From the corner of my eye I saw a figure approach the stage. Despite the fact that I was in the middle of a speech, some guy decided it would be cool to interrupt by handing me a small piece of cut out corrugated paper bearing a cryptic message scribbled in black Sharpie. Something about wanting a job. It probably had contact information, maybe even a blurb about what he did — or aspired to do – for a living, but to be honest, I don’t remember his name, his face, his craft, or what action he wanted me to take.
Fortunately I managed to make a quip about the stage crasher with a reference to unwanted interruptions and resumed my talk. What’s interesting about this event is that it took place during the Hatch Awards, Boston’s annual celebration of advertising creativity. My comments, ironically, were about how advertising was entering the age of consumer controlled content, and how while creativity remained at a premium, the old interruptive model was slowly fading away.
The stage crasher proved my point brilliantly. Like a bad TV commercial, he showed up uninvited. He interrupted at a moment when I couldn’t have been less interested. His message was totally irrelevant. And despite a tactic he no doubt thought clever, chances are pretty good I’ll never become a customer. Advertising at its worst.
So here’s some advice for the stage crasher before he tries a similar antic. Why not create a beautiful website, easily discoverable so that if and when someone is looking for talent, they can find you? Consider following a prospective employer on Twitter before you get in his or her face. Take the time to discover what they care about (it’s called listening) then share some interesting, useful content that shows you’re paying attention. And finally, think about embracing an approach that’s not about intrusion but about engagement. That way your target employer might actually get to know you first, making your request for favors or consideration a little more welcome. You may find that you end up with a dialog that actually leads somewhere, if not to a job, then perhaps to one’s willingness to help you in some other way.
So Mr. Stage Crasher, whoever you are, since I never bothered to remember your name or what it is that you do, perhaps you’re at an advantage. You could start all over again marketing yourself the new way.
What do you think? Does interruption still work? Or is it as annoying as a guy who crashes your speech?