I’m trying to read more “industry” stuff, as I may have mentioned before, and now I’m actually doing so ‘cuz I’ve gotten some of those blogs into teh Google Reader. Seth Godin has a post up about the nature of marketing and how it hinges on permission:
Internet advertising is so cheap (particularly Facebook and run of site network buys) that just about anyone can afford a million impressions, and a billion isn’t out of reach.
Pretty soon it turns into noise. An infinite number of impressions is dangerously close to no impressions at all.
Perception. Does the ad you’re running increase the value of your name? Are you perceived as an annoyance, an interruptor–or are you a valued sponsor, a trusted friend, someone who is making things better?
Interaction. Not merely a click that leads to a sale. I’m talking about any sort of interaction with you or your organization, whether it’s an online chat, a phone call or navigating your site. Too often, online marketers are focused on pennies per click instead of long-term value per engagement.
Both perception and interaction lead to permission. Permission to deliver anticipated, personal and relevant messages over time. Permission to tell a story. Permission to earn attention on an ongoing basis.
Impressions don’t automatically get you permission. In fact, they might cost it.
Well.. yeah. And this goes to a central
problem thought that I have about the PR industry blogs (of which, in fairness, I haven’t yet spent too much time reading) and especially about the assigned reading material for PR classes (which I have spent a bunch of time reading).
What Godin says in the above post is so ridiculously basic to me that it’s hard to put into words. This is true for a couple of reasons. One is that, on a personal level, I don’t waste communication with people. I’m what I’d term a ‘low-volume communicator.’ I don’t text people to ask what’s up. I don’t call people just to check in. Maybe that makes me an asshole, but I call or talk to people when I need to, not just to kill time. If I need to know something, I’ll call people. If I wanna find something to do for the night, I’ll text people. But it’s almost always functional, with very few exceptions. Now, I should say, I don’t mind it at all when other people call me to kill or just check in. That’s a nice feeling and I enjoy it. And if the world didn’t have those people, and everyone were like me, it would be a far less pleasant place. It’s just that for me, personally, that’s not how I interact with people. It’s not my style.
Because of that tendency, I think, I am very cognizant of how much I talk to/push content to other people. I know that if someone is constantly pushing content at me, unless it’s something I want, that irritates me. And I am very wary of irritating other people in a similar manner. I’m aware of how often, in what manner and with which material I contact other people. I think it’s truly important that people are informed about political matters so that they can vote for
the right better people and get the right better policies. But do I put every Paul Krugman or Bob Somerby post up on my facebook wall? Hell no. Because I know it’ll annoy other people. And you can’t get people to pay attention to you, much less come to agree with you, if they’re annoyed.
Hah, OK, those last couple sentences made it sound like I view my friends only as vessels into which I can pour political awareness. Which is really not true and super creepy. But I hope you can get the gist of what I’m saying. That even if you think something’s crucial, as I do with political knowledge, you can’t push it on everyone all the time. They’ll get annoyed, understandably so, and tune you out. Same deal for marketing, advertising and PR.
Godin’s message sort of bothers me, as you can no doubt tell, because it is so very basic and intuitive. It’s the same thing with the books we read, which can have really helpful concrete examples, but the abstract overall points (interactivity! listen to people! we all can create useful content!) are so damn basic that it seems ridiculous. People appreciate you paying attention when they have some stake in your organization? No shit.
This really isn’t a complaint against Seth Godin or David Meerman Scott or any of those other guys and I’m not just saying that to be cute or cover my ass. It really isn’t a complaint against them. I’m just trying to point out, to myself and anyone else that is listening, how absurd it seems the PR industry has enormously smart, successful people whose central points are so stupefyingly basic and people-centric, rather than industry-centric. By people-centric, I mean that their advice has to do with interacting with people, whether it be on a large or small scale, and can be summed up, in reductionist but not entirely unfair terms, as: don’t be a dick. Listen to people. Consider their opinions. Ask other people what might be a good thing to do. Have a sense of humor about yourself.
I’ve known all that stuff since my head started deflating (16 or 17, I think) and maybe I’m unique in that regard. But I doubt it. As I said, the nuts and bolts stuff, the specific suggestions from the Gillins and Webers of the world are very useful. But the big-picture stuff, man, if you don’t get that by the time you’re 20 or 21 years old, you have a crippling inability to interact with people, which I imagine will affect your career whether it be in public relations or any other discipline.
Aaaand that was another long, text-heavy post. Have some Nas.