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The Pain & Glory of Converged Media Execution 

Earlier this week, Altimeter released its latest report: Paid + Owned + Earned = Converged Media.



Altimeter says converged (cross channel, integrated) marketing approaches are imperative. I've been developing and leading digital and social media marketing programs incorporating both online and offline "paid, owned and earned" activities for going on four years now and I've got to say that I heartily concur.

The problems outlined by Mr. Owyang and his co-authors are very, very real. I can't count the number of times executions I was leading bumped into resistence to converged marketing. It sucks to on the outside (in an agency context) and experience these roadblocks; it also blows to be stuck on the client side without the support and mandate from on-high (CMO, CCO level).

Driving innovation in converged marketing these days is painful. Large enterprises (even some of the digital/social darlings) are simply not driving the business process transformation to fully realize the benefits of this neccesary approach. Converged marketing is disruptive to traditional corporate structures — marketing, communications, public relations and all their agencies and service providers. And we're dealing with folks who like their comfy mass media silos. And that's a problem.

Case in point, to deploy an integrated marketing campaign for a large financial service company a few years back required the following participants "at the table" (e.g. present, willing and able to execute in a coordinated manner). Try this on for size — we had three representives from the AOR (media buying agency, digital agency, ad agency), client-side website and digital development team managers & their outsourced digital production agency, client-side customer email manager, client-side search manager and the client-side progressive media manager.

Working in this context for the past four years has increased my tolerance for frustration. But the rewards are there for marketers who embrace converged media approaches in their marketing executions. The results from my client programs have been unprecedented; in some cases gob-smakingly good. Alignment is desparately needed. I'm all for the media lab approach to test and evaluate, but the innovations coming out of the lab must be driven to scale through the enterprise (and out to service providers).

Converged Media Lab: Top Success Criteria 

Leadership is needed to make this change.  And its bigger than converged media execution; it is about having a comprehensive integrated digital and customer experience strategy. And that means that CMOs, CCOs, CIOs and CTOs need to team up. And most truly don't have it together. A survey conducted by Interbrand and reported in their white paper From Digital Strategy to Brand Mastery: Strategizing for a Post-Digital Age [pdf] reveals the problem in this broader strategy/customer experience context.

Some telling data points from the survey:

...a full 68 percent of respondents believe they are ahead of the competition when it comes to digital strategy. But their rosy self-assessment does not correlate to the rest of the data, revealing instead a crisis of over-confidence and a sense that perhaps many of us have trouble evaluating ourselves.

56 percent of digitally active companies do not have a social media policy. This is significant because 551 respondents are involved with social media – meaning that 39 percent of companies involved with social media (216) are operating without a social media policy. It’s akin to discovering that a statistically significant proportion of the driving population has never learned to drive and is going on gut instinct.

While 74 percent of respondents think the objectives of their digital strategy are clear, the consistency appears to degrade downstream. For instance, 43 percent of digitally active companies believe their digital strategy decisions are made in a fragmented or decentralized environment, with each touchpoint or product’s digital strategy being managed separately. This silo effect hampers efficiency and curtails alignment with overarching business strategies. Clearly more harmonization is needed: Nearly one third of respondents believe their brand experience to be inconsistent across digital touchpoints.

More than a quarter of those surveyed are not soliciting customer feedback to inform their thinking on appropriate digital experiences. And even more – 46 percent – are not mining publically available data for these purposes. This is all the more reason why the 68 percent of respondents who claim to be ahead of the competition seems to be an indicator of a degree of self-delusion.

While 65 percent of digitally active respondents believe their brands to be very distinct, only 13 percent of respondents claim they audit competitors continuously.  It is difficult to imagine how a brand would be able to assess its distinctiveness when so little time is invested in studying the competition.

More than one third of respondents feel that an inadequate amount of resources has been dedicated to their company’s digital presence. And as for internal brand engagement, a full 36 percent feel that their company’s investment in employee education on their digital strategy is inadequate – perhaps the most troubling lack of commitment of all in that it speaks to a failure to imbue personnel with what they need to be effective representatives of their organization. This is like leaving money on the table in the battle for customer hearts and minds. In sum, while progress is being made on internal brand commitment, nearly one third of respondent companies believe their digital strategy to be either underfunded, or that their employees are undereducated on the objectives.

The rewards are there for companies who create the conditions for success in converged media. Converged media needs a true-blue (as opposed to rose-coloured) integrated digital and customer experience strategy.  Companies who tune out the mounting evidence that making change is necessary do so at risk of being disrupted in the market by competitors. This is about setting up converged media for success in the context of a truly integrated customer experience strategy. So who's going to step up and lead?


Get 10% off the ticket price for eat:Strategy on July 18


The countdown is on. We're less than two weeks away from the eat:Strategy conference on July 18. I'm speaking at the conference so I've got a sweet 10% discount on regular tickets to pass along to you. Please enter promo code: leona at check-out.
By way of disclosure, I am not being compensated to speak at eat:Strategy. There is a prize for the speaker who gets the most promo code redemptions.
eat:Strategy is the conference for practioners - this is not 101, or how-to. This event is ideal for marketing strategists who want to share ideas, talk trends and make connections.
Here are three reasons you should join us for eat:strategy on July 18:
  1. the experienced, diverse and innovative speakers on the agenda
  2. the venue. The AGO is not your typical conference venue.
  3. to give your brain a jolt and bring new insights to your own work
Tickets cost $225, if you enter the promo code: leona, you'll get an additional 10% off.
Hope to see you there!


Upcoming speaking engagements: CMA and Eat:Strategy

I'm speaking at a couple of upcoming events in Toronto. As always, I'm excited to meet new people and talk about some of my favourite subjects.


CMA Professional Development Institute: Quarterly Breakfast Briefing (Toronto)

Evaluate Social Media Opportunity, Risk and Reward

Social networks are the shiny new object with the marketing department. More and more dollars are being allocated to social media initiatives often without adequate ROI. Research released this year shows that despite the multiple technologies available today to increase effectiveness of marketing, 40 percent of advertising dollars are still being wasted. This session will explore a social business framework, break down the complexity, and outline areas for executive leaders to consider and evaluate when investing in digital and social channels.

Questions answered:

  • Where do all the various components of social media fit into my business?
  • How do I determine which initiatives will deliver the most value?
  • How should we structure risk management for social media executions?
  • What are some of the standard outcomes for social media marketing?
  • How do I insist on ROI?  

Thursday, June 28, 2012


CMA Ontario - Professional Development Institute 25 York Street, Suite 1100
Toronto, Ontario
M5J 2V5


3 Credits


7:30am - 8:00am: Registration and Networking

8:00am - 9:00am: Presentation

9:00am - 9:15am: Question and Answer Period


$40.00 plus HST - Student Discount

$45.00 plus HST - Members

$50.00 plus HST - Non Members

Register here (download PDF).


I attended eat:Strategy last year and am honoured to be amongst some great company as a speaker at this year's event. I'm on the agenda to talk about Research and the importance of insights in the development of strategy.

It is a refreshing format and great chance to talk with other pros about strategy.

Learn more at the website:

“eat:Strategy” is a day long Strategy Conference on July 18th, 2012 combining minds from research, psychology, branding and design. Each speaker will share approximately 20 minutes of their story about how their expertise is helping shape and conceive better strategies for clients, ideas and brands across the world.

With emerging technologies, design & sustainability leading and changing how we all view the world. You will leave the conference intrigued and empowered with a holistic view of how strategies are being shaped at some of the most forward thinking firms in North America. You will gain knowledge on how to reach a wider audience and improve your company’s strategies for the rest of 2012 and beyond.

Sign up to be there on July 18, 2012


Neil Gaiman's formula for success in the world of work

The season of commencement addresses is upon us. The best one I've seen so far is Neil Gaiman's address to the University of the Arts Class of 2012. 

It is worth a watch (or a read).

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.


Mr. Gaiman makes points about work - specifically about freelance, but I think it extends to anyone who wants to be a success in the world of work.

"...I will pass on some secret freelancer knowledge. Secret knowledge is always good. And it is useful for anyone who ever plans to create art for other people, to enter a freelance world of any kind. I learned it in comics, but it applies to other fields too. And it's this:

People get hired because, somehow, they get hired. In my case I did something which these days would be easy to check, and would get me into trouble, and when I started out, in those pre-internet days, seemed like a sensible career strategy: when I was asked by editors who I'd worked for, I lied. I listed a handful of magazines that sounded likely, and I sounded confident, and I got jobs. I then made it a point of honour to have written something for each of the magazines I'd listed to get that first job, so that I hadn't actually lied, I'd just been chronologically challenged... You get work however you get work.

People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today's world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don't even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They'll forgive the lateness of the work if it's good, and if they like you. And you don't have to be as good as the others if you're on time and it's always a pleasure to hear from you."

His simple formula for how to be a success in working has been distilled down into this venn diagram by Bats and bones.



Pitching the pitcher. A few words on earned media.

Something unsuspected has happened to me. Having done earned media work for a decade and a half, I am now on the receiving end of pitches from PR companies.

This feels like karmic blow-back in the form of a stream of unsolicited emails. You see, I've always worked hard to bring a best-practice approach to earned media programs for my clients. Unfortunately, this is not what I see in my inbox. I'm disheartened to report that the "Spray and Pray" approach to earned media is alive in well in 2012. 

For what its worth (because if you're reading this post you're not one of the countless clods who simply don't understand what it means to earn attention and build a relationship) here's my take on what it is to do earned media work well online:

Most work effort to engage with digital influencers (i.e. bloggers and content creators) is done by email. As relationships are developed, phone contact is possible, but many digital influencers simply prefer email.

Some blogs and digital influencers will post their pitch preferences. If a blogger has taken the time write these down, it is always best to follow these guidelines. It is one simple keystroke for a blogger to delete an email. It isn't much more effort to blacklist a sender (or an entire domain as Chris Anderson from Wired famously wrote about it in 2008 with his now infamous, Sorry PR You're Blocked post). It is not uncommon for bloggers to post their correspondence with publicists and PR people on their blogs, whether they are delighted or disgusted.

Obviously, digital influencers and bloggers are not the same as established (i.e. mainstream) media. The accepted practices between professional journalists and publicists do not necessarily hold for digital influencers. Until you've built a relationship and established a level of trust, it is best to exercise caution with embargos and exclusives. Because the majority of the communication with an influencer (at least initially) will be over email, how and what you write is key.

An effective influencer pitch:

  • Has a descriptive, compelling subject line
  • Is written to be clear and concise
  • Is personalized and made relevant to the influencer
  • Includes a meaningful value exchange
  • Has a conversational style

Much ink (many pixels??) has been spilled over the years by people lamenting the brutal state of unsolicited pitches (largely from PR agencies). One of my favourite posts on this topic is this classic PR 203: How to Pitch a Blogger (or at least How to Pitch Jeff Pulver in 2008). Looking at B.L. Ochman's blog, I've found this more recent post that is a true gem. Check out her well-crafted and bang-on-the-mark post: Dear PR people: please take this quiz before you send out another press release or email pitch.

So where do I go from here? I'll do my best to resist the urge to critique, rant and rip apart the crappy pitches that reach my inbox. I'm an optimist so I've got to believe that one of these days I'll get a pitch from a professional who's taken five minutes to poke around my sites and get a sense of what I'm about; from someone who is genuinely interested in building a relationship. And if the stars align, what they've got on offer aligns to my interests and genuinely earns my attention.

photo: 44/365 Ready for Spring Training by The Sussman (Mike)