Steve Jobs — PR Pro

There is little doubt that Steve Jobs drove today’s — and probably tomorrow’s — use of computers, phones, the internet, digital photos and music, and the combination thereof. He transformed the use of electronic communications from belonging to the technologist to being an integral part of our everyday lives. He didn’t invent the computer — but he (and a lot friends) sure made it easy to use. He didn’t invent the cell phone — but what fun is the I-phone and all its apps. Nor did he invent digital photos or music — but how easy it is today to download and print photos and play music.

From my perspective as a non-savvy IT person, he made all of these gadgets easy — and fun — to use. Using the term “simple and easy user interface” to define his contribution seems so understated when I consider his contribution to my own personal life and my career as a PR professional. When he started Apple, it wasn’t obvious that everyday people would ever want to use a computer. Rather the consensus was just the opposite. Computers were for technical people who knew what to do with them. He turned that consensus upside down –by offering easy access to the heretofore restricted computers and by fomenting a new mindset.

As a PR professional, I applaud his attention to and use of public relations in his quest to change the mindset of how people considered computers. Most memorable was the award-winning and famous 1984 ad. Lest we forget, a lot of pre-publicity led by Steve Jobs (and hundreds of PR agencies who claim credit) occurred to enable that ad to have its impact. And certainly he and Apple continued to proselytize the value of computers to our everyday lives using the fundamentals of public relations. He created the big picture and filled it in pixel by pixel.

Granted Steve Jobs wasn’t the only one who contributed to this advent of novice users of highly technical gadgets. Nor was he perfect. Unquestionably he had help at Apple to develop the user interfaces and integrate the media — the technology is vast. Yet I salute his vision and leadership and appreciate his use of public relations to convince us everyday people that we could use a computer, access the internet, download apps for our phone, and do so much more — simply and easily.

Oh, and thanks for the Genius Bar, too!

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Local Newspapers Not Valued – Temporary Shift?

I just saw the results of a survey of 2,251 U.S. adults by the Pew Research Center that said most adults would not miss their local daily newspapers if they went away. Most of them get their local news from TV.

To my journalist friends I say: this is appalling, but I believe it’s correctable. Local newspapers– whether received electronically or on our doorsteps– keep us informed about the events, businesses, government activities most relevant to our daily lives. Although I agree that breaking news comes to us faster from our television or internet news services, there are many stories that the local journalist can cover so much better.

For example,the local journalist can provide information and insight into the output of local meetings of city governing bodies to assure open meetings and an informed constituency. Or, where are new businesses or shopping centers being located? Or, what about the pay of city officials? Or, who are the local heroes who make a difference in our lives?

My recommendation to local newspapers is to be sure your articles are available both electronically and on paper. Also, consider offering other services that newspapers are in an ideal position to provide — links to local services, restaurants, amusements, theaters — all in one place.

As a news junkie, I look for multiple sources for information about my community and the state of California. TV news coverage is just not enough for local news. There is definitely a place for the local newspaper — we just have to figure out where it fits in the new era of fast, electronic communication.

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Trouble at Work

I got to work late today, which was a bit of a problem. Judy, our executive assistant, said that two of our employees actually hit each other over a disagreement about how to design one of our lab processes. Judy said she knew one of them and that he was going through a divorce.

However, when the security guard couldn’t keep them apart, they had to call the police, who took them off in their patrol car. Hopefully the media won’t get hold of this. I’d better go check with HR and Tim to have a statement ready just in case. We also need to make sure that both of them get appropriate counseling.

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Shortage of Medicine – 2

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday, August 21) has additional information on the drugs in short supply and the reasons for the shortages discussed in yesterday’s entry. In addition, the article highlights how widespread the shortages are. A bill in the Senate and one in the House of the US Congress would at least require drug makers to tell the FDA six months in advance if they plan to stop manufacturing a drug; and to inform the FDA immediately of any unplanned stoppages.

Causes include: increased demand; manufacturing delays; limited manufacturing capacity; consolidation of companies which often causes reduction in production;
recalls — both by the FDA and by the companies themselves who have superior technology to test their drugs; raw material shortages; supply chain problems.

Again, we must all work to fix this problem — drug companies, patient groups, hospitals and government.

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Shortage of Medicine

If you are healthy and not in need of life-saving cancer medicine, you may not be aware of a critical problem we’re facing today here in the U.S.: a shortage of 180 drugs to treat bacterial infection and several forms of cancer. Some of my fellow drug companies are getting involved with various Federal and State government agencies and patient groups to help solve the problem.

The shortage of these drugs causes their price to go up, of course–we all know about the results of supply and demand. Many of these drugs are life-saving, and cancer patients are at risk especially. A side effect is that the shortage of supply has slowed down clinical trials of new drugs because they must be compared to the older scarce drugs to prove efficacy.

As officials investigate the causes, a variety of solutions have been offered. It is believed that a large majority of the shortages were caused by the discovery of company and government investigators that infections can occur upon injection; by drug plant capacity problems; or low profits resulting in low production. In addition, the consolidation of the generic drug industry into a few large companies has had an impact. This has led to importing of drugs from plants in China and India that the FDA has not have inspected.

Solutions include a proposal by the Obama administration to add cancer drugs to the list of stockpiled drugs to join those of antibiotics, antidotes and other drugs; a requirement that drug companies give warning when the supplies reach certain levels; and a not-for-profit company being formed to manufacture drugs itself.

This is a serious and complex problem. We at Harmonia are looking at ways we can help.

For additional information on this problem, see the front page article, “U.S. Scrambling to Ease Shortage of Vital Medicine,” The New York Times, Saturday, August 20, 2011, by Gardiner Harris.

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Wow! That was a very busy week. Lots of people on vacation, so I’ve been jumping in to help cover. Great way to learn to appreciate what others do.

We still haven’t figured out who’s the thief here at Harmonia Therapeutics. I understand they’re working on it. We are all being very careful. I even lock my lap top in my desk when I go to the bathroom!

There’s a Chamber mixer tonight. I’m looking forward to it. I missed the last two, so am anxious to meet with the business owners in the area. I hope sales have increased. At the last meeting, it sounded like many long-standing businesses would have to sell out and even enter bankruptcy. Tough time for small businesses.

Chad and I did not make any plans for the weekend. Maybe it’s a good time to go to the movies, and just chill out. Of course, there are always the never-ending errands to do. Hopefully Chad will have tracked down a new restaurant.

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Great Weekend

Chad and I had a great weekend. I think we’re having more fun as ex-es than when we were married.

Anyway, Chad received a new hat from his company’s sales office in Texas. They heard about his habit of wearing hats at various places, like restaurants, for fun. So they sent him what appears to be a ten-gallon hat.

And, of course, he had to try it out immediately. So when we showed up at a new French restaurant in San Francisco Saturday night, Chad was dressed in his 3-piece suit and the new hat. Fortunately the maitre d’ had a great sense of humor. (I was glad he didn’t check out Chad for a six-shooter.)

More important, the food was awesome. I had the duck breast with boysenberry sauce. Afterwards, we walked the streets of San Francisco and then spent the night in my flat. On Sunday, we headed over to Half Moon Bay and spent some time just sitting on the beach listening to the waves–one of my favorite things to do.

And it’s hard to believe it’s Monday morning and time to get back to work.

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Almost the Weekend

The weekend is getting closer. I am looking forward to Chad’s return after two weeks of being on the road. For those of you who might not know, Chad is my ex-husband. We were married for 10 years and then called it quits. However, we do still see each other, and we do have plans for this weekend.

Judy, my assistant, met with the security guards today about the robberies of items from our desks. They told her that they had a plan, and that she should be patient. She did not consider their statements reassuring. They asked me to please keep her under control. They would do their job. I responded that we were all concerned. They said that they were working with the local police and had a plan. Just be patient.

O.K. we’ll be patient. Sigh.

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Salute to Reporters Worldwide

Recently, a Mexican reporter was kidnapped and then killed as she was looking into the murder of her boss, the editor of her publication.

This story reminded me of several other deaths of reporters in Russia, Iraq, Iran — worldwide. Reporters put themselves in harms way daily to cover our wars and other altercations so that we can be informed.

Further, they help all of us stay honest. The best most recent example is The LA Times exposure of the extravaganzas of the officials of the city of Bell, CA.

I cannot imagine the kind of courage it takes to practice investigative journalism. However, I do appreciate it, and I want to take this opportunity as a PR professional, to thank all of those journalists who help to keep us honest.


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Summer Lull

Since reporters and investors are preoccupied with whether the country will go bankrupt without raising the debt ceiling, I am using this down time to get some planning done. We’re thinking about an analyst meeting in NY in the fall. We also want to do a media tour. And Tim, our CEO, wants to start his own blog to brief investors, media, and partners on key issues regarding autoimmune diseases. Time to start looking at schedules and picking some dates.

Still no word on who it might be stealing our items here at Harmonia. We are all being more careful, that’s for sure, but that brings an old expression to mind, “Closing the barn door after the fox has escaped with . . .” Judy is working on her own secret plan.

I’ll be glad when Chad returns home.

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