Ask Jack: "Is execution more important than the idea?"

Dear Jack: How do you see the future of consumer PR?

Musickama, Hong Kong.

 Your original question was much longer and more of a statement. I hope my summation isn’t another example of the problems that are affecting editorial content.

It’s true budgets are being cut and editorial teams are shrinking. This is normal and happens to most men of a certain age. Less space is given to editorial in favour of advertising, or advertising disguised as editorial, because money talks and informed, nuanced opinions are neither cheap nor strong enough to provoke outrage.

Research has also shown that people these days have short attention spans and like pictures of food. Consequently, digital media now values the number of views that shallow articles garner, and the ROI of click-bait and #FakeNews,  over feature articles. Civil unrest, viruses and economic uncertainty haven’t helped much either. None of this is what I had in mind when I invented the internet, but what can you do? Ultimately, people get what they want and the content they deserve.

There are sites and publications people do turn to, and pay, for in-depth articles and analysis. You just have to find them and/or direct people to them.

Perhaps you could hire a PR agency to do that. If nothing else, it would give you all something to do.

Dear Jack: Is execution more important than the idea?

Focus, Shanghai.

Once upon a time, the medium was the message. Of course, when McLuhan said that, he only had a 45Mbps dial-up modem, everything on smartphones was in black and white, and I was serving martinis to Roger Moore in Bottoms Up.

People were convinced that the media was more important than the content within it. Many still believe that. Media types, mostly.

Fact is, the execution might get people to notice you … but it’s the idea that holds their attention. Unless you’re talking about the crafting of a message. In which case, the idea gets you noticed and the execution is what holds their attention.

Or, to look at it another way, the idea is “what” you say. Execution is “how” you say it. Unfortunately, a growing number of people think the execution is the idea. That is why they engage, but fail to communicate anything meaningful.

Dear Jack: How important are social influencers and the opinions of KOLs?

Antisocial, Singapore.

Science has long suspected an inversely exponential relationship between the rise of KOLs and the decline in civilisation. Only recently, however, have we had a statistically relevant spread of data and tools to quantify that as an equation.


Here, x is the influencer, a is the opinion, n is the number of followers and k is the years of experience relevant to the subject being discussed.

Of course, while the algorithm is new, KOLs have been around since Adam was a boy. In fact, Adam’s partner, Eve, was the original social influencer. KOLs were light on the ground during the Dark Ages, mostly because there was no free Wi-Fi in the 16th century. However, the opinion of an ambitious ruthless blogger called Lady Macbeth led her husband to commit regicide and she briefly became queen of all media.

The 1920s saw the arrival of Mrs Dalloway, the first post-modern influencer. Clarissa Dalloway’s feed, or book as Insta-stories were called back then, was a series of random posts, replete with weird grammar and non-sequiturs.

A Millennial for all seasons, she did nothing and expected everything. She also liked parties and complaining. Obsessed with the life she imagined herself living, luxury experiences and appearances, she spilt the tea on her peers and dwelt on specific moments in time. Mrs Dalloway paved the way for the Merrell Twins, Yoho!Girl and KOL stables such as ParkLu.

The short answer to your question, Antisocial, is don’t think of KOLs and influencers as people. They’re channels. And, like media vehicles, when used correctly they can be very effective. With the further decentralisation of media, their power is amplified by the growing number of people who are prepared to believe anyone and anything. This is great because it means the loudest, most popular or prevailing opinion is now considered the truth.

Jack So is co-founder and ECD  of  So  Fuk  Yu,  the mythical  Hong  Kong agency in the pages of  Richard  Tong’s critically acclaimed neon-noir novels. Here, he quells concerns, solves problems and addresses the big issues with uncommon sense. Send your questions to

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