Respect for the Community Builders

Some years ago, when I first started blogging, I loved the way that people would creatively think through what it would mean to contribute to a global community. Often this involved the creation of lists – like Mack Collier’s collection of relative unknown bloggers – the z-list, or Todd Andrlik’s Power 150 which eventually transformed into the AdAge Power150. I’d even class Ann Handley’s clever curation of MarketingProfs daily fix bloggers in the same way.

In the world of strategic/creative planners, a number of people have been continuously building and engaging their professional communities. Iqbal Mohammed has been regularly publishing his Plannersphere lists for years, and Neil Perkin provides a valuable conversation point (and light competition) around the “post of the month”, complete with voting. In a more complicated twist on community building, Rob Campbell challenges the veterans, the wannabes and the up-and-comers with his Advertising Planning School of the Web assignments, veering between scorn and applause depending on what’s submitted and it’s quality.

These examples stand out as beacons – not just because they have been doing this work consistently, but because they are generous. They are inclusive. They stand out because much of what we now see on the web is based on one-up-man-ship. It’s like a pissing match between row after row of intellectual dwarfs. And it’s a shame, because it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s a shame because we are all impoverished by it.

So, it is with some joy I came across Heather LeFevre’s Planner Survey for 2010. It covers the industry from top to tail – sharing details of salaries, roles, locations and so on. It captures what planners think of their jobs, why they stay, why they go – and who they think is doing the best work. It also lists a bunch of people who the community rate – not because they are famous, but because they get on with the challenge of producing good work. Check it out.

Some Delicious SXSW Selections

Each year I promise myself that I will get to SXSW the following year. So far I have failed, and failed, and failed. And yet, each year around this time I browse the list of panels on offer and dream of attending.

But each and every year, there are more and more panels to choose from. There’s literally hundreds of sessions on offer – needing your vote to move from “good idea” to “in room C”. This year, Bud Cadell offers up a short list for your voting consideration. Take a look. If you like the sound of the session, kick in a vote. And you never know, we may just bump into each other in the corridor!

These panels are all BudApproved™ for your voting pleasure:

It’s Hard Being Social Out of Hours

When you enter the world of social media, you may not realise it at first, but you are stepping onto the world stage. You will soon be engaging with people who share your interests, passions and even expertise. You will be sharing ideas, collaborating on projects and, without knowing it, creating friendships and long lasting connections.

But – and there is a but – you will also find yourself operating outside of your normal hours. Way outside your normal hours.

Here in Australia, just as our day ends, it starts in the USA. So as I am powering down and thinking about curling up with a good book, my US-based friends are hitting the morning hard – coffee, exercise, the latest news. Meanwhile in Europe, it’s reaching towards midday – there’s work to be done and meetings to be had.

You can see it all on Twitter. It’s like a defibrillator kicking life into the global conversation. And for a few hours there is this wonderful meeting of timezones – everyone is awake, sharp, conversant.

everytimezone A couple of hours later – well into the wee small hours – it’s another story. I find that my mind’s not so sharp, my voice not so loud. And while I like to be at my best at all times, sometimes it’s just not possible.

Thankfully, this neat site now shows Every Time Zone in a nice, iPad ready format. So now, if you want my best thinking and my brilliant repartee, we can sort out something that works for us all. Unless of course we’re talking across three continents. In which case, I’ll need something more than a zap to get my heart racing.

Via SwissMiss

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

As is often the case, it is possible to connect the dots in trajectories of thinking across the web. In part, this happens because we all read each other’s work, and partly because online participation is driven by a culture of sharing – and a promiscuous idea has no respect for borders, geography or firewalls. This week’s five must-read posts will get you connecting your own dots. Enjoy!

  1. What is the role of strategy, complexity and innovation – and how do we get them all to play nicely? Katie Chatfield suggests that complexity and innovation are the places where workplace culture and planning, marketing and funky thinking collide.
  2. A couple of years ago, the Nielsen trust in advertising data confirmed what we had long suspected – that people trust other people far more than they trust advertisers or brands. But then, as blogs and other social media began to be positioned as barometers of trust, it seemed that these too, began to be questioned. Scott Monty, however, brings together a number of eMarketer data summaries to help us understand just who we trust.
  3. And once you realise who we trust, this is going to change what you do at work – with your employees, your teams and maybe even your own time. But rather than becoming overwhelmed by the interconnectedness, you might just want to follow Greg Verdino’s advice and get big results by thinking and acting small. There’s a presentation to watch – and a book to buy. You know you want to!
  4. Of course, the challenge is that social media conflates our personal and professional lives. So while we may be stepping out from behind our brands and engaging in small, targeted conversations with our brand advocates, where does “private” end and “public” begin? Mike Arauz asks what are the ethics of online secrecy.
  5. One way is to get away from the compelling engagement offered by the computer – and Shel Israel does exactly that. While taking a stroll through the streets of San Francisco, he ponders whether Kerouac would have blogged.

A Cup of Chaos #44: Gruen Transfer Pitch Challenge Yields Results

It seems that ABC TV's Gruen Transfer has hit a home run with their latest episode. The show, which provides a behind-the-scenes panel discussion of the advertising industry, is showcasing election-related advertising at present. One of the segments – The Pitch – sees two agencies go head-to-head over a creative brief. The team from Republic of Everyone created the ad below.

The Greens have asked whether they can run it as part of their campaign. Of course, the ABC cannot allow that to happen, as reported, but the clip is clearly an online favourite. It's certainly creating a cup – maybe even a cup and a half of chaos. Nice work!

Change Your Briefs

I can remember hand coding my first “proper” website. It was for a small business that I was running out of an artists’ studio on a dilapidated pier. We specialised in helping publishers move from the print to the new web-ready world. Well, it was almost web-ready – it was the days when there was “an Internet” and a “World Wide Web” – and they were two different things. They were completely different experiences.

Being impatient and a risk taker, I bet my money on the graphical world wide web and created a website. It felt like I was working at the edge of the world – and in a way it was.

Fast forward to 2010 and it is a vastly different world. Knowledge of “the web” and how it works is far more widespread. Indeed, it has spread far beyond my own meagre expertise. There has been a massive transformation in the shape, technology and the platforms that enable our polyphonic internets – perhaps matched only by the huge shift in the way in which we use it. (And I do mean “use” in a very loose way.)

However, the way in which digital agencies are “briefed” has remained relatively static. Gareth Kay suggests that it is time that we changed our briefs – and has put together a great presentation, PostDigitalBriefs, that challenges us to do just that. But best of all, Gareth provides us with a way forward.

Take a good look through the presentation yourself, but my key takeouts are:

  1. Know what we want people to do
  2. Understand which behaviours we want to shift
  3. Differentiate and articulate your social mission vs the commercial proposition
  4. Identify the triggers that will prompt people to share
  5. Make it easy for people to participate
  6. Know where your constituents are and the social rules that operate there

Postdigitalbriefs2 – August 2010

View more presentations from Gareth Kay.


Get Started vs Get Right

In an increasingly connected world, putting one’s head above the parapet takes a certain level of commitment. There are, after all, plenty of people willing to take a shot at you, at your idea, at your professionalism or even at your dress sense. And with easy to use platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Posterous and so on, it has never been easier.

But it is precisely because of this connectedness that you must take the risk with your idea, your vision and even your “expertise”. We read the same blog posts, watch the same videos and discuss the same subjects on Twitter – in fact, these social networks have been developed with the express purpose of brining us together. They allow us to flock, to collaborate and to share. It’s no wonder that the SAME new idea appears on opposite sides of the world at the SAME time. After all, our ideas are promiscuous.

But there is always a tension. Should you get started with a new project or should you wait until you get it right? The direction you take depends almost entirely on how you view the concept of risk.

However, there’s another way. What if you start small? Of course, we have an almost pathological addiction to the “big launch” – to make a splash, send out press releases and sing and dance in the streets. But the big launch comes with big risk. Why don’t you try and get your idea down to the smallest, most granular level – and launch it at the end of the week?

Sure you may tread on some toes, but at least you’ll have achieved something.

* I’m sure you’ve gathered that I err on the side of getting started!

My Kinda Sport: Puma After Hours Athlete

What does it mean when we say that a brand “gets it”? I don’t necessarily mean in relation to social media – but in general? It means that we have reached an intuitive accord – that our values align. That there has been some form of exchange – I’ve been delighted unexpectedly by a purchase, surprised by the sales process, charmed by the account team.

In the world of advertising, we don’t see enough of this. It’s why the good work stands out so far. And while we should see more of it in social media, in reality it’s still rare. I think, in part, because we are still feeling our way – tentatively looking at the envelope rather than pushing it around.

But here’s something I like. It’s not necessarily social – but it tells the story of being social. Perhaps it’s the start of a story yet to unfold.

This ad (HT to Sean Howard), from Puma and Droga5 reminds us that sometimes, simply being social is the most challenging feat of athleticism many of us are likely to experience. Do we need special gear for that? It seems we do.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

Sometimes squeezing all the great reading down to five must-read posts can be a challenge. Occasionally I will cheat and embed a couple of links into the one reference, but for the most part, I play honestly.

This week, again, there are some great articles for your reading pleasure. Take a read, look around the authors sites, and don’t forget to subscribe to their blog. It’s a much easier way to read – even if you do lose a little of the online experience. Anyway, here are five posts from last week that you really must read:

  1. In our myopic rush to a gazillion followers, fans or page views, we often forget that the social web runs on the spirit of generosity. With that in mind, Bryony Cole and Sarah Fosterling ask, who would you give $10 to?
  2. It’s all well and good covering your bases online – creating a digital footprint that would be the envy of one of Jurassic Park’s famous raptors. But once you have completed that part of your strategy – you now need to move to content, right? Valeria Maltoni asks whether there is an app for that 😉
  3. On the web – as in life – people often ask, “what’s in it for me?”. Of course, our sense of entitlement together with our sense of ownership have been powerful social drivers for the last 50 consumer-culture years. But there are other drivers – such as our sense of belonging. And as Mark Earls suggests, sometimes value exists in what we share.
  4. Dan Zarrella performs a little online experiment around the concept of social proof on the web.
  5. And finally, Ron Shevlin demands to be read, simply because he has the best blog post title of the week – refer madness. It’s all about referrals, so do make sure you take a look!

@oldspice, Old Dogs and New Tricks

I can remember the smell of Old Spice from my youth. It reminds me of old men. Men much older than I am now. Or so it seemed. In reality, they were the young men of my parents’ lives. They were the dusky, active men of 70s – surfers, sailors, layabouts. They went water skiing in the summer and to the snow for winter. They drove real 4WD vehicles (for a reason), smoked way too much and drank VB. Or was it Tooheys New?

Whether this is accurate or not, it’s the brand image that is hard baked into my mind.

So it was going to take some effort to recast that brand association.

Now, I know that I am probably not in the target market for old spice body wash, nor even in the right geography, but it seems that the @OldSpice man campaign has been a great success. Take a look at the case study below for a neat summary. And if you want more detail, check out Jordan Stone’s post on the We Are Social blog.

But beyond the statistics, what can we learn from an old, sleeping dog like Old Spice? What can we see from the way that brand perception was able to shift through a coordinated, integrated trans-media storytelling point of view? What roles did broadcast, celebrity and social media play in amplifying and extending the brand interactions – and why were they potent? I’m going to think on this in relation to the P-L-A-Y framework for storytelling and get back to you.