The end of the year is a great time for “best of” lists, and one of my favorites this year was Mashable’s “20 Most-Shared Ads of 2012.” And as I rolled through each of the 20 ads, it occurred to me that many of them not only had great advertising bones, but incredible career advice as well.
The #1 ad wasn’t just an ad. It was a movement. KONY2012′s 30 minute video, made by a relatively unknown nonprofit organization, went viral faster than anything the world had ever seen. And then, the crazy downfall of its founder caused a PR failure of colossal proportions. What can that single ad teach us about our careers? A phenomenal amount, considering these points:
- One message is clearer than ten any day of the week. Whether you watched three minutes of the video or the full 30, you knew the message. Joseph Kony is evil, and we have to make sure he’s punished. Simple as that. The same goes for you and your career! What is the one message you would want someone to take away from a conversation with you, whether it was three minutes or 30?
- Controversy sucks. KONY2012 could have been even more successful if it hadn’t been surrounded by controversy. From the moment the video surfaced, everyone from bloggers to media outlets pointed out the video’s inconsistencies and untruths. Media coverage about the video’s over 100 million views was as much about its controversy as it was about its message. For this reason, you must be careful about controversy in your own career. Why are people talking about you? Because of your message or because of something more negative?
- Being cool under pressure counts. Jason Russell, the Founder of Invisible Children and voice behind KONY2012, suffered a severe nervous breakdown captured in a shocking and embarrassing video of him naked on a California street corner. Russell attributed his breakdown largely to the press surrounding the KONY2012 campaign. The criticism, the wave of media attention, it all finally got to him. You may never have 100 million views on YouTube, but you will at some point come to a time in your career when it feels like all eyes are on you, and you simply can’t deal with the pressure. It’s in these moments that keeping your cool counts.
Lessons come from many places, so as 2012 comes to an end, see these “best of” lists as a place to draw new lessons for your career.