Shortly after I started working for Marijean, she sat me down and told me all about the types of companies that she did not want us to work with. This was not something I was used to. Publishers and Sales Managers in the past basically said “if they can pass a credit check, move forward.” Not MJ. She has a clear vision and moral compass that she wants to see mirrored in the companies we call clients.
We also are not and never will be a marketing firm or an advertising agency. I often have to resist the urge to suggest print campaign ideas. (All the training and conferences from my previous life at a newsweekly are hard to shake off. They drill the frequency and modular sizing in your head, I tell you!) Our work is about listening to the client and their audience and creating a communications strategy, policy and plan that delivers their ideas to the correct people in the tone that is authentic to their brand.
So, be mindful of the companies I bring in and focus exclusively on the public relations bit. Got it!
It has taken me some time to come to terms and even embrace this reality. And now, everywhere I turn agencies seem to be doing an about face and changing their idea of “advertising” altogether.
A recent article in Newsweek discussed the eventual collapse of the advertising industry with one of its own, Jeff Rosenblum, cofounder of Questus in New York. He talks about how businesses for years have used advertising as a band-aid for bad behavior and then the internet turned them all on their heads by giving consumers a voice to complain with. Now those advertising dollars may as well be thrown away if your client base is badmouthing your brand. These advertising agencies would be better off acting as businesses consultants to help resolve the client’s issues, Rosenblum says. Change the corporate policy. Stop using child labor overseas. Or beating dolphins. Or whatever other activities the public may deem as unsavory. This is an age of transparency. If your company is engaging in moral misconduct, a print campaign will no longer distract your audience.
The thing is, we can’t convince your company to change. We can listen to the social web and tell you what your audience is saying and perhaps that will inspire a turn-around.
It’s an interesting idea: the paradigm shift of an entire industry.