Sometimes there is no silver lining

Marketing is often tasked with communicating bad news well. Unfortunately, sometimes people try to hard to make bad news good. I remember one executive at one of my previous employers presenting a chart of his team’s output that showed declining output over time as resources increased. Incredibly, he spoke excitedly about how well the team was doing, never bothering to address the downward trend on the chart. Unsurprisingly, the CEO noticed and the episode did not help this executive’s career.

In the making bad news into good news department, I recently read this article extolling the benefits of their deadly smog (which is estimated to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths per year). Incredibly, they are talking about how the smog would be an advantage on the battlefield. Is Chinese smog the new Russian winter? I could try to come up with other environmental catastrophes that might have “defensive value” but it would be in poor taste.

Some free unsolicited advice to anyone who has to market the excessive smog in China: don’t try to make it good news. People will think the smog sucks and you are a liar. If you just say the smog sucks, at least they won’t think you are a liar. 

— Max

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