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.)