PR Versus Product Management or “Its Not You, It’s ME”

Academia has kept pace with the disruptive hyper-change rate of PR and Marketing Theory about as well as middle east despots. It use to be that brand management was a Public Relations/Management thing. Today, Brand Management is dependent on Product Management. So here’s my MBA thesis on New Brand Marketing.

With public relations and purchased media spots, you can fool some of the people some of the time. Yet with social media and the democratization of information channels, you can’t even fool anyone for a long period of time. Eventually, the truth wins out.

So if you’re hearing bad things about your company’s or your personal brand for that matter, and that feedback is more than a one-off from just a few select nay-sayers, you need to take yourself to one of those last-date, breaking-up-with-your-significant-other restaurants and have the “It’s not you, it’s me” speech with yourself.

Ask yourself what’s wrong with my product. What’s wrong with my brand? Does the message I’ve been spreading match my actions? Am I who I say I am? Look hard in the mirror, because if this is more than just one hole in the dike, if when you address and silence one nay-sayers another pops up elsewhere, and somewhere else and somewhere else…. then the problem isn’t just that one leak. Silencing that one nay-sayers won’t stop the dikes from failing, your Bourbon Street is going to be flooded.

5 New-Millennium Branding Observations:

  1. The Power and Dangers of Hype – You can easily fly to new heights by pushing an interesting viral message through all the traditional and social media channels available to you today. Even if you’re message is pure hot-air hype. The danger of an over-hyped, high-flying message is your fraud will be uncovered. From over-hyped heights, you fall faster and further leaving a huge crater that will affect your credibility and ability to recover for a long, long, long time.
  2. Your Friends – You are judged by the quality of the company you keep. Look at your long-term entourage. If it’s filled with people who need something from you and other people who tarnish your brand, why aren’t your potential brand enhancers hanging with you? What’s wrong there?
  3. Your Enemies or Frenemies – Don’t make enemies! What BS! I believe that a person is judged by the quality of the people who speak ill of them as much as the company they keep. One of my proudest achievements is the quality of 80% of the list of folks who speak badly of me. In 80% of the cases, I couldn’t pick a better endorsement than a negative endorsement from these folks. Every time People like Evan Burfield, Danny Boice, Jen Mellon, and Jonathon Perrelli trash me an angel earns it wings. Of the 20%, 1/2 of them I need to repair bridges because I’ve screwed up, the other half I’ll chalk up to not being able please all of the people all of the time (Many people I’ve fired, who should be enemies are still friends of mine. That’s a sign that I’m on the right path).
  4. Be a Green Apple in a Bin of Red Apples – You want to get noticed, you’re going to have to stand out. When you stand out, your neck sticks out. When your neck sticks out your going to piss some people off. Don’t worry about the small percentage of people that you piss off on your way as long as it’s a small percentage of people. As long as it’s the right people. If you’re true to your brand, your brand strategy is sound, and you are consistent over time, eventually, you will win out.
  5. Nicey, Nicey, All the Time is Crap – Kids who get constant praise from their parents do not value the praise as they are wise enough to discern when they deserve an ataboy . Praise needs to be genuine. The corollary is you need to give negative feedback. Granted you might want to do it in a gentler, less cranky, more caring way than I but if you don’t doll out the criticism with the kudos, your kudos have little value.