Next week Yahoo is expected to make its move in layoffs, reports Kara Swisher in ALL THINGS D. Those cuts will primarily be in marketing and product development. As those pushed out of journalism or not making good enough money in executive communications might think twice before retooling for marketing.
The vulnerabilities of marketers in organizations are not new. When I was enrolled in 1 of those entry-level Dale Carnegie public speaking courses during that severe recession in the early 1990s, there were plenty of jobless marketers in class. After all, it's a line of work in which outcomes could always be counted.
What is new is the increased competition in every category + the volatility created by digital technology. The function of marketing seems configured for a roller coaster ride. Today the numbers are good. Tomorrow they plunge. We in providing content are experiencing that when we contract to work for brandname media companies where page views, comments, and more are tracked in real time.
Even staid businesses like law have high churn among their Chief Marketing Officers. Some get the ax, some seek positions elsewhere. On help wanted sites there are always ads for marketing experts. In LAW 360, management consultant Richard L. Upton reports that there was a point in 2010 when 25 major law firms had vacant CMO slots.
The world of work isn't going to become less competitive or less tethered to developments in technology. Therefore, marketing will remain a hit zone. Those entering this area of expertise have to be realistic that they have to produce the numbers. They also have to do that in ways which the organizational culture finds okay.
"Tasini v. AOL" might go down in history as 1 of the silliest class action lawsuits. It was filed by 9000 bloggers who agreed to produce work for the digital site for free in exchange for exposure. That is as basic as contract law can be.
But the dummies who entered into that agreement decided to sue. I refer to them as dummies because, as with unpaid serial interns, they rarely get anywhere laboring in the digital vineyards for nada. Well, U.S. District Judge John Koeltl threw out the case. As part of his opinion, reports BLOOMBERG, he wrote:
"No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to The Huffington Post for publication and the plaintiffs candidly admit that they did not expect compensation."
We live in a capitalist society. Unpaid work is of a lot less value than paid work. That's what housewives realized during the first phases of the feminist movement.
Mommy Bloggers have 1 less thing to go into deep angst about: paying for the Ivy League. By time the toddlers are ready for higher education there might not be entities Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, at least not as we know them. Instead there will be a mashup of the best minds in diverse fields instructing online under some umbrella organization. That might even be a for-profit 1, not the non-profit university.
The influential THE WALL STREET JOURNALreally does envision online instruction "toppling" the elite private schools. In fact, head of News Corp Rupert Murdoch goes a step further. He sees the day when all education will be online and a for-profit enterprise. Sure, Mommy Bloggers can buy stock in their children's schools.
I take an overall look at this issue of making education a level playing field for the financial information company Motley Fool. Here you can check that out.
"The source of our unease is the unfulfillable longing for a lasting certainty and security, for something solid to hold on to." - Pema Chodron, "Taking the Leap"
Yesterday, I absorbing Chodron's wisdom when I was waiting to be interviewed for an onsite part-time assignment. It was related to communications but far enough away from my comfort zone to feel a flood of angst. I needed to know that I shouldn't expect anything but continual change. If I'm expecting some kind of safe harbour I am out of luck.
The recent layoffs of about half the staff at men's magazine MAXIM provides a microcosm of that. As Josh Constine reports in TECH CRUNCH, the print and web editions of that media property met up with all kinds of competition for its readers's attention. Also it did not sufficiently differentiate itself from what else has come out there. Among those gone is Editor Seth Porges.
What that means for us in all aspects of communications is that the glut increases. Those pushed out of traditional forms of journalism will be resilient enough to add skills in other fields ranging from public relations to marketing communications. For each of us the tipping point in the glut could be when we find it too much effort to make a living that way. Some of us will find niches in demand. Others will change careers. And there will be a new crop of geniuses created by necessity who put together a digital innovation.
Ex Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith is going to make money the old-fashioned way. He's writing a book. Grand Central, an imprint of Hatchette, gave him a $1.5 million advance for what will likely be a tell-all, reports Brett Smiley in NEW YORK Magazine.
This follows in the tradition of now-famous Michael Lewis who also worked on Wall Street and then wrote about its peculiar ethos in "Liar's Polka."
When Smith published his criticism of Goldman Sachs in an opinion-editorial in THE NEW YORK TIMES traditionalists said he was committing career suicide. I disagreed. If he was clever enough to get a job on Wall Street he knew exactly how he could leverage that for his next big move.
We all know that bit of conventional wisdom, said to get us over-strivers to pursue balance: No one ever regretted on their death bed not working more and harder. We all agree there is something in that.
But, there are those of us, especially when feeling the pain of a professional setback or, worse, being ignored in our careers, who are convinced we will die feeling angry at ourselves, our parents, our limited high-school counselor, and society for not "going to a better school." Now, of course, that extends all the way to K-12.
That category of resentment might be becoming an anachronism. In a now workplace, the past is no longer prologue. When presenting ourselves to employers, clients, and customers, the focus is what outcomes we can achieve for them in the next 30 days. Track record, not credentials, is the platform for that pitch.
Maybe more of a paradigm shift, academic pedigree may become irrelevant. In a breakthrough article in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Holly Fine makes the case for online instruction as the equal opportunity force in education. Those who are insightful about implications and have the fire in the belly to push forward will be the economic winners. Nothing wrong with going to Harvard but there will increasingly be not so much that's wicked smart about it.
My first stop on my career path was a women's Roman Catholic college Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The student body was mostly, like myself, first-generation college. We tended to feel less-than then and more less-than later as we moved on to prestigious graduate schools and the Fortune 500. That pain some of us nurtured into a primal wound. It's funny: that doesn't matter much any more and it will matter less and less.
Back in 2005, in the blogosphere there was the raging idealism of the counterculture. We were there for others, to improve the world, and to create a fresh kind of communications. I couldn't believe all my new wonderful friends like my blogging coach Paul Chaney and early linker Toby Bloomberg. We all waited, the way the readers of Charles Dickens serialized novels anticipated the next installment, the book "Naked Conversations" by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. That was the bible.
Then everything changed. Some of us discovered snark, or how to use the blog platform for attacking a person, place, or think and without being sued. No one was disappointed in the quality and intensity of my snark.
The next phase was repentence about snark. Among the bridges burnt had been some which we found could be useful to us as the economic crisis worsened. In addition, the shock of such hard times got us thinking why the hell did we waste our time with snark. Finally, some among us did grow up.
Then blogging got to look like it was on its last leg. Was everything going the way of short form? Well, blogging did come back. But there are so many of them that the experience isn't at all heady.
The amazing thing is that sudden-interest-change me stuck with this medium. I got better and better at it. Because I did, I worked in the past as a contract blogger for AOL and now for Motley Fool. The number of page views a blog under a big brandname can attract is amazing. That's what's heady.
But the most important payoff has ben some kind of inner centering. Through blogging about X experience or Y experience I can gain perspective on it. If there is such an entity as peace of mind, thanks to blogging, I have experienced that now and then.
No question, doing media is work we love. And those of us who added onto print digital skills assumed we would be doing lots of this work we love, continuously. Not so. The digital media property TheStreet.com, reports Nicholas Carlson of BUSINESS INSIDER, is laying off.
Although all the details are not in, according to Carlson's sources, all of Main Street has been axed, a few in Boston, and even some tech folks. Who would have thought a digital publication about financial matters would have gotten hit so hard.
Fortunately, yesterday I had already come to the conclusion that for many of us media has become a sort of hobby. To support it, we need a day job. No, that day job doesn't have to be all buttoned-down and with a career plan. It just has to provide steady income. It can even be part-time.
Clearly, media in all forms have become too volatile to support us. There are those on who the universe smiles and they maintain their media perch and often even seek out and get better ones. Then there are those ordinary people who have to cobble together ways to pay the bills. A small piece of that is media work. Sigh. Growing up never ceases to be painful.
The once insulated staid world of law firms has been learning some grim lessons. After its balloon burst in 2007, it become the story the media loved and still loves to cover. So much drama.
Therefore, Dewey & LeBouef's chairman Steven Davis should have known to be cautious about what he put in writing. Even uneducated Tony Soprano knew that. On "The Sopranos," when he had something sensitive to announce or discuss he would do that in a room in his medical doctor's office. He didn't issue a memo.
Davis did issue a memo. Of course it got out here. Among other things it announced layoffs of lawyers and staff. The tone, in this era of so much loss of jobs, got the attention of the media. Of course I covered it. When partners began defecting from the firm, the story grew. A nice wrinkle was that the departures happened in waves. All the more to cover.
Now Dewey & LeBoeuf is doing damage control. The first step, of course, is introducing change. As Julie Triedman reports in AM LAW DAILY, the partners still there have created a proposed 5-member Office of the Chairman. If approved by the other partners that would replace the structure in which Davis is the sole chairman. The group could put its heads together before putting anything in writing. With the matter of layoffs, they should have been approached on a personal level, with heads of practice groups first alerting personnel that this would happening. When it happened, the personnel would be notified in person by their supervisor.
Live and learn. Dewey & LeBouef could have learned plenty from this. If it has then it will leverage all the current media attention to tell its new branding story. Shrewd public relations leaders like Bob Dilenschneider taught the equally one-time buttoned down world of Corporate America that there isn't necessarily such an entity as bad publicity.
Given the current volatility in professional life, in a sense we are blessed with being presented with so many lemons that we can turn into an abundance of lemonade. Davis might be the luckiest guy in the world.