Do You Truly Want to Be a Leader? Listen to What’s Happening in Pop Culture

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Sam Ford

For marketers and communicators, especially those working at agencies, staying on top of what's truly shaping communication is vital. But, as an industry, we've never really been all that good at it. Sure, we can see trends happening once they are prevalent and react to them. But it's been tough for agencies to truly innovate and drive our clients toward where they should be headed.

Even if you prioritize constantly challenging the way you think, it's hard to figure out how to do that. At Peppercom, we put a great deal of emphasis behind challenging our own status quo: from our internal Innovation Mill launched by Peppercommer Lauren Begley–which highlights the latest innovations and experiments in the marketing space that we might learn from as an agency–to collaborating with new partners and making hires from outside the public relations space. (After all, that's what brought me–now an "in-house" media studies academic–to the firm.)
But beyond that, I wanted to share a bit of advice I've learned over the years as to the best way to stay on top of what's happening in the world: keep up with what's happening in culture. That's the gist of Grant McCracken's Chief Culture Officer: that marketers who pay little attention to the world around them will both miss out on business opportunities and find themselves at risk.
I'll take that one step further and say that PR, advertising, corporate communication and marketing pros who want to truly stay abreast of what's happening and what's coming need to watch the entertainment space.
For the past several years, I've been fortunate to help organize an annual conference called the Futures of Entertainment. The event brings together media industries practitioners, marketers, and media scholars to talk about what's happening in the entertainment world. And, through my years of research, I've often found that new modes of engagement, developments and challenges that eventually affect companies and governments have, in some ways, often been "previewed," in a way, among media audiences over the years.
After all, many of the ways citizens today talk about the news, rally the government, or petition companies–particularly through online communication–was once considered the strange and marginalized space of "the fan" or "fanatic," people who had nothing better to do with their time than to become obsessed with what they watch, create media that responds to it, share media amongst each other, etc.
Each year, I look at the issues that end up getting planned for the conference as a barometer of the things I should be keeping in mind and the issues I should be thinking about how to bring to bear on our agency and our clients. And I'm especially proud this year that Peppercom's events division, Peppercommotions, is helping plan the conference.
To Repman readers, whether you work for an agency or "in-house," I highly recommend you come up and join us at MIT Nov. 11-12 to talk about pressing issues like "spreadable media," crowdsourcing, location-based technologies, audience/producer collaboration, and privacy issues. In particular, we'll look at the innovations taking place in journalism & documentary filmmaking, music, serialized storytelling, and children's media. And I promise there will be many implications to come from these issues in the marketing world. Rather than waiting for them to happen and playing catch-up, I hope you'll consider joining us.
More information on the conference is available here:
Grant McCracken's book referenced is here:

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