First The Surfing Meme, Now MMA? What Is Zuckerberg’s PR Team Up To?

If you spend any amount of time online, there’s a good chance you have seen it… Mark Zuckerberg released a video of himself training in MMA. He made news when he threw a couple of rapid-fire strikes followed by a low kick. – Very much the right practice for the fast-paced world of mixed martial arts: using your hands to set up that all-important low kick.  

If you have never trained in MMA, chances are you will not think much of a low kick. But if you have trained, then you know. Basically, there are a few MMA moves that can actually take your soul and this is one of them.

Since Zuckerberg is posting this video to social media, it begs the question: Is this new move born out of a legitimate interest and respect for the sport? Or is it simply a planned PR move? And, if it was a planned PR stunt to garner more fans for Zuckerberg, why not choose a better piece of content to publish?

Did Mark Zuckerberg’s PR Team Learn Anything From The Wake-surfing Video?

A lot of people are wondering why Mark would want to start releasing videos of himself training in MMA. It seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? This comes as a big surprise considering how the infamous “wake surfing video” released in 2020 became instant meme candy for a solid year.

Some people think he could be trying to catch some of the same glamour that Bezos did when he came out with that new and improved “finely-ironed singles body”. (A large transformation from the desk nerdy CEO we have always known.) Between his new wife, new body, and new terminator sunglasses, one would not recognize the new Bezos! Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg is attempting a similar transformation.

Others think he may be trying to prove his masculinity through sport, or attempting to combat those that think he has none. Perhaps he’s simply trying to express interest in the sport for the sake of his company to help pave the way for potential contracts between Meta/Facebook and UFC.

Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: Zuckerberg’s PR team seems to believe the old saying “no publicity is bad publicity”. But when it comes to trying to boost his public approval ratings, one has to wonder why the bar is set so low for the content he releases to the world.

What happens when you hire an army of yes-men for your PR team?

When we are going to release something to the public – especially if it’s something that we are not very skilled at – what do we do first? We usually ask a friend for their opinion, right? Usually, it’s something along the lines of, “Hey, do I look cool in this?” If they say yes? it’s on!

However, when you are a billionaire, you don’t usually ask a friend for honest and subjective advice to help you determine the best PR moves. Instead, you use your public relations firm. When you have a PR team, you might ask them something like, “how will releasing this to the public improve or affect my image?”

Public relations firms can be a huge asset for high-profile businesses and individuals. Still, if you PR teams are yes men they aren’t going to give you the kind of brutal advice that your friends, family, or close colleagues will give you.

Now, if I were Mark’s PR guy, I would tell him right away that while MMA is a sport that is amazing for stress and great for entrepreneurs, it’s probably better to keep to the humble nature of its true martial arts roots.

In other words, I would advise against posting the video. I would look toward positive PR actions to improve the CEOs profile and therefore the company as a whole.

Yet, if you ask a yes-man who stands to gain millions of dollars regardless of the decision, they might say “Mark you have to release this, you look awesome! – This is going to gain you huge PR points!”

You may not know this, but statistically, Mark is not well-liked by the world. One recent poll shows him as having a 20% favorability rating. So, it seems that Mark could really use some positive PR.

What can we learn about PR Strategies from history?

When the Mark Zuckerberg MMA training video was released, I couldn’t help but notice some parallels in history. I was immediately drawn to the history of Ancient Rome. There was yet another powerful figure who was seeking to gain increased approval from the masses by means of brute sport – enter Emperor Commodus.

Some of you may remember Emperor Commodus depicted in the movie Gladiator by Joaquin Phoenix. The truth be told about Commodus, he basically cheated to win in the arena. In other words, he was not a truly skilled or honorable gladiator. Oftentimes the other Gladiators would simply let him win for fear of facing the wrath of the Emperor. Whether it was a real gladiatorial contest or just practice, he had zero mercy for his opponents and would usually kill them.

In fact, Commodus readily maintained a list of people to kill. Some are believed to be people who knew his awful true gladiator nature. When these people found out about the list, they knew they were doomed unless Commodus met his demise – and eventually, he did.

I am often curious why powerful or high-profile people don’t pay more attention to the rules learned throughout history. Trying to win popularity did not work out so well for Commodus. Did Mark really think that it would work out so much better for him?

Conclusion: Mark Zuckerberg Vs. Winklevoss Twins?

Maybe the lesson to be learned here is we need to be more careful about being surrounded by yes people. I do not see how Mark’s newfound love of MMA will change his approval in the minds of anyone.

Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe Mark really does have a sincere interest in MMA. Maybe he isn’t trying to use the sport as a way to gain popularity points or for some other dishonorable means.

If that’s the case, I think we can all agree… Maybe it’s finally time for a Winklevoss twin vs. Mark Zuckerberg showdown.

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