(Note: This is based on one of the prompts from Robert S. Kaplan’s book What You’re Really Meant to Do.)
I’ve talked before about the various self-esteem issues I struggle with which, combined with an upbringing that discouraged braggartly behavior and self-congratulations, make it hard for me to point to something and say “Yeah, I did that really well.”
Fighting through that, though, the reality is there are a handful of moments from my almost 20 years in the marketing industry that I can point to and say that I’m proud of, that I feel my performance was exemplary. For the sake of variety I’m going to pick three moments from three different employers.
San Diego Comic-Con Social Media Coverage
I wrote about the lessons I learned from covering San Diego Comic-Con previously so won’t rehash all those points. For five years, though, I and my team landed in San Diego on a Wednesday and didn’t stray far from the Convention Center until Sunday afternoon. The first year it was just me and my iPhone, though in subsequent years I had one or two team members joining me so we could split up coverage and get to more of the events, panels and other goings-on.
Each time it took a month or more of planning, coordinating with various stakeholders and working out walking schedules to get ready for it. Many of those plans were thrown out as soon as the doors opened to the public, but they were still essential. We would generally put together a formal report a couple weeks after it ended and put a bow on the whole thing.
While there were certainly problems that came up as the result of crossed wires, dropped to dos and so on, I can confidently say I did a good job in all five years it was my privilege to represent my client at the show. I had a lot of fun trying out new things, meeting lots of amazing people and generally getting paid to go hang around Comic-Con for five days. It was a lot of walking but at the end of each year’s show I felt comfortable taking a small amount of pride in the execution of all that prep work and planning.
Pitching Super Bowl Commercial Teasers
Believe it or not there was a time when brands didn’t put 7-second teasers of their “Big Game” spots online in an effort to build anticipation for them in advance of the game’s broadcast. I know, it seems odd to me too.
Credit where it’s due, the idea was generated by Tom Biro, my boss at the time. But the two of us not only made a convincing case to the client but then executed an outreach plan that resulted in hundreds of thousands of views for the teasers that were posted. At the time that was a huge number.
Our success came largely because we knew just who we were dealing with. As advertising bloggers ourselves (#adjab4life) we had connections in that community we could use and insights to guide our pitches so we reached out to those who were most likely to find it interesting and run it. As I was compiling stats for the program back in 2007 I knew this was a job well done and that we’d proven our concept to the client and justified the risk they took on the idea. That’s been borne out even more as this is now standard operating procedure for roughly all Super Bowl advertisers.
Writing New Media Whitepapers
Back in 2000 I had never written a white paper before. I’d read a few but it wasn’t something I’d ever produced on my own. Heck, I didn’t even officially work for the marketing team of the company, I just moonlighted there because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut about how “new media” was changing the media landscape and we needed to do something about that.
So I proposed two white papers, one on blogs and RSS and the other on podcasting. It took a few months but ultimately the end products were pretty good. I was happy with them from a narrative and content point of view, the supervisors were happy with them from a brand positioning standpoint.
Ultimately they were used as lead generation tools, put behind a form for people to fill out to find out more about the company. That was fine, but I insisted on providing open-access public links to The New PR Wiki run at the time by Constantin Basturea, which was a tremendous resource of information for the emerging field of social media public relations. The mix allowed us to both use them to capture interest from prospective clients but also to add to the community’s repository of information and I was good with both the end product and the compromise in the presentation.