barbers don’t cut their own hair

A quick follow up thought to my post last week about a PR firm’s debacle

  • Barbers don’t cut their own hair.
  • The cobbler’s children have no shoes.
  • A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.
  • And marketers do a poor job of marketing themselves. In fact, they stink at it.

Your ad, PR, or marketing firm should develop a reciprocal agreement with another similar sized shop that is not a local competitor.

The immediate gain could be a mutual sounding board and critic of current client outreach programs. Each PR firm, ad agency, or marketing shop could even create self-promotional content for the other one. This content would be fresh and exciting even for employees since they wouldn’t have gotten tired of it when they created it. It’s like having someone else make a sandwich for you. It’s better.

But the real reason you should create this reciprocal agreement today is for your impending disaster.

A smart marketer would never suggest that a client handle their own crisis communication. But marketers are more than willing to dig deeper holes for themselves.

Set up an agreement and plan that lets the other agency take over your corporate communications when you hit the panic button. Maybe even hold a social media fire drill.

Your crisis partner will have an objective view because when the crisis hits you won’t be able to see the forest for the trees.

social media math

This post is not about the numbers. It’s about common sense.

It doesn’t really matter how many followers you have or what your Klout score is — just as long as you’re using those social media channels to engage your target market, drive traffic, make money, or whatever you’re wanting to do with it.

But.

There are currently ALOT of marketing and ad “agencies” who are feeling the traditional crunch and have turned to showing their clients the social media ropes.

The trouble is that, just like the fact that ad agencies don’t know how to maintain a website, advertising agencies also have poor social media presences.

As he has been cyber job stalking, Jetpacks has found several agencies that are AWOL on Twitter

…two “leading” Orlando agencies, or so their sites would have you believe – though I have my doubts about one of them, whose Twitter account hasn’t been updated since October. You can’t really talk about how adept you are in the “social media space” when you don’t use it yourselves.

Realistically, when you’re searching for professional social media help, you do need to look at the numbers and who those numbers represent. If an “agency” only has 198 followers and you subtract their staff, their buddies, their mother, and the spammers, they may only have a few real followers. And yet they are out beating the drums and saying they have all the answers.

Of course, the trouble is that you have people buying cars who don’t know how to drive. People hiring these agencies don’t know how to properly kick the tires to make sure they’re not getting taken. They don’t have the knowledge base to understand they’re hiring someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

This doesn’t affect all agencies. There are several shops who are doing really good work in the social media space and are helping their clients do the same. But there are some agencies who really need to take social off their list of services and outsource it until they understand how to do it themselves. If they don’t, clients will eventually figure it out and the firm will lose all the business.

What do you think?

the new principles of Advertising

Do you know someone who needs a better understanding of the “new” world of media, advertising, and PR? From 24-Jan to 13-May, I’ve been asked to teach an online course on the Principles of Advertising for Western Kentucky University.

Officially, the JOUR341 class at Western is “a survey course in the fundamental principles and practices of advertising including study of the techniques of creating advertisements, functions of advertising agencies, budgets, media selection, research and other topics”.

And we’ll do all that; but with an emphasis on the next generation of media and marketing including social, mobile, and more. We’ll also discuss traditional media’s place in a digital world and how traditional media and methods can be adapted to a new media mindset.

For a synopsis of the mindset of this class, take a look at this Nov-2010 Fast Company article: www.fastcompany.com/magazine/151/mayhem-on-madison-avenue It will be one of the first reading assignments.

My class is one of three courses offered by the WKU School of Journalism and Broadcasting though a new initiative called Ad+PR Online. (press release) As it’s an online course, it’s built to be a convenient way for professionals or businesspeople to get current on their media and marketing skills without missing work. Class participants will build on the work experience they have and further their knowledge in an area that is not only applicable, but also essential for business success in today’s recovering economy.

Sound good? You can find more info at www.wkufusion.com or by emailing cliff.shaluta AT wku dot edu. You can also search for CRN 21814 or JOUR-341-700 in the WKU TopNet scheduling system (spring 2011)

I’m still working on the syllabus, but I’ll post here when I get it worked out.

do as they say not as they do

Q. — As a general rule, what industry (as a whole) has the worst web sites?
A. — Ad Agencies.

I’ve noticed most agency web sites have a few common characteristics:

  • Rule #1: Flash!
  • Staff / Management Bios: Wacky, fun, and meaningless. There is a über-creative photo of the person pretending to have fun.
  • Site Navigation: Not at the top, bottom, left, or right. In order to click around to the other pages on the site, you’ll need to take a bus to another location.
  • Contact Info: Phone numbers, emails, etc hidden on the most illogical page possible.
  • Office Pictures: Two ways to go here. 1) If it’s an “agency” of one guy with a Mac in his bedroom, then you’ll see some creative use of stock photography. 2) If it’s a real “agency”, the wackiness continues with pics of the foosball table, the aquarium, and the video game area to show potential clients how their billable hours are being wasted while creativity happens.
  • Philosophy: Starts off with “We’re a new type of agency.” and the rest is filled with meaningless jargon and buzzwords.
  • I don’t think we can say it enough: Flash!
  • Portfolio: Just a few logos. Maybe a shot of an ad. The ROI is never mentioned. This link is always called “the work”
  • Blogs: All staff members seem to take turns “writing posts” by copying / summarizing chapters out of the advertising textbooks they couldn’t sell back to their college bookstore.
  • Content: It seems everyone shot down everyone else’s ideas until there was no content left
  • Timeliness: Site is never updated. (except for every few years when the whole thing is torn down and replaced with something similar.) Rinse. Repeat.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Your thoughts?

UPDATE: I published this just a few hours before CP+B launched their new agency site. Looks interesting. http://beta.cpbgroup.com/

cyprus snail spam

I’ve been getting alot of pitches lately in the inbox. (You know, because I’m such an A-lister.) But while the spinmeisters sending the email are working hard to find marketing/business blogs, they’re not putting much effort into the actual pitches. Instead of the stale monotony of a data merge form email, it’s typically the stale monotony of a perky intern trying to garner my goodwill.

Most of the time, you can tell they’ve never visited the blog because they’ve gotten some basic obvious fact about me or the blog wrong — or because the product they’re pitching is not even related to the topics I normally cover. But, of course, most pr and ad agencies make money on efforts not results. Some agency or marketing firm has blown smoke up some client’s oriface by ensuring that they can get blog coverage of thier product, book, etc so they just spam every blogger hoping to strike one eventually. (look! we can work the social media web2.0 buzzword train!)

I’m used to it in the email inbox, but not my postal one. Imagine my surprise today when I open my spider-infested mailbox and I have a letter from Cyprus, the small eastern Mediterranean island country where they like to center-justify their address fields.

The letter inside is a pitch for some dvd training system for speakers and lost me after about the first paragraph. But I opened it and looked at it (which is an essential step in any direct marketing campaign).

I suggest all these PR agencies trying to get blog coverage start doing this. Instead of setting up a bunch of interns in a cubicle farm and spamming bloggers, why not send them all to an island nation (Malta, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago) and have them send us postal pitches?

It might work.

(and btw — I am always looking for something to write/blog about. If you have a relevant well thought out pitch and want to reach my millions billions of engaged readers who are all innovators and early adopters, send it along. And seriously, if you’re one of the readers who wants me to take on a topic, please email me. I’m starting to get blogger’s block.)

look at me!!!

So Firebrand failed. That’s amazing. Hard to believe that people don’t want to watch a show or web channel that has nothing but ads.

In several of my marketing talks, I make the implicit point that no one cares about your marketing except you. And the only people who actually look for ads are the people paying for them and the people who sell them.

But for some reason, many companies feel that their advertising is an entertainment source. Visit a company’s web site and see a big flashy-blinky that says “Click to view our latest TV commercial!” Companies upload their spot to the Google Tubes and think they’re offering substance. Of course, you know the idea du jour. Stagger in like a greasy used care salesman in a blog, try to be my “friend” on Facebook, or crash some other private party.

Sure, people are interested in advertising and become ad experts around the time of the “big game”. But for the most part, people try to avoid “advertising”. What people want is answers to their problems. And sometimes advertising shows them an answer. But most advertising I see is undirected and loud — and not really concerned about connecting with the right people.

Stop advertising and start providing answers to your customers’ problems. And you might have to do that through a print ad or a TV spot. Just remember that people are concerned about the message — not the messenger.

Fewer Unpopped Kernels

You’re an agency and you’ve just landed the Orville Redenbacher popcorn account. During the brainstorm session, someone says “Let’s have Orville Redenbacher in the spots!” Don’t let the fact that he died 11 years ago stop you.

CP+B apparently aren’t content with just having the Burger King creep you out while watching the teevee. Now they’ve re-animated Orville Redenbacher.


Yes. Re-animated. They’re using “cutting edge technology” to stick him in the spots. Apparently, it’s the same technology Andrew McCarthy used in “Weekend at Bernies”

There’s a backlash…and here…and here…and here…and basically all over.

Using a “real” person as the core of your brand will eventually hurt you….because while the company may live forever…people don’t.

The company that has pulled off a “re-animation” is Kentucky Fried Chicken. While John Y Brown milked The Colonel for all he was worth while he was alive…Pepsico, Tricon, Yum!, etc really used him up. The cartoon-hipster-Randy-Quaidish Colonel image is nothing like Harland.

And that’s eventually what will happen to Orville Redenbacher…and Dave Thomas….and Dr. Z…oh…wait.