Being Herd

By Denise Herd

denise-herdBeauty sometimes can’t overcome reputation

Steel blue eyes. Abs chiseled in stone. A gaze that will melt snow on the coldest winter day. His image has been superimposed in ads for Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Dolce and Gabanna and Givency.

He has become an Internet sensation overnight, capturing the hearts of women around the world. Who is this present day Adonis, Greek god of beauty and desire?

He’s Jeremy Meeks, convicted felon whose contributions to society include robbery, resisting arrest, grand theft, corporal injury to a child, identity theft, gun charges, drug possession and he’s a card-carrying member of the Northside Gangster Crips. Oh ¾ and let’s not forget about the implications of that teardrop, gently cascading from his left eye.

What an impressive resume.

Pretty on the outside, but…

Currently, Jeremy Meeks and his crew are spending their nights reflecting about their recent bust in the confines of a Stockton, Calif., prison. But while Jeremy Meeks might be out of sight, he certainly is not out of mind. Since the release of his now-infamous mug shot, social media has exploded with comments about his come-hither gaze captured under fluorescent lights by a police photographer.Jeremy Meeks received numerous marriage proposals and countless professions of undying love. One hopeless romantic is even offering up the $900,000 bond that currently stands between Jeremy Meeks and his return to society.

Many hope upon his release Jeremy Meeks will give up his life of crime, cash in on his newfound fame and earn his money the old fashioned way ¾ through a hard days work, perhaps as a model. I mean let’s face it he has “the look.” Jeremy Meeks has become a household name, and many people seem to be unfazed by his bad-boy reputation and violent criminal past.

Thinking twice

But would you feel comfortable hiring Jeremy Meeks to work in your company? Would he bring value to your company, elevating market share, brand awareness and company position? Ensuring you have the right people in place is the most important thing you can do as a business owner. Equally as important: understanding the non-verbal messages your hiring decisions communicate to your employees, stakeholders, customers and community. While Jeremy Meeks may make the girls swoon, his less-than-stellar past and penchant for crime may send customers running for cover. Could your business bear an about face of customers if Jeremy Meeks became “the face” of your brand? Many could not.

Your brand precedes you. People interact with your logo, your spokesperson and your public image before they interact with you. Do you really want someone like Jeremy speaking to your customers on your behalf? What you put around you to represent your brand is a direct reflection of you.

Hiring Meeks and giving him the authority to represent your brand means you are both operating within the same moral code. How do you think your customers will receive this? Will it backfire or do you have so munch brand equity in the market that consumers look beyond his penchant for crime. Paula Deen thought she did and look what happened to her after admitting to using a racial slur. I’m not saying that Meeks cannot be rehabilitated and move beyond his bad boy image. Of course he can. But is company spokesperson, model, customer service representative or any position that pushes him into the forefront of your organization the right position for him?

For now, perhaps Jeremy Meeks should probably focus on a different type of modeling. Becoming a model citizen and a role model for his children.

“Being Herd” appears each Thursday. Denise Herd is the founder and president of Herd Strategies, a public relations and marketing firm located in downtown Indianapolis. She is a facilitator of the Kauffman Foundation FastTrac New Venture program and has served as a facilitator and panelist covering topics including entrepreneurship, social media and branding.

Denise Herd is the founder and president of Herd Strategies, a public relations and marketing firm located in downtown Indianapolis. She is a facilitator of the Kauffman Foundation FastTrac New Venture program and has served as a facilitator and panelist covering topics including entrepreneurship, social media and branding.

Opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of the Recorder Media Group, owner of the Indiana Minority Business Magazine.