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Author Archive for Carter Breazeale

Charlottesville is a Symptom

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

That was the prescient, final Facebook post by Heather Heyer, a 20-year old woman who was mowed down by a car during a counter-protest against white nationalists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The anger and division in this country has been simmering beneath the surface for decades—and within the past few years appears to finally be boiling over.

What took place in Charlottesville over the weekend is yet another symptom of the dangerous direction that we’re heading as a nation. A nation that refuses to find middle ground—where people are entrenched in their opinions, insulated by their social media echo chambers, and acting with the ever-perilous “Us vs. Them” mindset that always finds an “other” to cast as a convenient scapegoat.

In a country that has withstood so many external threats to maintain its inherent strength and resilience, it’s demoralizing to see it seemingly torn in half by threats from within.

The scenes from Charlottesville were horrific. It was yet another flashpoint in the populist movements in society and politics—a continental drift of community, cooperation, and conscience.

Heather Heyer was murdered by a coward for expressing her aversion to an abhorrent belief system. Her life taken for speaking out against the scourge of hatred and bigotry. The silver lining in these awful situations is that they can present unwanted opportunities to learn and move forward. Unfortunately of late, America seems immune to education.

This can change, but only if we’re willing to thoughtfully engage one another and avoid retreating to the ideological cocoons that we’ve established for ourselves.

Football is Back, But What About the NFL’s Ratings?

I’ve been waiting for this week since February 5th, the day I felt my soul separate from my physical body as I watched Tom Brady engineer the most incredible comeback in Super Bowl history. I still have the Atlanta Falcons chili that I made for the game, freezer burned and petrified, as some sad reminder of what became of Atlanta that night in Houston. I can’t bring myself to throw it out. It’s become an inedible symbol of my grief.

But this week—oh, this week; the three words I’ve been longing to hear since The New England Patriots disposed of the Atlanta Falcons like a spoiled batch of chili are finally true: Football Is Back.

The 2017-2018 NFL campaign technically kicked into gear with last week’s snoozer of a Hall of Fame Game between the Cowboys and the Cardinals, but this week marks the first official slate of preseason games.

Fans are scouring Twitter for team news. Gamblin’ types are earmarking dues and setting draft dates for fantasy football leagues. All feels right in the world.

But how’s the outlook for the NFL?

As one of the most recognizable brands on the planet, the NFL is experiencing a bit of malaise of late. Amid shrinking ratings, negative news stories surrounding players, and an embattled commissioner who draws universal ire, the National Football League is mining for methods to reconfirm itself as the premiere sports league in the United States.

The solution? Touchdown celebrations.

The NFL announced in the offseason that it was relaxing the rules regarding touchdown celebrations, allowing players to better express themselves after getting on the scoreboard. If you’ve ever gone down a touchdown dance YouTube rabbit hole—think Chad Ochocinco with a Santa Claus bag, Terrell Owens mocking the Patriots for Spygate—you’ll agree that the NFL was simply more fun. It was a more entertaining product.

And with this rule change, the No Fun League is attempting to reinject the pure entertainment back into the sport alongside the bonkers feats of athleticism.

So, football fans, rejoice: snow angels and the Cha Cha Slide are back. We’ll see if this rule change will provide any kind of boost in viewership, but those who are glued to their televisions on Sundays regardless will absolutely appreciate it.

The Mooch Has Left the Building

When your newly-minted White House Communications Director prefers to communicate in…ahem…creative terms, he may not be long for the position. When that same comms director appears to assume that conversations with reporters are automatically off-the-record—well, same result.

This is the cautionary tale of Anthony Scaramucci—The Mooch—who was ousted as the White House Communications Director less than 10 days after his slick arrival to the press room podium. Scaramucci’s initial appearance was one of admiration and praise for the President, and he seemed to ingratiate himself to media types alike. Words like “unflappable,” “professional,” and “effective messenger” were used by talking heads across the news talk show spectrum.

And then the Mooch lost his cool to a reporter.

Scaramucci’s now-infamous tirade to The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza (caution: extremely strong language) ignited another White House firestorm on Friday, leading to some lukewarm defenses of Scaramucci’s statements.

The Mooch claimed that the conversation was off-the-record at the time—Ryan Lizza insists that the White House Comms Director never issued such a caveat.

Rule One of top-level communications professionals: you should understand the common rules regarding on-the-record conversations. A neophyte in conversations with reporters does not a communications director make.

So, along with Mike Flynn, Scaramucci joins an inauspicious group whose White House tenure was shorter than a season. So who’s up next? Hopefully someone who understands the interviewer/interviewee relationship.

Join PR/PR at IMC USA 2017!

Summer is slowly receding, and that’s why you should make registering for the IMC USA conference prior to August 31st a final season priority.

With that purchase, you can meet Russell and his traveling candy bowl at the Institute of Management Consultants USA Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you’re a speaker looking to network, attend thought-provoking keynotes and breakouts from industry leaders, or just enjoy a good time surrounded by others immersed in the speaking field, the IMC USA conference is a must-attend.

The event will take place Friday, October 20th – Sunday, October 22nd, and is being hosted in the world-class JW Marriott Atlanta Buckhead.

Russell will be on-hand for the entire conference, providing courtesy consultations, publicity advice and strategizing, and will also have copies of his latest book, Sell Yourself Without Saying a Word.

As always, when planning to attend a conference, convention, or event, it’s best to register early to take advantage of discounted prices. If you’d like to join us at the IMC USA conference—and you should!—head over to IMCUSAConference.org to enjoy early bird pricing through August 31st!

We hope to see all of you in Atlanta! Varsity hot dogs on Russell to all who decide to join our team! (don’t tell him I said that!)

Ruminating on the Robot Takeover

The last time that Good Guy Elon Musk graced the PR/PR blog, it was in admiration of his singular battle against one of mankind’s greatest threats: traffic. As you’ll recall, Musk, so annoyed by Los Angeles’ freeway gridlock, embarked on a journey to create a network of subterranean tunnels so his commute was free of frustration.

What a guy.

This time, however, he’s setting his sights a bit higher: the preemptive liberation of humanity from its forthcoming robot overlords.

Speaking at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting on Saturday, Musk pondered the future of artificial intelligence (AI), and issued a stern warning to other tech CEOs: slow down or we’re all dead.

“I have exposure to the most cutting-edge AI and I think people should be really concerned about it,” he said. “I keep sounding the alarm bell but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal.

“I think we should be really concerned about AI and I think we should… AI’s a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late.”

Musk went on to brand AI as a “fundamental risk to human civilization.” Quite the message to deliver to the NGA.

Now I’m not the particularly paranoid type, but I’ve played Horizon Zero Dawn and happen to agree with him. Technology over the past twenty years has hit warp speed in terms of the pace of innovation. Musk may be a bit dramatic in his delivery, but his point is salient and well-received: we should fully understand the scope and possibilities of new technology before it is unleashed on the public.