Francis Collins
Francis Collins

Lessons (hopefully) learned. Francis Collins, former director of the National Institutes of Health, said the biggest PR mistake made during the COVID-19 pandemic was the failure of health officials to communicate the ever-changing science behind the recommendations made to fight the disease.

Communicators failed to stress that COVID-19 was an evolving crisis that might require different and changing recommendations about mask-wearing, vaccines or social distancing, Francis told a Sept. 16 conference at Babson College in Wellesley, MA.

“We lost a lot of consumer confidence because of that,” he said, according to a report in Stat.

Collins admitted a failure to issue scientific information in a compelling fashion. “We were basically outgunned dramatically by lies and conspiracies in social media. We should have had our version of flooding the system with truth instead of having the system completely flooded with lies.”

Francis said health communicators should have “immunized people ahead of time” about the anticipated COVID conspiracies.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates more than 300K Americans died because they accepted misinformation about COVID-19 and its vaccines.

Collins suggested that the US create a communications corps because trust in science is on a downward spiral, which puts Americans “in a very bad position for whatever is coming up next: a pandemic or climate change disaster."

Collins currently serves as Joe Biden’s science advisor.

Putin is kaput. Russian president Vladimir Putin really, really needs a strong PR counselor, which is not a very cushy gig. He needs to be brought back to reality.

In his Sept. 21 videotaped speech to the Russian people, Putin unveiled his plan to mobilize an additional 300K soldiers who will be tossed into the Ukrainian cauldron to join their undersupplied, poorly-led and demoralized comrades.

While Ukrainians soldiers, who are backed by sophisticated weapons supplied by the west, reoccupy lands that were held by the Russians, Putin issued this threat:

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” he said. “This is not a bluff.”

Putin has been bluffing his way throughout his reckless invasion of Ukraine.

His brutality has turned Russia into a pariah state, which has now been tossed overboard even by its erstwhile allies: China, India and Turkey.

Ukraine’s ministry of defense mocked Putin’s call for more troops. It tweeted:

“The last time russia (the russian empire) announced mobilization was in August, 1914. We all know how that ended.

Now they are begging for an encore.”

The partial mobilization has brought the Ukrainian war back home for Putin.

More than 500 protesters in 30 Russian cities were arrested following Putin’s partial mobilization speech.

In Moscow, they chanted “Send Putin to the trenches” and “Lives for our children.”

Those protestors showed tremendous courage. They could face up to 15 years in jail under the new draconian laws that went into effect at the beginning of the invasion to crush dissent.

Putin is losing the war in Ukraine and is on the verge of losing it in Russia.

Alaska Housing Finance Corp. loves PRSA. In its RFP for a strategic communications partner, AHFC uses the Public Relations Society of America’s 2012 definition of PR to give respondents a sense of what it is looking for.

Here it is: “Public relations is a strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and the publics.”

That definition needs to be updated for today’s hyper communications environment that is plagued by fake news, distortions, conspiracies and lies.

The PRSA definition has a quaintness about it. It needs some edginess.