Say Something Interesting In A Memorable Way, Or Shut The Hell Up

It’s the best of times (and the worst of times) to be working in communications.

Opportunities abound and empires are being built (and taken down) in a scant few years. On the other hand, despite revolutionary new communications platforms, there’s so much noise that hardly anything gets through and nothing is gained.

Author and speaker, Julien Smith, argues, “the reality of the new world is that if you build it, they won’t give a shit.” I guess we’re not in Iowa anymore.

Smith wonders, “Is your idea competitive enough?”

If you cannot launch a blog post, a marketing campaign, or a business and have people go WOW, instantly, then scrap it immediately and design it again. It isn’t good enough. Give it more edge, or more round. Make it stand for something. Notice and exploit a weakness in the marketplace, or a rising trend (not a fad!).

For Smith, the quest for attention is won or lost on quality. Which sounds good on screen, except for the fact that there’s a ton of quality art, music, writing, even business advice, that is not particularly popular. In other words, please do make your next song or next commercial “stand for something” but don’t expect it to automatically catch fire.

In a similar vein, Blair Enns, a business development consultant to small agencies, last week called for a much stronger point of view from industry experts. “You should be nervous before pushing publish,” Enns advised. “Attack conventions, piss people off, provoke,” he argued.

To summarize Enns and Smith, it is advisable to stand for something, attack conventions and provoke people to think and act. Yet, we’re not all going to succeed at this, are we?

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.