Tyler Orchard: When Brand Preservation Does More Damage than Good

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TORONTO —

Okay, I’m a bit stoked about this guys. From Australia to Toronto, the guest blog wayfaring with newly christened byronfernandez.com continues with my dude Tyler Orchard. You may have heard of him from Gini Dietrich, who recently advised him not to feed the animals in the insatiable playground that is Chicago-based Arment Dietrich and SpinSucks guest blogging community. But besides Gini’s ability to make us laugh and bedazzler jackets (cough, Konopinski, Bell) — Tyler’s meteoric rise through the PR, political and digital space has been nothing short of remarkable. He’s polite, reverent and a good listener. A self-proclaimed chef stuck in a businessmen’s body; Tyler has impeccable taste in red wine, good food — and people, too. And he knows a thing or two about business. “People know him,” to quote Ron Burgundy (though I can’t attest to how extensive the Orchard library of leather-bound books and smells of rich mahogany may be). But enough of the shenanigans, on to the good stuff: It’s a privilege to introduce you to Tyler
Orchard

tyler orchard

Courtesy of Tyler Orchard, Parliament of Canada. All rights reserved.

WHEN BRAND PRESERVATION DOES MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD

We have a human nature to defend our character in an attempt to manage external perceptions. We all have characteristics that shape our personal identity.

Some of these elements may warrant suppression or concealment during certain interactions. Whether we like it or not, we have a tendency to seek approval, fit in to the environment we operate, and invoke a positive reaction when mentioned by others.

Not surprisingly, these predispositions subsequently play a major role in business development, branding, and PR initiatives.  

In the corporate world, a brand identity is a remarkably powerful and influential element of success (New York Times, The Importance of Branding Your Business).

Companies spend a considerable amount of time, financial resources, and effort in creating a brand that resonates with a mass consumer base or audience. Consequently, brand management and preservation has become a major preoccupation for organizations in the public, private and non-profit sections.

Perception, identity, and brand awareness is increasingly important within the business environment. This is because branding success is a key element in meeting certain business objectives, internally and externally.

These attitudes and experiences around a brand, often driven and dictated by the consumer, affect all channels of the corporate structure. With this importance comes the desire to preserve your brand identity at all costs.

This is a dynamic many entrepreneurs and business people can empathize with. When faced with a negative situation or potentially damaging encounter, it is an instinctive reaction for most individuals or brands to do anything and everything that will protect what has been built via investment, infrastructure and influence. This brings to mind the classic “fight or flight” dichotomy, and how we are biologically wired to react to real or perceived threat/s.

To quote the wonderful mind of Warren Buffett:

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation — and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Many would perceive this loyal and strategic reaction as a sign of a promising corporate leader. I would tend to agree.

But here’s the kick: Does there come a time when our intrinsic nature to preserve something we care about deeply actually exacerbates the damage we are trying to mitigate?

This post is by no means a blanket description of the corporate landscape. Many companies understand the limits that they operate in. However, there are still those who maintain the “defend at all costs” mentality that has significant (and often ignored) repercussions.

There is something to be said about the perils of blind pride. It often leads us to make rash decisions that, while at the time may seem appropriate, only cause more headaches down the road and across relationships.

When an individual is emotionally invested in their company, brand or organization; that poignant connection can cause judgement to be clouded. This becomes paramount when people confront a direct challenge or crisis situation, be it communications or task-related.

But knee-jerk reactions to a dilemma are grounded in emotion, not strategic business acumen. It seems in these situations we revert back to our younger selves; when we would stop at nothing to quash an unflattering rumour on the playground.

Ignoring claims or evidence, denial, shifting blame, pointing fingers, and tunnel vision are all common elements of what I call “emotional management reversal”. Seasoned decision-makers, when faced with a troubling situation, seem to revert back to self-indulgent reactions that cause more harm than good. This is common when an initial decision or strategy goes south unexpectedly.

The decision to stand firm, ignore the inevitable, and resort to blame aversion tactics seems reasonable in a mind destabilized by the fear of failure.

But once a company ventures down this path, it is an all-or-nothing effort that can often result in significant brand repercussions.

Here are Five Ramifications that often ensue when a leader, manager or brand resorts to a bull-headed stance on trouble, crisis or possible failure:

1. Delaying an actionable response to a situation will only make brand and identity damage widen and deepen

2. There is a chance of alienating your customer base, audience or community

3. Tunnel vision and blind support damages perception, as perception involves trust, reliability and loyalty

4. Employees may lose respect in the corporate institution

and

5. Subsequent decisions are negatively affected in regards to marketing, communications and customer service/outreach —

 Especially when these initiatives are accomplished in the same channels (i.e. social networks or the public forum).
Strategic corporate loyalty and brand preservation are two characteristics that any business person should use in their personal description. Further, these elements in part define a company’s success. They are also founded on the same traits of entrepreneurship.
What needs to be respected is the clear difference between bold business risk and foolishness. When faced with adversity or potential failure, more business leaders need to respond pragmatically — and vehemently resist a reaction that is emotionally driven.
As business people and entrepreneurs, we need to understand that placing a bet on a particular development strategy involves risk. Brand development isn’t clear cut, nor does it happen overnight. Failure is a part of any company seeking to venture into a market and make a name for itself.
What differentiates successful business people from others is not failure in and of itself, it’s how they react when faced with crisis or defeat. Defending a decision that is not meeting expectations or objectives is not indicative of a person with pride, it’s evidence of blind irrationality.
Remember, failure is a part of the business world we inhabitcrisis is a part of the process, and defeat is part of the branding experience.
When all is said and done, sensibility and realism are characteristics that are far more important than pride and loyalty.
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Tyler Orchard is a Toronto-based Director of Communications and PR in the political world, as well as a social media consultant. He holds a masters degree from the University of Guelph in public relations and public policy. His views are strictly his own. Follow him on Twitter @tylerorchard or find him on LinkedIn. He blogs at Talking Points.

The Evolution of Media webinar with PR Newswire (and other Halloween Oo de Lally)

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Man, I really love fall. The hullabaloo and goodwill (and beautiful weather) starts every year with my birthday (the day after Fall equinox) and steamrolls right through the New Year.

Though Halloween’s as much fun for me as any other, my favorite time of year’s always Thanksgiving and the holiday season. A time of reflection, peace and reunion with family and friends. What’s not to love about that?, says this observer.

But anywho, I made a new friend over the weekend, and to borrow her sentiments it seems we fell out of the same tree. 

Her name is Sarah Skerik, a fellow PR nut and the current VP of Social Media at PR Newswire. She blogs about PR, social and search, so naturally we’re snug as a clown fish and sea anemone.

Great word, by the way, anemone. 

finding nemo Google eric cheng google plus scrapbook visual graphic

Nemo! ...with teeth

Moving on.

In summary, this was my first webinar outside HubSpot, so that was kind of cool. Some of the highlights we covered were:

  • Engaging in critical, compelling ways with audience/s is not episodic, but continual. Business and communications has moved from a “sometime” world to a real-time world 
  • Value rules. People (consumers) are no longer dependent on the proxy of trust afforded by a media brand
  • When compelling content is combined with intelligent distribution, earned credibility results
  • This accelerates the evolution from owned to earned influence 
  • Push and pull are not mutually exclusive. Savvy professionals and business owners acknowledge and activate a hybrid, holistic approach across the sales funnel

 In essence, we’re driving home the point I recently made about how social media is not the end-all, be-all of top performers in the business space. Social media is not for everyone.

Done right, social can be optimized with other elements of the marketing mix for dynamic options, goals and results (because some of us are really geeky about the spirit and power of human potential).

And again, it is only one piece of the overall pie for converting qualified leads/customers, generating revenue, building awareness, driving action and change…the list goes on.

Forget Justin’s FutureSex Lovesounds, Future Productivity’s the rage now.


As media continues to evolve, quite a bit of soul searching also becomes a crucial element of business strategy. What are you trying to accomplish?

As Joe Pulizzi’s said time and again, what does success look like to you?

Ghouls, trolls and ghosts aside, I hope you all enjoyed the Halloween weekend…and still have all your teeth after bobbing for those apples (hayrides, Halloweekends at Cedar Point and whatever else all you crazy kids do) …   

RELATED LINKS

Sarah Skerik, PR Newswire – Beyond PR: Engage Opportunity Everywhere

Gini Dietrich – Six Reasons Social Media Doesn’t Work

Paul Roetzer – What Are You Trying to Build?

Mark Schaefer – Snobberati: Bringing Down the Twitter Snobs 

DogPound Debonairing with Cleveland.com and the Browns

CLEVELAND – Last night it really hit me: this city’s going places. 

Never mind that guys like Joe Pulizzi, the Godfather of the phrase “content marketing” and Paul Roetzer, founder of the original hybrid/inbound marketing agency — continue to redefine and champion the spirit of the community.

Joe Pulizzi content marketing world cleveland

Courtesy of Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

Putting Believeland on the map as hometown underdogs, testament to a community that deeply values its roots and shows heart, hunger and humility.

Damn. That was a lot of alliteration.

As opposed to a sniveling, inflated superego who says Akron is his real home. Coming from someone who wasn’t born and bred here (CalifNYorker), even outliers like me know how tactless that is.

For shame, doc.

But back to Cleveland and 2011. Tonight’s tweetup at Cadillac Ranch with Cleveland.com and the Browns marked the beginning of fall, birthdays, and culmination of summer weddings, blogging/media conferences (our very own Content Marketing World) and Boston Inbound Marketing Summit, vacations — and refreshingly little buzz over the F-word.

Over today’s #F8 conference hailing the “new age” of social networking via timelines, open graph and a new class of applications. The constant squawking for power in the social realm’s starting to riff even the savviest of users.

PR 20/20 Todd Sheppard social media Cleveland tweetup chomps mascot

Courtesy of Alana Munro, Cleveland.com

Promising myself I’d resist the urge to be that guy, myself and another member from last month’s Cleveland.com Twitter20 devised a social experiment prior to the event: where the words Facebook and timeline were officially taboo.

It was actually easier than I thought it’d be. Maybe because the novelty of newest, biggest, fastest and better’s older than the Ed Sullivan Show.

But still not as annoying as all the whining and complacency surrounding what people should be used to by now: life goes on.

Tech will always be moving forward. So in the time that it takes to jump on the haterade bandwagon, maybe do us a favor, can it and do something. Take control of your social experience.

Facebook social network users social media

Mildy apparently the new “Mildly”

Who knows, Google+ could announce it bought everyone out tomorrow and that’ll be the end of it. 

At the heart of it, though, dogpound debonairs are not unusual: We just genuinely like people. Get a rush out of making new connections, meeting and commiserating over some pretty badass people, like Gini Dietrich and Chris Brogan.

Still stand on the shoulders of giants.

Because at the end of the day, all the tools, apps and open-graph sharing cannot replace the power of genuine, human experience. In-person. In real-time. Always looking upward and outward.

About working on your business, not in it as Gini says.

Other than scoring a free pair of tickets to the Browns/Titans October 2nd (props to all the winners, you get a star next to your name below) —

That’s something to really get pumped about.

Browns Tweetup Cleveland social media Cleveland.com Byron Fernandez

Courtesy of Cleveland.com

Chomps Cleveland Browns mascot tweetup Cadillac Ranch

Chomps riding the Bull

Dawgs in Attendance:

Alana Munro @dawgpndgirl

*Me @byron_fernandez

Jennifer Spiker @SportStoleMyMan

Jessica Donlon @jessicadonlon

Julie Provins @julieprovins

*Kasey Crabtree @kaseycrabtree

*Laurel Miltner @laurelmackenzie

Lukas Treu @ltreu

*Paul Roetzer @paulroetzer

Stephen Garvin @CleveNole

Todd Sheppard @taawd

Tracy DiMarino @tracydimarino

RELATED LINKS

Julien Smith >> Information is Not the Problem

Gini Dietrich >> Four Ways to Unplug and Focus

How to Lose Credibility in Less than 10 Seconds: Netiquette 101 

Contact Byron