Law firms offer pro bono opportunities, financial services firms offer community service days, and those who work for construction enterprises often have the opportunity to give back through charity homebuilding projects. But the internet marketing industry - being so new - offers few opportunities along these lines. On the other hand, some internet companies provide a quasi-public service themselves. Why not enjoy doing good while you’re trying to do well in this fast-growing industry?
At first it may seem like a strange question to ask, but this very issue was addressed by Avi Dan at the end of October, “The Key to Luring Talent? Social Activism.” As veteran Dan joins many others in pointing out, advertising and marketing talent is waning. There is simply a vacuum of qualified internet marketers and advertisers at every level of professional development. But is social activism the answer to attract new hires and recent graduates?
Particularly for smaller companies, offering community service or charity opportunities just isn’t feasible. A better answer may be for large and small internet companies to reevaluate or diversify their own core service offerings. It is possible to offer employees the ability to advance their careers in internet marketing and make a difference in people's lives. This article offers an example of achieving public service objectives while doing business.
Search enables the family finding movement
A few short years ago, social workers began to turn to the internet to find family members of children in state welfare systems. Beginning in Washington State, the “family finding movement,” was pioneered by Kevin Campbell, a former state social-work administrator. Campbell, now director of EMQ a private non-profit family services agency, discovered that using people search technologies he and his staff can locate eligible adoptive family members in more than 75% of cases.
According to a Wall Street Journal article covering the family finding movement, there are roughly 525,000 children in foster care at any given moment in the U.S., many of them moving to a new foster home every few months. Approximately 25,000 foster children each year reach adulthood without ever having found a permanent home. People search technology, such as US Search’s services, has changed these statistics drastically in states like Washington, Oregon and California where using internet search is becoming a mandatory part of the child placement services.
US Search is a fundamental part of the family finding movement. US Search employees work with private agencies like EMQ and with over 75 state, county and private agencies to find family members for foster children. As a result of its corporate program dedicated to family finding, US Search employees go to work everyday and make a real difference in the lives of thousands of children. In one study by Mr. Campbell, U.S. Search was able to find more than 85% of parents who were listed as "whereabouts unknown" in California court records.
Due to the success of the family finding program, US Search is beginning a new internet initiative to make social networking sites safer. With the prevalence of internet dating and social networking sites comes the concomitant danger associated with communicating with strangers online. US Search’s public relations, marketing, and advertising divisions are working on safety education campaigns to inform social networking and internet dating consumers.
The answer to the question of luring talent with social activism is split. It is a great concept. But new hires also want training, benefits, and a good quality of life. Most of all new hires in the internet vertical they want their job to be fun. The new focus for attracting socially aware talent should lie in incorporating positive social initiatives into existing business objectives. Internet and interactive companies have set the bar for many new work force initiatives, maybe adding social responsibility to the business mix will be the next paradigm.