This post is virtually guaranteed to cause an uproar. It’s intended mostly for public companies – those who might find themselves stuck in the old ways of doing things.
Okay, so we said it out loud. Your VP of Social Media Marketing (SMM) is vital; and we’re about to share five reasons why it’s more important than Public Relations or Investor Relations.
If you are the CMO at a public company — especially one that deals in the direct-to-consumer space — this is your most important hire. Here goes:
Why SMM is more vital to the growing organization than PR?
1. It’s Not About Press Releases. It’s About Selling Stuff.
Back in the olden days — say 2004, when this reporter was actually VP of Global PR at a Fortune 500 company — we were fighting a losing battle against one thing: irrelevance. That’s right, PR wasn’t trackable where we were. The best we could do was a two-pronged strategy involving (1) keeping us out of bad news and (2) getting people on the same page globally.
Couldn’t track it. Didn’t need it. Expendable.
Flash forward to 2010 and envision a similar organization taking a look at where leads are coming from, whether or not the widget division is driving traffic to the stores. Try doing that with a traditional PR campaign.
Oh, and the press release? Not irrelevant anymore — thanks to folks like PitchEngine. But, if the PR team is seen as the press release production shop, that’s Big Trouble. With a Capital T.
2. Ye Olde News Media Have Been Replaced.
Michael Arrington is more than just a guy with a popular blog. He’s a thought leader who uncovers things — like questionable business practices — and writes about them. He’s done so for years and he’s pretty good at it. His coverage of Zynga’s questionable business practices led to a change in the way they do business.
Rarely do reporters outside of the really big enterprises have the time, wherewithal AND malleable publication schedule and format to be able to break news like he did.
In this case, story after story, video back-and-forth, conference discussions — all around one theme: getting Zynga to admit that they need to change business practices. Which they did.
Granted, he’s reporter, editor, and owner of the medium — his blog.
Why SMM is more important than IR.
3. It’s Not About Analysts, It’s About Selling Stuff. Main Street hates Wall Street. See cover of Time Magazine. SO, if given the choice as CMO, should you (a) hire the guy or gal who can manage through analyst meetings, talk about growing top-line revenue, fun stuff like that or (b) hire the guy or gal who can put together the social media marketing program that sells product.
4. You Don’t Have Time For Earnings Releases – Real-Time Results with SMM Trump a Nickel-a-share.
Are we advocating the elimination of your Investor Relations Department? NO. We’d never do such a thing.
Are we advocating going private and ignoring the whims of the markets? MAYBE, but that’s another discussion for another blog.
Are we saying that you’re going to be able to A/B test, track, measure, quantify with SMM? And engage your customers, prospects, the general public at the same time?
Reason 5 is going to be the most controversial one yet. Here goes:
5. The talent is much, much less expensive.
Upon graduation from college in 1992, this reporter learned that the going rate for a television sports reporter in a small market was $12,000 a year. 8 years later, from friends in the media, he was told that the going rate for a television news reporter in a small market was $10,000 a year.
Social Media Marketing, at the early career level, is just as “sexy” as television journalism used to be. Thus, pay rates — while not $12,000 a year — will tend to be lower.
Think about other sexy fields. Sports Marketing, for instance. Inexpensive labor pools there because, if one recent grad doesn’t want to work for next-to-nothing in a backwoods outpost, someone else will.
Reason 5 sucks. But it’s life.
Marketing Executives can use reason five alone to their great advantage.