evil one here?

Before I go on too long, let’s bring up those three once-proud broadcasting letters; the news brainchild of Atlanta’s beloved media culture tycoon, Ted Turner. I know Mr. Turner quite well. Almost went to work for him. Did you hear about the CNN reporter who mistakenly told us that there had been an arrest in Boston? There had been none yet.

A wonderful, unrehearsed reply went to a reporter by former President George W. Bush who was asked by Diane Sawyer: “Do you miss all of us?” “W” responded: “Well, I miss you as a person. But I don’t miss your profession.”

And I’ll close this rambling thesis with the award for the most ridiculous blunder of the year so far. A CNN reporter, covering the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings was in the immediate area where the bombs exploded. She looked around. Turned back to the camera and reported. “Oh… it looks like a bomb went off here!”

The bottom line: We oughta be ashamed. We who are still part of the once-proud and dignified fourth estate, and the rest of the unknowing, unaware general public. The average Joe and Jane in our country get their news from fewer than two sources each day. That’s downright scary. Don’t take it from me. I just work here.

Alcohol Sales: The Regulation Debate

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Indiana liquor store owners hope legislation allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays won’t pass?

By Andrea Donaldson

In many states individuals don’t think twice about picking up a 6-pack to enjoy while watching Sunday Night Football. But in Indiana, alcohol sales on Sunday is more like a pipe dream. Currently, Indiana is the last state to uphold prohibition laws that ban the sale of beer, liquor, and wine on Sundays. In an effort to promote tourism some exceptions do apply for restaurants and microbreweries.  But don’t count on walking in to a liquor store to grab extra vodka for your Bloody Mary brunch.

In a time when most individuals feel this law is outdated, it is surprisingly the liquor store owners who are fighting to keep it.

Liquor store owners feel the abolition of the state’s prohibition laws will eventually lead to the closing of many small town liquor stores. The owners argue that people know to stock up on Saturday.  Therefore, if they were open Sunday their sales would not see a significant increase.  It is their perception that sales are likely to become distributed over the entire weekend, instead of condensed on Saturday evenings and afternoons.  This leaves smaller stores in a bad position. They may not have the funds to pay for the extra employee hours and other operating costs to be open for another day in the week.

However, stores considering their doors remaining shut on Sundays will be presented with another problem.  In Indiana, unlike some states, it is legal to sell wine and spirits at grocery stores. Big corporate chains like Walmart and Kroger could wind up stealing business from liquor stores who cannot afford to stay open the extra day of the week.

The president of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, John Livengood, agrees.  In an article, Sunday Booze Restrictions Remain Stringent in Indiana, published in January, 2013, by USA Today. Livengood writes that new legislation allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays will likely lead to the closing of at least 250 liquor stores and over 1,000 lost jobs in the state of Indiana.

Hoosiers that are just plain tired of the inconvenience of not being able to buy alcohol when they please will continue to push for the discontinuation of the ban.  However, they are sure to face heavy opposition from those lobbying to keep the liquor store owners’ best interests in the law books.

Big Bird Gets a Beak Full of “Political Civility”

Monday, October 15th, 2012

by Neil Kuvin So

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the big yellow creature that’s been living in our TV sets since 1969 has a bump-and-run with Mitt Romney and now, President Obama. And social media has never seen the likes of the incredible traffic created as a result. So, what’s the big deal? In the life of just about every major National election, you can likely track the emergence of one comment, sound bite or event that may have changed not just the outcome of that particular election, but of the entire course of history for the WORLD (caps intended) from that moment forward. Think about it. When it comes to something this important, and millions of voters yet undecided are in play, it’s not the so-called “stakes” that get raised. It’s the unbelievable responsibility of the American voting public to use more than emotion and influenced opinion, before entering their voting booth on November 6. What’s Big Bird got to do with running a country? Mr. Romney says he would cut federal funding for PBS if he were elected. Nothing personal, mind you. “I love Big Bird,” he was quoted as saying. He just wants to find budget-balancing opportunities. The truth be told, “Sesame Street,” as just one of the many programs funded by federal dollars directed to the Center for Public Broadcasting, represents a very small percentage and amount of dollars in the overall budget. “Is it really necessary to have a military budget larger than every other country in the world?” asks Mr. John-Robert Curtin, who spent nearly two decades as General Manager of the PBS TV station in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Curtin goes on to note, “The cost (around $400 million) of one fighter jet could fund PBS for a year.” The day following the 1st debate, Mr. Obama is quoted as saying, in reaction, “He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on Sesame Street!” As a former President and General Manager of WHAS-TV, I understand and appreciate the media’s role in all of this. However, when media exacerbate the situation by guessing and positioning this as the lead story at 6 or doubling-down on page one, it only creates a “I better pay attention to this” environment where every negative and demeaning word of embattlement will be underscored, capitalized and re-run. What we have here is the blooming into flower (or is that a weed?) of over a year of nasty, demeaning and downright derisive politicking. From both sides. And some of it very personal. When you disagree with your next-door neighbor, do you call him a liar and accuse him of making up his own facts? Who says this uncalled-for disrespectful, shameful rhetoric makes you any more worth voting for? Why is the immediate response from either of you to make the other appear to be a phony or otherwise less of an intelligent candidate for the office? I understand that most people just take all this pomposity as part of the theater that is politics. But, after more than 60 years of witnessing election dancing, I’ve never been this conscious of verbal battering. Consider the millions of children – many of them now adults – who can claim Big Bird as a major contributor to their early learning years. The influence of that seven-foot yellow carpet with a voice is incalculable. Mr. Romney, I wonder if your PR people, in prepping you for the debate, really condoned your use of that lovable creature as a target for your critical verbiage. I bet you wish you hadn’t taken their advice now. Mr. Romney: you are addressing the President of the United States. If you won’t show some respect for Mr. Obama, at least recognize and value the position of President which you are pursuing. And President Obama, the opportunities to find “gotcha” moments are not impressive or are they admirable. All those millions of “Sesame Street” fans are learning what? from your “got you back” moment? With the serious sobering conditions existing throughout the world, and certainly here at home, is this squabbling over a fictitious character getting us anywhere closer to finding solutions for the overwhelming problems we face? Sir, as leader of the free, indeed entire world, your tactics, demeanor, and show of respect for your challenger should be prominent and practiced in every instance. In the words of that famous PR practitioner from LA, Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Mitt Romney: Hello Mr. Nice Guy

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Ann Romney answers the question: Who is this man, really?

By Peg McRoy Glover

Ann Romney spoke to the Republican National Convention giving insight into what she knows about Mitt Romney, as a husband, father, community leader and business man, after forty two years of marriage.

There has been, and still is, a great deal of conjecture on whether or not she could and did convey to the American public the character of the man striving to be the next President of the United States of America.

Mitt Romney’s political beliefs aside, the American public wants to get to know him from a personal perspective.

Gayle King, Charlie Rose and Erica Hill were interviewing author Jeff Benedict (The Mormon Way of Doing Business), April 17, 2012, on CBS Morning, when the topic of Mitt Romney’s humanity became a point.

Gayle King stated, “I met Mitt Romney years ago when Susan St. James and Dick Ebersol lost their son in a plane crash.  I went to the service and Mitt Romney was there and he was so tender and so touching and so kind. I recently saw Susan St. James and said, ‘Do you remember that?’ I said why don’t people ever get to see that side and understand what the type of guy (he is) who is there to help his friends and who doesn’t ask for a lot of fanfare.  It is interesting in your report (Benedict) that you said talking about it is a form of bragging. Maybe we do need to brag a bit.”

Ann Romney responded in her speech with, “Mitt doesn’t like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point. And we’re no different than the millions of Americans who quietly help their neighbors, their churches and their communities. They do it because there is no greater joy.”

Alexander Abad-Santos, Reuters, August 10, 2012, responded to a New York Times article written by Mike McIntire that stated during the 1990s housing collapse Romney owned five homes and was reported to be ‘kicking people to the street.’ That is not the full story. Two of the owners were Timothy and Betty Stamp, a barber and nurse, respectively. McIntire quotes Timothy Stamp within his article:

“Then I got this phone call, personally, from Mr. Romney, asking if we really wanted to buy the house,” Mr. Stamps, 63, said in an interview the other day at the barbershop he now runs. “I said yes we did. And he said he would loan us the money. He really helped us when we needed it.”

Ann Romney stated in her address, “Mitt is the first to tell you that he is the most fortunate man in the world. He had two loving parents who taught him the value of work. At every turn in his life, this man I met at a high school dance, has helped lift up others.”

Ann Romney, within her speech, gave us great insight into the man Mitt Romney and the depth of his soul when she related the story of when she was diagnosed with the debilitating disease of multiple sclerosis. She was lying in bed feeling the effects of the disease and he cuddled up next to her. He reassured her that they would get through this disease together and come out stronger.

Well, look at Ann Romney now.

Mitt Romney is not just a man who can rise to the upper stratosphere of business success, he is a man who will go down to the depths of despair and provide an avenue of hope.

Isn’t that just exactly what we need right now in the United States of America?

Mitt Romney may not be the perfect man, but he is the perfect man for right now.


The public relations of banning “supersizing”

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Michael Bloomberg:  What are you thinking?

by Neil Kuvin

You’ve all heard the public relations ruckus over New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large soft drinks in New York.  Doesn’t really matter whether you think his proposed ban on large Cokes, Pepsi’s, 7Ups and others is within his or any local government’s jurisdiction.

There’s no doubt the proposal has driven conversations connecting soft drinks to obesity and poor health. And this move by New York City’s Mayor was proposed only several weeks prior to the “Affordable Care Act” coming our way courtesy of the President and the Supreme Court.  Precedent of a perceived national grabbing power act is tantamount to an easy path to local passage of legislation of this kind.  And in that sense, it can already be counted as a Public Relations success.  How?

On May 30, Bloomberg introduced his proposal to amend New York City’s health code to prevent vendors in the city from selling soft drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces. The ban would apply to restaurants, street-side food carts, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums and arenas, but not convenience, grocery or drug stores, where such drinks are mostly sold in bottles and cans.

On May 31, the two most prominent providers of soft drinks, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, hit back at the mayor’s proposal:

“New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase,” said Coca-Cola in a statement.

“Public health issues cannot be effectively addressed through a narrowly focused and misguided ban,” said McDonald’s in a statement.

It’s no surprise that these companies would be against such a ban and release strong statements saying as much. But that’s beside the point. If Bloomberg’s goal was as principled as that, in effect to raise awareness of the connection between soft drinks and obesity, then he has hit his Public Relations mark, whether or not the ban goes into effect.  That’s the good news of Public Relations.

However, am I missing something?  What’s the pull on the negative Public Relations side, especially since the Health Care Act is now law and likely the most controversial and argued of all recent Congressional and Supreme Court decisions?  Are New Yorkers going to be energized by the side-effects of what they consider legal intrusion into their personal buying decisions and fight back, just like many in our country will consider the “tax” (penalty) on their income worth clenching their fists and their teeth and doing something?

New Yorkers can be a very rowdy group. So can Texans and Iowans and Californians.

And it ain’t over yet.

Public Relations: Candidate “A” Calling…

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Bad news about Candidate B = Bad Public Relations!

by Neil Kuvin robocalls and public relationsI am curious, do any of you think the robo or robot calls used during political campaigns serve any purpose that benefits the candidate or do they just irritate potential voters? I have been receiving four or five of these calls per day. As soon as I Iook at the phone readout or hear the first three words and know it is a recording, I hang up. Usually, the calls are bashing the other candidate without telling me what the sponsoring candidate is going to do, so if you listen to these calls, you go to the polls with a lot of negative junk about all of the candidates and very little about what the candidates will do. Who do these campaign managers think we are? The marketing geniuses who put the scripts together for these “polmercials” could use some kindness juice or maybe just take a deep breath and try writing something about your candidate’s successes, strengths, capabilities, intellect, and winning! They are wasting their time on me. It’s really not that my mind’s made up. It’s just that nasty, negative campaigning doesn’t fit the “logic” box. You know what I mean. Yeah, I hear the supporters of this stuff say that

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it has an impact and can and does change voters’ perspectives. But I still am repulsed by it. We should never define public relations as “spin doctoring” or propaganda, and we shouldn’t let anyone else do so either. Both terms not only imply, but are rightly defined as lying and manipulation of information. Public relations professionals do neither. Anyone who lies, tells half truths or manipulates public opinion is not practicing public relations. The biggest concern is that those writing these scripts are either closing their eyes to what is happening with their words, or they are not, and care not a thing, about the honest, proud professional field of public relations and marketing. But we all get painted by the same brush. I’ve been asked several times to join a campaign promotional committee or take on the “Public Relations” by myself for a politician. I’ve turned them all down. Not that I’m some noble Public Relations knight in shining armor. Far from it. I just choose to not be associated with a political campaign. It’s not a product or service for which I’ll ever be fully proud and especially satisfied.

Language Use: What did you say?!!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

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really say what I think I heard?

Language UseIsn’t language a wonderful gift handed down from generation to generation? Without spoken and particularly written language, where would human society be? Yet language use resulting in meaning is becoming increasingly difficult. Why is that? Languages are meant to be a means of communication. Communication is a written or verbal exchange. In order for true and meaningful understanding to take place, the exchange must include recognition of terms, concepts, ideas

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and beliefs. And not the least of this recognition element should be plenty of room for respect for differing positions, even if that includes ideology. Of particular question for me is how written and spoken language, whether English or Taiwanese, can lead so far down differing paths and be so misinterpreted. (more…)