More Fast Company Social Media Cover Story Disappointment

Credit: Jayme Soulati

By now, you’ve seen the Fast Company cover story, with tongue in cheek and not in check, about social media being “kinda” sexy. It’s the tonality and a few other things in question for me. If you’re late to the party; it’s not too late to see it here.

I wrote about this Monday and wasn’t happy or unsurprised that PR is getting short shrift at the mahogany table (said Barrett Rossie in blog comments) by others in the digital space AND Fast Company.

What gave me pause when reading the story start to finish was the entire tonality of the piece as well as one word choice in particular by a Fast Company staff writer, I presume (there are no bylines for the featured tips and secrets).

In comments Monday, Geoff Reiner, of Clarity for The Boss, and I were chatting about the disappointment with that kind of sub-quality wording, IMHO.

People who read Red Head Writing know and expect her to use this language in all of her post, something I’d never do and gasp upon reading a blog like the link provided. If you don’t like it, “her house, her rules,” as she always shares.

While it doesn’t sit well with me ALL the time (I’ve been known to use the f-bomb for emphasis in an adjectival sense), what bothered me about Fast Company was my stupid expectation, the props I ALWAYS give that publication, and subsequent let down as a result.

Fast Company Poor Editing

Here’s the passage; you can be the editorial judge:

“So how does a brand be intimate with a person? It’s a major mindfucker. Brands want Facebook ads to look more like the rest of their stuff; to put this new thing in an old shape.” (Fast Company, Insider’s Secret No. 2, Facebook to Ad Creatives: Help! Please!, September 2012)

So, the crux of the matter is the following, and Jenn Whinnem also raised a great point about journos and bloggers related to respectability and credibility:

Should nationally published magazines be upheld to greater standards than professional bloggers? Is the tone of this cover piece the way Fast Company itself gets invited to the table as a content marketer/blogger (thanks Ralph Dopping for that thought)?

I laud this publication every week in blog posts because I relish its content for its ability to generate blog fodder and mojo for me as a professional blogger. This cover piece on social media, although providing great inspiration for many a blogger, isn’t what I had in mind.

What say you?

Is PR Getting Short Shrift in Social Media?

Back in the day when I was a whippersnapper in Chicago’s PR agencies, the lament was “we weren’t getting a seat at the boardroom table.”

Fast Company landed on my desk several days ago; I devoured the cover story, “Social Media Is Sexy (kinda).” It features “38 ironclad rules (sorta); 18 (uncomfortable) truths); and 6 can’t lose secrets (you wish).”

From the tone of the headers on the cover, insert tongue squarely in cheek.

Turn to “Insider’s Secret No. 5 — You Hired The Wrong People.” (The strange thing about these pieces is I can’t tell who wrote them; no bylines at top or bottom of articles.

At any rate, this writer says “To be a good social media person at a brand, you have to have a background not just in digital or marketing, but also in your product. There are so few people with that blend of experience.

And…

“People are always shoving social into marketing, or they’re shoving it into digital. It’s actually all this stuff: It’s marketing, it’s digital, it’s creative.”

AHEM!

Dear Mr./Ms. Fast Company Insider Secret No 5 Author:

Public relations practitioners are highly qualified to manage social media. We know the product inside and out (that’s how we promote it); we are content marketers with better than decent writing skills; we’re creative; we are strategists; we are also business people; and, we have a keen interest in the bottom line — you know the ROI and analytics of it all?

Kindly include PR in the future when writing about social media wherever your tongue is.

#ThatIsAll,

 A Credible PR and Social Media Marketing Practitioner

So, PR, are you getting a seat at the social marketing table? Or, are our sisters in related disciplines getting all the glory?

Thoughts About Women To Watch

I eagerly devoured the latest edition of Fast Company with a longer-than-usual perusal of the cover on which are three gorgeous women gracing a headline, “The League of Extraordinary Women.” And, then I began to think about that headline more intently and feel a bit of guilt that I was less than inspired to read that cover story.

Why? I hadn’t thought long enough to come to grips with my reason for discomfort. Then, I switched over to June 18, 2012 Advertising Age,  and was shocked with the serendipity of the Viewpoint article written by Linda Sawyer, CEO of Deutsch in re Ad Age’s Women To Watch list. Her thoughts provoked mine to gel more quickly…let me share:

Linda Sawyer of Deutsch said:

  • “The gender imbalance at the top of the industry might suggest that it’s time to move past citing women’s accomplishments in terms of how they stack up against each other, and solely in terms of how they stack up.
  • Linda is an avid reader and fan of Ad Age (and alumna of the Women To Watch list in 2000), and she felt compelled to question the Women to Watch feature and its relevance. She realizes that “lauding the accomplishments of star talent is beneficial, but perhaps we have to entertain the possibility that any type of segmentation of talent unduly diminishes that group to a subsegment.”

I pondered what she said, a lauded and laudable woman executive in the advertising profession…and I came to this conclusion of my own:

I am not diminishing the amazing talent and inspirational accomplishments of the 60 women featured in  Fast Company or those featured annually by Ad Age, either. Where I’m coming from is how to parlay these stories to a level in business that is far diminished from them and their levels in business. Fortune companies, celebrities and well-to-do philanthropists with the ability to make a tremendous difference across the globe with their earnings have a bit of an edge over women in business who strive daily to achieve success, raise families and improve themselves professionally while paying it forward.

I am inspired with the stories I read, and then I’m immediately realistic — I can never make a widespread impact like they can. My accomplishments pale in comparison;  I am relegated to my wee corner to manage my business, build my future and raise my child. Would that I could make such a difference on such a grand scale…but, should I pine for that when I know very well I am in this place for a purpose?

Thoughts about women in business, achievement, and always keeping your purpose alive in spite of others’ accomplishments right next door…? I’m still thinking on this one.

Personal Branding CeeLo Green Style

I am always inspired with blog fodder in my numero-uno favorite ‘zine, Fast Company. This month’s edition just graced my kitchen table (yes, it’s always cluttered with reading material I never read), and on the cover is my new fave “hyphenate, a strung-together mash up of titles made mandatory when no single job description suffices.” His hyphenate is ~singer-writer-producer-personality-actor-entrepreneur-mentor-freak.

CeeLo Green, aka Thomas DeCarlo Calloway, age 37, graces the cover with Purrfect the Persian (that’s why I like CeeLo, he has great taste in felines) ranked number five in Fast Company’s List of the Top 100 Most Creative People in Business. What an amazing accolade, and when you read the story here, you’ll nod in agreement.

Did you watch The Voice? I DVR’d the entire season (first time ever). This man absolutely cracked me up with his sultry, sexy lady-killer approach alongside his serious appreciation and compassion for his final two contestants on The Voice.  He felt like big brother and big daddy all in one – such a many-faceted hyphenate.

Here is the second reason I was interested enough to write about him today:

“It’s all strategy, a careful cultivation of image through massive exposure, but at its core is a sense of purpose.”

Read that again! How powerful, how spot-on for someone creating a personal brand within the most hotly cluttered industry in the world – Hollywood and the U. S. music scene.

  • Hyphenate. I’ve never seen this word used as a noun, but it goes. Maybe one of the reasons I was compelled to write about CeeLo is because I feel like a bit of a hyphenate myself; let me try:

PR professional-social media leader-brand marketer-professional blogger-strategist-business coach-writer-creative idea generator-mentor-blahblahblah

Please add yours in comments!

  • Personal branding. So many years ago, I recognized I was the brand. Companieshired me, regardless of where I worked and what I named my companies (I’ve had two other formal companies).

Reading this piece about CeeLo (I never knew of him prior to watching The Voice) is affirmation that a personal brand must be cultivated every day on all mediums, channels and in a variety of methods.

How do you promote your personal brand? There’s a ton written on this topic; I’ve not read their articles. Taking pointers from CeeLo, I’d suggest a purposeful mix of intelligence, zany fun, sophistication, and professionalism work quite well. For sure, personal branding is not a cake walk. Perseverance helps, and well, making $20 million a year might be somewhat effective, too.

Vehicle Buying Habits

I’m impressed with my impression of how much a story (good old traditional media relations) in Fast Company has me eager to explore a Ford as my next vehicle. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to say that; my grampa drove Ford (enough said!).

Back step a minute…

The quest is on for a 7-passenger SUV (not a soccer mom mini-van, please, although I do coach my daughter’s team) that may or not remain a Toyota. The more news I consume, the more confused I am about which direction to head. Factors strongly in the nay column are companies that accepted government bailout monies we taxpayers funded, as well as the overall  health of the corporation (GM? Nope).

I certainly won’t end up “like” Simon…

Simon Dumenco is (sdumenco@adage.com) The Media Guy for Advertising Age. In his opinion column April 12 he writes “What a pathetic, passive, compliant consumer I’ve become! Like, over there, in the kitchen: my incredibly easy-to-use Senseo coffeemaker, which I thought I loved. But it only accepts certain kinds of coffee pods. How devious! And my sleek Braun toaster: Sure, it can accommodate sliced bread and bagels, but could I cook a pot roast with it? No! Does it have a camera? No!”

I’m fiercely loyal to Toyota and have always loved my three-row Highlander from the get go. According to Advertising Age, Toyota sold more cars in March than it did in January and February combined. The “impressive bump” is a credit to the brand’s “almost fanatical consumer base and bargain hunters.”

Case Study with Self

I decided to use my own situation as a case study in consumer-buying habits. As I move through the steps toward this large purchase decision, I’ll share the various communications channels I’m using to get there.  To date:

  • Word-of-mouth marketing — Twitter helped direct me to Ford and Volvo 90. After taking a look, I was impressed by both and swayed by the Volvo brand.
  • A comment on this blog directed me away from Volvo because it’s being sold (don’t want to be stuck like Saturn owners).
  • Upon reading the April Fast Company story, “Ford’s Big Reveal, The next generation of Ford’s Sync technology will turn its cars into rolling, talking, socially networked, cloud-connected supermachines. Introducing America’s most surprising consumer-electronics company.” (And that’s merely the headline!)
  • In a nutshell, Ford’s alliance with Microsoft is bringing leading-edge connectivity to its now pared down and more manageable line of vehicles.  Voice- enabled and hands-free phone dialing and answering, music selection, navigation, climate control, and so much more are putting Ford vehicles ahead of the curve.  
  • Worth looking at, don’t you think? Then again, perhaps the thought of owning a talking car like David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider is what’s compelling.
  • Two soccer moms sat in their Toyota Sequoia monstrosities (I think they were matching). Upon walking up to them (windows were down) I queried them about Toyota. Immediately, they both said, “I’d buy another Toyota in a heartbeat, the problem has been fixed already!”

Indeed.