Flirting with Transparency

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Joe's Life, Social Media, Work and Play
Tags: , , , ,

I am a huge flirt. Flirting is fun and exciting but sometimes it can get you in hot water.  I’ve known the love of my life for as long as I can remember but in February the dynamic of our relationship changed and I struggled to find the best way to move forward.

The first time I saw her, the only word I could muster was a slightly muted “Wow.” She’s stylish with a sleek body, she carries a freedom that can’t be replicated and when she goes out no man can resist staring. If you’ve meet me in real life chances are pretty good that you know that I’m not talking about a girl, I’m talking about a motorcycle.

I fully support anyone that rides and most motorcycles are awesome but I have a special place in my heart for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. My “aspiration bike” is 2011 Fat Bob with a denim black scheme, blacked out engine and as little chrome as possible.  The 96 cubic inch Twin Cam can tear up the road and the seat is just big enough for an attractive female to hop on back and wrap her arms around me.


Modeling for the Fall MotorClothes catalog during the early 90s.


My love for Harleys started at a very young age because Papa Piehl works for Harley-Davidson and my immersion into the culture started before I was born. Growing up a fair number of my vacations were in the same city as a Harley event and when I was about six months old I posed for my first Fall MotorClothes catalog. My excitement for the brand strengthened with time and one of my proudest accomplishments is earning my motorcycle license before my driver’s license. If that weren’t enough, in college I spent a couple summers as a service advisor for Milwaukee Harley-Davidson.

It’s easy to see why I’m an advocate for the brand and why I’m excited to work on the Weber Shandwick account team for Harley-Davidson.* But at the same time it posed a problem for me in regards to transparency on Twitter: What is the best way to balance my love for the brand with the work I am doing for them?

Transparency is an important issue to me, the agency and the Federal Trade Commission because fake online reviews are everywhere. This made part of my answer was easy: If I’m doing something for work, tell people it’s a work project. There are a variety ways to be transparent and it’s not tough to add a disclaimer in a blog post or tag a tweet “client” or “employer.”  This is something our digital team has always told us and is a large part of our digital guidelines.


My normal going out clothes.


The challenge arrived when I wanted to share online articles regarding H-D announcements or an event Papa Piehl was attending (a.k.a. The Maxim Hot 100 Party, the annual rally in Sturgis in South Dakota, etc.). Since the company has a knack for stellar events and radical bikes, I decided the best way to navigate this gray zone is to ask the question: Would I re-tweet or talk about this if Harley-Davidson wasn’t a client?

Nine out of ten times the answer is yes because I’ll be talking about Harley-Davidson motorcycles regardless of where I work and what happens in my life. Now if only I can justify the Harley tattoo I’ve been thinking about…



p.s. As I mentioned above, there are many ways to be transparent. My dilemma was specifically related to Twitter but a tactic you can use to be transparent in multiple social media channels is to say where you work in your bio. If you say you’re the CEO of XYZ or the Marketing Assistant for ABC you will eliminate some questions when you mention your employer or one of their products.

*Sorry folks, no nepotism here. Papa Piehl does not work in the Motor Company’s Communication Department and I spent more than 16 months as a full time employee in our Corporate Affairs practice before I was offered a position to join the H-D account team.

    • Joe says:

      This is awesome Rob. I always wondered how scooters and smaller bikes made a stop light change. Watch your FB profile… I own you a response and it’s coming tonight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s