Thursday, October 6, 2016

Corruption in Small Business

Reading Samuel Pepys, who kept a diary in the 1600s London, I was struck by his admission he took money from people with whom he did official government business.  His claim was he only took money from people with whom he decided to do business anyway, so it was not corruption.


Now here comes an article on getting media attention for your trade show booth:
 I once had a client offer reporters free car service from their hotels at CES and held interviews during the car ride. This was a great way to not only ensure an interview, but a memorable and unique way to building relationships with reporters.
Now note that.  Reporters are usually paid very poorly now, and have expense accounts that would disgrace a hobo.    Anything nice, even like a hired car ride from the Motel 666 to the show in the morning is a big deal to the reporter, but you were going that way anyway, right?

Except you would not have gone by hired car, out of your way, with coffee for two.

I read a story by a new government manager who had received a Holiday Ham from a business being regulated by his department.  He instantly sent it back with a terse note saying he could not have it.  Next year it happened again, and he served it at the office holiday party, why not?  The following year he took it home.  The next year when the ham did not arrive, the manager had his assistant call the business to ask where his ham was.

Back in the early 1980s we gave no charge our products to prop companies who created sets for movies and TV so our products showed up in them,  Not much for sales, but for bragging rights.

The fellow who built Patagonia clothing company prided himself on doing so with a zero advertising budget.  But what he did do, as I recall reading long ago, was anytime his products showed up on the people in the cover action photos of sports magazines, he would send the photographer a $500 bill in a note thanking the photographer.  (Yes, we used to have $1000 bills too).  Well, word gets around among photographers, and soon everyone was featuring Patagonia clothes in the cover shots they were creating.  Think of the cost of a photo shoot (tens of thousands at least) and the cost of advertising in major magazines (hundreds of thousands) and then reflect on what Yvon Chouinard got for $500.

Now this is not longer possible, since it is all pay to play now.  If you see products mentioned in copy or on covers, someone contractually paid to have in there.  A photographer taking $500 to place a product there would be crowding out the $50,000 the publisher would be earning.  Same with movies and TV.

The entire BigPharma is based on doctors finding their family vacations upgraded to first class and penthouse and all activities gratis mediated by sexy coeds recently graduated from college selling the products.  They hire doctors to give risible speeches at conferences for amazing fees. With 50% of drugs ineffective, and overprescription, the drug companies get their corruption's worth.

Or is it corruption?

I find it all distasteful, but then that means I experience it at the level of aesthetics, which is morally neutral.  I also have emotional reservations, which means it is tied up with my maturity level.  Maybe I am merely immature, and need to channel some Bill Clinton.


So.  When you are preparing for a trade show, take the advice in the article to which I linked, to key your 'story" in to the show theme, and write six different articles saying the same thing and put a printout in an envelope with a data stick with the article in RTF so the writer can quickly convert it to his own, and put his name on the article to turn in it to his employer as his work.  But wait, there is more.  Clip a $50 on the article in the envelope, with a note saying there is another if and when the article is published and you get a copy.

Pass those out to anyone who comes into the booth and shows you reporter credentials.  For $300 you get massive coverage.

Is that corruption?

Feel free to forward this by email to three of your friends.


Anonymous said...

That's brilliant!