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Marketing / Public relations, PR

Celebrity as testimonial

I’ve been pondering how these days, many people equate media exposure with credibility. So if you’ve been on telly, you must be good, is that right?

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Now I’ve been on Sunrise, and Robert’s been on everything, but Australia’s Most Wanted, and the opportunity for each of us to talk about Flying Solo to a massive audience was brilliant.

Was I better at my job the day after the TV appearance than the day before? I don’t think so. But do I mention the appearance in my extended bio? Absolutely. And I think solo businesses who’ve been featured in the media should definitely make noise about it.

I thought people seemed disproportionately impressed with the fact I’d chatted with Mel & Kochie (I memorably introduced myself to Mel seconds before we went to air by saying “Hi I’m Mel.”) and I found this awe a bit unsettling.

So what did others find impressive about my 160 seconds of fame? There is a whole industry dedicated to getting business in the media. Why is it so desirable to feature there? This commentary on the recent British royal wedding posits an interesting theory:

"In today’s business world, with its emphasis on fans, followers and friends, we all need to have great marketing skills, but surely genuine credibility and talent outweighs savvy marketing."

‘Celebrity’ today represents one of the few undisputed sources of authority. In the use of terms such as ‘celebrity chef’, ‘celebrity doctor’ or ‘celebrity campaigner’, we can see that the prefix ‘celebrity’ has firmly uprooted and replaced the prefix ‘royal’ as the true conferrer of special authority and unique powers.

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But the notion that expertise is conferred on you by bright lights makes me uncomfortable. So you’ve got a savvy PR person and the ability to intelligently answer a few questions, does that necessarily mean you’re the go-to guy or gal?

Undeniably, in today’s business world, with its emphasis on fans, followers and friends, we all need to have great marketing skills, but surely genuine credibility and talent outweighs savvy marketing and a business testimonial.

If my family or I were to go under the knife, I don’t think I’d be particularly reassured if the doctor said “Don’t worry, I’ve been on Kerri-Anne!”

Am I being an old duffer? Are you a quiet achiever who feels underappreciated by the world at large? Or are you someone who’s living proof of the ‘it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be’ ethos?

Share your thoughts below.

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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