If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of anything News Corp. does, and damn if they didn’t set up a hole though which I could pilot a semi when they launched their app, The Daily, while likely the biggest global news story of 2011 unfolded in Egypt.
But this time, I don’t really blame them. I feel their pain. They are an enormous organization, and a veritable army of marketing people spent a great deal of energy creating a Launch Plan for the app. There was discussion, debate and directives. Everyone had a role. Heck, an actual real-live executive from Apple was there (and he might or might not have had an iPad 2 with him). The Rupe himself made a speech that included the term “shoe leather reporting” (and he might or might not have been lip synching). Many moving parts.
And so The Launch had to barrel on, thereby illustrating two of the biggest problems in modern marketing, ones that affect large and small companies. And problems that are not difficult to fix.
Problem One: A team without a captain is just a bunch of fools on a field.
It’s fun to moan about “kids today,” but they’re not really the problem. All this team crap—in business—means everyone thinks someone else is in charge. Companies have lots of people with long, fancy titles, but those people tend to spend more time parading about in fancy shoes and getting input from team members than they do taking responsibility.
Every big project, especially ones involving tech and marketing, needs one hard-working person who knows what is going on in each department and at every level and understands how activities impact each other. Just one. A human “Microsoft Project,” if you will. The person with whom the buck really does stop. If The Daily project had such a leader, this person could have adjusted timing a week ago as it became clear that events in Egypt were likely to overshadow a major and complex product announcement, particularly as this product is inherently tied to news.
Problem Two: Life in a bubble is no life at all.
We all work so hard…long hours, most of which are spent glued to a screen of some size. Strangely, this often means that we miss the world outside our virtual window.
I work remotely, which gives me a perspective that is always valuable, particularly in marketing. I can place myself virtually in Manhattan or Marion or Milan. I have the (very real) space to look at a product, message, or marketing tactic from different perspectives. So how could a ginormous multinational corporation achieve this? They could actively seek people who are less enmeshed in their corporate culture. They could hire people in different locales (the interweb makes this pretty simple). They could get a hobby (and I mean that literally, not snarkily). They could read more books (ditto).
Apparently The Daily app is swell. Geeky types I respect seem to like it. Journalism folk a bit less so, but that’s to be expected. Whether you think of it as a content delivery vehicle or a marketing tool—or both—you can learn from its launch day activities, if you’re so inclined.