I got a chuckle this morning when I read my latest Barron’s at breakfast (Thanks, Dow Jones, for the unsolicited comp issue that has been showing up in my driveway every Monday for the past two years and Mr. Rupert Murdoch, sir, I hope I’m not dragging down your reader demographic.)

On the cover of the January 28 issue is the headline: “Whack That Bear! The trouble may not be over, but we found 10 stocks that look irresistibly cheap.” Just ten pages later is an advertisement for State Street Global Advisors that reads: The naked eye sees ten good investments. The trained eye sees one.”

State Street and their trained eye: 1
Barron’s and their naked eye: 0

It had me thinking about how bewildering ten choices can be. It also had me thinking about how much of a value it is to help guide clients to the right choice, or, set of choices. If you are making decisions about media for your organization, are you buying the “hot stocks” of the day, or do you have a portfolio” of your marketing media that was planned and managed?

We help clients develop a portfolio of media tools, and assist in the front end planning followed up with back-end implementation.

On to the “hot stocks” of the day: social media. There are a bewildering number of social media products being spawned, all with goals of connecting people for different reasons. Starting a blog, like buying a hot stock, might work out for your organization or it might not. As I stated when I started writing this blog, I’m interested in social media that can be employed in the service of organizations, associations and media companies for strategic and financial gain.

One area of research I look to (2007 E-Publishing Trends & Metrics from the Angerosa Foundation) shows how member associations, for example, experience great anxiety about “keeping up with new e-publishing technology and figuring out how to implement the new technologies effectively for their membership.” Not surprising, perhaps, but with associations the stakes are high.

As associations struggle to attract and maintain members without raising dues, they look to do two things simultaneously. Trim costs and create more value for members at the same price. The temptation to migrate to electronic publishing and social media is great as a short-term cost-cutting move. Especially when there are a lot of shiny new communications opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago that seem poised to solve a lot of problems.

Without a plan that is matched to the goals of the organization, it’s like investing in the latest hot stock. Some of those investments might run counter to one another. Getting out of print (a risky strategy that many associations consider all the time) may lower costs, but destroy the value that’s been created for members.

Wise organizations plan well, and utilize a portfolio of media, integrated by each asset’s own particular purpose and strength, within the context of a plan. Social media provides great opportunity. Just don’t use a naked eye to evaluate it.