. The Transom .

Monday, May 05, 2008

What to do when objectives don't gel with preference

Have you ever wanted a pair of shoes that looked really great, but when you tried them on they hurt like crazy? You then have to make the form vs. function decision. Look great in pain or be comfortable in lesser appealing shoes. Sometimes the same happens in the PR business.

We worked with a cell phone company that was headed by an older guy who loved seeing stories about the company in the newspaper. Loved it. Thought it was the most important coverage. And we scored some really outstanding local and national print coverage for him during our relationship with the organization. But we also got a lot of great local and national broadcast and online placements. In fact, probably three times more than print. And we got ultimately got fired because of it.

The problem was the company, under the direction of its fierce tempered CEO, was entirely focused on newspaper coverage, because that's what the CEO read. Pay no attention to the fact that the very people buying the phones and service plans could barely read, much less sat down to read the paper. The company's consumers listened to the radio, watched TV and went online. In a traditional demographic study, 10% of the target audience group read a paper on a 'semi-regular' basis. Yet that's where we were instructed to target our efforts, with the objective of increasing sales.

When brought up, countless times, that this was not in the best interest of the company objectives, we were told to just bring in the print because that's what was important, statistics be damned. And because we constantly fought for a little thing I like to call 'reality' we ended up losing the business and the relationship.

When it comes to marketing 'shoes' you can only last in the painful eye-catchers for so long. And you'll know when that time comes. It's when you have to walk the talk. The rest is just show and tell.

thanks to Jon Sloane for the idea


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