Thursday, May 02, 2013

It is all in the detail - really

In the age of instant communication, it is easy for quality to be compromised.

When marketing communications channels and design processes were expensive both clients and agencies took great care to ensure that what they put out was on message, accurate, well presented and effective. Mistakes were expensive to correct in the design to print process and embarrassing to say the least if not picked up before going to print. Client briefings were thorough and got right into the details. Likewise agencies checked copy closely, examined printed proofs through magnifying glasses and got a physical sign off from the client before going to print. Clients understood the details of the process and the skills and expertise they were buying to achieve quality results.

Of course progress in software has transformed traditional processes such as photography, design for print and offered new publishing tools, to such an extent that much of the perceived value has been diluted. The Internet has accelerated this process so that instantly messages, thoughts, views and opinions can be shared with the world. Stripped of the briefing process, attention to detail and authorisation many people are soon regretting the hastiness of poorly thought out instant messages and tweets. Even formal press releases are being issued then followed up with a correction. Part of this is driven by a programme to generate more news, not just daily but hourly. Where once we worked hard to find say a couple of stories for a month that actually had news value, now because of the push to fill story quotas on Twitter and Facebook, any trivial snippet will do. Do prospective and current customers really want to be bombarded with so much information, or do they simply switch off and not bother  following companies with such prolific output?

How often too do we hear clients say, "don't bother me with the details" or " my role is to take a helicopter view, I don't get involved in details." Briefs, where they exist at all, arrive in the form of forwarded emails, some may add a note along the lines of, " here is a news story" others don't bother and leave the agency to trawl through an email trail to figure out what the story actually is about. If indeed there is a story of any merit. Some seem to think every individual sale is of wider interest. After all someone has to deal with the details in an age where instant gratification is demanded as in "don't give me any details - I want it now!"

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