A posting for a writer position at Theranos has gone viral, with media outlets raising the question of whether a writer--or anyone--has the power to change the public image of the controversial startup.
Once a darling of tech and business media, the blood-testing company lost credibility after The Wall Street Journal reported the efficacy of its pinprick blood-testing technology was exaggerated. Theranos has limped along despite the controversy and is now looking for someone who can "solve problems through the power of excellent storytelling."
The "requirements" section of the posting states Theranos is looking for someone with "experience as junior copywriter/screenwriter in a creative environment." Public relations specialist Peter Himler speculates that the company may have caught wind that a book or movie about Theranos is forthcoming. "I think maybe they want to preempt the movie that's [hypothetically] going to be done about [CEO] Elizabeth [Holmes] with something positive," says Himler, CEO and founder of PR firm Flatiron Communications.
The avenues of expression Theranos wants this person to use indicate the company may be looking for someone to work outside the realm of native content and op-eds, says Himler. He finds it interesting that Theranos is interested in someone who can "integrate narratives utilizing film, books, television, retail, and emerging web entertainment," but not necessarily someone who blogs. Product placement plans could be at play--maybe.
What surprises him is that Theranos is looking for someone with only "3+ years of experience." This could mean the company wants a content marketer to support the work of someone more senior. Something else that seems off is a requirement that the right candidate have "strong knowledge of Microsoft Word." Seems like a pretty obvious skill to have, says Himler--plus, he'd expect Theranos to want someone who has skills that are less common, like the ability to work with WordPress.
Overall, though, the post does not surprise Himler. Theranos has been burned by the press, and even companies that aren't embroiled in PR nightmares should consider hiring content marketers who can work with a variety of platforms. "The only way to ensure that your voice is heard," he says, "is by creating the content and disseminating it yourself."
Theranos is doing the only thing it can do, but it may be too late to turn the story around. "It's hard to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," says Himler, "so you have to be very creative."