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For the year that I spent at my internship/part time job, I was the “social media girl”. The agency I was at hadn’t previously spent much time delving into the world of online public relations, so they hired me for that specific task. For my first few months with the company, I spent my time researching the tools, following thought leaders on Twitter, reading their blogs, and figuring out how I could use social media to help our clients. Once I actually started implementing some of these tactics, I realized how much I absolutely loved working with digital media (this isn’t too surprising considering my generation can say with honesty that we’ve been using the internet for the majority of our lives). I also decided that I always wanted to do that, no matter where I was working.
I got quite the surprise when I actually started looking for jobs in social media and online PR. I discovered that most agencies were hiring inexperienced interns to execute their online strategy, much like my own situation. For some strange reason I assumed that all companies had adapted to the changing industry by then, but obviously I was very wrong. Even more bizarre was that I was stumbling upon a lot of Social Media Manager positions which required 8-10 years of experience (is that even possible?). It certainly gave me a lot of perspective on the variety of ways in which PR agencies are approaching the growing need to help their clients expand and enhance their online presence. Every agency knows that they have to adapt, but most of them aren’t exactly sure HOW to. This is unfortunate for entry level candidates because most of us are learning a ton about social media in our internships, but then aren’t able to use these skills in our full time positions.
I was recently discussing this with my friend Elliot and he made a terrific point (I’m trying not to steal your thunder, buddy). Companies who decide to launch separate digital departments instead of training their current employees are making a huge mistake in their approach to the shift in the industry. There’s a chance that one day, traditional media will die out and online will be all that there is- and then where will those untrained employees be? Regardless of the future of traditional media, it is a skill that every PR professional should have, and to ignore it is, I think, a big mistake.
So I’d like to open this up to discussion. What are agencies doing wrong, and what are they doing right? What is the correct way (if there is one) to adopt a digital strategy? Are there any companies that we should look to as “models”? I’m looking forward to hearing what you all have to say!