Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hey, Did Anyone Get The Twitter Password From The Intern Before We Let Her Go?

"Your global social media strategy and brand awareness is safe with our summer intern!"

[Disclaimer: As a freelance consultant, this opinion is totally biased, subjective and aims to further my own personal agenda.]

I regularly scan Craigslist for new business opportunities, especially the Marketing/PR/Ad and Writing/Editing posts of the Toronto section. They're a bit hit and miss, and you soon learn to filter out the scammers -- especially the "submit some writing samples" to a hidden e-mail address -- and other fishers.

It's disheartening to see more ads of the following type: "Summer intern needed to handle our social media strategy. Must know Facebook and love blogs. May lead to a full-time role."

I think this is totally shameful for two reasons:

(1) Clients, companies, brands and people are still learning the art of using social media as a way to engage with their target market. If done well, it works. If mishandled, then the fallout can be catastrophic for a long time. They need to know that their PR team is familiar with the process, get them started and then let them take it from there. How much value can a green summer intern add to that? What happens once the summer -- gasp! -- ends, and the intern moves on? Who takes up the slack and continues to build on that short-term relationship?

(2) "May lead to a full-time role" = "We can try this social media thing out, and see if it is works. Then, if it does, our company gets lots of glory and we can take you on as an underpaid member of the team. But if it fails miserably, it's on your head and don't let the door hit your arse on the way out."

Clients have to know that there is a solid understanding of social media, and that their brand, image and reputation is not going to be left swinging in the wind because of inexperience or a lack of strategy. It's too important for that.

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