$250 million – Ok for a ball player but not bankers.

As an Internet Marketer and blogger, it never ceases to amaze me how an effective media message can  colour the thinking of millions of people and persuade them that something is black or white when in reality it is many different shades of grey. It does not matter whether the message is correct or incorrect, based on truth or a total fabrication. All that matters is that the message is accepted as newsworthy by the early adopters and repeated in the media. Within a short time, it develops a life of its own, becomes an urban legend and develops an almost cult like following. It’s a phenomenon that is both good and bad – depending on which side of the divide you, your brand or your business is seen to be.

Note that I am not calling these  “campaigns”. They are not campaigns in the sense that they are planned by a marketing department and ad agency.  They start informally, often spawned on the back of comments in the media, starting spontaneously in a few (often fringe groups), then championed by  biased politicians  and many “rights” groups until they become newsworthy in themselves. That is the spark that seems to trigger exponential growth in support.

The development cycle of these events is being shortened by social media, four major reasons:

  • Hundreds of Thousands of  “reporters”.
  • Ease and immediacy of reporting.
  • Ability to instantly transmit images as well as text.
  • Interface between “social” and traditional media becoming seamless. (News networks replaying tweets and images from smart phones.)
The big question is, what is the deciding factor in some messages going viral and flying high, compared to similar stories (of greed or bad behaviour) for example that do not attract enough attention to even get off the ground?

A glaring example of this is the recent hysteria about the “bankers”, how they are greedy, pay themselves millions in bonuses, are responsible for the recession, part of the 1% and a whole lot of other accusations. Now I have no particular love of bankers, commercial, investment or otherwise. Yes it does appear that some bankers gambled irresponsibly, others broke some laws. That happens in every industry, and the debate on which group was more irresponsible, the bankers, those officials encouraging low interest mortgages to risky borrowers or the authorities who were supposed to be enforcing compliance with safeguards, is not yet settled – if it ever will be.

Be that all as it may, the message that gained traction and was then seized upon by the OWS mobs was that it was all the fault of the bankers, or Wall Street, or the 1%.

Compare that to the complete silence, as far as I am aware, greeting the anouncement last week,  that Albert Pujols will receive $250 million for a 10 year contract to playBankers bonuses baseball. The little I understand about the game tells me that a player misses more often than he hits. He is going to get a $25 m annual pay cheque for that performance?

To my mind that is much more insane than say, 10 bankers getting bonuses of $25 million each.

Although I personally think that $25 million a year for a baseball player or any athlete or sportsman is excessive, it is up to the media channels, tv viewers and fans who provide his sport with most of its revenue and his team owners to make that call. Just as it is up to the shareholders of public corporations and the owners of private businesses to decide on staff remuneration. It is not the governments duty or place to interfere with pay scales.  Any form of government imposed wage or bonus freeze has the tendency to trickle down the corporate ladder until the lowest rungs are equally restricted.

As consumers, we have the ability to make our displeasure heard by transferring our business to a bank or media outlet more to our liking. The more government interference we call for, the more it will ultimately affect our own incomes some where down the line.

What has this got to do with marketing? Just a huge reminder that social media is changing the speed and reach of PR, urban legends and the creation of cult-like status.

And right or wrong, good or bad, correct or incorrect, true or false has little to do with that speed or reach, it’s all about perception. So we all need to be extra vigilant and ready to counter any negative media attention.

What do you think?

Something else that prompted me to write about bankers was this amusing  cartoon by J. Daniel on his Woodchips blog, if you get over there quickly, you can get a free copy of his 2012 Woodchips calender.

Mike Dillard of the Elevation Group has just released his 3rd video in the series about an investment strategy that is helping ordinary people like us achieve 10% – 27% returns without the risk of putting all our money in stocks. Watch it here Elevation Video 3

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.

 Peter Wright



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