In defense of the hood

JC Hutchins asked yesterday which people preferred, Cobra Commander’s silver mask or his hood. I replied that the hooded look was far superior and then he decided to drag mothers and ethnicity in to it so I’m going to get up in his grill about it.

(Note: I may be making some of that up, but am leaving it there for dramatic effect. This is what’s needed when debating a novelist.)

(2nd Note: For the purposes of this piece I’m using the Marvel Comics’ series as a reference point since it’s much more well-rounded than the cartoon and features more frequent appearances of the hood.)

(3rd Note: Psyche!!)

When Cobra Commander was portrayed with his hood on as opposed to his silver mask it meant, basically, that shit was about to get real. The silver mask indicated he was about to run into battle against the G.I. Joe team alongside Major Bludd and probably get captured again so that Zartan could once again infiltrate The Pit but somehow still not know where it is clearly enough to bring the Cobra thunder in full in order to rescue him.

But the hood being broken out meant Cobra Commander was getting serious. It was more regal, more majestic, more befitting of his world domination plans. It meant he was planning something big in his Springfield headquarters.

Let’s put it this way – wearing the mask into a meeting with potential HISS tank parts vendors is more likely to result in muffled laughter and people asking to check to see if they had anything in their teeth before Destro came in with his real decision making powers. Wear the hood and the cushions on the seats around the table will need to be changed because of the loss of bladder control.

Indeed the silver mask is actually the add-on look for Cobra Commander since before he built Cobra and was simply engaging in rally-building activities across the country and stirring up dissent against the status quo. So really the mask is an add-on that serves one purpose (battle) and even that had to be replaced in favor of the more fully-featured battle armor.

I hear where defenders of the silver mask may be coming from, especially since it’s almost uniformly used in the cartoon series and is the hallmark look of the toy line. But the fact is that the hood is much more in line with someone who’s looking to be called “Commander” and strikes a much more imposing note with allies and enemies alike.

Reputation management tactics

Well if there’s one thing to be said for this study of what activities companies have engaged in in the wake of negative online commentary, it’s that the two best ideas are also the two most widely used.

The first – direct engagement that addresses concerns- is always the best idea, or at least is the best idea right off the bat. After that you need to look at the second most commonly used tactic, which is actually making improvements to the product that address customer concerns and complaints.

“Encouraging others to speak more positively” treads a little too closely to iffy ethical territory for my tastes. The goal should, of course, to be to have an audience of enthusiasts and fans that are going to rally and correct mistaken statements without your prompting. Any time a company actually gets into “encouraging” it can get weird quickly.

There’s nothing wrong with issuing a press release to address the issue – #4 on the list – and in fact it’s a good idea, especially if the issue has become part of the mainstream conversation. But if the complaints are happening on social media platforms, a release is going to go unnoticed and may even open the offender up for more ridicule.

And you better have a good reason to try to get a blogger to take something down that goes beyond “Well we aren’t ready to talk about it now.” Anything less than that and you just need to ride it out.

What’s disturbing is the 30 percent who did “none of the above” and were, apparently, twiddling their thumbs as they sat ignorant of the impact those conversations were having on their brand reputation.

You can read more about this study and its findings here.

Calling “bullshit”

Once again, Jeremy wins:

“…PR/SM blogging has become Barney – I love you, you love me. And that’s just shit because PR and social media should be about calling out the bullshit, pointing out the inconsistencies, demanding case studies or examples that move beyond personal experience – I don’t care what you can do for yourself on Twitter, oh social media expert. Show me what you’ve done for others – because personal means very little in the corporate world. Yes you might have your fanboys, but see how many stick around when you go corporate.

When I see social media marketing being bastardized by people who are out there peddling “should” as a solution to all that ails a company, as if it were some sort of one-size fits all solution, it creates a profound sense of frustration. So many of my colleagues are being ignored or marginalized in favor of those selling big bags of BS simply because they’re actually asking hard questions and making it clear this is a process and not a simple solution that can be implemented tomorrow.

Those who are selling “love” and “should” as business plans are the same people with no case studies to back up their claims of skill because they’re hired and then let go when the spectacularly fail to achieve any measurable business goals.

Here’s a little trick to know how to differentiate between those slinging bull and those who know what they’re talking about: The latter is, at heart, skeptical about what social media tools can do. They’re always needing to prove to themselves – and their clients – what impact a social networking strategy or whatever can actually have.