I’ve confessed openly that I wasn’t an early adapter to the Internet. In fact, when I headed PR at Sears, I tried to avoid being assigned development of the company’s intranet back when the technology was first emerging. I gave in thanks to arguments by Bob Carr and others on my team. But it took the better part of a year before I realized I had been wrong to avoid the inevitable. Since then, I’ve continued to be surrounded by talented early adapters who help me push the proverbial digital envelope.
Realizing that I’m mostly speaking to the converted, the fact remains that digitally savvy professionals remain in the minority. However, that’s changing at the speed of light–or should I say faster than a T1 line. An increasing number of PR agencies are beginning to require that all new hires are proficient in digital technology. Enlightened companies are putting executives through digital immersion programs, and every PR program is expected to have a digital component.
Emanate PR’s Kristen Commander writes on her agency’s website about the importance to “Embrace Your Inner Tech Nerd!” In the post, she notes the University of Misouri’s School of Journalism requires all incoming freshman to have either an iPhone or iPod Touch. Despite some early criticism, this requirement will ensure students are working digital technology into every aspect of their college careers, not just out-of-classroom games and social networking.
If you’re no longer in college, a number of free and paid websites provide helpful tips and tutorials about the Internet. One of my favorites is Learn The Net.com, a fun “owner’s manual” for anyone seeking additional information about any aspect of the Internet.
In the 15 years since I tried to avoid the unknowns of the Internet, much has changed–including the new reality: Digital literacy is required for career success. This is good news for everyone already comfortable with everything digital.