Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Davenport Seeks Social Media Manager...Doesn't Mention PR

Davenport University is seeking a full-time social media manager.

I was excited about the move to give permanent attention to social media, until I read the online position description.

Here's one line under 'qualifications':
Bachelor's degree in journalism, new media, communications, English, marketing, graphic design or related field is required.

Why not a bachelor's degree in public relations? I would say that should be first on the list. Social media is all about mutual relationships, two-way dialogue--and that's the essence of social media.

Journalism is still mostly about reporting, not dialogue. English? So far iambic pentameter has had little correlation to social media. Very few marketing programs have more than one basic communication class, and most marketers still approach social media like the guy at the class reunion who tries to sell you insurance. Graphic design? I've met few designers who can write. Farm that out.

Maybe Davenport doesn't have a public relations major, and that's why it doesn't get listed in their ad.

I tell my students all the time to apply for jobs that are (badly) labeled "marketing," and then if they get the job make changing the title one of their first moves. This would better reflect what the job entails.

The world still doesn't get the fundamental differences between public relations and marketing. They see marketing as the catch-all concept for strategic communication, and PR as a publicity seeking part of marketing. Even PR Week (PR Weak) continually refers to PR as a "marketing discipline." Uggh!

Someone over there needs to be disciplined, I tell ya.

No. PR is much BROADER than marketing. Marketing has many aspects and connotations, but it boils down to a single public--consumers--and a single objective--sales. PR is principally about relationships, with multiple publics, and thus has multiple objectives. Consumer relations is but one of many aspects of PR. Media relations is but one of many tactics of PR.

So where does social media fit in all this? It is a tactic, an amalgam of tactics. It involves many publics. And the right way to "do" social media is to approach it as a genuine conversation, not a self-interested proclamation. A PR graduate would get that (at least those with a GPA higher than 2.9). Marketing graduates might, but there is frankly less of a chance that they will. They are all about identifying "markets"--a group of people who want or need a certain product or service. There are certainly markets in social media, and marketers should pay attention to that. But mostly there are publics, communities.

For a university in particular, the notion of multiple publics is vital. There's a big debate in higher education about whether or not students are "customers," but even if they are, there are many other publics to address.

I don't mean to pick on Davenport University. I think they are smart to create the position. I just wish they and others would seek PR people to do the relationship-oriented work of social media.

1 comment:

boxcatav said...

It will be interesting to see who they hire and if they have a PR background. Keep us posted!