The Power of Web 2.0: Jian Ghomeshi… this is your moment.

It’s time to soak up the gravy!

We all hear the stories of musicians, writers, politicians and other bon vivants slugging it out on the interview junkets. While it is often not glamorous shuffled off from one interview to another, convened at odd times and with diverse bunch of interviewers (including the proverbial “wild and crazy morning guys”), ultimately the name of the game is PUBLICITY.

Publicity used to be straightforward – interviews with radio, television, newspapers and magazines. Not anymore. And Academy Award Winner, Billy Bob Thornton found that out.

On April 8, 2009 at 6 a.m., in an interview that he most likely perceived as inconsequential in his stellar career, in under 15 minutes he managed to put a major (temporary?) dent in his image. See for yourself.

With CBC Radio’s Q use of social media tools, it was not long before the YouTube clip made it around the world (1.3 million views at time of writing), the Q podcast on iPods, and comments being posted on broadcaster’s website. By that evening, Mr. Thornton was booed on stage in Toronto. With more reader feedback at media sites across Canada (all negative in response to his swipe at Canadian audiences) and the story going viral, Mr. Thornton’s band, The Boxmasters, cancelled their Canadian tour (opening for music icon, Willie Nelson).

This incident demonstrates the power of Web 2.0 – from an action that took minutes to complete, the speed and reach of the response and legacy is profound. Delivered through viral means and user generated content (from posted comments to Diggs), Mr. Thornton, and those within the media alike, were reminded that they need to vigilant about their personal brand.

On the flipside, hats off to Jian Ghomeshi. While he could have been totally flustered by Mr. Thornton’s actions, he kept his cool and sought reconciliation to keep the interview going. For him, social media has given him a leg up – he is viewed as a true professional, and likely his brand as an media personality is on the rise (especially with the evidence being viewed around the world). We will see if this becomes a pivotal and defining moment of his career.

I would add, as someone who does qualitative research, I admired Mr. Ghomeshi’s determination. I can relate. In my experience I have moderated focus groups and in-depth interviews and have encountered a tough, challenging character… I too took that deep breath and tried to find that path to trying to make that session work. As I can attest, and as demonstrated by Mr. Ghomeshi, there is definitely an art to conducting interviews!

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