Today I saw Twitter pushed past its professional limits. Pamela Rocco Von Lehmden, a Senior VP at Ketchum (a well-known PR firm) tweeted the following: “Ketchum seeking VP of Social Media. Interested? DM me @pamelavl.” This might appear like social media outreach, except for the fact that Ms. Von Lehnden is relatively inaccessible.
Someone like me, or in fact most anyone who would read her tweet, cannot DM (”direct message”) Ms. Von Lehnden because she doesn’t “follow” me on Twitter. In order to DM someone, they must be following you. In the case of @pamelavl, she only follows 113 people (at the time of writing) so her “outreach” effectively goes to the 113 people she knows best. What she did wasn’t “wrong” but it doesn’t make any sense.
It gets a little worse. Before the tweet above, she sent another one that included a link to a job description, which would be awesome except that the link just goes to a page where you can search for jobs at Ketchum. Then, she re-tweeted her own tweet (for no apparent reason). Not very helpful. Maybe an intern or recent college grad would ignore all of this and jump through these hoops of social media mishaps for a great summer job, but would a highly-qualified social media expert at the VP level? Ironically, the true maven they’re looking for may be turned off from applying.
This follows on the heels of a completely different Ketchum social media mishap involving a certain employee (Mr. Andrews) who tweeted some negative thoughts about Memphis when he was on a business trip there to deal with a big client, FedEx (which is headquartered there). This turned into a bit of a scandal about the blurred lines between personal and professional that I won’t relive here – but suffice it to say that this incident reflected poorly on Ketchum.
The career section of the Ketchum website claims that, “Clients who choose Ketchum ultiamtely choose us for only one reason – our people.” If that’s the case, I hope that the behaviors Ms. Von Lehmden and Mr. Andrews have exhibited are not representative of that of the company’s employees.
Wal-Mart or GM or Mass General Hospital or Hermes or Cadbury or Borders could be forgiven for having some employees screw up their tweets or other social media outreach. It happens. But a lauded public relations firm whose entire job is relating to the public? Not that I’m applying for the position, but were I to be recruited into the job of Ketchum’s future VP of Social Media, I’d expand my portfolio to include an educational agenda with the goal of protecting the rest of Ketchum’s employees from embarrassing themselves and the company. Sophistication perceived is sophistication achieved.
Cross-posted at True/Slant.
Update: Cam Burley asked via Twitter if there was a job description available. Response from Von Lehmden? The same link that goes to a generic Ketchum job search site.
Update 2: Here is a link to the job description (on a non-Ketchum site).
Update 3: Nicholas Tolson has some interesting additional analysis below in his comment.
Update 4: James Andrews, mentioned above, a former Ketchum VP and Director of Interactive, very recently left Ketchum to form his own firm.
Update 5: According to Wikipedia, Ketchum is no stranger to scandal within the public relations industry.