Michigan State Botches Crisis Messaging with Focus on Lawyers and Leadership

Michigan State University’s handling of communications around the trial of sexual predator Dr. Larry Nassar is an advanced case study in how to destroy an organization’s reputation. From an outside perspective, the university’s leaders appear to have made two dangerous decisions that are all too common for organizations in crisis: They only listened to the lawyers, and they put themselves before the organization.

Continue reading “Michigan State Botches Crisis Messaging with Focus on Lawyers and Leadership”

New Articles: Federal Budget Dysfunction and FOIA Delay Games

Two articles published today, and there’s a serendipitous common theme of people in government doing what’s best for themselves rather than what’s best for their constituents.

At Think Freely Media, I make the point that any discussion of the “federal budget process” should start from the basic point that we really don’t have “federal budgets” any more, at least in terms of how most people think of a budget. That’s great if you’re a politician or lobbyist; not so good if you’re a taxpayer.

Once politicians get our money, it’s a core tenet of representative democracy that we should be able to keep tabs on what they’re doing with it. That’s why we have FOIA, the Open Meetings Act and other transparency laws. Michigan’s already one of the worst states in the country for transparency, but the City of Detroit seems to have found a new way to get around the FOIA law’s requirements: They told me closing their Law Department for a week paused their 15-day deadline to respond to my FOIA request: Detroit FOIA response

Journalism and transparency advocates think this is a terrible precedent to set.

New Article at Think Freely Media on Socialism and Starvation in Venezuela

I’ve got a new article in Think Freely Media’s “What Should Be Said” series, looking at the rhetoric from Venezuela’s socialist leadership versus the reality of societal collapse in a formerly prosperous country: Venezuelan Socialists Blame Capitalism for Socialism’s Starvation.

New work in Detroit News and Watchdog.org

I had two articles run on the same day today:

The Detroit News ran my op-ed on Dan Gilbert’s new skyscraper in Detroit. The more people understand about the mechanisms and machinations behind the shiny talk of “incentives,” the less they like what’s going on. At some point, we can only hope they hold their elected representatives accountable.

I also covered the dynastic politics in play in Detroit’s Congressional races for Watchdog.org. Prof. Gary Wolfram of Hillsdale College asked an excellent rhetorical question: If this is how we’re going to pick the people who run our government, do we really want them to have that much power over us?

Facebook’s Paywall Test is an Unpaid Advertisement for Marketing Strategy

The Guardian reported yesterday that Facebook was running a test in small national markets that created two news feeds, one that had posts from friends and another secondary feed that had posts from pages users had “liked.” The catch was that promoted content – the posts page administrators had paid to get to an audience – showed up in the former feed. This meant that organic, non-paid content was unlikely to reach its target audience, and many pages saw their non-promoted content reach drop by as much as two thirds with no warning.

Most who heard of this assumed that Facebook was testing something many marketers have long feared, which is a full pay-to-play barrier between brands and Facebook users. This isn’t a new concept – most advertising throughout history has required marketers to pay for all access to an audience – but for organizations that depend on organic Facebook content for their marketing reach the implications were sobering. Left in place, this change would have completely rewritten marketing plans and budgets, as well as the ROI calculations for all the work those organizations had done to build their organic Facebook followings.

Continue reading “Facebook’s Paywall Test is an Unpaid Advertisement for Marketing Strategy”