Over the Christmas break, after filming a rather hilarious “dad dance” sequence on my iPhone, I got to talking with some folks about the glory days of the personal digital assistant (PDA). My “wow, you’re old” moment came when I mentioned the Palm Pilot, which in the late 90s was the show-off executive gadget of choice. It stored your phone numbers (didn’t matter that it couldn’t actually dial them), allowed you to receive/send emails, organised your life and came with a nifty stylus.

Since then, Palm’s fortunes have waxed and waned. Smartphones are the kings of consumer gadgetry, with one brand looming quite large in our lives and general consciousness.

Since we’re now in the throes of another CES extravaganza, wizened tech industry PRs are probably looking back at the various bright, shiny objects (BSOs) they’ve launched over the years; perhaps with wistful nostalgia. Did their BSO change the world, become subsumed, or suffer a crash landing?

This is all the more relevant because – although there are few really big shows like CES anymore –  there is treble the pressure for return on trade show investment.

One thing is for sure: it takes a village – literally – to prepare for the kinds of announcements we’re already seeing and will continue to see from CES. The output of energy devoted to product launches at CES could, I believe, power a small English village until Easter.

It’s bloody hard work. After a big product launch, what slings and arrows of outrageous PR fortune lie in wait? It takes a huge output of energy to shape a brand’s narrative and far less time to tear it asunder. That’s why, before any major launch, I always ask my clients if there are any skeletons hiding in the reputational closet…

So spare a thought and well-wishes to all the CES 2012 freshers and returning alumni, and especially all the PRs who keep the whole thing humming, well after the last delegate has left the building.

Is it time to shape your reputation?

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