Friday, May 30, 2008

A New Mission

Instead of only providing a monthly critique of insipid decisions in the digital media world, it dawned on me that I had to do more. But I was missing a catalyst, a rationale for posting more frequently. Well, today I am freshly inspired.

I'm announcing a new feature to the blog - "Affirmations for the Digital Amateur". Why am I embarking on this effort? After almost 15 years in online marketing and media, I felt it was my duty to supply much needed guidance to the truly clueless in our space. Who are these hapless souls? Not the junior-level staff members busting their collective asses every day. No, the beneficiaries will be the Directors and VPs granted ownership of some piece of digital P&L despite not having any experience in the field and amazingly are asked to manage a staff. Enjoy.

Affirmation for Friday, May 30th -The Right Way to Build Your Team

  • Your team is a reflection of you, so build your team in your own image. As such, you want to aim for incompetent sycophants. Getting someone who is either worthless or a toady will suffice, but the real trick is landing staffers who display strength in both traits.

  • Avoid hiring people who've actually worked in your same industry. What insight or value could they possibly provide? All information on the business, no matter how banal or trite, must be filtered through you. Play the wild card. For example, if you need a seasoned consumer e-commerce Telecom veteran, what better source than a B2B chemical company to fill the role?

  • Conversely, having ambitious, experienced talent on your team will only slow you down. With their work ethic, and history of delivering results, naturally you'll feel threatened. Do your best to marginalize their impact. If they're smart, they will find more compelling work outside of the intelligence-sapping environment you've built.

  • If these interlopers continue to make progress in spite your ineptitude, then every communication to them from you should be a lie. Dishonesty is the only way to maintain your relevancy to the organization. Take credit for their innovations. Hang them out to dry with other internal departments. Promise to go to bat for them, and then bad-mouth them to anyone who will listen, even after they've left your team.

Next: Picking the Right Vendors - The Objective Way to Advance your Education

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Definition of "Clown Show"

Sorry for the long absence. There have almost been too many items to chime in on. For the record, I believe Yahoo caves and will ultimately be very grateful for the MSFT offer in light of Q1's numbers. Take AOL's implosion to the bank - cue Bugsy Siegel trying to sell 300% of the Flamingo. And I'm curious if Michael Barrett was spending most of his time at FIM herding cats - he's too smart to sit by and let the pezzonovante dictate his fate.

Speaking of which, I've observed, and started to chuckle in disbelief, at the gyrations underway at Tribune in the face of massive financial challenges. And despite the death spiral well underway at NYT, Gannett and McClatchy, you've got to hand it to a firm that hands off its digital strategy to half a dozen exiles from a dying medium WHO HAVE ABSOLUTLEY NO ONLINE EXPERIENCE. Who decreed Clear Channel as the Wharton for Interactive? Point me to a business in the online arena that Randy Michaels has salvaged, let alone turned a profit. This debacle will reach cartoon-like proportions and the Tribune employees footing the bulk of the bill should start penning B-School case studies of what not to do.

But more broadly, I have to throw the flag on this most deadly of combinations here: arrogance and ignorance. It is phenomenally insulting for those of us who have been in online media for 10+ years that admitted amateurs are given the authority, and $250k+ salaries, to navigate and determine policy through the digital landscape. The CCU pipeline must be frothing at the mouth like free agents signing with the Redskins - nod along and get paid BIG. Yet ask yourself this question: would the reverse be at all possible? Will Sam Zell annoint of a VP from Digitas or Google with the role of running his printing presses? More re-arranging of deck chairs...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Build vs. Bureaucracy; 3 Good Bets

Wow - what a week.

Sean Finnegan leaves OMD for Vibrant Media.

Nick Pahade jumps to GSI Commerce from Publicis.

Chris Saridakis is given the reins at Gannett Digital.

Giants make the Superbowl! Sorry, I digress...but I LOVE the GMen to cover +12.

My hat is off to these leaders in the Digital media space taking on new, and in one case monumental, challenges. Given their combined track records, the smart money is on all of them to succeed tremendously.

While each has stepped into a unique opportunity, the common thread is that they have chosen paths in which they will be rewarded by NOT tolerating the outdated bureaucracies in which traditional media & marketing execs have tried to pigeon-hole Digital. They don't have time to kowtow to legacies or wade through layers of tepid decision-making defended by "...that's not how we do it here." I fully expect to see bold moves made by these gentlemen and frankly, to see some sacred cows shown the door.

If Vegas put out odds on Sean, Nick and Chris, I wouldn't bet against them.