Learning from the Worst of the Worst? Lessons in Dumbness

Nothing is useless. Even the worst can serve as a bad example.

That little quip has been quoted a few ways, very true. It calls to mind the flap in that NYT blog post about PR, which if you’re here, you’ve probably already read it and its partner in the blame game. It’s been discussed, blogged, challenged, with many clever and helpful posts by some of the best and brightest.

Even in failure, we can learn something.

Leading by Example

Either good or bad, that’s one of the first things I started blogging about: marketing, public relations, social media. That’s why my Advertising posts have the subhead “WTH were they thinking?” It’s why the PR category is about “the good, the bad, the galactically stupid.”

I did a summary post on everything from pay to play, to spin, to plagiarism, covering ethical issues in journalism and PR.

What I wrote then:Nothing deep or especially clever, just Fire Bad, Tree Pretty, Ethics Good.

How dumb was I? Not very, but then not helpful either. I just called out these examples as bad without offering insights.

I used good, bad and dumb examples of PR for this object lessons post.

What I wrote then: “Lessons learned: 1) Start with better PR practices than bulk emailing pitches and 2) Have a plan for when things go sideways. Mistakes will happen. It’s what you do next to quickly fix it that’ll make a difference.”

How dumb was I? Less so, as I did seek to offer at least some lessons from these public fails.

Examples of Leadership

When I rant about Summer’s Eve, Groupon, The Gap or rave about Apple or Old Spice, there are lessons SMBs can learn and apply to their businesses. If you own a small business in Atlanta or Marietta or Roswell, you can learn from the mistakes of others, capitalize on their growing pains without risking your own.

I need to share case studies, examples of success with marketing, PR and social media. Give SMBs some takeaways that they can learn from the success of those who get it right and the fails of those who get it wrong.

I’ll add it to my ever-growing Blog Better Damnit! list. Thoughts?

Photo credit: Resisted the temptation to use a Charlie Sheen pic, but that shit’s not really funny. A Despair Demotivator it is.

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8 thoughts on “Learning from the Worst of the Worst? Lessons in Dumbness

  1. Hey Davina

    Slightly off topic….but it’s the reaction I got from reading your post. In many ways making mistakes is the only way you can get better at something. If you can do something, and you do it to a reasonable level of competence, it’s hard to avoid hitting the plateau.

    It’s why when you learn something new you make lots of mistakes, but make quick progress. As you get better your rate of learning slows down – the reason is that you’re not making as many mistakes and you’re staying in the comfort zone. Making mistakes is simply part of the learning process – too many people though let mistakes deflect them from their goals.

    Everyone makes mistakes. The successful people learn from them. That’s the difference.

    paul wolfe recently posted..How To Write An eBook – The Outline and Bundle Method

    1. Not off topic at all Paul. This is exactly what this category is supposed to be about: learning from mistakes. I’ve written that meme in another post not too long ago: it’s not always about the MISTAKE but what you do next, what you learn from it that matters!

      Every once in a while I want to look at old posts: see if I still agree w/ what I once wrote, if I was wrong or made a mistake, if there is something new I may have learned and can apply to what I wrote then. This is all a part of my learning process, and hopefully I can help others along the way. Thanks!

    1. Absolutely nothing Marcus, depending on the job. Media relations is sometimes part of what I do, so it’d be impractical in some cases for me to say, take on a local campaign in Des Moines or a market I don’t know.

      I sometimes drop in Atlanta keywords for SEO, in case anyone is searching for a freelancer in this area. Never occurred to me that I was limiting my market, so nice pick up.

      My blog is starting to catch on which is Awesome so thank you for being part of that! Right now it’s mostly within the community of PR and SM bloggers; I still need to tap that pool of biting fish if you know what I mean. I’d certainly not be opposed to taking on high – even medium – okay, modest but fair – paying clients from anywhere. FWIW. 😉

    2. I’m with Marcus – there is NO reason you shouldn’t be doing work outside of Atlanta. And I disagree you can’t do media relations in Des Moines. Don’t you work with NYC reporters for some of your clients?

      1. True Gini .. I’ve placed stories for clients in national media, had outside ATL clients. But IMO a “local” story with that unique angle is harder to pitch as an outsider. It’s not that I am THAT connected to the scene here in ATL either and yet, I do notice certain trends here that IDK.. maybe I wouldn’t pick up researching the Des Moines media.

        ITA with you and Marcus, I am not and should not be confined by my geography. It should be about what I can and can’t do, the talent and expertise I bring to the table.. no matter where that table may be. So thanks for the much needed kick in the ass! 😉

  2. I think you don’t give yourself enough credit. Your expertise is real and probably highly valued within your market area. You know the wrong from right and the rich from poor; heck, you comment on everyone else’s blogs more than anyone I know.

    What that says to me is the following — originate this stuff and bring others here to partake in a hot debate and further establish credibility.

    That in itself will position you, inform and educate your targets, and escalate your brand.

    Not sure if this is exactly what you were expecting in a comment; but, it’s what I took away from your “thoughts?” at the end. Thanks for the pingback, Davina. As a blogger, I appreciate your insights more than anyone’s as your perspective is fresh and frequent. Can’t ask for more in my book. “FWIW!!”
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..Open PR Pitch to NY Times Small Biz Editor

    1. Jayme, Thanks and not really expecting much more, though my bank account wishes re: “highly valued.” 😉 This “looking back at old posts” series is 1) filler, a cheat for a new blog post 2) a way of recycling old posts, maybe getting them some eyeballs.

      Seriously though I’m trying to be relevant, bring the old forward to something current; show patterns, trends, valuable lessons. Maybe my positions will change, maybe I’ll find newer, better ways to educate, inform, annoy, entertain readers. Or at least, get a few posts out of this little exercise. FWIW.

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