A few weeks ago, I watched a real life “Jerry Maguire” story unfold right before my eyes.
Except in place of the Sports Agent business, it was the DRTV (aka Direct Response / Infomercial / Electronic Retailing) business. And instead of Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire, it was a woman named Jolie O’Dell.
The moral of this story is how narrow-minded many people in the DRTV business can be. This might be a long post, so if you don’t care about the DRTV business, stop reading now and get back to work.
In January of 2008, I gave a speech about Social Media Marketing at an Electronic Retailer Magazine conference in Los Angeles.
The speech went fantastic, judging by the number of people who came up to me afterward to thank me and ask questions. Four hours after my presentation, just as I was packing up to leave, an energetic young woman named Jolie O’Dell came up to me and told me how much she enjoyed my presentation, and how inspired she was to use the information to help her company. Turns out Jolie works for one of the top agencies in the DR business. I won’t mention the agency name here, but suffice it to say they are an icon in the industry.
When Jolie introduced herself, she told me her job title was “PR and New Media”. As she explained it, her job was to help the company she worked for figure out the new media business, including blogging, social media, and all things internet.
My first hint of a problem came when I heard her job title. The internet is “New Media”? It’s 2008 for crying out loud! CompuServ started in 1969, and I had my first Prodigy email account in 1989. That’s almost 20 years ago people…the internet is NOT “new media”.
OK, back to the story. After we met, I connected with Jolie via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and I quickly realized she was a smart cookie, with a great perspective of the future of online business.
About two weeks ago, she posted to Twitter that she had been asked by her managers to stop publishing her own private blog. Yikes! Talk about “Big Brother”. Several of us posted back that this was a big red flag, and perhaps she had better start looking for a new job.
Shortly after that, she posted a “Manifesto” which had been written and delivered to her company CEO. (This is where the Jerry Maguire part comes in)
The manifesto had such scandalous and idealistic (said with tongue firmly in check) suggestions such as:
“Make sure key employees are using LinkedIn, social networks, chat, blogs and microblogs, industry networks and forums, and social video and music sites, both for personal enjoyment and for staying abreast of developments in social media. We need to be early adopters and testers of new media on an individual basis and develop a regular method of keeping one another informed and excited about social and other kinds of new media.”
“Work together within the agency and with clients to fundamentally change attitudes so we can all make progress, reach consumers in innovative ways, and continue to be a powerful marketing ally through the next decade of operation and those to follow. “
“Commit to research and development in meaningful ways. Rather than displaying sporadic interest in this technology or that, take the time to be informed about a wide range of technologies and possibilities.”
NOTHING in this document was bad advice. In fact, some of the tips looked suspiciously familiar, as I think they were taken from the aforementioned speech I gave. 🙂
What was the company reaction to Jolie’s manifesto?
They FIRED her!
I’m actually not surprised. Since 1999, I have been beating the drum of internet marketing to the DRTV industry. It was been the s-l-o-w-e-s-t process imaginable.
It’s only been in the past year or two that the official industry trade association (Electronic Retailing Association or ERA) has really paid attention to the impact of the internet on the TV business.
In fact, I think the association has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by their own trade magazine, Electronic Retailer Magazine, which is staffed by a group of visionaries who have been leading the charge of internet marketing information within DRTV. (Disclaimer: I’m a regularly featured writer for this publication)
Bottom line, when a “New Media” expert gets fired because they are trying to push their company into the “New Media” they’ve been hired to leverage, there is something REALLY wrong with the company, and the industry in which that company plays.
What do you think?