Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Steve Rubel Lifestream: The Situationally Aware Business

The following is also my column on

As I write this column it’s the morning after the long Memorial Day weekend and the web is brimming with activity. Google searches are spiking for Ted Koppel, who’s 40-year-old son was tragically found dead. Twitter, meanwhile, is abuzz over WGM – short for the primetime Korean reality show “We Got Married”. This is perhaps a direct reflection of the service’s growing global appeal. Finally, over on Facebook word is spreading of a scam featuring what’s deemed as a “hilarious video”. A CNN news story on the hoax currently has over 10,000 shares.

All of these are disconnected events; a Polaroid snapshot of our psychology at a single moment in time. Some of these memes are ephemeral. Others may be lasting. However, our success as marketers increasingly hinges on having a deep, real-time understanding of our networked environment and how these themes can impact our programs. Enter situational awareness – an essential skill every CMO-level executive and their staff must build and evolve.

Situational awareness, according to Wikipedia, is “the practice of being aware of what is happening around you to understand how information, events, and your own actions will impact your goals and objectives, both now and in the near future”. It’s common throughout the intelligence community. The White House Situation Room, for example, operates a 24/7 Fusion Center that pulls together 3,000 sources of information into three daily briefings for the President. For more, see this fascinating short video.

What’s important to note is that situational awareness is not a substitute for client/brand monitoring, reporting or measurement. Rather, it’s a complementary set of processes that help you form gut insights that make marketing, public relations and/or digital engagement more efficient and effective.

Most CMOs will not need the intricate web of systems that the White House employs. Yet every marketer should be required to make situational awareness part of his/her daily workflow. It all needs to happen in a focused way, at every level and in both client and agency organizations. The good news is that situational awareness can be quite simple. The bad news is that very few people have created the daily systems or habits required to succeed. Here are three simple tools to add to your workday to get started...please continue reading here: The Steve Rubel Lifestream

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