Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meeting Eric Deggans — “The Man” Behind “The Brand”

“Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image.” — David Ogilvy

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, I met Eric Deggans, "The Man." It was a great experience. I've followed Eric's newspaper career during his time here in the Tampa Bay area. He's a fine writer. Over the years, we'd e-mailed back and forth a handful of times. And, occasionally, I've even added comments to his blog at the St Petersburg Times Web site.

But this was different. This was face-to-face. Mano a mano. (Except, of course, for the other 20-plus people in the room.)

Eric had consented to be part of a panel discussion for the Tampa Bay Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) at the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. The topic was “Media Relations Unwired."

One comment Eric made during his presentation changed my perception of him. He talked about Eric Deggans, "The Brand."

I told Eric after the discussion that I'd never considered him a "Brand." But I added that I did consider him a part of my "Media Sphere," a phrase he seemed to like. What I meant by the comment is that, as far as I was concerned, Eric was as much a part of my life as Cheerios, Twinkies and Publix, my local supermarket.

So, I guess, in a way, Eric is a "Brand."

I'd read him in the Times. Watched him on PBS. Seen him on CNN. I think I’ve even heard him on the radio a time or two.

Eric is everywhere. Like “Where’s Waldo.” And, now, he was here, in front of me. Flesh and blood. A "real person." That he had the savvy at some point in his career to realize that he was a "Brand" was (and is) brilliant. It means that Eric consciously stepped into that Media Sphere, like Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey and Bill O'Reilly. Eric is more than just a name. More than just a face. He’s a commodity.

And, I might add, one that I can reasonably endorse.

Why? Because, when I read something by Eric, he fulfills a certain expectation. In that good way. Like a great cup of coffee.

I can think of few things more satisfying. And many things less . . .

The lesson is that, in this age of the Instant and the Ubiquitous, each of us (in one way or another) is a Brand. And the sooner we accept and nurture that, the better off we are. So the next time you Twitter. Or type in a comment on FaceBook. Or update LinkedIn. Remember to connect the dots: You aren't just "you." You are a "Brand." And that's something worth projecting — and protecting.


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