Angry Marketers Respond To That Controversial Blog

Angry A/E Marketers

Last week, I posted my response to a recent PSMJ blog post that has angered many marketers in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.

PSMJ’s blog post has received significant backlash since Lindsay Diven first brought it to people’s attention through LinkedIn. And my response and call for them to remove the post seemed to increase awareness.

If you haven’t read my response, please check it out before reading this (for context).

PSMJ’s Response

As to PSMJ’s response, what we can surmise is that the post went down briefly but came back up with a spelling error fixed (which was pointed out in my comments). At the moment I am writing this, the logic errors and latent sexism have not been addressed. I’m sure the irony of them being more concerned with the “bug dust” is not lost on anyone in the Help Everybody Army. 🙂

David Whitemyer has not, to my knowledge, personally responded to emails sent by me or others. But I do know that PSMJ’s Content Development Manager offered to publish a retort by one of my readers as a “rebuttal post.” You can read Melise Gerber’s full response here.

Of course, I invite anyone from PSMJ to share a comment here or on my original post.

A/E Marketers Respond

The response, from our industry, to what I wrote was so great that I wanted to share some insightful (sometimes even inspiring) comments shared by others.

I received many emails about this post. And I understand some people emailed Dave, the author, ([email protected]) and Frank, the CEO of PSMJ, ([email protected]) to share their disgust. I encourage people to do that because nobody can improve without feedback.

I have not included comments people made directly in my initial post. What I’ve included are snippets from emails sent to me and posts on LinkedIn. I’ve only included the full name when the comment was posted in a public forum.

A Note Before We Proceed

I’m all for freedom of speech. I believe that everybody’s views are important. I also understand people believe that freedom of speech is more important than “political correctness.”

But I do believe that any speech which promotes the violation of any demographic’s rights or that can be proven, by hard science, to be inaccurate…

…should be corrected or deleted. Nearly all reputable publications I know of do this as a matter of policy.

I do appreciate that they posted Melise’s response. But I’m not sure they truly understand why PSMJ, of all organizations, should not be propagating outdated and inaccurate stereotypes of marketers in the A/E (or any other) industry.

With that said, here’s what marketers are saying about PSMJ’s post:

On The Intended Audience Of PSMJ’s Article

“I think I have finally determined that my discomfort with the article is related to its “intended” audience. You see, if this article that was truly intended for a readership made up of folks who do not have a job in our industry, and are considering becoming marketers, there are a number of good points to be considered here. 

But I doubt that many folks reading an article on the PSMJ blog are likely to be unemployed recent college graduates wondering what job they should pursue. And, because of that disconnect between intended and likely readership, the article instead begins to read like a laundry list of complaints about marketing folks. And this is where my discomfort began.”

  • Melise G

General Disgust With The Article

“Wow. Just wow. As an introvert who has been in AEC marketing going on 18 years – 10 with my current firm – and quite good at what I do, I find the PSMJ post insulting.”

  • Jennifer Hier

“Super offensive and counterproductive, it’s hard enough to find great AEC marketers, and it’s often thankless grueling work. The last thing we want to do is discourage folks from the profession.”

  • Margot Kenney

“Can’t believe PSMJ is allowing this to continue.” -Kary Beck

“This reminds me of “negging” – the emotionally abusive practice of criticism to undermine someone’s confidence in order to make the abuser seem stronger.

Rather than telling people not to go into marketing unless they’re willing to work in an underfunded department, why not give them solid strategies to make the business case to expand the marketing department? A lot of AE firms have low win rates — remind firms that taking their win rate from 20% to 40% will double their revenue.

Rather than make false assumptions that certain personality traits are needed to succeed, focusing on strategies to help the actual business to grow will get a lot better results. Since professional marketers help businesses to grow… real strategies are a lot more useful than condescending, negative disqualifiers.”

  • Aaron McManus

“I take the buzzfeed-esque style article with a grain of salt. It’s just to get attention and traction to their blog. Ignore.”

  • Jennifer Huebel

On The Lingering Sexism Experienced By Some A/E Marketers

“As a male in this industry, I, for one, am so sick of the “good ole boy” mentality amongst operations personnel towards marketers. And the way I am treated within my firm as a male marketer is so much different than how my female counterparts are treated. It is disgusting.”

  • Justin

“I’m just really sad that someone in our industry, who is relatively young by the looks of him in his photo, has such a negative and narrowly honed view of our profession. If he’s been in the A/E industry for more than 20 years (in Boston no less!) and has worked with marketers as I can only assume he has, he has an incredibly insulting and disrespectful view of our work, and/or has had a poor experience with whomever is unfortunate to market in his firm….I’m also insulted PSMJ would allow this to be posted.”

  • Jen

On Changing Attitudes

“Great response to a pretty crappy article. My career in AEC marketing has been rewarding and long despite joining the industry right out of college. In my 16 years in the industry I have only worked for two firms. I’m honored to be one of the senior leaders in my firm and I get brought to the table on many matters that expand well beyond the marketing/communication goal posts of my original career choice.”

  • Dana Galvin Lancour

“Looking back on my 30 years in this industry, I think it’s been a bit harder for AEC marketers to win the respect of the “technical” personnel in our firms because, in large part, they don’t have a clue what we do. It seems to have been a generational attitude that’s fast giving way as more savvy technical principals understand the importance of marketing strategy in winning work.”

Clearly, David Whitemyer doesn’t understand what we do, and yet he’s written an uninformed article about it for a highly respected organization. Amazing.

I’ve worked with every type of firm in our industry – most people have respected my insight and expertise, and been grateful that I have a skillset they don’t. For every technical principal that said I was a great marketer because I could type really really fast (yes, it’s true, and I worked with him at 2 firms) or automatically looked my way when we needed a fresh pot of coffee in a meeting, there have been 100 who thought I was a miracle worker.”

  • Tanya

On the Often Misunderstood Importance Of A/E Business Developers

“My observation is that at struggling companies, business developers get paid a lot less than subject matter experts. In profitable companies, it’s the other way round. They understand Peter Drucker: “Because its purpose is to create a client, the business has two – and only two – functions… Marketing (you get paid for creating a customer) and innovation (you get paid for creating a new dimension of performance). Marketing and innovation produce results, all the rest are costs.”

  • Tom

What Do You Have To Say?

Did you agree with what Dave had to say about A/E marketers? Do you feel the same as the marketers who have chimed in so far? Or do you have a completely different perspective?

We’d all like to hear what you have to say.

Please join the conversation by posting a comment. I read every comment and your opinion is important.

Comments

  1. The offending post seems to be even more than just a lame listicle. It is clearly meant to be blatantly inflammatory. It’s a sad pandering post meant to tap into our culture’s current unfortunate fixation on demonizing “the other.”

    It’s clickbait through and through. And to boot, it’s clickbait based on an outmoded, dare I say Darwinistic, view of the workplace. It smacks of the antiquated “work is meant to be suffering” attitude spawned in the 20th century, a mentality I believe to be a root cause of our country’s loss of innovation and intellectual capital (but which the current administration weakly blames on illegal immigrants and the like). Not to mention the fact that the tone is hostile towards creatives, another dinosaur thought process that many of us have experienced.

    So, a vapid controversy bomb post that espouses a creativity-stifling mindset and belittles creatives as well. Wow, way to strive for mediocrity, Dave.

  2. Ginger Kelly says:

    David is just ruffling our feathers. He is in the business of media and getting attention. He has done an excellent job of that ;o)

    I truly appreciate Melise G.’s response. She was spot on!

    Thank you Matt for continuing to support our industry. Ginger

  3. Mikaela says:

    I am going to be honest, as a marketing director who has a background and degree in architecture, every item that was mentioned are exactly the same items that bloggers write about on why you shouldn’t become an architect or go to architecture school (many of them being absolutely true.) Yet, in architecture we come from a world of critique so it doesn’t phase anyone who reads it. We realize it doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, and we get over it and move on. If one article deters someone from become a marketing professional in the a/e work then they wouldn’t of enjoyed the profession for what it is regardless.

  4. Julie Davila says:

    Matt,

    I am a relatively new A/E marketer having spent the previous 25 years in newspapers. Fortunately I came to work at a great firm who bends over backwards to express their appreciation and recognize the value of all the associates whether or not there is a PE after your name. That said, there is a lot expected of the marketing coordinator beyond the proposal. Even with sales and public relations assigned to other personnel, maintaining the volume of information needed for marketing and exercising the creativity needed to improve our brand, the steady barrage of proposals, presentations, registrations and pre-qualifications is daunting.

    I recently attended a PSMJ Bootcamp training and came away with a lot of great creative ideas but also the truth that without the clout of the highest management change doesn’t happen. Some this is due to the technical culture of engineers. Some to the backseat that non-project work gets designated. Some to the gender disparity (all of our marketers are women). It is “often thankless, grueling work” and I can see where this drives away talented people from this industry.

    Thank you for really helping everybody everyday. I was lucky to find your blog early to help me learn about this business…. and keep me sane!

    Julie

  5. Phoebe Pierce says:

    Thanks for posting this, Matt! I would’ve boiled over had I not known there are those in the industry I trust who say, “uh, actually…”

    I’m an introvert, but I know how to communicate, build trust, listen, and I’ve been with my firm for nine years.

    I appreciate you!

    Phoebe

  6. Beneath the language that triggered so many marketers’ built-in insecurities derived from their age, their gender, or their years of experience, is a central problem that David and PSMJ illuminate, but cannot be held solely responsible for. It is a problem of firm cultures. It originates with practitioners, and marketers won’t fix it by complaining that they could demonstrate more strategic value if only they weren’t saddled with a bunch of long-shot proposals and fool’s errands.

  7. John Durant says:

    Dave’s original post demonstrated his ignorance of basic marketing principles. In fact, most “technical” staff, as he frames them, don’t understand even the fundamental aspects of solid marketing strategy and techniques. Most of what the industry refers to as marketing is promotion. Marketing is a science based on four basic principles: product, place, promotion, and price. By focusing solely on promotion you are doing a disservice to your organization. Moreover, firms that consistently win understand the value of strategy over reactive moves. They have protocols and tactics in place that focus on product, place, promotion, and price. In order to move the needle, we need to focus on evaluation of stakeholders, strategic positioning and alignment, tactics, implementation, and metrics. When you look at marketing as a promotion-only exercise you will lose in the long-run. Firms and architects who understand this very basic principle strive and succeed everyday. While Dave and his firm turn their wheels other firms with a focus on marketing strategy win the nation’s and world’s best projects.

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