Friday, April 13

Surviving Animal: Mr Moustache

Some professionals might think twice about appearing on radio show with a host sometimes called the "shock jock of the recruiting industry" and refers to you as "Mr. Moustache," but not me. I say go ahead and feed the Recruiting Animal. Sure, some people will claim he bites, but I think you'll respect him all the same.

At least that was my experience on his show "The Recruiting Animal Show", where for a little more than an hour we discussed whether or not there is such a thing as bad publicity. While there seemed to be some consensus that not all publicity is good publicity, not all who called in agreed.

While we agree on a great many things, Laurence Haughton disagreed on this point. Haughton, a writer, a speaker, and a management consultant, said that all publicity is good publicity because visibility is everything. I disagree, largely because publicity (especially bad publicity) is mostly a random roll of the dice and has the potential to mangle any message or established identity out in the field.

It seems to me that not all publicity has paid off in recent months. While JetBlue has captured headlines, it is fighting to reverse the negative impressions of a February storm. Steorn, which used publicity to market the claim of having free, clean and constant energy, has been slow to regain its credibility after a publicity stunt last year. The blogger Spocko, who was responsible for his own publicity as well as the negative publicity surrounding KSFO radio, has slowly dropped from his once glamorized position as a top search tag.

While these cases can be seen as extreme forays into crisis communication, I believe they have some commonalities. It seems to me that people, places, products, and companies that benefit the most from publicity are those who have exposure in their areas of expertise or in ways that closely align with their brand and identity. The further away the exposure is to their brand or identity, the greater the potential for damage or maligning their own message.

Don Imus is experiencing this now, after making statements that have been labeled racist. While some might argue these statements have given him exposure and may have briefly increased his ratings had he not been fired, several advertisers would NOT bank that all publicity is good publicity. They pulled their advertisements off the air. Staples Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. were the first to leave, refusing to associate with the radio show host despite apologies. Would others have risen to replace them? Maybe. It's a dice roll that didn't happen because CBS wasn't interested in taking chances.

We touched on Imus briefly during the show, but with such an abundance of topics we sort of took a "salad bowl approach," as Amitai Givertz, called it before raising several brilliant points, including the benefit of transparency for companies who are mindful of their messages. He also helped me frame my feeling about the show: If there is one good thing about salad bowls, it's that someone will always find something they like in them: lettuce, carrots, radishes, dressing, and even a few Garbonzo beans ... we talked about them all.

Likewise, Dave Manaster made several excellent contributions, reinforcing the idea that there is indeed another step: you have to know what your message is before you can shape it. He's also right that crisis communication is often reactive whereas strategic communication is proactive.

"If you don't manage your message, your message will manage you." — Richard Becker

Manaster reminded us that crisis communication is not the norm and helped move us in a direction that takes communication to an individual level. Communication management is also where Animal seemed most skeptical, likening it to a Big Brother approach or creating company shills. It's a topic I'll save for next week, much like I'll work up a more definitive definition of the difference between publicity and public relations.

A thanks also to Jason Davis, who asked about the monetization of blogs that I alluded to but hardly fully answered. Of course, this makes sense given our salad bowl discussion (I think that's funny). While some questions were answered, many more questions were raised that could not be easily answered in the confines of a single show.

Good thing Animal and I were shamed into a second show together, er, some day, to address his millions of visitors. With no bite marks to speak of and not a single silver bullet spent this time around, I survived to live another day. As for Animal, as I have said before, he has a real winner of a show. The program, which is available online, is one several great segments that not only cover but also transcend the recruiting industry. Kudos all around.

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1 comments:

Rich on 4/19/07, 8:45 AM said...

Famous Last Words;

"I guess I have a different definition of 'good.' A million dollars in cash (book available in stores or pulped) looks pretty good to me (and I'll bet to a lot of other authors, felons or not)." — Laurence Haughton

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