I’ve really enjoyed the increased conversation over the past few about women in the work place sparked by the launch of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In. The conversation was enhanced by Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban working from home at Yahoo. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’ve been following all things Sheryl Sandberg for a while and hear the book taps into a lot of the themes of her popular TED talk so I’m familiar with her points of view.
This will likely come off as more cynical than I mean it to, but objectively speaking from a marketing standpoint, I’ve really admired the way Sheryl sparked a conversation. Pre and post launch, she earned content by getting people to react to the topic of her book. I am not sure if the marketing peeps behind Lean In seeded content by inviting people to contribute to the conversation or if it happened organically. It was probably a combination of both. Some aspects of the launch that worked particularly are:
Strong points of view stir up a little controversy. Not everyone likes what Sandberg has to say about women being responsible for their success. While that message is supposed to be empowering, some people take it as condemning. When people strongly agree or disagree with you, they are willing to talk.
It’s not about the product. There are some products people feel really strongly about and would talk about on their own, but usually it’s the activity, lifestyle, symbol or a trend around a product that gets people to talk.
This is something people already care about. I once heard someone say that the crappy thing about innovation is that “solving a problem that people don’t know they have” and “creating something no one wants” can look exactly the same for new products. The same thing goes for starting new conversations. Trying to drum up enthusiasm around a subject no one is talking about yet and something that no one actually cares about can look the same. That’s why it’s important to know your customers and know what they want to talk about. There’s an art to sparking a conversation that somewhat already exists. In the case of Lean In, it’s about re-igniting a conversation for the most part by framing it with a fresh point of view. She didn’t start a conversation about something people weren’t already experiencing or thinking about, but she’s offering some pretty shocking facts around the actually percentages of women in executive roles and pay gaps that validate people. People seem to be willing to share content or comment when they feel validated.
To change gears away from the product launch success story, the subject matter of the Lean In conversation sparked happens to be of particular interest to me as well. So I wanted to share a few of my favorite pieces I’ve read. Let me know what you think of the conversation, the backlash, and of course the product launch in the comments!
This article has been referenced a lot in the new conversations around Lean In. A lot of people say that she has a very different point of view than Sandberg’s, but I think they both want and believe essentially the same thing… that more women in power will improve opportunities for women overall.
By: Julie Zhuo, Director of Product Design, Facebook
“My parents would look at each other, flash a knowing smile, and declare “oh, we raised Julie like a boy” the way they might declare that they recycled, or drove a hybrid car, or volunteered at the local shelter…More irritating was the fact that if my parents were so proud of the fact that they raised me like a boy, didn’t it insinuate somehow that boys were better, or at least the boy-way of doing things was better? I got Legos instead of Barbies for Christmas. Video games were encouraged but dress-up was frowned upon. I begged for ballet lessons at the age of seven, to which my parents eventually acquiesced, but only under the condition that I also take swimming classes.”
“It’s also hard to see how any of this helps the huge numbers of women working low-paid jobs. They’re the majority of workers in service sector jobs like retail and food service that offer paltry wages and few, if any, benefits like paid time off or even stable schedules to help arrange childcare. They dominate growing jobs like home health aides and domestic workers who don’t even enjoy all the labor protections afforded other workers and are often subject to abuse. These problems will likely remain untouched even if women like Sandberg and Mayer transform Google and Yahoo!.”
“I didn’t have to be on my BlackBerry from my first moment in the morning to my last moment at night. I didn’t have to eat the majority of my meals at my desk. I didn’t have to fly overnight to a meeting in Europe on my birthday. I now believe that I could have made it to a similar place with at least some better version of a personal life. Not without sacrifice — I don’t think I could have “had it all” — but with somewhat more harmony.”
“When my company surveyed recent male and female graduates across all majors at two-year, four-year public and private and for-profit universities about their self-reported salaries, the results were not good: Men earn, on average, 29% more than women.”
I heard about this book a long time ago and considered reading it, but I resisted. I was hesistant about reading a book that seemed to be all about things women do wrong in business and how we should change ourselves. It seems like a sucky premise for a book. I thought, “Why do I have to be the one that changes?” I kinda like who I am. I certainly don’t like everything and every part of who I am every day, but I generally think I’m a hard worker and a good time.
Besides, I thought my time would be better spent learning how to be a better marketer and letting the results speak for themselves, rather than change who I am for someone else’s definition of “professional” or “success.”
I suppose that’s my mistake #1 – not understanding that in the business world, your results/ideas/intelligence don’t just speak for themselves. You have to be an effective communicator – whether that’s through metrics, through organizing your thoughts when communicating plans, your terminology and most of all, your actions. Based on conversations I’ve had with more experienced marketers, I’ve noticed that while I think through marketing and business in similar ways as they do, but I don’t communicate these things nearly as well. The time spent learning to be a better marketer hasn’t been wasted, but sharpening other areas could help me progress to the next level. I am thinking of this less as changing and more as growing. I opened myself to the idea that some of these traits and habits I’m so afraid of changing aren’t actually making me happy anyway.
The book outlines 101 common mistakes that women make and offers coaching tips on how to improve things if you think you’re guilty of making one of the common slip-ups. Here are my thoughts on the ones that struck a chord with me.
Mistake – Working Hard
You have to pluck yourself out of the weeds and make time for things like relationship building, strategic thinking and networking. Keeping your nose to the grindstone won’t necessarily get you promoted – you have to invest time in these other things.
Remember Parkinson’s Law – work expands to fill the time alloted. Define what your tasks are and what your work hours are going to be and act accordingly.
Mistake – Doing the work of others
Promotions are rewards for getting the job done, not necessarily being the one that does it. That saying “If you want something done, do it yourself” is BS. All that ensures is that you’ll be the one doing whatever that task is for a really long time, and if you teach people that you’ll do things for them you prevent them from being motivated to figure things out on their own.
Don’t volunteer for low-impact, low-profile assignments. The author’s advice is to “sit on your hand rather than raise it.”
Don’t let people “delegate up” inappropriately – avoid the inclination to “mother” people and solve their problems for them and waste your time. If it’s their project, it’s their responsibility to own it and figure it out.
My take – Know when your experience is better utilized for strategy/planning and know when to jump in and execute on the right tasks. As a manager don’t solve people’s problems for them, but nudge them in the right direction to figure it out so they take the que that this is the expectation and they learn what the resources are to figure things out.
Mistake – Working without a break
Working without a break sends the message that you’re flustered or inefficient. If you seem like you’re flustered you’ll be passed up for important projects and opportunities.
Obviously, the author says take a lunch break. Personally, I like working through lunch and going for a 10 or 15 minute walk at 3 or 4 to power through the last few hours of work. I say, find what works for you.
“Disagree without being disagreeable.” Acknowledge what the other person has said, but then offer your idea and two or three reasons why you think as such.
“When in Rome, do as Romans do.” You may have been raised not to talk back or speak up, but you’re not a child anymore. Speak up.
My startup take: My friend has a saying: “Bad news can’t wait.” If an unanswered question, misunderstanding or anything is preventing you from doing the absolute best job you can do, you have a responsibility to your team members to speak up and fix that situation.
Mistake – Polling Before Making a Decision
Participative decision making is a good thing, but being unable to make a decision or take action without knowing what every single person thinks or if they approve isn’t. There’s a fine line. Know when to own a decision and know when to get input or permission from others.
Take more risks by acting without permission. Start with small, lower impact decisions.
Mistake – Feeding Others
The author’s take is that feeding others will prevent others from seeing you as a figure of authority.
The author advises to only feed others when there is a strategy behind it. She uses an example of an executive she was coaching who was unapproachable. To appear more approachable, she advised him to put a candy bowl on his desk so that people would drop by to chat.
My take – I don’t know how I feel about this. What do you think?
First off – regarding the unapproachable boss – if the guy’s an unapproachable jerk, a bowl of jelly beans isn’t going to make people want to hang out. That sounds like a band-aid solution to me.
Great company culture is essential. It starts with great leadership, but everyone should contribute to it. Food and drink is a part of that since it’s a social thing. I don’t think the author gives men enough credit. I’ve worked with several awesome men that have taken it upon themselves to ensure that team lunch was ordered every Friday, that coffee was stocked or occasionally surprised us with bagels and donuts. It’s just about being helpful at a small business.
I get that there are social implications with the mother/care-giver/food paradigm. However, the necessity for everyone to contribute to making the company an awesome and comfortable place to work outweighs my fear of the mother/care-giver/perception paradigm. Whether you contribute through ordering t-shirts or bringing in some candy, make your business an awesome place to work.
Mistake – Being Financially Insecure
Being financially insecure prevents you from taking career-building risks at work that lead to more responsibility and better projects – risks like speaking up. This is out of fear that you’ll lose your job and the financial ruin you’d be in because of that.
She gives the obvious Suze Orman-style finance tips – set up an emergency fund, pay off credit card debt, start a 401k etc. Do that stuff. My friends at Perkstreet Financial have a great personal finance blog with information about this stuff. You should read it.
My take: It’s more expensive to be a woman in our society and we still usually make less money than men, so it’s harder for women to be financially secure/independent, and that impacts how we approach our careers.
The “making less” can in part be attributed to the fact that we tend to go into careers that pay less (teaching etc) than high-paying careers like finance and engineering, where there are more men. For the “it’s more expensive to be a woman” part, I think women have higher fixed costs and “maintenance” costs.
Women shop more. Popular fashion in our society demands this, as mens fashion is more versatile from day to night to relaxation and season to season. Of course you can invest in “classic” pieces in women’s fashion, but I feel like there are more trends, accessories and pieces to keep up with for women. We “need” more stuff so we shop more.
A lady’s haircut in a bigger city like Boston starts at around $50. I think it’s like $20 for guys. (They go more frequently though.)
Depending on your insurance, birth control pills are about $30 a month and an IUD is around $600. (That’s a one-time “installation” fee and they last for 5-10 years.)
I laughed out loud at the disbelieving comment from some guy on this TechCrunch article about time-of-the-month monthly subscription Juniper – “A dollar a day? Dang.” (Bahahaha.)
I forget the brand, but there’s some commercial where the woman talks about how her and her husband both gave up soda, and she lost only 5 pounds and he lost 20 pounds. That is totally true! Even if we’re on a budget, we buy healthier groceries since thanks to estrogen, women are kind of forced to watch their wastelines more than men. Salads and yogurt are simply more expensive than peanut butter and jelly and pizza – staples of a budget-friendly young professional’s diet.
Obviously, I’m speaking in generalities and women can choose not to do these things. But most people aren’t like that. In general, people want to fit in and do what they want and they adjust their budgets accordingly. So it ends up in the situation as is – it’s harder for women to be financially secure/independent, and I think that in an indirect way that impacts how we act at work.
Why doesn’t anybody talk about this?
Mistake – Letting People Waste Your Time
Being a nurturing and kind leader is not mutually exclusive from having ownership of your time.
Learn the difference between when people want to talk and when they need to talk. Use this phrase: “I would love to talk but I’m on a tight schedule today. Can we catch up later?”
Mistake – Using Qualifiers
Qualifiers are beginning your sentences with phrases like “Perhaps we could….” or “It’s kind of like…” Qualifiers dilute your message and make you sound less confident.
To get comfortable expressing opinions, add taglines to the end of your strong statements to wrap up your thoughts. (Example: “For the reasons listed above I feel strongly we should do ____. I’m curious to hear what others think.”)
If you actually are unsure about something, rather than using a qualifier to just kind of give your opinion, explain that you are unsure. (Example: “At this point given what we know so far, my recommendation is that we do _____, but we shouldn’t make a final decision until we get more data.”)
Mistake – Using Non-Words
Non-words are words and phrases such as “like”, “umm”, or “See what I mean?” People use them to fill silence when they are speaking. Like qualifiers, they dilute your message.
I am so guilty of this! So if you have ever heard yourself on video and realized – in horror – how often you say “like” or another little phrase like that, you are not alone. Slow down, take a breath and think before you speak. Don’t rush through things.
Mistake – Crying
Don’t be fooled by sensitive workplaces where it seems like crying is accepted. Crying makes people uncomfortable.
Women don’t have good practice or good examples of expressing anger in “normal” ways like raising our voice like men do, so a lot of times we express anger in the form of tears.
If you feel yourself welling up, excuse yourself so you can collect your thoughts. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot excuse yourself and you get teary-eyed, try to put words to the emotions to keep the conversation logical and focused. (Example: “As you can see I feel strongly about this subject…”)
In the spirit of keeping this post honest, I have a confession. I’m not a huge crier, but I thought about this and realized I’ve cried once at every job I’ve had.
Mistake – Believing That Others Know More Than Us
From doctors to car salesmen to co-workers, women assume that others know more than us. We let this assumption prevent us from taking on new projects or risks in the work place.
My take – I love this quote – “Most people people never scratch the surface of what they are capable of.”
Here’s my story: I used do this all the time with math. I have a mental block about all things math, and it goes back to when I was in kindergarden and kind of fell off the math train when they introduced all this hoopla about odd and even numbers. But my natural inability to deal with numbers turned out to be a strength. I double, triple and quadruple check my math because I’m extra aware of the necessity for accuracy, so when I’m talking about numbers I’m very prepared to explain my methodology and reasoning. I used to preface anything metrics or numbers related with something like “Now I’m no mathlete, but…” and then I’d actually say something insightful about conversion rates. Now I just speak the numbers as they are because I trust my methodology. There is no reason to downplay what I’m saying.
The takeaway here is that you never know what you can do until you try. Question the assumptions you have about yourself. You are not inferior, you may just have less experience in certain subjects, and you are capable of learning. Don’t be a damsel in distress. It may be your first time taking on a project like that, but it’s unlikely that that is the first time a project like that has ever been done. Ask questions and learn from others.
In general, the themes that the author expresses are:
Recognize that every action has a reason behind it. Consider what the reasons for your actions are. Take into account like your upbringing and heritage and how those play out in your adult life.
You don’t have to feel guilty about having your needs met.
Be direct with people.
Keep the big picture in mind and make time for things like networking, building relationships and strategic work. Set personal goals for yourself.
Set your boundaries and prioritize your tasks. Have a life outside of work that you want to leave work for. As an employee you owe your company and team a job well done and sometimes that means early mornings and late nights, but not every morning and every night.
I’m glad I read the book. I didn’t agree with the author’s point of view on everything, but she opened my eyes to things I do and why I do them. The book made me realize that there is a reason behind every action and pushed me to consider how my culture and upbringing influenced me to become who I am. The book also validated frustrations I’ve had and made me realize that I had something to do with every single one of those situations. That means I can have something to do with changing the outcome next time I encounter those scenarios.
We can resist change all we want, but maybe all that does is prevent us from growing into someone a little savvier, more informed, successful and happier. Now who can resist that?
A while back a friend sent me this post from Mark Suster – Some Sage Advice For Young Employees Early In Their Careers. The post has some great stuff in there, although in my opinion a lot of it is more applicable for folks in bigger companies and not startups. There was one particular piece of advice I would add for entry-level – middle management people at companies of all sizes:
Get really good at estimating how long tasks take you and have the confidence and organization to honestly communicate those timeframes.
“Bad Management” Isn’t Always the Fault of a Crappy Leader
Sometimes unrealistic expectations are unintentionally assigned when unrealistic expectations are communicated up. If you say something will take you a half hour, it looks like there is still time for another thing to do that afternoon. So guess what? You may get another thing to do. Be honest with yourself and others. Don’t agree to have a blog post and a Powerpoint done by 3pm out of a knee jerk reaction/insecurity complex/over-eager need to please. (I’ve done this before – moreso saying yes to myself than anyone else though.) Show awareness, focus, ownership and a commitment to quality by honestly communicating how long it will take to complete a project. You’re not saying no to an assignment from a manager – you’re saying yes to spending your immediate time on the highest priority one, which your manager can help choose based on the most pressing goals of the company.
There are blog posts that have taken me 5 hours to complete. Screenshots, research and editing take a lot of time. There are others that I have thrown together in 30 minutes. For me, product screenshots and step-by-step instructions…very tactical stuff… take the most time. Anything technical takes me more time to research. Stuff like this comes out faster for me though. I’ve gotten a lot better at estimating how much time content takes me, and right now I’m trying to get better at estimating how long various parts of email marketing take me so I can better manage myself.
It’s About Self Awareness
This kind of awareness gives you a leg up when you grow from entry-level to manager. Having a sense for how long the tasks I did before take helps me work with the (very talented) person who does them now. She already does a great job of tracking her time and it makes my job a lot easier. To continue with the content example, I take stuff off her plate if there’s a blog post to get done and we have determined that that is the priority for the day.
I am not sure if this is a common saying or mentality or whatnot, but you know the phrase “I would never ask an employee to do something that I have not done myself before?” I can only speak for marketers, but if you’re in a more entry-level position in marketing today, there actually is a really good chance that you are owning digital marketing tasks that your boss never did because the technology wasn’t around back then. (Trust me though, they worked their butts off. How do you think press releases got sent before email? Stuffing. Envelopes.) For example: They may not know that it takes you an hour every morning to schedule Tweets for the client Twitter account. They never did it. And that’s one task you really don’t want to eff up, right? So speak up when prioritizing your tasks and make sure you’re getting the time you need to do a great job.
Take a look at the clock. Pay attention to what you are doing. Use this awareness to help drive prioritization and focus between you and your manager today and develop a sense for these timelines so you can grow into an effective and fair manager tomorrow.
I don’t often learn something in a blog post that really sticks with me, but Kinvey VP of Marketing Joe Chernov published a guest post on the Content Marketing Institute blog a while back that offered content marketers one very good question: “Do you have permission to publish this content?”
“There is a funny storyline in NBC’s hit series, “30 Rock” in which Alec Baldwin’s character, the revenue-obsessed programming honcho for a Podunk cable network, decides the company should manufacture sofas. He implausibly argues it’s a natural fit for a television network to make furniture because viewers sit on furniture while watching TV.
Baldwin’s absurdist vision for product marketing not only makes for must-watch television, but it also provides a useful lesson for content marketers. While your content shouldn’t necessarily center on your product, it should focus on subjects reasonably connected to your goods or services.”
I’ve seen a few examples of marketing lately that could take a tip or two from Mr. Chernov’s post. I’ve seen some companies post random things completely unrelated to their offerings on their Facebook pages. I’ve also seen a few companies writing really random blog posts that have nothing to do with their core offering. There’s enough negativity on the internet so I’m not going to call anyone out specifically here, but I’m sure you’ve seen some examples.
I think the first scenario, as my colleague Ginny Soskey pointed out, is an effort to circumvent sponsoring posts to earn visibility in Facebook newsfeeds by generating a lot of “likes” and comments on Facebook statuses. I assume the second example is for SEO. I’d be interested to see the bounce rates on those blog visitors. In the case of the Facebook page, I actually do see some value in visibility resulting from “likes” and comments. But if it’s visibility for an untargeted and random conversation, that’s kind of confusing to consumers, and in that case I don’t know if it’s really worth posting. You’re just creating noise.
There may be another reason marketers are doing this though – It could partially be because the inspiration well has run dry, or that people are burnt out on the kind of content they’ve been putting out there. (I think this has a lot to do with it.) Everyone is doing content marketing now. Everyone is a publisher. It’s noisy out there. If you aren’t supposed to talk about yourself (it’s kind of spammy), exactly how many “how to” or “10 tips” articles can you write before you’re writing something that’s been written 10 times before? I think a few marketers are trying to reinvent how we think about content by simply starting any type of conversation that would interest our audiences – whether it relates to the product or not.
This is a mistake because it increases the issue of the content/product disconnect that some brands who are so selfless with their content have already experienced. But doing the same old thing is a mistake too. If you’re bored putting the content out there, imagine how your subscribers feel. So change is actually necessary, but I suppose my take is this: don’t take risks, take calculated risks.
I’ll leave you with a good example from a blog I follow, which isn’t a content marketing blog at all. It’s a fitness blog, which is my favorite kind of content. Sarah Dussault is a fitness blogger from Boston, so clearly her typical content is workout videos, food reviews etc. But she tried something new (and says that right in the video) by offering a workout hairstyle how-to video to her readers. It fits her female audience, but she still stayed on topic by framing this as a how-to video for a hairstyle you can wear while working out. Notice, for example, that it’s not framed as a how-to video for wedding or prom hairstyles, even though her female audience presumably enjoys weddings and proms. Make sense?
Your turn. What comes after the countless “10 tips” and “how to” articles for content marketing? Lemme know in the comments.
I’ve been meaning to write this post all month, but it’s September 27th (almost 28th.) September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, which is the closest thing that commemorates or recognizes uterine cancer, which is something that came into my family’s life about a year ago.
Yoplait recognized it on their Facebook page, which made me feel really happy and included, until I saw a whole bunch of people kind of hating on there – saying they should instead or also support this or that… etc etc. And I get it – we all want to feel validated and included, by the media and by our favorite brands. We hope they think of us when these months come around.
There are a lot of organizations that support many different kinds of cancers, but I also believe there are good reasons to have separate marketing and communities for individual diseases. That’s why I want other cancer months to get the attention they deserve, honestly because as a complete medical newb myself, I want to make sure the messaging is clear for people like me. Medical stuff is like science, which is kind of like math. And then I’m all…
So spell it out for us – what are the exams we need? Messaging needs to be specific so it is effective. People need to know about particular exams that can lead to early detection of certain cancers. Sometimes the cancer impacts a certain group of people, or new research will show the contrary – that the cancer also impacts a group outside the typical demographic. That type of thing is an opportunity for targeted campaigns that again, will be clear enough to reach consumers. Some cancers don’t have many symptoms, if any symptoms whatsoever. So again, people need to know about what exams to ask for. In some cases, we need more funding for research to develop exams that will help with early detection.
My mind knows that everyone else having their own cancer months is a good thing. But this is how my heart feels: I feel left out. I feel alienated and lonely because of how much attention other months get as opposed to the “month” that more directly includes my situation. It sounded crazy to me when I felt this way a year ago, but as I’ve mulled it over it doesn’t seem too far fetched after all.
Clearly, the funding, and therefore the attention and visibility is probably going to go to the diseases that are more well known and prevalent. I suppose I wonder if everything actually needs a “month” of its own, anyway. There’s only 12 of these, there’s gotta be an inflection point somewhere. Others may have a more general feeling of a cancer community and awareness from the individual months though, and don’t see the necessity for such specific messaging. I wish I had a solution.
I had the pleasure of presenting at WordCamp Boston this year! It was so much fun to meet our users and hand out t-shirts and then get to share some of the stuff I’ve learned from blogging for several startups.
It’s a 40 minute video, but it may be fun to listen to in your headphones.
Most people know I work at Shareaholic. Like many startups, we’re hiring technical talent. You know - a little front end, infrastructure and customer happiness action. Even though I’m from the biz side, I want to help with recruiting. If the theme is “everybody codes” for your first 10 employees, to grow the next 10, I think the theme is “everybody recruits.” All hands on deck. The truth is, I feel just as much (self-imposed) responsibility for recruiting as anybody else, but I feel a lot less able to help. That really frustrates me.
I Don’t Know A Lot of Engineers
I have a giddy excitement when I talk about Shareaholic. It’s a ton of hard work and can be pretty intimidating, but this is the most challenging position and best learning opportunity I’ve had so far. As someone who strongly feels that it’s important to optimize for learning early in your career, this is exactly what I wanted for my 25-year-old self. I will happily chat anyone’s ear off to share my personal joy with them as well as preach the good news of content and ad tech. The problem? Most of the ears I have to chat off are those of marketers, not engineers.
The most consistent and best leads for job applicants come from personal recommendations. I went to school for PR. During college, I did PRSSA, and a bunch of other PR related extracurriculars. I had PR, journalism and marketing internships. I’ve had PR, community management and marketing jobs, expanding my professional network to even more marketers. My best friends are marketers. Some of them even date other marketers. I simply don’t know a ton of engineers outside of the ones I work with because my life experiences have exposed me mostly to marketers.
Many connections can be made online, but to be forth right, I don’t engage consistently on Hacker News and I don’t have a GitHub or Dribbble profile or things that would more directly connect me with technical folks. I’ve focused most of my online networking activity doing things like guest posts for social media and marketing blogs. Creating content is part of getting the message out and that’s been my job. But I can’t help but feel like I’ve sprinted up to a brick wall.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful for my marketing relationships. And you know what? Maybe the marketer I know today knows the engineer we could hire tomorrow. But how do I scale the process discovering those secondary connections and then connecting the dots?
Do Hiring Campaigns Actually Work?
For a new hire, Hipster offered new recruits $10,000 and a year’s worth of PBR, among other hipsteresque welcoming gifts.
In its hiring campaign, LA-based startup Scopely proclaimed that it didn’t always hire developers, but when it did, it hired the most interesting engineers in the world.
I’ve pondered campaigns like these and considered whether this marketing approach would be beneficial to our efforts. I feel like these hiring campaigns are a good supplement to organic hiring efforts, but not a replacement for them. Most of all, it seems to me that one of their biggest benefits is the PR you get surrounding them, which probably increases the effectiveness of your organic efforts. This is just my assumption though.
Answer D: Other
I’ve considered these other things, but I’m skeptical. Any thoughts?
Career fairs – Is the sponsorship and t-shirt money worth it?
Hackathons – Are these efforts to get stuff built through your API, or veiled recruiting efforts? And if it is a veiled recruiting effort, how do you do this without being…well…a scumbag… and having that backfire?
Job Listings – Does anyone pay attention to Tweeted job postings?
Other Biz People Probably Feel This Way
I try to remind myself that things I’ve done such as press, messaging and generally just making our numbers better makes this a more successful startup. That makes this a more eligible job opportunity for the eligible engineer. But I doubt I’m alone as a biz-side person who wants to do more. So share your comments – how can people like myself do more?
Recently, two blog posts from recent graduates have caught the attention of the internet at large:
In The Huffington Post, Taylor Cotter wrote about The Struggle of Not Struggling. She reflected on the consequences of having her life all figured out – career, 401k, location etc, at the age of 22. She feels she is missing out on some formative years of freelance and ramen.
In Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25, Cathryn Sloane gave her thoughts on why younger people are the preferred candidates for social media manager roles, reasoning essentially that Gen Y’ers have always known first and foremost how to use social media socially – not professionally – and that is how consumers want to engage with brands on these platforms.
I get the sense that Taylor came across a little less grateful than she probably actually is. And Cathryn probably came off a little more critical of older generations than she probably planned on. Even though I definitely disagree with them, and shared both articles expressing my disagreement, I’ve seen the internet pretty much cyberbully the crap out of them and I feel like I need to make a point.
For a whole slew of us who work for the internet, the particularly ambitious will establish an online presence of some kind to display their expertise and gain some extra practice in their given skillset. (And as we know, in this economy, it’s probably only the particularly ambitious mice who get the cheese anyway.) For designers or engineers, maybe that’s Dribbble or GitHub profiles. For marketing and PR and social media types, this may mean a blog about marketing and PR and social media. I just want people to ask themselves: What would you have written when you were 22? What if it had been judged not by your college professor, but by the internet at large?
Sometimes I look back at blog posts and guest posts I wrote senior year of college or when I just graduated and I just cringe. My writing was terrible, and I had absolutely no idea what the hell I was talking about. And it’s all out there now, in it’s awful glory. But it wasn’t arrogance, I was just genuinely trying to get out of the restaurant and show that I loved PR and knew a little bit about it. And I did, and I did.
Entry level isn’t entry level any more. We expect new graduates to “hit the ground running” as soon as we hire them. We, the companies, literally cannot afford to expect anything less than that. We grow up sooner now. Even interns don’t get to figure it all out and see where this all goes. Yet when we see young people having confidence in the opinions they express through their online presences, we don’t really like what they have to say and denounce it as short sighted. So – what the hell you guys?
It is tough to put your work and yourself out there so much when you still have so much to learn. We’re all just doing the best we can for who we are at the time, and what people like Taylor and Cathryn are doing isn’t easy. They’re trying, and there are a whole lot of people their age trying a whole lot less and complaining a whole lot more. At the risk of sounding patronizing, I say, cut them freaking some slack.
I love me some Maria Shriver, and I think as a Communications graduate this was particularly special to me.
My favorite parts:
“But I ask you to do this because it will allow you to take a moment. It will allow you to stop, to look up, to look around, and to check in with yourself. It will allow you to spend a moment. I hope when you do that you will feel your strength and your vulnerability. I hope it will allow you to acknowledge your goodness and not to be afraid of it. I hope it will give you an opportunity to look at your darkness, and I hope you will work to understand it. It will give you the power to choose which one you want to put out into this world. Women, I hope you will look at your toughness and your softness, you can and should make room for both. This world needs both of those qualities. Men, I hope you find your gentleness and I hope you wrap it in your manliness. I hope you make room for both. The greatest men do.” (14:00)
“Courageous people are often very afraid, in fact, that’s why they need courage in the first place – in order to face their fears.” (18:40)
I’ve been thinking a lot about content lately and how that relates to buyer personas. Mostly what I’ve been considering is this: How does a company with several buyer personas (some of whom would be interested in us for very different and completely unrelated reasons) access different people with content?
Lately I’ve been feeling like the internet isn’t just one echochamber – it’s a bunch of little echochambers. There are bloggers who blog about blogging and go to conferences about blogging with other bloggers. Craft bloggers talk to other craft bloggers. Recipe bloggers talk to other recipe bloggers. Personal finance bloggers talk to other personal finance bloggers. There’s so much content being created and shared and curated that there’s little choice other than to join an echochamber in order to handle it as a consumer. But what do you do if you’re a marketer who needs to appeal to multiple… well…echochambers?
Is there a way to cover every topic of the relevant echochambers that matter to your business, but do it in a way that maintains a consistent theme so you don’t seem unfocused and confuse your audience?