The Cult of Personality

All right. I admit that my wife and I watch way too much TV. The writers’ strike is leaving a painful void of quality programming, which leaves us with shows like The Celebrity Apprentice, and sadly we’re hooked like rainbow trout on fresh salmon eggs.

Yes, we watched the first Apprentice season a few years ago when Bill Rancic won and thought it was a lot of fun (where creative business development, marketing and PR tasks abounded).

The new season doesn’t disappoint. The celebrity teams are playing for their favorite charities and it’s the boys against the girls. The first task had each team selling a common but yummy commodity – hot dogs – on busy New York city street corners.

The girls (celebrities such as Marilu Henner, Carol Alt and Omarosa from the first season of Apprentice) chose to market the product first over selling celebrity (or even sex). The boys (celebrities such as Vinnie Pastore, Stephen Baldwin and Gene Simmons from Kiss) chose to sell celebrity and cause over everything else.

Can you guess who raised more money? The boys raised over $50,000 while the girls barely hit $17,000.

What the heck does this have to do with the HR marketplace?

Everybody knows there’s a lot of “noise”. Many parts of our space are saturated with suppliers selling the same products and services to the same buyers, becoming commodities fighting tooth and nail for every dollar – EAPs, job boards, ATS firms, candidate sourcing firms, HR outsourcing firms, leadership development firms, etc.

Differentiating yourself from your competitors is a must via aggressively integrated online and traditional marketing and PR efforts.

But selling thought leaders and celebrity can also help boost your brand and raise your visibility like none other (just as long as you can put your money where your mouthpiece is with quality products and services, because it can backfire if you don’t).

Go ahead and sell some celebrity by:
Whether you’re the SHRM Annual Conference and Expo booking Sidney Poitier and Lionel Richie, CareerBuilder launching creative ad campaigns with chimps and office jungle politics, Jason Goldberg (who stepped down last month; a backfire) or John Sumser – the cult of personality rocks.

Posted by Kevin Grossman

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