Back in the day, when Medicare claim forms were filled out on a typewriter, the media had all the power when it came to publicity. Press releases were incredibly important. Timing was everything. “Newsworthy” was the rule. Targeting the appropriate editors and reporters was critical.
I do not have to tell you that has all changed. Now, the mainstream media can often be the last to know. Unless there happens to be a reporter on a JetBlue flight when a flight attendant or passenger has a meltdown, we are going to see video that one of the other passengers posted online before the plane has a chance to make it back to the airport. One of the issues with the 24/7 cloud-based media obsessed world we live in, is the permanence of all the “semi-permanent” content.
There is an interesting scene in the 1999 movie Notting Hill in which Julia Roberts’s character, movie star Anna Scott, tries to explain to Hugh Grant’s character, travel bookshop owner Will Thacker, that photos of her leaving his apartment are going to haunt her forever. He tells her that she is blowing everything out of proportion. “Today’s newspapers will be lining tomorrow’s wastepaper bin,” he says. “It’s just one day. Tomorrow, today’s papers will all have been thrown out.”
She angrily disagrees. “This story will be filed. Every time anyone writes anything about me, they’ll dig up these photos. Newspapers last forever. I’ll regret this forever,” she says. By “they” she means the people who work in the mainstream media.
Now, we are “they” and “they” is everybody. If you have an Internet-compatible tool, you can search the Internet. A couple of columns ago, I wrote about “Yelping” yourself. I had several people come up to me at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., and say that after they read that column, they immediately “Yelped” themselves. If they were not happy with what they found, they started to work on fixing it.
“The Perils of Publicity” has a similar message. Is your company’s brand compatible with or reflective of what is “filed” online either by you or what has been compiled by the Internet itself?
Publicity follows identity
According to author Mike Michalowicz, the most important aspect of branding is to identify and clarify your company’s purpose. If you do that, everything follows. Identification and clarification are key. If you do not know what your company’s purpose is, you might want to figure that out before you start researching what the Internet thinks your company’s purpose is.
For example, pretend your company is BP Oil. You may have a pretty new logo and a massive rebranding campaign, but “oil spill” is the purpose the Internet assigns you when you google your company. See what I mean?
The good news is that since you have gained considerable power in the modern media arena, you are not poor, helpless Anna Scott. You can work to throw those old newspapers out and make your brand reflect your purpose.
- Michalowicz, M. Branding Your Company: 7 Steps to Help You Do It Right. American Express Company. Available at www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/branding-your-company-7-steps. Accessed April 18, 2016.
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- Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing Solutions and the Vice President of Clinical Education Concepts. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.