Humor Me...With an Espresso. A Double.

WE Communications Blog: Alan VanderMolen

— Alan VanderMolen 

I write this while standing in the world's longest queue at the Starbucks in Columbus' John Glenn International Airport (a generous name for one flight per day to Toronto, but I digress)...

I am desperately trying to figure out why all the people in front of me are ordering 'Frappula Frappucinnos with white chocolate mocha haunted with strawberry purée'.  I wish the barista would just humor me with an espresso...preferably a double...and move me to the front of the queue.  

This is the first time I have had to collect my thoughts coming off of last week's Holmes Report, Global Summit in Miami.  The Summit had the feel of a Starbucks: Mostly friendly, familiar faces; mostly good conversation; and, sessions that mostly conveyed a sense of urgency for the industry and its practitioners that can be likened to the feeling one has after consuming caffeinated beverages. 

I have three takeaways and one piece of advice:

Takeaway 1:  We do not need more data. We need to figure out what to do with the data we have.
My friend Jackie Price, Co-Founder and Maverick Leader from End Game Partners said she has never met a marketer who has told her 'please get me more data'.  The trick is knowing how to use the data one has.  As communicators, we should listen hard to that before over investing in data acquisition. I have been to 6 conferences in 6 months. Each conference has had multiple sessions on data. None of them has discussed the purpose of data.  My view here is simple:  Data needs to lead to insights to inform strategy, content creation and content management.  The rest, by-and-large, is for intellectual exercise...and for burning cash.

Takeaway 2:  AI. AR. VR. Machine Learning:  Pay attention.
I have to admit, I have been on the AR/VR bus for a while; however, I have been an AI/Machine Learning skeptic as both relate to PR.  No more. The Weber Shandwick-sponsored session on AI in Miami demonstrated for me that AI and Machine Learning complement the human part of communication ... they do not threaten the art in our profession or pose a risk to our jobs. We need to pay much more attention to communications-related advances in the above and speed the pace of innovation.

Takeaway 3:  Content creation is equally important as content management. 
I am growing tired of the word 'content'.  We are obsessed with the word. To me, it de-humanizes what we do and the audiences we do it for.  Please send me alternative suggestions for 'content'. Email me at:

That point aside, I think we need to spend an equal amount of time now on how we manage and distribute content.  In top line findings of a study (Stories in Motion) my agency will release mid-November, we found that no matter what time of day consumers seek or interact with content, their smart phones are the primary tool for accessing it.  As practitioners, we need to consider this point much more closely than we are as we place and distribute content.  More on that in a couple weeks. 

Piece of Advice:  We pay a lot of money to attend conferences.  Presenters and sponsors have a responsibility to deliver compelling, enriching and educational sessions. Two, prime time sessions at Holmes Report Global Summit were extended propaganda sessions for agencies (you know who you are!).  

Come on. We are all better than that.  

Do not tell us how great you are (or how great you think you are). It's tedious.  Tell us what we collectively need to do to advance our profession.  


Alan VanderMolen
President, International and WE+



Subscribe to Our Blog

RSS Feed

Alan VanderMolen
President, International & WE+