Making Lemonade Out Of Bullshit

September 4, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Online Marketing

Michael 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!”

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