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Voice from the Trenches: Digging Out

February 17, 2011

“Voice from the Trenches” is written by Alex Moore. Alex Moore is a freelance writer and the Marketing & Communications Manager at Prellwitz Chilinski Associates (PCA Inc.).

There’s opportunity buried in the challenges of high turnover. Are you seizing it?

The life of a do-it-all marketer in February involves a lot of digging. In the morning, we dig out our cars and bikes from snowbanks. Then we dig through e-mails. Then we dig up old files and templates so that we can turn them into new proposals or project sheets.

This year, I’ve discovered a NEW addition to the February digging lifestyle: The e-mail blast bounceback! Combing through a sea of these following a recent e-mail piece, I was reminded of how the Great Recession continues to create incredible employee turnover throughout our industry, and how the fallout from this shift impacts marketers at every level, often in headache-inducing ways.

Still, for those of us lucky enough to have steady jobs, there’s great opportunity buried in the challenges of high industry turnover. We just have to do what we do best in February: Dig it out! Here are two potential opportunities that I’ve found to help unearth value from the changing employment landscape.

Become a Social Media Guru
Like many of us, I was curious about the social media long before the recession struck, but a voice from the trenches only carries so far— especially when it’s drowned out by doubts about the true business benefits of newfangled tools like LinkedIn. That all changed last year, when long-established companies disappeared and senior leaders in our industry started striking out on their own. Seemingly overnight, perception of the social media evolved from mysterious internet annex for young people and time-wasters to critical lifeline of connection to long-term clients. Senior leaders began turning to LinkedIn to see where old associates were resurfacing in the industry, discovering other benefits— groups sharing information, old friends sharing useful links— in the process.

This recession-induced buy-in offers a terrific opportunity for marketers, especially those of us “in the trenches.” Most of us were early adopters of social media, which means we intuit these sites and navigate them much more easily than some of our senior colleagues. Now that the recession has exposed social media’s power and value, we have a chance to develop and apply our knowledge in new and exciting ways. Don’t consider yourself a social media guru? Walk through LinkedIn or Facebook with a principal. You’ll be surprised how much you know, and how much help you can offer.

Be a Resource for New Staff
After last year’s layoffs, many firms in our industry have begun the long road back. Some are hiring, and others have reorganized themselves in accordance with “the new normal.” Whatever the case, chances are your staff directory looks pretty different this year than last.

Turn it to your advantage by stepping up your internal communications. The marketing collateral and messages we create have tremendous internal value— especially to new employees’ eager to drink your company’s Kool-Aid, and as a refresher course for old hands facing new responsibilities. New guy’s first week? Provide him with marketing materials about the firm’s history, culture, and key projects. You’ll make a friend, and you’ll prove the value of your work in the trenches. Longtime cubicle neighbor facing new pressure to help support business development? Show her your latest news clippings or a recent proposal. We underestimate the value of these materials because we deal with them every day, but they make “Business Development” seem much less intimidating to emerging leaders.

Your help will be noticed. Whether coaching the social media or simply cheerleading for marketing, you’ll be building morale and helping people throughout your organization make sense of a confusing time. You’ll still be in the trenches, buried by deadlines and disparate projects, but you’ll be a lot harder to overlook.

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