Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for November 2012


  • Bimbo
  • November 1, 2012
  • by Spaeth Communications

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There were a lot of submissions this month! Click through to the Full BIMBO to read additional BIMBOs from the State Fair of Texas about the future of Big Tex, a Pop Warner football coach after a 52-0 game where the losing side suffered five concussions, a “monster” mother, Auburn’s football coach, Chancellor Merkel, and President Obama (don’t worry; it’s an illustration of how we pick up words), with a similar example from Jamie Dimon. There are Wrong Thing to Say examples from the now-exposed inventor of Reddit’s Jailbait posts, an incredibly inappropriate letter to Lance Armstrong and a Wikipedia tar pit.  AP publishes an offensive photo and there’s also a good example from Twitter’s CEO, a plea for a second look at Westgate Resort CEO’s email to employees, and three studies with interesting communication findings and implications.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“We’ve not been complainers,” wrote former Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky in a recorded statement from jail after being convicted of multiple counts of child molestation. (This was one of the more astonishing statements we’ve seen. Sandusky claimed all the allegations were false and that the accusers ganged up on him. He said, “I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.” His attorney, Joe Amendola, got in on the act, saying that Sandusky, “Never considered suicide,” and that he was confident his client would be safe in prison because “They are not going to throw him to the wolves.” Usually, we try to include what we think someone could and should have said, but we have no suggestions in this situation.)

NBC News, “Full statement from Jerry Sandusky maintaining innocence on sex-abuse charges,” Oct. 8, 2012

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I am not going away,” said Best Buy founder Richard Schulze about his efforts to buy back the company after the Board ousted his handpicked successor over a relationship with an employee. (In this lengthy, generally favorable profile of Schulze, the writers succinctly examine Best Buy’s challenges. Schulze didn’t participate, but many colleagues spoke on his behalf. He should have participated and said, “I have a vision for the future. I’ve done this before. I stand on my track record and I invite anyone who wants to be part of the future to join me.”)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Best Guy?” Oct. 22, 2012

“No activities are forced upon,” stated Samsung officials about bloggers who were invited to attend a prominent trade show in Berlin. (Samsung snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Inviting two Indian technology bloggers to the show only to give them Samsung clothing and tell them to display the company’s products. They declined and said Samsung would not pay for their hotel or flight back. Competitor Nokia helped them out – and was only too happy to let everyone know. Samsung did add that it “regrets there was a misunderstanding.” The incident illustrates the wild west of the blogosphere and the debate over whether companies can pay, sponsor or support bloggers in return for attention.)

PR Week, “Samsung’s blogger relations failure," Oct. 2012

“Big Tex is not going to be monstrous or freakish when we finish,” said Sue Gooding, a spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas after Big Tex, the 52-foot tall icon who greets Fair goers with a hearty “Howdy folks,” burst into flames and was consumed.  She added, “We have no plans to do a drastic makeover of Big Tex.” (Classic BIMBO. No one thought Big Tex’s impending makeover would be “monstrous” or “freakish” until she mentioned it.  The article also mentions that the Fair plans to take advantage of modern technology to make Tex’s movements seem more lifelike, and that would have been a great quote. Note that the negative phrase made the headline.)

Dallas Morning News, “Big Tex won’t get an extreme makeover, State Fair of Texas says,” Oct. 24, 2012

“My team is not dirty,” said Scott Lazo, coach of the Southbridge Connecticut Pop Warner pee wee football team after the opposing team, the Tantasqua Braves, suffered five confirmed concussions and had too few players to field a team. (Spokespersons for the Pop Warner league had the right attitude and quote, “Nothing is more important to Pop Warner than the safety and well-being of our players.” The problem is the two coaches and the parents. The coaches kept the game going and the parents’ attitudes were embodied in an email, “We were trying to play a football game. Every kid who was out there wanted to play and not give up.” Concussions are a very serious issue, one that the NFL and colleges are finally taking more seriously. Word needs to percolate down to the pee wee set. Chris Nowinski, president of a non-profit group that researches brain trauma, said about youth coaches, “If you consider the coach is a fool, there are no rules that are foolproof.”

New York Times, “A 5-Concussion Pee Wee Game Leads to Penalties for the Adults,” Oct. 23, 2012

“I believe I’m not the monster everybody thinks I am,” said 23-year-old Elizabeth Escalone, convicted of using super glue to glue her two-year-old daughter’s hands to the wall and beating her after problems with potty training. (Another case illustrating Don Etling’s comment that “You simply cannot communicate your way out of a situation you behaved your way into.” What is a 23-year-old who is obviously not prepared for motherhood doing with four other children?)

Associated Press, “Mom who glued toddler’s hands: ‘I’m not a monster,’” Oct. 10, 2012

“I think we’ve done a really good job of continuing trying to forge ahead and trying to improve and  not going out there and slopping around or playing half speed,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik about his 1-6 record. (This is an example of saying something positive and then reversing and making it negative. He should have quit after “trying to improve.” Note that the negative phrase became the headline.)

Alabama.com, “Gene Chizik says Auburn not ‘slopping around or playing half speed despite struggles,” Oct. 24, 2012

“I did not come here as a teacher giving grades,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a visit to Greece that drew massive protests.  (Another example of positive and negative quotes. Merkel also said, “I am convinced that although it’s tough, the path will pay off for Greece.” In this case, the “pay off” quote did make it into the headline although the “teacher giving grades” quote was enlarged and boxed with Merkel’s picture.)

USA Today, “Merkel arrives to protests in Greece: German leader: ‘Path will pay off,’” Oct. 10, 2012

"We weren’t confused about the fact that four Americans had been killed. I wasn’t confused about the fact that we needed to ramp up diplomatic security around the world right after it happened. I wasn’t confused about the fact that we had to investigate exactly what happened so it gets fixed. And I wasn’t confused about the fact that we’re going to hunt down whoever did it,” President Obama told Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. (This exchange demonstrates our tendency to pick up each other’s words and to be restricted by the parameters of a question. Stewart introduced the topic by saying that the Administration’s response to the attack in Benghazi appeared to be “confused,” and President Obama repeated it multiple times. Stewart continued, saying the response had not been “optimal,” and the President responded, “When four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.”.)

Washington Post, “On ‘Daily Show with John Stewart,’ Obama defends Libya response jokes about Biden,” Oct. 18, 2012

“A tempest in a tea pot,” (almost a throwaway phrase) came back to haunt banking icon Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase. In an April 13 conference call on the bank’s earnings, an analyst described the stories in the media about the multibillion dollar loss in trading as a “tempest in a tea pot.” Dimon repeated the phrase back, “It’s a complete tempest in a tea pot.” As it turned out, given the strength of the bank’s balance sheet, the loss was easily absorbed. However, the phrase reappeared in a long story this month, and the writer used it as a peg to describe the entire incident and why it tarnished Dimon’s reputation as the best manager in the business.

New York Times, “The Woman Who Took the Fall for JPMorgan Chase,” Oct. 3, 2012

WRONG THING TO SAY

In creating pornographic sub forums on Reddit with names like “Choke a Bitch,” “Rape Jokes,” “Rapebait,” “Incest” and “Pics of Dead Kids,” 49-year-old Michael Brutsch used the screen name “Violentacrez.” Brutsch’s posts had 800,000 subscribers. Gawker uncovered his identity, and Brutsch gave an interview to CNN saying, “I didn’t really think about what I was doing. I didn’t listen to people when they said, ‘You really shouldn’t do this.’” (No joke. What’s scary is that this guy is married and has a step daughter. His most famous Reddit forum is “jailbait” pictures of teenage girls posted without their consent. Reddit, whose posts are measured by their popularity, even gave him an award. Truly disgusting.)

CNN, “Man behind ‘Jailbait’ posts exposed, loses job,” Oct. 19, 2012    

“We understand you have been banned from both the New York City and Chicago marathons, but we would welcome your participation in either our 5K run or 1 mile fun run, with or without reindeer antlers,” wrote the City of Allen to Lance Armstrong after the seven time Tour de France winner was stripped of his titles, asking him to participate in their annual Rudolph Run. (This is truly one of those “What were they thinking?” examples, The letter continued, “Remember all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call Rudolph names (like Pinocchio) and they never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games (like marathons), but eventually all the reindeer loved him again. And they shouted out with glee! So join us for the Rudolph Run and you’ll go down in history!”  The City issued a letter of apology, but it’s an example of organizational failure. Any number of people should have been in a position to point out that this was not a good idea and would generate the opposite kind of attention they wanted.)

Pegasus News, “City of Allen apologizes for asking Lance Armstrong to join run,” Oct. 24, 2012

“Sand monkeys” was how the Asian Football Confederation referred to the United Arab Emirates National Team. (The UAE team went ballistic. It turned out that the AFC got the information from Wikipedia. They apologized profusely, and it’s a reminder that the material in Wikipedia can be a long way from the standard of the Britannica.)

ESPN, “AFC apologise for ‘racist’ gaffe,” Oct. 16, 2012

BAD PHOTO

Associated Press gets the sabotage award with its picture of Governor Romney bending down to greet a group of elementary school children with little initial context. AP later added a caption to explain what was happening. You can link to the picture yourself. We think it was way out of line.

The Blaze, “AP Publishes Odd Photo of Romney – do you think it should have?” Oct. 9, 2012

GOOD EXAMPLES

Twitter CEO Richard Costolo convenes employees weekly for a raucous, off-the-record conversation. He presides from the stage, and the company shows funny videos, does skits, asks serious questions and updates everyone on key issues and the greater business environment. (This is a great article for executive education, particularly our C-Suite friends. It also shows what employees expect from their senior leadership today. We only wish we could get some video clips or photos for teaching!)

New York Times, “A Master of Improv, Writing Twitter’s Script,” October 7, 2012

David Siegel’s email to his 7,000 employees of Westgate Resorts got terrible press, but we think the entire missive deserves a closer look. It was portrayed in the media as a threat, but it’s really an emotional and highly personal look at what it takes to build a company. (Kudos to CNBC for printing the entire, three-page email. Businessweek just wrapped it into an article about CEOs, again with a very negative slant.)

CNBC, “CEO to Workers: I May Fire You if Obama Wins,” Oct. 10, 2012

WHY OUR TECHNIQUES WORK: ACADEMIC PROOF

Todd Rogers, a behavioral psychologist at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, was annoyed that politicians frequently dodge the question. He wondered why more people weren’t upset, so he decided to study it. His paper, “The Artful Dodger: Answering the Wrong Question the Right Way,” is a tad wordy but basically confirms what we’ve been teaching for years. If you appear to ignore the question entirely and substitute a wildly different topic, the audience notices and dislikes it. If the respondent appears arrogant and unconcerned about the question, the audience notices and dislikes it. But, if the respondent acknowledges the question, addresses a related topic and is likeable the audience doesn’t even notice that he has gone off in a different direction. (Vindication!)

NPR, “How Politicians Get Away with Dodging the Question,” Oct. 3, 2012

Another study found that teleworkers are much less disconnected from the home office than one might think, and that more communication – emails, instant messages, phone calls – actually annoyed and distracted them and increased stress. It turned out that people who telework value their solitude. (We’re late getting this information in the Memo, but because it contradicted what we thought we knew, we include it and encourage your review.)

Human Resource Executive, “Teleworkers Isolated—And Liking It,” September 2, 2012

Are you “intimate” or “detached?” This isn’t a hypothetical question from Cosmo, it’s how the Poynter Institute categorized the two ways people read publications on their iPads. The “intimates” move a few lines of text at a time, like a TelePrompTer. The “detacheds” line up an entire screen like a dashboard. They also tested age differences, comparing “digital natives,” the 18-28 year olds who have grown up without an attachment to print, and “printnets,” all the rest of us geezers who grew up with the original thing but may be reading a lot online. And they tracked how much time people spent on each story. It’s worth reading for departments that have to disseminate information to internal or external audiences. Be prepared – the bottom line is that you have less time and need to engage your reader more than you already are.

Poynter.org, “New Poynter Eyetrack research reveals how people read news on tablets,” Oct. 17. 2012      


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