I'm dedicating Aretha Franklin's 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T" to some ADD-ravaged marketing folks at a leading distilled spirits maker. They’d recently invited us to pitch their business despite the fact we possessed little, if any, 'liquor' experience. Naturally, once we were in the midst of the presentation, the lead marketer asked about our creds and, after listening to two or three brief case studies, sighed and asked: 'That's all?'
But, disrespecting our lack of industry experience didn't prompt today's blog. It was something far more pernicious. The entire team used their BlackBerries throughout our presentation.
I kid you not when I say that each, and every, member of the seven-person team consistently sent and received e-mails on their PDAs as we walked through our pitch. It was unbelievably rude.
But, according to research conducted by Christine Pearson, a professor of international business at The Thunderbird School of Global Management, this sort of boorish boardroom behavior has become par for the course.
Pearson says increased incivility in business is a direct result of the PDA craze. Why? Because we believe simultaneously attending a meeting and multitasking on a Blackberry increases our efficiency. Neuroscientists say it produces the exact opposite effect: dividing our attention between competing stimuli instead of handling tasks one at a time actually makes us less productive.
The folks from this leading spirits company are by no means alone in their multitasking boorishness. Peppercom has two senior executives who are notorious for their use of BBs during our weekly management meetings. I've even tried to hide one of the offender's PDA in the hope that he'd cease and desist. Alas, no such luck.
Prospective clients are more insensitive than ever to an agency's time and resources. It's one thing to demand a proposal overnight, select the best ideas and then never announce a winning agency. But, it's even worse to publicly humiliate a firm by paying more attention to a BlackBerry than to a presenter. So, note to this particular marketing team: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.