I have have written about some pretty dumb PR #content here on Don't Trend On Me, and but today I do believe I have reached the absolute nadir.
Perhaps you recall Katy Perry's Super Bowl halftime show performance a few weeks back, when it appeared that a dude in a shark suit was dancing out of sync with another dude in a shark suit who was dancing to his left.
People watching at home thought this was very funny and made memes about "Left Shark," whose incompetence and improvisation on the big stage struck a chord with the hopelessly optimistic ne'er-do-well in all of us. Those memes were in turn co-opted by digital publishers, whose weary content miners worked double-time to extract as many pageviews as possible from them before America inevitably turned its attention to Pharrell's latest hat.
Another big day at Buzzfeed. pic.twitter.com/SJqFyWuP14— Dan Ozzi (@danozzi) February 3, 2015
I would say that we will have all forgotten "Left Shark" forever come March, a testament to the fleeting nature of the social media bullshit we use to distract ourselves from the tedium and misery we endure during the work week.
But one content manufacturer produced a piece so jaw-droppingly awful that what ought to have been instantly forgettable will stick with me for some time.
I give you Jennifer Jacobson's masterpiece, "5 Lessons Left Shark Can Teach Your Company About PR."
Apologies to those of you who lost the will to live after reading that last sentence. Just writing it will likely put me in a funk for days.
The premise itself, that PR agencies should find inspiration in a guy who dances poorly while wearing a shark suit, is enough to make me want to move to Siberia and never go on the internet again. The execution, which does not even attempt to make any sort of sense, is somehow more wretched.
Here is what Jacobson suggested we could learn from the Left Shark:
At no point here does the author explain why calling a reporter is like being Left Shark. However, the author DOES manage to construct what has to be the worst sentence in the history of the English language.
By itself, the clause "Thought leadership is about taking risks" is the sort of thing that should disqualify a human being from ever being paid to write words again. Adding "also knowing who you are — JUST LIKE LEFT SHARK" to the mix creates the stuff nightmares are made of.
"They put on a shark suit and sit there, and think that's enough ...
BUT THEY'RE WRONG."
In fairness to the author, "Be genuine and awesome" is pretty good advice. Can't argue with that.
Steve Jobs was a gaping asshole. Everyone knows this. He was not likable.
The advice here is basically that to be good at PR, you should fuck up. While I don't dispute that most people in PR are total fuckups, I would recommend that you at least try to avoid fucking up in front of 120 million people if at all possible. Also, good luck finding a startup run by empathetic people who want to make the world a better place.
Maybe your company has a shitty product. Maybe its competitors are better in every single way. Don't let these minor hassles stop your client from selling its shitty product to stupid people! You can be the Left Shark of your product category or something like that! IN LEFT SHARK WE TRUST!
BRB, going to go "embrace my inner Left Shark" and drown myself.