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Writing Well in The Workplace – A Lost Art?

April 14, 2011 2 comments

IMHO, one of the side effects  of the cacophony email we all troll through every day, is that we have lost some skill in writing well in the workplace.

Recently, I was in the midst of writing a company-wide email.  As I was editing, I peered over to something I keep posted near my desk.  This list of tips always helps keep my written communication at the office in check and helps ensure I’m writing clearly and as concise as possible.   I thought I would share.

I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Outline for Management Communication

  • This (recommends, analyzes, answers etc):  All communication should start by telling the reader what you are doing and why they should read it.  Add a 3-5 sentence executive summary.  Finish with who concurs with your work.
  • Background:  Short, direct summary of the salient info that the reader needs to understand your proposed action or summary.
  • Summary of Analysis or Recommendation:  The meat of the document and what the reader needs to understand or what you want them to do.
  • Basis or Rationale:  Why you believe what you do.  Keep to a maximum of three.  Anything after that the reader will not retain.  Rank in priority order
  • Rejected Alternate Solution:  Optional.  Should be used when making a reco and is your second best choice.  Use when you know the reader wants to look at a certain area but you decide it is not the best course of action.
  • Next steps:  What you propose to do, by when and by whom.  Use numbers if you want to sequence.  Use bullets if no particular order is necessary
  • Close and cc:  your signature and copy any appropriate parties.

Decisions

March 29, 2011 2 comments

“Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An’ if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know!”

– The Clash

Although The Clash was signing about something a little different, do you think  the inner monologue of Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs may be a bit similar at the moment?  There is a lot of buzz about Gibbs being pursued by Facebook to be their next head of communications.  Clearly Gibbs is well suited for the role but methinks if Facebook really is after him, it is about much more than communications and more likely his deft skills at navigating the sea of  lobbyist and policy makers in Washington D.C.

One simple reason why I could see Facebook wanting Gibbs is their road ahead may be fraught with lots of government regulation issues around online privacy, data collection, etc. An in-house expert, like Gibbs, would be a significant advantage in dealing with potential government issues that may be ahead in the US as well as the EU.  And then there is the equity upside for Gibbs at the hottest pre-IPO company in the valley.

Then again Gibbs could also go and work for Obama on the “Election Campaign – Part Deux”  But shhh…it’s all still a secret with Gibbs for now

And since you all know I really like to grok about Online Privacy, here is a great primer from the friendly folks at the IAB

Privacy – What Advertisers Can Learn from the TSA

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve mentioned before that I really like many of the cartoons that @TomFishburne sends out in his Brand Camp posts.  Today’s Brand Camp cartoon really hit home because it’s something I’ve tweeted about long ago.

I remember seeing this TSA sticker (below) posted on the x-ray machine at an airport I can’t recall in the blur of  airport visits throughout the year.  Although the sticker doesn’t ask me to “Like” the TSA, it does ask me to follow.  Close enough. I have little interest in reading whatever it is the TSA blogs about, especially since I doubt they have a decent mechanism on their blog to actually engage (and make changes) with the flying public.

Three things I think brands can learn from this simple cartoon and sticker.

  • Without an interesting message and a reason to truly engage, nobody wants to be your friend
  • Transparency and trust is important – the TSA does x-ray your bag and put you through a sensor
  • Be upfront and state the benefit – The TSA clearly states their expectations to travelers. The benefit for travelers is, barring any weapons or excluded items, travelers are permitted to the gates

In many ways the TSA reminds me of some of the privacy issues that are facing the digital media and advertising industry, when it comes to privacy.  For example, if consumers had a better understanding (transparency) of how advertisers were using cookies or tracking pixels to provide a better service (targeted ads), I believe it could improve the relationship for advertisers, consumers and tracking technology providers.  More importantly this transparency can lead to better self-regulation and ease potential over-regulation of Internet advertising by the FCC.  And perhaps this could even work in the EU – I’m an optimist at heart!

Since I’m in a position to make decisions about these sorts of things, as the head of digital marketing for a large CPG company (see my disclosure), I have embraced what the folks over at Evidon are doing.  Scott Meyer is leading an incredibly smart and passionate team at Evidon.  In fact, I have even downloaded their Ghostery product.  (The Ghostery icon reminds me of Blinky, that annoying ghost in Pac-Man that used to kill my Pac-Man!)  The difference is that this ghost tells me who and what is tracking me on each site I visit – it’s pretty cool.  And in the not to distant future the brands I work on will have this Advertising Option Icon on them.

The industry support for this program is great and growing.  Just look at who is on board already.  If you are an advertiser or a consumer, you should really check out this program of self-regulation.

It’s akin to what I hope will become a universal symbol for quality advertising online as well as complete transparency about data usage.  This online privacy and data usage space has a long way to go and with a great partnership from within the industry (see above), I truly believe consumers will embrace ad data sharing, cookies and the wonderful world of targeted advertising.  Who wants to see crap ads and ads from companies whose product or services for which they have no interest.

I will write a few more posts in the coming weeks about privacy, especially how to safeguard your individual privacy in the social graph – this will be especially good for a lot of college students that will soon be entering the working (professional) world, where showing pictures of keg stands won’t go over well with prospective employers.

As always, I would enjoy hearing your feedback.  Ping me at @dougchavez or feel free to post on this page.

The iPad2 Cover – Smart. Innovative. Revenue and Margin King!

March 17, 2011 1 comment

Ever since my parents bought my first computer – an Apple IIe, I’ve been an Apple Fan.  Sure they have made their mistakes along the way and I’ve owned (and still own) Windows based computers.  I love great design and one thing Apple has always done is great design, even the boxes their computers are packed in are smart, well thought out and have excellent UX.

When Apple lunched the iPad2, I was immediately taken by the cover – more so then with the iPad2. The iPad2 had the features I expected but the cover surprised everyone and I have yet to met a person that doesn’t love the design and ingenuity.  Aside from the great design, my quick follow on thoughts are this:

  1. I want one
  2. They just captured the lost revenue on iPad2 accessories
  3. Everyone will buy one vs. the other third party covers – since only Apple’s will have magnet
  4. BIG REVENUE and BIGGER MARGINS
  5. Second quarter will blow past Wall St. expectations

If you have ever walked into an Apple store, I’m sure you have spent time at the accessories wall.  Apple has certainly created a great business for a lot of accessory companies over the past years and they have always had some great accessories. I had an Apple joystick at one point (I was great at Karateka).   Apple’s Magsafe power cords are a great example of smart design and great margin accessory products, for which Apple holds the patent and does not license the technology.  Not many people buy multiple power adapters.  I bet people will buy multiple covers.  But even if consumers only buy one iPad2 cover, Apple still wins since it’s one more cover sale they were not getting with the last device release.

I’m not the only one that is thinking this way about the sheer brilliance of the iPad2 cover [revenue] strategy.  I follow Asymco “curated marketing intelligence”.  This past week Horace Dediu’s (@asymco) acticle, The Billion Dollar Smart Cover nailed it.  Although I think his estimate of only 60% of iPad2 buyers getting the cover is conservative.  I bet that Apple reports 85%.

Whatever the percentage, I really like the continued smart design that Apple keeps cranking out.  Call me a fanboy if you want but all I can say is show me another device or media company that innovates and has the margins of the kids down in Cupertino.

Cross Platform Connections – Getting it Done

March 15, 2011 2 comments

One of the hot topics in the world of Integrated Marketing, especially when it comes to CPG advertising is crafting a strategy that connects the dots across multiple platforms, such as TV, print, digital, in-store marketing and FSIs.  Over the last 24 months the pace of truly integrated marketing campaigns has really picked up, as brand advertisers follow the consumer – and she is connected in ways like never before. A great example of these media consumption habits and trends can be seen in the GMA Shopper Marketing report, Shopper Marketing 4.0: Building Scalable Playbooks That Drive Results.  (A special callout to my friend Matt Egol at Booz & Co, for his leadership in creating this report)

Last week, I had the opportunity to get on stage and present “Maintaining Connections Across Platforms” at iMedia Brand Summit in Austin, TX.  My presentation showcases two iconic brands, Kibbles ‘n Bits and Milk-Bone.  I had a short 15 minutes to present the two cases and  take some Q&A from the audience of brands marketers, media folks, publishers and brand experts.

If you have a few minutes, watch the presentation and think about how brands are connecting the dots for you as a consumer or how you’re doing similar work as marketer.  I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and feedback.

Special thanks to @KozComm for blogging from the event and posting his thoughts on the presentation in his SXSW Report

 

 

And how did I celebrate after the presentation?  By having a fantastic tex-mex lunch at an Austin institution – Chuy’s! (there may have been some queso and creamy jalapeno ordered)

Social Media Monday Blues

March 14, 2011 2 comments

I had a sneaking suspicion that today would be an interesting day.  And it certainly has been a “Monday” for several folks in the social media world.  One of the email lists i subscribe to is Tom Fishburn’s Maketoonist (@TomFishburne)”Brand Camp” cartoons.  The cartoon today was especially interesting to me, since the cartoon nails what I believe a lot of brands get wrong – outsourcing social media management.

I’m certain there are many highly qualified and competent agencies that do a solid job for their clients.  In fact, we use a hybrid model at my company.  That said, I’m a firm believer that brands and their marketing (digital marketing) organizations should manage social media in house.  Here’s why.  First, Nobody knows the brand better than the brand team and the marketing organization supporting the brand(s).  Second, paying a third party, exposes the brand to the risk of the constant churn in agency account teams.  When that twentysomething leaves for the next step in their agency career all the knowledge leaves with the person.  On the other hand, having a brand person (ideally multiple brand team members) actively engaged in the conversation keeps the knowledge of community management in house – and when that brand person switches brands that skillset stays withing the organization.  It’s all upside.  Granted people will leave the organization, however, I would rather manage that transition vs. a new junior person at the agency (which I will certainly have little or no control over)

I’m sure there will be plenty of agency types reading this and several will disagree with me.  There will also be brand marketers reading this and say “I have no time for community management”.  Both are fair points and I will certainly be happy to address them.  In fact, I  plan on writing a few posts with my thoughts on both of those viewpoints.  Stay tuned.

Midway through today I heard the news that Gilbert Gottfried, the voice of the beloved Aflac duck was canned for tweeting some incredibly insensitive and moronic things about Japan.  Not a good thing to do, especially given that 75% of Aflac’s business comes from Japan.  Talk about a #FAIL of galactic proportions.

I’m a bit bummed since I do like Gilbert’s voice for the Aflac duck, especially since I don’t have to see Gilbert’s annoying squinting eyes.  Perhaps Gilbert and  the guy that thought he was tweeting from his personal account but tweeted from the @ChryslerAutos account and dropped the F Bomb, was subsequently fired by his agency, New Media Strategies, right before they were fired by Chrysler, can join forces and form one of those agencies that mange social media strategies.  [See above paragraph].

I am biased towards in-house social media management but I truly think there is good reason.  I’m always happy to hear your thoughts, so feel free to ping me at @Dougchavez or post a comment below.

Danish Cancer Society – tanning can kill you

July 16, 2008 2 comments

The Danes take cancer prevention and awareness to a new level. Props to The Danish Cancer Society and presumably one of their agencies who created this viral video. It has all the ingredients to engage viewers as well as providing a reasons to pass along.

Original video found here

This Bud’s for EU

July 15, 2008 2 comments


With a nod to Auggie Busch and his new bosses, last night at Monaghan’s our trivia team name was “This Bud’s for EU”, after trivia I heard that the Drudge Report used the same line – great minds think alike. At least for our This Bud’s for EU trivia team conquered all comers.

Although I was a wee lass in the 80’s, I have vivid memories of the news stories about the Japanese buying up hallmark US properties, media companies and golf courses amidst that period of the dollar and economy being weak. But IMHO, A-B could have held off inBev, if they had only kept up with the market trends in their business of mass distribution. I don’t believe the weak dollar and the economy is fully to blame.

For the past several years there has been been a lot of consolidation in the global brewing business. Take for example, Miller – that Champagne of beers. Miller, while HQ’d in Millwaukee Wisconson is owned by SAB Miller, the South African brew master of brands such as Grolsch, Peroni, Hoegaarden, Pilsner Urquell and everybody’s favorite – Olde English 800 Malt Liquor. Molsen bought Coors..and the list goes on. If A-B had flexed its muscle and cash reserves, they could have bought more beer brands and built a better defense. The soda business is much the same – just ask friendly folks at Coca-Cola. In these businesses where locked up distribution and globalized brands is everything, you either go big or go home.

I’m less concerned about inBev making drastic changes to the A-B brands that people in the US and other countries love (for their Americana kitsch) and more concerned about the lack of having any US brewer with scale. A-B gobbled up many of the craft brewers years ago, so they are now part of inBev. Heck, even little north woods Leinenkugel up in Chippewa Falls, Wisconson is part of inBev.

And being the self serving adman that I am – just thinking about the branding possibilities for that yet to be named brewer have me thirsting for some great ad work down the road. I wonder if DDB is thinking about this yet?

In the meantime I’ll continue to have a Bud every once-in-a-while as well as a Stella. And BTW did you know that in the UK and Europe that Stella is commonly referred to as “wife beater“, as in you belly up to the bar and order a wife beater and you will without question get a Stella. I found this out while going to lunch in London a couple of years back. As part of this deal, I sure hope domestic violence won’t be on the rise.

Who will become the last American brewer to step up the the plate and speak for American brewing? Anyone have thoughts/suggestions – I would love to hear from you.

Spirit Airlines crazy?…like a fox??

July 13, 2008 42 comments



The other day I noticed this ad and laughed. Either the creative knew exactly what he/she was doing or the are seriously out of touch with the world. WTF has long been shortcut for a well know phrase. Daring creatives and their advertisers, especially ones targeting the YAM audience, can get away with this and many do (e.g. Axe, McDonald’s, Old Spice, etc.) But the Spirit ad, marks the first I’ve seen in the typically conservative airline world. Granted, World Traveler Fares isn’t a stretch to but is this Crazy? Or crazy like a fox?

A while back the McDonald’s creative team at Tribal DDB came up with something similar, aimed at the Dollar Menu audience – YA to be sure. The response certainly proved that we were connecting with our core audience and getting noticed. The ad went on to make it’s way into the blogoshphere and wikipedia and into a major newspaper cartoon strip, where it was parodied. The talk value and earned media, in my opinion, was a perfect fit with our audience and certainly gave the Dollar Menu “street cred” with the target. To this day, I take my hat off to our creatives for bringing this to the client and to our client for being an advocate for pushing the envelope.

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