It’s been a while since something in the news has gotten me fired up, but it happened this week. I saw the headline “Younger employees help senior executives unlock social media mystery” and clicked on the story to learn more. I expected it to be another story about using Gen Y to set up social networking, set strategy, and execute.

Imagine my surprise, then, when it started off by talking about the executives at Edelman (THE LARGEST INDEPENDENT PR FIRM IN THE WORLD) working with younger employees to understand social media. They have what they call their “Rotnem” program( which is mentor spelled backwards – in case you missed that) where 95 percent of their senior executives are mentored by Gen Y.

At first blush, it’s not a bad idea. I like that the Baby Boomer generation has decided this is not a fad and they’d better learn more about it.

What I do have a problem with is THE LARGEST INDEPENDENT PR FIRM IN THE WORLD just announced in the Chicago Tribune that the people who are supposed to be setting social media strategy in conjunction with communication strategy for their clients HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY’RE DOING!

If you haven’t read the article, you should. It’s linked above. I met Janet Cabot a few weeks ago. She’s smart. She has a big job. She’s experienced. She knows what she’s doing. And this article makes her look like an out-of-touch bufoon. I mean, come on! Her social media experience is on Don’t even get me started on Kathy Kregner being “so cute” with her 500 Facebook friends.

Maybe I’m a fool to think a piece of social media belongs in the communication department and with PR firms. This article certainly set back our industry a good number of years. The scary thing, though, is Edelman will still do social media for clients. They just clearly won’t have experienced communication strategy attached because 95 percent of their leaders don’t know how to use the tools or how building better relationships online can affect business growth.

Baby Boomers. Gen Xers. Senior leadership. CEOs. Entrepreneurs. Business owners. Anyone in the c-suite. And general counsel. Listen up. Social media is changing the way you relate to your customers, to your employees, to your stakeholders, to your prospects, and to your potential talent. This is not a “cute” or “fun” thing to do. It is how we all will communicate and receive our information into 2010 and beyond. It’s changing customer service, HR, sales, communication, marketing, and advertising.

Learn how the tools can help you do just that or be left wondering how your competition beat you up and stole away all of your customers without so much as an ad campaign.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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