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Make sure ALL your messages support your brand and culture
A good friend of mine, John, is the brains behind GearPlus.
GearPlus is a site full of gossip and great info about the Australian pro audio scene, in which John has been a significant player for many, many years.
John and I first met in 1985 when I was in the Australian Air Farce and was posted to Melbourne. Not content to live in squalid Air Farce barracks, I shelled out the hefty sponduliks to rent a delightfully bijou one-bed apartment above a set of garages behind a large old house on Toorak Road (Melbournites will know how hefty such sponduliks can be). John was my next door neighbour and immediately I recognised a kindred soul -- we were both appallingly bad songwriters; we were both happy to spend far more money than we should buying musical equipment to entertain our fantasies of songwriting stardom; we were both curmudgeonly young grumpies with an extremely dark sense of humour.
For reasons of propriety I cannot share with you the all-time favourite joke that John told me, but it lives with me still, burned into my 'humour valve' and still causes me to chuckle like a schoolboy. Suffice to say there is only one thing better than a 16 year old...
Despite the years and miles that have distanced us, whenever I visit his website (which has been often of late, as I am looking at upgrading my podcasting rig) I am smacked by his mirth and sense of humour. A visit to Melbourne late last year was unsuccessful in catching up with him -- entirely my own fault, as I was completely swamped by the endless amount of volleyball my stepson was playing at the national schools championships (where he won 'Gold' for his age-group -- proud? PROUD????). Perhaps if a Melbourne business were to offer me a trip over to consult with them (hint, hint)....
So it comes as no surprise to me that John instinctively maintains the culture and brand of his irreverent GearPlus site with his correspondence.
He has an auto-responder that, well, 'auto responds' to any email sent to him. Here's the text. The email purportedly comes from 'Maria' (obviously John's Saturday Night dress up fantasy :-) ):
Hmmm........Lee Hopkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>?
Thanks for the email (you sweet talker).
I'll be thinking about it.
This is an automatic response from the email gremlin housed in the computer of the Goddess of www.GearPlus.com.au - website of lies, fabrication and mayhem (plus some small inadvertent facts). The old bitch may or may not respond. Be ready to enjoy disapointment.
John never has been able to spell, the poor ol' bugger, but his humour and lack of pretentious seriousity (like that?) positively 'sings' through this email.
When you go to his site (as I am sure you will) you will find the following introduction (again, sheer brilliance!):
Be warned, we tend to call it like it is with no regard for modesty, etiquette (or possibly the facts) so, if you are likely to take offence easily, we suggest you look elsewhere.
By entering the Gear Plus site you are accepting responsibility to read without prejudice
and here John loads a random image. The one that particularly tickled me was:
If you are good you will be assigned all the work. If you are really good you will get out of it.
Their disclaimer text at the bottom of the site is wonderfully and cleverly supportive of this irreverence (and still legal) and reads:
Information is supplied in the best of faith (errors and omissions excepted) Contributions are provided by independent authors that include manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, so it's mostly based on gossip, fabrication, innuendo and a healthy smattering of lies. You read these pages at your own peril. We make no guaranties about their authenticity and accept no liability for the content. It is certainly not intended as a reflection of opinion from Gear Plus. Neither GearPlus, nor any of the partners, associates, persons interested in GearPlus (including the usual bunch of gossip mongers) are able to give any warranty or representation as to the accuracy of the material contained in such articles, or their applicability to any particular circumstances. Readers are advised to make their own enquiries and/or take professional advice as to the accuracy of the contents of such articles and/or their applicability to any particular circumstances.
So the question I ask you is this: are you sure that the communication pieces you send out from your business/company/home are totally in line with the image you want to portray? Are you sure that they absolutely stay 'true' to the culture and brand that you have worked so hard to build up?
Imagine the devastation if John had been trying to build up a 'corporate' presence on his website and had an auto-responder like his current one? Total incongruity and dissonance, therefore 'marketing/PR disaster'.
Instead, he is totally aligned and his personality shines through. The man ought to blog -- he'd be brilliant!
Reports I have written:
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing
Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing
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Contact me to discuss how we can bring your company into this new and exciting communication universe.
View many of the presentations I have given over at Slideshare
Why does employee communication matter?
Download a presentation I gave to a group of PR students on slideshare
For your consideration:
Writing for a web audience