What do the media and hurricanes have in common?

Unpredictability is the rule of the game when it comes to hurricanes…..and the media.

This past weekend, the media rushed to call Hurricane Irene a once-in-a life time storm – a major hurricane that would race up the eastern seaboard and wreck havoc on all along its path.

In many ways, Irene lived up to its billing. Just ask the millions of people still without power or the good citizens of Vermont who are still sopping up the damage from massive flooding.

Yet the same media that staked out weather teams ready for wall-to-wall coverage did not appear satisfied with the multi-billion dollars of destruction. As soon as the storm cleared the U.S. border, many news organizations switched quickly from forecasters predicting gloom to news writers asking why the gloom and doom didn’t meet the forecast.

Only the media could create so much noise and then turnaround and complain that the noise was too loud for the result.

Hurricanes have been – and always will be – unpredictable. You never know what path they will take or how hard they might hit their target. Unfortunately, the same can be said for many members of the media.

The take away: Prepare as best you can. Whether with hurricanes or media relations, it is best to have a firm plan in place for when the storm hits your business.

Marketing to Mommies

Besides the usual suspects of Facebook, Twitter and traditional outlets, two big time fast food giants are marketing to the person who knows best – mom. We_Can_Do_It!

Recently McDonald’s rolled out a down-sized French fry portion and added apples to every kid’s meal. Burger King just announced a new ad campaign focusing on fresher and healthier food options.

Both of these chains are refocusing their messages to mom. Now, mom bloggers are regarded as key influencers with the ability to spread news quickly. According to the BSM Media, moms are the family decision makers for everything from food products to cars and electronics, spending trillions each year.  Another study revealed 96 percent of moms value the recommendation they find on blogs.

In an age of social media, as marketers we have to embrace non-traditional media, because some mom bloggers have more readers than city newspapers.

In short, mommy dearest is a force to be reckoned with.

U.S. in a PR nightmare with no end in sight

Posturing with no results behind it will lead to very bad PR – just ask the federal government.

For most of the past month, consumers, big businesses and small businesses held their breath while our so-called leaders debated raising the national debt ceiling. Some in Congress saw this debt ceiling debate as an opportunity to take a stand, make points and play politics with the stability of the U.S. economy.

Payback time has arrived. Our leaders are awash in bad PR. One of the leading rating agencies – Standard & Poor’s – has trimmed the U.S. gold standard AAA credit rating. Financial markets across the globe are taking a beating.

A credit rating is just an opinion, but perception is reality. The new reality for the U.S. is that our leaders can’t be trusted to make financial decisions in a timely and prudent manner. So we all suffer.

The communications lessons are many. Words and boastful stands without actions and results to back them up can be damaging. Sometimes empty promises damage brands, and sometimes empty promises damage entire economies.