Let me start off this post with a few disclaimers. One, my secret guilty pleasure of late has been watching E!'s newest reality show, Very Cavallari -- and two, that it actually made me see the former Laguna Beach star in an entirely new light. While Cavallari's quick wit, direct demeanor and life-of-the-party attitude are still firmly intact, the budding commercial empire she's humbly been building for the better part of a decade is truly impressive. As a fellow business owner, I can easily relate to the many challenges she faces on the show. Busy schedules, lack of sleep, minimal opportunities for date night -- these are all common, required sacrifices to becoming a successful entrepreneur. While I absolutely respect the way Kristin handles the seemingly never-ending laundry list of problems encountered while opening her Nashville-based Uncommon James storefront, it is undeniable that her "core staff" is her biggest Achilles' heel. This is most readily apparent when looking at her digital marketing team. Cavallari's Social Media Director and token redhead, Shannon Ford, is super cute, has flawless hair and looks like someone I'd shoot tequila with at happy hour, but I would be very apprehensive in hiring her. Over the last decade, I've found that employees who act similarly to Ford are toxic to the company culture and significantly stunt business growth as well.
Her blatant ineptitude displayed throughout the entire first season of Very Cavallari was an all-too-real reminder of how difficult it is to find and hire the right team members. Just because one posts a few pictures or videos and can say the word "brand" doesn't mean they understand the first thing about marketing one online or building the business processes behind it. While the journey is definitely a marathon based on growth rather than a sprint founded on followers, aspiring digital marketers would be wise to pay attention to Ford's behavior as an example of what NOT to do when looking to find or keep a job. Surely, Shannon's bad work stands out most to me because I own a marketing company, but here are some of the biggest reasons why she is an employers' nightmare:
1. Her level of professionalism and communication skills are weak, at best.
For someone who's inherent job in social media marketing requires constant interaction with others, it was surprising to see how god awful Ford is at communicating with her coworkers. What I found absolutely shocking was her juvenile and completely immature reactions after being called out on it. After Store Manager, Brittainy Taylor, overheard Shannon harshly criticizing her to another employee, she chose to speak to her about it quietly and privately. (Something a good manager would do, by the way.) Instead of using the opportunity to maturely discuss the real reason behind her words ("swimming in own lane," as she puts it), Shannon rudely responded by explaining to the upset store manager that she would have said those things to her face but it was simply easier to say it behind her back. WT(actual)F!? This snarky, defensive responsive alone would be cause for termination at any major marketing agency, as this type of behavior lays the groundwork for a hostile and unaccountable company culture. I wish I could say that this was Ford's only offense, however. As featured in this clip, after feuding (again) with Brittainy about the minor topic of office decor, she brazenly threw the desk items into a box on the floor and stormed out of the room. This type of behavior isn't acceptable from toddler, let alone a 24 year-old professional.
2. She never really lives up to the challenge her job title presents.
I feel that Shannon's job title of "Social Media Director" is completely inappropriate. Sure, she absolutely runs a dope Instagram feed for UJ and has solid YouTube content, but it one would be hard-pressed to say she's directing much of anything. On more than one occasion, her coworkers had to provide direction to her on what she needs be doing to fulfill her role, when it should be the other way around. With great power comes greater responsibility, but Ford definitely missed the memo on this one. The job title demands that the person provides a clear and concise strategy for digital growth, not wait to be told what to do. Ford had zero response when Kristin grilled her about her lack of activity on Twitter and Pinterest. When asked by Cavallari again about her social inactivity (this time, concerning preview pictures for the new store), Shannon asks her, "To what? Instagram Stories?" She then explains that she didn't initially plan on that as to not ruin the surprise before the grand opening party, to which Kristin was aghast. While I don't blame Ford for her thought process by any means, she again demonstrates her unpreparedness (ever heard of an editorial calendar, my friend?) and poor communication skills. Neither of these are values that lend themselves to professional success, let alone overseeing the entire digital strategy of a major brand. In truth, Shannon should have the more realistic job title she actually deserves: Social Content Manager -- a good one at that, but nothing more.
3. Shannon’s skill set is nowhere near as advanced or diverse as it should be.
Despite adamantly proclaiming 'I've been doing social media professionally forever' and that she is 'good at making our social media look different from everyone else's,' it is clear that Shannon largely misunderstands the basic principles of online marketing and search engines -- all of which is required to be a truly great digital strategist. While there is nothing wrong with focusing on specific outlets that inherently perform better for a given brand (and Instagram is certainly the best one for Uncommon James), it in no way means that one should ignore other platforms or how it directly ties into website campaigns, particularly on an e-commerce site. Any real professional digital marketer (even those focusing solely in social media) can attest that there is a lot more that goes into successful online campaigns than just simply posting a few photos. Instead, it requires (amongst other things) a strong photography background, constant research, hands-on knowledge of what content should be published to which platforms, a deep understanding of search engine optimization AND a basic level of HTML coding capabilities. These noticeably missing skills were evident throughout the season, but particularly when explaining her thoughts on social media automation ("I push everything to Twitter," she says) and publishing an e-mail blast with a broken link. These big mistakes could have been avoided with just a little coding and SEO-education, but Shannon's "know-it-all" attitude prevents her from growing professionally or learning something new.
4. She literally has the WORST attitude of all time.
My biggest problem with Shannon truly lies in her overall attitude. Even if one put all of her aforementioned bitchiness and immaturity (personal, professional and otherwise) to the side, Shannon's unfounded self-confidence and unwillingness to take accountability for her actions (or inactions) would still be the biggest warning sign to me as a business owner. Having a pretty face and outgoing personality is great and all, but any employee without the ability to take criticism or show gumption will always cost the business money in the end. Similar to the points made above regarding her limited skill set, the best example of Shannon's horrendous attitude is seen after the Uncommon James home goods line failure-to-launch situation. When Kristin rightfully yells at her for completely neglecting to the job in which she is hired (and paid) to do, Ford not only rudely rolls her eyes but also makes bogus excuses. "I know, I just, I don't have the link if I don't know the link," Shannon responds when questioned by Cavallari. It was this pathetic response that made Ford's failings and ineptitude the most obvious, and it infuriated me to the core. Aside from her lack of website content management experience and the fact that it didn't dawn on her to simply ask someone or search Google for answers on how to properly code (again, what an actual "Social Media Director" should do), her completely unprofessional demeanor and inability to take responsibility for her mistakes demonstrates how highly toxic she is to the company, its work environment and its overall growth. There is nothing wrong with asking questions to get important answers and again, Shannon's egotistical, all-knowing attitude prevented her from getting the job done right.
Share this Post