By Lynn Stafford
First Millennium BC:
Who was at the top of their game in prophecy consulting?
The entire buzz was directed at the very center of the world, high atop Mount Parnassus, at the Temple of Apollo. Enter the Oracle of Delphi.
With auspicious clients including King Amasis of Egypt, Solon of Athens, King Croessus of Lydia, leaders of Greek city states as well as a host of other mover and shakers who sought out wisdom about what was, it was the Oracle of Delphi who was telling what would be, benefiting from a highly influential fan base reported to be in the tens of thousands. And as if this is not impressive enough, with integrated PR and marketing created by Homer, a small word of mouth boutique, surely the Oracle was the very first, world-famous woman owned business.
While there is no exhaustive resource that identifies her approach and consulting theory, (though we do know that some of her clients reported visions, some foretold the future while others simply disappeared into the cleft overcome by fumes, loosing their sense of reality and suffering fatal consequences) we do know that she always offered up this one caveat before her clients set out to engage, lead and conquer.
Present Day: Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 9:45AM
Let’s jettison ahead thousands of years to consider Kenneth Cole’s now infamous tweet.
Twitter: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo – KC”
Oops! Mea culpa.
Same Day: Hours later
Twitter: “Re Egypt tweet: we weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment – KC”
Save or no save? You make the call. Yet it appeared on that day that this tweet might garner as much push back as was Hosni Mubarak’s steadfast refusal to leave office. Hundreds commented on and off-line and mostly negatively. By 12:30pm that day Kenneth Cole himself apologized on Facebook removing the tweet saying, “I have dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”
The Oracle de deux banane refuses to add to the fodder on what essentially became a conversation about a gaffe in judgment or worse, moral flaw. At the end of the day, literally, while the message’s content was sullied by ones righteous sensitivity, and what Ad Age posited as a “lack of tack” in a post titled, “Kenneth Cole Steps in It on Twitter”, who engaged in the controversy didn’t know that the Cole spring collection was online? Whatever the consequences people were talking about Kenneth Cole. Merde! I even pointed the browser to kennethcole.com myself.
However, to know thyself is pretty smart advice. After all, the Cole incident could have gone the way of Mubaraks’ eventual resignation debacle – very poorly. Surely it is not a matter of if, but rather when, some well-meaning twit attempts a tweet using snarky cleverness that ignites consumers into a frenzied, Mel Gibson moment that shifts perceptions resulting in irreparable damage to a brand.
If you’re attached to any part of the team that is responsible for “voicing” a company, it’s imperative you have a deep understanding and can articulate the DNA of the organization in such ways that are in agreement with its culture. Though not spoken, heard in the ethos where trust in brand dwells, an organizations core resonant values are always inherently present within each and every communiqué. Who you are as a company and what you stand for underscore every touch point with the public.
If you want to engage, lead and conquer, the first commandment is to … Know Thyself.Tweet