Phoning It In

There’s a certain tendency in today’s hyper-segmented media environment to want to scream louder than the next get to get noticed.  To a certain extent I suppose it’s part of the game along with the apparent contest of who can say the most outrageous things.  I guess the more “out there” or offensive the statement the higher the chance of it going viral.  I don’t necessarily fault those who do it – you guys can make a list pretty easily – except when they make things up and label them as fact.  Not great in media and really bad in business.

Today’s example of this comes in the form of Premiere On Call.  What’s this?:

“Premiere On Call is our new custom caller service,” the website said. “We supply voice talent to take/make your on-air calls, improvise your scenes or deliver your scripts. Using our simple online booking tool, specify the kind of voice you need, and we’ll get your the right person fast. Unless you request it, you won’t hear that same voice again for at least two months, ensuring the authenticity of your programming for avid listeners.”

That’s from a website that’s now offline.  I’m not faulting Premiere here, just as we tend not to fault gun manufacturers for the damage their products do.  I’m trying to decide to what extent I fault the radio shows that use actors pretending to be callers to tee up rants by the host.  I guess unless the show is supposed to be news and the information is presented as factual, it’s all entertainment.  Smarmy, maybe sort of fraudulent, but doing no harm UNLESS listeners don’t know (as with someone like Stephen Colbert) that it’s not really true.

Business is different.  It’s way over the foul line to use actors as real people in ads without labeling them as such.  It’s dumb and dangerous to make up facts that are used in making business decisions or to ignore real pieces of data because they are contrary to the outcome you want to advance.  Taken to an extreme, we’ve seen drugs pulled off the market because the drug company didn’t like the results of a research study and ignored it, only to find the drug really did kill people while claiming to cure.  You may have read about the mortgage thing recently.  Part of that problem was misrepresentations made to borrowers, part was ignoring the numbers pointing to disaster all in the name of a good business end: profits.

When I listen to talk radio I expect the “caller” to be a real person, not an actor reading a script.  In business I expect – demand – that information I’m getting is as accurate and complete as the person presenting it can make it.  My job is to ask enough questions to uncover if it’s not – so is yours.

Any questions?

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