To Be Invisible, Or Not To Be

People are scrambling to figure out what the harrowing economic collapse means to them. Will they have a job on Monday? Will their 401K be worth anything when they retire? Should they begin walking to work and cultivating a garden? And so on.
TechCrunch founder, Michael Arrington, writing about the ignoble end of Web. 2.0 (an argument I find lacking) makes this assertion:

The first to go will be the bulging marketing and communications departments at all those startups – the very people who make Silicon Valley such a nasty place to be in the boom times. But as the number of startups dwindle, it won’t be so hard for them to get attention from press and users, so those marketing and PR flaks won’t be missed all that much (of course, the people without jobs won’t be happy).

What a dismal view of our profession. AdPulp is no TechCrunch, but I too am besieged by requests for coverage all day, every day. I don’t always like culling through the mess to find email that’s actually important for me to read, but I do it. It’s part of the price one pays as an editor, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal.
But what about Arrington’s assertion that marketing and PR will be the first to go in a financial crisis? I don’t doubt that many short-sighted bean counters will make that move. So be it. But it’s not the move to make. What’s needed is an honest assessment of which communication channels are working hardest for the least expense. For some mass-produced packed goods brands, that might mean running more TV, not less. For other brands, across all categories, it will likely mean fine tuning their digital strategies.
Turning the lights out on marketing and PR is a form of panic. And panic often leads to disaster. The challenge at hand is showing customers the real value in one’s offerings. Doing so is something that needs to be practiced at all times, not just now. With the right frame of mind, this time of trouble can remind one of the basics, keep one on-point and make one more efficient. So, it’s not all bad.



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 at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.