Friday, November 25, 2011

It was 35 years ago today...

Today is an important day because it was 35 years ago today that The Band held a concert at the Winterland in San Francisco called "The Last Waltz". 

The Last Waltz was so much more than a concert or a film directed by Martin Scorsese.  It was more than a Thanksgiving feast where the 5,000 people in attendance were treated to dinner and dancing prior to the show's 9pm start.  It was also much more than The Band's last concert together (except for reunions shows with various formations).

The Last Waltz is an important milestone in the history of rock and roll and a key moment in the history of Canadian music. 

I suspect many people aren't aware of The Band's connections to Canada, in fact most of the Band was born in Ontario.  Robbie Robertson was born in Toronto, Garth Hudson was born in Windsor, Rick Dank was born in Green's Corners and Richard Manuel was born in Stratford.  Only Levon Helm was born in the USA, having been born in Arkansas in 1940.  The band spent many of their early years backing Ronnie Hawkins, playing clubs up and down Yonge Street in Toronto.  They had strong connections to other Canadian musicians and those are evident in The Last Waltz.  In fact, many other Canadian musicians including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell performed with The Band during The Last Waltz.  Here's a great example of that, Acadian Driftwood. 

The Last Waltz deserves to be remembered today for a number of reasons:

  1. It was a celebration of the impact Canadian musicians had on rock and roll from it's ascent in the 1950's to the mid 1970's. 
  2. It showed that bands could to go out while still on top and do it with grace and tact instead of fiery theatrics and sub-par music.  
  3. Many of the performances recorded at The Last Waltz are some of the best versions of those songs ever recorded.  (Who Do You Love with Ronnie Hawkins in particular and Van The Man's Caravan to name a few)
  4. It spawned a concert movie that is still today thought of as the best concert films ever made.  
I own a copy of The Last Waltz on vinyl and listen to it often.  I also own the original concert film.   If you're interested in the The Last Waltz, I'd suggest picking up the 4 CD box-set that includes the concert in its entirety.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Marketing People Need to Understand Communications/PR

In case you haven't noticed, the world of marketing is changing and if you don't change with it, you risk finding yourself in a real bind the next time you need to find a job.  And given the state of the economy and the high-level of economic uncertainty we face, I think it's a great time to rethink marketers plan on "winning the future".

I say that marketers need to understand is the world of communications/public relation better and here's why

  1. As budgets shrink, companies will not be able to afford seperate marketing AND communications departments so as they look to do more with less, resources in both departments may be called upon do to both sets of tasks. 
  2. In case you hadn't noticed, marketing people and communications people are switching sides.  If you think the competition for your role or any job your are applying for is only going to come from people in your specific field, you're kidding yourself.  Read any marketing job description these days and note the requirement "Degree in Marketing, Communications or any related field..."
  3. The importance of social media is bringing together marketing and communications roles as companies struggle to figure out who owns what and how it is best managed.  If you understand what everybody touching social media does, you are well positioned to help your company tell its story. 
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) might be a primarily marketing function but media coverage is a great way to get high-quality back links to your site.  Also, if you are employing an effective listening strategy (something communications and PR people are good at), it's easy to find stories about topics that relate to your company/product/customers and join the conversation and get high-quality back links. 
  5. Having great writing skills is important and you learn many things about writing great content from communications, public relations and marketing writers. 
  6. I believe our future is going to be determined by how successful our entrepreneurs will be at growing companies that hire people.  To me this means that we all need to get better at wearing more hats and doing more than just one thing.  In short, I think the day of the one-trick pony is over.  
What do you think? 

My next post is going to cover a few tips and resource that I think are great for marketers looking to understand communications/PR better. 

image credit: bgottsab

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Is it OK to promote ____________ through my personal social media accounts?

One of my least favorites things about social media is when people mindlessly promote things through their personal social media accounts.

I know what you're thinking "Danny, isn't this exactly what social media accounts are for?".

The right answer is "not really".  Social media are for connecting and helping people but this isn't a post about what social media are/aren't good for.  Sometimes the best way to help people and make connections is to promote things, but everyday I see people who seem to have to no idea when it is or isn't appropriate to promote things through their personal social media account.  On a bad day, Twitter looks like a bunch of people promoting whatever it is they are doing at that moment.  I have lots of theories on why this happens but I'll save those for another post....

I hate to answer a question with more questions but I think people need to ask themselves a few things before they promote anything through their personal social media accounts?

  1. Is anybody listening? If you have no followers, no connections or no fans, then you are simply wasting your time.  
  2. Is anybody going to care? Think about your audience.  Who are you connected to and who are they connected to?  I often see people promoting events for their company when all of their connections are friends.  If you aren't sure if people are going to care, why don't you put some thought into what social media platforms you select and how you present your offer.  
  3. How often am I doing this?  Look at the ratio of your promotions vs. interactions.  If you're the digital equivalent of a person standing on a street corner with a megaphone then maybe you should reconsider. 

I'd like to suggest that if the answer to either of the first two questions is "yes" then you shouldn't promote whatever it is to your personal social media connections.  If the answer to the last question is "more than once a week", I'd also suggest you seriously reconsider.  There are people who can get away with it more often than others but chances are you're not one of them.


image credit: ehnmark