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Good honest people have been duped.

Practical things we can each do about the attack on the Capitol.

Explaining Jan. 6, 2021 — Part Four

Whether you believe the attack on the Capitol was simply a lawful protest gone terribly wrong or an attempted insurrection, I hope you share my determination to do something about it.

Congress, the courts, and our new president will obviously carry most of the water here. And there are clear indications that they will follow through before we’re all distracted by the next shiny thing to come along. But there must be something we can do as individuals.

Here are some thoughts.

First, we need to distinguish between the dupers and the duped.


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How so many normal people were duped into believing the presidency was stolen.

Explaining Jan. 6, 2021 — Part Three

Fertile Ground. The petrie dish in which delusion grew had two elements that fermented over time.

First, a precipitous decline in trust of government. Pew Research shows that fewer than two-in-ten Americans trust the government to do what is right at least “most of the time” (17%) — the lowest point since 1958.

Second, five months before the 2020 election, nearly nine-out-of-ten Americans (87%) said they were dissatisfied with “the way things are going in this country today.” …

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Explaining Jan. 6, 2021 — Part Two

All of us are less rational than we would like to admit. Some of us just hide it better.

Little more than a MAGA hat (or a set of horns) separates the best of us from the rioters who ran through the halls of Congress on Jan. 6. We all have our irrational moments.

I’m not talking about incipient road rage when some guy in a Porsche cuts you off on the highway or the searing temptation to tell off a dinner-time telemarketer. I’m referring to the frequently irrational way we often make conscious decisions. …

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Some of the reasons behind the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol

Political scientists and sociologists (not to mention psychiatrists) will be studying the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol for decades.

The idea that so many Americans would try to take over the seat of government in order to overturn an election was shocking enough. But worse, according to YouGov, 45% of Republican voters approve the storming of the Capitol building, based on what they read or heard about the event. …

George Shultz turns 100 today. He celebrated with an op ed in the Washington Post.

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Shultz has been U.S. secretary of labor, treasury, and state. And looking back on his life and career, he says he discovered that “Trust is the coin of the realm.”

“When trust was in the room, whatever room that was — the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room — good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details.”

Shultz identified 10 lessons he learned in acquiring and nurturing trust. Three have special application for public relations people. …

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Add the 2020 election to the challenges CEOs face.

Edelman’s Trust Barometer shows both the problem and a solution.

What started out as a clever promotional gimmick has turned into a truly useful tool for public relations counselors charged with putting business decisions into the context of public sentiment. Edelman has fielded and published a so-called “Trust Barometer” since 2001.

Occasionally, it fields a special report on a topic of current interest, such as its findings on COVID-19, which showed that employees trusted their employer more than the media or the government to give them credible information about the virus.

They have now matched that with a special report on the 2020 election in the United States. …

Six small things PR people can do individually to pull us back together.

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Mike Allen of Axios paints a dire picture of America in 2020.

Rarely have national security officials, governors, tech CEOs and activists agreed as broadly and fervently as they do about the possibility of historic civil unrest in America,” he wrote over the weekend. “The ingredients are clear for all to see — epic fights over racism, abortion, elections, the virus and policing, stirred by misinformation and calls to action on social media, at a time of stress over the pandemic.”

There’s not much public relations people can do individually to stop the “fights” Allen describes. But each of us can do plenty about the disinformation fueling those fights and the tribalism it fosters. …

A surprising source of gender stereotyping in executive ranks.

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I wrote a whole book about the importance of being OtherWise, developing the wisdom to understand people unlike ourselves in color, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or even political beliefs.

I’ve since concluded I missed an important “Other” in the worlds of business and ideas. The female Other.

That dawned on me as I researched my latest book, a biography of my predecessor as chief communications officer of AT&T, Marilyn Laurie. …

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Darwin and Maslow may hold the key to brand differentiation.

Maslow’s Hierarchy is one of those theories that sticks with you long after you’ve tossed out your Introductory Psychology textbooks, though few of us could name all five stages if someone woke us up in the middle of the night, shined a light in our eyes, and demanded the list. Safety, shelter, and a good night’s sleep might come to mind. But not much else.

We remember the concept, if not the actual stages, because it makes such intuitive sense. …

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How a self-described “little Jewish girl from the Bronx” rose to the highest levels of public relations.

Despite a career bookended by sexism, Marilyn Laurie forged her own path to one of the top public relations jobs in the world and became the first woman in the top policy-making council of a Fortune 10 company.

When Marilyn joined AT&T, only 20% of public relations people were women. Most of her PR colleagues in fact were men who had once been journalists. …


Dick Martin

I write about marketing, public relations and brand management. In another life, I was chief communications officer of AT&T Corp.

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