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.

8 thoughts on “R-E-S-P-E-C-T

  1. I tweeted about this issue for PepperDigital yesterday. It seems I was beaten to the punch.

  2. Thanks Rep Jr. Aside from using his expletives, I felt exactly like Johnny Drama did.

  3. The cell phone ring is brutal. That shouldn’t be permitted in business meetings.

  4. This type of behavior is so incredibly boorish. I don’t have a BB, but I do have a cell phone, and I keep it on vibrate during the entire day. I do this because similar bad behavior is the incessant ringing of a cell phone during a meeting. Silencing a cell phone is so easy I don’t know why more people don’t do it. I was in a meeting last month where our CEO was speaking and someone’s phone rang with an obnoxious hip-hop ringtone. We looked around and a female colleague was digging in her purse for the phone. Of course, when she pulled the phone out it was ringing at full volume, but rather than silence it she stared at it for a few seconds deciding whether to take the call. Then she silenced it, put it back in her purse, only to have this scenario play out AGAIN in five minutes. I was thinking, “Lady, turn the damn thing off!” If I’m in a meeting and my phone goes off, nobody is the wiser and I wait until after the meeting to see who called or texted me. It’s just common courtesy.
    Interesting to note, too, that new UK PM David Cameron has banned cell phones from his cabinet meetings to keep folks focused.

  5. Good one, Ed! I will remember that the next time I am on an interview.

  6. That’s a rough first date, Julie. Over the years, we’ve been pursued by the CEO of a holding company. This guy is ADD to the max and will often stop, mid-sentence, to either respond to an incoming e-mail or take a call. Ed came up with the perfect solution. He brought his BB to the next meeting and mirrored the CEO’s actions, step-by-step. The guy got it and put his PDA away for good. I’m tempted to do the same at the next new business pitch railroaded by such incivility.

  7. WOW, Steve. I cannot believe that this liquor company invites your firm to present, only to diss your experience and then adds insult to injury by checking their blackberries during the entire meeting. It reminds me of a first date I was on recently; the guy kept checking his blackberry during the entire one-hour I gave him.
    Every time I’d start to answer one of his questions, he’d look down at his PDA and start typing. So, I would stop talking. Then he’d say, “I’m sorry; I have to do this, but I’m listening.” Needless to say, I cut the evening short and never saw this jerk again. There needs to be a “Stop the Rudeness” campaign…