- Larry Stevens
Coffee Talk with Barista Media - Issue #3
Barista Media Newsletter
Saturday, July 20, 2019
CHRIS JETTE, INTEGRATED MARKETING SPECIALIST & MEDIA VETERAN
“I think too much of the industry has lived in boxes -- you're defined by your role, and that's it. I've been fortunate to create opportunities to break down those boxes.”
Chris Jette has been in the media industry since the last millennium, and has been developing and executing integrated digital and social media-based programs since 2006. He has won several integrated marketing awards for his work. He has worked at many of the major players in the publishing industry, including Time Inc., Bonnier, Meredith and American Media, and has spent the last few years as a media and marketing consultant. We sat down with Jette to discuss his past work, present consulting work, and insights into the industry.
Q. How did you end up working in media?
A. By accident, really. My undergraduate degree at Marist College was in TV Production -- even at the age of three I had a video camera in my hand. You could say I was like a young Adam Goldberg (from the Goldbergs) -- until I ran into the fact that to work in production, you need to be unionized, which I wasn't. And being paid hourly wasn't helping support paying back college loans, nor rent, nor spending money to live your life at 21. Fortunately, a media recruiter suggested I try my hand in the advertising industry. My second interview was at Grey on the Canon Cameras account, and I got hired on the spot! That was in December of 1998, and I've been riding the media/publishing wave since.
Q. Tell me about the work you do. How has your experience affected your perspective on the industry?
A. I always have a tough time answering this because I do a LOT of different things. Like most people these days, I've become a career chameleon. I'm a full-time consultant, but, at the core of it, my specialty is in developing integrated marketing programs for clients. Depending on the day, that runs the gamut from pre-sale ideation, developing media strategies, and crafting the marketing collateral to post-sale execution, writing copy, developing content, bringing programs to life and creating consumer experiences. Within that are lots of nitty-gritty facets, such as building media plans, optimizing and analyzing ad campaigns, providing client service, pulling research, compiling reporting, building marketing decks, etc. The constant shifting back and forth is fun, but at times overwhelming. My head hurts at the end of each day from putting my all into each program, proposed or sold, but I love it.
I think that too much of the industry has lived in boxes -- you're defined by your role, and that's it. I've been fortunate to create opportunities to break down those boxes. Some employers (like my current ones) appreciate the fact that I do the work of a team of 7. Other past employers (who shall remain nameless) tend to look down on anyone trying to 'color outside their lines.' But to me, it's about work ethic, enjoying what you do and getting to experience as much as you can. Media should be fun, but 99% of the time it tends not to be because we're squeezed to do more for less within those boxes. But when you're able to actually make meaningful connections and see a program manifest itself, that's fun, and it makes me realize that we should appreciate the industry we're in without loathing it.
Q. Given the immense amount of automation already in place with digital, which seems to be migrating towards other media, what does that mean (in your opinion) for creative agencies and companies looking to help achieve their clients' marketing objectives?
A. I tell people all the time: think as the end-user consumer. Are you going to interact with something (video, content, an ad, etc.)? If not, what would make you stop and spend a few seconds engaging with whatever the message is? Automation has certainly driven media transaction and acquisition to the next level, but really, at the end of it, it’s all about the visuals and text that get the consumer to think, engage with or tell others about the message they saw.
I think we in the industry tend to be skewed about the basic nature of marketing because we've gotten too bogged down in analytics and the detailed analysis of the user experience to stop and think about the basic premise of media and marketing, which is simply making that initial impression with consumers. Agencies don't want to hear that because they get paid for their ability to provide in-depth analysis and advanced third-party analytics, but any good agency/company will level-set with the clients and start with the basics and work from there. Good creative and sound messaging will lead to good results, even if its not instantaneous.
Q. Do you use social media to promote your personal brand? Do you think it's an effective way to promote yourself?
A. I only occasionally share some of my executed programs if I feel there's value for my friends and family to see my work (or if there's a great prize or experience that I can't win but perhaps one of my connections can!) But I am always happy to advise people who ask how to use the various social outlets (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) to present their brand or their business to the public. Like the time I sat with the owner of a small Yoga Studio that I attend. I suggested various opportunities for her to represent herself as her brand while fostering a sense of community among her consumers and followers. I like to think it’s been successful. She's increased her attendance in class and is a lot more open in sharing her mission and sense of self with others!
Q. How are things different now from when you first started working in the industry?
A. Wow, a lot different! I was just telling a story the other day how we only had one research computer at Grey so you needed to put your strategy run in and then come back in a few hours when the reporting finished! I'm not sure the industry tolerates that level of impatience these days -- I get mad when Comscore takes a few minutes to load!
We've certainly come a long way in how we plan and buy media and that has created all sorts of unique challenges. I think the personal connection angle gets lost a bit as most of us are stretched far too thin these days and we don't get that one-on-one face time with clients and partners that we used to. And I think that has perhaps hampered our creativity and excitement about our work. I mean email is considerably one of the best things ever but I’m sure that if you surveyed 100 media professionals who have been in the industry 20+ years, they would all answer that they have far less opportunity to interact in person. Which makes me yearn to hate email, you know?
Q. What book, blog, podcast, or streaming media are you enjoying right now?
A. I'm currently reading the Beastie Boys book. It's a literal beast of a book, considering that our attention span for books is limited these days, but growing up in Brooklyn I definitely am enjoying the read. Podcast wise, I try to listen to How Did This Get Made? whenever I need a laugh. Streaming media-wise, I tend to watch documentaries and docu-series on Netflix, but I do have my guilty pleasures. For what it’s worth, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is probably some of the best writing I've seen in a long time.
Q. How do you get industry news on a daily or weekly basis? What regular reading, if any, would you recommend for industry insights?
A. I subscribe to a lot of the Media Post, Marketing and Strategy type newsletters -- recently, the Morning Brew, and that’s been a fun read. I also subscribe to newsletters from my favorite publications, so I can keep in touch with things I actually enjoy reading. I’ll browse through LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to see what people are saying (or eating!). I think it’s important to have perspective outside of the industry, and it’s always good to get takes outside of your trusted sources since you tend to read based on bias. Too much of what we consume these days is written by people/companies with personal slants or biases, and it does a disservice to the consumer. It doesn’t mean it’s “fake news”, but I see far too many opinion pieces being presented as actual news regarding important industry topics, and it’s unfortunate because we’ve stopped learning how to think on our own and just instantly react (often negatively) to the first thing we see or hear. What happened to objectively seeing things on both sides?
Q. What's the best place to look for work in the industry?
A. Perhaps on an island somewhere enjoying a cocktail? I don’t know if I’d willingly tell someone to be in our industry (perhaps go travel the world for a bit first if you have the means to!), BUT if you’re a glutton for punishment and want to work in this industry I’d start by trying to connect with people in fields you’re passionate about first. Whether
that’s in a professional environment or via social media. If you want to sell or be an ad exec, seek out people in the industry and learn about what goes into the day-to-day, non-glamorous aspects of the job first. Then decide if the career is for you! Job boards, LinkedIn, etc. are all still good resources, but sometimes it’s about doing your homework about companies and making personal connections first.
Q. What would you like to see happen in the industry or in your career in the next five years?
A. I’d love to see more work being done in meaningful media connections. I really would love to see VR used to its fullest potential. Like for example if there are children who are sick and can’t travel, wouldn’t it be great to ‘transport’ them to their favorite place or experience something really cool? Like sit courtside at an NBA game via VR? To me that’s where media experiences need to go, but unfortunately, there’s no real skin in the game for brands for those types of activations, not to mention the huge cost of production involved. But I’m fascinated by what’s possible in that arena. Producing and consuming content is great, obviously, and crucial to our industry’s survival, but, to me, I think it would be exciting to push emerging tech to new levels in the coming years.
Q. Now for a personal question. How do you take your coffee and what's the best dish you like to pair it with?
A. Oh, man. As much as a love milk and sugar (I have a sweet tooth), I’ve come to appreciate a nice black coffee. But most places don’t make it good enough, which is why you need the milk and sugar. My favorite dessert is a cannoli, but let’s be real -- the best way to pair coffee is with a buttered roll from an NYC street vendor.
You can learn more about Chris’ work and connect with him on LinkedIn.