Posts Tagged ‘white house’

Final Punishment: Sandwich Board Shame at the White House

Posted on: September 13th, 2011 by Geoff Livingston 7 Comments

Finally, it’s time for the third punishment from The Punish Geoff Fundraiser for Mark Horvath’s InvisiblePeople.tv. Yes, the sandwich board was donned saying, “I’ve written two social media books. Please hire me.” But instead of a walk of shame in front of Congress social media savoir faire was mocked in front of the White House.

Enjoy the fun.

And do support Mark Horvath’s InvisiblePeople.tv. Mark’s journey across the continent has finished in Canada and now enters the U.S. leg as he drives back to the West Coast highlighting the hidden faces of homelessness across America.

Thanks to all of you who donated and supported the Punish Geoff Fundraiser.

The Fallacy of a Strong Defense

Posted on: August 19th, 2011 by Geoff Livingston 11 Comments

“The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.” Hamlet, Act III, scene II

Defensive Dice
Image by M Hillier

When you engage in questionable acts, sometimes you or your organization have to set the facts straight to protect brand reputation. Many individuals and some brands tend to want to over-defend themselves. Instead of removing the tarnish, strong defenses can do the opposite, keeping an issue alive, and in most cases suggest a complicit nature in the brands’ actions.

Questionable is defined as when the community starts publicly doubting your approach or acts. Note this is the public’s perception, not when you think you are right.

A recent example is the White House protest of Standard & Poor’s well broadcasted credit rating downgrade. The Obama Administration looked powerless, and again at fault for not successfully leading the country into a better and less contentious resolution of the debt ceiling. The sudden and ensuing Justice Department investigation into Standard & Poor’s 2008 mortgage actions also looks like a smeer job (Why not all three credit agencies?).

The right thing to do would have been to follow standard reputation management protocols, and issue the White House’s differing opinions with the $2 trillion error clearly pointed out, and leave it at that. The White House would have been well served to simply acknowledge the political issues at play. While Obama has publicized the political divide in recent weeks, it has been in a negative attacking manner. The overarching series of reactions have in turn validated Standard & Poor’s criticsm.

Defending Personal Reputation

Cullen Burnett, 14, of Culpeper (left) and Master Deputy Chad McKnight, (right) practice defensive tactics. Sgt. Owen Bullard, who leads a team of school resource officers for the Sheriff’s Office, looks on (center).
Image by Culpepper County Sheriff’s Office

While brands make this mistake, more often it is the terrain of individuals who take personal issue with criticism. We see this everyday in the blogosphere, but because well known bloggers are prone to drama when criticized, let’s use some celebrity examples.

Mel Gibson is the classic example of the questionable person who over defends himself. His angry tirades on public TV and in embarrassing off-air recordings don’t counter the behavior in his alcohol related arrests (and incidents of fascism), rather they signal complicity and confirm characterizations!

Instead say you’re sorry, change, make some amends and let it go. Or simply acknowledge the mistake and move on. Or disagree about characterizations in a public statement, and move on. Any of these would be better than the strong retaliations Gibson has made. He is now unbookable by most accounts in Hollywood.

Conversely, when Michelle Bachman was dubbed the Queen of Rage in a cover story on Newsweek, she completely ignored the story. Many Tea Party loyalists came to her defense, and Bachman sidestepped character issues by simply refusing to acknowledge the criticism, in turn making it look like an attack. It is doubtful that the Newsweek cover changed many people’s minds about Bachman (but it may have sold a few magazines).

The Newsweek article is analogous to a troll. Most critics are not trolls, rather they have strong differing beliefs, and as such they should not be ignored even if they will never agree with you. Just as President Obama has to acknowledge Tea Party criticism, it is wise to address issues raised by the opposition.

Just like engagement with a negative commenter, state the facts, and if you believe you are in the right, simply let your statement and actions represent you. In marketing a brand, an overtly strong defense can signal complicity. Address questions, be right, be confident, and move on.

What do you think of strong defenses in questionable matters?

How BP Swept Dispersants Under the Rug

Posted on: June 16th, 2010 by Geoff Livingston 3 Comments

4631103690_fec9031d73.jpg

The PR battle continues between Obama and BP (image by boxhai). With the climax occurring today between BP top brass and Obama at the White House, another major danger continues to spread in the Gulf, BP’s widespread use of Corexit toxic dispersants. More than 1,000,000 gallons has been deployed by BP in an effort to break up surface and underwater oil.

Corexit is deadly. It is toxic and it has even been banned from use in BP’s home country, the United Kingdom. Both state and local officials have asked BP to stop using it (versions Corexit EC9500A and Corexit EC9527A), and for a small period environmentalists complained.

BP evaded responding, issuing brief statements and ducking the issue. Since then the drama about compensation and culpability has drowned out the pressure on BP’s Corexit usage. BP is content to let is stay under the rug, and the company continues refusing to listen to its U.S. regulators.

Whether the reasons are simply same old incompetent irresponsibility or a cover up by BP doesn’t matter. The toxic impact on the marine environment cannot be underestimated. The Gulf is getting destroyed by two types of toxins, the crude oil from Deep Horizon and BP’s Corexit dispersants.

Until pressure is brought to bear on BP, we can count on the company letting the toxic chemical versions of Corexit stay under the rug. Don’t let the government BP media war distract you from the true dangers the oil spill presents: Reckless destruction of our marine environment and livelihood.

Special thanks to Leigh Durst and Jimmy Gardner for suggesting this topic.

P.S. Citizen Effect’s Dan Morrison and My Yu will join me on a mission to the Gulf on June 27 – July 1 to help affected fishermen. Details are here.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.