Sometimes, a move is just a move. Is that was this is, or, is it an indication of something else — perhaps a larger HR trend that is starting to take hold?
Here are the details and background. You decide if it is indicative of something larger or not.
The news is fairly straightforward: Laurie Ruettimann, the former HR professional who turned herself into one of the best known and most well read HR industry commentators, first with Punk Rock HR and now at The Cynical Girl blog, is joining Starr Tincup, a full-service HR marketing agency, as their Principal HR and Social Media Strategist.
Fort Worth, Texas-based Starr Tincup’s primary focus is human capital management (HCM) software and the HR services industry. When Ruettimann joins join Starr Tincup later this month, her primary initiatives will include:
- Social Media strategy – developing and implementing new social media strategies that connect HR solutions vendors with HR professionals in authentic and engaging ways;
- Human Resources advocacy – monitoring and predicting trends in the HR community to help HR solutions vendors provide better products, services and guidance to HR professionals and other senior executives; and,
- Thought Leadership – contributing to a wide range of thought leadership products for Starr Tincup clients that include contributed articles, white papers and media and analysts strategies.
A “tectonic shift” in the HR market
In addition, Ruettimann will “continue to participate in the broader social media and human resources discourse, leveraging her influence as a sought-after speaker, celebrated blogger and renowned writer.”
As an example of this, a company press release notes that Ruettimann’s widely read blog, The Cynical Girl, “will remain an independent media property; however, Starr Tincup may support the blog as a sponsor.” (Full disclosure: Ruettimann has been an occasional contributor to TLNT, and may continue to contribute in the future.)
That’s the “what” of this announcement. The “why” may be much more interesting.
According to Bret Starr, a partner at Starr Tincup, there is “a tectonic shift, a major change taking place in the HR space.” He says that the HR market (for goods and services) is maturing at a rapid pace and becoming more of a mainstream market where defending and building brands is the critical element for HR vendors rather than just simply looking to gain market share.
To build better brands, Starr says, they will need better messaging and more sophisticated reputation marketing that will “engage with people in more authentic ways.” Credibility is a key, he adds, especially “connecting with people on an authentic level.”
Viewed in that way, hiring a well-known HR voice and social media expert like Laurie Ruettimann makes sense because “her social media experience, voice, and authenticity allows her to connect (with people) in a very authentic way.”
The big growth in the HR market right now, Starr says, is at the mid-market level — companies with between 50 and 500 employees. They need more of what he calls “street level marketing,” that isn’t necessarily what you would use with a larger organization.
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Bridge between vendors and practitioners
And that’s where hiring Laurie Ruettimann comes in. Her social media skills, Starr points out, will allow her to connect with clients that want help but don’t know what they want to achieve. She will work with them to create authentic marketing channels through social media and social media campaigns that develop online brands and brand messages.
“Laurie is a unique bridge between vendors and (HR) practitioners,” Starr said. “There’s no best practice around social media marketing right now … we want to focus on building best practices for that.”
So, does this hire of a well-known and well-read HR blogger representing a tipping point? Is it the start of a larger trend to more fully integrate social media into HR marketing by vendors looking to use it to appeal more directly and effectively to HR professionals and their organizations? Is it something that many more marketers in the HR space will feel pressed to do?
Only time will tell, of course, but here is an interesting sidebar to the discussion. Just this week, a new study by SHRM found that found that more than half of human resource professionals (56 percent) now use social networking websites to source potential job candidates, a significant increase from the 34 percent who said they did so back in 2008. In addition, one-fifth of organizations (20 percent) that do not use social networking sites say they plan to use them in the future.
While sourcing passive job candidates isn’t marketing by any means, what this survey does seem to indicate is that social media is gaining wide-spread acceptance in the HR space by a great many HR professionals for all manner of HR functions.
And one more thing about this move: what does it say about the state of HR as a career path when a smart and accomplished person like Laurie Ruettimann decides she needs to get out of the profession and go a different way as a blogger and social media expert in order to build a fulfilling career?
These are all good questions, of course; only time will tell if this is indeed a real trend as social media becomes broad-based and mainstream, or, just one hire by one company looking to do something very different.