My Take on What’s Required of the Lifestyle Correspondent

There was some discussion going on yesterday on Twitter and in the blogosphere about what the ideal candidate will be like and what will be required of her / him. Hardy Wallace thinks that at the end of the 6-month engagement, it will be all about building relationships and less about building a system that can keep going after the person leaves. I both agree and disagree with this statement. I think relationships are at the core of pretty much all of social web – building and enhancing relationships, creating ties when it wouldn’t be impossible or cumbersome IRL (in real life), strengthening weak ties, and keeping in touch. However, I think it is possible, and necessary, for the MG hire to kick things off and “institutionalize” this knowledge. I think that’s what this person will be expected to do. Here is an excerpt from Hardy’s blogpost, for your reference:

My thought from the beginning has been that you leave them with “YOU“.  Though there is a start time and an end time to “A Really Goode Job“, social media is not like building a bridge, installing a system, or leaving behind a set of tools– It is making connections, relationships, and communicating.  All of which are done by people, and in the case of Murphy-Goode, the “Murphy-Goode Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent”. (MGWCLC)  If you are going to be successful you don’t plan your legacy before you start, you strategize and plan for ongoing and future success.

I do agree with Hardy’s encouragement to have all the “wine 2.0” specialists (whether they are applying to this job or not) to band together to further the cause of using social media tools in the wine industry, to raise awareness, humanize brands and initiate dialog with the end consumer. These are long-term strategies, and I agree wholeheartedly that the successful candidate will have a winning blend of both: short term strategies that can be executed and measured within the 6-month window, as well as long term vision that will be carried on when that person leaves.

This question of long term vs. short term is something that I ponder quite a lot. I used to write the blog for my real estate startup, where I dealt with issues of the subprime mortgage meltown. An issue I discussed a lot was short term vs. long term. When long-term vision is lost in favor of short term impact and profits, success of the entire company (and even the larger micro- or macro-economy) is compromised. At the same time, human nature is selfish and works to enrich itself; we all know that what gets measured, gets done. To ensure success of the MG social media endeavor past the 6-month window, the Lifestyle Correspondent must come to the job with long-term orientation in mind.

It was the post by Craig Given that really struck a cord with me. This post discussed what the voice of the chosen hire would sound like: would it be that own person’s voice, or the voice of Murphy Goode? Would Murphy Goode hire someone that is already a web celebrity, or hire someone who can create a distinctive voice for MG? The upside of hiring an established web celebrity is that this person will bring his / her own brand to the table before the job even starts. However, the downside is that MG runs the risk of losing traction once that person is gone after 6 months. I agree with what Craig says below:

There are certainly ways to promote the brand in social media without promoting one’s self. I can think of several brands I follow in social media that definitely have personality, but I don’t really know who the real person is behind it. If the person changed, I wouldn’t know so long as the personality stayed the same. If you *create* a personality for the brand without linking it to you personally, someone else could potentially carry on that branding indefinitely. I think any brand looking for a social media professional should consider this, or else end up like Sirius w/ Howard Stern.

I think one of the keys to the success of this project will be picking a person who can establish a separate brand for MG, while still making the voice personable, authentic and bringing some of him/herself into it, without giving up the possibility of continuity. This person will have to have the expertise and facility with social media tools and be versatile enough to develop content and build relationships around several themes and concepts – not just wine tasting and wine making, but also lifestyle, travel and etc. The successful hire will be a conduit between Murphy Goode and the world – consumers, media, industry and other consumers of this content – without overpowering it.

Published in: on June 4, 2009 at 2:43 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Maria!

    Bravo–at least in my eyes.

    Dirk Shaw’s Are you promoting the company’s brand or your personal brand? and although he approaches the same issue (branding — personal vs business) from a completely different focal point, I found his closing comments to ring true with me:

    Keep a laser focus on business goals, report how your activities are having a positive impact and realize that great work is what builds a “personal brand”.

    Meaning: your focus must be on the business aspect (yes, you are required as an employee to be very personable and social in the media — that is a given), putting MG brand and MG people in the forefront. That will take a talented person indeed.

  2. Great recap of this conversation Maria, picking up both sides of the discussion. Thanks for the quote and link.

  3. This is pretty spot on.

  4. Maria,

    Great post.

    1 point of clarification. I don’t down play putting systems in place, but as the MGWCLC is going to be the voice of MG, regardless of how selfless or not they are, they create a relationship with their network.

    On the topic of “web celebrity”- Would you rather have someone come to the table with a built in audience, and built in relationships so they can hit the ground running right away, or someone that needs to build these from scratch and take perhaps months to create a following?

    They shouldn’t worry about losing the relationships if the person is successful.

    Did you have the chance to listen to Dave on Wine Biz Radio? I think he’s got a solid idea of what they are looking for in the MGWCLC-

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