For most of us in the communications/pr world, Cision is THE go-to destination for insider info, great media lists and a wealth of archival press placements. Look, someone had to do it, and Cision did. They have their own blog dedicated to helping communications professionals navigate the evolving media landscape. Honestly, this might feel a bit “insidery” (not a word, I know), but this blog is GOOD. Great writers, great insight, and great cross-section of viable references and resources. If you’re in my business, or anything vaguely related I strongly suggest that you check it out!
RotorBlog is a blog founded by Maris Dagis in 2006 that focuses on social networks and online communications. Dagis (from Riga, Latvia—now that is a country I’d like to visit!) started this blog to provide the LATEST in Web 2.0 news and startup reviews (according to his blog). The blog reaches 160k readers a month (are you one of them?). It’s a great resource for anyone that uses the Internet to communicate, which sounds like a crazy understatement since WHO, honestly, doesn’t use the Internet to communicate these days… But, be that as it may, this is a fab place to stay up on what's trending now. So check it out!
As a communications agency that does a whole lot of things that could be called marketing (and always has, even when it wasn’t popular), I started thinking about changing the way we positioned ourselves. Should we be a “marketing” agency? With the advent of WOM and the launch of our Consumer Engagement Marketing division and the various ways in which we help our clients build their brands, not only through awareness but also via business development strategies, it just seemed a natural evolution. Until I started really thinking about it… In the IMC process, the agency lineup generally includes advertising, pr, digital, cp and media buying. Not marketing, so much. To re-position your company as a marketing firm might just make it difficult to pitch yourself. Today, specializing might be the best thing to do. But specializing doesn’t mean you have to only do one thing, not really. If you are a communications agency you can add in business development when needed, or brand alliances, or even online viral marketing and content ideation. If you’re a media-buying agency you can come up with brand building platforms that reach well beyond what is considered your scope of work. Advertising agencies are definitely dipping down into digital in way they haven’t in the past. It’s all a big mix, which makes the case that a “marketing” agency could encompass all of these things and have a great place to live. But, I still think it just might be a case of all things to all people, but still a master of none…
Just a thought. We’re sticking with communications, albeit pr on steroids.
I used to represent a man that I personally feel is one of the most creative, most intelligent individuals in the advertising and branding business. He had this incredible handle on popular culture and historical references. He could connect past movements in film, photography and art with current trends and bring them to life in advertising campaigns that would resonate without you ever really understanding why.
I always enjoyed talking to him because I knew I would learn something new, and because he inevitably validated things I was sensing but felt were too far “out there” to matter, at least at that time. Good trend watching keeps an eye on the near-ish future. Too far out, and you lose people. He was always super far out (while he was reaching back), but he was also able to keep a finger on that emerging trend that was just about ready to bubble into the collective consciousness.
Anyway, what’s the point? In our business it’s critical that we are able to put our ideas and concepts into cultural context. I remember back in the late ‘80s on Miami Beach when a heady mix of visual artists, poets and performance artists populated the seaside town. My friends and I did an event every Thursday night at a theater on Washington to promote artists. When I told my quite a bit older boyfriend at the time what we were doing he smiled that sweet, slightly condescending smile that I find I smile these days as I’ve grown older, and informed me that our event was known as a “happening” circa 1968. Okay, nothing new under the sun. But it reminded me that what you don’t know can hurt you… In our business that’s a fact, so if you’re in communications do your homework. My mother always teased me when I was young because I was enamored with old movies, the Beatles, Che Guevara, the Civil War (not to mention the Etruscans and The Lord of The Rings). But I’m glad I spent time looking back, it’s helped me to be a better communicator today.
I’m actually not with the band, but love the sentiment. Imagine popping around the country with some hot guys in a bus (hmmm, could skip the bus part). What is the allure of the traveling rock band? Maybe it’s just not caring about tomorrow, letting your hair down, you know? I haven’t done that in a long time and I was never really great at just letting go—but growing up in Miami meant there was actually plenty of opportunity to hang out with all kinds of interesting characters. Anyway, what has this got to do with communications? It’s my theme for the week—don’t try too hard. What was always a little freaky for me back then was the idea of just losing control. But sometimes you have to let go to gain control. Simple, yes (it’s a theme I told you), but it works. So give it a whirl. And if your client gives you a hard time just tell them you’re giving up pr and taking up with the band. It will make them laugh, if nothing else.
Ok, I know it sounds insane to point out that as communications specialists we’re in the people business. Of course we are… but I honestly think, and especially with certain types of shops, that we often forget what our real assets are—people. Why is this the subject of a blog entry? Because everyday I have to remind myself of that fact.
So, who are the people? If you’re a communications practitioner you’re going to say the media, the clients, your employees and co-workers. And that’s 100% right. But there are also YOUR vendors, various cab drivers, the drycleaner, etc. Really? Well, think about it… running your own lifestyle PR business or just working in this industry can be HIGHLY stressful. All day long it’s our job to “convince” people to do things: write stories about our clients, trust our agency to give you good advice that you SHOULD take and NOW… this is stressful. It’s not always easy to convince anyone to do anything, just think about your own family and friends (how often do they do what you want them to do?). So what happens with all this stress? Well if you’re not a saint (and if you work with me you KNOW that I am not one to blithely pass things off to fate and lightly move on), then you might find that you are just a tad bit curt with your staff, not to mention the guy at the corner bodega.
So, here’s my point. Remember, you’re in it for the people. All that practicing you do, being polite when you’re irritated (yes, Mr. Cabdriver you really don’t need to jerk me all over the backseat) or holding your tongue when the super tells you that he can’t fix the toilet, will help you when your client refuses to take good advice (do magicians and diamonds really go together?) or when your employee screws up the call-in number for your new pitch (that you really need to sell in or you can’t hire that new person in LA). It all adds up in the end. Because if you do lifestyle PR and rep consumer brands like we do you might think it’s about the chocolate, but it’s really about the receptionist.