Mistakes to Learn from: Spokesperson humor

I often get asked the question about “spokespersons” — in other words, should you as a business owner or individual employ (or be) a spokesperson on behalf of your brand.

As a sole propeitor, you really ARE the brand, so in some ways, this is moot. Sure, you can “hide” behind a brand and talk as though you are a corporation in an abstract way, but in the new media world, people really are looking for personality behind the brands – even big name companies. So one of the first things any blogging course will tell you is to develop a personality or voice to your blogs. These of course should be congruent to who you are as the business owner and by default spokesperson. \

But never forget, as the spokesperson for your company, you are now a “quasi” celebrity, no matter how small it may be. Growing up in a small town taught me the value of the saying “people talk.” No matter how innocuous something was, invariably three mothers had called my house to let my folks know exactly what I had done before I had had a chance to pull in the driveway.

So too it is in marketing. The web has made it incredibly painfully fast for a misstep to go viral and create a black eye faster than you can say “re-tweet.”  Just remember the horrible misstep comedian Gilbert Gottfried made when he used the Japanese tsunami as a punchline, forgetting not just all sense of taste or decorum, but also that his employer, AFLAC, derrived about 75% of its revenue from Japan in 2010.

Gottfried was fired very publically for his lack of consideration.

There’s dozens of former spokespersons and celebrities strewn across the social  media landscape, people who made a ridiculous comment that went viral, and thus offending millions.

My advice: remember – there are camera phones everywhere.  Emails can live forever. The internet immediately connects your “community” and your mistake can suddenly become the fodder for the forums.

In short: Be yourself – but be careful.

Category: Spokespersons

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