How one photo ruined my career (probably)

In a hard won lesson of how to ensure your online content is true to your brand, Michael Frier of Spectrum Group, shares with us his tale of woe, in this guest post.

For those marketers out there tired of hearing how your online content must reflect your brand, I have a tale of woe that will bring it to life for you.

I can often be a bit silly in my office and even joke around with my clients. But I like to think that I always portray myself externally as the height of professionalism. However, one recent event threatened to destroy the persona I worked so hard to cultivate.

The SMS of Doom

While on holiday, my phone lit up with numerous text messages from my always #FingerOnThePulse colleagues. Mumbrella, they said, mentioned me in an article about my agency’s growth and its new hires.

Obviously, I was keen to read it. However, this excitement was short-lived when I received a text message from a former colleague at another agency. It read: “Saw the article. Nice photo.” Knowing my friend, the phrase “nice photo” actually meant… “you look a berk”.

Fearfully, I looked up the story and saw this:
michael frier spectrum group

A Monsterous Poser

This pretentious arsehole. Portraying himself to the whole Australian public relations industry as the kind of PR wanker that I so despise. Looking exactly like the guy in the meeting who stands up and says something like, “we need a new objective for engagement, we want both growth and profits. I call it ‘Grofits”.

That is the man in this photo, the man who makes the kind of PR agent people mock look down-to-earth. The kind of man who loves the ‘brand wank’ that my boss so clearly calls out as hating on our company website.

This is not the Mike Frier I want to show the world. This is an imposter. Someone probably called Max Frier who touches base with clients and gets his ducks in a row before leveraging the synergy of his market-leading customer experience.

I would not be friends with this guy, I would sit across a meeting room table from him and think: “Please stop your brand wank chat”.

Mumbrella is one of our industry’s leading trade publications. Many clients, prospective clients, colleagues and a lot of the industry’s top brass would see this article. And there I was…looking like I’m, pondering my next great ideation”.

Control Your Brand

I should explain. No one played a cruel prank on me. Mumbrella just took the photo from my LinkedIn profile.

And here is the lesson: if you don’t want to portray yourself as a complete PR wanker, or any kind of unfavourable image related to you and your brand, then make sure the content you put online reflects how you want others to see you.

I posted this image on LinkedIn without ever really thinking who would see it. I just thought my friends would chuckle over it. But now the photo is out there – in the wild.

I realise that to the viewer who doesn’t know me, this is a completely serious pose that I think best shows me off in a professional environment.

Looking back, in hindsight with more rational thought, I know that my reputation is definitely in tatters; I will never get offered a job again.

I’m sure in my next KPI meeting I will be told how this photo has stopped us winning new business pitches. That I’ve cost the company so much money they are letting me go.

Within a year, I have no doubt I’ll be on the streets. But if this tale of woe can convince one marketer to ensure their online content truly reflects their brand…I will know it has all been worth it.

Michael Frier is a senior account manager at Spectrum Group.

This article appeared originally on Spectrum Group website and is published with the author’s permission


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