Future PR Crisis?

Pharmaceutical companies are going to Third World countries to test drugs. Part of their protocol is to infect volunteers with a disease then test treatments on them. So far, there have been no complaints from those who have been experimented on, and companies have been careful to explain to potential subjects the risks and rewards. But this could change quickly. It takes only one unethical operator to create a PR crisis. That is why drug companies are stepping carefully to avoid charges of exploitation. There is good reason for them to be in these locales. It is where the diseases are and where populations have developed different immune responses based on proximity. But the temptation to pay subjects little and to expose them to greater risks is ever present. It is almost assured that someone will take an unethical action at some point then all pharmaceutical companies will be brought to the bar.


A company shouldn’t issue a threat lightly. It draws a public line which cannot be crossed without jeopardizing the business’ credibility if it doesn’t act. That is why this threat has implications for the EU. If the Union imposes a link tax on Google news, the company says it might shut down the service to member countries. This in turn will diminish the reach of news reporting to internet users and publishers. There is good reason for Google to worry. The EU has been particularly strong in regulating internet companies, and there is no hint of them pulling back anytime soon.  There is a question of who would get hurt the most if Google ends the service — Google or the EU? One could argue the issue either way. The company would save money. It does not sell its news service. On the other hand, it would lose millions of clicks a day. EU news readers would lose a convenient central source to update themselves. Google has acted once already. It cut off Spain after that country imposed a link tax.  Now time will tell if the rest of the EU goes dark.


What credibility does one have if he is put in charge of something he has never done? This is the quandary facing Japan’s new minister of cybersecurity. Not only has he never worked in protecting computers, he has never used one. Never. Not once. He says he gives instructions to his aides for what he wants done. I suspect they print out his email and he pens responses on paper. Predictably, opponents in parliament are mocking him mercilessly and well they should. He should never have been put in charge of something so vital. It is a measure of the government’s concern about the issue that he was given the portfolio. Clearly it doesn’t care that much. We will now have to wait until Japan is hacked to see what happens. And hacked it will be, if it is not being done already.


Politics can be cynical and often are without a moral center. This is not the first time a bogeyman has been raised to boost an election, but it is so obvious Trump isn’t getting away with it. He painted the migrant caravan as a monstrous, evil invasion of US territory. He sent troops to protect the border. He inveighed at one campaign stop after another against the people walking toward America. Once the voting was over, he dropped the issue and little has been heard since. Perhaps he was hoping the public wouldn’t notice. The media did and are nicking him for it and well they should. The bulk of the migrants are fleeing violence and are harmless. They are coming to the US because it is a “promised land.” If America held true to its principles, they would be processed and let into the country to find work and rebuild their lives. But, the president is having none of it, and they will be turned back when they get to the fence. It is disgraceful, but that is the reality in which we live.

Faux Pas

The National Rifle Association is nothing if not pugnacious. As a result, it committed this faux pas in putting down doctors. Telling them to “stay in their lane” and stay out of the gun control debate was a stupid mistake. Doctors are the ones saving gunshot victims and frequently failing. Physicians see the damage caused by bullets, the torn tissue, the spilling blood, victims never the same again. Had the NRA taken but a few moments of reflection, it would have realized the medical profession was a group that should not be targeted. But in its desire to defend its view, it plunged ahead and as a result, miscommunicated. This is not the first time the NRA has erred. In its zeal for guns, it takes on anyone and everyone. There is no possibility of a rational conversation with the organization. The nation will move toward gun control over its objections and eventually,like the smoking lobby, it will lose power over Congress.

Smart PR

Google and The New York Times are engaged in smart PR. They are digitizing the Times’ photo archives, some 5 million images dating back to the late 1800s. The effort will make available pictures that have been stored in file drawers for many decades and were nearly lost when the Times had a water pipe break that flooded its basement. This store of photographs along with their captions is an immense historical resource for the paper and for the world. The Times already has put out a special edition in which it printed long-ago photos of California.  Look for more editions on different topics in the future. It would be interesting and valuable if more newspapers put their photo archives online, especially periodicals like the Daily http://www.nydailynews.com/News, which prided itself on being a picture tabloid.


Misuse of antibiotics worldwide has become a crisis. Some countries employ too few to control bacteria and some use too many, thereby increasing resistance to their efficacy. It is an issue of availability and communication. The World Health Organization has put out an alert, but it needs to be transmitted to individual doctors worldwide who then need to change their prescription practices. That is the hard part. There are hundreds of thousands of physicians, each of whom needs to get an appropriate message. Some will rein in their habits right away and some not at all. Nature won’t be accommodating, however. Bugs are evolving constantly and developing tools to fight back against antibiotics. It only takes one noncompliant doctor to keep progression going. That is why it is urgent to find new antibiotics to replace those that have been compromised.

Good Publicity

The memo Google’s CEO sent to employees about sexual harassment was good publicity. Only time will reveal if it was good PR. The reason is that public relations is what is done and not what is spun. Google’s employees know the difference, and they will keep close watch on the actions of the company. Any lack of promise fulfillment and/or back sliding will be noted and protested. Google, especially, has to worry about this. Its employees are outspoken, and they take their case to the media. There is little the company can get away with, and that is as it should be. One wonders if more corporations should be under the spotlight as Google is. There would be less tolerance for managerial misbehavior. It would never be perfect, of course, because humans are as variable as the weather. There will always be someone who violates rules and attempts to get away with it. But, with increased employee vigilance, perpetrators will be brought to heel more quickly.


A pitiless human responsible for dozens of deaths and industrial-sized drug trafficking is petitioning a Federal court to be allowed to hug his wife. It seems he needs a little tenderness. The court would be within its rights to deny the request. The prisoner, notorious drug king, El Chapo, has escaped prison twice, and one could well be suspicious that a hug with his wife might be an attempt to go on a lam a third time. American authorities have made a show of guarding him to prevent another mishap. They are keeping him in solitary confinement. They are moving him under heavy guard. They are watching him every second. Hugging his wife would be a break in the routine. The US wants to communicate to traffickers that if they are brought here from Mexico, they will get a fair trial and if convicted, prison. It will be harder for them to bribe jailers or to fashion new escapes. It is not unreasonable that El Chapo will be held in solitary for the rest of his life for his own protection and to prevent him from hatching new schemes. If so, the message to South American criminals is not to mess with the US.

Puff Piece

It is not often one reads a puff piece for a hot dog stand. Here’s one. A celebrity chef has parked a cart outside an exclusive hotel on Manhattan’s upper east side. He is selling $6 dogs with all the fixings. The reporter liked the one he ate better than a $4 dog purchased from a typical street venue. So, what is assuredly a publicity gimmick has paid off for the chef. The reason appears to be that the more expensive meat was better prepared in its bun with fillings. In other words, the chef is making sure the product meets his high standards. That is smart PR.