Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Four reasons why you should be blogging, Mr Ad Guy

I know you had a pitch last week. I know that you have two in the next fortnight. Yes, you're stretched. But while you were moving like boardroom lightning from kappa to powerpoint and then back again- oops, the game kinda changed.

The nerds got in.
Not Sean with the Powerpoint savvy.
The real nerds.
They changed the effin' game. The geeky bawsthurds.

But d'you hear the tap of hope, Ad Men? I'm knockin on the door of your open-plan office space to give you four solid reasons why you ought to put the presentation boards down now and move your heads this way.

Blog because:


If you are fortunate enough to have a sizeable client or two - a telco, apparel trophy name, games software giant etc - then you have to know that they're already doing it. Don't you? They're in a constant two-way with customers because they know it's the smartest way to test their new line, the best way to get honest feedback and the absolutely most lethal way to be found out if they're failing, or worse, faking. Two years ago when a Thinkpad burst into flames at LAX as its owner was getting on the plane, manufacturers Lenovo were onto it within an hour to avert a PR fireball. Because they were bloggers themselves, and another blogger had already posted about the incident. They were able to get their story straight - and out - immediately. You cannot buy the fire engine that will stop those flames, but a blog will snuff them out if you use it right. And your big client knows that. And they don't care so much that the 48 sheet looks better on Kappa board btw.
(Speaking of fanning the flames, look here for a very simple explanation of why an understanding of blogging is a wee bit important to the communications industry.)


Ten or twenty or thirty years ago when I was a nipper in college, my marketing friends would scoff at my meagre advertising aspirations. 'It's just a flea,' they'd chortle. 'We're the dogs.' 'Piss off,' I'd wittily retort, 'advertising is the sexy in the marketing mix.' Not that sexy was a noun back then, but this is my blog and history is now written by the blogger, okay? So while your creatives are arguing about the film stock on the shoot and the grain on the telecine, big clients Do Not Care. I recall a test case in the mid 90s when P&G took an ad (Fairy Liquid?) and shot it on film stock and on video, just to shut the agency up. Research proved that nobody gave a shit. But I could be lying about that. It matters not. The race has run far beyond that now. Quality of imagery is playing catchup with content and nobody cares if it catches up! If I decide to put an image with this post, I will damn sure make sure that its quality is low, because that will deliberately help my readers. You see, I want them to see my content. My thirteen year old nephew can make an ad, with his phone at one end of the production chain and his laptop at the other, and get it seen by half the Junior Cert schoolkids in Sligo between tonight and tomorrow. And if it's raining he won't even bother to use the phone. Are you listening?


Let us admit it. Agency arses have been padded luxuriously over ten to fifteen years of fancy Shanahan dining. But time's up, peeps. The belt tightening is now choking off the bloodflow to the brain. This from a rara avis, the clued-in Irish digital marketeer. Thank you Cybercom, for condensing it for us.
The Third Annual Online Customer Engagement Survey, produced by E-consultancy and digital agency cScape, examines the likely impact of a worsening economic climate on customer behaviour and psychology. In short, the survey concludes that businesses will invest more money and time in social media during the coming year, in an effort to boost customer engagement. The primary tools are set to be blogging, community sites and user-generated content, according to research. The survey found that 51% companies say that the economic crisis has caused them to place greater focus on customer engagement. With this in mind they same group indicated that they would increase their utilisation of social media in line.
I can't really make this clearer, can I? Get blogging, get your other clients, who don't happen to be Coke or Adidas or Vodafone etc, to interact with their customers. Get the conversation going. This is now part of your remit. Essential, in fact. I've heard too much yakking about 'brand stewardship' in grandiose tones down the years. Where is it now?
Only do it right. No Pat the Baker on Bebo, ok?

Blogging, community sites and user-generated content. Not a fucking shred of Kappaboard needed. Unless you plan on sleeping out.


Every agency and its granny seems to have a website now. Some of them knew what they wanted and built what they needed and got what they desired. The rest just built a shomera in the back garden and chucked all the content they could find into it.
Occasionally they'd rearrange the boxes and the foldaway sun loungers and that stupid patio heater and the ten page history of the company, but mostly they'd just point to the web address on their comp slip with a smug expression whenever they had a prospective pitch client in. 'Oh yes, we've got a Flash website. You must visit. It's got staff photos from Punchestown on it. Hilarious. Really. So have you seen the latest in Kappaboard?'

If it's not functional, don't bother.
If it doesn't represent your company's tone of voice and personality, don't bother.
If it's boring, don't bother.
If it's a rehash of everyone else's news, don't bother.
If it's an exercise in showing off your awards, don't bother.
If it isn't actively encouraging other comment, dissenting viewpoints even, don't bother.
If it's static, don't bother.
If it isn't working to bring you traffic, don't bother.

And at the risk of sounding pedagogic, you are a communications expert, no? So where is your blog? Look, it's just another part of you. It's your content, your peacock tail. A chance to show off while engaging at the same time. That's the part that most agencies have trouble with, I think. Engagement. Nowadays everyone's opinion counts for something, and for a traditional ad agency (like Dublin is still shockingly full of) that's hard to accept.

Bloglessness equals a dildo without batteries. You'll get fucked in the long run, but it'll be a lot more hard work and always, always the certain knowledge that really you did it to yourself.


  1. Really fantastic post. So very true, all of it!

  2. hi Nick, enjoyed this. I'm a bit surprised myself that so few Irish agencies blog. A lot of what they do is sell ideas and strategic thinking. So at the very least, their blogs give us (clients) a great insight into their thinking. There are loads of high quality blogs from creatives and planners in the UK.

    Irish clients read blogs. And not just the marketing guys.