Tag Archives: Reno

A Failure of Communication

What we got here is a failure to communicate
Prison Warden in Cool Hand Luke

Organizations should use extreme caution in employing anyone over forty-five for handling public image and public relations. I fall into that bracket and I’ve been studying social media since 2007, but I only know enough to understand that most ‘professionals’ of the traditional media don’t have a clue when it comes to communicating information to people in this century.

Traditional media professionals reminisce about the glory days when the game was to be on good terms with the editor of the local newspapers, have drinks with the news directors of the local television stations, and talk shop with the other local public relations (PR) directors at the bigger companies. Those were the days when a phone call could land a big story for the local news that would launch a new product or service. Top management would pat the PR guy on the back (or on the butt if the person was female) and tell him or her what a great job they did.

Those days are over.

The Internet, Facebook, customer reviews, Twitter, Yelp, and a thousand other media channels severely wounded traditional media and the old ways are never coming back. Yet, talk to an old PR person and say that nothing has really changed. It’s all about who you know. Old PR people don’t have a clue at how silly they sound.

I was at a school board meeting for a public charter school last week where a self-professed ‘expert’ in public relations announced that she was at a conference and learned that people no longer used websites to obtain information. She said that parents of school-age children only paid attention to Facebook and Instagram.

Actual "Principal's message" from current school website....written at least three years ago

Actual “Principal’s message” from current school website….written at least three years ago

It should be noted, and that the school’s website is one of the worst on the Internet, and that the school is known for its severe deficiency in communicating information to parents.

Public Communication 2015
As part of the out-of-touch generation, take my advice with a grain of sodium chloride, or whatever water retaining additive you choose, but here is what I have learned in the past eight years.

It is true that many people from different generations tend to engage in social media at varying levels; however, there is no one single media that can reach everyone regardless of their generation. Education level, social economic status, and language all play a role in where people gather information. To declare that there are one or two media sources that parents of school-age children rely on is arrogant at best, and more likely, ignorant.

Any organization’s strategy has to be to use every possible form of media delivery to reach the stakeholders. In the case of a school, information has to be delivered through student folders, phone call announcements, in-school announcements, school website, parent emails, mail, Public Service Announcements (PSA,) school’s Facebook page, etc. Information must also be repeated in order to reach people when they’re listening. A single Facebook post is like going to a street corner at 6:00 AM and yelling out information and then assuming that everyone who passes by that street corner that day will hear the message.

But just sending out the same message through all the channels is ineffective. Social media channels are best used as a ‘reminder’ or ‘alert’ forum with a link back to one source (e.g.; the school website.) Long posts on Facebook make the information less likely to be read both now and in the future. Short posts with a link to more information for those interested is the most efficient method of delivery.

The website is NOT dead. In fact, it is more vital than ever. A charter school’s website is an information source for those considering enrolling their children, a primary source for parents for detailed information, and it establishes the public image for the school. A Facebook page is vital, and if you have a brilliant administration, Twitter can be the inside source for parents who want to know the inside scoop of what is happening now, but the school website will always be the 24/7/365 place for vital information.

It will take a decade or more to weed out the old PR professionals who live in the past; however, it doesn’t take a sixteen-year-old to know when someone doesn’t understand how to communicate in this century. If the stakeholders say they are not being adequately informed, it’s obvious the organization has a problem.

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Filed under About Reno, Branding, Business, Communication, Crisis Management, Customer Relations, Customer Service, Education, Generational, Government, Higher Education, Information Technology, Internet, Management Practices, parenting, Print Media, Public Image, Public Relations, Social Interactive Media (SIM), Social Media Relations, Technology, Traditional Media, Universities, Website, Women

How to Choose Your Favorite Son or Daughter

And the favorite child is?

And the favorite child is?

Every family that has more than one child faces a question as to which one is the favorite child. When asked, a parent will typically say, “They’re all my favorite,” which is BS and we all know it. Every parent should be able to know which child is their favorite, even if they can’t be honest about it.

Evaluating Your Offspring

Trying to determine which is your favorite is not as easy as it sounds. Flight attendants giving the pre-flight safety briefing on Southwest Airlines sometimes encourage parents of flying with more than one child to determine which child has the best earning potential in case they have to choose one to give oxygen in the event the cabin depressurizes. This is funny the first 20 times you hear it, but that doesn’t stop  them from delivering the joke 100 hundreds of times.

However, earning potential is a poor criteria for determining a favorite child…unless you have a binding contract that gives you a kickback as a quid pro quo for favorite child status. Quite frankly, successful adults often start out as horrible offspring, so I would not use earning potential as a factor.

Ease of child-rearing is also not a reliable criteria. Often it is the badly behaved child that teaches us the most about ourselves and our skills as a parent. Bad children can also become grateful adults, although one shouldn’t bank on that either.

Children who are ‘Mama’s boy’ or ‘Daddy’s girl’ should not be considered as an indicator of favorite child status. Sweet young children can become Satan’s spawn as teenagers, leaving the parent to wonder what they did wrong…as if the parent is at fault.

Children who remain in constant contact, calling their Mom or Dad daily, may seem like candidates for the favorite child, but this stalking technique is illegal in most states, so it doesn’t seem prudent to consider it as a factor?

So how does a parent determine the favorite child?

I have two adult daughters and a nine-year-old son. My daughters have successful lives, wonderful children and selected husbands that are more intelligent than their (my daughter’s) father. My son works hard to do his best and constantly impresses me with his development out of conservative it’s-all-about-me behavior into liberal, make-the-world better behavior. It would seem I would have a difficult time choosing the favorite….

….but I don’t.

The secret to choosing your favorite child is remembering that life is made up of moments. Every moment (in person or by phone or text) with one or more of my children is a moment with my favorite child or children. Our offspring don’t often understand why ‘family gatherings’ are so important to parents because they don’t realize that it is a time when a parent is rich with favorite children.

This doesn’t mean any of our children fall out of favor just because they are not with the parent at any given moment. Children are part of a parent’s life at all times, but when we have the opportunity to interact with our children, the moment is special.

Children are our legacy and we can move on in our lives reassured that we have accomplished all we needed to when we have raised a child. Our offspring become the painting of life we create as parents.We are artists and when we spend time with our children we can admire the grace and creativity of work that we did without a manual, training or degree. We can’t take credit for everything our children become, but we can smile and be content in that role we played in their lives….even if they don’t realize it.

This holiday season, remember to enjoy your favorite child and know that you are not limited to just one. Happy Holidays!

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Filed under Aging, Lessons of Life, parenting, Pride, Relationships

Smoke Adds To Global Warming

Morning smoke haze over Reno, Nevada caused by California King fire

September morning smoke haze over Reno, Nevada caused by California King fire

Seventy-eight percent of the Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen, and twenty-one percent is oxygen. Both of these gases do not absorb infrared radiation. The heat from the Sun passes through nitrogen and oxygen. When scientists refer to global warming they are not talking about the two gases that make up 99% of our atmosphere.

Global warming is what happens in one percent of the atmosphere. Carbon, water vapor, and other trace gases/particles absorb infrared radiation from the Sun, and from solar infrared radiation that.is reflected off the Earth’s surface. One percent of our air holds the balance between continuity of our climate and rapid variances.

Some are proud of their role in causing devastating environmental change.

Some are proud of their role in causing devastating environmental change.

This summer one of my friends, Dr. Narayan Adhikari, completed his doctoral theses. He studied the rate of infrared absorption in the atmosphere by using instruments that regularly measured the air over various locations in northern Nevada. His research included two significant events that impacted the air quality in the Reno, Nevada area. One event was a dust storm in June of last year and the other was smoke from the Rim fire in California in August of 2013.

Both of these events gave him the opportunity to measure the impact of infrared absorption when the atmosphere has a dramatic increase in amount of aerosol particulates. The results of his studies indicate a significant increase in heating of the atmosphere by infrared absorption during such events. 

This debunks the idea that clouds, smoke, and other ‘sun-blocking’ events might help cool the atmosphere. Smoke from fires, such as the King fire currently burning in California will trap more heat and cause increased global warming.

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Filed under About Reno, Ethics, Green, Health, Politics, Science, solar, Universities

Reno, Nevada: Dead City Walking

The centerpiece of Reno's future

The centerpiece of Reno’s future

What makes Reno, Nevada unique? Here are some of the wrong answers:

  • Mountains – Plenty of cities the size of Reno are next to, or in mountains.
  • Outdoor Recreation — Again, there are no shortages of cities near outdoor recreation.
  • Arts — Many cities have art festivals, and most art festivals have more professional (paid) artists, but Reno relies mostly on artists working for free.
  • Gaming — Absolutely the most non-unique thing about Reno

Reno is Dying
The question about Reno’s uniqueness is critical to the survival of Reno. Over fifty years ago Reno discovered tourism and that vaulted a small desert town into easy money and big growth. The city learned that when people make their money elsewhere and spend it in Reno, the economy of Reno booms.

But for the last decade Reno has lost its uniqueness. Gaming is something you can do at the nearest Indian Casino. If you want to party and see gaudy construction lit up like game show on LSD, then go to Las Vegas. Reno is nothing when it comes to gaming.

Reno’s is Unique
The one thing that Reno has that no other city has is hotel room per capita. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, and Reno’s ratio equals or exceeds that average. Reno is a city designed for conventions. The problem is how to get convention organizers to consider Reno as a great convention town.

What won’t work is to keep gaming as the attraction. That industry is poison. It demands that the convention goer stay on the property and gamble, which defeats all the other great attractions that might attract repeat business, and American business people do not want to pay for their employees to go and party. The best thing that could happen in Reno is for gaming to be made illegal.

The other challenge is to get all the properties to work as one. That doesn’t happen that often. One property can shoot the city’s bid for a convention down by not cooperating.

However, if Reno can let go of gaming and focus on the big picture, it could be made into the premier convention town.

That’s a big ‘If.’

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Filed under About Reno, Branding, Business, Crime, Customer Relations, Customer Service, Government, Management Practices, Opinion, Politics, Pride, Public Image, Public Relations, Re-Imagine!, Recreation, The Tipping Point, Travel

Image by Paul Kiser

Image by Paul Kiser

Rock Wall on Sierra Street in Reno, Nee-va-da

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February 10, 2014 · 11:05 PM

Starbucks Menu Makeover Launches in Reno

Following the successful introduction of San Francisco’s La Boulange pastries in other cities, the Reno-area Starbucks will introduce the new menu on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

The upper pastry case is where the most visible changes will occur

The upper pastry case is where the most visible changes will occur  (Starbucks at 7th & Keystone in Reno, NV, USA)

The food items are a continuation of Starbucks effort to expand its product offerings beyond coffee and tea beverages. Many of the pastries currently offered can still be found, although some have been transformed into mini-loaves (A.K.A. Loaf Cakes) rather than slices of large loaves.

The introduction of Savory Squares combines the lightness of a pastry around a omelet-type center (Ham & Cheese, Tomato & Cheese, and Wheat Spinach.) Starbucks will continue to offer the Breakfast Sandwiches, oatmeal, and items found below the pastry case, but this partnership with La Boulange will take the next step in offering specialty food to compliment its speciality beverages.

For more information on the new menu, click here to visit the Starbucks website.

(This article was not solicited, nor was any compensation offered in payment for it.)

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Filed under About Reno, Branding, Business, Customer Relations, Customer Service, Health, Management Practices, Public Image, Public Relations

Nevada Middle School Shooting Made Worse By Absent and Inept Public Relations Management

On October 21st a 12 year-old Nevada boy brought a gun to his school, killed a teacher, shot two other students, then killed himself. The shooting left families devastated in a continuing saga of gun-related school incidents. Sadly, the crisis was intensified and prolonged by the failure of the local authorities to use standard and best practices in managing public relations. At times it seemed that there was a vacuum in media management. At other times it seemed that government officials from China had been employed to handle community relations.

Sparks Middle School - A tragedy made worse

Sparks Middle School – A tragedy made worse

In any crisis situation there is panic followed by confusion, rumors, and fear. The first goal is to resolve the immediate crisis. In most situations this will involve turning over control of the facilities and situation to law enforcement and other first responders.

However, the second goal of an organization in a crisis is to reduce the confusion, rumors, and fears. This process must start as quickly as possible, and sometimes it must be done before the crisis is under control by first responders.

In the Nevada incident, parents throughout the Reno community¹ were aware of an active shooter on a local school campus within minutes of the 7:15 AM shooting incident. There were 20 to 30 eyewitnesses when the teenager shot a teacher, who then reportedly went into the school and killed himself . It was all over within a few minutes. 

(¹The shooting occurred in Sparks, Nevada, a suburb of Reno.)

In the first hours following the shooting some rumors persisted that police were looking for the suspect; however, it is likely that law enforcement on the scene knew within ten to fifteen minutes that shooter was dead. With the suspect dead, the priorities of the first responders were to render assistance to the wounded, secure the students and school, secure the crime scene, and gather information.

Children became the official source of the shooting

Children became the official information source of the shooting

At least eight different sources were quoted in the first few hours after the shooting. This would indicate that the Washoe County School District and the various law enforcement agencies responding did not select a skilled spokesperson to manage the post-shooting situation. At 7:42 AM, less than 30 minutes after the shooting, the Reno Gazette Journal reported the following:

  • A shooting had occurred at Sparks Middle School
  • A police spokesperson had confirmed that the shooter was ‘neutralized’
  • Police were looking for the suspect
  • The school was on lockdown
  • The students had been evacuated

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the information coming from the crime scene in the first hour of the incident will be in conflict; however, the role of the primary spokesperson is to rapidly identify rumors and incorrect facts and address them. Two hours after the shooting a press conference was held. This was the opportunity for local authorities to reduce anxiety, confusion, and fear by detailing critical information. By answering as many of the basic questions (who, what, where, when, why, how) as possible the public could be reassured that despite the tragedy, authorities knew what happened and had the situation under control. After the press conference the Reno Gazette Journal reported:

“Authorities released few details about a shooting at about 7:15 a.m. at Sparks Middle School during a 9:15 a.m. press conference.”

If the families of the dead and wounded had not been notified then it would not have been appropriate to release the names; however, authorities wouldn’t even confirm whether teachers or students had been shot. Students began reporting what happened to the media and with no cooperation from local authorities, the families were contacted. That is the symptom of absent or inept media management.

Forcing Children To Be Spokespeople
Within minutes after the shooting word spread, not just within the local community, but around the world. Instantly parents, grandparents, relatives, and friends of school-age children began asking questions. What school? Was anyone killed? How many were shot? Who was killed or injured? Was it over? Why did it happen? Is my child/grandchild safe?

By withholding the details the local authorities did not withhold the story they just lost management of it. Without an official source for information the witnesses, in this case, mostly children, became the official spokesperson. To make the blunders of the first day worse, suburban police and city officials refused to release the name of the shooter for three days, citing that his name did not appear on any ‘report.’ 

The Public’s Right To Know Not the Correct Issue
Local media was incensed by the stonewalling of the authorities to release the name; however, this was more than an issue of the public’s Right to Know. The stated reason by authorities to withhold the shooter’s name was to protect the family, the failure to release this information put more focus on the shooter’s family to confirm or deny the rumors that were rampant within the community.

A skilled spokesperson would have understood this and worked to ensure that the information was appropriately released while also urging the media to respect the family’s need to grieve. 

Who Owns Information?
In the 20th century mass communication came with a catch. Access to information could be controlled. The public knew what the government, public relations staff, editors, and news directors wanted us to know. That changed with the Internet and Social Media. Information is fluid and it will flow through any conduit it can find. Information desired by the public will find the quickest path and anyone who believes they can stop the flow of it is only diverting it through another source. A spokesperson can and should be the quickest path for facts and information because it will reduce the fear, confusion and rumors.

The mishandling of the crisis in Nevada should serve as a lesson as to why a skilled, experienced crisis manager and spokesperson should be a part of every organization. No tragedy should be made worse by inept local authorities.

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Filed under About Reno, Communication, Crime, Crisis Management, Ethics, Government, Information Technology, Internet, Management Practices, Opinion, Print Media, Public Relations, Social Interactive Media (SIM), Social Media Relations, Traditional Media, Violence in the Workplace