Searches for Social Media Pros Serve Dual Purpose

May 13, 2010
an excerpt from the Philadelphia Inquirer
By Jane M. Von Bergen

Nobody in journalism likes to grab a lead right from the press release, but today we make an exception to turn this space over to Adidas Golf, despite the annoying lower-case first letter in its name:

“College graduates and social media enthusiasts are facing what economists are calling ‘the worst U.S. labor market since the Great Depression.’ adidas Golf is stepping in to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for web savvy golf enthusiasts to submit their resumes to compete for a chance to become the company’s new social media catalyst,” the press release trumpets.

In this economy, where unemployment has ticked up to 9.9 percent and 15 million are out of work, it probably is news when anyone’s hiring, but the folks at adidas Golf are taking it a step further.

And in doing so, they have some interesting company – songster Alicia Keys and Pizza Hut. All three of these organizations (in Keys’ case, we’re counting her entourage) are using souped-up help-wanted advertisements for social-media communicators that, at the same time, promote their brands.

Not only do these companies get a copious amount of job candidates, but they also get points for being so hip that they need a social-media communicator – yes, even golf; yes, even pizza.

Keys has been tweeting about her efforts to find her own personal blogger through Monster.com.

“Phase 1 of the SuperSearch is over, but mk sure 2 follow @IAASdotCom & visit iaas.com 2 meet final 60 candidates! Tell me who u like best!” she tweeted on May 3.

It’s the kind of advertising that especially resonates now, said Marc Brownstein, president of Brownstein Group, a Philadelphia-based ad agency.

“It creates confidence in the consumer’s mind that this company deserves my loyalty,” he said. “If a company is hiring, you can infer that it is a better-run company than its competitors and worth investing in, whether it’s for a $35,000 car or a $10 pizza.

Speaking of pizza, last May, in the very worst year in recent history for the hiring of college graduates, Pizza Hut held a much-publicized contest to find a “Twintern,” who would spend the summer twittering (or is it tweeting?) about the company and its pizza.

The winner, who bested 1,000 other candidates, is the daughter of two journalists (her father is the editor of the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina).

The internship was a paid one. “But I would have taken the position even if it wasn’t paid,” said Alexa Robinson, 23. “Having graduated in 2009 when the job market wasn’t stellar, I was very happy to get a job.”

Robinson tweeted all summer, and in August, Pizza Hut offered her a full-time job. That wasn’t all. Another contest, online, invited Pizza Hut’s followers on Facebook and Twitter to weigh in on her title.

Yesterday, “tweetologist” Robinson was in Philadelphia for another Pizza Hut promotion, handing out stickers on a miserable afternoon at 12th and Market Streets.

“%#*& pizza,” a street person muttered, as he walked by. Robinson either didn’t hear him or ignored him. Her visit is part of a road tour with interviews available to discuss either the promotion (Vote For $10 Pizzas!) or Robinson’s career.

By soliciting input via Facebook and Twitter, “they created a lot of brand awareness for their pizza,” Brownstein said.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/business/20100513_Searches_for_social-media_pros_serve_dual_purpose.html#ixzz0oDcYeUmN