One of the most common refrains we hear in the digital economy is that everyone under 25 is a digital native, and thus teaching skills like digital content creation is pointless, redundant, or counter-productive. While SHIFT wholeheartedly embraces hiring people of all ages and backgrounds, the need for content creation training is universal. A 25 year old account coordinator needs just as much media creation training as a 45 year old account director or Vice President. Why? Despite publications’ fondest wishes to the contrary (see the Chicago Sun-Times questionable decision to lay off all of their staff photographers), owning a digital device isn’t a guarantee of an ability to create content on it.
The simple analogy I make acknowledges that digital natives have grown up in a connected world. Likewise, all of us have grown up eating food. However, just as growing up eating food does not make everyone a chef, neither does growing up in a digital, connected world a guarantee that you can create compelling content. The skills of composition, marketing, writing, and coherency are as varied as our individual abilities to cook. Moreover, just because you can make sushi doesn’t mean you can make Beef Wellington; just because you can write doesn’t make you a photographer.
If you want to exceed the bounds of mediocrity, you must train in your chosen content creation profession. Take courses, find a mentor, study great content creators in your field, and skill up until you gain proficiency. If you’re operating a business and you’re looking for someone to handle your content creation, look for actual skills. Don’t assume that being a member of any demographic is by itself a guarantee of expertise of any kind.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology