Your Marketing Career: Making It Socially Responsible

The following post is part of TriplePundit’s coverage of the 2011 Net Impact Conference in Portland, Oregon. To read the rest of our coverage, click here.

By Eliza Huleatt

At the 2011 Net Impact Conference, a panel of marketing professionals gave advice about how to develop a socially responsible marketing career. Focusing on the job search and interview process, the experts offered tips on how to ensure that the job you take is really the kind of job you want. By talking to the right people, conducting your own research, and reading up on important issues, you can find a marketing career path that fits with your passions and contributes to better, more sustainable business practices.

Three Questions for YOU to Ask in an Interview

1. Who are your typical clients?

Getting more information about your potential employer’s clients will reveal more about the values and mission of the marketing firm itself. If you can find out who some of the typical clients are, you can do your own research to see if they align with the type of people you are hoping to work with. Look for warning signs: if the clients don’t practice responsible business, it’s possible that your potential employer doesn’t either.

2. Is your CSR done through data or “through your gut?”

Different companies have different cultures and make their CSR decisions in different ways. Some companies are very data-driven and base decisions on past experience and qualitative information; others go based on instinct, trying to feel out the best opportunities for socially-minded businesses. Robert Kaplan, Manager of Corporate Responsibility at Brown-Forman Corporation, suggests getting a sense of what you feel most comfortable with and then trying to find a work environment that matches.

3. Does your company have executive support for corporate citizenship?

If you’re serious about corporate citizenship, you need to make sure your potential employer is too. Kaplan emphasizes that when a company is serious about citizenship, it comes from the top. Find out who leads citizenship initiatives in the company and how those decisions are made.

What should potential marketing professionals be reading?

Jessica Switzer, partner at Blue Practice, suggests simply following business media. “You need to be reading what your clients are reading,” she says. Neha Gupta, REDF Farber Fellow, adds that AdAge is still a good source to read.  “And to really know what people are talking about,” she adds, “you should follow Twitter feeds.” Overall, the experts emphasize that candidates need to “know the lingo, talk the talk, and know the competitors in the field” in order to succeed in an interview.

Words of Wisdom

The panelists closed with quick tips for students and young professionals who want to get involved in the marketing industry in a smart and socially responsible way:

1. Network. It’s all about who you know and the network you build.

2. Ask for what you want. If you want be introduced to someone or attend a specific conference, don’t be afraid to just ask.

3. Take the time to figure out what your real passions are and learn more about them. It can be hard to work at a company or be assigned to a product that you don’t believe in.

4. You’re not deciding the whole fate of your career right now. Keep an open mind—you can always change your path.


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One response

  1. Unfortunately, this was the one of the worst sessions at Net Impact this year. Unprepared moderator with flat questions like “If you had a time machine… ?”
    Apparently, we found out that only 1% of the customers care about the cause part in cause marketing…

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