So there’s this “newish” term that everybody seems to be using: LOL. What? Gosh, I didn’t know what it meant when a colleague at another agency used it instead of “sincerely” or “best.” LOL? Ok, I figured out what it meant (after asking, like a goofball) but I wasn’t sure I would be using it anytime soon. So, I guess the question is, LOL, is it appropriate for business???
It’s been cropping up everywhere. In my business correspondence, between friends, on all my social media platforms and on my favorite escapist blog/site Icanhascheezburger. They are, after all, LOL cats. And if you want to become one, you have to understand the LOL.
Let’s face it, everything has been getting far more familiar these days. From what we wear to work (jeans and more jeans) to how we speak to our boss (no more Miss, Mrs. or Mr.—often it’s just “hey you!”) to how comfortable we are sharing our personal details. Yep, I was out late on a drinking binge, you couldn’t possibly expect me to be in at 9AM. It is what it is. LOL takes the edge off. It’s the nice way of saying, “Hey, it’s all ok, we’ll work this out.” I guess LOL might just be good for business.
Politics happen, and it’s never any fun. It’s just what people do. They can’t help themselves. Since politics can be expected I’ve come up with a few simple rules to live by:
Don’t take sides (make sure to honorably stand by what you believe is right but make it clear that your opinion is an expert one, and not personality based)
- Keep your nose to the grindstone (good work will win out and if it doesn’t, there really isn’t anything you can do about it)
- Don’t take sides (make sure to honorably stand by what you believe is right but make it clear that your opinion is an expert one, and not personality based)
- Don’t promote yourself, allow your work to promote you (ok, if you’re in pr that seems like an oxymoronic statement, but it will keep the emphasis where it should be)
- Try not to take anything too personally (it’s HARD not to, but it is what it is)
- Don’t allow yourself to get too wrapped up (you’ll miss your next big opportunity—energy is a terrible thing to waste)
- Don’t be afraid to quit (if the working relationship is untenable then take one for the team)
Simple rules, but they work. The real key is to stop trying to control everything. Oh goodness, that is so hard for me, but it always works. Always!
Our agency is less than three years old. We’re a bit late to the game on the “win some awards” strategy. I realize it’s a really good thing to win awards for your work. I’m sure those agencies that do win deserve it. But, what I realize is that this is almost a full-time job. So, before we embarked on our quest for awards I really did some assessing. Is it worth it? Does it really matter? Do potential clients really care?
I do think coming up with the Dove “Real Women” campaign (Edelman) deserves all the awards it has won. But do clients really care? Because ultimately that’s what you do it for, the potential clients… Here’s the thing—I’m not sure. We’re going to do a little survey and see what the sentiment is out there. I do think showing great case studies to potential clients is the best way to showcase your work. But throw in an award, could that tip the balance? I suspect we’re going to go for it. We have some kick-butt WOM campaigns that are really moving the needle for our clients and could be good fodder for the award cycle. Next stop? A Silver Anvil (it’s good to up the stakes!)!
I personally think a good-looking office is good for the people. After all, you have to go to this place everyday. Don’t you want to feel good about your destination? But what constitutes a good-looking office? Of course that is a hyper relative question.
I’m a bit (a BIG bit) of a neat freak so for me a good-looking office means a high level of organization. BUT, I don’t want my environment to feel like a hospital (that’s no fun). Many pr agencies I know are messy—we’re in the paper business. Plus, there’s always stuff (especially if you work with consumer products). So we have to work extra hard to make our environment neat (if that’s what we like). But it’s doable, especially if you “brainwash” your people into believing it’s critical for good business (of course it’s not).
So, we have white lacquered desks and clean bright colors. But we have an amazing chocolate brown seagrass wall-to-wall carpet (excellent for disguising coffee drips and the like) that helps create a bit of warmth. And here’s the good news: The teams really seem to like it. I think the environment helps them feel good about coming in every morning. So, for obvious reasons, I am a fan of the good-looking office. And it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg (just be creative!).
Our company represents several companies that have excellent products for an excellent price—especially in this economy. Alas, some we cannot promote (for various reasons) but the concept got me thinking. In a time when the “value” message continues to reign, what really is an affordable indulgence and does it really matter…
Well, of course it does! I don’t care who you are everyone is looking to save, but indulging oneself will never go out of style. For those brands that promote their products as an affordable indulgence (and this we know is relative—Jeep vs Hummer = affordable indulgence) making their mark has never been more important.
So what would be an affordable indulgence? A little, delicious piece of chocolate? Yep, that’s rates high for moi! A new lipstick? Sure thing! Can’t afford the dress, but hey I can change up my look with a new red shade. How about a food processor? What? Well, start saving and cook at home, but bypass the frozen dinner and try to “out rival” your local restaurant with your own recipes. What’s the ultimate affordable indulgence? Love, but that’s another story altogether…
As a communications agency with a heavy focus on public relations (and now Word of Mouth!) it’s been interesting to watch the morphing of various disciplines within this space. I really enjoyed the TBS original production “Mad Men.” What a time that was, forget the martinis, just a ton of (mainly) male ego on the loose. I’ve worked with a lot of agencies in my day, and I can tell you that heady sense of righteousness still exists. I think you need to live a little on the edge to get out there and sell advertising “stories.” It’s part of the gig, and that’s ok with me. But things are changing, and the corner office television commercial machine is changing with the times too.
Very weird. Newspapers are going out of business. The Boston Globe, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Minneapolis Stare Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Detroit News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Daily News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Stalwarts of local news and views, these trusty sources of information are beginning to die away. I even remember when some big cities could support two newspapers (New York still does in its own way: The New York Post, New York Daily News and THE NEW YORK TIMES, among others…) The information age is taking it’s toll on newsprint. People want their news when they want it. And that means if a story is developing they want to follow the developments, minute by minute. When the plane came down in the Hudson I went online and watched in real time what was happening (courtesy of CNN). Meanwhile, Twitter got the story first—an interesting development for a social media platform. One could probably smell a bit of doom for the papers when their own writers were skipping off to do blogs (just to keep the news fresh, plus REALLY express a thought or opinion). In a time when the world is shifting so dramatically maybe readers want opinions and not just unbiased news. Maybe they want to know what other people are thinking… The rise of the blog would suggest this sentiment.
I’ve always found newspapers unwieldy, dirty hands making and a waste of paper. Not that the information in the pages isn’t important and in fact is one of the best things about a free society. But the actual paper itself is a bit of a pain to deal with. Getting news online is fast and doesn’t kill a tree. BUT, people (myself included) enjoy the prospect of actually having something “in hand.” I’m a sentimentalist by nature. I will almost always default to emotional attachments. So when a paper goes down, no matter how messy or irritating it is to read, I’m going to feel a pang of nostalgia. But time is moving on and things are going to keep changing (and fast!)
I just had a phone call the other day with a friend who is a VP at a big, very successful public relations agency. We met many, many years ago when she was an account executive at a boutique agency in NYC where I worked as a receptionist. We were sharing some stories and we started comparing client campaigns (without proprietary details, mind you, but general concepts around Word of Mouth campaigns and Hollywood promotional partnerships.) Their agency works with some great brands and I told her I had a new business platform I wanted to pitch her. But she interrupted me and said, “don’t tell me your idea, I might steal it.”
Business is competitive. No duh. I really like my friend. She’s super smart and wildly funny, she’d be a great co-worker—she’s incredibly collaborative and really quick
on her feet. I love shooting the breeze with her, but she’s right. You do have to be careful what you share. Especially when you’re in the same biz. And honestly, that’s a bummer. It got me thinking about detritus of competitiveness. Lost allegiances and the like. Being competitive is exciting but it’s always anti-climatic and kind of mean spirited. Someone is always losing. Ok, this is going to sound ridiculous, I know it, but imagine a world where everyone wins. God, who is reading this! Maybe a world where we all can live in peace (ok, now I’m being silly!) But, for just a moment after my convo with my friend I wanted the competitive nature of our industry to disappear. And just for once I wanted every agency that was up for the new, hot cosmetic brand to win the business. What an idea. What a silly, sweet idea.
SHOULD YOU LET YOUR EMPLOYEES HAVE FREE REIGN OF THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTIONS? I think so, but then we’re a communications agency so it’s in the blood…Submitted by Valerie Donati on Thu, 06/04/2009 - 22:36
Truth be told, we have a manageable company. Meaning, if I let my peeps run hog wild with their favorite social media pastimes, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc. I can keep a pretty good handle on their productivity, or lack thereof. Well, I can’t, but my VPs can and they do. And here’s the thing for us: there is no lack of productivity. In our business if things aren’t happening it’s obvious pretty darn soon. And then we all know what happens. Heads roll (ok, not really, but it can get intense.)
Ok, in this economy jobs can be hard to come by. So, holding onto your top talent may not be nearly as difficult as it was only a year ago. After all, finding another job is not all that easy right now, especially a good one. The golden handcuff concept is also something to consider when looking to retain top talent. Pay them so well they can’t find another job for that kind of salary. But how much fun is this for you or your employee. In the end, it just starts to feel smarmy.
Here’s what I think works (and it does contain a bit of the above)
- Let them know you care (because if you don’t, why should they care about working for you?)
- Remember, it’s not a lot of fun at the bottom, so be nice, and take some of the junior staff out for lunch every now and then (you can learn ALL kinds of things about what is really going on out there—and a lot of what you learn can help you be a better boss)
- Let your leaders lead (there is nothing as irritating as the micro managing boss- we’ve all had them. They suck)
- Give your people credit for their ideas and hard work, but don’t make everyone else feel like they’re schlumps because they haven’t had a good idea lately.
- DON’T pit people against each other. What a BAD idea.
- DO pay well if you can (everyone needs the money these days)
And yes, DO kiss a little butt if necessary. Good people are hard to come by, even in a tough economy.