Is it me or is this possibly the worst PR ever?
This clip has been broadcast today by TV and covered by loads of media – and counting.
It’s a great example of how NOT to communicate.
Whatever you think of Ringo Starr as a musician, he has worked hard over a span of five decades to build a following of dedicated fans. The breadth of his fanbase is the envy of many musicians, particularly emerging bands.
And in a succinct 44-second video clip he declares his intention to toss a great deal of that away. Well, throwing away mailed correspondance from your fans is tantamount to the same thing. Massive blunder.
This is not just about music. For “fans” substitute, if you prefer, “customers”. Except that someone who takes the trouble to write is more like a super-customer or super-fan: enthusing about you, recommending you to others, blogging about you, announcing your news for you on forums…
Through my work with musicians I have observed this kind of fan at close range. Granted, they are a little more earnest than the rest. They hang around after the gig. They might need a bit more maintenance than the average person. But they are great people to have around. You can’t afford to ignore them, let alone cut them off. Whether you’re on a small level or a big level, they are offering to help you with whatever you are trying to achieve.
This is not about privacy issues either. Ringo Starr’s website boldly announces his new album. He is an active artist, still touring. Therefore he is actively making invitations for people to embrace him as a person and get into his music. People will respond to those invitations, he CANNOT switch that off. (If he wanted to be left alone to spend some time with the family, garden or somesuch he always has the option of doing a Rick Astley and disappearing completely for several years.)
This recent speech by wine blogger Gary Vaynerchuk explores these ideas in a social media context. It’s a kind of semi-ridiculous motivational thing about building brands using social media. He does a lot of shouting… you need to answer your emails, respond, care about your users, through as many media as possible – that sort of thing. While entertaining, it’s pretty obvious stuff! Fulfilling these obligations can be time consuming. Vaynerchuk takes an extreme approach by personally responding to every message.
As a byproduct of his own success, Ringo has a bigger, more cumbersome issue with postal overload. How about hiring someone for a day a fortnight? Give them a custom rubber stamp of a Ringo-face and a stack of envelopes. Or a stack of signed postcards? While you’re at it, why not bung in a flyer mentioning the new Ringo album and tourdates?
Aside from straightforward courtesy, it’s good for business.