Monday, August 18, 2014

The Cobbler's Children, or the Emperor's Clothes

It's one of the two.

The point being that it's always fun to read about big companies that can't seem to do for themselves what they are paid large amounts of money to do for other people.  And, in the interest of truth in blogging, I suppose I should just say that I could market myself better, and I used to be a marketing genius.  So I don't want to throw too many stones.

Genius?
I'm just trying to make a point.

I refer, of course, to the article in today's Times about Edelman, the largest independent PR company in the world, as measured by earnings.  The article, which is here, castigates them for both their willingness to represent climate change deniers (meaning big buck entities like, say, ExxonMobil or fill-in-the-blank) and responding poorly to an industry survey about their willingness to do so.

Their one substantive solution was firing the president of the company for poorly filling out the survey (if I've got that right) and sending out a press release announcing that they'd learned their lesson.  Certainly the guy that got fired did; I'm less convinced about Edelman.  Regardless, the take away message went something like: How can Edelman counsel its clients on media management if it can't manage to get its own media management right?

All of which is unfair.  I can assure you that Edelman is packed to the gills with highly intelligent marketing and communications people who have sold some subset of their soul to Satan in exchange for a tasty paycheck.  Just as I once did.  Plus it's always easier to manage somebody else's shit than your own.  Anybody whose personal life is a shambles but has sat down over a beer and, without irony, told a friend exactly how to manage his life knows this.  Which would be all of us.

Me?  Here's what bugs me about Edelman:  The first guy quoted in the article is somebody named Ben Boyd.  Which is a great name.  His title?  Not so great.  He's President for Practices, Sectors and Offerings.  I kid you not.

What the fuck does that mean?  It's laughable from so many perspectives.  It's a New Yorker cartoon.

Figby, we're making you President for Practices, Sectors and Offerings.
Could I just put shards of glass in my eyes instead?

First lesson in communications goes roughly like this:  Unless you're trying to hide something, reduce the bullshit to the bare minimum and just try saying something intelligible.  If you, as a company, don't see a problem with a title like President for Practices, Sectors and Offerings, where do you go from there?

Just a thought.  Also, the use of the word 'for' instead of 'of' is execrable.

I should also add in the interest of full disclosure that Edelman once offered me a fabulous job.  I would have been tasked with growing their pharmaceutical business west of the Mississippi (which, at the time, would have been like shooting cheese in a barrel).  There would have been one person between me and whichever Edelman was running the place at the time (and I remember thinking I could eat her lunch).  I would have been paid quite a bit.  If I'd taken it I'd probably still be there now, sitting in one of those high-tech desk chairs eating a gluten-free salad, thinking up shit like Senior Fun Runs sponsored by AndroGel and staring at a picture of my fifth wife and our five children.

[What can I say?  The woman was remarkably fertile, and 19 when I married her.]

Oh, and the job was in Chicago.  A hell-hole of a place -- one man's opinion.

Blow wind.  Crack your cheeks.
Something like that.

So I turned it down.  Became, years later, a painter.  Prolly all for the best.

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