Popularity: The celebrity entrepreneur and the fickle media

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It’s a double edged sword to wounding, a knife in the hands of a doctor can save lives, but in the hands of a thief, it can end a life.

The media can be an amazing tool that gives great success to a business, but it can also be a tool that ends it.

One of my favourite books on entrepreneurs is How They Blew It by Jamie Oliver (not the cook, but the journalist) and Tony Goodwin. It is about people who did something remarkable: they all built huge business empires worth millions, if not billions.  Then they all did something unbelievable: they managed to lose it.

The script is pretty straight-forward, an unknown entrepreneur, strikes it big through his venture, courts and becomes the darling of the media, makes one blunder, and maybe another, and the same media runs big front page news articles scandalising him.

We have seen such stories in the country and all over the world. From poor and unknown to fame and riches, and back from fame and riches to “once upon a time.”

How They Blew It tells the story of 16 entrepreneurs and business leaders who went from paramount success to abject failure, resulting in the collapse of some of the world’s most famous and supposedly successful businesses.

One of the big lessons is how successful entrepreneurs who come from nowhere to super stardom flirt with the media. Suddenly journalists follow your every move, they write about events you attend, you appear on magazine cover pages, you are invited to A-List parties to share your story, you now have the president and other powerful people on speed-dial, you appear on celebrity TV shows for interviews, you are the pick of the town.

The interesting thing about money and power is that suddenly everyone wants to hear your opinion, even when you are not a subject matter expert on a topic.

Courting popularity can be great for building a personal brand, a good PR can result in increase in revenue for the business, but at the same time it has some serious side-effects and allergic reactions.

The media loves scandals, because scandals sell. People love to hear juicy stories. Unfortunately, the success or failure of entrepreneurs is a commodity for the media and entertainment for he masses.

The media is like a fickle mistress, she loves you when are making money, but is the first one to dump you when you are on your way down.

The media is like a double-edged sword. They are looking for stories, headlines & angles. If someone new comes along, someone young, successful and wealthy, it is little wonder the press trip over themselves to put that face on their covers.

That much is well-known, but time & time again entrepreneurs are drawn towards the flame of publicity. Whether it is ego, pride, part of public relations or just something to show their mothers, the fact is that if you are up to no good, or make a blunder and you are in the public eye, the media will one day come knocking and no amount of ‘no comment’ or legal threats will save your skin.

When no one knows much about you, you have peace.  

Don’t allow popularity to go to your head and drives you to lose focus of what is really important, your business.

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