Showing posts from September, 2011

Personal Disaster Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Penelope Trunk's Brilliant But Dangerous Personal Brand

Penelope Trunk has written extensively about her own history of abuse, institutionalization, depression, getting fired, and more. But her latest blog went a lot further. In it we read about her experience with domestic violence: how during one of their fights, her husband shoved her to the floor as her six-year-old watched.Penelope Trunk is a hugely successful personal brand. She writes articles about career development mingled with anecdotes about her crazy personal life. Her problems are her props.Yet beneath the surface, underneath all the unpredictability and self-destructiveness and rebuilding, there is a certain consistency. Even manipulation. She knows her audience’s hot buttons, and she pushes them. If it’s Penelope’s blog, you know that one week you will read about her starting a goat cheese company, and the next week about homeschooling her sons, and then the third week about getting shoved to the floor. Her blogs are just – like that. Which is why she gets so many comments,…

Branding for Generation Z: Making the Most of Our Time On The Planet

“Till The World Ends” (Britney Spears). “Give Me Everything Tonight” (Pitbull). Catchy songs with a message – the future is uncertain. Live for today. Enjoy.Washingtonian Magazine this week spotlights burned-out out private school kids. They and their parents alike are going nuts trying to keep those transcripts pure for the Ivy League. Educators and psychologists, confronted with their pervasive stress, are asking the question, Why? Let kids enjoy the time they have. They’re only young once. I read this and thought, and let’s be honest – the economy isn’t exactly going to welcome these kids with open arms. What is the craziness around all this unnecessary busywork? Why does every kid have to be a 4.0, mountain-climbing bassist in an obscure rock band who volunteers 80 hours a week to be considered good enough?Facebook has helped me to enjoy life more. At first I hated it. It’s just seemed so – open. I think I opened and closed my account twice before I figured out how to use it in a …

Working on Federal Communicators Network this weekend

Blogging completely impossible right now...working on FCN stuff. When I read more about the origins of FCN in 1996 - Al Gore's "Reinventing Government" initiative - it made me even more determined to pick up the baton and help bring this organization into the future. Because "Reinventing Government" is EXACTLY the same thing as Gov 2.0. The text below is a cut & paste from that link: "The Federal Communicators Network 
In April 1996, Vice President Gore asked the National Performance Review (now the National Parnership for Reinventing Government) to organize a network of editors of publications directed toward front-line federal employees. The Vice President's vision was to reach federal workers with important reinvention messages, promote a climate in which reinvention can flourish, and create a grass-roots demand to break down agency barriers to reinvention. Since that time, the Federal Communicators Network has expanded to comprise more than 500 wr…

Intelligent PR is never propaganda.

Communicators spend a lot of time working on getting the message right. To an extent that is a good thing. For in the day-to-day of organizational life, the message can sometimes get lost in the weeds. It is important to align and focus everyone, from leaders on down, on communicating what matters most.When it comes to the brand, there is nothing more important than communication. “Build it and they will come” is bogus. You’ve got to say the right thing, at the right time, just to build buzz. And then protect your buzz from a blooper caught on Facebook that can bring you down. Caution is natural, necessary and appropriate.But despite all this, regardless of the benefits of coordinated messaging, most brands don’t know how to use a brand playbook well. They either follow it too religiously (“Have I provided you excellent customer service today?”); implement it incorrectly (“Qwikster”); or ignore it altogether and just make things up as they go along (Sears).Branding is confusing to a l…

Patagonia's smart branding: "Stop buying me new"

Talk about being true to your brand values.According to a September 13 blog post by SageAdvice, Patagonia is now encouraging its customers to buy items used - not new - through its eBay storefront. Of course, eBay is all excited about the concept of retail brands selling things through its online storefront.But what marketers are excited about is the concept of a brand that is so true to its values, that it will actually do things that will almost certainly reduce its bottom line. I remember debating other brand consultants about - could the company survive while featuring other vendors selling exactly the same stuff for less? Answer: YES! Because in the end, the only one you trust is Amazon. In a similar way, I do think that Patagonia will succeed with this move, both in terms of its reputation (mission-action alignment) and in terms of the perceived quality of its product - "so good that I'd even buy it used." Learn more about the Patagonia-eBay partnership …

Truth vs. Propaganda, Part 2: A Brief Selection of Quotes

Below is a follow-up to yesterday's post regarding the upcoming visits of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the United Nations. With deep respect for all peoples and an equally strong desire for peace. - Dannielle Blumenthal ____________________________ True Islam Preaches Coexistence

“God wanted to give Abraham a double blessing, through Ishmael and through Isaac, and ordered that Ishmael's descendents should live in the desert of Arabia and Isaac's in Canaan. The Qur'an recognizes the Land of Israel as the heritage of the Jews and it explains that, before the Last Judgment, Jews will return to dwell there. This prophecy has already been fulfilled.”

"Both the Jewish and Islamic Scriptures teach that God, through His chosen servant Moses, decided to free the offspring of Jacob from slavery in Egypt and to constitute them as heirs of the Promised Land. Whoever claims that Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel is so…

Propaganda Peace Leads to a Terrorist State

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is headed to the United Nations this week to request full U.N. membership for the Palestinian people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be speaking too. Both are supposed to address the U.N. General Assembly on September 23.The move by Mr. Abbas is being portrayed as the work of a “frustrated” statesman selflessly trying to care for his people in the face of a powerful colonizer that refuses to give any ground - literally. It is natural to sympathize with a victim and Mr. Abbas is playing directly to this human tendency.The speech does carry one small risk. The world might find out the truth about the Palestinians’ desire to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. People may start to objectively examine the countless acts of terrorism, historical and recent, that have been carried out by them and “on their behalf.” And then it might make more sense why Israel does things like physically defend its land, its people, and its right to exist. Bec…

Brand Power: 2 Minutes That Will Change Your Life

A good video can be worth a thousand blogs. If it's short, so much the better. Here's an outstanding one from corporate communications firm Storia on the power of brand in a person's life - how it guides our choices. More videos on their site. (If you can't see it, click here.)

The Hidden Connection Between Political Rhetoric and Employee Communication

The most important communication advice you can give a leader: Treat people like adults, not children. Don't follow the conventional
practice, which has the audience constantly receiving the equivalent
of baby-babble. Yet too often, instead of leaders telling people the raw, hard-hitting
information they need to know in order to help the company earn more
money (or the country recover from a slump), they take the easy way
out and the audience gets pap. This is not to say that soft talk has no place in leader-led
communication - it does. But a steady diet of dessert eventually gives
everyone a bellyache. When you're on the outside looking in, it is hard to understand how
anyone could be so shortsighted that they dumb things down for a
grown-up audience. But on the inside there are millions of excuses.
All of them come down to one thing: Really straight communication is
an "I lose, you win" proposition - there is nothing in it for the
communicator who tells it like…

Branding as a Predictive Investment Tool

I can tell you right now that the new Sarah Jessica Parker film will flop. It is out of line with her brand - everybody's bright, klutzy, fashion-obsessed, perpetually romantic yet commitment-phobic best friend. Same goes for the "Kardashian Kollection" at Sears. KK (uncomfortably close to the hate brand) is uninspired trash, only interesting because of the reality show brand and the reality that none of them would set foot in Sears without a massive payoff. Meanwhile, Sears is about appliances. Its heritage is good old Americana. There is no reason to buy anything resembling clothing at this store unless you are on your way to pick up a washer-dryer. You don't need a crystal ball to tell you these gazillion-dollar deals are worthless or worse (negative to brand equity.) All you need is a basic understanding of the concept: Add value to a commodity by creating the perception of superiority, in a very specific way. Predictive brand analysis can be done in lots of …

Those who tell and those who don't (on the importance of 9/11 as a brand)

On Friday we commemorated 9/11 at work. It was a big event and coordinated among dozens. Any event is hard to plan and this was no exception. But it was successful - the people involved took it seriously, knocked themselves out, and with G-d's help they delivered. When it was over and we clapped for them it was a genuine acknowledgment. And the leader immediately responded by saying - don't thank me, it could not have happened without them. He meant it. There was one person in the room who worked so hard, who jumped in so many times to fix things, who took it so much to heart that I thought she deserved an award all her own. I tried to tell her so. But she said, "No no no it's not about me. It's done now. I'm just glad." My friend is not a spotlight-seeker. But in this world, it is only the spotlight-seekers who get ahead. It is only the ones who pick up a microphone who get the attention, the kudos, the reward. In the aftermath of 9/11, it was the fact that …

Moving 9/11 Tribute - Ralph

This photo says it all.__Image source here.

The 5 Tenets of Personal Branding (Just Ask Madonna)

Madonna has not done everything right in her career. But when she started out, she had the magic.

Unlike any other musical artist of her time, Madonna understood that singing a song successfully has nothing to do with musical prowess. Nor is it about stirring emotion. It is not even about showing off as an entertainer.

Rather, in the age of branding, successful singing is about building a personal brand that translates out of singing into just about any other realm where the brand fits. That personal brand is established by telling a good story.

MTV was born in 1981 – I remember raptly watching “Video Killed The Radio Star” when it debuted – and Madonna’s 1984 “Borderline” debut took the art of the video beyond standing on a stage singing. She exemplified what it meant to be a video music star – a star in general – a great personal brand.

“Borderline” tells the story (fictional, but it feels authentic) of Madonna as a newly discovered star, torn between ruthless ambition and love. With t…