Dumb Marketing Decision by NBC; We Suspect Lawyers Were Involved

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Media Orchard loves corporate attorneys (really), but they can make silly decisions sometimes.

You see, corporate attorneys are trained to protect themselves and their clients against risk. Which is fine, except for the fact that in business, you can’t succeed without taking on risk. So when lawyers have too much influence on a company’s decision-making — particularly its marketing decisions — sometimes critical mistakes are made.

When a company makes the ultimate PR mistake by saying “No comment,” for example, there’s usually a risk-averse lawyer, not a PR person, to blame.

When Exxon committed one of the worst PR mistakes in history by not sending its CEO immediately to the scene of the Valdez oil spill, lawyers — not PR people — were behind the decision.

And when content producers go to nonsensical extremes to protect their intellectual property, you can bet that it’s the lawyers — not the marketers — who made that decision.

We are reminded of this fact by a recent item on Boing Boing, which reported that NBC had forced YouTube to remove SNL‘s popular Narnia video from its Web site. So now the video is only available through NBC.

This is a classic example of winning the battle but losing the war, seeing the trees but not the forest — as well as lots of other cliches. Bottom line is, the uninhibited spread of this video across the Web is what made it a viral phenomenon in the first place. NBC has just quarantined a virus that was bringing it lots of new viewers.

This kind of self-defeating mentality is one of Mark Cuban’s favorite topics; read more here.

Lawyers are great for covering your butt. But when they start dictating your company’s business strategy — not so good.

(Via Conversation Rater.)

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About the author

Scott Baradell
Scott, president of Idea Grove, oversees one of the fastest-growing and most forward-looking public relations and inbound marketing agencies in the southwestern United States. Idea Grove focuses on helping technology companies reach media and buyers; and its clients range from venture-backed startups to Fortune 200 companies. Scott launched Idea Grove in 2005 along with his groundbreaking blog, Media Orchard. He has been a consistent innovator in the public relations and marketing space. Scott was among the first to understand the role of blogging in audience building. He was quick to recognize the vital importance of content quality and the power of social sharing. Most significantly, he developed a system that integrates public relations, content creation, social and search marketing, and conversion rate optimization into a program that produces hard-dollar results for clients.

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5 thoughts on “Dumb Marketing Decision by NBC; We Suspect Lawyers Were Involved

  1. Andrea Weckerle

    I agree with your statement that a company’s business strategy should not be managed by attorneys. However, speaking in general terms, a major business mistake is to not give appropriate weight to the recommendations or warnings of attorneys – the idea being that any problem can be “cleaned up” or “taken care of” later. But some things are too messy to fix, and then it’s the legal team that gets blamed.

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  2. SB

    I’m pretty familiar with Greyhound PR as the company is based here in Dallas. From my lunches with former employees, I know that it’s pretty much one crisis communications situation after another. The nature of the beast. I feel sorry for the PR person who was put in the situation you reference.

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  3. Anonymous

    My father (who was in a position to know) used to tell me that you can tell a company’s position in its lifecycle by looking at who is calling the shots in the executive team.

    1. birth – creatives such as inventors, engineers, scientists to create the company

    2. growth – sales and marketing to generate new sales

    3. maturity – accountants, et al for cost reduction and efficiency

    4. death – lawyers to handle M&A, bankruptcy or to finesse how to sell products at a price no longer justified by their actual value.

    I’ve worked for half a dozen companies over the last 30 years and I’ve seen the same pattern.

    Makes you think about situations like this, doesn’t it!

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