Unilever closing the digital gap

I can program, repair and generally maneuver around my TV, VCR and CD player with very little effort, but it can take me 15 minutes to download my blog. But I'm happy to hear there is hope for the technologically-impaired Pre-Internet generation. Marketers, struggling to keep pace with a rapidly changing media landscape, are reaching out to young talent to help brands tap into the digitally savvy consumer, reports Advertising Age. Earlier this year, Unilever USA decided to do something about the digital gap facing many of its valuable senior executives. It initiated "The Trendslator" reverse-mentoring program pairing rookie marketers with senior execs to get them involved in digital marketing strategies and connect with consumers. So dubbed because young mentors are translators of media trends for older students, Trendslator initially matched 30 mentor-mentees (in-the-know younger associate brand managers with senior VPs and directors) and plan to add more by the end of the year. Minimal requirements include: two hours of monthly tutoring and a willingness to teach and/or learn. A core team of young associates creates the curriculum, which is designed not to be rigorous but to regularly immerse senior executives in the digital space, including teaching the marketing value of social communities such as MySpace or Facebook, helping them create personal profile pages and advice on creating a video on YouTube and crosslinking it with MySpace to post it on a profile page. So far, the program gets thumbs up from both mentors, who can use their skills to show what they can do, and mentees, who feel more comfortable navigating the Internet. Great idea! I think I'll invite my grandson over to teach me some tricks. Start your own reverse-mentoring program tips from Unilever's Gail Tifford: Design a program that fits the culture of your organization. In Unilever's case the program provided participants with lighthearted assignments and allowed for flexibility, helping it to be better received among employees. Make it voluntary. Engage only those employees who want to participate in the program, so that they will be willing to commit the time necessary. Provide a flexible framework for the program. Have the mentor/mentee set goals for what they hope to accomplish from the program so that this is clear from the onset. But, keep it flexible to account for varying skill levels and scheduling issues. Start small. Getting a core group of people buzzing about the program makes a companywide rollout later that much easier. Solicit feedback. Ask those involved for their input so that you can continually improve upon and evolve the program to keep material fresh. Unilever Youth Teach Vets the ABCs of Digital 

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