27 January 2011

The Project Pitch

I came across this advertisement at the local metro stop. It's an ad for a campaign called Region Forward, which is trying to make the Washington DC region "a better place to live, work, play and learn."

What was it about this sign that made me whip out my handy-dandy, oh-so-fuzzy little camera phone? Was it the chance to win an iPad? Was it the mix of fonts and display of questionable copywriting skills? Was it the unfortunate use of a garish orange color instead of, say, any of the iconic images that could represent DC? (Seriously - they're pushing the DC region and the only image they use is an iPad? Come on!)

No, it was none of those. Let's take a closer look at that iPod, shall we?

Notice anything funny here? Like, the fact that it's displaying The New York Times? Yes, everyone knows the DC area doesn't have its own newspaper... oh, wait a minute. It does! It's called the Washington Post. But maybe the Washington Post is't available on the iPad? Actually, there is an app that lets you read the Post on an iPad.

Now, I'm no advertising expert. Maybe this was a clever ploy to get people to talk about the campaign (I guess it worked - I'm talking about it). Or maybe not. I suspect it's just one more example of a lack of design thinking.

I could understand an oversight if this was a complex layout. Maybe people were so busy with all the other design elements that they failed to notice a NY newspaper in an ad about DC. But the iPod is the only image in the display. Color me puzzled.

What does this have to do with project leadership? Just about everything. See, when you're leading a project, part of your job is to make the pitch, to sell it to leadership, to customers and to the project team itself. To explain it to the world in a clear and compelling way. I'm going to go way out on a limb and suggest the pitch should be (among other things) internally consistent. For example, if you're plugging DC, don't use the NY Times in your ads.

No doubt all the highly-trained, well-groomed professionals who read this blog already knew that. But apparently this bit of insight is news to some people here in the DC area...

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