Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why U of M Should Hire or Should Have Hired Lindsay Blackwell

Yeah. Right now I'm having my own crisis of confidence on my job/money issues. I'm surfing the web and come across the story of Lindsay Blackwell. Some time in October she created a fairly well designed website in hopes of landing a social media position at the University of Michigan. Now I had heard about this story before, but what stuck me was the tone of some of the comments, in these stories.

A lot of them going into reasons why she shouldn't be hired. In an attempt to vent some of my own anger at the current job market. I'm going to discuss why she should. Now don't get me wrong this isn't really about Lindsay Blackwell. This is about what I consider backwards marketing strategy.

1. Relationships with the media.
Here is the thing. This stunt of her's has already put her on the media watchlist, which means that she could bring all sorts of positive attention to University of Michigan. She probably already has the cards of a lot of newspaper and television reporters in her Rolodex. That is an incredible asset for a position like that. It's developing and maintaining those types of relationships is arguably one of the hardest aspects of any PR department.

2. Technical Acumen
Though the building of the website she has already proven that she knows or knows someone who knows how to build interesting digital products. Part of what makes me a "sad panda" is looking at companies and institutions who's digital communications could easily be improved who think that they're doing a good job. Here is the deal people. The internet is one of the greatest tools around when it comes to getting people interested in and talking about your brand. And I don't just mean in a gimmicky way. I mean providing basic information about the products and services you provide. Having an interesting and informative website can go a long way in customer satisfaction. And make no mistake every alumnus, professor, student, and sports fan is a customer. University of Michigan should want all of them to like U of M enough to be willing to pump their time,money, and effort into making the University an overall great institution.

And this should be obvious. A lot of the comments were along the lines of "She doesn't know how to keep her mouth shut." Keeping your mouth shut in this day and age is pardon the french backasswards. People in the age of the internet are used to having information at their fingertips. Branding is more important than ever. And talk like that frustrates me because I know companies do think like that and it is going to bite them in 5 years when nobody has a clue what their brand is or why they should like it.

3. She makes a good face
Here is another thing. Most of the best brands, they have a person or character represents them. From this stunt it's clear she's a person, not just amorphous lump on the other end of a telephone. People love people. I can not tell you how much people love interacting with a personification of a product or service. There are all sorts of reasons for it and I'm not sure I can explain it myself. But it's not new. Social media is just a new medium for it. Why do you think we have Disney World?

Marketing genius I tell you. Kids love having Tony, the Tiger at their parties. Michigan State loves Sparty. And Steve Jobs, will remain a demigod in the eyes of the cult of apple, even after his death.

Especially with larger companies, people hate it just being an institution. And when it is gets harder for them accept why decisions are being made. It's always the company raised prices, not President Bill had to raise prices to keep the company afloat.

4. You can get her while she's young
Here is the rub. I get that company turn over is high right now. But that really does hurt branding. If you get her when she's young she'll be more loyal and you won't have to worry about someone else who was becoming the face jumping ship in 2 years, twitter style. All of the above takes time to develop and she's got a great start but, if they get can her, and they get her to stick around she can continue to develop relationships with the press, and relationships with clientele in interesting and innovative ways that will genuinely benefit the brand of the University of Michigan.

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