Thursday, December 11, 2014

David Droga thoughts on work ethic and creativity

I found a nice podcast by David Droga on work ethic and creativity.  It is interesting to hear his point of view on what he needed, and still needs, to do to be successful. 

My favorite quote from the podcast..."I wish creatives cared more about the ramifications of their work not just care about the creativity of it."  Very powerful.


Mark Schnurman
Filament Inc.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jon Steel, head of planning at WPP, give a great talk on communication, creativing and pitching new biz.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Spark - Inspiring Better Presentations

While this blog is dedicated to winning new business part of the new business process is the presnetation.  Filament has launched a new blog (The Spark) dedicated to inspiring better presentations which looks  both withing advertising and beyond advertising to share lessons and thoughts on what makes for a great, compelling presentation.

Check out The Spark.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Do I have to rehearse?"

“Why do I have to rehearse” is a constant refrain that I hear.  “I know my part” “I don’t have the time” “I don’t want to appear over-rehearsed” “I have a client meeting” “I don’t want to look stale”  These are all reasons I have heard to try to avoid rehearsal.

First, let’s talk about the goal of rehearsal.  Rehearsal is not about learning your part.  You learn your part at home or in your office, not in front of the pitch team.  By the time you get to rehearsal, you should already know your part.  Rehearsal is about  knowing your part so well that you can focus on the subtleties of presenting, connecting with the audience.  Think about actors when they are rehearsing.  They don't stop when they simply learn the lines.  They stop when they have somehow found a way to connect thith the audience.

But there is more to rehearsal than simply connecting with the audience.  Part of rehearsal is about letting the rest of the pitch team now what your are going to say.  Whey everyone is aware of everyone else’s part, they come across s a single pitch unit instead of a bunch of presenters each presenting somewhat disconnected sections of content.  This ability to connect as  team goes a long way toward giving the client the impression that you will be able to work with their team.

I get it…you don’t want to rehearse because you don’t want to rehearse.  It is uncomfortable, awkward and generally unpleasant.  You are self-conscious because you make mistakes.  My point is that we need to get that self-consciousness and those mistakes out in rehearsal otherwise the mistakes will be there in front of the client. 

One final reason EVERYONE on the team needs to rehearse is that once one person doesn’t rehearse, the non-rehearsal bug spreads like cancer and suddenly, no one is rehearsing.  The fact of the matter is that teams that rehearse more tend to win more.  Rehearsal doesn’t cure a bad deck but by the same token, endlessly tweaking the deck at the 11th hour doesn't make it any better either.  At some point, the presentation will benefit from more rehearsing and less tweaking.  A client probably won’t notice the last few hours’ worth of changes to the deck but they will notice if you do a poor job presenting.

So to answer your questions....Yes you do have to rehearse.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The following is a great blog post from The Hodges Partnership, a PR firm in Richmond VA.  I thought it offered great insight into life at an agency.

Eight things I’ve learned after one year at a PR agency

May 20, 2014 | by Kelsey Leavey

After turning my internship at Hodges into my first real job, no one has been able to scare me away, yet. During my first year working in an agency I’ve had a variety of experiences – writing pitches, helping to plan the office holiday party, creating social content for clients and keeping the supply of caffeine and sugar at an all-time high. Here are the eight lessons I’ve learned during my first year in PR:
  1. Time management is important. Working at an agency means you’ll have quite a few balls in the air at one time, and it’s your job to ensure that none of them hit the ground. Turning in something late no longer means getting a bad grade, it means an angry client. Always ask for clear deadlines and break your habit of procrastination early.
  2. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Your ideas are valid. At THP we do agency brainstorms twice a month and everyone is expected to contribute. Whether you’ve been in your job for five weeks or for five years, provide thoughtful input. Don’t blurt out all 50 ideas you have but don’t be afraid to share the ones you feel strongly about.
  3. Ask for feedback. Create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing constructive criticism with you. Did you write your first pitch? Ask for honest edits and advice from a coworker. Asking for feedback now will help you to avoid developing bad habits that will be hard to fix later in your career.
  4. Social Media will continue to change. In the past year Facebook redesigned its timeline and newsfeed, Twitter drastically changed the layout of its profiles and LinkedIn launched Sponsored Updates, changing the game for companies using the platform. Stay knowledgeable on these constant changes and be flexible to changing your social strategies.
  5. Writing takes practice. There are major differences in writing the 15 page research papers you wrote in college and PR writing. Pitches and press releases should be short and concise, while also eye catching and interesting. Blog and social content should fit the client’s voice and tone. And if you’re writing for a B2B client, learning how to be a great technical writer will be important. Raise your hand for writing projects when they come up; it’s the only way to gain valuable experience.
  6. Do your research on reporters. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about media relations during this past year, it is to spend valuable time researching who you’re pitching and know what they are interested in. Doing this won’t guarantee a story, but it increases the likelihood that they will acknowledge your pitch or keep your information for when they have a story that is a fit for your client.
  7. Don’t be the last one to arrive and the first one to leave. There’s no such thing as homework in the real world, but there are times where there just isn’t enough time in your work day to get everything done. That means coming in early or staying late. Trust me, your coworkers and bosses will notice if you’re always the last one to arrive in the morning and the first one to leave.
  8. Don’t be discouraged. There will be days where you send out the perfect pitch to a reporter that should jump at the opportunity to cover your client, and you’ll hear crickets. And there will be days where things just can’t seem to go right. Don’t let the bad days discourage you from working hard and doing your best work.
But hands down, the most important thing I’ve learned at Hodges is that the number of days without donuts WILL determine office happiness (read: that number needs to be low). If you’re in your first year in PR, share what you’ve learned in the comments below.

-- Great job by Kelsey at sharing her thoughts on the industry.
-- Mark Schnurman
-- President

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bring Back Those Big Ideas

The following is a blog post from Jon Steel, author of Perfect Pitch and head of planning at WPP.  While the article is a few years old, it is as accurate today as the day it was written.

 Here is Jon's post.......


As recession looms, the pressure for marketers and their agencies to pursue short-term targets becomes all the more intense. Jon Steel argues that it's time to set more ambitious objectives

In 1963, J. Walter Thompson advertising veteran James Webb Young wrote, in How to Become an Advertising Man: "The true Advertising Man... is he who has the knowledge, skills, experience and insights to advise advertisers how best to use advertising to accomplish their objectives."
The prototypical agency executive that he described was still around when I joined the business some 20 years later. He (or she, with the dawn of equality and political correctness) was an extension of the client's marketing department, a consiglieri, whose focus was on setting the right objectives, and achieving them.
"In focusing on soft measures like 'visits' and 'hits,' these clients and their agencies are really missing the point"

By the 1980s, the martinis might have disappeared from the lunch table, but effectiveness was still the order of the day. Over the past twenty years, Stephen King and Stanley Pollitt had established what the Account Planning Group later described as "disciplined systems for devising advertising strategy and producing work that will be effective in the marketplace." Agencies and clients alike believed in advertising's ability to shape and modify attitudes and behaviour. Advertising was seen as an opportunity, and the prevailing mood of the industry was one of optimism; with each new brief came a palpable sense of possibility.
But today we live in different times. With increased competition and the spectre of recession looming, we find ourselves in an era of accountability. The days of the agency consiglieri are over, replaced by an uneasy and increasingly one-sided client/supplier relationship. Pitches are decided not by client leaders, but by procurement departments. And the big, brandbuilding idea seems increasingly (and depressingly) secondary to efficiency. "Is it better to get the campaign right?" I was asked at a recent industry conference, "Or to be able to prove it?"
God, I need a martini.
Writing at the end of 2007 on the subject of what keeps American CMOs awake at night, Advertising Age highlighted two key issues: "tenure" and "ROI." It's hardly surprising that a CMO would toss and turn over these; the average tenure in that position in the USA is now less than two years, which is rather like being the manager of Newcastle United Football Club. It's a rare company that puts the faith in a CMO that Manchester United has put in Sir Alex Ferguson, or Arsenal in Arsene Wenger; newly-appointed CMOs thus tend to focus less on what they need to affect for the long-term benefit of their brands, but rather on what they can be seen to be affecting in the here and now. Their driving force is not achieving long-term success because for most the long term does not exist; instead their Holy Grail is not getting fired, or at least delaying the inevitable.
This mood, this defensive posture, is passed on directly to agencies, and thereby to the work. A study of US-based CMOs, commissioned by Adweek early in 2008, asked how many of them planned to change one or more of their agencies in the coming year. Forty-five per cent of those surveyed said they intended to fire at least one of their agencies. At the same time, the majority of CMOs said they planned to plough more resources into e-mail programs, CRM, marketing performance measuring 'dashboards' and search engine marketing.
Such redirection of resources is readily justified on the grounds of the potential of these new media for developing more personal, truly interactive relationships with a brand's target customers. But I fear that an equally powerful reason is that they also represent an opportunity for easy measurement, and easy results. And that in focusing on soft measures like 'visits' and 'hits,' these clients and their agencies are really missing the point.
I once heard a senior British police officer attempting to justify the reduction in numbers of officers on the streets. "Statistically," he said, "it's clear that since police officers have been taken away from the traditional beat, there have been more arrests."
I don't question his numbers, and what he described might well have represented success against a government promise to increase the number of arrests. But did it represent increased effectiveness in his force's activities? My personal view is that when there were more police on the streets they acted as a deterrent to crime.
The reason officers made fewer arrests is that their simple presence prevented many crimes from happening in the first place. But maybe it's harder to reliably measure crimes that might have happened but didn't.
So now the arrest figures are up and the government basks in its statistical toughness, while all around the UK many people are afraid to walk the streets of even the smallest towns at night. We are sacrificing the true objective of a safer society, in the name of accountability.
 And this is where a lot of the problems start in our industry. We are simply setting the wrong objectives. As Stephen King and Stanley Pollitt once stood up to stupid, unhelpful research, so too should we stand up to the current marketing obsession with the short term.
We should be angered by the accountability mindset that means we're making more and more decisions based on what can be measured, rather than what's really important. How many companies today are setting "Big, Hairy Audacious Goals?" Certainly not many, and we are also culpable in their failure. We need to inject more ambition into our objectives.
We should fight once more for access to the data, and the place at the boardroom table that allows us to once again be true partners. Which means that clients have to learn to trust us enough to invite us in and share their secrets, and we have to work hard to develop the "knowledge, skills, experience and insights" that James Webb Young rightly asked us to employ on their behalf.
It makes me angry that we have lost that trusted position, and the rigour that once provided its foundation. I ask you to be angry too. And to do something about it.
Source: The Wire - Issue 30 - Page 11, published in October 2008

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Delete these 4 things from your routine to be more productive #blindpost

The following is a blog post from Jeff is CEO of DragonArmy, the ultimate entrepreneur and one of the most genuine and compelling leaders and presenters I have worked with.  I thought his post on productivity was interesting and wanted to share it with everyone.

 Here is Jeff's post...

This is a blindpost from another article but for some reason I can’t remember where the article came from…

Delete these 4 things from your routine to be more productive

#1 – Stop checking email all the time. Email is the silent productivity killer. You can spend hours inside of email and even come out of it thinking you got a lot done, but that’s usually not the case. Email is like this ever-flowing distraction faucet that never seems to stop. What I’ve started doing is blocking out time on my calendar for checking and responding to email. I try hard not to check email other than those pre-selected times.

#2 – Observe the 80/20 rule. Most likely, 20% of your effort will get 80% of the results. Look at your calendar and think about the things that you’re doing that are moving the needle the most. Try to do more of those things and less of the things that are not driving much value. I’ve started color coding my calendar based on the different activities I do during the week. That’s helped me see where my time is being spent and how I can be more productive.

#3 – Don’t keep a to-do list. This probably sounds counter-intuitive. However, I have become a believer that a to-do list is like that closet in your house where you keep sticking junk that you want to use later, but never do. Most people I know have a hard time really knocking their to-do list down effectively and instead it just continues to grow and adds stress as it does.
Here is my new to-do system that so far has made me much more productive.

#4 – Stop trying to multitask. There’s really no such thing as multitasking. If you’re watching a show AND working on a presentation, your mind can’t effectively be doing a good job with either. Or if you’re someone that checks their phone a lot while talking to someone in person – please tell me that you’re not one of those people – then how can you really be focusing on the person you’re talking to? You can’t. Focus on what you’re doing and compartmentalize your activities more. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can juggle multiple things at once and still be productive.

What did I miss? Are there things you do that help you be more productive?
~ if you liked this blindpost, here are more you can check out. And a handful of my friends will suggest blindposts for me to write from time to time, please feel free to do that too!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wonderful Pistachios Super Bowl spot

Pistachios, pistachios, pistachios…the Wonderful Pisatachios Super Bowl spot won the night.  If you haven't seen it... click here

For a while now, I have been working with agencies and watching TV wondering if our industry is truly creative or is it simply following a set of rules laid down by our advertising forefathers.  There is plenty of work that is incredibly creative but sometimes I feel like the work is being bogged down with outdated rules.  The two rules that I question the most are branding colors and calls to action.  The pistachio ad brilliantly lampooned both creative laws in two, perfect 15 second spots.

Regarding branding colors, I get that you can own a color by constantly reinforcing it.  Coke owns red, T-mobile probably owns pink.  But if you are not spending buckets full of money, it can look ridiculous.  The first Redds Apple Ale spot that I saw featured a guy in a red (really more like watermelon) colored hoodie.  I am guessing that they had to custom make that hoodie because no one where a watermelon colored hoodie.  I watched the spot and immediately thought that the agency was selling the client on the fact that the watermelon colored hoodie was what branded the spot.

Perhaps if they spend another four-hundred or five-hundred million dollars per year, for the next ten years, they will be the second most popular drink trying to own red.  It is as if the client and agency somehow felt that plastering a spot with red and spending a few million dollars was going to get it done.  I understand that they had to make the hoodie some color, so why not make it red.  But all I was left with was the thought “what kind of tool wears a watermelon colored hoodie.  I wouldn't want to drink the beer he drinks.”

The next rule of creative that I am not sure applies anymore is the call to action.  I imagine for direct response work it is a good idea.  But saying talk to your doctor about Crestor doesn’t make much sense to me.  A call to action implies taking action now.  Unless I am seeing this spot in a doctor’s office, I am not going to speak to him now about Crestor, so what is the point of the call to action.  Calling GEICO now, makes sense.  Telling me to pick up a box of Monkey-Chow next time I am at the grocery store, doesn’t make sense.  There is too much time between the call and the action.

I understand that there are tons of people and issues influencing the creative work.  Let’s just consider which rules we want to keep and which we want to eliminate.  Once we are no longer bound by so many creative shackles, perhaps we can create new best practices that new generations of ad folks  will have to follow.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Dangers of Technology -- Illustrated Ironically Enough at CES

By now, most of us have heard about or watched Michael Bay's disastrous presentation at CES last month.  For those of you who haven't seen it yet, click here. It was so bad, I found the video googleing "CES 2013 presentation fail." I didn't even get the year right and google knew what I wanted.

While I have sympathy for Michael, he did remind us of an important lesson.  Regardless of how confident you are the technology, nothing takes the place of preparation.  How many of us could give a reasonably persuasive new business presentation if the equipment failed us?  No PowerPoint, no Keynote, just you and your thoughts.  Would you be able to hit the high points of the presentation or would simply mumble your way off-stage saying "Sorry, I can't do this."

Certainly, part of Mr. Bay's mistake was relying too much on technology.  But the reliance on the teleprompter could have just as easily been on note cards instead of the teleprompter.  The real issue is that he was not prepared.  He did could not recite the key points that he wanted to mention.  The teleprompter goes down, he is not prepared, now his nerves take over.  What started as a bump in the road has now quickly snowballed into an avalanche of nervous reactions forcing him to make his way off-stage in what was l likely one of his most awkward professional moments.

If you look at this through the lens of new business, make sure that you and everyone on your team knows the two or three most important parts of their part of the presentation as well as the two or three main points of the entire presentation.  This forces you to make sure that your prensentation has a small set of primary takeaways and insures that everyone is in agreement about what those takeways are.

While this may seem straightforward, I have an experiment for you.  A day or two before your next pitch, go around the room and ask each member of the pitch team (don't simply ask a question to the group) what they think are the three most important things in the presentation for the prospect to remember.  Resist the urge to engage people in conversation about those points.  Simply go around the room and ask everyone.  If everyone on the pitch team gives the same answer, you are in good shape.  If you get a collection of different answers from different people, send me an email because you have a problem.  If the pitch team cannot articulate the three or four things the prospect should remember about your pitch, there is no way that the prospect will be able to recite your primary takeaways.  If the prospect misses your primary takeaways, you will almost certainly lose.

Mark Schnurman
President and primary pitch consultant at
631.385.1716 x201

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