happy morning rooster

When I was a teenager, I slept over my best friend’s house quite often. We’d have a grand time, and come morning, the large number of parrots her family kept as pets and I would wake up approximately around 6 a.m. They’d squawk happily, I’d read a book from my friend’s bookshelf and the rest of house would slumber peacefully until at least 10 am.

Not much has changed—no matter the circumstance, I’m ready to start my day by 7 a.m. What I try to avoid, however, when I reveal to someone that I naturally wake up early is having a superior attitude. I think we all know one of those people—that person who acts annoyingly incredulous that others enjoy sleeping in or have trouble waking up in the morning. “Really? I get so much done in the morning! You should change xyz habit and then you can be a morning person too! Haven’t you heard that morning people are overall happier and make more money than non-morning people?”

smug Nicole Richie

It’s the kind of attitude that reminds me of the marcomms strategies I hate, the ones in which a company can only talk about their strengths by disparaging the competition in a catty way. It’s especially prevalent on social media, where having a more casual attitude and tone is the norm—Wendy’s ribbing on McDonald’s and DiGiornio dogging Papa John’s on Twitter immediately come to mind.

I think engaging in this kind of goading is unfair, petty and distasteful. For one, it puts the recipient of the derision on the defensive, and almost forces them to respond in kind. And maybe that kind of “put down” PR was not in their plan (and it shouldn’t be).

Secondly—and this is really what reminds me of the smug morning people—why is it necessary to claim a trait about another company is a negative when discussing your strengths? Knowing how the competition operates and what they offer is a critical piece of defining an effective communications strategy, but only for figuring out how to own your differentiators. Talk about your key strengths of their own merit: “I am a morning person, and that works because I get to catch up on industry news before emails start rolling in.”

There’s simply no reason to add “I don’t get how anyone could be a night owl—they must never be able to read all of the newsletters they subscribe to!” at the end of that. Don’t be a smug morning person. Don’t be a Wendy’s.