Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Was Osama Bin Laden a semi-normal guy?

It's incontestable that Osama bin Laden did awful things. But reports after his death have shown that he was surprisingly normal than one would have assumed. He holed himself up in a compound, sending couriers out periodically to fetch Coca-Cola. He listened to BBC constantly, said his son Omar. In October 2010, he issued two audio statements urging people to help victims of the flood in Pakistan. A senior intelligence official reported that he cared about his appearance enough to dye his white beard black before recording videos. As a NYTimes blog post reports, interviews with Pakistani military, intelligence officials and his neighbors in Abbottabad relate that he was a lonely man holed up in a small house writing up plans in his small notebook to kill more Americans, "perhaps a little bored, and desperate to be heard."

How interesting!

Friday, May 6, 2011

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."--Martin Luther King, Jr.

This quote came up on my newsfeed at least 5 times over the past week, following Osama Bin Laden's death.

Is celebrating Bin Laden's death the "right" thing to do? And if it's not the right thing to do, is it at the least an ok thing to do? After reading a few articles on the subject, including a NY Times post, I am still conflicted, understandably so - it's a pretty heavy question.

The Times post justifies celebrating his death from a social psychology perspective, saying that

"it makes us look like human beings. In an array of research, both inside laboratories and out in the world, psychologists have shown that the appetite for revenge is a sensitive measure of how a society perceives both the seriousness of a crime and any larger threat that its perpetrator may pose."

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Branding with Brendan

After seeing a guest post by Brendan Mullin, Director at Peppercom Strategic Communications on Steve Cody, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Peppercom's RepMan blog, I felt compelled to revisit the Nixon-Kennedy debate. Brendan wrote about Ben Bernanke, who is the current Fed Chairman, and how he recently declared that he will be holding quarterly press conferences. He compared the upcoming conferences to FDR's fireside chats during the Great Depression.

In a Time piece titled How the Nixon-Kennedy Debate Changed the World that we read earlier in the semester, Kayla Webley detailed the significance of the Nixon-Kennedy debate. She described how Nixon's sickly appearance during a television debate ultimately led to Kennedy's victory. Kennedy himself said that "It was the TV more than anything else that turned the tide."

Fireside chats, televised debates, and even blog-posts – all of these things are part of a larger brand that you create for yourself. The way you appear to the public can be an asset, or it can bring you down. It's all about how you brand yourself. This includes just about everything – at a basic level, how you look, but also the activities you participate in and the people you associate yourself with.

Brendan came to speak to our Public Relations class yesterday about creating a brand for yourself, and using your personal brand to break through the clutter as a gateway to success in the workplace and beyond. His presentation compelled me to search my name on Google, which I do periodically, but I decided to check it again. I found myself scrolling through at least ten pages of results published in the past few months alone, including blog posts for Isn't Media Political?, posts written for my marketing internship, pages and pages of Cross Country race results, and even a mildly embarrassing candid shot of me taken by a newspaper reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

A brand can be a very powerful thing when utilized properly. Take the time to go through your Google results, check your Facebook privacy settings, and by all means do not participate in a television debate before you've checked yourself out in the mirror.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Money Well Spent?

The NY Times, in a recent article about the money spent on private jets for presidential campaigns details both the necessity for private travel and the tremendous amount of money spent on it. Marc Ramthun, operations manager at CSI Campaign Travel Services, estimates private campaign travel costs at somewhere between $3 to $5 million dollars, and that’s just in the initial stages of an election. Later, leading candidates may spend up to $20 million on private travel.

The demanding schedule of a political candidate necessitates multi-leg flights, multiple times a week. The author of the article, Joe Sharkey, estimates that it could take half a week to try and schedule a typical campaign day's itinerary via commercial airlines.

Are these costs unnecessary in principle, or does the efficiency in time and privacy of a chartered flight justify spending millions of dollars on private air travel?

I'd say it depends on who the candidate is, how much their travel costs weigh out in commercial VS private travel costs, and how much is at stake.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mixing Business with Pleasure - Don't Do It!

Google has announced that they will be introducing a "+1" feature to their search results. A +1 is similar to a "like" on Facebook or a "digg" on Digg. The contacts that participate in +1 are from Google Contacts, who originate from Gmail, Buzz and Reader. Essentially, +1 is a recommendation system built on the premise that you trust your friends and colleagues enough to let them influence the news that you are exposed to.

It is one thing to "like" a picture, a status update or an event, but it's another completely different matter to put media influence in the hands of your friends. There's a reason why you have your neighbor or great aunt's emails forwarded to your second email. We have enough media bias nowadays as is.

All I'm saying is – take a good, careful look at your Gchat list before you let them influence what you care about.

Friday, March 25, 2011

As if we could use some more bad PR...


Seriously, sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

As satirical as the clip featuring Mr. Gottesman is, it still reflects the orthodox community poorly, and fails to explain exactly what an eruv is and what its significance is.

In a world where orthodox Jewry is seriously misunderstood to begin with, one (Jewish) man's ignorance will perpetuate more misconceptions and misled ideas.

Because we don't have enough problems...

Homemade rockets? Suuuure....

Its no big news that paying attention to the wording of description of recent events will be crucial in understanding the agenda of different sides. However, the media's claims are getting more and more outlandish recently:

Calling the rockets that Hamas that been sending into southern Israeli communities "homemade rockets." This rocket doesn't look like someone made it in their basement.

CNN described the bombing in Jerusalem as " a 'terrorist attack' - Israel's term for a Palestinian strike."

Even Obama said "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombing in Jerusalem today, as well as the rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in recent days, there is never any possible justification for terrorism."

This is just another reminder of how careful we need to be when choosing our media outlets.