This week, NBA free-agent center Jason Collins made headlines, plus tweets, posts and heads, who talked about his announcement as the first male pro athlete in a major sport to publicly address his sexuality. It’s a landmark occasion for a previously unspoken topic in sports, as the conversation continues to grow and become more open within our society.
We were particularly struck by the method of his announcement. He called it out best in his Sports Illustrated piece: “The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s,” Collins wrote.
In an age where news breaks in 140 characters rather than a 3,000-word magazine piece, where the news usually isn’t directly from the source, Jason Collins was able to control his message and explain it his way. It was a brilliant strategy that all PR pros should recognize and try to achieve in executing plans on behalf of high-profile clients, who may be making controversial announcements.
The other part of Collins’s news that we appreciated was its authenticity, particularly coming from the world of sports. Collins didn’t “tell-all” to Oprah, reveal a “decision” on ESPN, or be behind an “uncovered scandal” on Deadspin.
His article was a personal, heartfelt piece written for one of the most respected sports publications in the country. There was no immediate video to re-watch. No one tweet that everyone can re-tweet; just a traditional well-written personal piece.
Collins expressed everything he wanted to say, and now he can move on to the next round of this PR initiative. The article was posted online Monday, will be on newsstands Wednesday, and it’s already a topic of conversation everywhere else. The TV interviews, the online Q&A’s, and more, are all starting. Jason Collins already appeared on Good Morning America this morning.
Bravo Jason, for controlling your message, staying true to yourself, and for standing up on an important topic within our society.
Within our industry, the average tenure at one job stands at about four years, with the younger demographic spending less time than that before jumping ship. Is it an epidemic, or should we embrace it?
That was the topic of discussion at Tuesday’s panel “Supporting the 4-Year Career,” hosted by Minneapolis creative agency Carmichael Lynch during the ninth annual Advertising Week in New York. Moderated by Carmichael CEO Mike Lescarbeau, the panel consisted of recruiters, agency execs, and copywriters who supportthe new trend within the industry.
During the spirited debate, the conversation focused on two pivotal questions: Is the 4-year career a problem? Can staffers keep up the creative energy and enthusiasm for more than four years?
“You’ll notice a difference from when a new hire comes in and their energy is so high, until it plateaus to work they know they can get away with,” said Marcus Fischer, Chief Strategy Office with Carmichael Lynch. “What I look for in an interview is a passion point that may not even relate to work. I want to see that passion point and find out how to channel that into their career. A broad range of backgrounds is more interesting than purely agency specific careers.”
“Your resume needs to build a story, why you made that change and how to make it better,” said Carol Watson, President of Advertising Women of New York.
Alec Brownstein, freelance copywriter who has “observed” the 4-year career, was in favor of the constant change in careers.
“The most interesting thing a person can do is not based on their career path, but by following their passions,” said Brownstein. “There’s nothing holding you back anymore. Go out there and do something. Make something on your own. That will get you noticed and get you your next career.”
“The question I ask and everyone should ask before hiring someone is, ‘Is this place better if they are here or somewhere else?’” said Fischer.
Where do you stand in this trend? Are you in favor or against the 4-year career? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
On job interviews, you tend to hear the phrase “I’m a great multitasker.” It is a point of pride for people. Everyone thinks they can multitask. But can you really? Can you really think, talk, listen, type, and be effective all at the same time? Recent studies show only 2% of people can successfully pull it off. The odds aren’t in most people’s favor.
In the office, we’ve been talking a lot about Breaking Bad. There are the few people like me who come into the office every Monday with our jaws still dragging on the floor, and there’s the people anxiously catching up, performing marathon weekends only to cover their ears Monday morning in the bullpen when they hear the words “Did you watch last night’s episode?”
While we try not to be spoilers for our colleagues, there is something we all agreed on: the show requires 100% attention. It’s not something you can do while talking, surfing the web, texting, tweeting, eating, going to the bathroom, or cooking. You’d miss a crucial detail. And with a show like Breaking Bad, all the details matter.
Why do I bring this up? For starters, it is counter to what many pundits in the ad industry say is the current trend: that people, especially 20-somethings like me, multitask while watching TV and are thus more prone to sharing or commenting on branded content, or buying things.
Secondly, if you believe a quality TV show requires 100% of your attention, so should you believe that any worthwhile task deserves it, too. It’s the basic premise of the campaign against texting while driving—something that is also highly relevant to my age group. You can’t do it safely. How many times have you looked at your screen while someone is speaking to you, only for you to say 30 seconds later “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention, what?”
Here’s another sad image of our times: Friends out to dinner or at a bar aren’t communicating with one another; they’re all staring at their phones. You’ve all seen it at one point in your life. More than likely you’ve unknowingly participated in it at some point as well. No physical communication because our attention is to our devices.
With so many technological outlets at our hands, it’s hard not to multitask. Recent studies show my generation switches screens as many as 27 times per hour. That’s nearly once every two minutes. There are messages constantly coming through to different devices. Texts on your phone. Instant messaging on your screen. Tablet notifications. Emails on all three. Everyone talks about the “second screen” like it’s a third appendage. Sure, it’s fun to live-tweet with millions during an event, but what are you missing because your mind is “multitasking”?
We humans are constantly craving for entertainment. In today’s world with screens and Internet access readily available everywhere, people clamor for the best all the time. It terms of television content, it’s hard to compete with HBO.
As is common now on the Internet, a grassroots movement has started to free HBO’s access to everyone. Currently, HBO is an additional $15-30 on top of your astronomical cable subscription. HBO fans are begging for HBO to allow users to subscribe just to HBO Go, their groundbreaking platform that allows access to HBO content to any internet connected device – free with your subscription.
The website “Take My Money HBO!” saw over 60,000 pledges in just 12 hours with people pledging their dollar amount for HBO content – without having to pay the cable companies. The conversation continues on Twitter with the hashtag #takemymoneyhbo. The site saw over 163,000 pledges in all.
Their argument makes sense – if they can’t afford or don’t pay for HBO, then they will either pirate the shows they want to watch (HBO’s Game of Thrones will be the most pirated show of 2012) or use their friends to watch their favorite shows. Makes sense practically – but it is much more complicated. Amongst my generation, it’s not strange to see a tweet or Facebook post asking if they can come watch HBO for the latest True Blood or Newsroom on Sunday.
HBO isn’t budging from their subscription model, and I don’t think they should. Controlling access to your content makes people want it more – the simple principle of supply and demand. Allowing everyone to access HBO will dumb down the quality of the shows because the novelty wears off. Yes, there will always be the Internet pirates, and the people who access their friend’s HBO Go subscriptions (Thanks Mom and Dad!) The loyal fans won’t go away as long as the shows remain superb. That onus is on the network. It’s called premium cable for a reason.
On the Internet, outlets are giving things away. You can pay for a subscription to a magazine like Fast Company, but the reality is that it posts its magazine stories for free on its site throughout the month. We’re in a shift from physical to digital, and companies are still figuring out how to charge for digital content. Nobody knows where we’re going technologically, so nobody has figured out how to embrace or monetize it. Instead of giving it away, it’s great to see HBO control their medium.
It’s hard to see others following HBO’s model. Publications like New York Times and Wall Street Journal see success behind their pay wall because of their clout. It’s hard to see other outlets having the ability to pull it off. For example, if there was a pay wall on Mashable, you would just go to another site for the same news.
At the end of the day, creating premium content will yield a premium following – the concern is how to control & monetize it on the world wide web.
This post originally appeared on Social Media Week’s blog by our very own Sally O’Dowd, who will be in Cannes next week along with several other DGC-ers. We will be sharing updates here on the Hit Board for the next week.
What would Don Draper think about the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity? He probably would have been on the main stage, speaking to a packed room about advertising’s power to make emotional connections, perhaps drawing from the Kodak carrousel and poignant family memories. And he definitely would have been seen at The Gutter Baruntil the wee hours of the morning.
About 10,000 of the world’s most creative people in advertising, marketing and PR can relate to the intersection of inspirational content and great conversation: We are all packing our bags for this year’s festival, taking place June 17 to 24.
The Cannes Lions Festival was founded in 1954 by ad executives who believed that the 30-second film, the staple of advertising at the time, deserved the same recognition as feature films. Indeed, the festival’s roots are in storytelling and today’s multimedia and social platforms make storytelling all the more robust.
This year, ad agencies and their clients from 87 countries have submitted a record 34,301 entries in hopes of winning a Cannes Lions award, the most prestigious in the industry. For years, delegates have tried to predict the winners. Twenty-five years ago, Donald Gunn began Leo Burnett’s Cannes Predictions by curating and sharing ¾” film reels from around the world. Today, the agency’s digital assembly of contenders is on SlideShare. Meanwhile, Dominik Heinrich, a creative director at Agenta in Munich, is using Pinterest to predict this year’s winning campaigns, as Creativity reports.
Globally renown, the festival consistently attracts A-list speakers from outside the world of advertising. President Bill Clinton is speaking Thursday on how advertising can help build a better world. (Tom Scott from The Gates Foundation is discussing a similar topic on Monday and providing a behind-the-scenes look at the organization’s Grand Challenges Explorations program). Selena Gomez is also talking Thursday about how to reach people born between 1980 and 2000. (Hint: be participatory.) Meanwhile, Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker is tackling the democratization of content on Wednesday, along with Brian Message, co-manager of Radiohead and David Alberts, chief creative officer of MOFILM Social.
DiGennaro Communications will be well-represented in France next week as well. Several of our clients, industry friends and other organizations have seminars, workshops and events that I think will be of interest to a broad cross section of business readers. Check back here regularly and follow us on Twitter@digennaro for reports on the following:
- Sara Arnell, CEO of the Arnell Group, is hosting a workshop bright and early at 9 am on Monday (and again at 2 pm) on what she calls “Freshing Old Brands.” That is to say, brands should change consistently over time to be in step with society and thus avoid expensive, mass overhauls.
- Also on Monday, Jeff Benjamin, chief creative officer at JWT, is riffing on the company’s Worldmakers web-based video series for a “Worldmakers Live” session about how to think young. He’ll be joined by three kids—Jordan Casey, Europe’s youngest app maker; child activist and author Adora Svitak; Caine Monroy, creator of Caine’s Arcade; and two adults– Band-Aid Brand Senior Brand Manager Bryant Ison and Nirvan Mullick, a filmmaker and partner at media agency Interconnected. Together, they will talk about about imagination through a child’s eyes.
- GroupM, the world’s largest media buyer and part of the WPP network, and two of its agency brands have three sessions dedicated to social media, mobile marketing and/or globalization. On Sunday, GroupM China CEO Bessie Lee is interviewing Joe Chen, the CEO of Renren, China’s leading social networking service, about the “social-over-mobile revolution.” They’ll tackle a key question: How do marketers capture the hearts and minds of more than half a billion Internet users around the world, and nearly 400 million who go online with their phones? Complementing that session is an MEC discussion led by Chief Strategy Officer Melanie Varley about “mobile first,” the notion that brands must first build creative concepts for mobile devices and only then extend the messaging into other media. The Mindshare session on Tuesday features Swedish author Fredrik Härén, who will launch his new book, One. World. One Company and discuss what it takes to cross geographic and cultural boundaries to become a thriving, global brand.
- On Friday, GM CMO Joel Ewanick and Jeff Goodby, founder of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, will talk about their relationship in a session called “Can Your Client Be Your Friend?” Some context for you: Joel and Jeff introduced the Porsche Boxster, brought Hyundai back from the dead, and have just guided Chevrolet to its best year in history. Nevertheless, Joel gave Goodby a C+ in the press. In addition to the seminar, GM will be hosting a special exhibit on the lawn of the Grand Hotel that will feature interactive Chevy Sonic cars and give people a chance to experience the Sonic “Let’s Do This” campaign for themselves. More info on @sonicsfirst.
- “Leave fear behind” is the theme of another session led by Jacki Kelly, global CEO of UM. She will be joined by Kim Kadlec, vice-president, global marketing group of Johnson & Johnson; Time Inc. EVP Paul Caine; Fortune Editor-at-Large Pattie Sellers; and Glee star Matthew Morrison. They’ll discuss ways they are using consumer insights and corporate partnerships to help create engageing content that clicks with people and drives brands.
Outside the conference hall, the creativity and storytelling will continue to heat up under a Mediterranean sun.
Throughout the event, the Cannes Lions organizers along with branding agencies The Brand Union and Lambie-Nairn, are hosting “Play, Make, Master” just outside the Palais des Festivals: Delegates can experiment with clay modeling, Lego construction and balloon art with help from experts; take daily classes; and record and share their designs in the Getty Images lounge. On Thursday, digital agency Organic, New York-based storytelling organization The Moth and Contagious magazine are hosting a StorySLAMduring which people will vie for the title of “worst day in advertising” at the Google Creative Sandbox, a popular meeting place during the festival. With a dose of good humor, the hosts argue, “If you’ve made it to Cannes it’s likely [your really bad day] hasn’t kept you down.” Indeed.
From PowerPoints to cover letters, correct grammar and spelling are the lowest common denominators when it comes to mastery of the English language. Good copyediting skills are critical to any organization or writing endeavor.
We were reminded about the value of copyediting this week after Mitt Romney’s team released an iPhone app that spelled “America” as ‘Amercia.’ One of the unspoken rules of running for President is being able to correctly spell the country you’re trying to run. While I’m confident that Mitt didn’t write this app himself, it goes to show how effective copyediting can make a difference between a strong pro-candidate tool and a small PR crisis.
With this in mind, I asked The Hit Board’s two resident copy editors, Sally O’Dowd and Kathy Sampey, to talk about some strategies and tips when they copyedit press releases, bylines, and even this blog post.
How did you learn to effectively copy edit? Was it from class, work, or just something you were always able to handle?
Sally O’Dowd: I loved diagramming sentences in elementary school, and my mom did it with me. I still call her to discuss grammar rules. I also have a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. We had copyediting tests based on the Associated Press Stylebook. If we misspelled a person’s name or some other proper noun, we failed the test. This was major inspiration for becoming a good copy editor.
Kathy Sampey: I’m not a “copy editor” per se. It’s a very specific skill, and people do it professionally. But yes, I first learned copyediting symbols in a college journalism class and became better at editing in general from working at the Associated Press.
What process goes into your copyediting? Is it on the screen, on paper, do you need private space and silence?
KS: First I give a piece of copy a read-through on screen but have discovered that printing something out to proofread and edit is far more effective. I catch a lot more to correct. When I print something out, I need to go to a quieter space to concentrate.
SOD: I prefer to edit on paper first. The conventional wisdom is: you catch more errors when you are holding paper in your hands than when simply viewing the screen, where you tend to view the copy more passively. I hold a pen in my hand and go word by word. Then, I make the edits electronically. I also fact-check the spelling of every proper noun, such as company names and even cities when I am in doubt. When I write something, I have another senior writer—usually Kathy— edit my work. One of my journalism professors used to say, “Every writer needs an editor.”
In the instance of Romney’s “Amercia” incident, how do you avoid easy pitfalls such as misspelling and incorrect word usage?
SOD: This was an egregious error, and it shows just how easy it is to make mistakes and overlook them. Always print your copy and review word by word—even if it is a couple of words for an app. No bit of copy is too small, especially when the stakes are so high.
KS: Everyone needs an editor. Everyone. So I would recommend always having a second or even a third pair of eyes proofread a piece of copy and by all means, print it out for people to review it.
When you do make an error and it’s published, how do correct it?
KS: In the Internet age, correcting something is easy and quick. Obviously it’s much harder in
SOD: Apps are more difficult to fix. It had been reported that it would take Apple five days to change the copy on the Romney app (because it required the submission of a new app), but it was changed the next day.print, and if a correction cannot be made or run in print, you just have to live with it.
Any good stories around errors?
SOD: As a reporter at a local paper in Connecticut several years ago, I was writing about a man’s fiancé. Instead, I wrote “finance.” None of my editors caught the error. I felt badly about it. The man had served in World War II, and the story meant a lot to him and to me.
KS: Yes, but I’m not sharing.
Are there any tips you could share to aspiring copy editors out there?
KS: That would be best answered by professional copy editors but it’s good to at least be familiar with AP style.
SOD: Take the time to get it right. If your eyes get tired, take a break. If you have the time, take the night off and review the copy the next morning. And definitely have someone else take a look at it when the pressure is on.
Thanks to Sally and Kathy for their contributions. Remember – always, always, always have a second pair of eyes review your work before having it post.