As part of those integrated marketing teams, I concocted PR strategies to bring “value added” to expensive advertising or promotional campaigns. Usually that meant pitching stories of marginal news value, or luring coverage with goofy events — the kind journalists can’t resist.
Sometimes my bosses pushed me to overstate a client’s case or otherwise play fast and loose with the facts. When I protested loudly one day, an agency EVP pulled me aside and asked: “What’s with you and this ethics bull#@%*? We need you on the team.”
I can tell you, that job didn’t end well.
This isn’t a post about ethics, but rather about our willingness to question “team think.” It’s about our willingness to push back and to force team members to analyze and to question. This role shouldn’t be solely the task of PR professionals, but it is the job of anyone concerned with building and retaining trust.
Do you regularly question the wisdom of teams? Or do you nod and go along? I call it “thinking outside the table,” and it sometimes means putting your career at risk.
It’s easy to confuse critical thinking with negativity, and it happens way too much in social media circles. Those wont to criticize the dominant coalition of SM — or even the more popular personalities — risk being shouted down or even frozen out of discussions. It’s part of the “play nice” etiquette that can lead folks to embrace group-think.
I was reminded of social media’s coziness this past week by Mark Schaefer’s post likening the social web to high-school cliques. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the analogy. Back when Jennifer Mattern called out the “blog party” for its group conduct nearly two years back, a good many prominent SM types dropped by “Naked PR” to offer their support. So remember, not everyone is in the clique or wants to be.
No one enjoys seeing their ideas criticized. But critical thinkers welcome it, and they’re willing to engage in spirited debate and even bruise an ego or two.
This may rub the Norman Vincent Peale fans the wrong way. But to hell with ’em. Success requires more than “channeling positive energy.” You have to think for yourself.
This will be my last post for a few weeks. I’m taking some time off to give Mother Nature a big wintry hug. Gotta recharge so I can come out fighting in 2010!