How To Get a Job In Social Media: Burson-Marsteller

We’ve noticed that in the advertising and public relations industries, agencies are increasingly on the lookout for professionals experienced in social media. We can argue the merit of who has social media expertise and who doesn’t later. For now we want to know: what are agencies and their clients looking for in this burgeoning field?

Over the next few days PRNewser and AgencySpy will run interviews with major agencies seeking social media hires. These are not exhaustive interviews, just 10 quick questions aimed at peeling the lid back. Hopefully the questions we asked will help you guide your career path, if social media is part of it. Today we have an interview with Jay Leveton, CEO of Proof Integrated Communications, a subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller.

What are the core skills of the social media staffer?

At the core of any successful social media effort is an ability to engage and interact with communities of interest online. This means listening to the way members of a community engage with each other, determining the relevant content to share with the community, knowing the appropriate level of engagement, identifying yourself and whom you represent in a transparent and open way, and understanding the tone to take within a given community. These are the “social” skills needed to be successful in social media.

Across our workforce, we are looking for people who are comfortable in this space and take a personal interest in social media so they can adapt quickly to the introduction of new tools and platforms. Anyone who is going to interact with online communities on behalf of our clients needs to have their own active presence in social media. You can’t talk the talk until you walk the walk.

However, successful social media engagement goes beyond simply having knowledge of the social media tools and key social networks – it requires an ability to understand client issues and opportunities and to think strategically on their behalf as it pertains to social media.

This can be a delicate balancing act between knowing how to use the tools and contributing to communities of interest in a relevant way while tying efforts to measurable business results.

We are also looking for people with skills in analytics and measurement as that is a critically important area in our discussions about social media with clients.

What are the breakdowns of social media titles/roles within the agency – i.e. SAE, AE, VP and so on…

Social media is integrated across the agency – with expertise in every practice and at every level. Providing social media strategy and execution is the responsibility of every client-facing employee. While we have social media experts, titles are generally the same and not called out at Burson-Marsteller.

What did these candidates do to stand out? Any interesting stories of someone “breaking through the noise?”

We think the story of Caitrin O’Sullivan, who works in our public affairs practice, is a great example of someone whose commitment to and use of social media made her stand apart. See her story here.

Where does the top social staffer rank in the agency hierarchy?

Our Chief Digital Strategist Erin Byrne sits on our firm’s executive leadership team, which is known internally as the Business Operations Team. Having a social media expert at the table during board meetings accurately represents our agency’s commitment to counsel for clients in the space.

We also recently added digital marketing and social media pioneer B.L. Ochman to our team, who blogs at B.L. is Managing Director of Emerging Media for Proof Integrated Communications, the digital marketing arm of Burson-Marsteller. She has been helping Fortune 500 companies strategically incorporate new media into their marketing mix since 1996. B.L. also counsels the firm’s senior management on social media trends and strategy.