“Serving at the Pleasure”: On “Blue Bloods” and Content Marketing
As I’ve shared many times, I’m a bit of a TV geek, and one show I never miss is CBS’ Blue Bloods. Sure, at its core it’s your basic cops-and-courts show — albeit with an interesting family dynamic — but I can always count on the writers to interject some lovely storytelling nuances that keep me coming back for more.
One of those elements involves the precarious waltz of influence between New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (played by Tom Selleck, right) and Mayor Carter Poole, played by David Ramsey. About every fourth or fifth episode, an issue comes about that strains the duo’s relationship to the point where Frank’s continued service comes into question.
Whenever the mayor asks whether he intends to resign, Frank’s response is always the same:
“I serve at the pleasure of the mayor.”
“Serving at the pleasure.” It’s a quaint phrase, one deeply rooted in the British and American political cultures. (True language geeks can check out William Safire’s column on its history.)
I like that line. It embodies Frank’s old-fashioned sense of political duty (and yes, the post of police commissioner is a political appointment), while subtly capturing the nature of the relationship. Note that he doesn’t say “I’ll do whatever you want” or “You have the ultimate authority.”
No, he says, “I serve at the pleasure of the mayor.” My preferred translation of the line is “You can fire me anytime you want, whether I deserve it or not. Do with that power what you will.”
It gets me thinking about our responsibility as content marketers to our audiences.
We too “serve at the pleasure” of an external authority. We don’t have to do everything our audience tells us, but we must always be mindful of the fact that they can “fire” us anytime they please.
And while firing a police commissioner is complex process, our audience can show us the door with a single click or tap.
Sometimes when I work with new clients, they’re at a loss for what they could possibly blog about … because they’re only thinking about their product or service. “How many blog posts can we squeeze out of one product line?” they ask.
It takes a little education to show them how successful content marketers turn the tables: Our content is not about us; it’s about the owner of the eyeballs on the other side of the screen.
It has to be.
In other words, we serve at our audience’s pleasure, not our own.
So the next time you look at your content, ask yourself and your team “Are we serving at the pleasure of our audience? Does this content make them want to continue their relationship with us … or give us our walking papers?”
The answers may surprise you.
About the Author
A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).
As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations. To learn more, download our complimentary audio 5 Things You Must Know About Content Marketing.
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