Guarding Your Brand And Reputation

© 2011 Vinny Ribas

Let’s face it – we are all human. And as human nature would have it, sometimes we do or say something that we wish hadn’t. It might be a quick slip of the tongue, telling a joke that offends someone or sending an email that is construed wrong. And if we could we would do anything to take it back in a heartbeat. When it happens with someone you know and trust, the mistake is most often forgiven. When it happens one-on-one with a stranger, you give a wrong first impression but you may be able to salvage it. But there are times when it is virtually impossible to completely reverse yourself, and the whole world becomes your judge and jury! Be certain that you are never giving your competitors or enemies (we all have them) ammunition to use against you.

Here are some of those situations in which you should be extremely careful as to what you say or do because it often impossible to take it back:[private_member]

  • Online
    • Pretty much anything you do or say online can go viral and even be blown way out of proportion very quickly. A comment taken out of context can be damaging. A misspelling can create havoc. Be your own worse critic when it comes to posting anything online! For example:
      • Every ‘tweet’ or status update you post can carry a huge punch. Remember that once it is online, it is almost impossible to erase!
      • Anything you say in your blog can be misquoted, re-edited, taken out of context etc. Say what’s on your mind, but not in a way that will hurt or offend your fans.
      • Everything on your website is open to the public unless you specifically make certain pages private or password protected. Be sure that you are not making public things regarding your personal life or business that should remain private.
      • Emails are notorious for being cold and emotionless. Things written in jest are often interpreted as mean when they are read. Use emoticons if necessary to explain the spirit in which your message or comment was meant. Be very detailed so that you don’t leave anything open to being misconstrued.
      • There is no denying that a YouTube video can be career making or breaking! What you do or say, how you look, how well you can or can’t sing or play, how well your song is written about, what is shown in the background of your videos etc are all subject to online accolades or criticism (think Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’!)
      • What you say in a chat room may be gone when the room is closed, but you have witnesses to everything you said.
      • Things can get even more complicated or embarrassing in a video chat. I was once on a video chat with my boss when his wife came into the room naked (not knowing he was on video).
      • Text messages are often misunderstood, especially if you are using text shortcuts that the person on the other end doesn’t understand. Another problem with text is that, unless the reader knows your phone number, there is no way for them to know who is sending the message unless you tell them.
      • A media or communications conultant can help you if writing is not your strong suit. You might even consider hiriting someone to do your online publicity and manage your social networks.
  • In an interview
    • Whenever you are being interviewed what you say or do can often be misinterpreted. Be sure that you explain everything so that there is no confusion. Also watch your body language, because people love to read into that as much as they like to hear or see you.
    • When you are being interviewed for print (newspaper, blog, magazine, web article etc), remember that what you say has to be transcribed. These transcriptions will often include comments by the interviewer as to your reactions to certain comments or questions. So even over the phone, the interviewer might read something into innocent pauses in your answers.
    • What you wear to any interview, even if you are not being videotaped or broadcast live, can still show up in the final interview. Questions or comments about your choice of wardrobe might be embarrassing. Once again, don’t make it easy for anyone to take potshots at you.
    • Consider hiring a media coach to help you with your interview skills, even if you are used to being in front of the camera! A good one will really help you polish your image and keep you out of trouble!
  • In a song
    • Many songwriters love to write songs that are poetic, artistic and even mysterious. However, if you are not detailed enough to let the listener know exactly what you are talking about, you leave your songs open to anyone’s interpretation. This is your choice, but you can’t blame other people for thinking you meant one thing when you meant something completely different.
    • Also keep in mind that you may record a song that you think is funny, but it might offend some of your fans. Once you’ve put it on tape, vinyl or in a digital format, it can be passed around online very easily (the complete song, part of the song or even just quoted). Be sure your songs stay consistent with your image and brand!
    • Consider getting your songs critiqued by a reputable songwriting consultant. They should be able to tell you if you might have a problem with any part of it.
  • In a live performance
    • Anything you do or say live can and probably will be captured on video with someone’s cell phone or with an inexpensive video camera. So if you’re angry with a heckler and you handle it the wrong way, you may find that you are Facebook or YouTube news before the show is over! If you are putting on an amazing show, of course you want someone to tweet about it. But if you take too long of a break, or look like you don’t care about the audience, or wear something outrageous and embarrassing, chances are that many people might tweet about it!
    • Consider hiring a performance coach to help you with your actual stage presentation. They are great at tightening and refining your shows so there are no weak areas that might result in negative reactions.

This list could go on forever. Other places where you can’t take it back include what you say in your live songs (some people like to ‘paraphrase’ songs for a joke), the picture(s) you have on your CD cover, the merchandise you sell, the things you recommend or endorse, things your band members do or say etc., etc. The bottom line is that it is absolutely vital to the sustainability of your career that you are always extremely careful to represent yourself in a way that can’t come back to bite you![/private_member]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.