Elton John – Creating a Legend

Jun 20th, 2010 | By | Category: News, Public relations

Years ago Irwin Zucker, a renowned book publicist, said “PR is an inexact science.” I recalled those words that I’d heard him say in a lecture at UCLA while driving home on Thursday night with my husband from an Elton John concert. This was the second time I had the privilege of seeing Sir Elton John live – the first being 17 years ago.  I marveled at the fact that, though my life has undergone many metamorphoses since then, this man is still entertaining audiences almost two decades later.

The PR professional that I am, I started thinking “what makes a legend?” Here is a man who has been capturing audiences all over the world since the 1960’s and 70’s. He is a super-super star. While many other younger “wannabe’s” have managed to rise to No. 1 on the charts and then, almost just as quickly, faded from existence, this man has continued to surpass them all.

What is his secret? How has he become a legend?  There were three things that automatically came to mind about the celebrity:

  1. He is not afraid of controversy – the fact that he was performing in Israel was a case in point
  2. He is always innovative – he stays relevant to his fans
  3. He sets his own trends – he is not a follower but rather creates his own style

I contemplated other entertainment legends such as Jack Nicholson, Shirley McLain and Bruce Willis, for amongst other reasons,  I had the honor of meeting the publicists who made them famous. I wondered if there was one quality that all these entertainment legends share? Dale C. Olson, a PR entertainment guru summed it up when describing Shirley McLain, “She may not remain number one at the box office, but she will always remain a personality and a star.”  The reason he gave was that there are certain celebrities that always stick to their values. They gain credibility and are careful not to overdo it.

How do we translate this into business terms?

The corporate world too, has its fair share of “Corporate Legends”. Coca Cola, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Cadbury’s, Nestle, Johnson and Johnson, The Walt Disney Company and more come to mind. These are companies that leave legacies behind them. They not only have created brand names but they have impacted and influenced society and often created entire cultures of their own. What is their secret? Perhaps it, too, is the fact that they create corporate values and stick to them. Walmart, another “Corporate Legend” which grew from a single discount store more than 50 years ago to become the world’s largest retailer, states on its website that they have a strict culture of ethics and integrity.

Israel has its portion of national “Corporate Legends”. I believe, though, that the country has the potential to create many more that will create not only a local impact, but leave profound marks on the world. There is certainly no shortage of innovation. Geopolitically, there is no lack of controversy either. Perhaps what is lacking is the courage to stand up regardless of the controversy, or perhaps the audacity to try and lead and not just follow. As Israeli companies continue to make a difference worldwide, the three basic beliefs of Walmart should never be disregarded. Those include: respect for the individual; service to the customer; and striving for excellence.

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