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The climate change PR disaster

October 22nd, 2013 / 6:00 am

[Click here to download this article in .pdf format]

As a public relations professional for almost a quarter century (split about evenly between North America and Asia Pacific), for years I have been trying to make sense of global warming from a communications perspective.

As far as I’m concerned, global warming is by far the biggest long-term challenge that our world faces. This problem can only be addressed if it is thought to be important enough – and urgent enough – for people (both elites and mass society) to think and act differently about climate change than they have before, and to do so in concert with each other.

I can only see that happening if the public relations efforts around climate change improve dramatically. That’s because right now, current communications – while no doubt earnest and sincere – are just not getting the job done (if, indeed, it can be done against the many daunting obstacles which this post will attempt to partially describe).

Getting the whole world to believe and behave differently is a tall order, but that’s what we PR people do every day in the service of multinational corporations. I think global warming should be a ‘call to arms’ for the PR profession, because we’re supposed to be better than anyone at the mastery of persuasion that’s so conspicuously lacking from existing climate change communications.

I’ve been following this issue for decades as a loyal reader of Scientific American magazine (which sounded the alarm early), but it was only a few years ago – stimulated by Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” movie in 2006 and spurred by the UN climate change report published the year after – that climate change really broke through and got on the global ‘radar screen.’

Climate change in the headline news

The tide of coverage seems to have crested then and has been dropping since. If you look at the presence of either ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ in news headlines (as tracked by Google Trends in this graph), you will see that the former peaked in 2007 and the latter in 2010, with current attention levels significantly below the earlier highs.

It is remarkable how little has actually been done since then to deal with climate change – and the current lack of public affairs urgency is absolutely breathtaking.

Such an ‘existential’ threat to our world’s future should command much more mainstream media coverage than it is currently earning. Whether that is related to a decline in the business fortunes of the traditional media – especially serious news platforms – or the ownership of outlets is debatable.

I also do not see on social media networks the kind of intensity that climate change should properly merit (although that may be starting to shift). The coverage and conversations that do occur lack ample alarm given the potential enormity of the consequences for future generations.

There are many reasons why climate change is such a vexing communications conundrum; I don’t presume to have all or even most of the answers, but here’s what I have pieced together so far (in no particular order):

Story fatigue

The ‘collective yawn’ that greeted the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the latest example of an important and ominous study that did not create the coverage it should have commanded. The attention it did generate was marred with sideshow distractions that detracted from the big picture.

I fear that there has been so much banal publicity concerning climate change in recent years, bland stories within the segment have become part of a routinized ‘new normal.’ The topic seems to have been ‘demoted’ in terms of editorial placement priority, with lower prominence and fewer reporting resources.

There’s an unfortunate irony here of course, because on the one hand while climate coverage has become common and the subject is famous, thematically it is highly repetitive and stale with limited news value.

The result is the absence of ‘stop the presses’ media play on climate change that might help spur an imperative for action.

Temporal distortion

There could not be a worse match between the climate change cycle and the news story cycle. The speed and timing of climate change is slow and gradual, whereas the news is about fast-moving and sudden developments.

The scientists tell us that temperatures are increasing and the seas are rising (as well as getting more acidic), but only in tiny fractions year-over-year. The problem is that what seems infinitesimally small and insignificant during our typical short-term perception frames is a terrible trend extended over decades and centuries.

Even when that is explained and quantified, it becomes difficult for people – and we humans are not very good at visualizing the future – to imagine what an increase in an average temperature of say 2° C means for the Earth as a whole. This is especially difficult to conceive when the daily temperature swing in most places can be much larger.

The temporal dynamic is even more insidious when you consider that even though around the world the new record high temperatures being set routinely outnumber the new record lows, often there are exceptions to the long-term trend which breed a false complacency. This is especially true when there are cold snaps in global media capitals such as New York, London or Hong Kong.

The contrast effect

Not only can we not easily perceive climate changes over time, but we can’t see the ‘culprit’ of carbon dioxide at all because it is a clear gas. As a result, many aren’t noticing worrisome changes in the environment because they have difficulty imagining them.

We humans aren’t ‘wired’ to notice small changes over a long period. But we do tune into extraordinary things with shocking visual imagery that happen suddenly or with unusual intensity, like floods, fires, storms and droughts. This has been called the ‘contrast effect.’

But unless or until those things all happen constantly in an unprecedented way, there will be a ‘wishful thinking’ tendency to hope that these are normal climate fluctuations.

Of course, by then it might be too late…

The die is cast

Indeed, there are those who say it already is and that we’re doomed anyway. So why should we work ourselves into a lather about global warming if there is nothing we can really do about it?

People familiar with the patterns of economic growth in this world know that all the carbon dioxide released since the Industrial Revolution by what are now the developed countries will soon be dwarfed by the emissions of the developing nations such as the BRICS (who are only getting started in terms of their economic output).

That reality is inescapable and inevitable, so in this context of massive guaranteed CO2 emissions, just how are we supposed to arrest or even attenuate climate change?

For that matter, how on Earth are we going to reconcile our demand for never-ending increase in economic growth with, at the same time, having a world economic system that doesn’t cause a climate catastrophe?

Even with the remarkable strides in renewable energy technology during recent times, the absence of a climate change ‘macro fix’ makes people think it is more of a tough problem to tackle (conversely, though, the hope for one through blind faith in geo-engineering solutions is another source of resistance to change for some). The CO2 levels will only keep increasing, so the thinking goes that any effort to stop climate change is ‘pie in the sky.’

‘It’s too big and I’m too small’

Even if people come to be concerned about climate change and think it is important, they may lack efficacy regarding what can be done. It is such a humongous problem, no one country or continent – and certainly no community or person – can solve it on their own.

The conspicuous failure of the most famous effort to do so – the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference – might have created a profound defeatism as far as multilateral action is concerned.

I also think that many people must conclude that they as ‘atomized’ individuals can’t have much of an impact solving an intractable global problem. ‘Cause’ and ‘effect’ can appear so unrelated and any impacts feel remote instead of proximate. I have heard this called ‘psychological distancing.’

Certainly the lack of efficacy seems overwhelming, and this won’t change so long as climate change is communicated so badly.

Framing issues

Climate change has been depicted almost exclusively as an environmental concern, which may limit its salience. But it will go far beyond that sphere, affecting our economy, our infrastructure, our lifestyles and indeed our health.

Then there are visual story frames to consider. ‘Neuromarketing’ experts have said – and this is a simplified take – that people tend to decide what to believe and what to do in their unconscious brains, and that visual storytelling is key to convincing that most influential part of the mind. If that is so, then the challenge for climate change communicators is how to tell visual stories with images of things that in many cases haven’t happened yet or which people haven’t personally experienced.

This might be the most problematic framing constraint: around the world in most countries, people are richer and living healthier and longer lives than their ancestors.

How do we make a compelling case for personal and political change to combat global warming when – compared to any era in history – human life on Earth has never been better?

Wearing digital blinders

The acceleration of exponential advances in technology will support increased prosperity, and accentuate our perception of prosperity.

However, the more we are engrossed by digital technology and stare fixedly at dazzling displays much of the day, the less we might notice about the environment around us (just watch people in public spaces totally enthralled by their private technology experience).

Paradoxically as digital connects people into social networks online, there are reports of increased isolation, a decrease in empathy, plus a reduction of attention spans. If these things are happening, then they may become resistance factors that make climate change communications efforts more difficult.

A lot of people thought the mind-controlled world of Orwell’s “1984” would be our society’s biggest threat, but especially with smart phones sometimes seeming like a digital ‘soma,’ I wonder if Huxley’s “Brave New World” isn’t closer to the mark.

Then there is what could be called the changing nature of activism with the advent of digital. If someone is worried about climate change and wants to be associated in front of their social network community with such concern, for far too many, activism may begin and end when they merely ‘like’ or ‘follow’ a worthy cause (“I’ve done my part!”).

Cut-off from the country

In an ever-urbanising world, fewer lives are directly connected to the rhythms and patterns of nature, and city dwellers can’t perceive subtle climate changes as easily. I live in air-conditioned and high-rise Singapore, a prime example of a place where human development has achieved a commanding dominion over a ‘controlled’ environment.

Confirmation bias

Humans apparently have a psychological tendency to find ways to believe what they already think is true (and to find information which supports a position currently held), reinforcing the denial of the climate change ‘skeptics.’ People also seem to have a pronounced tendency to overestimate how much they know, and this is certainly true if you compare popular sentiment with the scientific consensus. Also, because climate change becomes a ‘debate’ between two ‘sides,’ denialist opinion gains more credence than it otherwise deserves.

Denial efforts

The skeptics can be very vocal in projecting their opinions. Have you ever noticed how many of them come out of the woodwork and post denial comments when climate change stories appear online?

I don’t see some sinister global conspiracy of climate deniers, but the fact that there are so many who are claiming climate change is a hoax is seeding doubt about whether to believe in the problem and breeding complacency regarding whether to act differently – or not.

Saving a happy face

Not long ago I spotted this story: “Why Happy People Hide From Climate Change” which suggests that people with a sunny disposition are less likely to seek out global warming stories. I’m not sure how that works exactly, but apparently people who are already concerned about climate change are more inclined to look for more information about it (which overwhelmingly would provide even more reasons to feel concerned).

Especially on social media, it seems we’re supposed to wear happy masks and be perennially positive, so articulating concern about climate change associates us with an unappealingly negative and pessimistic image of a dystopian future.

How many of us are familiar with this conventional wisdom: ‘Don’t worry about those things in life over which you have absolutely no control?’ So why taint your image by becoming a ‘doom and gloom’ type worried about climate change?

The complexity mire

There has been an obvious failure to connect climate change with our everyday lives and paint a clear picture of how our lives might be affected. Hopefully what National Geographic has just done with this map showing what will happen if all the polar ice melts will become more mainstream.

Climate change is a complicated subject and understanding the story in depth requires longer than many people are now willing or able to focus on a single topic. While the public attention span for serious stories has collapsed, there is no shortage of celebrity nonsense and sensational trivia – ‘twerking’ comes to mind – to provide plenty of distracting entertainment for the masses.

Let’s face it; fundamentally, most people don’t have enough time to sort out the complexity of climate change, because they have enough going on in their busy lives.

Now, it is true that this is a complicated problem, but in terms of what people need to understand and act upon, it’s somewhat more simple: “climate change is really happening > climate change is a bad thing > climate change is caused by humans/can be solved by humans > there is hope and there are things we can do.”

That said, getting this across to people, embedded it in their psyche, and driving coordinated individual and institutional action is much easier to say than it will be to get done.

Connecting too many dots

Even if communications in the future break through and convince people that humans are causing the warming that is melting the polar ice, fostering torrential rains, driving droughts, kindling wildfires, acidifying and raising the seas, then so what?

Well, then of course the challenge is to connect these things to the consequences for humans, such as water supply, changes to the food chain, property destruction and competition for land, mass migrations, the distribution of diseases, extinction of species, heat waves, storms and flooding, etc.

Stemming from these developments, the potential for violent conflict between and within nations seems obvious, but I don’t think more than a small minority have thought ahead and projected potentially frightening end games.

Acting like the proverbial ostrich

For those who do ‘get it’ and see what’s coming if we do nothing, the consequences of climate change are so terrible to contemplate, I think many deny it sort of like people still smoking downplay that it might cause them cancer. I chose this analogy on purpose because it sure looks to this layperson like there is now the same scientific consensus on humans causing climate change as there was on cigarettes causing cancer (following a similar period of overwhelming scientific consensus).

“I’ll be dead by then”

Speaking of mortality, I’m in my late 40s and so should avoid the worst of the predicted climate catastrophe during my lifetime. For a long time, I admit that thought made me only care so much about global warming. I only really became emotionally involved in this topic after our children were born starting in 2007. Imagining them suffering because of how previous generations screwed-up the environment – while not taking action before it was too late – makes me feel upset and far more disposed to believe that timely and profound action needs to be taken.

Over-the-top

In these cynical and jaded times, coming out and declaring that ‘the Earth’ or ‘Mankind’ or ‘the Human Race’ hangs in the balance sounds overly dramatic, even a tad maudlin. A few months ago, I hesitated to add the phrase “concerned about climate change” to my Twitter profile because I thought people might find me a bit overwrought (I went ahead anyway).

I’ve been involved with sustainability since attending the UN Earth Summit at Brazil in 1992, and if I’m thinking that way, maybe others less engaged are even more reluctant to publicly connect themselves to the climate change cause.

Speaking of which, I also notice that when I share something on global warming via Facebook and Twitter, there are fewer likes or re-tweets compared to almost anything else I might post about.

Too ‘academic’

Ironically, efforts to improve climate change communications have themselves been poorly communicated.

There are many worthy scientific communications activities around climate change. These are well intentioned, intelligent, logical and data-driven. Unfortunately, these activities can be very dry, tactically amateur, emotionally remote and strategically unclear. Some appear limited by their US-centrism or predominant engagement with the ‘anglosphere’ countries.

It looks to me as though these people are doing their jobs, but we can’t expect climate scientists to be communications professionals any more than communications professionals should be assumed to be able to easily master the climate science.

But we can hardly blame the climate scientists for taking communications matters into their own hands. They know better than anyone that global warming is going to be much worse than what most people think. They can see how the publication of one alarming study after another is not getting the message across or galvanizing people to take action.

Bridging the dangerous gap between what scientists know about the planet and how the society is behaving – and not taking their important and urgent information into account – is one of the most acute imperatives of our time.

It looks like the academics and scientists are doing their level best, but it is simply not going to be enough unless the world’s corporate communications community – especially the PR industry – is somehow mobilized.

There was what appeared to be a substantial conference on climate change communications in China earlier this month, but if you read the agenda, you will notice what appears to be the conspicuous absence of a single senior global-grade PR or corporate communications leader (currently serving anyway).

Analogue communications for the digital age

Judging by the tonality and content of what I’ve seen thus far, most of the opinion leaders on climate change think and speak in a woolly way about how the cause needs better ‘communication.’ It is easy to tell that many are thinking about and actually doing communications in the old-fashioned one-to-many top-down manner, where packaged messages are transmitted in a monologue to a captive audience.

In writing this, I think that the PR people reading will know instinctively that of course nowadays communication is about peer-to-peer horizontal dialogue that starts with listening, a conversation where ideas and information are freely shared between co-creators. It also occurs to me that many if not most of the scientists doing climate change communication may be completely unaware of this seismic shift.

Public relations in the public interest

Climate change is too big a problem for any single person or institution to solve, so even the most effective communication will probably be inadequately riveting. Communication is not synonymous with public relations; it is a key function, but PR also involves understanding and explaining public opinion to affect wise decision-making. It can help transcend traditional audience boundaries through relationship brokerage, social networking, and community building. I think if we apply all the rallying power and convening capability of the PR profession to the challenge of climate change, we could have a fine example of what some have aptly called ‘public relations in the public interest.’

Where are the PR people?

I have been tracking the topic of climate change communications for months and what I’ve noticed is the almost complete dearth of the world’s top public relations leaders in the discussion. In some cases, I suspect their lack of engagement could have something to do with their portfolio of ‘carbon-rich accounts’ (which I have shared in some of my past energy practice client work). But with most energy companies starting to engage more openly in the global warming dialogue, there’s no reason why most PR professionals can’t start communicating with conviction on climate change.

PR has actually become such an aggressive and vivid concept in the public mind, perceived to be more important than ever: ‘PR war,’ ‘PR battle,’ ‘PR blitz, ‘PR spectacle,’ etc. It’s almost as if PR is now seen as a mighty secret weapon to be used to defeat one’s enemies.

You would never know it though, judging by our industry’s underwhelming presence in the conversation about our most formidable foe in the future. With some notable individual exceptions, I think PR’s lack of strong senior leadership on global warming work is an embarrassment to the industry. When it comes to climate change communication, saying ‘I’m only the PR person’ and sitting on the sidelines is a cop-out. The encouraging thing is that I know many rank-and-file PRs are already doing their part – including in client and pro-bono cause work – and still more are ready to be mobilized in the cause.

As the industry of the world’s most powerful information workers, dealing with the looming PR disaster of climate change should be our cause célèbre. Here we can stand for something we’re proud of and give our work more of the meaning we’ve always wanted, by being the best we can be as a profession to make a decisive difference.

Like most ‘PR disasters,’ climate change is in fact a reality disaster. But if PR people get organized enough and resourced enough, we can help avoid this one before it happens.

OK, so what can we do?

Well, if it were so easy to know the answer to that question, then perhaps we would have already amassed an impressive track record.

In my next blog post I will be sharing some modest suggestions – mine and from others – for what PR people can do to play their part to help achieve drastically improved climate change communications.

Every day, many thousands of corporate communicators around the world help motivate the opinions and actions of billions of consumers we persuade on behalf of famous global brands. We can apply our vast experience and influential capabilities in the service of climate change awareness and activism.

We need to sound the alarm, break through the barriers and focus attention. By connecting communities, creating convincing content, and convening conversations, we can help massively improve the quality and effectiveness of climate change communication.

We humans could not be wired worse when it comes to perceiving and dealing with a threat like global warming. Overcoming all the cognitive biases and practical obstacles I’ve outlined here will not be easy no matter how wonderful the public relations.

Yet particularly when social media is becoming the world’s new central nervous system and is fostering an emerging collective global consciousness, I think PR can help inform, influence and inspire as never before.

 

Categories: blog, climate change
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The marketing might of modern public relations

March 26th, 2013 / 4:06 am

On March 23rd I was honoured to address the Bangladesh Brand Forum seminar in Dhaka.

In my presentation, I argued that:

  • social media is revolutionizing the way the world communicates and it is powering the public relations industry’s global ascendancy
  • in Asia, PR has traditionally been a relatively minor and subordinate part of the marketing mix but now it increasingly occupies centre stage
  • because public relations is at its essence a social networking business, it is well positioned to thrive in the digital domain, especially in a region where mobile communications are the new marketing battleground
  • media relations and publicity will always be a key part of PR, but now creating content, building communities, understanding analytics and applying the psychology of persuasion are all part of the picture
  • PR will always be about the art of relationships, but increasingly it is a measurable communications science

The marketing might of modern public relations from Robert Pickard

Categories: Asia, PR industry
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The multitasking myth

June 1st, 2010 / 6:00 pm

Don’t believe all that multitasking hype: studies have shown that the human mind is wired to pay attention to one thing at a time. What we can do well is rapidly shift between things, like clicking a remote control to change channels. If you’re interested in this area, read this article from The Huffington Post: People who are multitasking are often bad at it or this one from National Public Radio: Think you’re multitasking? Think again. This article from The Daily Mail says there are negative consequences and even has tips for multitasking “if you must:” Is multi-tasking bad for your brain? Experts reveal the hidden perils of juggling too many jobs. Of related interest is The benefits of distraction from New York magazine.

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Below the radar: stories about subliminal

January 21st, 2010 / 3:00 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about how tapping into the unconscious mind is the next big thing in marketing, thus the emerging term ‘neuromarketing.’ This reminded me about subliminal advertising, which going back to the 1950s has been a controversial and disputed means of persuasion (e.g. subliminal images are shown so briefly that the viewer does not consciously ‘see’ them). Every now and then, I stumble upon an article about this area and here are two recent ones:

  • Subliminal cues do work after all, says study: when subliminal advertising first came to the forefront during the ‘red scare’ 1950s era, people were afraid that the Soviet Union could use such surreptitious techniques to brainwash the public into supporting Communism. Later they were reassured when the results of a much-publicized study turned out to have been falsified. Now, however, with the benefit of MRI ‘brain scan’ technology, there is new evidence that “provided they were reinforced with simultaneous rewards, subliminal advertising could probably influence some of the choices we make.”
  • Subliminal messages work best when negative: so finds a study conducted by University College London, whose Professor Lavie says that “We have shown that people can perceive the emotional value of subliminal messages and have demonstrated conclusively that people are much more attuned to negative words.” She added: “More controversially, highlighting a competitor’s negative qualities may work on a subliminal level much more effectively than shouting about your own selling points.”

Hopefully this will not give too much succor to those who advocate negative advertising in politics. ‘Effective’ or not in winning elections, I think ‘going negative’ makes our increasingly fragile democratic institutions a loser by increasing cynicism and discouraging citizen participation.

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The persuasive storytellers

January 20th, 2010 / 9:00 pm

Today it was my pleasure to guest lecture two classes of PR students at Toronto’s Humber College. To say the least, I was impressed about the extent to which these bright and engaging students have a contemporary command of the forces of change shaping the future of public relations. Here’s a copy of my presentation deck:

Categories: blog, persuasion
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Liar, liar: knowing the enemy

January 18th, 2010 / 1:00 pm

I have become instinctively irritated when I hear people say that public relations involves lying, but I get far more annoyed when I hear PR practitioners actually lie. Most of us in the profession value telling and selling a story straight, but there are those — often the ones who talk most conspicuously about the importance of ethics for some reason — who seem to fib far too much. This sort of behavior from a small minority helps perpetuate on the honest majority what I believe to be an inaccurate and unfair ‘liar’ stereotype.

It’s pretty widely accepted that lying is corrosive to the trust foundation of relationships. Every field of endeavor has its liars, but because PR people are in the relationships business (Public Relationships and Private Relationships), the importance of avoiding lying is fundamentally important to our craft. This is especially true at a time when we are achieving a growing traction as an industry amplified by the rise of social media. So if lying is our adversary, then we’d better well understand the enemy so we can prevail against such a formidable foe.

Here’s an interesting video that purportedly shows how to detect lies:

…and these are some of the best sources and links that I’ve seen lately:

Categories: blog, psychology
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Are PR people incorrigible gossips?

January 11th, 2010 / 11:00 am

My wife said the other day that “PR people are such gossips!” Is it possible that she could be right?

At first, I pooh-poohed the idea, perhaps reflecting the conceit of a profession where supposedly the ability to keep confidences well is one of our distinguishing characteristics. After all, PR people have historically been the staunch enforcer of the embargo and the trusted custodians of news secrets (the strategic ‘leaking’ of which this article in The Financial Times says may have gotten out of hand).

Now, there is a difference between being a small-time gossip and breaching confidentiality big-time, but I suppose not enough of one to challenge the basis of my spouse’s contention because the two are such interrelated phenomena.

The number of PR people I would 100% trust to absolutely, positively maintain discretion no matter what is fairly compact. On the other hand, I’ve often been amazed at how often I’ve sought and secured solemn pledges of confidentiality before sharing sensitive information, only to find out later on that the secret was spilled to others under similar (in)secure conditions.

Indeed, when it comes to confidentiality in PR, the extent of hypocrisy can be breathtakingly pervasive. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have heard senior PR executives criticize others for a lack of discretion while evidencing a conspicuous lack of it themselves.

Why might it be that PR people are prone to promiscuous information-sharing practices?

One theory is that because we are under so much pressure to always keep information under wraps (until the right time for it to become ‘public’), in private there’s a corresponding need to feel less repressed by acting more liberally. Or maybe it’s because we have grown so adept at sharing stories with others (trafficking information to the right people at the right time), it has become habit-forming and we’ve just become too turned-on when it comes to spreading salacious things around. Another explanation is that there’s a lack of ample formal sanction in PR against such behavior; unlike lawyers, PR people cannot be drummed out of the profession for breaching confidentiality because our industry doesn’t yet have a mandatory professional credential (like attorneys and accountants, for example). That said, if someone is addicted to shooting their mouth off, word spreads informally and the repeat offender gets frozen out of the loop.

Perhaps because PR people have become arguably the world’s most powerful information workers, the information we have — which is scarce and exclusive — might be what makes PR people feel more powerful. Often ignored by media and under the client thumb, I can understand how some PRs seek that sensation.

I think Dr. Robert Cialdini’s findings on the self-interested nature of information-sharing may be the most compelling explanation: “The persuasive power of exclusivity can be harnessed by any manager who comes into possession of information that’s not widely available and that supports an idea or initiative he or she would like the organization to adopt.”

Perhaps PR folks are no different than anyone else when it comes to these modern ‘transparent’ trends. This is, after all, the age of social networks and with rising acceptance of less privacy and more ‘Re-Tweeting,’ I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised by a shrinking domain of trusted private disclosure and an enlarged sphere of public information.

Still, what a wonderful feeling when you know — through repeated confidence-building experience — that you can trust certain individuals with your reputation. The good thing is that word of how they can keep secrets well also spreads like wildfire, with such people enjoying all kinds of reputation benefits (e.g. being widely known as an executive of high caliber and sound character).

Categories: blog, psychology
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How to avoid choking under pressure

January 7th, 2010 / 3:00 pm

Even though I love public speaking and have delivered hundreds of speeches and presentations over the years, I am not immune to ‘podium pressures’ and thus found this Scientific American article on how to avoid choking under pressure a relevant resource in preparing for the most effective platform presence.

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The contradiction of charisma

December 28th, 2009 / 8:43 am

A new theory of charisma in this Boston Globe article: “[It] is the power of apparently effortless embodiment of contradictory qualities simultaneously: strength and vulnerability, innocence and experience, and singularity and typicality among them.”

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Which is more persuasive: time or money?

December 19th, 2009 / 11:00 am

This article in the Inside Influence Report produced by Dr. Robert Cialdini’s organization outlines the results of a new persuasion study which should especially interest PR people (as their product is professional time to which the market assigns a monetary value):

  • “A survey of the recent issues of four popular, high circulation magazines (New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, Money and Rolling Stone) revealed that out of a total of some 300 advertisements almost half employed a reference to time or money in their message. But does mentioning time or money influence peoples’ evaluation of the product or service concerned? And if they do which is more persuasive – time or money?”
  • “These [study] results…suggest that irrespective of the amount of money an individual might spend on a product…making references to time can influence people’s perception of a product’s attributes. Therefore it would seem to sense to initially include references to time rather than money when influencing others to consider your offers and proposals.”

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