bullshitMichael Gray sent me an article yesterday afternoon. It was from Gawker and was about all the reasons Sarah Palin needs Levi Johnston. It was about how, in all his nonsensical glory, Levi actually makes Sarah Palin more likable. Because while he’s out there whoring himself to the media and (as a teen dad) critiquing her parenting skills, we’re left feeling sorry for her. It’s humanized her in a way that never happened on the campaign trail. If he’s the villain, then she gets to be victim by default. We can relate to her now.

More than that, almost a year after the election, Levi’s constant comments are keeping Sarah Palin relevant. They’re keeping her face on TV, her name in print and they’re preventing us from focusing 100 percent of our energy on Jon and Kate. And frankly, that’s what we’d all rather be doing right now.

Levi is the best marketing campaign Sarah Palin has ever had. Without him, she’d be nothing more than an old SNL joke by now.

If you work on the Internet, you probably have your own Levi Johnston. You have that one person who just keeps rattling on about what a jerk you are. The person you scorned three years ago and who can’t let it go. The person trying to catapult themselves into stardom by taking unfair shots at you. If you do, welcome to the club.

Your best bet is to resolve the situation. It’s to find common ground, smooth it over, and get everyone back on the same team. However, if you’ve made a valiant effort and they‘re set on stewing, let them. They’re actually helping you. Take their bullshit and revel in your lemonade. The Levi Johnstons of the world actually give us a lot.

  • A chance for self reflection: If we’re being honest, even if your Levi has fallen from the cliff of crazy, there’s usually a grain of truth in the ranting. Whatever that grain is, take it and learn from it. It sucks that you haven’t been able to resolve this situation, but now you know better for next time. Take the opportunity to evaluate how you’re communicating with people, how you’re treating them and whether or not you’re being the person you want to be. Sounds cheesy, but your supporters aren’t the ones who will keep you in check. It’s your haters and Levis that will do that.
  • A chance for partnership: Your Levi may not care about you, but he or she may still care about your community. They may be willing to unofficially partner with you to improve things for everyone else. If they’re agreeable to giving you some constructive feedback or helping you to make changes on your site or in your business, take it. That insight will be extremely valuable. It may also give you another chance to make the situation right and heal whatever wound exists there. Mending fences and hearts is good for the soul. Don’t pass up an opportunity.
  • Keeps you relevant: They say the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talk about, right? The conversation about Sarah Palin right now may not be the rosiest, but it’s keeping her in our top of mind. The election was almost a year ago and we still haven’t forgotten about her yet. We wince in her direction each time Levi does yet another interview. We think of her when he’s making another made-for-TV appearance with Kathy Griffin. We feel her pain when he’s disrespecting her daughter and their child on national television. The only reason Sarah Palin is relevant today is because Levi won’t stop talking about her. And she can leverage that – into more TV appearances, more covers and even a book deal. I bet if you asked the average American who Joe Biden was, they wouldn’t know. However, Sarah? Oh yeah, they know who she is. And did you hear what that Levi boy said about her last night? Pity.
  • Keeps you interesting: As totally above the bullshit as we are (uh huh)…we just can’t turn it off. Levi’s spouting is keeping Sarah Palin interesting. We keep learning things we didn’t know before. We’re getting small glimpses into what it’s like to be a Palin child. It’s our very own little soap opera playing out in the media and God help us we can’t take our eyes off it. It’s sad, but it’s true. People like drama. They like people associated with drama. We like interesting people. Right now, with the help of Levi, Sarah Palin remains interesting.
  • Offers the appearance of vulnerability: As a culture, we like vulnerability. The fact that you have flaws makes us feel better about our own. We can relate to that, connect with it. This is why blog trolls and vocal haters are often very, very good for your brand. When someone has made it their mission to attack you without cause, it forces others to come to your defense. It shows other people that you’re human. That you’re “like them”. No one likes to watch someone get beaten over the head. And they don’t like people who do it.

If you’ve earned yourself a Levi, be thankful for it. That person is keeping you relevant, making you likable and probably exposing your brand to a whole new audience. Sure, it’s annoying and we’d all rather not deal with it, but all you can do is choose to make lemonade out of their bullshit. Don’t fight, bicker and bring yourself down to their level, just use them to propel yourself forward. And just think how pissed off they’ll be when you take away their power and then send them an email to say “thanks!”


About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.


8 thoughts on “Making Lemonade Out Of Bullshit


  • Michael D on said:

    That’s gonna be some awful tasting lemonade. Another great perspective Lisa. The Levi’s of the world will likely disagree, be pissed off, rank and rave, and do whatever it is they do (what kind of lives do they have anyway?). Personally, I think it’s a great way to measure effectiveness and positioning of your message.


  • Levi on said:

    Lisa, you freaked me out when you me out when I saw “Levi” my RSS feed. Not too many Levi’s in this world…

    While you’re spot on about the pestering “Levi’s” of the world potentially helping you keep your name relevant, I’m not sure I agree about the “interesting” aspect of your point. For example, Mr. Johnston (to keep the focus of me) is keeping Mrs. Palin off message. Instead of spending her time talking about conservative policy she’s having to defend herself. How do you get your message out?

    Once again, great blog!


  • Lisa Barone on said:

    Levi: Ha, didn’t mean to, um, scare you there. :)

    I think it depends how you look at it. If it wasn’t for Levi, Sarah probably wouldn’t even have a platform right now. And she shouldn’t be wasting her time defending herself, that’s kind of the point. These online bullies only have as much power as you give them. Instead of trying to convince people she’s a good mother (which is a losing battle in itself), she should be using the limelight Levi’s giving her to get her message across. She doesn’t have to waste time talking about things that don’t matter or rehashing the same argument. She’s choosing to do that. If she were smart, she’d thank Levi for the spotlight and keep pushing her conservation spiel.

    Levi makes her “interesting” in that we even still care what she has to say.


  • john andrews on said:

    I’m having trouble “getting” why constant publicity about you being a jerk is good for you. I’m having difficulty understanding how each time I learn more details of Palin’s bad judgement, I should be liking her more. I guess I don’t get it.

    I totally agree that fixing the problem is best. Any energy going into criticism could be put towards something more positive. But if you “scorned” someone, and they’ve been vocal about your derision, more discussion of what a jerk you are is almost certainly not good for you.

    Perhaps this piece is assuming vulnerability is in general a good character trait for winning over audiences? Perhaps that works in celebrity land, but politics? Business?

    In business and politics vulnerable is held accountable for WHY before it is pitied; before sympathy is granted. If there is no good reason, if you’re vulnerable because you’re a weenie or crybaby, or you live a life of entitlement and are clueless of the status quo, vulnerability will get you hung.


  • Ric P. on said:

    Sorry, Lisa, but i have a different take on Levi, whose only contribution to the world, in spite of his self-indulgence, is as a sperm-doner. As such, Sarah Palin is justified in classifying him as a Sexually Transmitted Disease.


  • Lisa Barone on said:

    john: I’m not saying it’s the preferred situation, but if someone has made it their mission to talk about you, instead of getting angry over it and feeding the bad situation by responding in public, think of what it is bringing you. Some people can’t be appeased and will hold on to grudges until the end of time. What’s your other alternative other than focusing on what it could bring you?

    Say I hate you. I have a history of hating you. I do nothing but spend my days hating you. That’s causing an interest around your name, whether you like it or not. It causes people to see what the hell is happening, and more often than not, they see that the person who just can’t let it go is the problem, not you. They become the bully in the court of public opinion.

    I disagree that vulnerability isn’t a good thing in business. I think one of the reasons social media has been so effective for a lot of companies is that we get to see that there are real people behind them. That’s exposing a humanness in the very same way.

    There’s a difference between being vulnerable and being weak. Being weak will get you eaten alive. Being vulnerable shows people you’re not a robot.

    ric: [blink] Okay.


  • The Daily Blonde on said:

    I read your posts every time they come in my email. THIS post is by far my favorite. I have a Levi…or two…and I have come to appreciate the lemonade they help me make.

    EXCELLENT POST :)
    Cheryl


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