. The Transom .

Friday, November 30, 2007

The absent generation

I read a lot about how the Millennials don't know what they don't know, have a sense of entitlement, don't know what hard work is, etc etc. It seems that everyone who isn't a Millennial takes some kind of pride in talking them down. The big discussion now is how to relate to them. How to communicate with them to have them fit in to the workforce. Stories are passed around about how they ask for management positions right out of school or expect to be paid six-figure incomes for a job worth thirty grand.

One thing that I find missing from this conversation is the Millennials' response. So I guess it isn't really a conversation. Who, or better yet where, is the voice of this generation. Why aren't they fighting back? The 'elders' would tell you it's because they are a) lazy or b) don't care what we say about them. There are valid arguments on both sides, but at this point it seems only one side is doing the talking.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sometimes when you aren't looking, the client is right

I had lunch the other day with a colleague who works for a competing agency here in town. Just a social thing. We got to talking about client service and different philosophies on how an agency should project itself in client-facing situations. She went on and on about how her agency rarely, if ever, supports a client-initiated idea. Their M.O. is to either change the idea, talk about all the difficulties with it, or reject it outright. Since this seemed a little, oh I don't know, asinine to me, I asked why. She said the clients pay them for good creative ideas and execution. If the client starts realizing that they are coming up with successful and good ideas, they will lose faith in, and support for, the agency.

Now, on the one hand, I could see where you don't want to just be an order taker and execution team. Any monkey with a drum can do that. But to reject most ideas just because they didn't come from you doesn't make any sense. How many potentially great ideas were squashed just because the agency didn't think of it first?

Our belief is that great ideas can come from anywhere, and if you're working as a team, shouldn't that be the most important factor? We're not going to sit around and wait for our clients to bring us great ideas, but we're sure as hell not going to reject a good one just because it wasn't ours. An agency's job is to help advance the client's business, not be the gatekeeper of good ideas.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

IM's could be hurting our kids

Newsflash - technology makes life easier and quicker. No kidding, right? It might also be restricting you from developing as a person. USA Today released results from a poll that show teens are using instant messaging to keep out of "OMG" moments. They use it to ask for and reject dates, break up with people, and generally communicate altogether. The problem with this, of course, is that they are not developing the emotional skills, or even emotional courage, of actually talking to a person face to face. Expressing an opinion or position on a subject is much easier when you are not within physical proximity of another person to witness their potentially negative reaction.

I can't imagine any girl that would agree to go out with someone when asked over IM. To me, there's no romance in it, or much investment on the guy's part. In fact, part of what makes a guy attractive (I'm told) is the courage it takes to come up and speak to a girl face to face. Any idiot can send an IM or text with a catchy line, but does that cut it for today's women? I hope not.

I'm all for technology, but when it allows a person to develop inside an egg that doesn't prepare them for the real world, it's doing a disservice. Can you imagine a young employee that doesn't know how to communicate with his/her boss except through the safety of IM? That kid wouldn't survive very long in the real world. It takes guts and communication skills to make it. Neither of those are fostered through IM or text.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Don't bite the hand that feeds you. This means you, Chris Anderson

I know there is a secret love hate relationship between PR people and the media. We rely on the media to act as the delivery mechanism for our information, and they in turn rely on us for story ideas and in most cases, content. (a WSJ study done several years ago found that over 65% of all content in newspapers was influenced by PR efforts) We love to get upset with them when they don't go for our pitches, and they love to call us hacks and idiots for not 'understanding them better.'

So I understand the unwritten rule that we both think the other is less than perfect, but it's a dirty secret that we keep quiet. Until now. Chris Anderson, editor at Wired magazine, called out 300 PR people for sending him information that he didn't want. Granted, they should have done their research and sent the information to the right person at the magazine, but he called them out for it publicly and posted their email addresses and put them on a black list. Is public embarrassment the way to solve his little "I get too much email" problem. Calling these people out publicly was crossing the line and extremely unprofessional. He could have easily just blocked their email addresses and be done with it. But he went public.

The equivalent fight from our side, of course, would be to print a list of every dumbass journalist that got the facts wrong, called the company or product by the wrong name, or just flat out can't write to save their life. And believe me, there are tons of them. As the WSJ study indicates, they rely on us for two-thirds of their content. Think of it as McDonald's coming out and saying that hamburger meat should be banned. Not exactly a smart thing to do. Chris doesn't have to worry about me sending him any 'email spam' for content ideas. And from what I've read so far in reaction to his antics, most of my colleagues won't be either. Good luck with your fish wrapper, Chris.