Go Beyond Basics to Launch Social Media Career

Way back in the dark ages of the 1980s, my employer at the time, Eli Lilly and Company gave me a big, boxy computer and asked me to stop using my coveted IBM Selectric II typewriter. At the time, I seriously questioned the need, but I eventually grew to enjoy that innovative device.

Today we take electronic information processing for granted, but not that long ago many of us thought it was a geek-created fad. As I look back, I wish I had embraced the change even quicker. That’s my message: Don’t hesitate to embrace all aspects of social media and other communication tools. Becoming fully engaged in technology positions you well for a rich future in the public relations profession. I am not alone in urging future public relations pros to engage in a deeper command of all things technological. Those making hiring decisions confirm the importance of doing so. “Entry-level candidates interested in pursuing opportunities in public relations need to stay at the forefront of technologies that allow you to communicate,” says Travis Kessel, vice president of recruitment at Edelman Worldwide. “These ever-evolving technologies allow you to engage an audience, and having proficiency with these tools and being able to communicate effectively through them are worth their weight in gold to potential employers.” Being fully adept in social media also opens more job opportunities. Every recruiter is scouring resumes for hits of technological savvy, and those perceived as early adapters quickly stand out. “Twitter and Facebook have been the go-to campaign tools within agencies, but those who have a passion for finding and exploiting new technologies will shine as the agency stars of tomorrow,” Kessel said. Academic programs are adjusting curricula to provide more hands-on experiences, with social media gaining increasing focus. “Once you master (or think you have mastered something), it changes again,” DePaul University PRSSA Faculty Adviser Dan Azzaro said. “The best practitioners of tomorrow need to be able to see the forest for the trees — meaning you need to have a global idea and then see how technology and its ilk can be used.” Employers are lining up to snap up those with technology and digital skills, and social media jobs often dominate job boards. It may seem like preaching to the choir to tell young professionals to be on top of the social media cycle — you are the social media generation. But the message here is to not just be involved in the obvious. The challenge is to dig deeper and be able to use the new tools as they present themselves. The next “big thing” in business will wait for no one. The challenge will be in being aware of it and putting it to good use. This post was written for my Culpwrit on Careers column in the new edition of PRSSA Forum.  Thanks to Amy Bishop for her skillful job of editing.   

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