Ford, where euphemisms are Job 1

PR people, if you have something unpleasant to say, just say it. Hiding it behind euphemisms doesn’t fool anyone. Today’s case study: Ford’s plan to lay off 10% of its staff, which it calls a “people efficiency action.” According to a Wall Street Journal article, Ford will cut 10% of its global workforce to boost profits, with … Continued

Comparing today’s United Airlines statements (mostly right) to what they said before (really wrong)

Two-and-a-half weeks after dragging a passenger off a flight like a rag doll, United Airlines has released a statement about changes to its procedures and emailed all its frequent flyers. Everything they did wrong in the original statements, they’ve now done right. And the two sets of statements give me a unique opportunity to contrast effective … Continued

The lesson of Juicero: corporate writing should not sound like a superhero movie

It’s been a tough week for Juicero, a startup company that makes an internet-connected juicing machine. Some Bloomberg reporters figured out you could make juice from the juice packs without using the Juicero machine at all. The CEO’s response on Medium is completely ineffective, because he can only see the world from within his limited, Silicon-Valley … Continued

United Airlines and the cost of being hated

I’ve analyzed lots of corporate screwups in this space. Most of those companies will recover just fine. But a few now have a permanent reputation for being a bad and hated company, with real costs that will continue for decades. Let’s look at some of the corporate stupidity on display in the last year or so and … Continued

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos shareholder letter has some gems . . . and some clunkers

Jeff Bezos’ latest Amazon shareholder letter is striking in its clarity, directness, honesty, and meatiness. That’s unusual in communications from a CEO. Here’s a look at what’s great — and not so great — in this 1800-word letter. It’s well organized, with an effective lead In a read-on-screen world, you should start everything with a summary, but that summary doesn’t … Continued

Hey Marvel Comics, you can’t take a stand in the passive voice

When Marvel Comics artist Ardian Syaf secretly inserted Indonesian political images into his X-Men comics, Marvel fired him. Its passive statement about the incident isn’t fooling anyone. Ardian Syaf inserted secret messages into comic art In the Muslim-dominated nation of Indonesia, some Islamist groups are now in conflict with the Christian and ethnically Chinese governor of Jakarta, Basuki … Continued

United breaks passengers (and apologizes feebly)

I didn’t want to write another United Airlines post, but so many of you insisted — and United’s apology is even lamer than the one from two weeks ago. On an overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville, United Express needed space to ferry four crew members to another assignment. After an $800 bribe persuaded only two passengers … Continued