Friday, May 22, 2009

Integrity. Communication. Honesty.

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
I’m Paul Marobella, the Managing Director of Wirestone/Chicago. Wirestone is an independent, national marketing solutions agency with offices in 6 US cities and over 175-people across our creative, technical & strategy groups.

We were born digital in the year 2000, when 5-disparate agencies were brought together to make Wirestone. We develop targeted customer experiences that manifest online and offline but all have the common thread of activating a brand’s most influential group(s) of customers and an infusion of powerful marketing technology that supports the programs.

We work with mostly global, leading brands across various vertical segments including: Nike, Motorola, Microsoft, Oakley, hp, Intel, SKYY Spirits and Apple.

Q: Interactive Producers come from all walks of life, they are a hybrid of talents, tell us about your background and how you got interested in digital production?
I have been in the digital game since the early 90’s when I was a wee-lad at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts. I had the chance to be on a steering committee for the company to infuse digital and multimedia technology into how the company conducted business. Anywhere from how the brand leveraged something called the internet, to their partnership with Healtheon and then overseeing the implementation of a digital selling tool for the sales force.

I fell in love with the new media channel and left the friendly confines of my hometown, Boston for the arch enemy city, New York to be a part of the movement. I worked for a company called i3 for a while, selling big brands on adding a digital line item to their budget and met a guy named Tucker Greco in NYC that owned an agency called Greco Ethridge Group – we teamed up and integrated digital production and strategy into his then-current traditional agency model.

GEG went on to win Agency of The Year for that approach in 1998. I come from the strategy, account side of the house and while I have threatened my teams that I am going to learn Flash and Silverlight to show them up, I haven’t gotten around to that, yet. We have awesome digital production teams here at Wirestone that inspire me everyday.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
These days you have be a knowledge-management ninja to keep pace with what is happening out there. Google Reader is a personal tool I use to parse through the thousands of blogs available and that keep me posted on how people are using technologies to further a marketing initiative.

Twitter has become an invaluable tool to track smart people and group them through Tweetdeck into categories of skill-sets. We keep groups where we share case histories, articles and blog posts with each other through the agency. With travel budgets scaled back this year, attending conferences are at a minimum, unless of course it is a Microsoft-conference since we are Gold Partner.

We encourage our people to dive in and learn new technologies and propose how they can add value for our clients, whether Microsoft Surface or 3D technologies like Rhino.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
It would entail long stays in Monaco with poolside planning meetings, realistic timelines and the ability to be both a business-driver for our client and raise the profile of Wirestone.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
I have people that are smarter than me working directly with our clients to balance their expectations with their key business-drivers and what is humanly possible. It doesn’t always work.

Often, people are held hostage by unrealistic expectations due to never having completed a project like the one we might be doing for them. On the flipside, I often feel like agencies are also victims of the knee-jerk reaction of over-scheduling a project that stops and makes you go hmmmmm, when you see a schedule.

It seems the bigger the agency, the longer the schedule. I’ve always wondered what that relationship was about. The timelines should be discussed before the agency decides to take on the work – it makes everyone’s life easier.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
I had the chance to work on The Central Intelligence Agency & their Association of Former Intelligence Officers. If I told you what we did, I’d have to…. well, you know how that ends.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
I never say no to a project that is reasonable. But, at the same time I have an awesome team that I work with to spread the wealth. These days, being grateful for work is the magic elixir to having a positive attitude in our business.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
My dream team would consist of people that could do my job at any given time – meaning they are smarter, more informed and probably better looking than me. I have worked with some very talented people over the course of my career and I’ve found that having a solid, well-informed technical lead is the cornerstone of success.

People that compliment my skill-sets is what I look for when I am building a team. I love to have people that run the spectrum from insights into the consumer through to how the technology will create value for the brand.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
Integrity. Communication. Honesty.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
The irony here is that when I was asked this question 10-years ago, the answer would be the same because I believe that our business STILL has not adapted. We still have big agency people and networks that talk a big game but when you meet them, you can still tell that they are brainwashed in the ways of the old agency model.

I still think that the biggest inflection point in our business is yet to come and nobody has cracked the code. To me, I see the day of the consumer truly self-selecting marketing communications and getting closer with a total personalization across all media. I still like to be marketed to, I just want to see things that make sense for every dimension of my personality and I am a complicated dude, that’s for sure.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
There is one word that I live by, especially these days – Believe. Believe in yourself, your ideas and the people around you. We need positive energy in the world and we each play a role in filling this universe with energy. Boy, hope that wasn’t too new age!?

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