Conflate, Confuse or Abuse?

February 5, 2015

by Roger Pynn

Confession:  I’ve been a big Brian Williams fan.  Notice:  no longer.

I’m big on forgiveness, and didn’t understand other newsies who appeared at first to be patting him on the back for “apologizing.”  Seems to me that what he needs to do is own up far more than to mangle terminology.

Here’s exactly what he said:

“I would not have chosen to make this mistake.  I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”


Williams’ use of the word “conflate” in regard to a story he has told and retold about an experience while covering the war in Iraq and claiming he was in a helicopter that was shot down is more than a stretch.  The truth is he was in another airplane.  He was never in the plane that was fired upon.

If you’ve been shot down in any kind of aircraft, I’d suggest it is a memory etched forever.

If you haven’t, it is a nightmare, a dream or a fantasy.  Telling it over and over again is far more than what he called it.  I’d say he has abused the privilege of telling stories in your living room every night.

Don’t Make Me Look

January 28, 2015

by Roger Pynn

Sitting Friday morning in a client meeting and seeing an email pop up on my phone with the subject line “Are you picking me up at the airport?” jolted me into that “oh, no … what have I forgotten?” mode.  Excusing myself by saying “I’m sorry, but I see an urgent message,” I scooted out of the meeting only to read “I’m only ½ kidding.  You don’t need to pick me up at the airport, but you do need to be at the CEO Workshop Tuesday morning.”

So Jim Muehlhausen at Business Model Institute must have thought himself pretty clever.  Made me look.

Well, Jim, you also made me mad … enough to out you for a stupid email marketing practice … enough to ensure I’ll never buy one of your books or seminars.  Your website indicates you’re a CPA with a law degree and in your video you say you’re a lifelong entrepreneur, have written two books and you “started a bunch of businesses.”

What you clearly haven’t learned is that effective marketing involves honest communication and is respectful of the person you are trying to communicate with.

But you’re not alone, Jim.  Inboxes are full of chum that gets past spam as guys like you chop up crappy waste and throw it overboard hoping someone will bite.  Hopefully, however, someone will read this and be reminded that if your workshop was worth anything you’d have invested in honest, thoughtful, tasteful content that made me think you could teach me something.

And Jim … you don’t wait until Friday to make your first attempt to sell people on a Tuesday workshop that would have required me to make a 90-minute drive.  And, by the way … your link to the registration site was broken.  #Fail.

After All

January 8, 2015

by Roger Pynn

Anyone who has visited the Magic Kingdom and ridden one of its most timeless rides remembers the lyrics that ring in your ear for hours:  “it’s a small world; after all … it’s a small, small world.”

The Social Media Era has certainly proven that, but today anyone I’m connected to on LinkedIn must have done a double-take when they saw that Roger Pynn had become connected to Roger Pynn.  Mine is, after all, not a common name … nor is Roger Pynn, the globally recognized physicist, exactly a household moniker.

I’ve known of Roger for years, but when a friend searching for me on LinkedIn came across my “cousin” it was time for a more formal relationship.  He’s had a storied career at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and for the past decade on the faculty of Indiana University as professor of physics.

As I told him, an obviously naïve job applicant once expressed amazement that I was both a PR guy and a physicist.  She clearly wanted to impress me and unfortunately relied on a Google search where he comes up much higher on the totem pole than I do.

The closest I come to his world is that I serve as chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the College of Sciences at the University of Central Florida (but only because communication sciences are part of that college).

We’ve decided it is high-time we got to know each other.

Is This the Future?

December 23, 2014

by Roger Pynn

It won’t be lost on ad buyers that Time Inc. proudly marked a milestone in November, announcing that for the first time ever its websites had more unique visitors than readers of its printed publications … Time, People and Sports Illustrated.

Advertising Age reported the news online saying, “This is an important mile marker for Time Inc., which is looking to its websites to help offset declining print revenue,” but noted that declining print advertising “remains a more lucrative business for Time Inc., which can fetch higher ad rates in print than online.”

So the question is, will there be a day in the future when the reverse is true?  Will clicks become more and more valuable?  Or will the attention of digital audiences remain a commodity?  And, if so, where’s the tipping point in the valuation of media companies?

Dealing in Stolen Property

December 17, 2014

by Roger Pynn

Aaron Sorkin’s New York Times op-ed and subsequent appearance on NBC’s “Today” show ought to strike a chord with (if not fear into the hearts of) news media organizations everywhere.  They are dealing in stolen goods when they distribute information stolen from private companies by hackers who then make public what they’ve pilfered.

The screenwriter’s conversation with Today’s Savannah Guthrie was priceless, especially when he reminded her that she was the lawyer in the conversation after she asked him if he was suggesting what the media is doing is illegal or should be stopped from distributing the hacked information.

Of course it is illegal.

If you break into a Sony store and then hand me a box of stolen cameras and computers and then I start selling them all over town, I’m dealing in stolen property.

If someone breaks into Sony Pictures’ computers and steals private email conversations and financial information, and hands them over to media organizations and they make that information public over channels where they are making money from advertisers, they are profiting from illegal activity.

Sorkin’s genius has already been recognized with an Oscar, a Golden Globe, Emmy awards and the like, but his thoughtful analysis of the way contemporary news organizations deal with what should be a simple ethical decision was brilliant.

Did You Enjoy the Ride?

December 5, 2014

by Roger Pynn

So I’m a certified space junkie.  As children, my brother and I would climb atop our roof on Orlando’s east side – much to our mother’s chagrin – armed with what today would be called “toy” binoculars so we could watch Alan Shephard become the first American in space in 1961.  And we did the same when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.

Had the skies been clear this morning, I could have used a pair of binoculars that also included a high resolution digital camera to take pictures of Orion as it lifted off, but because it was cloudy we just sat back and watched that magnificent behemoth of a rocket not just until it disappeared across the Atlantic, but we rode it all the way through a four and a half hour adventure.  As NASA Flight Director Mike Sarafin said from Mission Control in Houston, “While this mission was unmanned, we were all aboard Orion.”

And that’s what makes Orion a subject for our blog about targeted communication.  The U.S. space program has driven the creation of technologies and tools we use every day and take for granted as if they were toasters in our kitchens … and, yet, they enabled a communications revolution whose horizon appears endless.  NASA has mastered the use of those technologies not just to monitor performance and safety, but to be sure that taxpayers and politicians have a seat in the cockpit and get drunk on the excitement of each and every mission.  Kudos to them!

And to the rest of us … what fruits of their labor will you take advantage of next and why in the world would we not want to push the boundaries of space if it can produce such incredible technologies?  I only hope I live long enough to climb up on my roof to watch a team take off from Cape Canaveral and land on an asteroid … or even Mars.

Of course, I’ll probably see it from the comfort of an easy chair on some tool no one has yet invented but which came from an “aha moment” aboard some future Orion mission.  Maybe I’ll be able to chat with the crew.

Brace Yourself

November 5, 2014

by Roger Pynn

If you got up Wednesday feeling like the weight of the world was off your shoulders because the elections were over, think again.  Not only will you be reading and hearing and seeing post mortems ad nausea (why who won/lost/almost/nearly, etc.?), but this CNN interview with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proves the 2016 race began a long time ago … at least in the minds of newsheads.

Two minutes and 54 seconds into a post-election analysis with Christie he was being pushed to make an announcement of his intentions.

They can’t help themselves.  It is their crack.  It drives them to frenzy. And then they lash out at candidates and committees and parties for all the money they spend to win.

Perhaps it isn’t the politicians and their attack ads we should despise, but rather the junkies who stir the pot years in advance.


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