Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just Stop

For the second time in nine months, I was courted by one of the major PR firms in Washington, DC to lead and build a Digital practice (needing a "visionary" as one of the execs told me, "someone to teach us Greek" said another) only to be told it was going with someone more "tactically focused," i.e. cheaper.

Now I'm not sure that the position in either instance was an ideal fit, and all of us who are veterans in the online space have "tail wagging the dog" war stories. But it occurred to me that even in 2007, my recent experience is all too familiar, and perhaps I can help reduce, if not eliminate, these pesky scenarios.

First, it's all right to come clean, in fact, it would be refreshing. Spare us the charade and own up - we know you really don't want to do this. Admit that you're too scared, unwilling or out of touch to embrace Digital channels as major components of your businesses. But please, I beg you please, do us all a favor and stop blathering in your jargon-filled speeches, poorly designed Web sites and cookie-cutter press releases about your commitment to Digital marketing and media when you are in no way willing to invest in the disciplines. It's not a secret that you don't want to hire legitimate talent or re-assign budget to upgrade your technological capabilities. Focus on playing caretaker to your dying conventional practices, which haven't changed for decades. Just get out of the way and please discontinue doing the following:

For Senior Management in Traditional Media -

  • Stop awarding your Digital Executive positions to toe-the-line internal cronies who have spent the past 20 years strictly on the traditional side.

  • Stop prefacing every idea about pursuing a Digital initiative with the question: "But what will this do to the mother ship?"

  • Stop telling us you're working on becoming "truly platform agnostic" when you have no appreciation for the speed at which you need to move.

  • Stop disavowing the insights of Jeff Jarvis and Dave Morgan.

For Advertising Agencies & PR Firms -

  • Stop interviewing Digital leaders to join your company when all you only have the stomach and budget for is a non-threatening, junior-level department of one that you expect to perform miracles immediately.

  • Stop believing you can extend the classic bait-and-switch tactic of trying to land new business then staffing the account - when it comes to Digital the reverse is true.

  • Stop limiting your considerations for planning, executing and measuring Digital campaign performance because you can't grasp the value of providing best in class reporting.

  • Stop listening to Joseph Jaffe.

For Corporate Marketing Departments -

  • Stop treating the Digital channels, in which your prospects and customers are spending more time, as a moonlighting gig for your traditional marcom and media personnel.

  • Stop allowing inept Web Operations gatekeepers to dictate your online branding and user experience environment; this isn't a space for amateurs looking for on-the-job training.

  • Stop enabling the heroin-like addiction to bloated, unaccountable Direct Mail expenditure, as performance continues to plummet, because "I just know it works".

  • Stop ignoring the guidance of Bob Garfield.

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