Thursday, July 23, 2009
Such is the hypothesis concluded by a number of PR agencies and firms who are announcing unpaid internships, and in turn, receiving all the free knowledge of the social media space.
Why do practitioners insist on handing off what I would call ‘Web intricacy’ to interns, much like they do with pitches to top tier daily reporters—of which a phone call-up that’s meant to be a conversation becomes a quick hang-up instead, due to lack of understanding of client and reporter’s area of interest???
Frankly, I’m a bit flabbergasted by this approach, as I think the real selling points of social media cannot result from just being part of the different communities online, nor quick research: It’s knowing the best practices and best tools to get the job done. That is something that cannot be taught overnight or during the course of a summer.
While a social network offers easy sign-up, a social network is also very intricate. VERY. On a constant hunt to conceive the most effective public relations campaigns that integrate social media strategies, I have to consider what channels will provide best opportunity for linkback and quality word-of-mouth buzz that results in long-term brand engagement. Brand evangelism/advocacy, remember? Anything less than that equates to the lifespan of a surfacing trending topic on Twitter: it’s off the chart and out of people’s minds the very next day.
I also think throwing interns to learn all things social media actually dumbs down the value of social media, because after all, interns are meant to push paper. Right? WRONG. Get what I’m saying? Let’s treat our interns like account workers, like a part of the team, not so what have you got for me people in a basement.
Hear me out. I’m all for interns learning about social media, but don’t let them be the backbone of your agency’s understanding of it. Everyone in the agency must learn, not have one individual learner.