- Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
So, earlier this week the NY Times reported that Pizza Hut is looking for summer interns to become “Twinterns”. According to the Yum Brand’s job posting:
“The summer twinternship at Pizza Hut allows for many hands-on opportunities including:
- Collect and share insights and experiences while working for Pizza Hut through social and interactive media: Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, New and emerging media
- Twintern will be given unprecedented access to marketing meetings, brainstorm sessions, ad shoots and special events
- Monitor social media for pop culture news, off-the-wall stories or anything else quirky and fun that he or she thinks would be of interest to loyal Pizza Hut fans.
- Chronicle experience through video; edit and post to selected media
- Conduct media outreach for PR programs
- Assist with execution of national PR programs”
Now, while I think this is a significantly better use of social media than Domino’s “Snot Lovers Pizza Campaign” that ran last week, I still think that this effort missed the mark. Here’s why:
- Large brands play on a different field than the moms & pops of this world. And, while using your college-aged nephew to help your small business build a social identity is an excellent idea, it doesn’t work when we are talking about businesses as large as Pizza Hut. The stakes are too high. Simply put, a newly hired intern cannot be expected to know the ins and outs of Pizza Hut’s brand/business (especially their marketing goals/objectives) well enough to be its spokesperson. And that’s what they would be, Pizza Hut’s spokesperson. This is a consumer-facing role. One that will put the person “on display”, the public face of Pizza Hut, for potentially thousands upon thousands of consumers. And let’s not kid ourselves, some of them will be very very angry. Some will even attack this Twintern personally. It’s not right, but it’s reality. Whoever fills this role will need a thick skin (usually gained by experience), and the ability to act professionally, even when the person who attacked them did not. Now, I’m not saying college interns are incapable of acting professionally in the face of adversity, but in my opinion there’s a reason that the brands typically seen as getting social media “right” (e.g. Ford, Southwest, Dell, Best Buy) have somewhat (to “very”) senior people front and center. The people on Pizza Hut’s social media team need to know their stuff, and they need to be empowered to respond quickly to consumers. Bloggers/Journalists will not wait 6 hours for an intern to check in with a supervisor. Neither will a customer. And in today’s day and age, bad news travels fast. It doesn’t need to be a fact. A blogger’s perception can become his/her reader’s realities. Do you think Pizza Hut wants to see their intern’s tweets quoted in the NY Times or WSJ?
- This is a 10 – 12 week internship. Who will be running the show once these students go back to Keg Parties, PS3′s, and (some) books? Social media is not a campaign, it’s a tool used to execute an engagement strategy. What is the plan for when all of Pizza Huts’ interns go back to school? Who will create all the content? Who will distribute it? Who will carry on the conversations with all the connections these Twinterns have created? If you walked into a Pizza Hut, struck up a conversation with the person behind the counter, and then all of a sudden they just walked away, straight out the front door never to be seen again … how would you feel? You’d be thinking “WTF was that”? Well, online, it’s the same thing only thousands would be thinking “WTF was that?”, and with the click of a “retweet” button, everyone they know could be thinking it too.
So, let me know what you think. What did you think of Pizza Hut’s move?