By David Waymire
August 29, 2012
The article caused a pretty big stir at Martin Waymire.
“11 Reasons why a 23-year-old shouldn’t run your social media.” Business Insider, one of those crowd-sourced blogs that provide lots of advice that I generally ignore. As I did this one.
But it quickly made the rounds of our youngish staff. And they suggested I offer a ripost of my own. Because Roger and I do, indeed, let a 23-year-old run an important part of our social media.
Meet Naomi Burton, if you haven’t already. Ann Arbor Pioneer grad; Michigan State University alum. Degree in communications/PR. A year as a student practitioner at Martin Waymire; 17 months on the staff full time. Runs the social media accounts for the Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America and for Grand River Connections, the local young professionals organization.
And a social media superstar in every sense of the word, with her own well-written, interesting and well-read blog, experience in WordPress and Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus and whatever the next big thing is going to be.
Naomi can count herself among our country’s “digital natives.” Unlike me, my partner or anyone else at the firm, she is so young she doesn’t recall a time before computers and connectivity ruled.
What she may lack in years of experience she makes up in tactile digital intuition, and it makes a lot of sense for her to be playing a major role in running the impressive Martin Waymire social media operation for clients such as Michigan Truth Squad and Bridge Magazine. Not only does she have the smarts and the technical know-how for execution – she keeps it real for us. Roger and I might be fascinated by a policy development because we’ve spent our careers following policy changes in this state. Naomi can call us out, however, if we try to launch a policy-related campaign that doesn’t speak to young 20- and 30-somethings who may need to hear the messages from a different perspective.
About five years ago, Roger and I sat down and discussed the changing face of public relations. Content will always be vital. But channels were changing fast. The old channels – reaching the daily papers, the insider newsletters, a shot at TV and radio – were becoming less influential. We bet a lot of time, money and emphasis on pushing our team into the social media world.
We needed a company that, to steal a phrase, was ready for Facebook, not the Flintstones. Roger and I knew which pole we were closer to.
Now I’d compare our operation to a football team. (Sorry about the sports metaphor, but cavemen like me need to recognize our limitations.)
Just like it makes no sense for a team to have a 50-year-old standing back in the pocket passing, it makes no sense for our team to not have a smart, connected, quick learning, fast-paced, 24-hour-a-day 23-year-old managing key aspects of our social media.
The Business Insider article said 23-year-olds aren’t mature enough. Nonsense. Give them responsibility, and they respond.
It said they would focus on their friends. I don’t think Naomi has time to focus on much but her work. And she does.
Business Insider thinks 23-year-olds don’t understand your company? That’s why we make sure our young staffers are at our sides as we meet with clients, make tough decisions, and execute them. The communications profession ain’t simple, but it ain’t rocket science, either.
Pick your staff wisely. Give them an opportunity. Be by their side to help them learn. And you’ll find that it’s pretty smart to put the right 23-year-old alongside your 30-somethings, 40-somethings, and older.