America’s promise is not found in polls

A Rasmussen poll released on July 29 reports:

Nearly one-out-of-two U.S. voters (49%) now say the nation’s best days are in the past, a five-point jump from last month and the highest level of pessimism on this question in a year.

Read full story here.

It’s not hard to see why so many Americans would believe that the nation’s best days are behind it. For instance, there are more than 500,000 new jobless claims a week. That’s a staggering number that really highlights the connection between people’s financial outlook and how they perceive the future of the country.

There is an oft used cliché that perception is reality. As more and more people perceive that the United States is entering dismal days, it will be that the days are, in fact dismal. People won’t believe that there is a way out of the perceived predicament the county is in, and will therefore begin to settle for what is, instead of what could be.

In an America where a man was elected president on a message of hope, all that the people of the country are beginning to see is lost opportunity, so say the polls. However, the America in polls like this doesn’t really exist. Instead, all around you can see and America full of hope and opportunity. It is a country where with enough personal effort, and yes, a little bit of luck, a person can be or do anything. The possibilities truly are endless.

There has always been a strong PR campaign to raise awareness of why the United States is the great place it is. Is that campaign waning or losing its influence?

That is hard for me to believe, because the America PR campaign machine has been churning ever since the first colonists came over. To entice more people to make the potentially life-threatening journey to the “New World” all sorts of stories were told. It’s like in the classic kid’s film An American Tail. On the boat to America, all of the mice are singing “There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese.” Well, there were cats, and the streets were more brick than cheddar. But, through effort the mice were able to overcome the adversity they faced and achieve their American dream.

That is the beauty of America. That is what the PR has been about and why a poll out the other day with almost 50 percent doubting America is of no consequence. The spirit of this nation always overcomes the darkest of days. It has done it before, and there is no reason to think that it won’t do it again, no matter what the polls say.

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Channeling social media success

A recent post on the Daily Dog says that Twitter is changing the landscape for small businesses–again.

The reason is that small businesses, which thrive on face-to-face and word of mouth communication to build relationships and increase sales, are using Twitter as their sole marketing tool.

In other words, without budgets for comprehensive marketing, PR, and advertising the small business sector of America is utilizing “free” social media tools to spread the word about their products and services. It seems to be working.

I agree the underlying reason for the success of this communication strategy (Use social media) and tactical implementation (Tweet info through Twitter) among the small business world is the intimacy of Twitter.

As we move forward in the world of marketing and communications, there is a well-documented movement away from mass media and toward targeted marketing, word of mouth, one-to-one PR, etc.

But the movement isn’t always an easy go.

Moving away from TV toward Twitter will take time because people need to become comfortable with the channels of communication that the social media tools provide. One of the reasons I’ve often heard for why people don’t “get” social media, and in particular Twitter, is that they are communicating through a channel that is foreign to them and actually separates them from the reality of conversing directly with a real person in a tangible, tactile way. It just doesn’t make sense to them why anyone they could talk to on the phone or in person would want to read a tweet they posted instead.

As more and more businesses, both large and small, begin realizing the potential to intimately communicate with people through social media tools, more and more people will become comfortable with the channels as well. This is a good thing. The tools provide a means to have real-time conversations and create opportunities for long-term relationship building. The shiny newness will wear off. It did for the telephone and the TV. It will do it for Twitter and Facebook, too. What will remain will be the thing that has been there all along: functionality.

Does T.O. know PR?

When the Buffalo Bills announced that they signed Terrell Owens (T.O.) I was a little shocked.

The move brought instantaneous national media attention to the franchise. It also probably sold a boatload of tickets. But I wondered about how this move will impact team chemistry, because if the character that shows up to play in the Ralph is the same that was in Dallas, Philly, and San Francisco, then I expect to see fireworks the like of which the Western New York sports world hasn’t seen in a long time, if ever.

However, T.O. has taken it upon himself to try and present a different side to all of us. In his new reality show, which airs on VH-1, he is showing us the Terrell, not the T.O.

So, my question–Is T.O. a PR genius?

The reality series will be undoubtedly watched by football fans, even if they despise what Owens does on the field. In so doing,t hey will see how T.O. interacts with the grandmother who he said raised him. They will see a more human side of the athlete. They will get more of his story, as this excerpt from an A.P. story headlined ‘The T.O. Show’ set for premiere explains:

Producer Jesse Ignjatovic was impressed by how much Owens allowed crews to film.

“What did surprise me is the depth that he was willing to go to in the show emotionally and also reflecting on his own life and shortcomings and things he wants to do to make him a better man,” Ignjatovic said. “He really shows some sides of himself and really exposes his emotions in ways that I never thought possible.”

What I think T.O. has gotten right with this move is that he is letting us all in on his story. Whether it will changes minds as to his antics on the football field remains to be seen. However, a good story is essential to good PR, so I think he has taken the right first steps to creating a long-term relationship with the public by allowing film crews in.

Stop abusing our future

I’ve seen too many news reports on the topic is child abuse.

  

I’m a father to two young children and every time I read about someone hurting a killing a child, I have to either turn off the TV or put down the paper. Simply put, these stories disgust me.

 

Seeing the headlines and the stories, I ask why these things happen. I ask why people do not know that children are a gift and should be cherished. I ask what possesses people to drop dialogue and instead use violence to solve problems that may arise.

 

I’m thankful that family members and other caregivers can come in and help children that survive. I’m thankful that there are youth and family service organizations who employee people that help children and families reconnect, find their strengths, and become better.

 

However, I still worry about the future of our communities, our nation, and our world because of the way that child abuse can have a decaying, negative impact on the development of our children.

 

Will it ever stop? Probably not.

 

Are there ways we can help minimize tragedies of child abuse from happening? Of course there are.

  

It will just take each of us having a strong will and a collective desire to make sure that the children are protected and given every opportunity to flourish without the fear of abuse.

 

It is a challenge worth taking on. Are you with me?

The language of class warfare

It appears that soon the health care system as we know it in this country may be drastically different than it is today.

The current administration in the White House views this as an historic time and has all of their ducks in a row to get the changes passed.

First, let me just say that I agree health insurance coverage and cost need to be examined and improved. But, despite the need for changes in how it’s paid for, I think health care in this country is second to none.

Having said that, however, how the administration and the leaders in C0ngress are going about putting together a bill to overhaul the health insurance system is strikingly uninspired. All you have to do to see this is look at the language they are using to communicate the need for changes and how these changes will be paid for.

Here is the lead from an AP story with the headline House Dems look at taxing the rich for health care.

House Democrats at work on health legislation are narrowing in on an income tax surcharge on the highest-paid wage earners to help pay the cost of subsidizing insurance for the 50 million who lack it.  –Erica Werner, AP 7/9/09

To me, reading this is very disturbing. Instead of looking for ways to minimize spending, assess and manage risk, reduce subsidies to private companies offering Medicare coverage, and lower the overall cost of health insurance, elected officials are playing a game of class envy.

In essence, they are saying “The changes we’re making will be alright because we’re going to take money away from the rich people who don’t deserve it.” They’re trying to be Robin Hood.

Now, I think the tale of Robin Hood is a great story. What these leaders are doing is telling lies, and telling lies isn’t a good way to craft a successful story. By leaning on the tried and true crutch of class envy, the leaders in Congress trying to put together a health insurance reform bill are cheating all of us, not just the “rich” who they are salivating over and targeting with their money-grubbing hands.

They are squashing an opportunity to have a real dialogue on a subject that touches every American. They are instantly driving the course of the discussion away from honest problem solving and into the abyss that it partisan political bickering. As history has shown, this means that nothing will ever get accomplished. If the roles were reversed and the other party was in power, I’d like to think things would be different, but I believe we’d still be bogged down in partisan politics based on cliched stereotypes.

There is one beneficial thing to come out of using this type of language, however. At least by taking digs at those Americans who don’t deserve what they have we’ll all feel better. That’s what good health care is all about, right?

Finding our political voice deep down in our souls

The local newspaper did some soul searching yesterday. Well, they didn’t actually do it, but they did editorialize that the Republican Party should do it.

The topic of who will right the drifting ship that is the Republican Party has been something of a parlor game of late for those in the media. This is especially true given Sarah Palin’s announcement that she is resigning as Alaska’s governor. Who is the “voice” and leader of the party the reporters, pundits, and talking heads all ask? Who indeed.

The answer is pretty simple. And it doesn’t require the deep soul searching that editors at the local paper think it does.

The person who will lead the Republican Party and give it it’s voice is you and me. It is everyone who is a registered member of the party or has ideals that are in line with the party. Our voices are what make up the voice of the party. The people who are selected as our representatives to lead the party must heed our voices, listen to our hopes, fears, and ideas for making this country even better, and then go to work making that happen. No ego. It is service above self. This is also the same for the Democratic Party.

People will say that this view is naïve. Is it? Because if it is, so are the Founding Fathers who put this basic model into place as the way our government is set up–a Representative Republic.

Also, I am very aware that there are differences of ideology within any political party. There are in any group of two or more people. That is the beauty of the freedoms we share as Americans. We are allowed and encouraged to have various viewpoints on any number of subjects.

So, as far as the larger party doing soul searching as the editorial suggests, I say that is a worthless effort. Instead, and far more worthwhile, would be for all of us–Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever–to get involved and let our voices be heard. Now is the time.

One reason Sarah Palin may have done it

With all of the media’s coverage of Sarah Palin’s resignation announcement July 3, there was one thing none of the talking heads and chief political analysts mentioned that could be at least a part of the reason she decided to step down when she did.
 
For whatever reason, she made the decision not to run for a second term. As such, it is extremely logical from a political standpoint to step down and let the Lt. Gov. step in. In so doing, Palin opened the door for her Lt. Gov. to step up and become an incumbent who will run on the record of a year and a half in office when election time rolls around again.
 
This strategy is one that I’ve seen unfold first hand with great success on the local level. A town councilman decided he was not going to run again because he wanted to spend more time traveling. As such, he announced his resignation with a few months left on his term. The town supervisor appointed someone to the now open position. That person served out the rest of the term and then ran as the incumbent in the election that followed. She won the seat and is now serving her first full term on the board.
 
Providing a springboard to incumbency for her successor may not have been the main reason for Sarah Palin’s departure from the governor’s office, but it certainly was a consideration and a masterful, strategic play.