in Marketing Communications

Beware false experts

I’ve spent almost 20 years learning my craft. I started as a journalist, working in broadcast, and have then spent the last 15 working both in-house and agency side doing a combination of editorial, public relations and marketing, and social media services. I’ve worked for large organizations and early-stage start-up [and every shape and size in between]. So, you can understand my amazement when one company emailed me this morning offering me the chance to become a PR and marketing expert in, wait for it… TWO days.

The email is compelling – in two days I will get:

  • Cutting-edge tactics and expertise from companies like Google, Ragan and Cohn & Wolfe
  • Networking with industry experts, company execs [from the company behind the email] and hundreds of PR and marketing pros
  • One-on-one training unlimited hands-on training on their marketing and PR software

After this two day user conference attendees will, apparently, then be able to call themselves a PR and marketing expert! The question is, will they be able to deliver expert advice after just two days training? You know the answer to that as well as I do!

I use this example because it’s the perfect illustration of two industry problems:

  • the belief that expertise can be obtained in days, weeks, or months.  [The widely accepted time required to be considered an expert is 10,000 hours].
  • the emergence of, often self-titled, social media ‘experts’. [I'm not sure that anybody can credibly claim to be a social media expert]

I’ll write about another serious problem facing the industry – the alignment of social media with PR and marketing – in another post.  But if somebody claims to be a social media, PR and marketing expert you might want to make sure they have more than a couple of days experience!

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KLOUT is not the place to find REAL experts

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  1. Reminds me of at least 1 large company in the media space who only recruit PMs with Prince2 qualifications regardless of experience… 5 days training and an afternoon exam apparently counts over a University education (3 to 5 years) combined with experience of uncountable numbers of diverse projects and 20 years delivery focused experience (not 80 x 3 months experience, that is worthy of a discussion in itself). Many companies deserve what they get when they recruit that shallowly… and pick up their “paper expert”.