Seth Godin has an interesting work in progress called Levels of Effort in relation to marketing. The four levels are:
- no effort: hobbyists or wannabes who never really get anything done,
- right effort: effective because exactly what is required has been done,
- too much effort: the hard-seller who spams and over-uses any and every technique,
- no (apparent) effort: those who don’t appear to try, but just get it right
This last category is the one that interests Godin – as he feels it is confident and attracts others from the “power it projects”. This isn’t about success because it is in the right place, reflecting best practice, or getting the 1% return on a mass mailing.
Rather it is about hitting a zeitgeist – having a reputation that speaks for itself. The same thinking could be applied to public relations.
I also think it applies to PR students. At a meeting of the assessment working group for the CIPR qualifications this week, we were discussing how successful PR submissions are more than the sum of the parts of, for example, when assessing a press release task.
Of course there are some students who put in no effort – they might be lucky and pass, but probably won’t. Others put in the right effort, follow the exact rules and do just what is required – gaining a strong pass, maybe a merit. Some, put in too much effort – every bell and whistle – and often end up missing the pass mark. The real stars are those who don’t appear to try but deliver really interesting work – sometimes it doesn’t even tick the boxes, but every marker agrees it is an excellent assignment.
What I’m left wondering is can this “it” factor be taught or learned or is it like “cool”, just something you know when you see it?