A word of caution to PR, marketing and communications professionals everywhere:
The next generation is coming and they are going to eat your lunch.
Recently I was able to join a team of W2O executives at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University to spend several days teaching classes and meeting with students and professors as part of the Social Commerce Days. Through W2O’s partnership with the Center for Social Commerce, each semester a group gets to make the trip up north with a purpose of teaching, sharing, learning and networking. My first visit to campus, this trip came right during the time of year when many of us are heads down focused on the last big push of client initiatives for the year.
My first event was to sit during open office hours and review resumés. I met three students and learned about their backgrounds, interest and course work. I also was fortunate to teach a few classes about the application of analytics and influence, and got to meet several dozen motived students in the process. Here are some attributes of the typical junior year student:
- A resumé that includes first hand account experience working on behalf of a local nonprofit
- Research experience that includes social conversation analysis, influencer analysis and content strategy – in addition to the surveys, focus groups and interviews
- Graphic design class experience, which helped their resumés look sharp
- Experience in social media, not just from personal use but working on behalf of a brand or organization
- I met several students who had launched their own startups in passion areas, such as sports marketing or fashion, and had hands on experience building communities and building influence
- Solid profiles on LinkedIn with a clear understanding of personal brand and online social etiquette
I know many communications pros who themselves are getting to know the digital landscape in order to adapt. Understanding online conversations and digital influence models is core to what we do. Brands are publishing engines. Content is king, context is emperor. You’ve heard the prognosticators. There is a clearly race to the middle where advertising, PR, marketing, market research, software vendors and even the big consulting firms are colliding and competing like never before. Our industry has been changing for years. These students are not only ready; they are leading the charge.
I’d hire just about every student I met knowing they are going to excel in a changing digital landscape. These students are hungry, empowered, diligent, adaptable, eager and focused. Look out – these students may not have started the revolution but they are going to finish it, and maybe create one of their own.
A big thank you to the professors and administrative staff at Newhouse and the Center for Social Commerce for welcoming our W2O Group team in your classrooms, and thanks to the students who joined us for the inspiration. Looking forward to a future visit.
image credit: Chris Becker via Flickr