29 July 2020

Beware the echoes of idiocy

Return to all

Gez Johns / gez@nwkcom.co.nz

Like a drunken middle-manager at the office Christmas party, 2020 continues to lurch on regardless, eschewing all sensible advice to head home, have a cup of tea and sleep it off.  

This last month’s most notable domestic contribution to this annus insanis came courtesy of those we were hoping would help lead us out of this mess. Over a frankly jaw-dropping few weeks, we bore witness to a succession of politicians on both sides of The House falling like skittles, ultimately bowled over by their own sense of self-entitlement.

In each case, as the opposition executed its own expertly-coordinated silence, the media and social media were quick to pile in, ensuring that the echoes of their idiocy would go on and on. 

Within all this there are some great PR lessons to be learned. Notably, that in today’s world we value ethics, authenticity and empathy and are turned off by even a sniff of spin. Indeed, the ‘Team of 5 million’ rhetoric seems to have had a substantive influence on the lens through which we feel compelled to judge each other. It now feels like we have collectively bought into the famous All Blacks ‘no dickheads’ policy – so this is something for all companies to bear in mind in how they convey both thought and deed. 

This last month has also reminded us that the twin-headed beast of media and social media has an enormous appetite to devour any who step outside of this paradigm on our behalf.

The symbiosis of media and social media, something Bari Weiss alluded to in her recent resignation letter from the New York Times, is as prevalent here as it is globally. Navigating this new normal without disappearing into homogenised blandness is by no means plain sailing, but a good starting point is to check that the way you express your values and objectives are in line with sharpened social sensitivities. It’s always going to be better to fail your own idiot test than someone else’s.