Month: November 2013

The Future of Communications and Marketing in Digital

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digital-communications-interns1Today in the market we see a lot of jobs that are geared to having communications or marketing practitioners “specialized” in digital media.  Is this the way that the industry will move forward?

Here is the thing… in certain regards it makes sense that you have individuals who are familiar with publications, or broadcast and of course digital.  However, a well rounded practitioner should be well versed in all areas of communications.  As we move forward with technology, more and more it becomes apparent that these mediums bleed into one another, and have become tripods with each one depending on the other.

Yes there are definitely shifts in the way organizations spend their advertising/communications/pr dollars, with more moving away from print and into digital.  That being said, it does not mean that all the mediums disappear and one will emerge the champion.  Audiences consume information in so many different ways, and the most  important decision you need to make as a practitioner is where to find them, if that medium makes sense for your target and what you are trying to achieve.

When you divide the three mediums so specifically, you end up with departments that compete for dollar spends based on their specific “specialty”.  I’m not disputing that it does not make sense that happens, but I will say that divisions like that mean that it becomes a personal interest on obtaining larger dollars, rather than whether or not it makes overall sense for a campaign or an organizational objective.

I firmly believe that at this juncture in the evolution of our industry, being a digital specialist should not exist.  I’ve mentioned this before, and I will mention this again – digital is another medium.  It is another tool in the tool belt for marketing and communications practitioners to use.  There should be no reason why anyone on any team should not be familiar with all three mediums, have some exposure to all of them, and have a firm grasp and understanding how they all should be used.

Teams should be educated in all ways that each of the mediums change.  That being said, I also believe that every professional should have a vested interest in self education and keeping themselves current and relevant as well.  The future of digital in these professions is that it will be common place – as it is in every day life already.

Why Facebook Likes Shouldn’t Be an Organizational Objective

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like-us-on-facebook-buttonFacebook likes.   Hmmmmm.  The never ending discussion and debate around Facebook likes is something that I have had on an almost daily basis.

So why should “Facebook Likes” not be an objective?  I mean, it’s measurable, it’s visible, it’s seems like it’s qualitative in nature. So why wouldn’t anyone in marketing or communications charged with the responsibility of growing their social audiences use this as a means of moving forward

To answer this question, let’s look at it from the opposite perspective – Why Facebook Likes Should be an Organizational Objective?

  • More likes = more awareness of my brand
  • More likes = more of an audience that is paying attention to my brand
  • The more likes = more people to communicate with
  • The more people like my brand, the more that will follow
  • It will show up more in peoples timelines making it “go viral”

All of this sounds wonderful.  In theory.

The first issue in all of this, is – what does a Facebook like actually mean to your organization?

When organizations use this as a measurement tool, things such as – “The Forced Like” begin to happen.  What is the forced like?  It’s when an organization creates a Facebook page, with something that seems alluring – usually a contest, or some kind of special content – but the only way that you can gain access to it, is by clicking their “like” button.  Or as we term it – “like” gated.  Again, I beg the question – what does a Facebook like actually mean to your organization?

Communications and marketing people do understand that a truly engaged audience is what really moves a brand.  An engaged audience means that you are delivering something that they both need and want.  The entire premise and “cool factor” about social media… including Facebook… was that you could target your audience.  Even though you might not be reaching everyone, you could finally find the people who were really interested in what you had to offer.  It meant that you were truly delivering real ROI – spending dollars on an audience that could show real return, because they truly have a genuine interest in your brand.

The main opposition that  I have in using Facebook likes as a metric to success stem from 3 main points:

  1. Forcing a like, to gain entry into a contest or to gain access to a coupon or special redemption moves your brand further away from a genuine engaged audience.  Using tactics like this means you will attract an audience who’s main objective is couponing or contesting.  This also means that once the user has acquired what they need, “like” retention will become an issue, because the reality is – they are not that interested in your brand, they were interested in the possibility of winning/getting something for free.
  2. Without defining what a “like” means to your organization, also means that you have no real qualitative measurement.  While it is true, analytics and reporting area usually quantitative in nature – the problem is that when your reporting shows a significant increase in likes and then a decrease, it doesn’t really provide a great story.  However, once you define what it actually means to your organization you can really determine what your Facebook strategy should be in both gaining and retaining likes.
  3. What are you planning on doing with all of the people you’ve acquired?  This is the biggest pitfall with most Facebook like acquisitions.  As with all media – print, broadcast, digital  (blogs, facebook, twitter) – content is king!  This means that having likes as an organizational objective requires a two step process.  What are you going to do to get them, and what are you going to talk about/give them/ engage them once you have them?

It must run in the family….

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390612_10150392575209262_989158474_nWell it takes one to know one right?    It seems that many people in my family (including my own father), has displayed some type of interest in digital in one way or another.  My dad was a computer programmer eventually heading up all things IT, in a time when there weren’t many IT department heads that were visible minorities in Canada.  He was hardcore – I mean programming Cobalt and Tandem and crazy ridiculous things I don’t even understand.  I just remember he would do some crazy things using a DOS screen.  Yeah, I’m talking old school.

This is actually a post to shout out to my cousin who is a native “New Yawker” ( those are his own words ).  His mom and my dad were siblings, and we pretty much spent our entire child hoods being driven back and forth across the US/Canada border to spend summers, long weekends and holidays together.  He is a proud new daddy of the most adorable little baby boy – and with the time off that I have at the moment …  I feel that a visit is in order, along with meeting my… second cousin?  Cousin – nephew?

He too, took an interest in technology – although he had originally set his sights on architecture.  (Much like myself… I had my sight set on a law degree and instead entered into communications, then more specifically digital communications).  He is a CIO and actually works very much in the same field as myself.  He has been a pretty awesome support to me during this difficult time of career transition.

If you have moment, you should take a stroll on over to check out his blog: A CIO’s Voice.  (I’ll be sure to put a permanent link on my blog roll in a bit ;)).  Happy readings!

And the Job Hunt Begins

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As most of you are aware, I have proudly worked for Rogers Media in their Digital Client Solutions Team for the last 3 years.  Unfortunately, and to my greatest shock – last Tuesday I was laid off as part of their restructuring process.  (You can see the story here: Rogers Communications lays off 94 staff in media operations.)  Myself and 1 additional team member also was let go after 8 years with the company and 5 years on my team.

I first and foremost want to say that working at Rogers in my role as a Digital Engagement Manager was really and truly my dream job.  It really was everything that anyone that works in communications could dream of and ask for -not to mention that I worked on one of the most prestigious teams.  I’m not shy to say – as I did at many of our morning department teams – it was the team that everyone within the organization was trying to be part of.

I considered my team members to be like family.  My Director was outstanding as was my reporting manager – and I always think that these situations are the most difficult  – because when you work with great people and great mentors, it is so sad to not be able to see them and interact with them everyday.  As I said to them – I hope this is only just a temporary pause until we have an opportunity to work or collaborate together one day.

I shall not include names because I do respect people’s privacy and anonimity 🙂  But to all the sales reps, GMs, editors and publishers, producers, project managers, creative and also of course to my entire team – thank you all so much for the time I had to learn and grow and be part of the wonderful things that Rogers Media does 🙂