Media mirror on the wall, who is the smartest of them all?

Media mirror on the wall, who is the smartest of them all?

Snow White could be a corporate fairytale about vanity metrics

If you have ever worked in communications or marketing, you have probably been told that your job is all about selling fairytales. I am sure you all have a go-to response for those occasions, but feel free to borrow my take on it next time someone questions the validity of our noble professions.

Fairytales are actually survival guides and can serve as a corporate moral compass. That’s right. You can quote me on that. Take the example of Snow White and the Evil Queen who was extremely jealous of her beauty. It is a well-known fact that anyone who has an impact on many people’s lives monitors their reputation. Kings, Queens and brands alike know that their connection with the outside world needs careful attention, because losing support could put them out of business.

In comes the magic mirror to report on the Queen’s standing. As a diligent, unbiased observer, it provides the hard data, ranking her beauty as second to only Snow White’s. The Queen, driven by blind ambition, decides to regain the top spot. The moral of the corporate story is that beauty shouldn’t be the main concern, and good leaders possess other, more important qualities. Similarly, branding managers or CEOs might fall into the trap of obsessing over vanity metrics, like social media followers, website traffic or media reach, instead of focusing on essential factors like the price/quality ratio and excellent customer service.

We all know the temptation of vanity metrics, numbers that make us feel good about what we are doing right, but do not necessarily represent our core business. They can boost our egos, but even hard data can be misleading. When the Queen’s plan to get rid of Snow White and restore her reputation fails, she gets obsessed. The mirror, maintaining its professional integrity, reports the unchanged vanity metric. It even goes a step further, reminding the Queen that beauty is not the most important thing, and warns that her poor judgement may eventually be exposed and damage her reputation.

If the mirror had not been shattered at this point in the story, it would probably have given the Queen a report on her audience engagement, her subjects’ sentiment, her share of voice or her royal website’s conversion rates. That would have shown her that citizens were happy, and did not care about her beauty as much as she did. It would also have shown her that Snow White was not a threat to her position. Can anyone still doubt that the mirror, often dismissed as a mere symbol of vanity, played a crucial role in making well-informed strategic decisions? I, for one, am convinced, and will continue to measure happily ever after.

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