After seven years of fawning profiles, it's hardly any surprise that Marc Benioff has grown confident in his public relations skills. Maybe over-confident. The puffed-up software mogul, in an astonishingly contemptuous interview with Forbes, advises the spoonfeeding of metaphors, fabricating stories to stay relevant, pretending to reporters that you care and seducing them with chocolate. You think I'm spinning? The quotes, with a few notes, are after the jump. The billionaire Salesforce CEO, though his online sales management app is performing so strongly that his public image doesn't really matter, would do well to disguise his manipulation of the media. From Sun Tzu's Art of War, Benioff's favorite book on strategy: "O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands."
Reporters are writers. They like to write stories with a protagonist, a villain and a plot. Journalists will use your metaphor in their story because they can't come up with one on their own. But, dude, let them pretend, at least, they came up with the narrative by themselves.
There's another golden rule: Never take anything personally... Of course, we all do. But you can't let it get to you. Which is why you set construction workers, the police and possibly even private investigators on a meek Wall Street Journal reporter who dared write about your mansion in Hawaii.
Even if you announce you're going to buy Apple, when really you aren't, that's OK. Do it because it will keep you relevant. Lie, you mean?
Reporters think I value my relationships with each of them. I have a list of 25 reporters I consider influential worldwide. I pay special attention to this group. I always answer their e-mails. You really think reporters are that easily flattered? Yes, probably right.
Everyone loves chocolate, so we mailed out chocolate—and the good stuff, not junk. People open our press kits for free chocolate. And the fancy dinners, invitations to the villa in Hawaii, and charity concerts in Manhattan.