Waiting for Godot

When John A. Greco Jr. began his tenure as president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association two months ago, he indicated that he would not be meeting with the trade press to elaborate on his plans, agenda or vision for the organization. Instead, he chose to schedule meetings with members and industry leaders to familiarize himself with their concerns and priorities. The concept has been described by the DMA’s PR department and other supporters as leading by listening.

The conventional protocol for new, high-profile leaders is to introduce themselves by describing their reasons for accepting the job and to elaborate on what they perceive to be their mandate for serving their constituents and stakeholders. Greco certainly has a great deal of relevant experience in working at the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association (now the Yellow Pages Association), R.R. Donnelley & Sons and AT&T. So this approach seemed a bit unorthodox to us. But if that was what he wanted to do, then so be it.

So we, along with our colleagues at the other journals serving this field – having no choice in the matter – endured the obligatory two months in journalistic purgatory. However, we did manage to talk with Greco two weeks ago when he represented direct marketing in a forum about the effectiveness of various media. There, he discussed with us a number of issues facing the industry: postal reform, spam, online sales tax, privacy and the industry’s image problem. Hints of an agenda?

There’s no need to speculate any further. The two months have elapsed and Greco is about to offer some insight into his vision as the DMA opens its 87th annual conference. He’s certainly had time to develop his plans and strategies, and we look forward to reporting the details in our next issue. Departing from his predecessor’s rather elaborate entrances, I’m told that we shouldn’t expect Greco to escape from Alcatraz or do any magic tricks to appear onstage to deliver his speech on the state of the industry.

On a side note, if the number of mailings from exhibitors I’ve received in the past two weeks is any indication, it will be a very busy show indeed, but we will have to wait and see how the local press treats the conference. I’m betting it won’t be a repeat of last year in Orlando, FL, though anyone could poke fun at the DMA for inducting Ben Franklin into its Hall of Fame.

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