What’s Next?

Where We’ve Been

Over the past three years and nine months, I’ve had the pleasure of working at one of the smartest, quickest, most-fun agencies around – Spring Creek Group. I started my first day all that time ago as an Engagement Lead (entry level position at SCG at the time) after spending three years climbing the ranks at a PR agency (where I was told social wouldn’t be that big of a deal). It was a bit of a step back, but one I was willing to take to be part of what SCG already had going on.

Some time later, plus an office relocation from Westlake to Pioneer Square, I’d moved into a different role as the types and sizes of clients SCG started to take on evolved. We still had one of the best teams around and it was showing in our work every day.

Also around this time, I met the woman who would (as of August) become my wife – Camille (Carette) Schott. Regardless of what I have and what I do, I have her to thank for always being my inspiration and my cheerleader. She’s also had to be a one-person couple many times thanks to work and the constant relationship I have with my phone/computer. There’s actually a great quote in a George Lois book I just read:
A quote from George Lois' book "Damn Good Advice for Creative People"

I have to say, without Camille’s support and help, I wouldn’t be where I am today… and I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m about to be.

In 2011, right around my birthday, Spring Creek Group became part of Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands family of companies – something we were all really excited about. We’d grown incredibly quickly as an independent and scrappy agency, but we all knew there was more out there for us.

I can say right now that the experience of being acquired by a large holding company is definitely interesting – great and frustrating at times. Everyone at IPG, Mediabrands, and our partner agencies has been an absolute pleasure to work with. We’ve got some incredibly smart people at these companies putting out some seriously amazing work in social, digital, search, and mobile. That’s not just in the U.S. either, it’s all over the world.

Since being acquired, we’ve had the ability to spread our thoughts on social as a viable marketing channel far and wide with companies like Kia, HTC, IHOP, and more. We’ve been at the ignition point of industry-leading integration between traditional and digital advertising. We’re pushing further and further, everyday, toward new standards for measurement, activation, and customer interaction. It’s all incredibly exciting and I’m glad to say that I’ve had the chance to be a part of it.

Where We’re Going

A couple weeks ago was one of the toughest weeks of my professional career. You may have heard that Spring Creek Group, along with a number of our Mediabrands partner agencies, experienced a round of layoffs. No one likes layoffs – not the employers, not the employees that get laid off, and not the employees that are left behind. The changes made focus on the future as we look at the market and needs of our clients, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

I had to say goodbye to great coworkers, but even more than that – great friends. People I’ve worked with since starting at SCG. People that helped get SCG where it is today – one of the leading social marketing and strategy agencies in the world.

Along with that incredibly hard day, came some news concerning me and my role at Spring Creek Group… and that gets us to where we are today.

Soon, I’ll be relocating to London, England and taking the position of Head of Spring Creek Group, UK. I’m incredibly excited for this opportunity as, and this isn’t a big surprise to anyone who follows me on social, I love SCG and believe wholeheartedly in the leadership and direction of the company . Having the chance to take everything we’ve built here in the U.S. and expand that model and culture across the pond has been something I’ve long thought about.

The UK, much like the U.S., is moving along the maturation scale fairly quickly and the need for SCG’s unique skills and experience is definitely an opportunity for SCG and Mediabrands. I’ll be working within MAP (the Mediabrands Audience Platform) and with our partners at Ansible, Cadreon, and Reprise to continue what our group started out to do: improve insights and results for clients by helping brands find, buy and engage their most valuable audiences in real time.

We’re (both Camille and I) very excited for this opportunity and we thank IPG, Mediabrands, and Spring Creek Group. One of the hardest parts about making this move has been taking Camille away from a job at a company she truly loves – Blanton Turner. After a not-so-great experience at her last employer, Camille found an incredible company with a leadership team that truly cares about their employees. So, to the team at Blanton Turner – thank you and I’m sorry I’m stealing Camille away. If you want to open a BTUK, I’m sure she’d be down.

As you may (or may not) know, we both have relatives living the the UK and it’s been a goal of ours to move abroad for some time now. We’re looking forward to experiencing the expat life while still staying connected to our friends and family back home (thanks to the fact that I’m addicted to technology). I’m still trying to figure out ways I can watch Cougar Football while in Jolly Old, so you may get frantic calls from me trying to access your Xfinity account in order to watch Pac 12 Live.

Our friends are our family, as we don’t have very big families. We’re definitely going to be missing each one of our friends as we make this move, but we’ll have an extra room. Believe me when I say we’ve been dreading leaving you all here in the States as our lives just won’t be the same. Flights to London come on sale every once in a while 🙂

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be travelling back and forth to London setting up there and looking for housing. I’m sure you’ll all be annoyed by FB, Twitter, and Instagram posts.

More to come…

Agency Evolution: 5 Ways to Keep from Going the Way of the Dodo

Most of my professional life has been spent at agencies – some great, some not-so-great. Through the good (and the bad) there are always lessons to be learned. Here, for your consideration, are a couple of those lessons.

As digital and social media pushes continue to eat away at, and sometimes trump, traditional marketing budgets, it can seem like throwing a sentence on your website about how you “do social media” can be an easy way to keep (and gain) business. The weird thing is, the changing agency climate of the times isn’t solved by a quick-change offering set – it’s a combination of a number of factors that are making (and breaking) agencies of today… big and small alike.

The thing about the market is that it’s like the honey badger, it simply doesn’t give a shit. The market and your opportunities will move on with or without your agency (PR, Marketing, Advertising, whatever). It doesn’t matter if you’re in the front office or a cube next to the bathrooms, there are things you can do to keep your agency at the top (of minds and RFI lists).

Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

The times they are a-changing and there’s no going back. Agencies that are still operating as if it’s 2000 are sadly more outdated than their Windows XP systems. Markets and clients change and if your business model and offerings are as stale as the yellowed paper they’re printed on, you’re looking at some disappointment in your near future. Look to market leaders and hiring trends to see how to align your business for success.

Competitive Compensation

While economies around the world are rising and falling like a roller coaster, the agency world continues to thrive while many other businesses falter. Oftentimes agencies are asking a lot of their employees and if they’re not willing to compensate fairly for their time, efforts, and talents, those talented employees will find somewhere they feel appreciated. Taking the time to keep on top of salaries in your area is a great way to keep talent and attract new talent. Gone are the days of the “wait until your annual review” and today’s workforce expects to see changes in compensation as duties, contributions, and influence change. Remember, base salaries are only the beginning as employees are looking for healthcare, vacation packages, and company perks when determining their level of compensation.

Partner Up

You can’t always be the big shop on the block. In many cases partnering with a complimentary agency can be a boon for both businesses as you’re able to fulfill on client needs and bounce referrals back and forth. Always be careful to guard your best-kept secrets and talent, though as partnerships can turn ugly when there’s a lot of money on the table. However, when done right, partnerships can definitely build and grow both businesses involved.

Do Less

When the market changes faster than you can keep up with, sometimes the best thing to do is cut your service offerings, not try to expand to fit the market. When you look at the possibilities of meeting new service offerings, you have the choice of trying to make do with what you’ve got in-house or hiring from the outside – both have their benefits and drawbacks. Making do can often mean falling behind and failing to meet expectations Hiring from outside can definitely mean more $ and that doesn’t sit well in today’s business landscape. Look at your offerings and do a serious SWOT to see where you can throw resources and make the biggest impact for your clients and employees. In the end you’ll be loking at more business as you hone your skills and set about making a name for your business rather than trying to be a one agency band.

Fail Harder

It’s on the wall (in pushpins) at Wieden + Kennedy, so I definitely can’t take credit for this one, but I think it’s incredibly important – not just in agency life, but in real people life as well. If you’re able to throw everything you’ve got behind your vision and capabilities, then you have nothing to regret at the end of the day. If you go down in flames, but you know you did so with conviction, determination, and the buy-in of talented employees, you can’t really ask for anything more.

Visual.ly Brings Infographics to the Masses

Infographics are everywhere these days, not just in the pages of USA Today. Visual.ly, recently launched publicly as a place to share, view, and post infographics. They even have a Labs section that lets you make your own:

Burson-Marsteller Commentgate/Deletegate Demonstrates Need for Social Media Policies

There’s been this ongoing debate in the marketing profession for a while now about where social media should live within the whole mix. I’m definitely part of the camp that sees (as my employer Spring Creek Group does) Social living in the middle of a triangle that includes Marketing/Advertising, PR, and Customer Service. Now, there are many in each camp who will talk, at length, about why their respective organizational fiefdoms should hold the Social Media reins, but none has really made a convincing argument that’s become widely agreed upon.

However, what happens more often than not are cases where each part of that triangle make incredibly embarrassing blunders that shoot their argument for control squarely in the foot. The most-recent of these tremendous gaffes comes on the heels of what might be one of the biggest marketing-related stories in a while – Burson-Marsteller‘s campaign on behalf of Facebook to smear the crap out of Google. I’m not a fan of Google and believe their “don’t be evil” mantra about as much as I believe anything that comes out of Sarah Palin‘s mouth, but come on Facebook.

But, that’s beside the point…

When Burson-Marsteller was outed as the agency that took on this devious client project, people took to Burson-Marsteller’s Facebook Page to let them know how they felt… only to have their comments deleted by Burson-Marsteller’s Facebook community manager (or whatever the pseudo-equivalent to CMs in the PR world). Big no-no. WIRED broke the story about that and the Twitterverse has been exploding since.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Heck, Apple deleted comments about the faulty iPhone 4 antenna from its community forums – and they have die-hard fans. What these situations do point out, though, is the importance of a public-facing Social Media Policy.

Policies like those at Best Buy, Coca-Cola, and others offer a one-stop shop for users to see exactly what they can expect when dealing with these brands in social. These policies not only say how the brands act in the social space, they also lay out guidelines for how they expect their communities to behave (i.e. their thoughts around what is and isn’t acceptable in their communities).

Yes, Burson-Marsteller crapped the bed by removing posts (some of which were probably warranted based on their idea of what was and was not appropriate on their page), but without outwardly sharing that view of “appropriate” content, they don’t have a leg to stand on when making that claim. If your page is receiving enough volume, or you plan on doing so in the future, you’ll want to look into creating a social policy.

Building a Trending Topic

Trending topics are the holy grail of Twitter marketing/outreach. You can buy your way to the top, but how are those topics that aren’t paid for moved to the top of the list? HINT NUMBER 1: Have something to do with Justin Beiber… seriously.

For a more academic look at what goes into creating the trending topics, read this PDF:
Trends in Social Media: Persistence and Decay

 

via Gizmodo via Mashable via NYTimes

Like a Phoenix from the Ashes

Talking about dating and boring stuff like that can only be fun for so long. Also, I realized the joke title of my blog “therealronschott.com” might actually be thought of as “serious” to those who don’t know me.

So, with that said, I’m going to start writing on this blog again (now is where you say “yay!”).

I’ll write about the digital world as I see it, complete with my thoughts and reactions to the relevant news of the day. When (or if) I talk about a client I’ll call that out so you don’t go crucifying me on the alter of social media ethics.

Stay tuned…

Chart Your Way to Awesomeness

my-communication-diagram2

Big, big ups to Lifehacker for posting info about LovelyCharts.com today because I’m way behind on my TechCrunch reading.

I used my little-used skill of chart making to design a chart showing how I interact with both the internet and my friends (or people who listen to what I have to say).

The web app is pretty sweet, though and probably has a lot broader applications than showing my interaction with the world outside my bedroom door.

Check  it here: LovelyCharts.com