Transcending best practices

by Shannon Paul on January 8, 2009

Best practices are great when they provide guidelines — but they generally make terrible laws. Theory can only take us so far in the real world and sometimes upping our game means trusting our instincts to get things done.

To illustrate my point, I chose to share a video clip with you here after a bit of consideration. It’s a clip from a recent hockey game that shows Detroit Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk as he makes an assist on a goal by kicking the puck. It’s a move you probably won’t find in any hockey playbook, but that’s what makes it so brilliant. Hat tip to Dennis Dubay for posting the clip on Red Wings and Beer.


Disclosure: I work in New Media with the Detroit Red Wings and I also write for their official team blog, but I chose to post this clip here because I think the lesson in transcending best practices applies to what a lot of us are doing with social media and digital marketing or just MARKETING (since social media, marketing and PR are becoming different names for the same things, aren’t they?).

If you don’t think it was a good idea for me to post something here that relates to my job, please let me know why you think so in the comments.

While we need to think in terms of ROI and best practices, we must also stay creative enough to transcend those guidelines when it comes to achieving our goals. In my mind, this is the difference between good and great.

What are you doing to get great or stay great? How will you transcend the tricks in the playbook to be brilliant in 2009?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

January 9, 2009 Bill Deys 1

You analogy can be applied to a lot of things. You make some awesome points, I think you can take it a bit further and apply it to advancing your business model. A lot of business have to come up with things that aren’t in the “playbook” to keep profitable. Great stuff, thanks for the points and more importantly for keeping me thinking!


January 9, 2009 Rufus 2

Good idea to post something POSITIVE relating to your job, especially if it is one you are proud of. It makes you authentic. (Bad career move if it embarrasses your employer, though :-) )

This illustrates your point well and gets the Redwings some positive press. Win-win

Why phrase creativity mutually exclusive of BP and ROI? Isn’t human creativity the way we arrive at ROI? (not entirely for BP.. BP should be a guideline, not a hard and fast way to do things, but you made that point.)

ROI is a hard thing to do when you have human interaction, human creativity involved, which is why a lot of SM folks are having a hard time with it. Really not sure why.

Oh, to answer your question: What am I doing to stay great? Answer: I’m reading Shannon Paul’s Very Official Blog :-)


January 9, 2009 Beth Harte 3

Wow, I had no idea a move like that was even ‘legal’ in hockey! Sweet. I bet lots of hockey players & coaches are watching that clip over and over analyzing it to get down the perfect angle & trajectory. I mean isn’t that what happens when someone tries something new that works?! Whether it’s sports or business.

Shannon, I think this is a great example (and I am glad that you are bringing real-life examples from your job). I think you are right, theory only does go so far. But I think we need it as a base before we can transcend it. That’s why you’ll hear a lot of people in marketing, PR, comm say they have “learned on the street.” Because all that was learned in school is valuable, but sometimes it’s what you learn from other smart, experienced people who have been in the trenches (or when you’re in the trenches yourself) that’s even more valuable. Those street smarts can give you the confidence to transcend the guidelines (or buck the rules as it were).

Great post! And thanks for the clip…now where’s the beer?? ;-) Have a great weekend!


January 9, 2009 Shannon Paul 4

Bill – Thanks for the comment and I’m glad I have the ability to make you think.

Rufus – You’re right to point out that creativity is an essential part to anyone’s ability to calculate ROI… my problem is when people get a little too creative by applying meaning where there is none. I think ROI is difficult for SM folks because ROI has always been a tough calculation for any communications activity that did not directly result in sales.

Beth – Just FYI, the move in hockey is legal, but if the puck would have went into the net, the goal would not have been counted. You can’t kick the puck for a goal, but you can kick it for an assist. :) You’re also right to point out that the playbook is necessary. We need to learn the fundamentals so we inherently know when to chuck the playbook. If Datsyuk always kicked the puck, chances are he wouldn’t be in the NHL, but this one time proved to be a moment of genius. This move is just one of the reasons why he’s regarded as one of the most creative players on the ice. And yes, beer would be good. :)


January 9, 2009 Hubert Sawyers III 5

I plan to transcend the tricks by modifying all the things I learn at great places like Very Official Blog and make it apply for the folks that I try to help every day – creatives artists (musicians, singers, rappers, painters, etc). With their help, I think it will become more clear [at least to me] how to grab an audience as they tend to be able to garner more genuine attention than many businesses.

I have my eye on folks like Natasha Wescoat and rapper Q-Tip as I see how they are operating with the shift changes made by Web 2.0 and beyond. I feel that as long as I continue to let my creative freak monkey out to play whenever he needs air and not bog it down with too much theory schooling, I should stay ahead of the game in 2009 for what I am trying to accomplish.


January 9, 2009 mackcollier 6

“If you don’t think it was a good idea for me to post something here that relates to my job, please let me know why you think so in the comments.”

Personally, I would like to see you post MORE about your job, and how you are helping the Red Wings integrate social media into their communications and fan outreach initiatives.


January 9, 2009 Keli Whidden 7

Great post! It is really important for organizations to stop looking outward for a rule book on how they should do things – not only should they stop singing the tune of their past successes but they shouldn’t be looking to others past successes as more than an inspiration toward their own forward thinking.
BTW, I agree with the sentiment above, no issues at all with the integration, it adds a depth and breadth.


January 9, 2009 Mary Anne McKenna Bryan 8

I just subscribed and was pleasantly surprised to get a post that is so timely and relevant in todays job environment. I am recently having discussions with my sis @retheauditors that employees today need to add value to their current jobs by getting involved in social media or offer these skills as a bonus to employers in order to get a job. It’s no different than when computer skills became a requirement for any sales rep or manager and instead of paying reps more they merely increased their responsibilities because now they feel they can handle more work with the new technology. It’s not fair but it’s reality and it’s survival of the fittest. If one does not get on board the social media monorail they are going to go off track!
I like hearing about your job, it reminds me of the excitement of Mt. Carmel High School hockey games when I was in high school. To be relevent in 09 I am getting on the social media monorail, full steam ahead!


January 9, 2009 Brandon Chesnutt 9


I hope this post gets people thinking…

“What am I going to do differently this year to stay ahead of the game? Am I going to stick with what I know works or get creative?”

Hopefully, we’ll see a lot of people experimenting and putting their ear to the ground to find out what works and what doesn’t heading into 2009.



January 10, 2009 Anon. 10

Kicking the puck to set up an empty netter transcends best practices? That’s a big stretch. I call it doing what you have to do, given the circumstances. In other words: old school.


January 10, 2009 DaveMurr 11

First – Go Wings!!

Second – I don’t think its wrong to post something from your work, you included a disclosure and the lines between work and personal are becoming more and more blurred..

Third – if you want limitations – all you need to do is ask for them. A lesson my art teacher told me and it is something I’m carrying with me in ’09.

I don’t think in terms of ROI – my brain just doesn’t work that way when it comes to this stuff. For me and the struggling artist inside its about expression and as you mentioned – creativity.

You can get bogged down in the rules.

Now turning on the light switch to Best Practices – that’s a little different. My concern is the code of ethics. Simply, I just don’t want to piss anyone off or insult anyone… unless some swing deserves it!

Creativity shouldn’t be stifled by this however.

My secret right now – trusting my intuition and acting on those gut instincts that a lot of us ignore!


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