Posted by: pittsburghtrademarklawyer | July 6, 2010

What’s the Going Rate for a Chief Blogging Officer?

For this, my first post on We’ve Made a Huge Mistake (any chance we’ll get “WMAHM” to catch on?), I will “recycle” a post I made recently at my “work” blog, Pittsburgh Trademark Lawyer.

Before I do that, here’s a quick introduction:

My name is Daniel Corbett, and I am an attorney with Elliott & Davis, PC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.I am a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where I served as the managing editor of the University of Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law & Policy and Ohio University, where I studied public relations journalism (and “kicked it” with one Morgan Hubbard during his brief stint at said university).

So, without further ado and gratuitous backlinking, here’s my first post:

There’s an interesting piece in last week’s Economist about the “inflation” of job titles.

What, exactly, is job title “inflation,” you ask?

Chances are, you’ve probably seen it before, so here are some examples from the article:

“Southwest Airlines has a chief Twitter officer. Coca-Cola and Marriott have chief blogging officers. Kodak has one of those too, along with a chief listening officer […] Paper boys are ‘media distribution officers’. Binmen are ‘recycling officers’. Lavatory cleaners are ‘sanitation consultants’. Sandwich-makers at Subway have the phrase “sandwich artist” emblazoned on their lapels.”

The article analogizes this trend of “title-fluffing” to the process of inflation.  To some extent, I can buy this argument.  Stability and uniformity in job titles is a good thing in that it increases job market mobility for individuals.   A vague or ambiguous job title might make it harder for someone to transition to a new position, but I am not convinced that this is the likely outcome here.

And, in any case, firms are likely engaging in “title-fluffing” for perfectly good business reasons.  Having a “chief Twitter officer” makes a company appear more cutting-edge, and silly monikers such as “guru” or “ninja” might be useful in establishing a laid-back demeanor that will attract clients as well as employees.

These made-up job titles can even serve an important trademark function.  I’d imagine that most people, after hearing the phrase “SANDWICH ARTIST” would immediately think of Subway.  No surprise, then, that it’s registered as a mark.



  1. Many of my residents and attendings encourage me to introduce myself to patients as “Student Doctor Kreczko” instead of Ala, the fourth year medical student–I guess this is in its own way the same kind of title inflation. They claim that putting Doctor in front of my name makes people disregard the student part and makes me more trustworthy… I’d rather educate people about how AWESOME it is to have a med student take care of you–we will do just about anything for you from get you popsicles and blankets to getting an xbox into your room to help you pass the time… (YES, Hasbro definitely rents out xboxes to patients… who knew being sick could be so awesome??)

  2. @ Dan: I kind of like job titles that sound tongue-in-cheek, like “chief Twitter officer.” But it’s funny, because I don’t think the companies in question are going for tongue-in-cheek. I think they’re being serious.

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