The cult of the positive

There remains, in PR circles a depressing cult of the positive. I want to take a brief moment to celebrate the power of negativity. According to the 1 PR person I asked, only relentless positivity is acceptable in brainstorming. You can only say "Yes and..." not "Yes but" "More is always better" You are permitted "No negatives" How often have you heard these platitudes trotted out, and then heard 20 crap ideas flow forth, alternatively prosaic or ludicrous, followed by a period of despair and recrimination, whereupon the problem owner implements the plan they'd intended all along, jettisoning all the good ideas, and the participants' goodwill in the process. Sometimes it's just bad problem-framing, but more often it's a result of the more is better mentality, which taps just a tiny portion of our brains. I find de Bono's Six hats a much more liberating model of creativity. De Bono uses a metaphor of six hats, to ensure that all aspects of our creative intellect can be tapped in resolving tough problems. He allows you to put on a black hat and critique. He allows a white hat for listening and questioning, a yellow hat for seeking our opportunities, a green hat for pure lateral thinking, a blue hat for control and self-analysis, and the joyous Red hat for a pure emotional response. According to de Bono, it is OK to be negative! And it's equally OK to be emotional in business. Just so long as you know you're doing it...


Consumer PR: Dont take it too seriously

A piece in yesterday's Sun made me laugh: "The Sum of All Fears" highlighted an equation that a 'boffin' had discovered to identify the scariest films of all time. ES+U+CS+T squared +S + (TL + F)/2 + (A+DR+FS)/n + sinx-1 = ultimate scary movie. As if! However, this did remind me of the profound words of consumer PR 'boffin' Mark Cooper, who taught me of a valuable lesson the other day when I was proclaiming the difficuties of genuine news placement. "Don't think of consumer PR as news. Consumer PR is entertainment. We are colluding with the tabloids to make people laugh. Values like truth, decency and credibility don't matter. What's good PR is what gets in the papers." To illustrate his point, an equation for the 'perfect summer' was published the following day after 'research' by one of Mark's clients... Emotionally, I find this state of affairs appalling. Mentally, it's a very helpful perspective on a cynical world. Let them eat fake.


All you need is lust and self-delusion

No, this post is not an advertisement for my personal services, but a paraphrase of johnnie moore's review of Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts. Johnnie is against Roberts's's's attempt to persuade us that more cuddly advertising will produce the sort of emotional loyalty he apparently feels to brands like Gillette and Steinlager! Personally, I love people; not brands. Of course I understand how brands can generate lust, or at least a strong and irrational desire to POSSESS them. But could I ever feel that lust towards a lager or a razor? Only if I were an alcoholic or perhaps a shaveholic like Jason from Big Brother... Perhaps, inadvertently, I have stumbled across the key to Roberts thinking. He wants to create a nation of brand addicts. This is not love. It's insanity. Just say no to brands. Get some dignity instead.

Usual PR nonsense

According to research in this week'sPRWeek , 72% of corporate communications practitioners reckon it is difficult to differentiate between the reputation of a company and the reputation of the CEO. So that leaves 28% who are reasonably sane - and not swept along in this form of PR industry groupthink. The fact is that Most stakeholders don't even know the names of the people who run these companies. Who runs Centrica? or ICI? or BAE these days? Who knows. But they still have a corporate reputation, right? We judge a company on entirely different criteria from our evaluation of human beings. Of course CEOs have an impact on perceptions of corporate brand, and that influence can often be profound for some stakeholders. But CEO reputation and corporate reputation are entirely different phenomena and must be managed accordingly. Rather than relying upon the CEO to forge the corporate brand, many organisations would be well advised to employ a more diverse approach to brand leadership....