03 November 2009

Blogs Together

I'll start by saying this post is not intended to be arrogant or self indulgent in any way, but I know my only writing style can't avoid sounding that way, so just a heads up. And for this to make any sense, you'll need to read Stan Lee's article, Blogs Apart from this month's Marketing Magazine.

It's certainly an interesting read, one that I'd suggest is unnecessarily cynical and perhaps just another dig I've come to expect from older generations. And I can't help but think that with less than a handful of Australian marketing student bloggers out there, it might not even be all that relevant. Yet I feel one of us should probably respond. So here's my thoughts as to how I perceive the article personally.

To me, this blog is just a conversation starter. In many ways it's my resume. And just like you'd be stupid to employ someone based on their resume alone, the same goes for bloggers. But it's a foot in the door somewhere, where I'm then given the chance to prove myself. I've actually recently come to the decision I don't necessarily want to work just in the social media area, but definitely in an agency. This blog, I hope, will help me indirectly achieve that goal. Even if it's just because someone's happy to grab a coffee or beer with me.

Even the most talented graduate in the country is useless if no one's heard of them, right? Especially when you consider how many positions are never advertised but rather are filled through a network's word of mouth. I'm thinking writing a blog like this one is a great way for someone to begin to "know the right people".

Now I realise I criticise the industry. A lot. Probably too much. But if there's anything I've learnt about this industry is how cut throat, back stabbing and competitive it is. I'm certainly not the only one criticising, I'm just not doing it behind everyone's backs. Perhaps the only reason I publish it with my name attached is because I've got nothing to lose but I think every point I raise is a worthy one, and hopefully something other people agree with or are willing to discuss, even if not publicly.

As for the expert claim, I don't think there's a single student blogger who claims this. I think some might suggest they could provide insights, even without practical experience, but none of them are claiming a guru status. And you know what, I think insights without experience can still be valuable if taken for what they are.

The one thing I'd probably agree with Stan on is the issue about telling employers how things should be done. This is something I'm quite passionate about, and again, I'm only going to offer my insight, but Gen Y are not going to "bow down to employers". That's not how you're going to attract and retain talent. I see it more as something people can take on board or not... more or less like Stan's article.

As for the suggestion that blogs are only important if people Stan considers important read them... well I don't even know where to start there.

This blog has been responsible for (and here comes the arrogant part) landing myself an internship, started a business, doing some incredible networking most graduates would kill for, writing for Marketing Magazine and The Punch and a whole lot more. Perhaps one of the most important, is that it's helped me realise a passion, one I could spend every day for the rest of my life doing. Criticise that.

And please, if you ever see a spelling mistake on this blog it will be corrected immediately. Likewise for a sentence that doesn't make sense.

So to any students or graduates out there thinking about starting a blog, my advice is ignore Stan's article. Do it. And if you do, remember that starting conversations, no matter if you do it through controversy, criticising the industry or bad grammar, is better than writing a blog about ads and quotes you find interesting. ;]

14 comments:

  1. My browser gave up after downloading the first line of text from the linked article...

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  2. Re your comment "even the most talented graduate in the country is useless if no one's heard of them, right? Especially when you consider how many positions are never advertised but rather are filled through a network's word of mouth."

    I would agree that this is a great marketing tool for you.

    However, a talented graduate who doesn't have a blog and is 'unknown' is just like every other new challenger brand out in the market. Not every brand has a big budget, or (like in your case) 3 years of planning and resource allocation prior to launch, to build awareness.

    That's why grads need to market themselves. Position themselves. Communicate. And develop relationships.

    Yes, this might fall on deaf ears, but that comes down to (just like with brands) a poor understanding of the target market, an ineffective choice of channel strategy and creative execution.


    At the heart of it Zac, your blog is a long-term demonstration that you have passion and actually think about things.
    But what about if a grad researched their dream company, revealed a business problem, cold-called and organised a coffee with the MD to discuss how the problem could be solved.
    Doesn't that involve the same passion, thinking and effort as a blog.

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  3. Hey Zac. Nice response to Stans article. I think one thing that I noticed from Stans article is an assumption of what he thinks a blog should be. They are not necessarily targeted at senior management and they are not supposed to be written like corporate documents - so spelling, structure etc are, should be less formal, and dare I say, less technically accurate. Like you say all the time, blogs are conversation starters, incubators for the development of new ideas and conversations. Quite often it requires the provocation of strong views and opinions to get the convo and ideas flowing.

    Just finally, I have noticed you have some douchey people leaving comments more and more, and the criticism, like in stans article, seems to be of the form, "who do you think you are criticizing the industry etc etc..." You know, I am happy to get on-side with anyone who calls you a wanker, Zac :) But, from this blog, I don't think anyone could accuse you of not having integrity and conviction (a trait too often missing from bloggers and the general population alike, trying to have the right opinions, not offend anyone, and land that sweet agency role by saying all the "right" things but never anything interesting, controversial or ORIGINAL. YES-MEN anyone??).

    Money and jobs come and go - but your integrity and reputation stay with you and are hard to change. Keep up the good work.

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  4. Zac, you might know how to use your blog template but dude, learn some photoshop skills. That scan is ridiculous size! "save for web" "save for web" "save for web"

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  5. Dude, the problem is that while you might know a lot about social media, I haven't got much of a clue what your work ethic is like, how you'd go pitching in front of a new client, how well you play with others, and far more importantly; how well-rounded your general marketing knowledge is. The same can be said for anyone who writes a blog. I've hired two new staff members in social media positions in the last couple of months and neither of them had a blog. They barely even tweet. They were just there at the right time, had the right degrees, they'd both been interns and they had the right personality. 'Social media' will come and go as a marketing buzz fad thing. I'm far more interested in hiring people who have marketing nous. You cant' teach that.

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  6. See also, 10 Steps to Getting a Job in Social Media: http://www.dpdialogue.com.au/zakazukhazoo/10-steps-to-getting-a-job-in-social-media/

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  7. @ Rick and Age

    Image is now updated, Photoshop is not my special skill.

    @ Matt

    As I said, I'm not expecting to walk straight into a job. All I'm looking to do is use this to get an internship, get an interview or have someone recognise my name when I call them. ;]

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  8. i have a few things to add, although i'm not in advertising, so many will probably discount what i have to say.

    a lot of what stan has to say is right, but i would also add that gwen, sam and julian have had the success they had through their blogs not only because they're talented and are willing to make stuff, but that they are using the blogging medium to do things they would probably do anyway, somehow. the key is motive as much as it is motivation.

    zac, would you do this if the internet didn't exist (god forbid)? would you make a 'zine about how shit the advertising industry was, or letters to B&T, and mail it to every ad exec in the hope they might read it? if so, great. some of stan's words probably don't apply to you then.

    the other thing i'd like to say, contradicting something stan says is that, unlike more authoritative or academic texts, slightly wonky spelling and grammar can make blogging the personal media style we like. paul colman (life in the middle) has spoken about the charm of a typo, or confused language - that it's within the context of that less-authoritative ouvre. if it's absolutely appalling, then sure - hard to read is hard to read. but as as soon as we set blogging up with the exact standards and expectations from trad broadcast media, then it ceases to be a blog and becomes another one of 'those' voices of authority.

    my advice to any students out there considering starting a blog is to ignore stan's article, but read his blog. and the junior blog. and this one and julian's and whatever other blogs are out there and know the playing field that you're entering. work out why the fuck you want to say what you want to say and if it's not constructive, authentic or going to contribute in a meaningful way, spend your time playing FIFA10 instead - i hear it's amazing.

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  9. @ Lauren

    Yes, I was about to write back to Matt's response with an addition along the lines of...

    Getting a job is not the only reason I write this blog. When I have one, I'll continue to write it and if I never land one, I'll do the same. Thanks for your comment, although I'm not a big gamer. ;]

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  10. The reason you blog isn’t the same reason others blog. That’s why it is unfair to criticise someone’s blog, structure, tone etc.

    I started to blog because I enjoy expressing my ideas because working in an SME in Business to Government doesn’t provide me with a lot of marketing talent to bounce and develop ides off.

    Sure it was a little bit of building my presence for when I look for another job but too be honest I wasn’t sure how that would evolve and whether it would even be worth it.

    Over the last year it has been great. I have met heaps of cool people and it has taught me a lot about how this medium works (and doesn’t).

    Now Zac, huddle close, cause this is a bit out of character for Uncle Oyster but …”You do what you want to do buddy. Don’t care too much about what other people say”

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  11. You can only be called a "creative catalyst" when someone calls you one, not when you call yourself one on your OWN blog. Sorry Stan, there's a whole lot of us here in the industry that laugh whenever we see it. Call me old fashioned but I believe titles are earnt.

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  12. Dear Anon, laugh all you want. That's the job I have. Sorry.

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  13. Well right!I totally agree with you.Blog commenting is extremely good technique to help in attracting visitors to your website.There are many blogging websites in the internet available that helps you to go to the desired blogs and put the comments and leave your link there as well. These comments have the keywords relevant the desired search.

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  14. Hey Zac, I've got to agree with you totally here - Stan really doesn't 'get it'. His article show's just how clueless he is about the shift that has occurred in the world, and he and his kin are slowly fossilising through their own ignorance.

    Anyone interested in social media and online marketing needs to be using it, or else they won't understand it. And in this day and age, anyone involved in 'marketing' should make it their business to understand the online space - because this is where their customers are! [The average person spends more time online, and on social media, than they do watching TV - how can you let that audience get away?]

    Personally, I wouldn't trust a "social media" or "marketing" professional who didn't use it. Saying you don't have time is like saying "I don't have time to do the client paperwork" - it's part of the job in this day and age.

    I do understand Stan's point about criticising the industry - that never goes down well, even if you're on the money. On the other hand, the kind of employer who rejects your opinions as 'invalid' is perhaps one you don't want to work for.

    That said, a blog needn't be about marketing or social media, it can be anything, to whatever audience, effectively creating your own low budget campaign which you can show prospective employers (or investors) as proof of an engaged audience - that you've built single handedly.

    Employers don't need to read the blog, they just need to take a look at the numbers, which should speak for themselves. What better proof is there that you understand marketing and social media than that?

    Stan also overlooks the point that most of your readers are probably a younger demographic, perhaps your own age, and while at the moment they may be just starting out in the industry, some of those people in ten or so years will be in middle to senior positions... you're building your career for the long haul, not just the next few years. Being well known and (possibly) respected starts now.

    A great example of this in Natalie Tran. When she first began vlogging on Youtube, no one would have called her a genius, or a guru, or even professional, but she's become one of the highest viewed Youtube stars - and various opportunities have come her way as a result. Doors open that wouldn't otherwise.

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