Thursday, August 27, 2020

That time when Shark Tank laughed a surgical mask designer off the stage [Abbott Media Group]


When you make a mistake, own it. That's a solid public relations principle far too few in business, politics, and entertainment follow, probably because it's difficult.

Shark Tank's Daymond John recently demonstrated just that principle, however, in a video and post on his Instagram feed.

On September 6, 2009, Irinia Blok, a 32-year-old American immigrant from Russia, had appeared on the ABC show "Shark Tank," then in its first season.

She was pitching her unique business idea, "Face Blok," surgical masks that are whimsically decorated. She told the sharks that there was actually demand for them in hospitals, though she had only sold a few hundred.

She was met with uproarious laughter from all the Sharks almost immediately.

Her segment, when it aired, was clearly played for laughs, with "circus clown" music heard on the show when she spoke.

The Sharks were incredulous at the concept, most even refusing to try on the masks when Blok offered. Kevin O'Leary tried on a mask featuring a pig snout, doubting openly whether anyone would wear such a thing. Daymond John mockingly wore one on his head.

She said she received 700,000 hours on her website after media coverage. But O'Leary noted that the Swine Flu epidemic earlier that year was "an epidemic that came and went," and prophetically said, "You need a new epidemic to get that kind of hit profile again."

Jump ahead to Aug. 26, 2020, when that same Daymond John posted a video of the segment to his Instagram feed titled, "hindsight is 2020." He wrote:
"As we've come to see, many entrepreneurs have visions/ideas better way ahead of the times. Sure, the ideas may seem ridiculous or even comical, at the time, but as we're starting to learn, we shouldn't dismiss them all together because one day, they may prove to be useful, such as these novelty masks. 
There didn't seem to be a purpose for them back then, but Irinia Blok was definitely on to something because look at us now... we're all wearing masks. The joke is on us now!"
The bottom line is that it's important to admit and "own" your mistakes, hasty judgements, and oversights. Kudos to Daymond John for doing that so publicly!

As for Irinia, she's doing just fine. Before her appearance on the show, in 2007, as a member of Google's graphic design staff, she had independently created the now-famous green robot logo later adopted by the company for its Android phone operating system. It became synonymous with the product in the 2010s.

She no longer sells the designer masks, but has a full-time job as design lead at Google Research/AI.

Online: https://www.irinablok.com/

Friday, March 20, 2020

Political Campaigning In A Time Of Crisis [Abbott Media Group]


With fears of the Coronavirus sweeping the nation, there seems to be little time for political campaigning.

In fact, election dates are being pushed back by months in many local communities, and political candidates may find themselves way down on the media's list of priorities.

Candidates should definitely not continue with a "business as usual" approach. But this doesn't mean they can sit at home and wait until June (or in some cases, late Autumn) to start campaigning. Actually, this delay presents an excellent opportunity - especially for non-incumbent upstart candidates - to stay in touch with supporters and continue to introduce themselves to new voters.

Of course, the new realities of the outbreak make many traditional ways of campaigning impossible for the moment. These now-forbidden staples of campaigning include door-to-door canvassing, campaign rallies, attending party meetings, and any other kind of face-to-face meetings.

However, there are still a great number of ways to reach out and remain in contact with voters, and keep candidates' names in the public eye, including extensive (daily) use of social media, speaking frequently on major issues your voters care about in print (via news releases and press statements) and short videos with tightly worded messages that convey campaign themes.

That last point is vital. You MUST have a compelling, consistent campaign message, and repeat it often. When I start working with a candidate, we first create a strong stump speech composed of a consistent list of campaign issues their voters care about, written around a short biography that is compelling and interesting. That's the basis of all future messaging, including the stump speech. Voters crave consistency, especially in a crisis.

And speaking of the crisis, candidates must comfort voters, and speak out (in the appropriate way) about how incumbents are handling it, and should be clear about how THEY would handle it.

Let me end by saying that best way to accomplish all this is to HIRE A PROFESSIONAL! I can help candidates navigate the new realities online and off, and present a consistent, compelling message that will keep voters engaged in this time of crisis. If you are one, or know one who could benefit from my services, put them in touch with me.

Stephen Abbott
AbbottMediaGroup.com