10 overused buzzwords Asia-Pacific marketing & communications professionals are using on LinkedIn in 2016

Marketoonist - NoBuzzwords

If you’re an Asia Pacific-based marketing or communications professional, LinkedIn has revealed that you’re probably using these words in your profile:

  1. Creative
  2. Passionate
  3. Strategic
  4. Successful
  5. Motivated
  6. Driven
  7. Leadership
  8. Innovative
  9. Track record
  10. Dynamic

The list for 2016 was derived from LinkedIn’s analysis of the profile summaries of marketers in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Cue the sound of Shift+F7 being tapped across the region and a surge of incoming traffic to Thesaurus.com all across the region.

LinkedIn’s Regional Head of Communications Roger Pua advised marketers to ditch the buzzwords and focus on more substantial ways to brand and market themselves, such as “substantiating their work and achievements with concrete examples such as awards, presentations, research papers, etc. Remember too, that a picture says a thousand words, so let’s put an end to tired and overused buzzwords.”

Kudos to LinkedIn, by the way, for getting my long-time favorite Marketoonist Tom Fishburne to come up with a few cartoons to drive home this fact.

Now, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be reviewing my LinkedIn profile and hitting up Shift+F7.

H/T: Marketing+Advertising, Mumbrella Asia

Speaking at IACT on The Future Of Marketing & Communications

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The great bunch of students I had the pleasure of hanging out with. 2 Dec 2015.

I was invited to give this presentation to a student class at IACT College, which was founded by the advertising industry to become Malaysia’s premier college specialising in creative communication.

I enjoyed my time with the students as well as the insightful questions they asked.

I spoke on “The Future of Marketing & Communications”, exploring the disruptions impacting marketing and communications today as well as what capabilities practitioners need to develop for the future. In a world where the scarcest resources are attention and engagement, marketers and communicators need to:

  1. Have a conversation – Marketing and communications today is essentially a dialogue with the marketplace. We need to design organisations and capabilities that set us on a virtuous circle where we sense/listen, integrate, and communicate again and again to remain relevant and engaged with our audiences.
  2. Embrace and co-create with your community – From the conversations we have with the marketplace, we are able to take in input and perspectives that result in truly engaging initiatives that already have buy-in from our audiences and customers.
  3. Tell authentic stories – In a world saturated with banal noise, authentic storytelling helps cut through the clutter; engaging both the heart and the mind.
  4. Integrate across media – Marketing and communication channels can no longer operate in silos. The sum of parts are often stronger than the individual parts.
  5. Build your own media platforms – As the media and channel landscape becomes even more fragmented, a brand’s own media platforms often become an authoritative source of information.

My slides are available here:

I also shared some case study/examples from both Microsoft and Shell. The videos I refer to in my slides are as follows:

Shell – Destination Home

  • Link to video on Youku
  • More context to this campaign available here and here

Shell #MakeTheFuture – Morro de Mineira Project

Microsoft – Decode Jay-z with Bing

Speaking at Comms Malaysia 2015 on The Future of Communications

CommsMalaysia_2015-40Photo credit: Advertising + Marketing

I was very honored to be invited to join a great panel of speakers at the recent Comms Malaysia 2015 event, organized by Advertising + Marketing, a publication of Lighthouse Independent Media.

Comms Malaysia Speakers

I spoke on the topic, “Looking to what’s next: The Future Of Communications.” In my presentation, I made the case that the marketing and communications landscape is being completely disrupted by many forces, including: the globalized & hyper-connected world we live in today; Big Data and the Internet of Everything; Social media; an ever-changing and ever-fragmenting media landscape; ubiquitous connectivity, and changing interfaces.

Drawing on case studies and examples from both Microsoft and Shell, I then outlined four capabilies marketers and communicators could build on to prepare themselves for the future of communications:

  1. Embracing & co-creating with your community
  2. Telling authentic stories
  3. Integrating across media
  4. Building on our owned media platforms

Here are the slides from my presentation. I hope you enjoy them and look forward to engaging with you on it.

There were two videos embedded in my presentation, which can be viewed via YouTube here:

  • #makethefuture Morro da Mineira Project:

  • Microsoft Bing – Decode Jay-Z Case Study:

A truly innovative agenda and prepping for jobs that do not yet exist

I had a great discussion over lunch with a colleague recently who shared with me about a particular Malaysian conglomerate’s expansive innovation agenda. The conglomerate in question maintained businesses in several large, complex industries. Traditionally, conglomerates like this are not always seen as the most innovative – as they are normally regarded as lumbering business stalwarts whose main business agenda is to keep things going as they were to maximize profit.

With this conglomerate, however, their Chief Innovation Officer recently shared some of the ideas that they had already started exploring. They are already exploring the applications of cutting edge technology in what we’d consider very traditional industries. For example, the use of remote-control drones in agriculture; smart home technologies in real estate development; wearables in healthcare; and the implications of driverless cars for automotive manufacturing.

Our discussion led me to several thoughts, namely:

Jobs that are in demand today did not exist as recently as a few years ago.

Think about it: today, some companies like the conglomerate I referenced, has a Chief Innovation Officer. It’s not exactly the Chief Technology Officer or the more traditional “Chief IT Officer” – but someone specifically mandated by the company to help them move towards adapting and adopting tomorrow’s innovations today (or at least, as soon as possible). It’s a role that is both strategic and tactical, combining the skillsets of a “mad scientist” and an “entrepreneur”, and blending together both business and technical insight (or even foresight!).

This position didn’t always exist. It is a C-level, leadership position that – in a large conglomerate – would typically require at least 8-10 years of experience. The problem is that 8-10 years ago – there wasn’t exactly a career path towards becoming a “Chief Innovation Officer”. What courses 8-10 years ago would you have taken to reach this career path? IT? Business studies? Computer science?

This fact was further brought home when we talked about the kind of jobs the conglomerate said they were hiring for at the moment: Data Scientists, startup incubators, developers, and such. 3-5 years ago (i.e. when you started college), how many places did you know provided the basic training to pursue these opportunities as careers?

Prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities today – even, or especially, if they don’t exist yet.

In light of my first point, how do you build a “track record” for jobs that are in demand today but which did not exist previously? How do you “future-proof” your career path and avoid obsolescence? One of the best examples about career obsolescence comes from Danny Devito’s monologue towards the end of the movie “Other People’s Money”, redactions and emphases mine:

This company is dead.

I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me.

It was dead when I got here. […]

You know why?

Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence.

We’re dead, all right. We’re just not broke.

And do you know the surest way to go broke?

Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure.

You know, at one time there must have been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw.

The key takeaway lesson for me as I think about this has been truly inspired by Tom Peter’s seminal, “The Brand Called You.” You are your own brand and company – be mindful of the PESTs around you so that you can prepare and pivot accordingly to avoid obsolescence. (In fact, this is part of the reason why I’ve made the career choices I did – but more about that on another day).

Innovation is one of today’s most sought after transferable skills.

Innovation isn’t just doing something in a new way. It’s about creating impact in a way that leads to sustainable results. In a way, it’s the “proper” answer to definition of insanity, popularly attributed to Einstein: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So, how do you become more innovative? Well, I’ve come across two quotes about creativity – one from the illustrious Steve Jobs and another by Colin Gottlieb, EMEA CEO of Omnicom Media Group – which I think applies to innovation as well. Both quotes highlight the fact that creativity is ultimately about making connections between two things that you wouldn’t ordinarily associate. Think about the conglomerate’s example I mentioned: remote-control drones in agriculture.

Besides building on your “innovation” as a skill, one also needs to demonstrate it as a “track record” along with the impact achieved. Be mindful of the opportunities you pursue within your current positions, find out more about what it means to be an “intrapreneur“, and always look at how you can quantify your innovation impact in a way that demonstrates value to the business.

All these thoughts, to me, are most starkly depicted in this video, Shift Happens which I first discovered in 2009, which has since been updated for 2014. Much of what it posits are turning out to be true.

 

Winning Gold At The Microsoft Worldwide Communications Summit 2014!

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Thrilling news – I recently got back from Seattle, Washington from the company’s Worldwide Communications Summit 2014 with a Gold Newshound Award – my second one in a row! I am truly touched and flattered by this recognition, which builds on the momentum of having won a Gold Newshound Award the previous year as well as being a multiple-award winner at last year’s Malaysia PR Awards.

Me&MyNewsHoundJust me and my hound dog!

Every year, the global community of Communications professionals at Microsoft gather from around the world for our annual Worldwide Communications Summit. This year’s summit was held in Seattle, Washington. This year, we were also joined by the highly-talented team of consumer/devices Communications experts from Nokia (now known as Microsoft Devices), which provided a great opportunity for us to welcome them to the Microsoft family.

At the Summit, we also take the opportunity to showcase and celebrate best-practices, via our annual Microsoft Newshound Awards (held at the very lovely Chiluly Garden and Glass in Seattle), which recognize excellence in Communications from our global community of passionate and committed PR & Communications professionals. Each Newshound Award category recognizes three winners: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

LeighNewsHoundWin2014_editedWith Microsoft’s top Communications Leadership (L-R): Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications, Microsoft Corp.; Yunsun Wee, Director, Worldwide Field Communications, Microsoft Corp.; and Doug Dawson, Vice President of Media Relations for Nokia (now Microsoft Devices).  

My award recognized a year-long effort throughout the fiscal year where we competed aggressively in the education sector. I partnered with my leadership team, along with our education, legal and area headquarters communication teams, in a year-long campaign that communicated our local value-proposition in Education. The campaign showcased Microsoft’s long history of contribution to education in Malaysia, as well as independent research, 3rd-party op-ed pieces, executive media engagements.

Here’s what was said about the work that I did:

This is a best practice of good programmatic execution with business impact. The team did an excellent job with this year-long integrated PR campaign that includes activities that supports and aligns to the National Plan.  Congratulations on delivering a strategic, matrixed campaign that began with the end in mind – showcasing Microsoft as a trusted advisor and partner to Government, and a thought leader for educators and students.

Me And The APAC TeamWith friends and colleagues from across Asia!

Needless to say I couldn’t have done this alone. I’d like to specifically call out and thank:

  • My team from Priority Communications: Elaine, Ashley, Kenny, Calvin, Atiqah and Sylvia for all their hardwork and partnership throughout the year.
  • My media friends: There are *SO MANY* of you have been very kind and supportive, always being open to our story pitches and engaging with me regularly. I’m blessed to count many of you as friends today.
  • My colleagues in Microsoft Malaysia: Much of what has been achieved is a result of intense partnership and collaboration – building upon each other’s initiatives and achievements towards a larger goal of success in this area!
  • My colleagues in the Microsoft Asia Communications team: Especially Andy, Verdayne, Jesse and Darryn. Your support and partnership throughout the year has also been invaluable, leveraging upon the greater network of expertise and investment for us to drive truly impactful initiatives to competitively position us in the education space.
  • My family: Without their support, I would not be free to do great things at work.

A huge congratulations also to the rest of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Newshound winners from Asia! In fact, the Asia Pacific region won the most Gold Newshound awards of any worldwide area (tied with our Central & Eastern Europe area. This is a tremendously creative, professional, committed team – and I’m proud to be a part of it. Go team Asia!

DSC_0514_editedThe Asia Communications Team, with our four Gold Newshound Winners – two from the area headquarters, another one from Australia… and me.