Before you get all frustrated with the youth of America, don’t be frustrated at this one. I know what SCOTUS means (Supreme Court of the United States). However, you can be a little disgruntled with our youth because a lot of the tweets I saw with this hashtag today were indeed questioning what it meant, no it is not “scouts” spelled wrong.
I was in charge of tracking the hashtag today, to find notable reporters that our company could potentially pitch a SME (Subject Matter Expert) to. In doing so, I probably absorbed the most politics I’ve ever absorbed (I think they’re personal issues that lately divide people too much so I generally stay out of it, I have opinions, I don’t like sharing publicly or even with friends, but I digress).
Watching everyone react to the story, some prematurely, some not maturely at all and some with actually interesting things to say, it got me thinking about the impact of social media. The following thoughts came to mind:
1. What’s the rush? In feeling that we need to know everything AT THIS EXACT MOMENT, things get rushed and they get sloppy. I don’t fault the outlets that posted the wrong ruling initially. If I had to try and decipher the hieroglyphics that is legal/constitution jargon, I’m not sure I would have come to the right conclusion either. Why do we need to know everything so fast? In regards to this issue, yes it was a big decision, no matter the ruling but in all reality, nothing really can happen instantaneously. It’s not as if I didn’t have healthcare and poof! a plan shows up in my hands (that’d be cool though, healthcare jargon is just as confusing as law-jargon to me). I do like Twitter and Facebook and see all the good that social media can do; mobilizing people who never before felt they had an outlet, connecting those who share similar interest, sharing a video of a cat and a printer fighting, it’s great. But I do think we’re moving too fast, it makes us sloppy (I saw Romney and Obama both spelled wrong today) and it makes us react to quickly before we can process, digest and understand information. Not talking about the event today, but in general. Sometimes the first thing that pops in your head should float on by before you put it out there. It’s hard enough to think before you speak, but it’s even harder to think before you tweet.
2. While I think Social Media can draw us together, I do see a lot of it dragging us apart. Again, I am not talking strictly politics, that’s a polarizing issue in itself. However, it used to be a lot more private. I remember when I was 8 during my first election where I was conscious, I asked a family friend who they were voting for and he wouldn’t tell me, explaining it was a personal choice. I always liked that I guess. What does it matter to friendships? I am all for people getting involved and supporting those they believe in, I have friends that do it but the social media aspect of it seems to taint their causes. If you’re trying to convince me of a candidate, I’d much rather have you in front of me, reading my facials to know when to explain, when to keep selling and when to change tactics. With Social Media, you don’t get reactions so you just throw words out there and hope people read them as you intended. This bullet is all over the place but what I think I’m trying to get at is that people get a lot more offended at things written then said because they interpret what they see with no other clues to inform them what the actual position is. I see friends tweet about dinners or going out, and all of a sudden another friend is crying because they think it’s a direct attack. Most likely, it’s not. Most people aren’t out to get you, but with social media, and simply seeing text, it can seem like it.
3. Whoever says Social Media is easy to track and doesn’t need to be paid for is nuts. My eyes were crossing by the end of the day, but I did pick out some decent reporters who we sent our pitch to. It takes work, and it takes time. Luckily my internship is paid and most are nowadays. But that’s probably the only way you can get free social media tracking, have an unpaid intern do it. Or if you need your kid to do something during Bring Your Child to Work Day (personally I enjoyed the free office supplies rather than sitting quietly during conference calls or “helping” my dad out in the office). Anyway, while there are for sure issues with social media and its effects on our culture (hey, I’m old school most times, sorry) it is a large factor of PR and business in general. So pay up, it’s worth it if you want it done right.
4. If you want to know if you’re hashtag is successful, see if any “call-girl tweeps” are using it. I also saw this during the #SHRM12 hashtag tracking (an HR conference in Atlanta). Once a hashtag really starts going, all of a sudden there are tweets that say “HEY! *insert link here* #SHRM12″ or “Check this out *insert link here* #SCOTUS”. I never clicked on the link but judging by the Twitter profile pictures of boobs, beer, butts and other things that I shouldn’t mention, I assume there were viruses in there. Most of the handles included at least two “x”s somewhere in them too. So you know you’ve got a hit of a hashtag on your hands when girls looking for a good time are using an HR conference hashtag to network…
5. I never want to go into politics. Not really PR related, but it is a section of PR and nope. Not going into it. Props to those who do, but I’m not cut out for it. I think that’s a lesson too, understanding your limits and knowing what you want, or more importantly don’t want. We all graduate college thinking we know what we want to do, but we won’t know until we try. I saw a bit of political PR and now I now that’s not a path I want. BUT I also thought I’d never want to touch finance/HR/technology but I’m enjoying my time working with clients that deal with those things. I don’t have to be an expert, I have to decipher what the experts say but mainly, make it comprehensible for average people like me. I didn’t think I’d ever do it or want to do it, but I really do like it. So keep your options open, especially in a field as diverse as PR, don’t rule out things just because you’re not sure you’d be good at them. You don’t have to be a surgeon to do PR for a hospital, you just have to do PR and communicate.
Okay, I also have this internship 5 days a week, which means I work tomorrow. In the morning. This is the latest I’ve been up in weeks. That’s another thing I’ve learned, the nights of late night TV Monday through Friday are most likely over. I simply enjoy sleep more than Jay Leno, and I do have a DVR.