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A blog post

My Life as a “Bench Player” on Lady Gaga’s Team – “Born This Way” Launch Edition

The huge "Thank You" Flower arrangement + champagne sent to me from Troy, Vince and Gaga following the successful release of "Born This Way"

 

I’m still catching up with all of the outpouring of positive comments, new connections and contacts from Friday’s feature on Mashable syndicated from Business News Daily.  I know that people must be curious to know what it was like to work on Lady Gaga’s team, and I have to say that it was a far cry from what it would appear based on a certain comment made.

First, there was really no “I” in team.  We all worked tirelessly to make this a successful project.  From my team that worked for me at Atom Digital, to the team at the label, the management team, to everyone from the receptionist, to the woman at the top – we all pushed on overdrive for this record. We wanted to break records and were constantly trying to figure out how to leverage everything possible to make that happen.   It was an effort to create as many touchpoints as possible.  Remember that term, touchpoints, it will become important later.

Second, there was a lot of hard work.  From everyone, especially Gaga.  I remember being at the Oakland, California show, which was on the same night as the Google visit (what an incredible day, I got to meet Larry Page and Marissa Mayer, who are my kind of tech rockstars) for Google goes Gaga.

Not only did she do the fabulous interview (accessible here), but she also sat through a pretty extensive meeting that I can’t tell you about because I had to sign an NDA.

Let’s just say that of the 15+ people in the room, I was one and Gaga was another, Larry Page was another…amazing.  But even geek-ish excitement is not what I remember most about that day.  It was Gaga’s work ethic.  She performed a 2-hour concert and then after backstage, had almost 100 people to individually meet, greet, take pictures with and play samples for of her (then) new album.   And she treated the last person just as graciously (if not more) as she did the first.  We didn’t wrap up until after 3:30 am.  She was ready to head out to a club to party with the boys and meanwhile, I was exhausted by the day’s events, in the tour production office dazed waiting for a ride to my hotel to try to be ready for Twitter and Zynga the next day.  She definitely outworked me, by far…this too is something to take note of if you’re looking for your own success.

Third, more ideas were generated than actual things we were able to fully accomplish.  There were meetings upon meetings starting early into the process with the one question of “how can we make this even bigger?”  When you have that one question driving the conversation, and if asked repeatedly, you get some pretty great responses.  There was an idea for a “takeover” of various locations in New York  (including Central Park), my personal favorite was “Born This Way” pop-up shops (party storefronts), and then there was the idea of getting a record…and a “healthy sandwich” at the same time (would have made for a massive “retail” footprint).  BTW (by the way, not “born this way”), did you know that the largest retail music distributor in Indonesia is Kentucky Fried Chicken?  But, anyway, I digress.

As the executive vice president, in charge of the digital marketing and strategy agency, we were responsible for being there, at every meeting, ready with ideas and solutions to help make this project successful.  Not for the benefit of taking credit, but for the possibility of contributing to something groundbreaking and incredible.

Other than for the benefit of this post, I really hate the idea that was introduced of the concept of a “bench player.” From my role as the head of the digital strategy agency, to the project managers and account coordinators that worked for me, absolutely no one fit that description, nor should they feel that they did.  As the leader of any organization, I would never use such a term.  It just doesn’t exist in the context of a successful team.  Oh well, it’s out there, so I might as well own it.  Shout out to all the other “bench players” with Championship rings! (If you know of any specific names of these players, please let me know – maybe I should do a tribute video).

As far as the “Championship,” it was the result of many practice and strategy sessions, strategic planning and insights, ideas, dreams, actions and much effort.

If you’re reading this and dreaming of your own success, my key takeaway for you would be the following, find the touchpoints, whether they be blogs that your audience reads, places where they might go for coffee, other thought leaders in your space, YouTube videos, Google AdWords, magazines, newspapers, whatever you can identify, and maximize the number of them that you incorporate into your campaign.

In a later post, I’ll also speak about the importance of email and the role of the most important touchpoint of all, connecting to a customer at the retail point of sale, particularly online.  I don’t know how many were aware, but in my opinion, one of the strongest pushes came from online retailer iTunes, who emailed every one of their customers who had ever bought a Lady Gaga track.  First time in iTunes history that happened.   I could only find Perez Hilton’s coverage of it, but see here.

And finally, work ethic is the most important.  Be willing to work harder than everyone else, including all of the “bench players” comprising your team.

My best, Jaunique

And by the way, if you’re interested in reading more about my thoughts on successful social media strategy, I encourage you to check out my book, “Piece of the Fame” available on Amazon and the iBookstore

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