Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Earlier this week I spoke at a workshop for American MBA students that specialize in marketing.   Being of a certain age, I prefer to chat about life and work rather that talking my way through a power point presentation, and because the agency has been going for so long and we have seen so many changes, I usually talk about how PR and marketing worked in the early days after the fall of communism and then compare it to how things work now.

The students can never quite believe that when JWA first started we didn’t have computers, mobile phones, internet etc.. and actually, in Czechoslovakia when I first arrived, even calling out of the country from a landline was an all day challenge; but that is another story.     In this latest workshop, however, by the time I got to what we are doing today, I had had quite a few questions fired at me and I suspect that some of the students thought that I was making my whole speech up!
It was when I got to social media, and my general concern about the use of social media as a marketing tool, that they became the most incredulous; one of them even asked ‘if you don’t like social media, then what do you DO for your clients?’…. to which I responded, of course, that even twenty years ago we did actually manage to carry out marketing and communications campaigns, and a lot of what we do now is just a more developed version of what we did then.  She definitely didn’t believe that!

The thing is, as I keep on saying, we in the Czech Republic operate in a place where marketing and communication is still not widely understood, and where many companies would rather get someone from their own team - usually the most junior or least knowledgeable person (or, in the case of an SME, the boss will take it on themselves) - to ‘do’ the marketing, rather than spend any money on outside help, with the end result that it (marketing) doesn’t work.  And they never see that it is not the marketing that doesn’t work, but what they are doing. 
So imagine the damage that can be done when you give these same people a Facebook/YouTube/Twitter/whatever tool to play with – so much easier and cheaper to work with than, say, preparing a brochure or advert, or trying to get a press release written and published!!  And so much more damaging…

My friends are always surprised (amazed?) that I actually do know quite a bit about social media and in some clients’ cases we use it quite a lot; but we use it with extreme caution, using a copywriter to prepare the text and so on, and ensuring that what is being said is in line with the client's overall marketing strategy at all times.   But one thing you can be sure of.. you are never going to find me or anyone in our team posting photos or comments on Facebook or tweeting about what we had for breakfast, or any of the other things that I am now addicted to watching on my Blackberry!  And then wondering what on earth makes people feel the need to tell the world what they are doing at any time of the day or night?  Don’t they worry that people might think they have nothing better to do (for example work…??).  Or am I just anti-social?

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