I may have been the only one in the room who noticed, or even cared, but it annoyed me.
During a recent presentation by a top industry analyst they referenced an on-line marketing campaign that had featured The Muppets. On one PowerPoint slide there was a picture of Kermit The Frog.
The analyst proudly said something along the lines of “As you can see this campaign was aimed at children because it uses the characters from Sesame Street.”
My geek-alert radar triggered at the mistake. Kermit is of course not a Sesame Street character, but the leader of The Muppets. It was an innocent enough mistake, even an understandable one. But it was compounded by the fact that I knew a little about the campaign being referenced, which was in fact not aimed at children, but their parents.
The consultant immediately dropped a couple of notches on my internal credibility monitor.
In fact during the day the same consultant made a few pop-culture references, and I could tell that they didn’t really understand the context of what they were saying.
This got me thinking about my own presentations. I’m a self confessed geek, I even have a T-shirt declaring the fact, so I have a tendency to pepper my conversations with pop-culture references. The same applies to a lot of presentations I do, more so in public conferences than during internal meetings. But, I always make sure those references are related to things I know about; I’d never make an on-line gaming or baseball reference as I have no interest, or reference, for either.
If you do make some sort of external reference when presenting to an audience, then make sure it’s factually correct and applies in context, because if you don’t there is bound to be someone in the audience who will spot your error. And that error will undermine everything else you say.
The same applies to the content you produce and deliver to your audience online. The best content is that which engages the audience and provides value. To deliver that sort of value we often produce content that puts our products or services in the context of the customer’s story and experience. We talk about, and reference, their industry, their process, their culture. If we get any part of that wrong, the customer will notice and it will undermine everything else we claim about our products.
Before you put out any sort of content that makes external references make sure you know your Muppets!