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United Airlines: When Common Practices Goes Bad

I’ve worked with more than half a dozen airlines in my career, and a very wise, “elder statesman” of that business told me early in my career, “When you put an airplane somewhere it doesn’t belong, you’ve earned your spot as the lead story. The question is, how long will you stay there? That’s where…

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Crisis Management in a Post-Truth Era

These days, it seems like no one is safe from a crisis arriving suddenly and unexpectedly. Some have subscribed this phenomenon to hypersensitivity on the political left and right, goaded on by professional activists who subscribe bad intentions to…well, everything. In fairness, there’s something to this idea that culture warriors jumping to conclusions (or trawling…

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The Hardest Conversation: “Values”

Our last post emphasized the somewhat counterintuitive idea of emotionlessly planning for an emotional response. Given that this is a fairly broad idea, I thought it might be helpful to do a deeper dive into some unique elements of this planning process for standing up or laying low. As an organizing principle, when working with…

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An Emotionless Plan for an Emotional Response

In the last post, we discussed the false choice of “standing up” versus “laying low” in a post-truth era, specifically how a perceived need to be aggressive or avoid the limelight can lead us to abandon sober judgment. This notion of emotional decision making – something we’ve assigned to our audiences and customers for good…

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The Post-Truth False Choice: Stand Up or Lay Low

In the post-truth era, seizing opportunity and limiting risk has taken on an entirely new meaning. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken with dozens of experienced communicators who are dealing with this new reality and the added complexity layered into seemingly every decision. Many experts and commentators have cheered for more assertive and proactive…

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Defining the “Post-Truth” Environment

In recent posts, we’ve talked about the so-called “post-truth” environment we find ourselves operating in as communicators. For many, it feels like the ground under our feet has suddenly and quite substantially shifted, and the presumptions and PR playbook many relied on for decades have been turned on their head. In reality, “post-truth” is widely…

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Super Bowl Ads – Political Commentary or Post-Truth Playbook?

Before the kickoff of the Super Bowl last night the internet was already buzzing with conversation about the “Ad Bowl” – from ads that leaked to the Coca-Cola commercial celebrating diversity right before the kickoff. This year’s ads covered some heavy topics like diversity, immigration and gender equality. And much has already been written about…

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Politics & Corporate Communications: Rules of Engagement

With the White House flooding the zone, there is a new reputation topic worth talking about almost every day. I’ve been thinking about companies and their response to the immigration ban, and meaning to write about it, especially after spending a day at JFK volunteering with the #NoBanJFK legal team. Why did Starbucks win, and…

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