She has been questioned, challenged, criticized, berated, and called “the devil,” but is there anyone who has not heard of Amy Chua and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother? Her book shot an arrow straight into the hearts of American mothers calling us overly permissive and lax, and pointing to the rising prowess of Chinese students as proof. Sensing a serious “girl fight,” the media latched onto the debate, poking a prodding with a few well chosen quotes and, voila!, Amy Chua became a household name almost overnight. Ms. Chua and her book are the perfect example of the old saying “no pr is bad pr.”
Her book is a blockbuster. It is currently #5 on the New York Times List of Bestsellers and she’s just barely out of the gate. Battle Hymn of the Tiger mother has been reviewed by every major news outlet in the country and blogged about endlessly. Ms. Chua has been interviewed by all the major networks and a YouTube search of her name yields almost 200 video clips. There are 1.8 million results for “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” on Google, and 200 reviews on Amazon. Amazing what a little shot of controversy will do for book sales.
But Ms. Chua did two other things that have greatly contributed to the success of her book:
1. She took a stand, controversial and radical though it may have been. So often, a well-meaning and newsworthy announcement or press release gets watered down into a boilerplate piece of boring nothingness so that the “powers that be” are sure it will appeal to as many people as possible without ruffling anyone’s feathers. Ms. Chua certainly didn’t second guess herself or skirt around the issue. Be real, say something original, be willing to go out on a limb– people will notice.
2. She found some common ground. Despite her firm beliefs and assertions, she was not afraid to admit on national TV that she had to do some real soul searching around her parenting methods when her 13-year old began to rebel. This little revelation showed us that (despite some reports) she’s human! She makes mistakes! And, above all else, she’s a mother just like us who wants her kids to grow up with self-confidence and purpose. So, instead of dismissing her as a crazy lady, many of us found a teeny, tiny little way to relate.
In my humble opinion, she worked the “no pr is bad pr” artfully. She fueled the fire just enough to keep the coals hot, while also revealing enough about herself and her book to make even those of us who vehemently disagree with her, want to read the book. And, at the end of the day, that’s why she wrote it. And, that’s why I’m going to read it.Filed under pr | Comment (1)
My husband runs a business incubator in Burlington, Vermont and is currently searching for a Rock Star VP. That’s actually exactly the job title he’s floating out there in his job posting. He doesn’t specify which or how many degrees are preferred; rather that the applicant “lives and breathes technology” and is “equally capable of negotiating an early stage venture capital investment and emptying the incubator’s dishwasher.” He also adds that snowboarders and bikers will be given preferential treatment.
This job description illustrates one of the most basic tenants of any communications strategy– know your audience. I know, this sounds very “marketing 101,” but Dave could very easily have put out a standard (dry), traditionally-formatted (boring) job posting. My guess is that he would have received standard (dry) and traditionally-formatted (boring) responses. Instead, applicants are letting their creative juices flow, and in the process showing a bit of their personality. Dave’s listing doesn’t just ask for an MBA; it asks for someone who has a sense of humor and is willing to roll up their sleeves and tackle tasks both daunting and menial. The bit about being a snowboarder or a biker? Well, first of all, those applicants will have at least something in common with their boss on a personal level– essential in a small shop and, second, folks who love the great outdoors are more likely to settle happily in Vermont.
Even something as short and simple as a job listing has important implications for your brand. Every point of communication you put out there as a person or a company reflects who you are as a company. More importantly, you reap what you sow. Put out an authentic help wanted ad that skips the typical dry-as-cardboard format, and you’re likely to get innovative candidates able to think creatively. In this case, a must for working with start-ups and entrepreneurs.
So, my point. Knowing your audience isn’t enough. Take it to the next level. Think about who you’re talking to and how you’re saying it. What are they reading, where are they connecting, does your tone match theirs? Go beyond identifying your audience as a group (i.e. soccer moms) and think about the personality type you’re talking to. Both may be soccer moms, but are they suburban yuppies, or natural product fanatics? The tone and subtext of what you put out there– be it a press release, tweet or job listing– is as important (if not more!) than where you place it.
And, if you know a technology rockstar who knows how to empty a dishwasher, send them over to Dave at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies.Filed under branding, pr | Comment (0)