Who’s on the soapbox?

I’m Steve Rothman, an advertising guy, with over 20 years in the business. I began my career in New York City in the mid-80’s, moved to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1989, and have lived here ever since. (Don’t ask why — that alone could fill a blog.) I’ve been with Saatchi & Saatchi, Frankfurt, for over 10 years. Right now I’m a global planning director on P&G business. I have a passion for new media, social media, web 2.0 — whatever your preferred label for the way people are using the web to connect, share and empower each other on the things they care about. And that includes the products and services they buy. For me, there has never been a more exciting time to be in marketing and communications. All the “best practices” that we held sacred for decades are being tossed overboard by a new “consumer” who has a voice and the tools to make that voice heard like never before. Isn’t it cool? As you can see, I’ve already climbed on to my soapbox! But don’t let me do all the talking. Feel free to climb on your soapbox and leave a comment. I hope to hear as much from you as you hear from me.

P.S. The opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent the opinions of my employer.

17 responses to “Who’s on the soapbox?

  1. Esra

    Hey Stevo,
    love the thinking. What’s your opinion on the way that news channels talk to or try to connect with people?

  2. Hi Steve,

    So happy you’ve joined the world of bloggers (like me!). I’m sure I will enjoy reading your posts.

    Since you know a lot about social networking I’d like to ask your opinnion — for baby boomers like ourselves, if I have to select just two places to expend my energy on, which social networks would *you* recommend? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Stumble Upon? Any others you particularly think baby boomers use and gather on?


  3. Stephen Rothman

    Linda, flattery will get you everywhere. I guess it depends on the purpose for which you are expending the energy. If it’s about seeing how these social networks develop in the way boomers use and relate to them, I guess I would say Facebook and Twitter. Facebook because I think its essence is about keeping in contact with friends vs., for example, MySpace, which is more about staying on top of what’s new and hot, especially with regard to music. Is getting the latest dish on everything top priority for boomers? Probably not. Also, Facebook is really user friendly, which makes it accessible to boomers, who aren’t as internet and tech-fluent as their Gen X and Y descendents. Twitter because it’s a different kind of interaction, short posts limited to a few words, and the ways people are finding to use it are becoming very purposeful, beyond social contact. So, for example, companies like HRBlock and Comcast use it as a way to address customer complaints or questions, and customers see it as resource for the same. Older internet users tend to get on the internet for a specific purpose, rather than just for hanging out. But in the end, I don’t see how you can focus on just two. The space is so dynamic, with new tools emerging all the time — some are saying FriendFeed will be the next Google — and old ones evolving in terms of features and how people are using them. I think we’ve just got to watch the space!

  4. Stephen Rothman

    Hi Esra, I can’t honestly say that I know that much about it or have really dedicated much thought to it. What I guess is worth noting is that pretty much all of the news organizations are building their online offerings and enabling their audiences to participate in conversation and discussions through forums and discussion threads. I think energizing the audience in this way can only be a good thing. Routinely readers of newspapers and magazines (I think broadcast news channels as well) provide the email addresses of journalists and editors, facilitating direct contact. Journalists are now also producing or being featured on podcasts from the news provider, down-loadable from iTunes or the web site, where there are also links to contact them directly. I think CNN has taken some interesting steps. For example, they’ve set up a special micro-site where consumer journalists can submit reports. And their cooperation with YouTube in which US citizens were able to submit videos questioning the presidential primary candidates was an innovative idea. What are your thoughts?

  5. Esra

    Interesting. I didn’t know that CNN has been that active, good to know. I believe there is a lot of room for innovating the way news are delivered and broadcasted. The reason I asked you is because I am working on a NB project for a very famous news organization…and we have been thinking about involving people in the news rather than just talking at them…particularly on a global scale.

  6. I caught your comment on SPOS #114 and decided to check out the blog. It’s looking great thus far!

    Any chance of having email subscription options? Maybe I’m old-school…

    I look forward to reading the blog.

    All best,

  7. Stephen Rothman

    Hey DJ,

    thanks so much for stopping by. Happy you found it worth reading. I’m just taking my first baby steps with this, so any encouragement is much appreciated. Have added the email subscription, as requested.

    I briefly checked out OMB — it’s very late in Germany so didn’t have much time now. But will definitely have a closer look.

    Do you really get up every morning at 4:45 to write? Oh dear, I’ll never be able to keep up with that kind of pace.


  8. Hi Stephen,
    I heard your comment on Jaffe´s podcast and wanted to have a look at your new blog.
    I know how it feels to make the first baby steps with your own blog, just started mine a few weeks ago, but it´s really worth it!

    So, welcome in the Blogosphere and looking forward to an inspiring conversation.

    All the best


  9. Stephen Rothman

    Hi Steffen. Thanks so much for the warm welcome. Had a look at your blog. Nice to meet another ad agency guy with a passion for social media. Who’s also in Germany no less! Let me know if you’re ever in Frankfurt. We should hook up. I also get to Stuttgart occasionally.

  10. Nice – I’ll subscribe right now.

    Yeah, the only time I had to write was early morning, so 4:45am it is. It also stops me from staying out until all hours of the night, so I guess that’s good too.

    Thanks a bunch – the blog is looking great!

  11. Sure, would be great to catch up and share some ideas and storys.
    Its really tough in Germany to find social media soul mates or people who want to fight against the old school obstacles in our market.
    Just send me an email if you are near Stuttgart, and I will do the same. (I love this connected world 😉

    We keep in touch



  12. 2bnmaine

    Hi Steve,

    Nice blog!

    And long time — no see. Don’t remember how I bumped into this blog, but glad to see that you’re still slugging it out in the ad world.

    Hope all is well there. I’ve been following TheEnd of the world as we knew it as well with a very poorly attended to blog — http://www.susanfitzgerald.com/blog/

    Isn’t it fun?

    Now I know where I can keep up with you. Keep up the great work!

    Best regards,

    Susan Fitzgerald

  13. Barbara

    Hi Steve,

    Facebook has decidedly infiltrated the baby boomers world. Such that even I, reluctantly, had to explore. Busy working now and have to leave but wanted to check in.

    Best ,


  14. Stephen Rothman

    Barbara, why reluctantly? And how sinister — Facebook has infiltrated the baby boomers’ world? Au contraire — the boomers are welcoming Facebook into their world with open opens (and active fingers) and discovering the joys of online community.

  15. love this steve. i had not seen it before. great to make a point in presentations. thank you for sharing.

  16. ed

    very interesting. a couple of pieces:
    1) love the 2:00 minute adv/consumer video – beautiful.
    2) really feel your dec. 6 post about 140 character limit potentially devolving us. this is a daily battle for me professionally. while i see spaces to be creative and say things visually, i think the written word, long form reporting is so valuable because taking the 5-10 minutes to read the piece places the reader in a different space. It’s a matter of focus. communicating in long form is a little bit of putting your foot down. otherwise, i think we just blow by it, we lose value, purpose. it’s like realizing roses smell and smell nice. The future is getting closer.

  17. Pingback: Thoughts on a recent German social media debate « The Social Media Soapbox

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