You’re the Public Relations Director here at Mason, and you also lead the agency’s social media practice. What was your career path like?
My career path wasn’t quite the straight and narrow one that’s typically four years of college, graduate and land your dream job. I took some time off to figure all of this out. In that time, I worked in corporate software sales and in the restaurant industry as a line cook. I then started a website that reviewed electronic dance music and partnered with an early digital retailer to earn sales from my reviews. At the time, I was receiving a lot of pitches and press releases from publicists and record label public relations teams. This piqued my curiosity, and I went back to school for communications with a public relations major and a marketing minor.
After graduating I worked in various industries, none related to what I went to school for. I quit, went to Europe for a couple of months, and returned, reaching out to the Connecticut-based agencies I admired. This ultimately led me to Mason, where I am now going into my 19th year. Wow, time flies…
In your opinion, what is public relations today, and how does social media tie in?
The lines are blurred more today than ever. Public relations has undergone a lot of changes in just the last 10 years with the advent of new technology and ways to communicate. At the end of the day, both public relations and social media are about communicating with your audiences and the two need to be aligned. Social media happens in real-time and can amplify a message quickly, strengthening your public relations initiatives. However, good fundamentals never go away. Public relations is a relationship business – your brand’s relationship with its stakeholders, and as a practitioner, your relationship with the media and other influencers. Social media is a relationship business as well, allowing brands to have a much more direct conversation with their audience. Remember – your stakeholders, partners, customers, etc. are all on social media as well!
These days, in the digital world, it seems everything is instantaneous. Do you have any tips for brands to make a lasting impression?
Things happen much faster today, and brands need to be nimbler and take more risks. This doesn’t necessarily mean reacting in the moment or veering away from your brand values or company mission. But, when things move quickly, you can be left behind if you aren’t willing to jump in and overthink it. If a brand wants to make a lasting impression, be a part of the moment.
What is the biggest challenge facing communicators today?
How much time do we have? Kidding! First, there are more places than ever to get your message out, which is great, but a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t always the best answer.
The right message on the right channel will help you break through the clutter. What you say on LinkedIn, Facebook, or in a company news release may not be the same thing or said the same way. Secondly, measure what matters. I often find a client may want to do something but hasn’t thought about what KPI’s to build in until after. Set the goals on what you want to measure up front, especially from a public relations and social media aspect. This will save you a lot of questioning in the end and prove value.
Finally, keeping up with emerging trends and tools. The good old days of just faxing or emailing something are long gone. Your company doesn’t always need to be on all the new social media platforms if it doesn’t fit in with your overall communications strategy and goals. Successful public relations and social media practitioners need to keep up with all that’s new – and there’s a lot of new!
Outside of the 9-to-5 life, what do you do for fun?
I’ve been spending a lot more time outdoors during the “new normal”. Whether it’s long walks with my dog or riding my mountain bike, the fresh air and silence is much needed. I also have my own independent record label that features electronic music artists from around the world. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and I’m looking forward to getting on a plane again soon to get lost in some new place!