Social Media, Unrequited

I spent a very educational evening tonight at the Talk Is Cheap “unconference” on Social Media, held at Centennial College‘s slightly inaccessible Carlaw campus, the Centre for Creative Communications. It was a free event that brought together around 200 people, mostly public relations and corporate communications practitioners. As such, it wasn’t directly related to my job, but for someone who’s desperately trying to advocate “social media” and “Web 2.0″ stuff at PricewaterhouseCoopers, it was food for my soul. Not so much in terms of content, though, as I’d have to say I probably know more about these issues than most of the people in attendance. My problem is that I’ve never held a career position that allowed me to actually apply all this knowledge. And so my passion for blogs and the like has largely gone unrequited throughout the course of my professional career(s).

This became apparent as I listened to several very good speakers, like Joe Thornley and Michael O’Connor Clarke, both of Thornley Fallis (whose employees actually communicate with me regularly in their capacity as PR agents for ThinkFilm, whose films I review for Toronto Screen Shots. Small world sometimes.) Thornley Fallis is a small Canadian public relations firm who have made great use of social media and established a reputation as leaders in helping their clients apply that knowledge. I found myself envious of working in an environment like that, and thought, perhaps foolishly, that maybe I should be working in public relations instead. But I can clearly see that my apparent zigs and zags, career-wise, are attempts to find that ideal environment where I can apply my skills and passions to the fullest while still making a decent amount of money. While I’m not going to be hasty, maybe I should examine whether my skills and experience as a web-savvy writer might be better applied in a field that is embracing social media.

While I can foresee that PwC might call upon my experience in a limited way, it’s a large firm. So large that even after several months, I still feel like I’m learning what they do. It also feels very decentralized and finding the right person to talk to takes a fair amount of work. I haven’t been there long enough to have a truly informed opinion, but my initial impression is that they’re using cumbersome and limiting technology to publish their web site. As well, they’ve separated my job function from the actual coding of web pages, so that I’m working only in Microsoft Word, writing content that someone else will mark up. So it may be too soon to tell if PwC will be a long-term home for me, or if I just have a perennially roving eye. I’m trying to get some insight into myself, anyway, and tonight was useful.

3 thoughts on “Social Media, Unrequited

  1. James,

    The world of social media truly is a constant fascination to me. I can be a regular correspondent with people anywhere in the world. And then I can meet and talk to a person in Toronto, connecting on one level, while totally aware of connections that exist at another level.

    It really is about communities of interest!

  2. Go raibh maith agat, James.

    Really glad to hear that you found the event as thought-provoking as I did.

    I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but there have been a handful PwC blogs popping up over the last few years. I think the guys in the UK have been leading the charge, but they seem to have a pretty good assortment of blogs in their big global network now (including a couple in Canada). There’s hope!

  3. Joseph and Michael (or can I call you Joe and Mike now that we’re “social media” friends?), thanks for your feedback. After a longtime reluctance to talk about anything related to work, I’m realizing that there might be some value in revealing my thoughts a bit more often.

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