Capitalizing on controversy.

I didn’t sit through MTV’s Video Music Awards last night, but I still know one of the themes of the night was Taylor Swift “forgiving” Kanye West for interrupting her acceptance speech last year when she won for Best Female Video.That’s because MTV played it as a headline hook for its awards show — and it worked.The hyped-up Swift-West interaction during last night’s show — shrouded in faux secrecy before the show — was a bit silly except, I suppose, to fans still upset because West grabbed the microphone from her a year ago.But there’s a serious point here for anyone interested in generating headlines — controversy can help sell your story at times.One of the most common mistakes companies make with their news releases is trying to avoid saying anything that could generate any controversy or criticism.  Much of the time all they really succeed in doing is assuring that what they have to say will be boring.  And, therefore, ignored.

If you want your message to get attention it has to have some kind of edge to it.  There has to be a reason the rest of us will notice it and find it interesting.

That doesn’t mean you have to be over the top the way West was when he grabbed the microphone.  It does mean you have to have something worth saying — and be willing to actually say it.

— Jerry Brown