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How to get a job in Social Media

UPDATE 2 (27 APRIL): Weber Shandwick Scotland are looking for a digital/social media ace. I’ve worked with them and they are a good bunch – and well known digitally in the rest of the UK – so it’s a great opportunity.

Having said that – and this is a question I get asked a lot – how do you get a job in social media?
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The BIG Partnership are looking for someone to join their digital and social media team and given the size of BIG and the fact that out of the large PR agencies in Scotland they are leaps ahead of most, if you are based in Scotland (Glasgow ideally) and interested in the future of PR communications – or want a career in said industry, you’d be nuts not to go for it.

UPDATE: Ketchum and the very talented Kate Matlock are looking for someone similar in London.

What follows are purely pointers and advice on how I would go for such a job. Your mileage may vary. You may just want to send in a traditional CV and point to your traditional press ROI, your crisis and events comms experience and say “I want to learn about digital” and if you are good enough, that might get you a peek in the door. But really, that’s deathly dull and PR is, in part, about excitement and creativity, taking old ideas and putting a fresh spin on them. You want to impress. So…

Make sure you are on the right platforms

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter accounts? These would all be handy – be even better if they are up to date and 100% filled in. Be even better again if you use them and update them on a regular basis.

Got  a blog?

Not essential but again, if you are going into the digital arena, you would think there was something that interested you enough to write about it – doesn’t necessarily have to be about the dayjob. And in an age of WordPress and Posterous there’s no excuse for not setting one up easily – or even just a photoblog on something like Flickr, even if Flickr is in decline against Facebook.

Can you shoot some video?

It’s nice to be a wordsmith but it’s handy to be able to do more than just that – or at least ask for some training in it (Anyone looking for a video training/editing course – the Macmillan course is the one I suggest. Great training for PRs). And remember that there’s more to video than just visuals, make sure it sounds decent too.

Have a CV, just not in paper

What about the online CV via YouTube?

Be creative

Remember The Impossible Pitch? Could you use Google Ads to stand out? What about personalised videos like the Old Spice Guy? What about sending in croissants and Vimto with a note saying ‘Where I come from CV means croissants and Vimto so here you go. In case it means something else to you, here’s a link to my CV…” What about a bunch of online testimonials from people who have worked with you? Make them videos. Buy some relevant URLs… the point is that PR is more than ever about being that little bit different.

The Point

“But this is all hard work”; “I bet no-one else does it”; “What’s up with just a CV”; “Scotland’s not into these tricks”. I’ve heard all of these lines when I tell people they should try and stand out and you know what? There’s probably a hint of truth in all of them, but good PR is not about doing what everyone else does – even less so in the digital field. If it’s going to be “just a job” then save everyone time and don’t apply. You also have to be thinking about what people are doing in the US, in New Zealand, in China – you can impress and inspire globally now.

Just don’t expect it to be happening Monday-Friday 9-6.

Working in social media – the truth

That might sound harsh but the truth is this: social media can be one of the most demanding outlets for PR at the moment. You are dealing not only with press and reporters, but investors, the general public, various interest groups and casual bystanders – on a global 24/7 platform. There’s a lot of nuances in the interactions, a lot of time invested outside of 9-6 Mon-Fri. It’s a lot of hard work – and a lot of it can be under-appreciated because people think there’s nothing to posting a tweet or a blog post or a Facebook update.

And that’s not including the time keeping up to date, writing pitches, making pitches and so on.

But you know what, it’s damn brilliant and there’s nowhere else I’d rather work. But that’s a post for another day.

So for those of you reading this from outside the UK and aren’t applying for the job, what tip would you give to show off that you deserve to play with the big boys in social media?

Feel free to discuss the article in the comments section below or drop Craig McGill an email about social media.

8 Comments
  1. Iain

    You missed one other factor – be cheap. At £15K salary for what’s being described as potentially a ‘Senior Digital Account Executive’ the one thing that doesn’t come with the job is a BIG wage.

    • Arf arf on getting another BIG mention in there – but the wage isn’t that bad for an exec. I’ve seen them get paid as little as £10K.

      • Iain

        Sorry, but that’s truly disgraceful. If you’re asking someone to take a senior role, and offer the skillset that Big – and others, to be fair – demand for this kind of position, then the recompense must be reflective of that. If £15K is a senior executive salary, based on the job description on Big’s blog, then clearly social media driven PR is a racket.

        • It’s not that senior (no disrespect to whoever gets the gig). In PR it goes like this from bottom to top:

          Junior Account Exec
          Account Exec
          Senior Account Exec
          Junior Account Manager
          Account Manager
          Senior Account Manager
          Account Director
          (then you get into heads of dept type titles and specialists and so on)

          Some places don’t even do junior/senior but quite a few do. This gig would probably be aimed at a journalist or PR with some experience – a young reporter or a second job for someone already in PR but it might also suit a keen graduate.

          And the salary goes up to £18K – and like journalism, it all comes down to individuals. Anyway, why am I defending it, I don’t even work there! Where’s Barr or McGrail?

          • Iain, to pick up on your point:

            “If you’re asking someone to take a senior role, and offer the skillset that Big – and others, to be fair – demand for this kind of position, then the recompense must be reflective of that.”

            I’m not sure what the issue is here. This is not a senior role. If you infer that from the title or job description you’re mistaken.

            The job is a graduate/entry level job at a account exec level (which is the level we bring in our graduates in at). If we find someone that has approximately 1 year’s experience in a relevant role, we might bring them in at senior account exec level. Hence the scale of £15-18k.

            Our structure is pretty similar to what Craig has outlined in his last comment – which is standard for the marketing/PR industry.

            We also have all our salary brackets for our roles independently checked each year against marketplace rates to ensure we remain highly competitive.

            As for the description of what skills and experience we’re looking for in this role, again I don’t see anything that causes a conflict with either the grade or the salary – and that’s based upon years of experience or recruiting within PR and marketing in Scotland.

            Clearly not looking to fall out with anyone here, just looking to correct some inaccuracies/misconceptions.

            Happy to address any other points anyone may have related to this point.

            @allanbarr

          • Jason Wassell

            There you go ! Social media in action. Your traditional job advert is a one-way promotion of the role to job applicants. But on a social media platform it provides 1) an interesting insight into how the advert was perceived by your audience and the start of a two way discussion. And 2) a threat to your reputation as there is a suggestion that the Big Partnership are involved in some type of social media slave labour and racketeering. All good fun :-)

  2. It’s not just about the CV. The biggest lessons from social media are
    (1) “people will go that little bit farther for people they know than they will for strangers,” and (2) “People get a warm and rewarding feeling of importance and usefulness when they help other people out.”

    If you are prepared to play the game, make sure that you put yourself around. There are free Social Media networking events in every city – use them to get to know people. Ask those people questions. Ask them to help you find a job (less bluntly – “I’m hoping to get a job in Social Media; is there anyone you could put me in touch with?”) Don’t ask for jobs, ask for introductions.

    If you’re reduced to sending out CVs, you’ve already lost, IMHO.

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