A 2014 Update

Greetings all!

I hope you all are well.

Things are steadily rolling along here. The second semester has been stop-and-go due to the wacky cold weather. As I write, CrownTown is projected to get close to 12″ of snow.


Other than that, below are a few things going on.

The Countdown

Yes, it is 60 days until I get married. That’s pretty exciting. We avoided some major pitfalls too, and everything (that we control) has been taken care of. For now.

Next Venture(s)

From spending nearly five years in the startup/entrepreneur space to jumping into the education world, I can not help but keep both doors open. I enjoy being busy. Plus, it keeps me out of trouble. I have several things on my plate I hope to steadily chomp off.

Writing a book– I know…I fell into the marketing strategist pitfall- creating something of my own. For the record, it is not entirely my fault. My future wife thought it would be a great idea, and when I’m given the opportunity for a new challenge, I can’t help it. Details about that soon.

Launching AdLand Heroes– One of the two big ideas I have. The Charlotte Agency will stick around, for the time being. But I picture AdLand Heroes as being an advertising publishing (own my book, probably), consultancy to help freelancers and small (3-10) advertising folks get noticed. I want AdLand Heroes to provide training for those populations that may not be able to receive it, and fill other gaps as needed.

Launching GoMatthewsMintHill– The second of two big ideas I have. These two areas, which are growing- and fast- has no real centralized digital presence so people know what’s going on. With help (programmer, sales people, office manager) I can get it off the ground.

Updating TCA– TheCharlotteAgency.com needs a serious facelift. So yea, that needs to happen too.

Needless to say, I am happy to see that though I am thoroughly enjoying teaching, that my entrepreneurial spirit has not yet withered.


Coming Up-

DECA States- Instead of being a judge, I will be an advisor during the North Carolina DECA Conference. Wild.
Social Media Day Charlotte (June 30th)- If you know people who’d like to be involved, give me a shout (Twitter: @SMdayCLT)

That’s it for now, folks. I hope to come back with updates on progress.

As always, thank you for reading.


People Like Advertising, so Why All the Hate?

“Contrary to popular belief, Americans don’t hate advertising.”
-Roy H. Williams

Americans love watching the Super Bowl for the commercials. People who don’t even watch football watch the game so they don’t miss the ads.

Magazines and trade publications have seen a rise in advertising, and there seems to be no real complaint.

Yet, when you talk with people- especially in a large setting- there seems to be a negative light shone on advertising. Why?

I believe that there are several reasons why people may say they don’t like advertising, but aren’t sure why.

-Misleading ads
-Advertising done poorly or done by non-advertisers
-The lack of advertising/marketing advocates in the foreground
-The abundance of popular advertising “haters”
-The popular Adpeople that make everyone look bad

I am not alone in saying that there are a few professionals in advertising that aren’t exactly ethical. But I would also say that the ethical professionals in advertising and communications far outnumber the bad ones.

But unfortunately, society only hears about the bad ones.

Oh, irony.

The media and government love to run with the news when the FCC cracks down on a misleading advertising campaign. On one occasion, I could have swore I saw Al Franken frothing at the mouth during one such instance.

A story of how an AdPerson kept to their ethics, and pioneered truth in advertising would never hit the headlines.

A story about the Ad Council, and how many of those campaigns are given thousands of dollars from advertising agencies, would never be highlighted during a congressional campaign. Why?

The Ad World knows why. It’s not a sexy story.

Someone told the truth? Who cares.

But then the US gets all up in arms when brands have to correct themselves.

But that isn’t the part that bothers me. What bothers me are people like Frank Luntz. Or maybe his visibility.  He is the marketing researcher who helped coined the phrases ‘death tax’ (versus ‘estate tax’) and ‘War on Terror’ (instead of ‘US Global Man Hunt’, I guess).

Genius? Sure, he has the amazing talent to use words and phrases that resonate.

Ethical? Now that is an interesting question. Perhaps it is my political bias that I simply cannot stand the man and every time he opens his mouth I get angry.

Or perhaps he is his own worst enemy. People categorize what he does for the GoP with what advertising and communications people do for brands- create words, images and phrases that force them to act the way they want.

Are people in the wrong for thinking so? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Perhaps it’s his method; using fear and scary words to manipulate the populace. (I’m trying to figure out my displeasure of them, so please bear with me).

Fear is an emotion that is extremely powerful. Fear is our anxiety for what we don’t know. Uncertainty. Tying policies to “death” and “terror” then, would (and did) prove to be extremely impacting. Dare I say, Luntz was impressive.

So communicators have Luntz, the media, and the government against them. That’s fine. But I also see professionals against the profession.

For example, making up words that are against the industry (see ‘unmarketing’, and ‘change agents’). And I find it funny because those words get so popular because those professionals are really really good at marketing.

So what is the point of this post?

1. People like good advertising and communications.
2. Media and government like to point out the bad in advertising to make themselves look like they’re doing something important.
3. Advertising professionals must do a better job highlighting the good folks. Not separate themselves from the industry altogether.
4. Luntz, and people like him, are jerks.

Let’s get our act together, Ad-Brethren. The US is a consumption-based society, so as long as that’s the case, we’ll be around. I don’t care if we’re not liked, but some appreciation couldn’t hurt.

Wanted: Mentors

A good exchange always helps

Mentor- n– a trusted counselor or guide
(fun fact: In The Odyssey, Odysseus had a friend named Mentor who was responsible in seeing that Odysseus’ son Telamachus received an education)

In the advertising and communications world, for the past few years now, the industry has been quite vocal over the need for mentors. The young and restless professionals are taking the industry by storm (except the minorities, it seems) and with all this new blood, there seems that the people who are supposed to pass the torch are no where to be found. In a relay race, the team that mishandles the baton exchange will likely fall behind- or worse- be disqualified. Likewise, if the industry doesn’t get its act together, it too will face falling behind, or losing the race for talent to other industries (blast you finance!).

In AdAge, there was an article about what is best for new talent: small agency or big agency. The article points out that small agency gives the new talent an opportunity to not only wear more hats, but to also have closer interaction with those decision-makers in the shop. In a large agency, those kind of opportunities may not be as plentiful. Either way, the article sums up, if you’re in a big shop or  a small one, if you have a good mentor, the young pros are set.

Then the article goes on about where to find these mentors, and as always, no real answer was provided. It said that the burn-and-churn nature of the industry doesn’t provide an atmosphere for mentors. The Burnetts, Ogilvys, Boguskys, Kennedys of the past are gone.

As a young entrepreneur and marketing geek, I too have searched for mentors. Some more promising than others, but nothing really concrete. It’s been an interesting experience for sure. What I have come across:

-Old supervisors seeing me now as competition (flattered, but seriously?)
-Older professionals who have no interest in mentoring
-Pros stuck in their ways and show teachings that are no longer relevant; or don’t understand today’s way of communicating
-Pros who haven’t had a mentor themselves

Or we would go to the table, asking completely different questions. The experienced pro would want to talk about the joy of new media, while I want to learn about building a cohesive account team. Nice.

Fun right? Sometimes it’s been amusing, other times quite frustrating. But my business partner and I carry on, watching documentaries, reading whatever we can, and learning from the successes and bumps in the road we experience.

So for those 40+ professionals that are complaining about the talent today, how about you take some time, step off the pedestal, and listen for a bit?


Where Creativity Went in Advertising- A Modest Proposal

Sometimes the same tools and technology we herald as frickin’ awesome can become  thorns in our sides, pains in our backs, or the cause of many headaches.

Don’t get me wrong, innovative technology and the ability to communicate in a moment’s notice is awesome. And in this fast-paced business environment, that kind of ability is needed. But as an industry, marketing and advertising has not tackled the by-product of the rapid advancement of communications.

For background: let’s take the golden age of advertising, circa 1950-1985. The barriers of entry for the advertising world seemed to be almost insurmountable. To get into the big agencies, to do good work, and to have your good work be noticed, you had to be really, really good. Businesses looked for creativity and awarded those with it handsomely.

Let’s skip and go to the present. There are little to no barriers to enter the marketing and advertising world. Everyone is a “writer.” Anybody can blog. People, after work, can go home, open Publisher and voila! they can call themselves copywriters, designers, and the like. Businesses, small and large, no longer look to pay top dollar for the best talent. Now, unless I’m wrong, businesses today, small and large, are looking to get the best talent available for the most cost-efficient price- which is a very different approach. Because of the surplus of resources and people who claim they can use it-and use it well- businesses sacrifice the need of creativity for the comfort of doing marketing and advertising campaigns on a budget that they deem sufficient.

So what happens? Those creatives who good work and charge a price that matches, get pushed out by those who aren’t as creative and strategic, but fit the price tag.

What I’m saying is,  new and social media has started to turn creativity into a commodity. And this, friends and colleagues, is not good.

How do we fix this? I’m not sure. The “O’s and Ah’s” of advertising and marketing seemed to have left the building. With DVRs people would rather skip them, and with devices like the Flip, businesses rather do their own (albeit shoddy) video instead letting a Pro handle it.

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the “creative exodus” that an Adage contributor talked about. It’s an important conversation to have. Our industry depends on creativity based on strategy and research, and once we lose that advantage, we being to compete solely on price…like butter.

How will this tale end? Will us creative pros leverage social media, traditional media, and other tools in a way that can weed out the “convenience  creatives”? Or is the advertising industry bound to end up competing not on ideas and implementation, but on Benjamins?

What Mad Men Did for the Ad Industry

Long Live Advertising!

Although Mad Men was filled with sexism, immorality, alcoholism, smoking, and terrible parenting, boy did it show off the agency life.

From being the kings of the world, to the agency startup life, Mad Men surely did for the Ad world what Sex in the City did for the PR world- a breath of new life.

Mad Men showed the exciting process of leading creative. Sterling, the traditional account man (and my fav person!) demonstrated the highs and lows of finding, managing, and losing accounts. I loved his observation in the beginning of the season when he said that you get a lot of no’s in the agency world, but “when you get that one yes, it makes it all worth it”.


Now should we expect a mad rush of marketing and advertising degrees or resumes? I’m not sure. It takes a wonderful mix of creative/partier/workaholic to be in an agency environment, and there are not that many people that fit that mold anymore.

But I could be wrong.

Mad Men is a perfect example of how media can shift the conversation. During a time where advertising has become so dull, here comes a series that glorifies the Golden Age of advertising. How perfect.

But I’m not satisfied. I want to push the envelope more! For example:

A Black Mad Men:

Why? Ask a communications professional how many black colleagues they have. Their answer will be few and far between. PRSA, AMA, IABC, WOMMA and other organizations have done a piss-poor job of recruiting, retaining, and promoting minority talent. Let the media take control of the conversation, and let’s FINALLY have the debate about why blacks don’t stay in the profession, instead of tip-toeing around the subject.


More Emphasis on Advocacy for the Profession:

If you know or have talked to me, you would know that I have choice words for the organizations that advocate advertising, marketing and public relations. The only presence any of these organizations had in Mad Men (that I remember) is when Don and crew won a CLIO (which is not affiliated with any organization).

If this is the golden age of advertising, where are these “premier” organizations? Not once were these organizations even mentioned. I know Mad Men cannot cover everything about an Ad man’s life, but so far they’ve done a pretty good job, adding this piece (if Weinberg even knows about it) would be fun.

Thank you Mad Men for being awesome. I look forward to many (hopefully) seasons to come!

And what about you, other Mad Men followers? What would you like to see?

Another Post about PRSA

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and I have a love/hate relationship.

I love the fact that there is an organization out there that believes in advocating the importance and principles of public relations and communications.

I love that PRSA is trying to stay relevant…especially with groups like the Young Pros and social media trainings and the like.

However, there is still other things that I just can’t ignore. It’s disappointing attempt of diversity (leadership-wise and as a whole society), it’s new-found aversion with PRSSA/PRSA meet and greets (maybe not as a whole, but an overwhelming sample size) and the benefit/cost imbalance…which may be an internal argument I need to deal with.

What is cool though, is that I am not the only one with a problem with some of PRSA’s regulations. What’s even better, is that this professional, who I think is a rockstar, is in the process of doing something to change it!

Richard Edelman wrote in his blog about the PRSA requirement that you must have an APR (accredited in PR) certification before you even think of holding a leadership position. He was asked to sign a petition to eliminate the requirement.


Now I understand what the Society was trying to do. Any organization wants those in leadership to know the ins and outs of an industry. But the APR isn’t even sought out by many of the leaders in the PR industry! If it was a hot item, and “everyone who’s anyone” got their APR certification, it wouldn’t even be in conversation. Edelman has the statistics in his blog about those getting the certification, so I won’t repeat them.

I hope this succeeds. For PRSA’s hope, at least. Opening the leadership for national office to the masses will only do good things and bring more attention and eager folks to an organization that is struggling to stay in the limelight.

May this requirement be struck down with the greatest of prejudice.



Focus on Your Business! Let Us Do the ‘Dirty’ Work!

As an “up and coming” business partner, I now understand how freaking difficult it is to juggle everything at once. Here are a few things that can run through a business owner’s head at one time:

-Are my partners happy?
-Are my employees happy?
-Is my business following the federal guidelines? If I get hit owing the govt money, I’ll be furious.
-Will I hit my sales forecast?
-How much of my liabilities can I pay off?
-How much can I leverage my business before I get in deep?
-When will my business break-even? Get debt-free?
-When can I do what I want to do with my business, instead of what I have to do?

Notice what takes a back seat- your business’ marketing and communications. If you have to concentrate building capital and increasing your revenue by going out, wining and dining clients, and then going back to the office and actually do work, of course polishing your organization’s image will be second tier.

Get an agency to do your marketing and communications. In one of my previous posts, I outlined the benefits of not throwing away your marketing. Now I’m showing you how you can keep your marketing, and work on your business.

Agencies, whether they are a concentrated practice or an integrated one, can let you outsource your communications, and leave you all alone in your office so you can do what you were born to do. And plus, if you get a great agency, its efforts will keep you in the office- because you’ll be busy with new clients!