I haven’t done much here on the media industry or PR – and in truth I don’t have much intention of doing so, as there are already many who do it well whom I admire and read regularly.
But a recent discussion with an industry peer raised an interesting question in my mind with regard to social media. (I say “peer” because she has a similar background to mine, perhaps a bit more traditional, but she is exactly my age.) We share many contacts in common and have, from time to time, shared war stories about our experiences.
On this particular day, my friend was in the middle of hiring a junior public relations associate, a direct report to her who would be responsible for building media lists, making calls to reporters and tracking account activity. This, she said, would free her up to work more strategically with offices in England, France and China.
She’d been deluged, as you might expect, with resumes – candidates of all sorts. Overqualified and out of work, recent graduates hungry for their first opportunity … and, thankfully for her, quite a few that were perfectly qualified.
The qualified candidates, she said, brought many of the same traits, talents and accomplishments to the table – great experience, excellent writing samples, personality.
For her, she said, the differentiation came down to one thing: Influence. Do they use Twitter or Facebook and, if so, how many “friends” or followers do they have?
I certainly understand the logic … a built-in audience for an agency’s clients, people already listening to what you have to say. Peer recommendations (or word of mouth) are like marketing on steroids.
But are sheer numbers the right metric? I don’t think so. And should those numbers be the basis for hiring someone? Absolutely not – even if all candidates shared very similar qualities and experience.
I’m decidedly not a “quantity” person; in this case, I’m into “quality.” Granted there are people I’m connected to on Facebook that I have not seen since high school or college. And there are people I’ve not met in person but have worked with or shared leads and information. But if I don’t know you in some capacity, it’s not likely we’re connected there – and it’s not likely I’d accept an invitation.
(As for break-ups, well, that’s a case-by-case thing and a story for another day.)
I didn’t like my friend’s decision and, apparently, neither did the universe, as the hire didn’t work out very well – the young woman couldn’t get her work done.
Apparently she was spending too much time on Twitter and Facebook.