You’re garbage. Such incompetence. You suck at your job. Fail.

This week’s “Listen to This” took me to a dark place in my professional career. A place that didn’t really exist before the adoption of social media. My guess? You’ve been to this place, too. Or you’ve at least seen it.

This American Life Episode 545 (“If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS”) is quite dark, full of tough language, subject matter, and personal stories that might not sit well with everyone. But it’s an important hour, and one that I want to put a spotlight on today. There’s not a singular moment this week that grabbed my attention, more of an overall feeling. If you take the hour to listen in, you’ll understand.

“Communication crisis”; are you familiar with the term? It could go by so many other names, but essentially it’s the period of time directly after you have screwed up, particularly in social media. There is a mistimed post, an unfulfilled promise, a hashtag gone wrong, a bad attempt at a joke, or simply poor communication, followed quickly by a releasing of the hounds.

Matt Hollowell

About the author

Matt is a lifelong student of design, marketing, publishing, and content creation. His passion sits at the intersection of content and design; in fact, you can often find him there with a cup of coffee in one hand and a notepad in the other. As SME's Creative Director, he supports both the brand and clients, which helps to satisfy his lifelong love of never knowing what's coming next. When not at his desk, you'll find Matt serenading his two amazing daughters, reading gritty British poetry, or obsessively listening to podcasts. Send him your podcast reccs here: @mhollowell.

Is making magic killing our careers?

by · January 29, 2015

Over the long weekend, I had some time to reflect on last week’s post on how hard it is for organizations to keep high performers because they make magic. I’ve come to realize that making magic might actually be a career limiter. Never once in my career making magic have I thought that it could be holding me back. Reason being: magic is magic, and people in the C-suite don’t speak magic. They speak profit and loss. It is a common problem with marketers in our relationship with the C-suite. We do not speak the same language. So, it begs the question, is the magic a reason we are not elevating to the C-suite as quickly as other disciplines?

We’ve all read the reports that tell us that CEOs don’t trust marketers (unless they are marketers who measure). In fact, AdAge pointed out that in 2013, of the 9,800 board seats at Fortune 1000 companies, only 38 are held by CMOs. And I am relatively sure that the number hasn’t grown 60 fold in the last two years. So, could it be the magic? Let’s explore some of the ways conjuring is holding us back.


Why Every Project Needs to Start with Conditions of Satisfaction

by · January 28, 2015

Can I get a virtual show of hands: How many of you have traveled down the road of implementation quite a ways before realizing you don’t know exactly what it is you should be accomplishing? I’m embarrassed to admit that there has been a time or two (maybe more!) in my past where I have been part of a team that has invested so much time and energy into a project only to present it to the executives who no longer share the same “vision”. Out the window goes resources, budget, and a chunk of pride.


Counting Bugs at LinkedIn

by · January 27, 2015

LinkedIn has a bug problem, in two senses. There are long-standing, unresolved errors, and there are agitators like me (or is it only me?) who keep finding more and say so.

This article is my latest “bug LinkedIn” entry. My latest finds center on counting. They’re very visible. I’ll show you two instances, and toss in a screenshot of a special slip-up.

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Report Shows Social Channel Effectiveness … Maybe

by · January 26, 2015

The latest report on marketing leadership is out from Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Their survey of 5,000 marketers asks questions like what specific channels are you using for digital marketing, do you plan to increase your spend here, and so on. Reports like this don’t mean much to an individual company other than showing overall trends. But they’re still useful.

The study focuses on the digital space, so there’s no real comparison to off-line tactics or execution, but with that in mind, here’s my quick read of the report which surfaced a few interesting nuggets:

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Listen To This: Jerry Kolber on Unmistakable Creative

by · January 23, 2015

Against all of my tangent-loving instincts, this week’s “Listen To This” will (attempt to) be laser-focused. That’s difficult for me, particularly today, because Unmistakable Creative’s entire interview with Jerry Kolber is top-notch. As I was listening through, I kept writing down time stamps and quotes, each time thinking I had found the golden moment. But then…there would be another one. And another one. And another one.

I have a page of notes sitting in front of me that I could delve into, but ironically, Jerry also talks about why it’s so very important to focus on one thing. So I will. We are going to laser in on a moment about halfway through (24:50) the podcast. That moment is all about the importance of doing good work, regardless of the immediate payoff, or at least regardless of knowing what the payoff will be. Let’s get into it.


Four Traits Every Brand Needs From Agency Partners

by · January 22, 2015

Many of us spend our career on one side of the table: Brand side or agency side. Expectations are set based on the experiences we have with those on the opposite end. I have spent time on both sides, but most of my experience comes from the agency side. From my time as an agency partner, I’ve come to learn that some brands have very low standards for their agency partners, which leave them with a less than “WOW” experience. A recent conversation with one my clients inspired me to share these four not-so-obvious traits every brand side marketer should expect from their agency partners.


What I Learned About Communication From the Dentist

by · January 20, 2015

What I really wanted to title this post is, “What my dentist taught me about communication, setting expectations, and education.” That is pretty long, so communication will suffice.

I have had a tough time over the past two months with my dentist.

To be clear, technically speaking, the dental work itself has been on point. My dentist and his staff are the nicest folks around, sincerely.

The problem is that every single time I went in, I had no idea what was going to transpire, what that day’s appointment would include, and ultimately how long the entire process would take.

This resulted in a continual pattern of misplaced hope that the end was nigh, only to be told that I had to come back in a week, or two days, or three more weeks.


Do Social Media Policies Stifle Innovation?

by · January 17, 2015

Yesterday, US Chargé d’Affaires to Belarus Scott M. Rauland shared a link to a report on Internet Freedom by country.

In Belarus, they block political content and have jailed bloggers, so the report ranks the Internet in that country as “Not Free.”

I’m getting ready to go to Lithuania to advise the US Dept. of State on digital public affairs strategy in the region, so that, and the senseless massacre at Charlie Hebdo in Paris has me focused on how free speech impacts digital strategy.

I’m asking myself, is there a social media governance lesson?

Are politically correct speech codes counterproductive to the organizations they’re supposed to serve? Or are they strategically unsound?