Blogs. Borrrrrrinnggggg.June 30, 2008
Yep. That’s how a 20+ year veteran of the advertising and creative industry ended a 500+ word rant on his corporate blog, about how he “hates blogs” and decries them as a “self-aggrandizing fad”. Wasn’t the internet, and television once called a “fad”? He equates those that read, follow, and comment on other blogs as “new-media groupies.” He just doesn’t get it. It’s a shame really. It is another case of a creative talent, responsible for the promotion, innovation, and differentiation of the brands that his clients entrust him with, who can’t adapt to the future.
I know Advertising is all about the interruption approach, and has been forever. TV commercials, radio spots, full-page glossies in magazines, and billboards – all mediums going through a whirlwind paradigm shift which will reshape and recreate the media field at the speed of light. These methods don’t work and customers “get it”. Sadly, some agency owners do not.
The customer realizes that they have the power. They can Tivo out your commercials, block your pop-ups, and block out all of your attempts to push your catchy jingle or edgy catch phrase. They realize that your four-color glossy ad is in that magazine specifically because you paid to place it there. Oh, and please do me a favor, and stop trying to disguise your paid ad as an advertorial! That’s just insulting our intelligence.
They want to be engaged in a discussion rather than pitched to. So what would be a first step down that path? How about engaging your potential customers in a conversation? How about you open up your pitch, your claims of “new” and “improved”, to the feedback and comments of your audience? Could your product and brand survive that? If it truly is what is says it is – then it will survive. Otherwise it could be trashed and trampled.
Blogs can open up your brand to discussions, especially if you accept comments. Even if the comments call out a shortcoming (if there is a shortcoming that needs correction), it is better to have them do so while you are paying attention to them and have the opportunity to make the change, rather than find out these shortcomings as the blog author puts it: “I figure I’ll hear about our shortcomings by our clients walking out the door.” By then, it’s too late. They are on to your competition.
The advertising exec blog author (the irony of him blogging about how he hates blogs is just too sublime!) goes on to say that corporate blogs are the worst offenders – “And the corporate blog is the worst because it’s just a big PR tactic that is so very transparent.” Amen to that. He has just stated the key principal has to be integral to every communications campaign: transparency.
You can’t hide behind the spin and shine. You’ll be called out as the Emperor with no clothes. People want transparency. Target got called out because they were enticing people to rave about them in the social online communities. They want to feel they can get to know you and your brand.
A blog lets your audience get to “know” you a bit better, by reading about what you care about on your blog. They can encounter your “parroting” of your company’s reports, or your pitches, just like anyone you speak with, whether online or in a face to face meeting. They can also encounter your expertise, knowledge, experience, opinion, tastes, likes, competence, and so on. A website is a great place for your audience to find and interact with you, if there are the right tools to do so. A blog is one of those tools.
I spoke to a group of business professionals last week that were skeptical yet eager to learn about how blogs are being used today and whether or not they should have a blog or even recommend blogs to their clients (they are consultants). I was impressed by shared inquisitiveness and curiosity, and most of all with their ability to embrace this new form of communication. They wanted to join in the discussion.
I think advertising will ultimately survive – there will always be a need for creative content, but it will have to move to the new communication mediums, and become on demand rather than an interruption. Agencies, the slow ones, refusing to be nimble and embrace the changes and keep with the times, will be culled from the herd. Those that embrace and innovate will be the ones setting their brands truly above the buzz. What do you think? Leave a comment. Start a conversation. Engage!