In case you missed it, AdFed recently held their wildly popular 32 Under 32 Awards. As usual, more than 100 people were nominated (105 to be exact). And, as usual, a large chunk of those nominees came from one area of our industry.
Agencies and vendors.
74 percent of the #32Under32 nominees were agency-side folks (I haven’t seen a published list of the winners yet). A full 78 of the 105 nominees. I’m too lazy to do the math, but glancing at previous years winners, I see a heavy skew toward agency folks, too.
Why do I mention this?
Because it lends credence to a trend I’ve long noticed, and often wondered about: Why are agency people far more networked than their corporate peers?
This is all based on a loose collection of assumptions. But, hear me out because I think it’s an interesting discussion.
Think about your local professional organizations–for me, that means MIMA and PRSA. Who largely makes up those groups and attends those events? I’d say agency folks. I remember when I was on the PRSA board, there was routine discussion about what we could do to recruit more corporate-side folks because we always seemed to lean agency-side (that’s been a MN PRSA label for years).
Look at the awards around town. I just outlined the prominence of agency folks in the 32 Under 32 Awards. Look at MN PRSA’s Young Professional of the Year Award–5 of the first 6 winners of that award have been agency-side folks. And, eight of the last 9 Padilla Award winners have also been agency or solo-side pros.
Finally, as I think about my experience personally, I think about the people I’ve worked with and know on the agency side and people I know on the corporate side. No question, my agency friends (largely) are more networked and connected than their corporate counterparts (with the exception of some folks like Jen Joly at Patterson Dental, Kevin Hunt at General Mills, Jamie Plesser at Allianz and Susan Beatty at US Bank). And, in my experiences working for corporations in the Twin Cities, those folks rarely (if ever) left the building for coffees and professional development events.
So, what’s going on here? Why are agency folks so connected, while corporate folks tend to stick around the office so much more?
I think a few factors are at play:
1: New business is a BIG motivator. Agency folks, like me, essentially get paid to know a lot of people. Because, you just never know where that next piece of new business will come from. So, they show up at events. They go to coffees. They apply for awards. Because all that helps them get their agency’s name out there.
2: Agency people, by their nature, are a bit more outgoing. I know this is a generalization, and it’s obviously not always true, but I’ve really found this to be a trend line in my career. Agency people are just more gregarious than their corporate counterparts. I mean, there’s a reason many agencies have beer wagons roaming the offices at 3:30 on Friday afternoons. Bottom line: The more outgoing agency folks are drawn to these social situations (coffees, events, etc.), while corporate folks seems more inclined to stay within their four walls.
3: Agencies trend younger. No surprise here, right? And I also think people who work for corporations tend to trend a bit older. Think about a typical career track. You start your career working for a big agency in your early 20s. You travel a lot. You’re not married nor do you have kids, so it’s not a big deal. Then, you work your way up the ladder, and you want more responsibility. You take a corporate job. You get married. You have a kid. You have another. Next thing you know you’re 37 and it’s pretty tough to leave that corporate gig where it’s fairly balanced and you now have 25 days of PTO to use for kid sporting events and vacations.
So yeah, I think by writing this I’m confirming what I’ve thought for years: Agency people really are more networked than their corporate counterparts.
Note: Photos courtesy of Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association.
I recently had coffee with a younger colleague who plays a key social role for a fairly large company here in Minneapolis. He/she was sharing a story I’ve been hearing more and more lately. Essentially it boiled down to this: There’s no one in the senior ranks at my company who knows more about social than I do.
Folks, that’s a BIG problem.
And, these younger people are starting to recognize it.
Why is this such a big issue? Because without “social mentors”, younger people in this space are lacking the direction, sounding boards and support they need as they attempt to figure out an entire discipline on their own (because, believe me, that’s what’s happening).
Think about it. You’re a 25- to 30-year-old who’s tasked with leading social media for a company (which is not that unusual in many cases). You’re knowledgeable about social. You get content. You know how to measure results. But, you need help, just like anyone else. You need someone to turn to for advice when you run up against a unique situation. You need someone you can bounce ideas off–someone who understands the tools and channels. And, you need someone who’s been around the block a time or two.
These “social mentors” are hugely valuable–and unfortunately, I am finding fewer and fewer companies have them on staff.
Why? Two big reasons:
1: Gen Xers largely eschew social media roles. As I think about fellow Gen X’ers in Minneapolis/St. Paul in social roles right now, it’s a pretty short list. I think about people like Bryan Vincent (UHG) and Kevin Hunt (Mills). But, like I said, the list is pretty short. I would say most X’ers I know chose to “stay in their lane” when social became a thing years ago (which is fine). But, it’s left a significant void of senior-level talent in the social arena. And, that means fewer of these “social media mentors” in company and agency ranks.
2: The Millennial to Xer/Boomer ratio is huge. According to reports, Millennials outnumber both Boomers and Gen Xers in the workplace (53.5M to 52.7 and 44.6 million, respectively). So, simple numbers tell us there are most likely more Millennials and fewer Xers (and Boomers, to a lesser extent). Then, think about how many Millennials are in these social media roles (A LOT!), and how many Xers/Boomers have experience in that area (not too many). You begin to see the math just isn’t working out…
So, we have a huge need for social media mentors among the younger set. And, we have a huge lack of social media mentors among the older set. Not a great recipe for success. What can be done?
I’m not sure I have the answer. Many of the Millennials who started in social roles the last 4-8 years will begin to assume more senior-level leadership roles in the years ahead, and they will become mentors to the new generation (Gen Z). It’s just too bad they don’t have more senior-level support right now–and whether they want to admit it or not, I think a lot of younger people could use that support.
Until then, I guess we just have a social media mentor crisis on our hands.
Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear from younger folks on this one…
We’ve all heard about the “storification” (yeah, I just made that word up) of the social web and how it represents the future of social. And how companies should start paying attention because “stories” are the new news feed (that’s questionable at best, in my view).
But, we haven’t seen too many good examples of companies using that “story” functionality creatively.
Which is why I immediately paused when I saw this video from Walmart in my feed last week.
You’ll notice Walmart repurposed a string of Snapchat stories (I think) and incorporated it into this video they they put together and shared on its Walmart Today Facebook channel.
Pretty interesting, right?
I actually found this video interesting for a number of reasons because I think it represents three big trends we may end up seeing much more of the months/years ahead:
1: Repurposing “stories” across other social media
Haven’t seen too many brands do this effectively yet, but Walmart seems to have repurposed Snapchat Stories into Facebook/YouTube content (if you’re wondering how to do that, here’s a nice tutorial). This isn’t exactly groundbreaking work, but it is damn efficient as Walmart was already grabbing the video content via phone on location. That video content then served as the bulk of this short-form social video. We’re always talking about ways to make your content work harder for you–perfect example right here.
2: Social company spokespeople are becoming a “must” not a “want”
Another trend this post highlights is the need for the new wave of “social corporate spokespeople.” In the video, you see Bo and Antonio, Walmart “DJs” right at the top. These two are, in fact, Walmart spokespeople. Not in the traditional way you might think about spokespeople–more in a social way. These are the storytellers of 2017. And, they have the skills required for many social stories in 2017. They can get in front of a camera and convince employees/customers to talk and react to the camera (a key skill many in our industry DON’T have). They can put a story together. They have a feel for what will work via social channels. These are the skills Bo and Antonio bring to the table–and they’re going to be skills more companies look for in the years ahead, given our preference for video content online.
3: How do we find these company spokespeople?
Usually, you’ll go out and try to hire them. Which will be tough, given the current landscape and tight job market. But, what’s really interesting in this example is what Walmart did. Instead of trying to go out and HIRE social spokespeople (these two were really hired as radio DJs, but for this example, they’re also social spokespeople), they looked internally. They held a contest to find the first two Walmart Radio DJs who would run Walmart Radio–what a cool job for two lucky Walmart employees who had an interest in radio. And, that’s exactly what happened for Bo and Antonio.
On the media side, some see it as the savior of their business.
On the PR side, it could be seen as a major hurdle.
Because here’s the scenario that’s playing out increasingly with PR folks: You secure a great story in The Washington Post. Your client is excited. You’re pumped because, well, it’s The Washington Post for crying out loud.
The placement hits. You share it on social media. You share the URL with your client.
But, you start getting comments on the Facebook post about people not being able to read the article.
Your client sends you a note quickly saying she can’t get to it either.
Enter the world of the paywall.
It’s great for the media (and I’m not saying media shouldn’t be using this model as a revenue source–believe me, I’ve been a subscriber of the Star Tribune for 4 years now). Not so great for PR.
Based on the social sharing and online-driven world we now live in, online PR placements are more valuable in many ways than the print version. But, if there’s a paywall, that’s all negated.
No sharing on social media–you’ll just frustrate your readers/followers.
No sharing with the client–you’ll just light a fire under them.
No sharing in client e-newsletters–you’ll upset your current and prospective customers.
My question for you all today is simply this: Is this a legit concern for our business?
Are there really enough newspapers with paywalls to make this a legitimate issue? WaPo has one. And, according to one study, more than 80 percent of all newspapers with a circ of more than 500,000 have one (wow). And, certain industry pubs have adopted the model (I couldn’t find a comprehensive list anywhere, to my chagrin).
Will paywalls become more common as a revenue source, or will they recede as newspapers and media outlets continue to experiment with and change their business models (Nielson thinks so)?
And, what does this mean for us as PRs? If paywalls do rise in prominence, does that impact our approach in using media relations as a part of our toolkit? I sure think it would.
It’s an interesting discussion. I’m curious to hear what you have to say.
By now, you’ve most likely seen Starbucks newest concoction: The Unicorn Frappuccino.
It’s purple. It’s pink. And, maybe most importantly to Starbucks, it’s inherently Instagrammable–to the tune of 150,000+ pics on the platform so far using the #unicornfrappuccino hash tag–there are tens of thousands more using the #starbucks hash tag.
Except, according to most, it tastes like crap (at least, according to many).
But, for Starbucks, creating a new tasty drink most likely was not the MO.
According to a Starbucks spokesperson via The Guardian: “The look of the beverage was an important part of its creation, our inspiration came from the fun, spirited and colourful unicorn-themed food and drinks that have been trending in social media.”
Read between the lines: This was a huge marketing play, pure and simple.
And, most of it was focused on what kind of drink would photograph well on Instagram (and Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram).
Why spend millions in marketing ad buy dollars when your target audience will market it for you? That was clearly the strategy here–and, judging from the social media stats we can see so far, it worked (not to mention the 20-person deep line I saw at Starbucks last Wed. when it was unveiled at 7 PM AT NIGHT!).
Meanwhile, Starbucks didn’t seem to put a ton of marketing dollars into its promotion of the new drink:
One tweet (most likely with paid dollars behind it, but no way of knowing)
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 19, 2017
One Facebook post (same thing):
One Instagram post:
I didn’t see a huge media blitz. I didn’t see ads on TV or across the internet.
What I did see was virtually everybody on the internet talking about the drink and photographing it last week. Without much of any paid incentive to do it.
All because the drink photographed well on Instagram.
Starbucks is hardly alone in tapping into this trend.
Locally, right here in Minneapolis, Hi-Lo Diner is rumored to have made key decisions on the decor and appearance of their restaurant based on how people would photograph their food on Instagram (and their retro sign outside).
And, I’m sure they aren’t the first, nor will they be the last, to take that approach.
I’m also thinking about coffee shops like Spyhouse and Annelace in Northeast Minneapolis–both of which have an inherent “Instagram-worthy” appeal to them.
Product and service design choices are now being made (in large part, in some cases) based on what photographs well on Instagram.
And I don’t think this trend will be limited to coffee shops and restaurants.
I could see this also impacting companies and industries like the following:
- Apparel (where it’s already happening)
- Organizational products (notebooks, bags)
- Beer labels and packaging
- Home and outdoor products
The list goes on. As companies become more data-focused and more aware of real-time consumer trends, thanks to social media, it will be interesting to see if this trend accelerates, or if it fizzles out, in the years ahead.