Interview with Marcy Blum

Thursday, February 03, 2011

wedding social media expertI originally published this interview with celebrity eventiste Marcy Blum last February and wanted to rerun it as her insights are just as applicable today as they were a year ago. You can follow Marcy on Twitter here.

This weekend I sat down with Marcy to chat more about what she's learned over the years and what she thinks about the wedding industry . . . here is that conversation:

Liene: You've been in business for 22 years and do very high-end events, why did you decide to get involved with social media?
Marcy: There are several people I respect, including you, who were talking about it and once I wrapped my head around it, it made perfect sense to me . . . especially since I'm trained in speaking in sounds bites, so 140 characters on Twitter is perfect. Plus I'm a yenta; I like to know what everyone's doing all the time, so it's perfect. It's like yenta-ism for the new millennium.

Liene: How has the wedding industry changed since you started?
Marcy: Certainly there's a lot more people planning events.

Liene: Do you feel it's too saturated?
Marcy: Well of course I do. Social events in particular are a very intimate experience so there should certainly be a wide variety of people who do this and different aspects for different types of clients. What I am sort of unnerved by though is all the people who are now doing it. It's like the old saying: anybody who planned their own wedding became a planner. Now it's anyone who has walked by a wedding is a wedding planner. It's a joke. It's a nice business and if you're very good at it and work very hard, with luck you can support yourself. But it's certainly not a gold mine, and I don't know why people think it is.

Liene: How do you handle competition?
Marcy: Not well.

Liene: Do you want to elaborate?
Marcy: I try without always succeeding, to take the high road, particularly if a prospective client asks me about a competitor. I won't ever throw someone under the bus. It's not good for anyone and I think it's bad form. I have a lot of competitors that I respect and hang out with and consider them friends. We try to help each other. Most of us have been doing it for a while, and we know that there's not one job that is going to make or break your life. So you have a little bit of perspective on it and it makes it easier to be less hysterical about competition.

Liene: How long did it take you to learn that and get to that place?
Marcy: A long time. And there are still people who I lose a job to that will absolutely piss me off for all sorts of reasons. My colleagues behave so gracefully that they sort of set the standard and shame me into being decent. I became friends with Ann and Nicky because they were so nice to me. Several of us had proposed to do Billy and Katie Joel's wedding and when I got the job they called me and said congratulations and they thought it was the perfect job for me. That's pretty impressive.

Liene: What's the biggest lesson you learned in your first year as a wedding planner?
Marcy: I always knew it was going to be hard work. I came with a restaurant and catering background so I wasn't surprised by the amount of work. I was surprised though by the breadth of knowledge that I had to acquire - that it wasn't enough to know food and style. You really have to have a working knowledge of tents, etiquette and protocol, lighting and sounds and music and it goes on endlessly. You have to really know at least a modicum of so many different disciplines that I was shocked.

You can't just call the best tent company and ask them to do it, otherwise you're just a glorified general contractor. It's really about being good enough to actually collaborate with these vendors, not just calling them up and booking them - everyone is bringing something to the table. Brides are more knowledgeable now, they can make the same phone calls now that you can. You have to bring something to the table, it's definitely not about your database. You really have to have a sense of how to do it, what makes it exciting, interesting, specific and special. Anyone can find out who did anything, especially with the Internet. It's like saying that once you find out who the meat purveyor is for a great restaurant you can replicate the meal. You can't, that's just the beginning.

Liene: In this past year?
Marcy: The power of social media for sure, both in extending one's brand and also learning about other people's businesses, thoughts, feelings, opinions and worldviews. It's the perfect way for someone with extreme ADD to learn stuff on a daily basis without committing to textbook research. And how it's going to phase out all but the most talented, most connected, most insightful publicists. Publicity is not about pitching Millie; it's about creating a plan specific to your client and it's not just hits for hits' sake. Publicity is also not about the publicists and I think social media will help make that field better by only leaving room for the best.

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