Punk rock was about daring to be different. It represented rebellion, equality and diversity, a ‘do-it-yourself’ ethic and the time-honoured tradition of cleaning out dinosaurs to make way for fresh ways of thinking and creating. It also spawned some of the shrewdest marketing people of our era like Richard Branson, whose Virgin Records label signed the Sex Pistols, the band’s wily manager Malcolm McLaren and his one-time partner, the world-renowned fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. All iconic cultural prophets of that era.
Punk was noisy and being loud was the way punks got noticed in what was becoming an increasingly crowded media landscape in the 1970s with the proliferation of TV channels, radio stations and publications.
Things are even more crowded and noisy in the digital landscape we now inhabit. So like those old punks of yore, it’s time to get noisy and get noticed and fearless and here’s how…
Be a keen observer and watch what everyone else is doing — then try and do it differently. Why look and sound like everyone else? Don’t be a sheep, be a wolf!
Embrace the new. New cultures, new fashions, new music, new scientific developments, new technology and new ways of thinking. None of these is frightening things. Many of them are exciting, life-enhancing and newsworthy too. And if you’re making something new or offering a new service to people, they may be fascinated by that too.
Be bold and imaginative. It’s corny to say “nothing ventured, nothing gained” but being afraid to fail is one of the biggest setbacks anyone can face and the only way we learn to improve our approach or techniques is by trying bold, adventurous tactics which often fail but teach us how to move on. And if you are afraid, then employ people who are bold and brave and send them into the frontline.
Challenge your audience. I talk about audiences because they are what I am used to and I’ve always broadcast to mass audiences, sometimes many millions of people at once. Your audience may be your customers, your clients, your staff, your students or your friends but they behave exactly the same way. They want to learn something from your content and they want to be challenged to think and discuss and if you’re very lucky to share it too.
The same goes for entertainment. A lot of the content you produce may be as dry as the Gobi desert but it can always be made entertaining in some way, whether that be with a really engaging presenter, some stunning visuals or some very clever copywriting. People will watch, engage and share if they have been amused in some way. Comedy is very hard to pull off successfully but a light touch of it can yield great results.
Shock your audience. Don’t be afraid to stun them in the most naughty way you can conceive. I was once asked by the owner of a golf course how he could get the press to react in some way to his press releases and write about the club. He’d sent dozens by mail to them, emailed and even called the editor but no joy. I suggested he wrap the press release round a golf ball and throw it through the local paper’s window!
Ultimately the daring punk ethic ties very nicely with one of the trendy words in the tech world — disruption. By shaking things up and being different you have got more chance to go viral with your content — that holy grail of audience engagement. You have more chance of being heard in this increasingly noisy digital environment we now operate in.
This is a guest blog post by Simon Barnett of Dayglow Media
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