Monday, March 11, 2013

We Are All PR People Now

I'm sure you've noticed that these days it's never enough to do something good, interesting, intelligent, creative, or worthwhile.  These days when you do the actual thing, you're just getting started.  Because what you have to do next is get people to care.  You have to publicize.

Obviously if what you've accomplished is in any way creative, forget it.  If you've written a book, recorded a song, painted a painting, then you've taken only the first baby step.  Next up:  how are you going to reach out to your Friends and Followers?

But increasingly that problem is a problem with everything.  It's not enough to do your job.  It's not even enough to do your job and showcase your abilities and accomplishments at your job.  Now you also have to show the world that the job you have is a necessary one -- that if no one did this, people would be sorry.  You have to prove it's a crucial spot in a crucial industry.  

That's right:  you have to do PR for yourself, your job, and the area in which you work. 

Of course it's true in love and romance.  If you're looking for love these days, it's not enough to be a nice person.  It's not even enough to be a nice and attractive person who has a lot of friends.  You have to be able to craft the perfect attention-grabbing profile.  How else will you stand out from the crowd?  

For me this is one of those things that once you start to notice it, you don't think "Wow, weird!" You think "Hm, why didn't that happen before?"  I mean, if you think about the basic metaphor of modern capitalism, that we're all negotiating the best deal to get what we want, in all domains of life, what's the logical conclusion? 

Right:  that as the bargaining mini-corporations we all are, we all need PR departments.  We all need to set aside resources for our advertising budgets.  And we all need to monitor our brands. 

Thinking about it this way, I got to wondering, what's next?  I mean, there's nothing in the logic of that idea that makes it stop at a certain point.  What's to prevent it from moving beyond "I need to get the attention of the book-reading public" to "I need to get attention from the emergency staff of 911?"  The implications of the mini-corporation:  where do they stop?

What's next in the March of the PR Penguins? 

1.  Please approve me for a walk in the park

Dear Department of Parks and Recreation,
I am writing to apply for permission to go for a walk in the park on the last Saturday in May.  I realize with demand as it is, you can only grant a small fraction of requests.  So let me assure you that I would be a most suitable choice.  I'm twenty years old, and I recently received a score of 98% on Hot-Or-Not.com.  I guarantee that I will bring an attractive date with me, given that my profile views on Match.com have skyrocketed since I posted photo results of my breast enlargement.  I promise to tell my thousands of Twitter followers what a nice park you have!  Thanks!

2.  Doctor, can I have an appointment?

Hi, I need medical attention and I was hoping to make an appointment.  Wait -- don't put me on hold!  I'm not one of those annoying people begging for antibiotics for some bullshit flu or ingrown toenail.  I promise I'm  a most interesting case, sure to capture your intellectual interest, and, if treated effectively, to catapult your hospital to fame and riches. 

I can assure you my disease is difficult to understand, but not too difficult:  about a year ago I was featured on the "Think Like a Doctor" series at The New York Times and several people out of thousands were able to diagnose me from a brief write-up of symptoms.  I have a blog with thousands of readers where I'll post about my progress, thereby increasing your visibility.  Take me doctor, I won't let you down!

3.  Mommy, Daddy, please stay my parents?

Dear Mommy and Daddy,
I hope you will keep on being my mommy and daddy.  I know I am bad some times and I don't do good at school.  But weren't you happy when I scored more goals than Johnny Clark last week at soccer?  And if I'm gone, who will make your dinner guests laugh by singing Qué Sera Sera with a peanut up his nose?

In case these appeals to pure sentiment are insufficient, let me remind you that the data show that last year 85 percent of your Facebook "likes" come from my friends and their parents, under direct instruction from me.  The example of the Cabybara video also comes to mind.  Those videos don't go viral by themselves, you know.

Sever our relationship, and you can kiss that ego-boosting fame and approval goodbye.

Hope we can work something out,
Your son, Jeffrey

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