Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We're Off to See the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Spin Control

As Dorothy famously uttered, “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” The same could be said of parenting in the information age. The impact of marketers and public relations spin professionals challenges parents trying to guard their impressionable children as well as their wallets.

When I was emerging from college and deciding on what direction to take, Marketing and Public Relations, was a vague, slightly important sounding bubble on the interest assessments I took to find what color my proverbial parachute was. Over the years, slowly I have come to better understand the far reaching fingers of these disciplines that are at once ubiquitous but yet still, interestingly enough, somewhat shadowy at the same time. It all came together down the yellow brick road, when I went with Dorothy and the gang to meet the Wizard. I'm pretty sure that movie should be required in all Marketing and PR 101 courses.

My initial instincts proved to be correct; there is a fair bit of power lurking in these titles, and the impact can be quite far reaching. The rise of the Internet, the evolution of Web 2.0 and the explosion of social networking has enhanced these industries, and given rise to new ways to manipulate the spectacle from behind the curtain. Consider the rise of the company New Media Strategies, which hires and deploys its staff to comb the Web with the intent of representing Company A, and doing the Internet trench warfare, if you will, to build the brand and fight back the insurgents that would detract from it. Sound off about Company A on a popular blog that speaks to the key demographic, and there is the NMS wizard to counter that comment with a favorable one of their own. They call the strategy "influencing the influencers," and you have to admire the precision of the concept.

Hollywood has raised marketing and pr to an art form. This summer they have had something of a break through, and hit upon the right mix of the moment to get a huge and elusive market segment into the theaters, women. The success of "Sex and The City," "Mama Mia," and the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," all helmed by strong women in front of and behind the cameras, has demonstrated that women will come, and they will go toe to toe with the big summer testosterone blockbusters. It really does come down to who can best "influence the influencers," and some Hollywood women hit upon the right properties, with the right women up front to lead the charge this summer.

Why should the evolution of marketing and pr matter to parents? Because, we are huge influencers to an emerging market segment: our kids. It stands to reason that those that stand to gain have a few wizards on their side, and one would be wise to look around the curtain and ensure that we are comfortable with the influence they are wielding.

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