Feb 04

It’s Always a Perfect Storm for the Media

Do the media love weather, or what? Good weather, bad weather, they love all weather. Whether it’s serious, or not.

Take Tuesday’s light dusting, for example. I happened to be working out at lunchtime and caught some of ABC’s "Stormtracker" coverage that interrupted regularly scheduled programming. I couldn’t hear the audio, but I could sure imagine it…

"This is Curt Constantinople, live in ABC’s Stormtracker headquarters. We’re6a00d83451c0bf69e200e54f875a438834-800wi following what could be a real whopper of a snow storm bearing down on the New York metropolitan area. Our Stormtracker team is on-site at some 31 locations throughout the tri-state area and will be providing live reports throughout the day. Let’s check in first with Hazel O’Hara in Hackensack. Hazel, it’s really coming down out there, isn’t it?"

Hazel: Not yet, Curt. But we sure are expecting it. In fact, stores are completely sold out of snow blowers thanks to our warnings on last night’s newscast.

Curt: That’s great to hear, Hazel. Our economy could sure use the boost. Keep us posted. Now, let’s go to Robin Rabinowitz in Rye. Robin: Whassup in Westchester County?

Robin: Curt, the winds are really whipping up here. I’ve had to put extra hair spray on in order to do this live remote. Thankfully, there’s no precipitation at all. I so do not need a bad hair day right now. Back to you, curt.

Curt: Hang in there, Robin. And stay safe. Now, let’s go out to the island and check in with Gaby Gomez in Garden City. Gaby. I can barely see you.

Gaby: That’s because the cameraman just fell, Curt. Ok, there we go. Curt, I’ve been covering weather for 30 years and I’ve never seen an entire town so eerily quiet.

Curt: Wow. Tell us what the weather’s doing. Is it a white out?

Gaby: Actually the sun is still shining, Curt. But I do see clouds and we both know what’s inside those clouds, Curt.

Curt: You bet we do. Clouds contain precipitation which, depending upon the temperature, can be either rain or snow. Which one is Garden City expecting, Gaby?

Gaby: Neither Curt. But we are expecting it to get dark within a few hours and you know what that means.

Curt: Yes I do. Darkness means colder temperatures and that means ice. And ice means icy roads. And, icy roads mean fender benders. And, if we’re fortunate enough, a few fatalities to report on. Hazel, Robin and Gaby, thanks for braving the conditions.  ABC’s Stormtracker team will continue to provide you round-the-clock coverage of this rapidly-developing weather situation. Will it rain? Will it snow? Will nothing at all happen? We’ll be the first to tell you.

Is it any wonder the media always shares the bottom of the trust and image rankings with used car salesmen and atheists? When it comes to weather, they’re the institutional boy who cried wolf.

Feb 03

Traditional Advertising Professionals Have a Right to Be “Mad Men”

Think you’ve got it tough? Try working for a traditional advertising agency. Sure, Detroit is toxic and the publishing sector has been a graveyard for some time, but how’d you like to ply your trade in an industry that’s just now waking up to find itself totally outdated and in need of a complete  and immediate overhaul? Now, imagine making that overhaul in the midst of the worst economy in decades.

The traditional advertising model (i.e. the 30-second TV spot, the full-page print advertisement and the 15 percent agency commission) is dead. Digital killed it. And, cost-conscious marketers are yanking millions, if not billions, of dollars out of traditional advertising and reallocating the cash to digital, word-of-mouth and public relations.

So, it came as no surprise to see an Adweek article entitled, "Ad Talent May Head Elsewhere.” Ah, but where?

I heard one industry analyst predict each of the Big Three advertising holding companies will lay off 30,000 employees this year. And, I attended a meeting just last week in which the client’s entire ad agency account team had been wiped out as part of a 5,000 person downsizing. Ouch!

These are jobs that will never be replaced. To make matters worse, though, these downsized souls possess talents that no other sector really wants or needs. Yes, a few may land at technology companies in search of creative talent and some may opt for professional services firms looking for the same sort of person. But, those gigs are few and far between. What will the hundreds of thousands of account managers, copywriters and media planners do? The Adweek article suggests architectural firms as a possible employment source. But, how much money is being spent on new construction these days? Or, advertising types could look overseas to Asia and Latin America, except those economies are tanking now as well.

So, what does a traditional advertising agency professional do? Beats me. But, it sure does give a whole new meaning to Mad Men.

Feb 02

So Much for Forecasting

"Candidates Out of Tune in Social Media Use," shouted the May 27, 2007, headline of a PRWeek article I'd happened to come across. Intrigued, I read on.

Brian Reich, director of new media at Cone and the former briefing director for Al Gore, was analyzing the use of the Internet by the lead presidential candidates of the day. "The Internet staffs of these campaigns haven't proven anything yet," opined Reich, who went on to predict that "…it will be a couple more election cycles before politicians get the hang of it (the Blogosphere)."

Ouch. Talk about being dead wrong.

Of course, at the time, the leading candidates were Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and John McCain. A certain Illinois senator wasn't even mentioned in the PRWeek text. Barackobamatwitterprofile

It's easy for me to do a Monday morning quarterback assessment of Mr. Reich's prediction but, man, oh man, did Barack Obama prove him wrong, or what? Obama's absolute digital mastery was a key ingredient in his successful campaign and continues to be a hallmark of his administration (can you believe we have a president who is not only addicted to his Blackberry, but also Twitters at will?).

I'm sure someone can dig up some predictions of mine that stood the test of time about as well as Reich's, but this one has to be right up there with the movie and radio moguls of the 1930s who predicted that television was nothing more than a passing fancy.