A Healthy Dose of Fear When Dealing with the Press, 100-Watt Egos, and Why You Fall in Love with Brands


The news-ification of business trend continues to perpetuate a big misunderstanding — that the press should have complete access to anything that will sell ad space. The solution is not to look for publicity love in the wrong places. There is no free lunch.

The secret of getting along in business is to pair complementary skill sets and personalities — say someone good with ideas with a good organizer. There is more to running away with the circus than meets the eye.

Finally, as with many things that become part of life, it is better to look to understand them, than to try to deny their existence, like in the case of brand preferences that lead to relationships.

A Healthy Dose of Fear When Dealing with the Press, 100-Watt Egos, and Why You Fall in Love with Brands

The three stories that caught my eye this week are:


1Rand Fishkin suggests a healthy dose of fear is appropriate when dealing with the press. Drawing from his own experience, along with classics like "everything is on record", Fishkin lists strong recommendations for tech startups:

Know Your Preference: No Press or Wrong/Biased/Negative Press?

Much of the time when the press covers your company or project, the results won’t match your expectations or ideals. If publicity about your work is strategic and useful to the company, some amount of inaccuracy/negativity is affordable. But you should know the balance ahead of time. Far too often, entrepreneurs presume that press is a good, desirable commodity and will suffer unduly to achieve it. The truth is that with a few, relatively rare exceptions, press will not make (or break) your startup.

Have a Clear, Compelling, Unique Message to Share

[…] Ask Questions About the Journalist’s Motivations

Before you begin the “taped portion” of an interview or reply to a question-laden email, consider asking three questions of the interviewee: #1 “What’s the focus and goal of the piece?” #2 “What are you hoping to get from my contributions?” and #3 “What’s your fact-checking process?”

[…] Study Your Target/Interviewer Beforehand

[…] Consider Your Words and Phrasing Extremely Carefully

[…] Email Interviews are Great; Phone Calls/In-Person is Riskier

[…] Beware Later Questions and the “Followup”

Read the full article for lots of good advice. He concludes with more good advice that applied beyond startups dealing with the press: be careful, be focused and be strategic.

And, given the nature of the protests in the comments, I'd add take personal protests to the contrary professionally: check those journalists out with at least two sources who were interviewed/written up.


2In an interview over at 99%, co-founder Gilles Ste-Croix describes the challenges of putting on a performance under water, why Cirque du Soleil actually embraces 100-Watt Egos, and following big dreams. From the interview:

We actually hire people because they have big egos. I prefer to have 100 watts on stage rather than 30 watts.  And in that sense we want our artists to be brilliant, we want them to shine each time they perform.

Now that doesn't mean that they can be assholes when they get off stage.

We definitely make sure that the personalities of new hires mold with the team, but because this is such an incredible opportunity everyone is really appreciative for the most part.

After an Olympic athlete wins a gold medal they are soon forgotten or they might end up back at home. Whereas our athletes can establish careers, create families and have stability all based on their talent – that's pretty rare in our industry

Rehearse your moves countless times before performing applies to all professional endeavors, especially those that are asking other people to invest time and attention.


3In The Atlantic, advertising veteran and marketing expert Susan Fournier explains why you fall in love with brands based upon her seminal 1998 study on brand relationship theory. She says:

Before the publication of this research, academic thinking on brands and consumers' brand behaviors was driven by close adherence to economic and cognitive principles. Brands were simply collections of product attributes and benefits that consumers used when making choice decisions, and familiar brands helped people gain an idea of product quality, reduce risks, and save time. This was a very left-brained, company-centric, highly-rational branding world based on an economics of benefits versus costs.

[…] In the late 1980s, the American Marketing Association changed its definitions of marketing to focus on relationships. [However,] this relationship thinking was applied only in the context of business-to-business relationships, such as those between suppliers and buyers.

[…] People's life projects, identity tasks, life themes, current concerns, cohorts, etc. provide the lenses through which brands come to have meaning. This research helped pave the way for the paradigm of co-creation enabled by Web 2.0 technology and embraced in brand marketing today.

The research also highlighted the complexity of these human relationships with brands and how valid metrics for measuring and identifying brand relationships remain lacking.


The theme for this week's round up of business and technology trends is relationships.



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