Those Who Can, Do — Those Who Can’t, P.R.

I am constantly amazed at how many brand marketers have VERY different points of view INTERNALLY about the campaigns they’re lauded for EXTERNALLY. I cannot count how many times I’ve congratulated brand marketers on the press they receive in the trades, only for them to say something to the effect of, “If you only knew the truth!”
So what’s the problem here? It’s twofold:

1.     When things go exceptionally well, many brands keep their cards close to their chests and keep as quiet as a church mouse.

2.     On the flipside, brands looking to justify their campaign decisions will turn to verbatim tweets, mentions in the blogosphere — and especially, impressions from the mainstream press. The same is true with respect to awards.
It’s hard to criticize executives in highly competitive industries for not oversharing. It’s good business sense to be savvy enough to keep things mum, especially when they’re working. At the same time, I would also call this segment takers rather than givers — and no one likes takers, do they? In an ever-changing industry, it’s important to give back to help grow and mature a fluid and dynamic space.

Companies that turn to P.R. (hell, we all do it) have sound objectives in doing so, but at the same time, it’s important to help manage expectations internally in order to justify a test, experiment, pilot program or innovation project without needing the crutch of press to do so.

It’s important to resist the urge to pad, fluff and spin, and instead — again — give back by sharing lessons learned, pivots, mistakes and/or failures as well.

Our client, Mondelz International, recently did something to that effect by sharing nine videos from nine sets of brand managers, who conducted nine pilot programs with nine startups in 90 days, as part of its ongoing Mobile Futures program.

There were plenty of lessons and candid reflections on both how these brand managers were influenced by this program, and specifically ways they are thinking about changing the way they go about their marketing responsibilities. Learning to fail fast and iterate was one of the biggest takeaways from Mobile Futures, which will affect how the marketers manage their brand communications moving forward.

These videos included the following insights:

“[When working with startups, we found] they fail quickly, but ultimately it’s not viewed as a failure. [They understand,] ‘Hey,not everything’s going to work, but we’re going to learn from every step of the way.'” – Eric Klein, Senior Associate Brand Manager, belVita

“And really through this process we learned to become better, faster marketers.” – Lauren Fleischer, Associate Brand Manager, Chips Ahoy!

“Never be afraid to ask and push the envelope and try to get breakthrough ideas, because you never know when the technology is going to catch up to your pie-in-the-sky ideas.” – Courtnay Perkins, Associate Brand Manager, HALLS

“I think you have to (change the way you do marketing as a result of working with startups).  That’s where we’re going and, if we embrace Mobile Futures, then we have to change.  We have to learn and grow.” – Steve Doan, Senior Associate Brand Manager, OREO

I encourage other brands to take a similar position with respect to their efforts. Step up and celebrate your success stories, but also don’t be afraid to share your failures and how you learned from them.

If we can do a little bit better on both counts, we might just help close the gap between the hype and the hope.

By Joseph Jaffe
Joseph Jaffe is founder and CEO of Evol8tion, an innovation agency that matches early stage start-ups with blue-chip brands. He has written three books, including “Flip the Funnel.”
Courtesy of MediaPost

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