Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Service of Inquiring Minds

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

I suspect the wood planks are heavy and could easily make someone lose balance as they reach for each.

I’ve previously isolated questions in posts even though I end each with at least one.

These people take my breath away.

I started with two in 2016–“Service of Questions” and “Service of Why.” A smattering: Why do mothers give their toddlers in strollers tablets to stare at when there’s so much to see on a walk and why do telemarketers hire people who mumble? 

In 2019 in “Service of Questions—Does Google Have All the Answers?” I asked a few more such as how commuters in cars in the New York metro area fill their time in traffic for as long as 90 minutes? How do pet owners of moderate means afford vet bills when they have more than one?

Here are more that I’ve thought of recently:

  • How come the rise in interest rates seem to impact borrowers immediately but not those with garden variety bank savings accounts? I asked a random customer service person at a bank branch. He said CDs will reflect the interest rate change first and that it will take a few months for anything to kick in for savings accounts. Hmmmm.
  • I marvel at people who work in precarious situations and have snapped shots of some. Is being fearless like this something you can acclimate yourself to?
  • Why is the weather forecast on my iPhone so consistently wrong lately especially when it comes to predicting rain?
  • Why do people glorify a deceased spouse when for years they confided the person had made their life miserable?
  • Why don’t I recall hearing, years ago, about such breathtakingly horrific forest fires as now in the West and in Europe?

What random questions do you have? Any answers to mine?

Climbing on an off this ladder is the definition of precarious

Service of Responding at Your Peril

Thursday, July 21st, 2022

Hardly a week goes by without a new con to entice recipients to respond to a phone call, text, email or fake ad on a social media platform.

Just this week I got a text from “PayPals [sic] Service.” It started:  “We have restricted your account.” Since when did PayPal add an S to its name?

In the last few months I noticed stalkers on Facebook not where you’d expect them–asking to be your friend the old fashioned way–but in comments. When a woman placed a comment to a post the stalker-stranger would not address the topic or the remark but instead would introduce himself and invite the woman to connect.

For a long while we’ve received emails and texts announcing “your order has been processed” when there’s been none or “thank you for renewing your membership to Geeksquad” to a nonmember. And then there’s a warning that my friend shared about a purchase on her Amazon account. She doesn’t have one and she added “Sadly many naive people would push #1 as instructed. Not me!”

She mentioned an email allegedly from Yahoo asking her to confirm her email address or she’d stop getting emails within 48 hours. “There was none of the usual verbiage from Yahoo so I knew it was a scam,” she said. “Plus they’d never only give you 48 hours for any change. But makes me sick when I think of how many people fell for it.”

I was distressed reading Christina Morales’s story “Restaurants Face an Extortion Threat: A Bad Rating on Google.” In The New York Times she reported: “In a new scam targeting restaurants, criminals are leaving negative ratings on restaurants’ Google pages as a bargaining chip to extort digital gift cards.” The one star ratings–the worst you can get–feature neither photos nor descriptions and the writers haven’t been to the restaurants, some of which have Michelin stars. The scammers request $75 Google Play gift cards to remove the review.

From California to New York, the emails were the same wrote Morales: “We sincerely apologize for our actions, and would not want to harm your business but we have no other choice.” She continued: “The email went on to say that the sender lives in India and that the resale value of the gift card could provide several weeks of income for the sender’s family. The emails, from several Gmail accounts, requested payment to a Proton mail account.”

Google removed some but not all of the bad ratings. A spokesperson said the company is looking into the reviews and removed those that violated policy which states you must have been to the place you review. If not, the writer faces account suspension and/or litigation.

It’s not that easy to contact Google although “Law enforcement officials have urged” the restaurants to do so as well as to notify local police, F.B.I. and the FTC. “The commission advises businesses not to pay the scammers,” she wrote.

The takeaway for those who check out restaurant ratings is to discount any that come with no photos or descriptions.

Have you noticed any new scams attempting to trick you into playing ball? If a restaurant has mostly good reviews and one bad one do you discount it, assume it might be written by the competition or a nut or do you take it seriously?

Service of When a Company Listens to its Employees–or Not

Monday, May 24th, 2021

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

I knew a successful stockbroker who traveled the country at a time in which we manufactured a lot. He’d visit a corporation to speak with the employees on the line. He wasn’t interested in the boilerplate management wanted to share.

Today, employees voice their opinions of management’s decisions–some say even more than before.

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Emily Glazer described a recent to and fro in their Wall Street Journal article “Inside the Simon & Schuster Blowup Over Its Mike Pence Book Deal.”

The article’s subhead reads: “Petition demanded publisher drop potential blockbuster, saying it betrayed company’s promise to oppose bigotry, while CEO defended commitment to broad range of views ” They reported that 14 percent of the staff–200–signed a petition. “While the majority of employees didn’t sign the petition,” wrote Trachtenberg and Glazer, “it continues drawing external support and now has more than 5,000 external signatories.”

They wrote: “The Pence conflict stands out because the demand struck at the heart of the publisher’s business. Book companies, which have long prized their willingness to publish a wide range of voices, in contrast to the silos of cable news, say they need blockbuster books of all stripes to carry the rest of their titles.”

In addition, they reported that Jonathan Karp, president and CEO, “said one reason Simon & Schuster is comfortable publishing Mr. Pence is that the former vice president refused to take an action to overturn the election.” He told staffers in an online gathering “there wouldn’t be any discriminatory content in Mr. Pence’s book.”

“In January,” wrote the reporters, “the company canceled the publication of a book by Sen. Hawley, citing his role in challenging the presidential election results on Jan. 6, when rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.” Quoting Karp this was because “his actions ‘led to a dangerous threat to our democracy.’ He said the senator’s role in that day’s events ‘brought widespread disapproval and outrage to him and would have redounded to us.’”

Image by Natalia Ovcharenko from Pixabay

The reporters shared other examples referring to a pause in political contributions by Microsoft through 2022 to legislators who opposed certification of the electoral college, a move resulting from an employee’s appeal.

They mentioned that “Similar pressures [to address employee demands] have ricocheted across the business world,” mentioning  Apple, Delta Air Lines and Google. They didn’t specify the dynamics but in a Google search I found that:

  • Apple bowed to employee pressure to rescind its job offer to the author of a memoir in which he wrote disparaging things about women.
  • According to Shirin Ghaffary in vox.com, Google agreed to “scrap forced arbitration in individual cases of sexual harassment or assault after 20,000 Google workers staged a walkout demanding changes to how it treats employees. The walkout was prompted by a New York Times article that revealed Google had given a senior executive, Andy Rubin, a $90 million exit package even after it found he had been credibly accused of sexual harassment…..Employees who prefer to arbitrate privately will still have that option.”
  • Delta replaced uniforms for 60,000 employees because some claimed the originals made them sick.
  • On the other hand, CEO Jamie Dimon suggested that any of his employees who pushed him to restrict doing business with the military could leave JPMorgan Chase, Trachtenberg and Glazer reported.

Should corporations act on what employees request? Have you changed an employer or corporation’s mind about a major decision or can you name other examples where this happened?

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Service of Too Big and Too Powerful

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

In my line of work, I’m thrilled by the stories I bring to media that they embrace. I’m critical of some I read, see or hear when I think of a few appropriate leads I’ve proposed that were rejected by key players. The most glaring example of “how did this get past the editor/producer?” is the constant coverage by legitimate media that gave credibility to the shenanigans of the current chief of state when he started his campaign.

But PR, with its constraints, is the game I’m in and when I hit pay dirt I still get a thrill; when I don’t I try harder.

Richard Whitman’s commentary on Mediapost.com struck a nerve because he wrote about the advertising world that unlike PR pays for its communications and if what it sells is legitimate, gets in. The commentary dealt with an uncooperative gatekeeper setting up a roadblock for dissemination of essential information that could save young lives.

In “Cancer Awareness Campaign Supported by Google, But Apple Won’t Play Ball,” he wrote about an advertising campaign for the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation to “raise money and awareness to fight the disease via a set of testicle emojis that consumers can download for $3.99.”

Whitman reports the foundation’s findings: There’s a 95 percent survival rate when the disease is detected early. Also, it is the leading cancer for boys/men 15 to 24.

The ad agency, Oberland, prepared the sticker packs to launch with April, Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Oberland reported that Apple’s reason for declining was: “Your sticker pack is not in compliance with the App Store Review guidelines.” Whitman commented: “Whatever that means.”

He wrote: “Oberland appealed, even sharing a note from the founder of the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation — Kim Jones — which included a personal story of the passing of her son Jordan from the disease at the tragically early age of 22. But the appeal was denied.”

He concluded: “And Apple seems to be going out of its way to prevent that message from being heard by more people than it otherwise might. That’s a head scratcher.  What gives, Apple?”

I once reported to an editor who would wrinkle her nose, hand copy back to me and say, “I don’t like it.” I’d ask what she didn’t like—the topic? the headline? the lead? It was my first magazine job and I was flummoxed when her only response was the look of disgust. Apple acted just the same. Someone could have said to Oberland, “this is what you must do for the app to be accepted.” Nobody did.

Advertising is a different game than PR. It’s more costly and those doing it have control of the message and where/when it plays. Or do they these days—when the gatekeeper to a crucial target audience is a giant corporation that carries a lot of weight? Is this a healthy precedent?

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