So, today I attended the first Mid Atlantic Marketing Summit hosted by Capital Communicator and Potomac Tech Wire at Gannett in McLean. I don’t know that I would’ve gone if I hadn’t been asked to serve on a panel (which came with a free registration) because “Marketing Summit” doesn’t speak to me as a PR person. But, I am glad I went.
Before I get into all that, I first have to tell you that this was a GREAT location. The Gannett building is an incredible venue – very visually appealing, lots of great amenities, including a Starbucks cafe, and it fit our 300+ crowd nicely. Kudos to Paul Dunning and Phil Rabin for their logistics home run.
Getting back to why I was glad I went, you first have to appreciate how intimidated I was about the whole thing after reading the agenda and the other speaker bios. You’d think as a 20-year PR person, I would know something about marketing – and the scary thing is – up until the moment I read the agenda and speaker bios, I thought I did. But, for some reason, adding the words “digital” to any noun or verb like digital media or digital marketing effectively turns my otherwise functional brain to spaghetti. Though I recognize the words they use as English, I honestly have no friggin clue what they’re talking about or doing. So, I thought, it will be good for me to go and try and learn something. Maybe if I really sit and focus and ask questions I thought, I’ll figure out what it means to “transform digital media buys into self optimizing engines.” That’s an actual phrase I read from one of the sponsors (Rocket Fuel) websites. I swear to God that’s how they talk. No idea, right?
So, I put my big girl pants on and drove to McLean this am, determined to learn something. I walked into the opening keynote too late to get the speaker’s name but I caught the tail end of a Rick Perry video that was apparently so fantastic the presenter said, “you know a video is brilliant when you can actually believe Rick Perry could be President one day.” I thought, whew, thank God, this is actually going to be okay. Those feelings were smashed to smithereens when ComScore’s Jodi McDermott took the stage. She was of course brilliant and I am sure of it because I had no earthly idea what she was talking about. She mentioned 3MS and all I could think was what does the yellow sticky company have to do with all this? I think it might have been measurement of something. Again, English was indeed the language, but the language of marketing is all its own and this was, as one other attendee pointed out, pretty weedy stuff. Last, we heard from Johna Burke (BurrellesLuce) who brought my spirits back up as she spoke of things I could identify with, like business goals and measurement standards, and she spoke in plain terms speckled with a few witty, well placed jokes. My kinda gal.
I won’t bore you with more details of the weedy marketing presentations, but I will tell you that inroads were made! Yes, as a PR person at a marketing summit I did feel fairly uncreative and old fashioned because my mobile strategy wasn’t actionable, but I met some great people who actually felt similarly to me about the unsettledness of social/digital marketing. It was validating to meet others who share my fears and frustrations about all the new tools and in particular, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that marketing folks were, as PR folks, working diligently toward more meaningful success metrics. Down with click-throughs and AVEs we cheered together! (If only I understood what click-throughs were). My point is, marketing and PR – we are worlds apart in what we do, but in the end, we’re driving towards the same horizon. It’s as the father says in My Big Fat Greek Wedding – we may be apples and oranges, but, we’re all fruit!