Creating original content

Creating content people want to watch. Everyone wants to do it, but it’s not easy. I mean look at Eddie Murphy’s last nine movies.  It’s not easy.

AdAge just wrote about how big brands including MasterCard, Best Buy and Coldwell Banker are creating content direct for consumers, and not waiting for media to distribute it.One thing I noticed in the article. Not all of the companies are making content that I think is helpful.  Two of them are.

Below are some of the examples:

In the article the Best Buy representative says, “”For [Geek Squad], the move to create content was partly about filling the void left by the change in the media landscape,” Ms. Baldwin said. “But it was also about filling a willingness we perceived in our customers for more access to Geek Squad’s knowledge.”

And MasterCard, “has also taken to the web with video interviews of its executives. Andrew Foote, senior VP in the digital media practice at WPP’s Cohn & Wolfe, MasterCard’s PR agency, said unlike three to five years ago when web content had to be polished and professionally produced, MasterCard has gone the low-production route. It’s taping its executives using Flip video camcorders, editing the video on laptops and uploading them to YouTube.”

Here’s the thing, make good content.  Interviews with credit card executives aren’t exactly good content. Find out what is.  Then do it. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Make something good, and people will watch it.

Just Do It

It doesn’t matter what it, but in this case it’s start doing your own social media for your business.  I had breakfast this morning with a former client and old friend.

He has a staff, but just started a blog, focused on something he knows a bit about, high school coaches.  His reason for starting the blog? He wants to know how they really work before he asks his staff to dive in.  Good leadership and cool, simple idea for the blog. Check it out.

Great way for small business to engage with customers via Facebook

Several friends who run small businesses ask me how Facebook can help them. Below is a great example from a recent LA Times article.

“That’s because more than 70,000 people have declared themselves fans of Sprinkles’ Facebook page, which has its own “vanity URL” at www.facebook.com /sprinkles.

Each day on the website, Sprinkles announces a secret word, such as “ganache,” or “bunny,” or “tropical,” or “love,” and the first 25 or 50 people to show up at any of its five stores and whisper that word get a free cupcake.”

Cupcakes.

Good things from Stockton – iMurmur

I went to college in Stockton. I have a soft spot for the place, even if it is one of the most violent cities in the country.  I like to see positive stories, come out of Stockton, and a few days ago I ran across one.  How about a young medical student who invents an iPhone app to help detect heart murmurs, which he then sells? Yeah, that sounds like a pretty good one.

Read about Michael “Fuj” Fujinaka and iMurmur in the Stockton Record. Way to go Fuj!

Camel Ranching is a “Dirty Job”

I’m a fan of the TV show “Dirty Jobs,” and the host, Mike Rowe.  Last winter I spoke at the annual conference for the Western Fair Association.  I met a lot of people at that conference, and heard a lot of great stories. But the absolute coolest story I heard was from Nancy Riegler.  She and her husband Gil raise camels at the Oasis Camel Dairy in San Diego County, and when I met her she had just heard that Dirty Jobs was going to be visiting their ranch to film an upcoming show.

Nancy wrote about the shooting on her blog, and tonight the episode aired. It was awesome to see someone I had met on one of my favorite shows. In the clip below, you can learn about a traditional cure for dysentary. Note, that I don’t recommend watching this immediately after eating.

I think at some point in my life, I might need to switch careers to some sort of dirty job.

Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode #311, “The Gypsy and the Hobo”

Mad Men continues to include real issues faced by advertising (and yes PR firms) in an incredible show. If I wasn’t in this industry, I’m sure I would still be a fan of the show, but for me I get a bonus. I get to watch situations I encounter all the time dealt with by others.  This week’s episode, “The Gypsy and the Hobo,” was no exception.

There was one major professional topic in the office this week, Caldecott Farms. It seems that Caldecott Farms was a Sterling Cooper client for a long time, until a personal relationship between Roger Sterling and Annabelle Mathis, nee’ Caldecott, soured.  At the time both companies were being run by Roger and Annabelle’s fathers.  Now, 30 years later, things have changed.

Caldecott Farms, which makes dog food from horse meat, is reeling from a negative public perception due to the recent film, The Misfits, (not to be confused with The Misfits who were Glenn Danzig‘s first band-yes he did in fact make music before “Mother”), in which Clark Gable plays an aging horse rustler who steals and sells horses that are made into dog food.

Annabelle describes the situation as, ” Caldecott Farms had a public relations crisis followed by disastrous sales.”

The client would like to create a new name for horse meat.  She makes the point that cow meat is called “beef,” chicken is called “poultry,” etc.

The rules are that you can’t change the recipe of the product, or the name of the product.  Don Draper describes this as a “tall order.”

How tall it is is seen when the client and team are watching a focus group of consumers with their dogs who seem to be loving the food they are eating. When the focus group participants are told what the food is, the react angrily and denounce the company and the product.

The client is visibly shaken.  Here’s the issue. There wasn’t a plan in place to deal with that.  When someone is that close to a product, the company was founded by her father, they don’t always see what really happens with consumers.  The Sterling Cooper team should have anticipated this.  She knew that people were revolted and not buying her product, if the decision to include her in the focus group was to jolt her, it was the wrong one.

Understand that clients aren’t just a company. They are people.  Especially if the company is theirs’ personally. Their whole lives are tied in with company and the brand. To the account team, it’s just another pitch. To them, it’s their life.

Mission Statements

We all remember the line from “Jerry Maguire,” “It’s not a memo, it’s a mission statement.” Well, with all respect to Cameron Crowe, it seems a little long for a mission statement.

Mission statements should be memorable, they should inspire and they should be actionable.

Mission statements shouldn’t be confused with a tagline. In some cases, they may be the same thing but necessarily.

Mission statements should inform thought and help guide actions. For example, Google’s mission statement is, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” and Facebooks’ is ” to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

Not everyone has one. Not every company has one. Maybe we should. I’ll think about it.

Until then, here are a few of my favorites. What are yours?

Some of my favorite mission statements:

“We are Motorhead, and we play rock and roll.”

“I’m Anthony Bourdain, I eat, I travel, I write and I’m hungry for more.”