Funny Money Man

I saw a story on NPR’s website called, “Who Knew? Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke Is A Funny Guy,”  by Mark Memmott with a transcript of the Federal Reserve Chairman’s commencement address at Princeton. I was impressed that he could use humor, even though he seems like such a serious guy. He even quoted Lily Tomlin, which is the last thing I’d expect from him. 

Bernanke’s approach can be a lesson for attorneys. Usually lawyers are careful when dealing with the media, which I totally understand, because they have to be very careful about what they say. However, because they have to be calculating about their words or actions, they might look cold or even inhuman to other people, which can affect their reputation and their client’s image. 

That’s why I often advise attorneys to communicate some light-heartedness when speaking to the media or releasing press statements. Wherever you speak or issue a statement, you should think about your audience. At a conference with other attorneys, for example, you can be more serious and use more specialized language. However, there’s nothing wrong with sprinkling what you say with some humor, like Bernanke did.
On the other hand, when you speak to a more general audience who wouldn’t understand or appreciation legalese, you should find a way to connect with the public by avoiding being very intense or serious. You have to be careful about what you divulge, of course, so you have to decide beforehand what your boundaries are, but there’s nothing wrong with lightening up a little for the press. After all, if the Federal Reserve Chairman of the United States can do it, you can too. 


Is a Donut Better for You than a Salad?

Candice Choi’s article, “Dunkin’ Donuts adds doughnut bacon sandwich to menu”in the Chicago Sun-Times is a great public relations move. The sandwich consists of fried eggs and bacon on a glazed doughnut, so I don’t think I could eat it unless I extend my daily workout from one hour to five. However, what Dunkin’ Donuts is doing is newsworthy. 

Everyone knows that fatty, sugary, salty foods aren’t good for you, so fast food restaurants, even McDonald’s, are offering salads and more healthy food. You’d think that since people are more health-conscious, they would want more healthy food, and even Choi says that sales have increased because of the healthier menus. However, Dunkin’ Donuts is giving people what they’re wired to crave, and it seems like a novelty. After all, PR-wise, healthy food doesn’t seem as exciting, but a crazy, caloric sandwich can make a splash. 

It reminds me that what’s old is new again, because for years fast food restaurants didn’t offer healthy food, and Dunkin’ Donuts is returning to that approach. In that way, what Dunkin’ Donuts is doing seems contrarian in their publicity efforts. However, the company really scored because the sandwich will cause lots of conversations online and off. I bet people have even been posting photos online of them eating it just to show others how adventurous they can be. 

After looking at what that company has done, think about what you can do that will be noticed and that people will talk about. Maybe you’re not a proponent of unhealthy food, but if you look at your business, there’s probably something you can find that’s noteworthy. 

By the way, if you’ve tried the sandwich, let me know.