A different way to land your dream social media job…

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I had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Deirdre Breakenridge yesterday, and we spent a good chunk of time talking about a subject we’re both very passionate about – students.

Deirdre and her equally passionate partner-in-crime, Valerie Simon, run #PRstudchat – a weekly Twitter chat that connects professional communicators with students.

With that in mind, I ran an idea past Deirdre that I thought might be worth sharing more widely…and here it is…

A different way to land your dream social media job…

There’s an unwritten rule that exists in the world of communications; the best way to establish yourself as a thought-leader is to set up a blog about social media / PR and share your knowledge (yes, guilty as charged).

If I had my time again, I’d do it differently, and for students wishing to make a leap into this world, you might want to consider taking a different approach.

The approach? Get vertical.

– Establish a blog about motorcycles (perfect for the Harley Davidson Press Office)
– Become a gadget reviewer / expert (Apple would luuuurve you)
– Focus purely on fashion (Diesel…not a bad gig)
– Create a consumer focused blog, call it the CONSUMER corner! (any brand you like)
– Write about the travel industry and what trends are developing (airlines, hotels etc)

If I was looking to hire someone tomorrow, I’d take it as a given that you ‘get’ communications (it’s really not that complicated).

But, let’s say a brief lands on my desk from a prospect in the travel sector?

If you had spent that last 12 months blogging about travel, being an area you were clearly passionate about, the chances of you being hired sky-rocket.

Why?

You’d know which blogs within the sector were influential.

You’d know who drives conversations about travel on Twitter.

You’d have contacts that would be priceless.

You’d know what would work and what wouldn’t for brands interested in infiltrating that space.

Changing it up…

So, why are you still blogging about blogging?

Why are you still blogging about social media?

I’m asking myself that very question as I type this post – as I said up top, if I could turn back the hands of time I’d probably take a different route.

You can still show you ‘get’ social media without blogging specifically about it as a discipline – in effect you are talking about talking or how to talk…is that really THAT useful?

Take the leap and be different.

Talk about something that doesn’t talk about talking!

I’d love to hear from those who think this might be a way to go.

Adam

Note: If you do want to still be across the ‘talking’ part of the job, you can always tune into #CommsChat every Monday night at 8pm UK time – more information available here.

20 Comments

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    CatherineWW

    Or you could do both, like me. I’m a copywriter who has a blog about the mighty power of communications, which includes lots of stuff about social media/blogging… But, as the proof is in the pudding, I also have a blog about fashion/lingerie for small-busted women (talk about niche)… it’s a subject dear to my heart, literally. And a great way to prove that I can put principles into practise. Like your post, thanks

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Yes, a great idea – have both!!

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Steve Ward

    Terrific post Adam.
    Been recruiting for an entry-level sports-orientated social-communities role at the moment – and who are standing out? – the sports writers, people who blog, play and live/breathe sport in the social media space. NOT the social media `experts`.
    These guys want to work in sports communications – they have the wherewithall to make their own blogs and emit credibility and passion, AND display great creative writing skills.
    On your wavelength Adam. Excellent.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Steve, glad you agree – for me, it;s like calling yourself a PR expert – in theory, you should be if you want to be in PR. But bring a ready-to-go skill set and knowledge base and you can start adding value immediately.
    Adam

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Bethanyrc

    I love this approach!! My personal blog looks at advertising and out-of-the-box marketing methods; not the typical blog of an aspiring PR pro. I too hope that being different will land me a new job. My blog doesn’t focus on anything specific, like travel, but I hope it is enough to set me apart!
    -Bethany Cramer (@bethanyrc)

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Jason Mollica

    I like this idea Adam. Heck, I’m guilty of blogging about social media. But, as I’ve developed my blog, I’ve mixed things up to talk about current events and life in general.

    We all “get it” to an extent. The challenge, in my opinion, is leaving the comfort zone of what you know (work life). It should be a risk worth taking, though.

    Cheers!

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Lauren Fernandez

    Well written, concise and a brilliant point.

    While I think it is a unique approach (and it is definitely one that is appreciated/will be looked on as beneficial), I also can’t advocate for it strongly.

    You niche yourself completely by doing this. In this type of economy, you are doing yourself a disservice if you teach about a particular industry, rather than as the industry you want to enter. As PR professionals, we will work in numerous industries and for various clients – all of which will have a different social media/PR approach.

    A more difficult concept – and one that would blow me away – is if you are able to create a PR/social blog that stands out. Write on how you would approach various industries. Discuss strategy approach for the field – and discuss how SM isn’t a bandaid approach.

    If you only talk about travel (as the example) are you doomed to only work in consumer? I’d rather be a hybrid generalist than a niche specialist. I can teach anyone about a specific industry, although I find it more difficult to train your brain on SM/PR strategy, tactics and objectives.

    I do think that students need to be creative and take a different approach to stand out. Use a mashup of various techniques – blog, in-person networking, cultivating your image with a mentor.

    L

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Matt Vaughan

    I am in the social media PR realm and just started my own blog where I’m going to tackle a variety of topics I feel like I have some insight on. Sometimes I think self proclaimed “experts” that blog on any one specific thing are really just tooting there own horn. If i continue to put up good content about things I can speak to – an audience will eventually come. How does everyone else feel

    – @vaughanmatt

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Sarah Tiambeng

    I’ve been struggling with this subject a lot myself. My biggest fear is that my blog will become redundant for a recruiter. I also want to represent more aspects of myself than just communications and show some of my other interests.

    I eventually chose to do a communications blog because for me, blogging is an exploratory thing rather than an “expert” thing. I’m using it to shift through my thoughts and lessons and see what other students/pros may have learned as well.

    My question is, would it be enough to read other blogs of different subjects? You could still gain a grasp of what the style of writing is and who major influencers are without pigeon-holing yourself. The drawback is that you couldn’t really showcase to a recruiter.

    – Sarah Tiambeng (@smt504)

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Rich Webley

    Fantastic post Adam; lots of food for thought and some great comments. I see many PR/SM/Marketing professionals blogging about their discipline as a way of connecting with others in their(our) industry, broadening their community and facilitating collaboration. I think this is becoming increasingly important – in fact I’m working on the launch of my own blog for exactly these reasons… That said, I definitely agree with your comments on benefits of niche blogging, perhaps even more useful for students in search of a client-side SM role? So, I’m with Catherine – do both. If you can find the time 🙂 Now to practicing what I preach…

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Samantha

    Hmm…..

    Regardless of your points, people who haven’t started a blog should. I had a younger student at Mizzou approach me and ask me what she should be doing to get herself ahead. The first thing I said without thinking was that she needs to blog (even though I didn’t tell her to blog about PR or advertising) because it makes you a better writer. And better writing is highly valued across the board, and a necessary skill no matter what.

    However, I like your point. My only concern is that some people talk about what they’re blogging about so much that they get sick of it (I mean, I would, but you know me, I get bored way too easily). When they get sick of it, their passion gets sucked out and then their inspiration is greatly reduced (because they’re naturally pulling themselves away). People with a loss of interest then try hard to come up with blog post ideas because they know they need to update their blog, and it ends up being even more disastrous. So forced. That kind of writing is not enjoyable at all, and easy to spot. That’s why I don’t really think you need to niche yourself completely.

    I once did a post on personal branding way back when and I used to think that niching yourself was the way to go to establish yourself in a certain market. Then my friend @mattChevy (Matt Cheuvront) kicked my ass with this comment:

    “So often I see people start a blog and they have ONE topic they want to focus on. 9/10 times it doesn’t work out – you’re not going to want to write about basket-weaving forever. You’re going to get burned out writing one Social Media post after another. Instead, you have to just be yourself. Your blog should be an extension of you and your personality. I’ve said before, “Write what you love, and the rest will fall into place” – and I think that is absolutely true.”

    And it is so true it makes me smile.

    But I think you already knew all of these things…

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Charlie

    Great point! I agree that your likelihood of being hired skyrockets if you have been in the field for 12 months.

    I just wonder if we are assuming that students know EXACTLY what they want to do with their lives. I graduated a year ago, and still don’t think I have found my niche.

    I write a “tech” blog, but often make some murky connections between things I find online and their technical relevance.

    But to your point, starting with a communication blog felt like a cop-out, so I chose an interest (not a subject) and regularly get off topic.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Charlie – I agree that it’s impossible knowing EXACTLY what you want to do with your life – but, in picking an area, you are displaying the ability to know it inside out – who’s to say you can’t switch to another thing in 12 months?
    If I saw you ‘get’ tech in 12 months and I’d be pretty confident than in another 12 months you ‘get’ cars.
    A

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Samantha (and Matt) – I very much subscribe to the ‘extension of your personality’ approach.
    By pure fluke (in some respects) I stumbled across a blog ‘theme’ that did that – I’m a social soul and have been passionate about media for as long as I can remember – so the two coming together made sense.
    And to re-use one of my favourite quotes:
    “Nothing was ever achieved without enthusiasm” – passion and enthusiasm, no matter the subject matter, will shine through in what you produce.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Charlie

    Another great point, and I understand the idea of hiring someone that ‘gets’ cars is an investment that they could ‘get’ tech. Your investing in the fact they ‘get’ it. But, at least right now, I feel that a potential employer might say we love that you get cars, but currently we are looking for someone that gets tech, go write a blog about that and come back and see us.
    But having the ‘get’ factor, no matter the subject matter, can’t hurt. Plus, it will help you avoid the jobs that you know you won’t like (i.e. I tried to write a blog about the iPhone, and immediately realized I didn’t have the interest to go deeper in phones).

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Matt Cheuvront

    Thanks for the mention above Sam – you and I have talked about this before and it’s something I 100% believe in because I’ve been through it first hand.

    Life Without Pants used to be heavily focused on “Social Media Marketing”. Why? Because I was moving to Chicago and wanted to have some way to show some “expertise” in a field that to be quite frank, I didn’t know shit about. I was working at an agency in Nashville negotiating billboard rates. My knowledge of the online world was playing Jetman on Facebook and listening to bands on Myspace.

    So my focus was Social Media and online marketing – I wrote about it until it made me sick on my own blog and around the web, but VERY quickly I became extremely burnt out – I wasn’t writing about what I loved, I wrote what I thought other people would want to read.

    And that alone is the biggest mistake bloggers make. Whether you’re trying to find a job or just writing for the heck of it, you have to like what you’re doing – the passion has to be there, in fact, the passion is all that matters. That’s what people connect with, that’s what people find compelling, and that’s what people want to hire.

    Focus is important, of course, but it’s OK to write about something outside your niche. As you quoted me above, a blog should 100% be an extension of YOU – don’t try to be something you’re not.

    Cheers all around. Adam, I see you’re name floating around a ton these days, hope we can sit down and chat soon.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Ian Greenleigh

    Adam-

    I’m living proof that the social media dream job is in fact out there, and that getting creative is the key to getting it.

    I actually took out ads on Facebook, targeted executives, and asked them to hire me for a social media role.

    I won’t spam you with a link, but if you’re interested in reading my story, click my name above. There are links within that post to other parts of my journey.

    Keep at it, y’all– it can happen.

  • Reply May 19, 2010

    Jamie Favreau

    My blog is about a lot of stuff ranging from Detroit, social media activities, social issues like an example of the Digital Divide but as passionate about hockey as I am. I would rather tweet about than write a blog about it.

    I am passionate about the business of sports but I am not knowledgeable about it enough to write about it. But I love hockey and would love to be working in the industry. Will writing yet another blog about my favorite team get me anywhere? NO. There are tons of blogs written better about the X’s and 0’s.

    I could take a different spin on it though. I guess I need to find my niche. I also need to get more consistent.

  • Reply May 22, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Guys
    All the feedback to the post has been really encouraging.
    As I tried to allude to up top, I don’t necessarily think there is a right or wrong, but there is no harm in breaking the mould and trying stuff.
    Thanks again!
    Adam

  • Reply May 27, 2010

    melmomorris

    Wow….what a novel idea. I am a junior and will be graduating next year and hopefully finding a job soon there after. This post really hit home with me. What an easy idea to really get connected. Instead of studying all the areas of social media and what they are, you should actually dive in and get your feet wet. Meet people through blogging about what you are interested in working in. Network with them, learn more from them, and go from there! Great advice Adam! Thanks. This has really helped light a fire under me, which never hurts. Keep the great advice coming. 🙂

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