Posted by Amanda Chapel Tuesday, November 28, 2006
St. Louis, MO - Fleishman-Hillard Inc. today announced the launch of a new team designed to reach baby boomers. FH Boom will offer research, training, program assessments, creative strategy... you know, the usual stuff corporations spend good money on chasing sales.
Dave Senay President and CEO of Fleishman-Hillard said, "I know I know... the gay practice was almost the exact same announcement. 'Such and such represents a strategic approach to communicating with a large group that has unique needs and interests as well as tremendous purchasing power blah blah.' But this is totally different. Gays only spend about $45 billion a year on goods and services where boomers spend more than $2.1 trillion! We're talking 50 times as much without all the drama and baggage. I mean, c'mon!"
Like the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered practice group, Fleishman-Hillard is one of the first global PR firms to offer a practice group that is exclusively geared to boomers. Other practice groups the firm is currently considering include: The CEOs of the Fortune 1000 Practice Group; The Really Large Land Track Owner Practice Group; The Recent Inheritors of Over a $100 Million Practice Group; and the Friends of Warren Buffett Practice Group.
Ben Finzel, co-chair of the firm's gay practice said, "FH Out Front was a simple, instantly recognizable name that describes who we are, how we operate, and why we know the community. FH Boom, well..."
FH Boom will be headed by Eileen Marcus and Carol Orsborn. Marcus is a senior partner who's been the agency lead on AARP. Orsborn is a ringer the agency brought on with a Ph.D. in adult development. Orsborn literally wrote the book on the boomer generation. Her most recent book is BOOM: Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer—the Baby Boomer Woman.
FH Boom is headquartered in the firms's Washington, DC office but can meet with potential clients anywhere throughout Fleishman’s global network of 80 offices.
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It has been brought to our attention that the photo featured with this story is actually from another book on Boomers. As Ms. Osborn had written "the" book, we naturally assumed. We were wrong. This is from "Marketing to Leading Edge Boomers," by Brent Green.
In all fairness, we've included a little review. Green's book gets 5 stars:
Boomers: Green Gets it Right!
By David B. Wolfe
As the words "aging boomer" rise in frequency in marketing venues, like feathered scavengers circling a fallen animal in the bush, countless boomer "experts" appear out of nowhere offering clients "the" answer to cashing in big on so-called boomer markets.
Most of what these "experts" dish out to whomsoever will listen is bunk. However, Brent Green's "Marketing to Leading Edge Boomers," is solid. It approaches the task of explaining where boomers -- especially leading edge boomers who have always been the most activist segment of the boomer cohort -- are in their worldviews, values, needs and behavior as they move ahead on their journey through the second half of their lives.
While Green's book is not a "how to" recipe book for embarking on that new or next campaign targeting boomers, it is better than that. The formulaic approaches that most readers of marketing books hope to glean from their readings just don't hack it in older boomer markets. The greater degree of individuation, introspectiveness and autonomy that typically emerges in the second half of makes knowledge of the traits of boomers' behavior in the second half of their lives -- which Green delivers on -- more useful that absolutist prescriptions for what to do that characterize most books in the marketing genre.
Posted by Amanda Chapel Tuesday, November 28, 2006
You know at the end of an all-night poker game where the exhausted survivors start to just cut the deck for big stakes? Well, as you recall, back at the end of June we described PR's foray into Web 2.0 as being in the World Series of Texas Holdem. Then like a drunken fool, the industry was capriciously betting the farm on anarchy. Now, a box of seedy cigars, a few fifths of Jack, and a parade of hookers later... PR is down to cutting the deck. I wish. No, it's worse than that. It's a freakin' coin toss. Richard Edelman, the CEO of one of the largest agencies in the world, the other day likened the industry's present state to a "Fork in the Road." Technically, he's givin' us a 50/50 chance: heads you live, tails you die.
What the hell is Richard thinking? Apparently, he's finally coming to terms with the rising tide of abject rejection of PR on the new frontier of social networking. Ironically, there's been a mass revolt against his Me2Revolution. In his words, there's a "rebellion in the blogosphere rejecting PR-spawned material as invasive and inherently false."
Hello! We've only been ringing this alarm bell for the last six months. Apparently, Richard is now hearing it from his own:
"I want to comment on this week's article by Paul Holmes, titled 'Anti-Social: Is Public Relations Messing Up in the Blogosphere' and a companion piece written by Jeff Jarvis titled 'PR and the New Architecture of Information.' Both are concerned about the seeming inability of PR people to perform in this expanded role. Holmes concludes that PR people 'are in danger of becoming pariahs in the social media realm.'"
EDELMAN'S GOT A PLAN, TRIES TO REINJECT CONFIDENCE
Excuse me but... if you've got skin in the PR game, Richard's next toss should have you somewhat anxious; that is, if you've got half a brain or have not drunk the Kool-Aid.
In either case, well, relax. He's got a plan. Besides promoting "success stories as part of our continuing effort to educate our colleagues and academia about best practices," Edelman's now calling for "credible advocacy."
"We have to move beyond a position of agent or broker. We are now responsible for the quality of the information and the integrity of the vehicle, because our content may be going directly to audiences, as well as through the filter of independent media. We should offer access to data on both sides of an issue. Content needs to be real. Authenticity and attribution are expected."
Again, if you've got skin in the game, half a brain and have not drunk the Kool-Aid... if you relaxed (see above)... you probably just soiled yourself. Edelman promoting "success stories" is laughable in light of Wal-Mart, WOMMA, etc.; and PR espousing "credible advocacy" is almost pathologic.
Richard got the "credible advocacy" part from Edelman advisor David Weinberger. David is absolutely right but Richard's interpretation of what he's saying on a good day is problematic. PR as credible advocates? Please. Someone shoot me. I am begging you!
Here, by way of a little story, let me put it in perspective: I had a boss once that would get himself all worked up before a new business presentation. He would become the client. Whatever the widget, glue or cancerous effusing fuzz that prospect happen to make, he’d totally immerse himself and subsequently sell himself on the wondrous benefits of their product/service. He was no longer an "objective agent" but a "true believer." He truly became the credible advocate. Funny, at that point he didn’t care if they paid him or not.
Today, that’s quite rare. In PR, we try to think of ourselves as lawyers for cripes sake. We pride ourselves in being objective agents. As such, taking money to devise a strategy to influence a target group... is NEVER going to be appropriate in a total access - totally exposed - society. The internet is summarily rejecting PR because they/we no longer have an institution - the media - to shield from the inevitable consequence of fraud and manipulation.
PS For the record, that former boss was ultimately fired. His attitude completely pissed off the bean counters in New York.
COMMENTARY: WE QUESTION RICHARD'S LEADERSHIP
And who the hell drove us to this fork in the road? Again, there's a certain pathologic in Edelman's words.
I am reminded of the movie Pope of Greenwich Village. There's a scene where/when the dimwit Paulie gets his cousin Charlie fired from his job. In the next scene they get into a little bit of a tussle over the matter and Paulie inadvertently rips Charlie's shirt. Injury to injury, Charlie is now even more incensed. But Paulie calmly tells him "dont know why you need those fancy suits Charlie, you got no job to wear em too!"
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