Understand Your Audience

Funny Business

Silent movie actor Buster Keaton was a genius at pratfalls. When done right, humor adds fun and eases tension. When done wrong, it comes off as tasteless and desperate.
Silent movie actor Buster Keaton was a genius at pratfalls. When done right, humor adds fun and eases tension. When done wrong, it comes off as tasteless and desperate.

Have you seen the “Judgmental” maps? Does your city have one? Recently in Austin, a city employee used one of these comic maps in a public presentation. The resulting outcry certainly illustrated the perils of using edgy, profane humor in a business or government setting, and the employee ended up losing his job.

What do you think? I think there is a place for humor in the B2B world. It pays to be smart about it, though. Poking gentle fun at the trials and tribulations we share together is a good bet. I’ve had good luck incorporating humor into presentations and training materials. It breaks down barriers and creates the feeling of “we’re all in this together.”

Humor can also be a great conversation starter. I use lighthearted cartoons on my business cards. A number of companies find great ways to use humor in B2B ads. But by the time you move deeper into a conversation with content-heavy pieces such as e-books, trade articles, and white papers, it’s time to set the laughs aside and focus on relevancy and how you can solve serious business issues.

Right now, I’m working on a corporate history project. In the course of my research, I ran across a “roast” that was done for one of the company leaders in the 1960s. The humor ran decidedly along racial lines. Yikes! It reminded me that what was current back in the days of “Laugh-In” would be unacceptable today—as that Austin city employee learned to his sorrow.


Don’t Feed the Tonypandy

Vintage Tony the Tiger cartoonJust read The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, a classic mystery about a modern-day London police officer who decides to look into the alleged crimes of King Richard III. And I learned the most delightful word! Tonypandy was the name of a coal strike in which it was alleged that the police had fired shots at the striking miners. Although there was no evidence that such a thing ever occurred, it became a widely believed historical myth.

It’s always a good idea to look out for twisted history, especially in an election year! What do you think? Does your industry have any “tonypandy” you’d like to set straight?


What’s hot!

Trade articles
Trade blogs
Brochures
Corporate histories


 

Thought of the month

The Falconer statue in Central ParkThere’s a superstition among falconers that a hawk’s ability is inversely proportional to the ferocity of its name. Call a hawk Tiddles and it will be a formidable hunter; call it Spitfire or Slayer and it will probably refuse to fly at all. – Helen MacDonald, H is for Hawk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s