At Google, a Sundar Pichai apology for sexual harassment stands out

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The New York Times described several instances of sexual harassment by senior executives at Google. Now Google staff are protesting. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sent an internal email about the company’s policy, and it stands out for its directness. In the wake of so many harassment allegations in the #MeToo era, it’s clear that there’s … Continued

Does the Brett Kavanaugh op-ed make its case?

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh defended himself in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. He says you can trust him to be impartial. Did he undo the damage he did during his hearing last week? Just a reminder: the purpose of this blog is to reveal what’s really going on with written communications. I’m … Continued

New Yorker editor David Remnick justifies his about-face on Steve Bannon

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David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, agreed to interview former Breitbart leader and Trump advisor Steve Bannon on stage at The New Yorker Festival. Then, on second thought, he decided not to. Changing your mind is hard; justifying it is even harder. The challenge here is that Bannon is the self-acknowledged leader of the … Continued

Pope Francis is passively sorry about priests abusing children

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In the wake of the grand jury report on Catholic priests abusing over a thousand children in Pennsylvania, the Pope sent a message to his flock. His passive language is emblematic of how you write to escape responsibility. The words “I’m sorry” and “It was my/our fault” are incompatible with being the infallible leader of … Continued

A sexist Mass TLC attempts to recover

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The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (Mass TLC), a Boston-area trade group, annually presents awards to local leaders for Best CEO, Best CMO, and the like. All of this year’s nominees were men. After some local tech luminaries called them out on it, they re-opened the process and asks for women nominees. Now they have to … Continued

An analysis of Twitter’s screwup (with comments from Melissa Agnes)

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Twitter screwed up and wrote everybody’s passwords to a file in plaintext. Then (of course) they apologized. Can we do better with these apologies? And what’s the fallout from this incident? Here’s an analysis and a conversation with Crisis Communication expert Melissa Agnes,¬†author of Crisis Ready. This is getting routine. And that’s the problem. At … Continued

KFC answers the question: when are you allowed to be funny in a crisis?

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KFC ran out of chicken in the UK. They had to close their restaurants, and then explain themselves. They decided to poke fun at themselves . . . which is great, so long as nobody gets hurt. KFC suffered a distribution problem, which meant, basically, no chicken. Their first decision — to close the restaurants … Continued