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July 22, 2020 -

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ewan and I just published the 15th episode of the PR & Law Podcast. We’ve had a ton of fun putting it together, especially as we watch our audience grow week after week.

Make no mistake, though, we are a long way away from any kind of ‘success’, at least in terms of revenue. We do take the podcast seriously and intend on growing it over many years, so our goals are modest we find our voice and experiment with ideas and formats.

I’m pretty sure my love of listening to podcasts stems from my childhood. I would often stay up late to listen to hockey games, clutching my clock radio under the sheets to stifle any noise that could alert my parents. Those formative experiences led me to enroll in one of Canada’s top schools for broadcast journalism, which was followed by a (short) career in the industry. Even now, looking back, I’ve never had as much fun at work as I did in radio.

Podcasts have been revolutionary to radio folks because it enables them to record a premium quality show at a very low cost. The barrier to entry almost disappeared overnight, creating room for anybody to launch a show, regardless of their experience or funding. So while it’s easier than ever to start a show, it’s more difficult than ever to stand out from the 800,000 other podcasts on the market. Amid this competition, I’ve been educating myself on some creative ways to market the show and continue growing our audience.

I had my mind set on finding some secret or hack, or some app that magically draws crowds of people to the show. In looking for some sophisticated way to boost the audience I missed a fairly obvious step that could make a big difference: drop the word “subscribe” from marketing materials.  

From How to Combine Your Podcast Subscription Links into a Single Button:

Tom, who has a history of linguistic quibbles with the podcast space, pointed out that podcasters usually ask people to “subscribe” to their podcasts. But for most people, the word “subscribe” implies that payment is required. After all, we when subscribe to Netflix, Spotify, or The New York Times, we have to pay for it. So uninitiated listeners may steer clear of podcasting because they falsely believe that it costs money.

Tom’s solution? Ask listeners to “listen” to your podcast instead of “subscribing.”

Last Friday, as I was getting set to leave the office, a colleague asked me about the podcast. I told her a bit about the show, and left it at that. Then she asked, “So how can I listen to it?” I said, “Oh, just open your Podcast app, do a search for PR and Law, and tap ‘subscribe’.” Her eyes widened and she said, “Subscribe? You charge money?” (Not exactly a vote of confidence… 😂)

I put her at ease, and assured her she wouldn’t have to listen to me all day at work, then pay to listen to me in the evenings or on the weekends.

I didn’t think much about her reaction at the time, but seeing this article definitely drove the message home.

The lesson? In searching far and wide for answers to your problems, they may be right under your nose. You just need to look.

June 23, 2020 -

Reading Time: < 1 minute

As we await details of Hong Kong’s national security law and its implications for the city, The Atlantic has published a look at its despised Chief Executive, Carrie Lam:

Lam is already the most unpopular and calamitous leader in Hong Kong’s modern history, her decisions and failures of governance having borne consequences that are global in reach. Though yet to fully come into focus, even a truncated list of the repercussions of her leadership is staggering for its breadth and the speed at which they have unfolded.

Well said — and terribly, terribly sad.

June 10, 2020 -

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Is this connected to WordPress yet?

May 28, 2020 -

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Steve Bannon, of Breitbart fame and former advisor to US President Donald Trump, has some strong views on China’s decision to introduce a controversial national security law in Hong Kong. He says the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, passed last year by the US senate to put sanctions on anyone in Mainland China or Hong Kong that participate in the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

From The Wire China:

Obviously, [the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act] can’t be certified now. This breaks all potential for certification. My strong recommendation is [for the U.S.] to go as hard-core as possible. You pull that immediately. Pull all the underlying trade arrangements we have. Also we stop and limit any activity with the [state-owned] Bank of China, or any mainland Chinese banks. The Bank of China is right there [in Hong Kong]. You restrict all activity with their money centered banks and the United States. Additionally, you go to immediate sanctions; you sanction the individuals, including the Foreign Ministry guys. And if the Politburo passes this, you go to immediate sanctions on those individuals too.

We should call a [UN] Security Council meeting immediately and dare China, as a permanent member, to block it. The world community ought to do this. On Monday morning, a holiday, the President’s got to call a Security Council meeting and dare China to fight it. This is exactly like [what happened to] Czechoslovakia and Austria. We’re in 1938. For Hong Kong, this is that moment. If we blink, we’re heading on a path to war, to a kinetic war, if we don’t stop it right now. The elites are going the wrong way. This is not a cold war. This is a hot information and economic war, and we’re sliding rapidly. We are inexorably going to be drawn into an armed conflict if we don’t stop this now. Now, I’m all for using multilateral institutions.  But the United States has to stand up here. Yesterday, the Canadians, British and Australians put out a joint statement. It’s now time to take it to the UN Security Council. This is an abrogation of a treaty that was signed, and essentially ratified by the United States Senate.

It’s remarkable the speed at which the US-China relationship is deteriorating.

It’s heartbreaking that Hong Kong will suffer the most.

May 8, 2020 -

Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the best podcasts out there right now is the Ezra Klein Show, particularly if you love getting lost in a deep, thought-provoking discussion on issues like political polarization or social media-driven anxiety. He’s even had some episodes on things like loneliness and how to be persuasive that are excellent. 

One of Klein’s most recent episodes fits that bill, too. He welcomed New York Times reporter Charlie Warzel to talk about how the media has covered the coronavirus, which is widely seen as problematic. Particularly in the US, reporters wrote articles in January that downplayed the risk of the virus, and then published countless stories pushing the foolish belief that wearing masks doesn’t offer any protection (which, if true, raises questions over why doctors and nurses wear them in emergency wards and the ICU).

The big question is why? How did journalists get it so wrong, what role do healthcare “experts” play, and what can be done about it?

From Vox:

The questions raised in this interview are hard, and go to one of the trickiest issues in journalism: How does a profession that prides itself on reporting truth cover the world probabilistically? What do we do when we simply can’t know what’s true, and when some of what we think we know might become untrue?

This is one of the most open and honest critiques of news coverage I’ve heard, particularly as any admission of failure by journalists is often construed by conspiracy theorists as proof the media should never be trusted, ever. (An idea addressed directly on the show). 

The discussion doesn’t provide too many answers, but talking about these thorny and uncomfortable issues is important and the first step towards trying to fix them.

You can listen to the show below, or by visiting the Ezra Klein Show.

May 6, 2020 -

Reading Time: 2 minutes

David Roth is critical of Donald Trump, to be sure, but saves his most scathing critique for the journalists tasked with covering him, a view I share completely.

From The Cancer in the Camera Lens | The New Republic:

This is especially troubling because confusing and frightening things really are happening, every day. Thousands of Americans are dying, every day, from a disease that, as a quadruple-bylined survey in Science concluded, “acts like no pathogen humanity has ever seen.” For more than a month, state and federal leaders have edged up to suggesting that this is something the country might just play through, shedding thousands of lives every day in the name of the American Way and various industries’ bottom lines; states are already gearing up for this kamikaze response to an unreasoning virus. Trump is fixated on various numbers that he can watch go up or down and on not losing his reelection campaign; he fights to win the day because it’s all he knows and how he lives, and he’ll govern that way until he isn’t governing anymore. There is no leadership of any kind coming from the top of the government, and while it’s hard to say what the Democrats are doing, exactly, “leadership” surely isn’t the word for it. All of it, quite literally, is a matter of life and death. Right now, either out of instinct or inertia, the culture is tipping toward the latter.

And yet, as with the broken system that perpetually elevates what Trump says over what he does—the treacherous spectacle that puts him back in those presidential close-ups day after day—the obvious failure of it all has somehow not led to a change in course. The institutions that might help people understand a uniquely terrifying world instead turn, daily, back toward the uncomprehending pursuit of an idiot king’s vinegary whims. When a reporter from The Washington Post stammered out a question last week about Trump’s stance on disinfectant/sunlight injections, Trump was already leaning in, manifestly out over his skis and yet comfortably in his element. “I’m the president,” he said, “and you’re fake news.” Here is what he said after that: “It’s just a suggestion. From a brilliant lab, from a very very smart, perhaps brilliant man. He’s talking about sun, he’s talking about heat. And you see the numbers. That’s it, that’s all I have. I’m just here to present talent. I’m here to present ideas.” It’s not an answer, but it was enough to get him to the next question. Trump didn’t know the answer to that one, either, but someone was still waiting to ask it.

The media’s failure in this era is only matched by the President’s.

May 4, 2020 -

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I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I’ve teamed up with a good friend of mine to launch a new podcast that focuses on PR and law named, naturally, the PR & Law Podcast.

I’m still not entirely comfortable with the result; it has been more than a decade since I’ve done any kind of radio, which remains my first love. I am having an absolute blast working on the podcast, but we still have plenty of kinks to work out and refinements to add.

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April 16, 2020 -

Reading Time: < 1 minute

From Possible Chinese Nuclear Testing Stirs U.S. Concern – WSJ:

The Trump administration’s allegation is included in an unclassified summary of an annual review of international compliance with arms-control accords. The review has been in preparation for some time and is likely to add to existing strains over China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its militarization of the South China Sea and trade disputes.

It also comes as President Trump is seeking to open nuclear-arms talks with Beijing in the hope of negotiating a new nuclear deal that also includes Russia and covers all nuclear weapons.

Some former arms-control officials said that the Trump administration appeared to be more concerned with scoring points against China than resolving potential disputes through diplomacy.

This is explosive news (no pun intended). There are the concerns over nuclear testing in China, of course, but also over the State Department’s decision to call out China so publicly when relations between the two nations is already riven with mistrust.

April 14, 2020 -

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A Twitter war between two countries isn’t very common, and even less so in Asia where open confrontation is often downplayed. But when people have the chance to be anonymous, the insults can fly — no matter where they are. That was the case recently when Mainland China and Thailand went after each other in a war of foul language, funny creative memes, and even self-deprecating humor.

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