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Stranded by Uber's dysfunctional customer service

I was getting ready for my trip to India and my friend recommended that I download a couple apps for our trip, including Ola (a local Bangalore taxi company) and Uber. No worries, I thought. I was one step ahead of her having downloaded Uber for when in New York, as we were spending a few days there. I was quite excited to use the app considering the fact that there was a $20 credit sign-up bonus promotion going on. It seemed as though everything was falling into place as I was ready for our big adventure. I didn't bother with Lyft or the other competitors, knowing I had the Uber app on my phone and assuming since it's 2017, and a very popular option, it's going to work great. This as it turned out, would be a huge mistake that resulted in us taking the public bus at the airport.

What happened? Well, the first time I used the app, it immediately banned me. Thankfully, Bangalore has thousands of rickshaws that got me to and from our destinations. Had I downloaded Ola ahead …
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United Airlines failing in PR after Dragging Screaming Doctor off Plane

Having just flown with United last week and having flown millions of miles with the airline, I'll admit that the recent video of an Asian medical doctor being dragged off the airplane (UAL 3411) screaming seemed excruciating from a PR perspective. The airline has always been good to me, but the last 72 hours has me a little bit grateful, my next flight, in about a week or so, is on American.

Making matters worse is that the incident has become the mockery of memes on Facebook and social media like this:

United Airlines Training Video
It's bad when it your crisis becomes news, it's another thing when you become the laughing stock of the internet (trending as #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos) It's happened before when United smashed the guitar of a famous musician. Then there's the suggestion that Twitter is proactively deleting posts. Meaning, the company is paying a staff of their own (or using automated software) to likely report and remove tweets as against Twitter'…

Kuwait Airways, a case study.

I'll admit, I didn't plan on writing about Kuwait Airways' public relations. Initially, I reached out to them as preparation for a series of articles on India I was writing for another publication. My plan was to informally include the airline and to obtain press materials to accurately present the organization in the travel series. However, soon I found myself down the rabbit hole and into a communications Wonderland, vacant of actual outreach. The Mad-hatter experience felt like an interesting case-study which I felt was worth posting online. An experience that was both pleasantly surprising and completely frustrating from a PR perspective.
A few weeks ago, I needed to book the flight for an article I was writing on India. I came across Kuwait Airways who was offering idyllic rates on their fares from New York to Bangalore India. Working freelance, I'm always trying to keep costs down. The airline has a rocky reputation online with regards to their aging fleet prior…

Guerrilla Marketing in a Millennial World

Millennials are all about digital media. Companies are clamoring for their piece of the pie on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, sometimes what you need is a little bit of guerrilla marketing. Now, not every PR-pro has the grit or the intuition for this sort of thinking outside the box, but I believe those who do have a distinct advantage to their counterparts who only work in the digital or traditional medium.

Some of the best campaigns have been grassroots movements that utilize traffic patterns or public spaces to advertise their message. Some of the first of these clever campaigns simply used bed sheets hung at dawn on overpasses to catch the L.A. traffic rush that often sees hundreds of thousands of commuters.

A few years ago, I served as editor and chief on a local forum that used guerrilla marketing techniques to reach our audience. One of these techniques was borrowed from a hobby called Car Casting whereby you basically created a tiny pirate radio station. It involve…

Selfie for Good.... Contrived Marketing

Yesterday I went out to eat at a restaurant. On the table was a bottle of Heinz Ketchup. The label read, "Take a Selfie for Good". By posting a picture online with your Heinz bottle, Heinz would donate up to $200,000 to Stop Hunger Now.

Did anyone else feel awkwardly uncomfortable after reading that?

That's right.... while you shovel your face full of food, you can relieve some of your middle-class burden by snapping a selfie on your mobile phone (likely quite expensive in itself) and Heinz will help those out who are too starving to afford their own meal at the restaurant (or even a bottle of ketchup). Don't do it and you're letting the poor people starve.

While I'm certain such campaigns are effective on some people, I suddenly lost all respect for Ketchup (and Heinz's public relations team) in that moment and grabbed a bottle of A1 instead (unfortunately Kraft owns them too). I know someone in marketing at their corporate office thought this was a goo…

Information Asymmetry

Information Asymmetry is a bit like playing poker. It's the ability to keep a straight face, and withhold information to your strategic advantage until which point you leverage the information against the other party. Blogging has done a lot in recent years to create more transparent communications for organizations but, often, especially with internal communications such practices of information asymmetry are embedded into the culture of the work environment.

One particular video takes on a humorous look at what would happen if we all shared our salaries and provides a general explanation of the practice of asymmetry with regards to internal communications.

If we understand that information has an inherent economic value and communications professionals are the guardians of such wealth, then we must ask is it truly more beneficial to exploit such imbalances or do organizations who practice such techniques, actually do themselves harm?

The answer is actually really simply. If an…

Is America the result of 80 Years of public relations to move it to the right?

I remember during my under-graduate degree learning of the defeat of Germany in World War II. More importantly, I remember the text books that described in detail how the U.S. psychologically reformatted Germans in the years that followed to create a passive, peaceful culture among its citizens. America has been known to influence foreign entities since its independence with public relations and propaganda despite many in the academic paradigm of public relations trying to limit its modern association with its roots in deceptive information wars. By the time I did my master's, truth, transparency and integrity was drilled into our little fragile heads.

Then, in 2017, President Trump was elected to office of the White House of the United States of America. A decidedly, conservative right candidate with anti-socialist and anti-global views of the world. Regardless of your own political opinions, most Americans would agree that his election was a bit of surprise and his political ac…