Wick Communications

Wear the T-shirt

In Business on 28 Dec 2017 at 1:57 pm

A few years ago, my publisher got us each a blue T-shirt with the Half Moon Bay Review’s logo written across the front. He thought we might wear them to events the newspaper sponsored and so on. I didn’t like it. I didn’t wear it.

I didn’t get it.

But I do now. The reason I didn’t get it is rooted in a cancerous mindset that was instilled in journalists of a certain era. The inability to “stoop” to branding continues into the new millennium, and can be seen in all sorts of misbehavior. Many journalists still disdain social media. They don’t return complaining emails. They eschew reader comments as somehow beneath them.

Journalists are observational by birthright. If you aren’t paying attention to the unspoken signals around you, you aren’t much of a journalist. It helps you understand the dynamics of a government meeting, what’s going on behind the scenes on the campaign trail and many other subtle but telling points necessary to tell the truth. And, as a young journalist in the 1980s, I couldn’t help but observe that cynicism was the default mode of virtually all of my peers. It’s partly a defense mechanism. You can’t take seriously all of the terrible things you see. Part of the problem is due to conflating cynicism with skepticism. If your mother says she loves you, by all means, check it out, but you don’t have to roll your eyes and be an ass while you’re at it. …

Which brings me to that blue T-shirt. I wasn’t some Best Buy employee to dress up like a human billboard. Nope, not me. It just felt wrong to wear my heart on my sleeve, so to speak.

Well, I was wrong. Businesses require brands and there is nothing wrong with being proud of what you do for a living. In point of fact, I was and am proud of what I do for the Review. And readers like us too. My guess is that, while no Best Buy customer clamors for that blue T, we could sell out of our blue Ts. The people of Half Moon Bay sort of love their newspaper. For years we were uncomfortable with the adoration and we ran from that branding opportunity. We suffer for that today.

Some savvier legacy media companies are doing something about it. (I see you New York Times Store!) Tim Regan-Porter tells us about what the Alabama Media Group is doing to further its brand and his post got me off on this tangent.

Now, where did I put that T-shirt?



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