Sometimes there is no lesson

Yeah, if you could just use some common sense That would be great. - Yeah If You Could Just | Meme Generator

One of the maxims I use daily in my life is to look for the lesson. Marketers have certainly taken this to heart, as you can find “What X can teach you” or “7 things to learn from X” posts on nearly any topic under the sun. That said, sometimes there is no lesson, or at least no lesson that you shouldn’t already know.

Take any of the social media debacles of recent times, such as well-known Facebook meltdowns. What’s the lesson there? Don’t behave like an idiot, or at the very least, don’t open a hospitality business if you don’t like other human beings. That’s not much of a lesson. Other strong examples are commercials produced that depict misogyny, suicide, etc. to sell products, but again, not much of a lesson there: “don’t publish patently offensive content”. That shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone.

The antidote to many of these debacles would have been independent peer review, a mainstay of the scientific world. If you don’t already have a network of trusted professional friends and colleagues, go get one. Once you have a few friends who don’t work at your company and have no material interest at stake in the work of your company, confidentially share with them the things you’re working on and listen to their feedback. If they say, “That’s kind of offensive” or “that didn’t sit well with me”, then stop what you’re doing and learn why. Rework your campaign until it still hits as hard but in a different way.

If you know the lesson, look for ways to solve it or prevent it at your company. That’s the best lesson you’ll get out of someone else’s social media disaster.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on May 29, 2013 in Crisis Communications, Public Relations

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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