Photo of Charlie Sheen Courtesy of TGDaily
Art Composite by Coldfire Inc.
Charlie: Muammar, you troll. You should be tweeting to reach your people. I got over a million followers on my first day!
Gaddafi: That may be true, hot shot, but you still come across like a lunatic – a state of mind I know something about. Besides, people can connect with each other and organize revolutions. It’s best to pull the plug on the whole thing. You might want to consider lying low too.
Different online strategies, for sure. But neither of these high-profile, “breaking news” stars is “winning” the hearts and minds of the public. Why?
First, they’re delusional, and that doesn’t help. And with one a murderous dictator and the other a drug-addled sitcom star, you’d think they’d know a thing or two about effective PR. Tirades from both, repeated 24/7 online, tend to garner little sympathy.
The fact is, social media and digital communications can be tricky for even the smartest folks with their feet firmly on the ground. Look at the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers. With their mega oil interests and their position as climate change skeptics, they’re part of the conservative establishment. So, when a fake press release went out with the headline, “Koch Industries Announces New Environmental Commitments” – saying the company would restructure its “support of climate change research and advocacy initiatives” – the brothers went ballistic when the story went viral in the social media. They’re threatening lawsuits and spending a fortune to find the tricksters. No luck.
As the New York Times said in covering the story, “The episode goes to the heart of one of the paradoxes of the digital age. On the Internet, parody and mockery have never been easier to pull off.”
Even the twitter feed BPGlobalPR, an obvious fake, got 10 times more followers than the real BP America.
Charlie’s delusional tirades and strange publicity campaign are so over the top that they’re actually as outrageous as any parody might be. And after years of marginally sane speeches and policies, Gaddafi’s reputation isn’t much better (see SNL’s recent portrayals).
Which remind me of some critical do’s and don’ts for anyone who wants to tell meaningful stories that will resonate with people they want to reach.
- Know what you’re talking about; use facts to support your position, and state your case with care. (Tiger blood?)
- Be clear, simple and precise in your language. Stay in reality.
- Stick to stories people can relate to (A rich guy with two “goddesses” complaining about anything is not terribly sympathetic).
- Show humility in the face of a challenge.
- Don’t call yourself a winner; act like one, and others will know it.