In 2002 I took a standup comedy class from Eddie Brill, warm-up comedian for The Late Show with David Letterman, who preached that the two most important rules a comedian needs to adhere to are to be honest and to be vulnerable. I didn’t really understand his point at the time, but as I matured as a comedian and my act evolved from telling setup-punch type of jokes to sharing stories about the struggles I faced pursuing a completely new career I witnessed a powerful change in my connection with the audience. As humans, we all face struggle and shame, and when we hear another person sharing his experience, we realize not only that we are not alone, but that we are “normal”. It can create a transformational moment of grace.
It’s the type of emotional connection that corporate communicators would kill for, or at least overpay an agency to create. Both are crimes. To be sure, there are many few obstacles preventing the Global 2000 from being vulnerable, such as the PR department and fiduciary responsibility. Fortunately, a company can move in this direction without having to air dirty laundry.
I am a big believer in being playful, or as my wife says, “juvenile.” Playfulness has an important role in corporate communications. The simple act of being silly – of showing the world that you don’t take yourself too seriously – is being vulnerable, and is a perfect place to start in this social era of “authentic conversation.” Following the sharply polarized discourse of 2010, laughter is particularly welcomed by most, and can create a halo effect for the brand.
I’ll share more thoughts in the coming weeks on the “how” and “why” of incorporating silliness into a 2011 strategy, but for now, I’ll leave you with a particularly absurd example we used to help create awareness for our announcement at CES last week: "Obsolete TV Support Group"