Sep 30

Pope Victim XVI

Slide1bbbbPope Benedict XVI finally admitted that the Roman Catholic Church has a “questionable” reputation.

A questionable reputation, eh? Well, if that's the descriptor the pontiff thinks best applies to his misguided organization, then I'd say it works equally well for everyone and everything from Jack the Ripper and Enron to Bernie Madoff and The New York Mets.

Rather than stepping up, admitting fault, announcing widespread systemic changes and asking for forgiveness though, the pope instead blamed everyone else for the institution's tarnished image. In fact, he said the church's questionable reputation is a direct result of what he called 'uncommitted Christians'. Does that mean he's pointing the finger at Baptists, Protestants, Methodists and every other Christian sect as well as Catholics? Well, why the heck not? Misery loves company.

The Pope's bought into what I'd call the victim defense strategy. To wit:

– If a woman burns her hand as a result of spilling hot coffee on herself, it's not her fault, it's the restaurant's for not warning her that yes, indeed, coffee can be served hot and, if spilled on an exposed body part, it can cause pain. As a result, she's entitled to collect millions of dollars in damages.

– It's society's fault if a person chooses to pursue a life of crime, drugs and debauchery. Why? Because he wasn't given the same advantages his peers in more upscale neighborhoods. So don't blame him for last night's drive-by shooting. He should be given a suspended sentence at most.

– And, of course, it's not the Democrats fault that Obama hasn't really accomplished anything in three-plus years. And, it's not Sarah Palin's fault she completely rewrote the history of Paul Revere's ride (that was just 'gotcha' journalism at work).

We live in a world in which we buy into the notion that it's no one's fault for anything that goes wrong. We're all victims. And, it's always someone else's fault.

As a recovering Catholic and erstwhile altar boy, I'm ashamed of the way in which the Church has embraced victimization as its modus operandi. As the attached article notes, the Church blames 'societal changes during the 1960s and '70s' as the reason why so many priests went off the rails and gorged themselves on a bacchanalian feast of pedophilia. It wasn't the Church's fault. It wasn't the misguided concept of celibacy that attracted misfits and put them in direct, unsupervised contact with young boys. And, it wasn't the Church that shuffled these predators around from one parish to another and covered up their horrific deeds. It's really never been the Church's fault. It's always been someone else's.

And, so playing the victim card remains the Vatican's sole strategy. I guess it works with true believers. But, we uncommitted Christians don't buy it for a minute. The Church, and the Church alone, is responsible for the path of destruction its priests have sown.

I, for one, suggest a name change for the pontiff. He should call himself Pope Victim XVI. If he did, it would be the first truly honest and transparent thing he, and his Church, has done to date.

May 19

The 11th commandment should read: ‘Thou shalt blame others for thy sins’

BlogIt was only a matter of time before U.S. Catholic Bishops chose to adopt the victim strategy in  defending its priests' rampant pedophilia. In a comparison that is almost laughable were it not so pathetic, the Church is now blaming the sexual liberation of the 1960s and '70s for its priests' predatory tactics.

The bishops say neither celibacy nor pedophilia were the root causes of their priests' problems. And, get this, they say their problem has been pretty much cleaned up. Yeah, right, and the Mets will win the World Series this year.

Catholic Church leaders MUST be living in a parallel universe. First, they fast track Pope John Paul II for sainthood based upon two rather shaky miracles. (Hey, I can point to a REAL miracle maker. How about Gil Hodges, manager of the 1969 Mets? Any votes for beatifying St. Gilbert of Flushing?)

Second, the bishops publicize this totally bogus report that assumes no responsibility whatsoever for the conduct of their priests. Hundreds of priests ran amok for decades, destroyed lives and then were simply transferred from parish to parish as the Church desperately tried to cover up its mess (all done, BTW, under the aegis of the soon-to-be Saint John Paul II).

If the Catholic Church can blame the sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s for its wrongdoings, so should everyone else. Heck, if I were advising Arnold Schwarzenegger right now, I'd just tell him to go with the church defense. I'd tell the governator, “Look, Arnold, baby, fathering your maid's kid wasn't your fault. It's that damned sexual liberation of the '60s.” Ditto with Lindsay Lohan's problems. Blame the 1960s and '70s. Don't like ObamaCare? Tough. It's a direct result of the sexual liberation. Are you a Cubs fan still waiting for the first world's series title since the Flood? At least you can blame the sexual revolution for distracting the owners, managers and players for the past 50 years.

I know the New Testament advises followers to turn the other cheek. But, where does it also say to point the finger at others for one's own poor behavior?

The Catholic Church should be ashamed of this latest cover-up. Blaming sexual liberation for rampant pedophilia is akin to Detroit's explaining its woes by pointing to better engineering and quality from Japanese and German auto makers. Puh-lese!

I believe Shakespeare was a member of the Church of England, but he must have been thinking of Catholic Bishops when he wrote, “The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.” And, to paraphrase Hippocrates, “Bishops: heal thyselves!”

May 11

Ten days to go!

Harold-campingAccording to Bible scholar and Family Radio personality Harold Camping, Judgement Day will occur  on May 21, 2011. (Note: Harold & Co. spell judgment with an “e” so RepMan is compelled to honor their mistake. But me wonders if their math is off too…?) That's right. We have 10 days until “The Rapture” begins. But, don't sweat it too much. May 21 may be Judgement Day but, says Camping, we have until October 21, 2011, before God actually destroys the entire earth. Whew. That was a little too close for comfort.

Camping bases his calculations solely on God's predetermined time line. That's the one that began when 'He' created the world in 11,013 B.C. and will come crashing down this coming October 21st (and, isn't it a real bummer that He couldn't wait until AFTER Halloween to end things? There's nothing merciful about this god).

As proof that the end is well nigh on hand, Camping cites such “biblical prophecies” come true as:

– the complete degradation of the Christian Church (I'll grant you that Catholics have, in fact, done a superb job of completely mucking things up, but who has any image issues with Methodists, Unitarians or other Christian sects?)
– the complete breakdown of society (I'll give Camping this one. 'Jersey Shore' was, in fact, the final sign that society had gone to hell in a handbasket)
– the rise of the national state of Israel in 1948 (OK. So?)
– the rise of Gay pride (this is starting to sound like the Bill O'Reilly Show).

Camping says Judgement Day will kick off with a catastrophic earthquake (Wait. Didn't that just happen in Japan?). Based upon the description Brother Camping provides though, this does sound like the mother of all earthquakes. It will “open every grave in the world and only true believers will rise to heaven.” Non-believers will chill with earthquake survivors and await the actual end of days on October 21. At least that still gives them a full summer's worth of tanning and jet-skiing. I take back my crack about His being unmerciful.

I must admit to being at a loss as to what to do in my final 10 days. Should I learn to play acoustic guitar? Nah, not enough time. Foreign language? Ditto. Ten days does not a language master make. Hey, I know, maybe I'll set my sights on stealing away a client from a large holding company. I guarantee there's a client out there right this second who's had it up to here with her account team's constant turnover, the agency's exorbitant billing and its minimal results. And, winning a $1 million account in the next 10 days would certainly qualify as my definition of rapture.

What about you? Suppose, just suppose, Brother Camping is right and Judgement Day WILL begin in less than two weeks. What would you want to accomplish between now and then? By the way, this whole end of days thing has to be a real impediment to funeral parlor recruiting. How do you attract the best and brightest to an industry whose end product will be jumping out of their respective caskets in a matter of hours? Talk about a dead end.

Mar 11

A terminal case of the slows

When asked why he fired George B. McClellan for the SECOND time as commander-in-chief of the   Army of the Potomac, President Abraham Lincoln said, "Because he has a terminal case of the slows." McClellan was a great administrator and organizer, but he lacked the stomach for warfare.

Editorial_20100403After reading about the latest Catholic Church disgrace in the archdiocese of Philadelphia, I reached the exact, same conclusion about Cardinal Justin Rigali.

Here's why. Back in early February, a Philly grand jury found that no fewer than 37 priests, who had been accused or suspected of misbehavior with children, were STILL serving in the ministry. That's enough men to field three football squads, four baseball teams or SEVEN basketball franchises (heck, the latter would constitute an entire division). 

Now, get this: one month after the grand jury report, the archdiocese placed only 21 of the 37 priests on 'administrative leave.' That means:

A) All 37 accused molesters were running amok for a full month and…

B) Even worse, another 16 continue to have free and unfettered access to their unsuspecting flocks.

The good cardinal was quoted as saying, “I know that for many people their trust in the Church has been shaken.” Ha! Is he kidding? “Been' shaken?” My trust was shaken, stirred and completely shattered years ago.

Responding to Cardinal Rigali's decision to allow 16 of the accused clergy to continue their 'alleged' wanton ways, the grand jury said, “We understand the accusations are not proof, but we cannot understand the Archdiocese's apparent absence of any sense of urgency.”

I can understand it. Just as police departments boast of a thin blue line that closes ranks when one of its members is accused of wrongdoing, the Catholic Church has a thin line of either black or red hue (depending upon whether the cover-up is led by a priest or cardinal).

I'd like to believe if Abraham Lincoln were still alive and had the authority, he'd sack Rigali for his terminal case of the slows. And, he'd also boot the 37 offenders out of the priesthood faster than you can say “Gettysburg Address.”

When it comes to worst practices for image and reputation management, the Catholic Church is in a league of its own. The Philadelphia scandal is neither shocking nor unexpected. It's just more of the same old, same old.

And, sad to say, there will be many more scandals until, and unless, the Church addresses the issue of celibacy. But, that's another issue for another blog.

Until the Church is able to find a U.S. Grant-type to fill the papal role, they'll be stuck with George McClellan types such as Benedict XVI and Cardinal Rigali who delay, deny and obfuscate without ever acknowledging the system itself is broken.

A tip o' RepMan's hat to LunchBoy for suggesting this post.

Feb 14

Holy App!

Leave it to the Catholic Church to totally muck up its first foray into the wonderful world of 968131-dtevent-pope-apps1 iPhone applications.

In a desperate attempt to look cool and “with it,” the Church circumvented its usual backward, bureaucratic ways to launch an iPhone application that provides Catholics with best practices for confessing one’s sins. (Note: For the unenlightened, one must first confess one’s sins and be absolved by a priest before receiving Holy Communion).

The App not only contains a section for one to log previous sins (a neat feature, BTW), but also provides questions one should ask before entering the ‘confessional’ (a dark, scary little room inside a church where one kneels, recites one’s sins and is then given a list of prayers to recite to cleanse the soul).

Among the iPhone App questions are:

1.)  Do I not give God time every day in prayer?

2.)  Do I not seek to love Him with my whole heart?

3.)  Have I been involved with superstitious practices or have I been involved with the occult? (Note to Repman reader Peter Engel: only you can answer that question.)

For reasons known only to them, the Church then felt compelled to add one other question to its App; a question that was sure to enrage a key constituent audience: gays and lesbians. To wit: ‘Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?’  Needless to say, the response from gays and lesbians was immediate and understandably negative (insert link of story from Burlington, VT.).

Here’s my question about the iPhone App question: As it was preparing to launch the App in an effort to appear cutting-edge, what genius decided to add the ‘homosexual activity’ question? It immediately undermines the App’s 21st century, forward-looking credibility while unnecessarily alienating a key audience (and, I won’t comment on the obvious hypocrisy of the question in question).

The Catholic Church iPhone App provides a textbook example of how not to engage in social media. An organization must first listen to what’s being said in the blogosphere. Then, it should carefully engage in conversations when, and where, they’re happening on the web to see if their content is being accepted and passed along to others. Only then should an organization begin creating a platform such as an App.

The Church was either in a rush to bring its App to market or purposely decided to offend gays and lesbians with its pointed question. Either way, the Church is once again the big loser. In fact, they remind me of a religious version of the famous mob book authored by Jimmy Breslin and entitled, “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

Jan 03

A different type of New Year’s resolution

DSCN5007 'Tis the season for resolutions, so I figured I'd share mine.

Unlike many, I have no need to quit smoking, lose weight or tackle new physical challenges. Ice climbing, long distance cycling and stand-up comedy fill those ‘voids’ very nicely, thank you.

My resolution is more of an emotional one. I resolve not to let professional and personal setbacks upset me to the degree they have in the past.

If a significant client cuts us loose, so be it. If a close friend decides to cut me off, c'est la vie. And, if the Mets continue to cut a wide swath through the N.L. East's cellar, that'll be ok, too.

I won't these other pet peeves bother me either:

– The Lexus 'December to Remember' TV commercials. Is there ANYTHING more obnoxious?
– PR awards' programs that allow large agencies to submit countless entries and dominate each and every category.
– Endless NJ Transit train delays.
– New Jersey's horrible image. The real armpit of the tri-state area is Wrong Island.
– Sarah Palin's nonsensical, moronic statements.
– Politicians who refuse to work with one another to solve our nation's ills.
– PR Week's hagiographic cover profiles of chief communications officers (the only thing missing are the halos).
– The latest transgression by a Catholic priest.
– Yet another heating or air conditioning glitch from the fine folks at 470 Park Avenue South.
– Unsolicited e-mails from new business rainmakers, database management experts and a certain Mr. Brown from Nigeria who needs my banking information in order to transfer some $7 million into my account.

So, bring on the New Year and its challenges. I pledge not to overreact to disloyal clients and friends or rude and uncommunicative NJ Transit train conductors.

If I should find myself slipping though, I know I need only schedule a few days of ice or rock climbing with Art Mooney ( It's the single best cure for what ails me and the best way for me to assure I deliver on my 2011 resolutions.

So, how about you? What are your 2011 resolutions?

Oct 22

Holy brand extension!

October 22 - Pope-Benedict-XVI How about Pope Benedict XVI's bold and brash end run on the Anglican Church and the archbishop of Canterbury? In case you missed it, the Pope just made a special offer to Anglicans who had grown disaffected with that church's decidedly liberal stance on female priests and openly gay bishops by extending membership in the one, true Church (as the nuns used to like to say).

From a brand extension perspective, the Pope made a very cagey move. Church membership is rapidly eroding, especially in First World countries. So, deciding that the best defense is a good offense, Pope Benedict tries to take market share away from a weaker sibling: the Anglican church. Talk about Machiavellian!

This was front page news in the U.S. However, RepMan Freelance Correspondent Carl "Union Jack" Foster says it barely caused a ripple across the pond. "In a country where the Head of the Church of England is also the Head of State, Britain is a decidedly non-religious place. Coverage of the Pope's move has been reported but it isn't riding high. Look at the homepages of the major newspaper websites and you won't find the story. I presume stories about swine flu vaccinations, postal strikes and celebrity fashion slips are more newsworthy because they got more clicks."

Blasé Brits aside, I find the Pope's move disturbing from a number of image and reputation standpoints:

– By inviting the far right wing conservative branch of the Anglican Church to join the RCC, he has, de facto, moved the latter's philosophy even further right.
– By becoming ever more conservative, the Church is being anything but 'Catholic' and, rather, re-positioning itself in a neo-conservative box that will surely hamper future recruiting efforts for priests, nuns and, of course, congregants.

Brand building depends upon authenticity and transparency. The Church's original mission embraced piety, humility and an openness to all views and perspectives. Clearly, something went awry along the way. In fact, I think Sarah Silverman's recent suggestion that the Pope sell the Vatican and end world hunger with the proceeds makes more sense than the Anglican brand extension (Note: This video contains R-rated material).

Having laid siege to disaffected Anglicans, what religion is next in Pope Benedict's brand extension campaign? Today Anglicans. Tomorrow the world!

May 29

Father Cutie’s cutie forces right decision

May 29 - Alberto Cutie This former alter boy is psyched to see Roman Catholic priest Alberto Cutie walk away from the absurdities of the Church's celibacy rule and, girlfriend in hand, move to the Episcopalian faith.

It's a big deal since Cutie is extremely high profile and known as Miami's 'Father Oprah.' He was beloved by parishioners, but caught making out in public with his girlfriend. And, that's a no-no for a Catholic priest. So, the Church gave him an ultimatum: ditch the woman or the faith.

Rather than walk away from his natural feelings and the love of his life, Father Cutie instead turned his back on celibacy and the Catholic Church. And, I say 'Bravo!'

Church leaders established celibacy in the Middle Ages to prevent married priests from passing down their accumulated wealth to the next generation. They wanted the money to stay right where it was: in the church coffers.

Celibacy is simply not a natural state of life. In my opinion, it's also the root cause of the Church's long-standing problems with pedophilia. Celibacy attracts men who want to be with other men and, sadly, with little boys as well.

As a current non-practicing Catholic, I applaud Father Cutie's move. I hope he and his cutie have a happy and healthy life ahead. As for the Church, this is yet another image and reputation setback for an institution that is badly out of sync with the realities of the modern world.

Apr 25

The Pope comes with a message, but does he leave with followers?

Steve and Ted sit down with guests Darryl Salerno and Dawn Lauer to discuss the Pope’s recent visit to theRepchatter_logo_2

The discussion centers on the Pope’s recent delivery of the message of the Catholic Church and how it resonates with the people in the states.

Was the pope’s visit a success from an image and reputation standpoint? Did the press favor him in news coverage?

Apr 21

Judging the success of a CEOs trip

Intent on shoring up a slow, but steady decline in one of his most important markets, a CEO recently paidPopebenedictjpg
it a whirlwind visit.

He met with prospective and existing customers as well as those who had chosen one of several competitive models. He also set aside time to hold a few job interviews and made it clear he was not only CEO, but director of human resources as well. The local media followed his every move in their best paparazzi imitation, prompting some to wonder what all the fuss was about.

The CEO followed textbook crisis communications by apologizing for past product flaws and suggested a new quality control process to lessen the likelihood of such issues in the future.

There was a lot of positive buzz swirling about as the CEO made his departure from the key market: his meetings had gone well, media coverage was universally positive and early indications hinted at possible market share improvements which, after all, was the trip’s purpose in the first place.

But, the Catholic Church’s two fundamental flaws, celibacy and pedophilia, remain in place, with the harsh restrictions of the first paving the way for the pernicious reality of the second.  Papal visits remind me of client retreats: everyone gets together for a short while, drinks the corporate Kool-Aid, get all charged up and then return to their jobs with absolutely nothing having changed.

It was nice to host the pope but, until he changes the basic dogma, this trip will be judged at best as a short-term marketing success. Your eminence, you need to work with the product engineers to fix the system. Then, and only then, can marketing really deliver on future visits to key markets.