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Careers in communications allow you to engage an audience while sharing key information about events, brands, products and the latest news.
A career in communications is so much more than attending social events and networking on behalf of clients. It encompasses myriad skills - not the least of which is engaging people in person and via various media platforms. And your specific niche could be found in marketing, social media or public relations.
For one, a career in PR, which quite often encompasses social media knowledge, diligent organization, and a knack for advertising and branding, and much more.
According to British online lifestyle magazine Your Coffee Break, public relations success further depends on a focus on building trusting relationships, the ability to write well and a passion for helping brands and people grow their reputations.
Not to mention, you’ll need know what’s happening in the news 24-7, be easily accessible to clients - sometimes on weekends - and be laser-focused on social media and content marketing for your clients.
If you’d like to learn more about this competitive field for go-getters, read on to meet five social media and PR experts in various industries who offer an inside look into what they do and share their career advice.
Army Vet Lee Creates Memorable Experiences for Anime Fans at Ellation
Originally from Chicago, IL Aimee Lee is currently a consumer media relations specialist for Ellation Inc., a San Francisco, CA-based transformative entertainment company.
Ellation is part of Otter Media, which was a joint venture between AT&T and The Chernin Group. In August this year AT&T bought out The Chernin Group’s stake in Otter Media to gain full ownership. Otter Media - and Ellation under the umbrella of Otter Media - is now part of AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit.
Ellation is also home of Crunchyroll and VRV. Crunchyroll features anime videos and online forums; VRV features anime, as well as gaming, fantasy animations, niche cartoons, multi-platform sci-fi short films and more.
“I develop relationships with media contacts to ensure consumer-facing news, launches, announcements, events and more are promoted,” Lee says of her current role at Ellation.
“I enjoy the field of PR I’m in, which is in media, technology and entertainment. I’m also an anime fan and fan of Ellation’s streaming services, Crunchyroll and VRV. Our mission is to create experiences for passionate communities to connect through the content they love.”
Lee discusses some of the latest streaming products: “Our Spring season outreach for Crunchyroll launched with some great new and continuing titles. We also had our Crunchyroll Movie Night earlier this year in theaters showing Bungo Stray Dogs, a Japanese manga (comic) series. We also launched a few new shows as well as locked in some great partnerships with WB and MGM for our channel partner, VRV.”
But there’s more to Lee than one may realize, and she’s more than a PR executive. Not only does she work in media relations for a major tech company, she also proudly served her country.
After spending two years at Purdue University, Lee joined the U.S. Army in 2010 as a Private First Class and worked as a paralegal specialist for the JAG Corps.
“My first duty station was Fort Lee, VA, and then I was stationed for the remainder of my contract in Okinawa, Japan. I left the military with an honorable discharge in June of 2014 with the rank of Sergeant,” Lee details.
Back in the states, she decided to attend The Art Institute of California - San Francisco, and earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising.
“I started working in PR in 2016 with internships, freelance work and a part-time agency gig as a junior account executive. I started as the consumer media relations specialist for Ellation in March of 2018.”
She adds: “Yes, most of my colleagues are surprised that I’m a veteran! My Army experience helped me adapt to a fast-paced environment, as well as working with cross-functional teams for one goal. It’s helped me stay flexible, detail-oriented and organized.”
The biggest misconception about the field of PR, notes Lee, is that just anyone can do it. “You definitely need to be outgoing and have a self-sufficient attitude, as well as self-motivation and great networking skills.”
Persistence has paid off for Lee, so her career advice is to “be someone who keeps trying when rejected!”
Explore ellation.com/jobs for Ellation open positions. Connect on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Sukumar Executes Media Strategy at Johnson & Johnson
When you wash your face before bed, or guzzle down an over-the-counter pill to alleviate a headache, you may think, eh, no big deal, just doing what I need to do. However, there’s a whole development team behind that everyday face wash you’re using, and the medicine you’re taking!
New York City’s Divya Sukumar, social media manager, is on the creative front lines at New Brunswick, NJ-based Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which was founded in 1886. Some of the multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company’s many familiar brands and products include Johnson’s Baby, Neutrogena, BAND-AID, Listerine, Motrin and more.
Born in Chennai, India and raised in West Palm Beach, FL, Sukumar - a University of South Florida graduate - is part of the Global Content Lab at Johnson & Johnson.
“It’s a best-in-class, 24-7 newsroom and creative agency that promotes external reputation-based storytelling, supports J&J’s businesses and amplifies the company’s core values as a purpose-driven organization,” she explains.
“I oversee Johnson & Johnson’s corporate social media channels. My responsibilities include executing social media strategy, developing and publishing content, social listening and analytics reporting.”
Additionally, she works closely with the Global Content Lab and across the J&J enterprise, including with other social channel owners and communicators to determine any synergies.
“A social media manager is one of the most public-facing positions, tasked with being the ‘voice’ of the entity, externally,” Sukumar points out. “It’s fun being able to work on a variety of projects, which means I also get the opportunity to work with so many talented colleagues around the world.”
She also collaborates with a community moderation team and social media agency that help support the company’s channels.
Since most individuals have a personal social media presence, such as a Facebook or Instagram account, they may not initially understand the professional skills required for a job in social media.
Sukumar outlines exactly what’s required: “You need to be highly creative, analytical and strategic, all at the same time. You also need to understand marketing, branding, customer engagement, crisis management, public relations, data analysis and so forth.”
Representing a global brand on social media, she adds, is vastly different than sharing a status update with friends and family.
Sukumar’s been with Johnson & Johnson for almost two years, and her first major campaign was the global rollout of the company’s extended parental leave.
“The Global Content Lab brought to life heartwarming stories of employees who leveraged the company’s industry-leading benefits through rich multimedia assets including original videos, animated GIFs and infographics.”
Showcasing real employees and talking about bonding with their newborns created powerful stories to which others could relate, and the campaign earned Johnson & Johnson a PR News Digital PR Award for Facebook Communications.
As for where her motivation to succeed and thrive in the second-by-second nature of social media, she credits her parents.
“My parents are my biggest motivators. Like most immigrant families, they moved to the U.S. to provide better opportunities for their kids,” says Sukumar, joking, “I still don't think they quite understand my job, but they seem proud nonetheless!”
Her career advice is to be someone who adapts easily to change. New platforms are always being introduced, algorithms are always changing, and you have to be able to keep up.
“Other important skills include copywriting, analytics and design, and as with many jobs, you should be organized, able to multitask and work well under pressure. But, most importantly, you should have a passion for social media.”
Check careers.jnj.com for Johnson & Johnson jobs. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Defrank Identifies Publicity Opportunities for BET
Bronx, NY (and Dominican Republic) native Luis Defrank, director of corporate communications at BET Networks in New York, NY was drawn to public relations.
“My love for pop culture and television is what attracted me to the field of public relations,” he explains. “Another driving factor is the work that goes into building a press narrative on a project that ultimately influences viewing decisions and generates buzz.”
Defrank’s core responsibility is to publicize BET Networks programming and its digital, on-air and off-air properties.
“This includes drafting and executing press plans, press releases and programming notes for BET Networks programming,” says the New York University (NYU) grad who earned his master’s degree in education with a bilingual extension from City College of New York.
“I also pitch weekly national publications for stories and event coverage, and coordinate talent and executive interviews. Additionally, part of my job is to identify publicity opportunities for all of our initiatives and networks efforts.”
Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Washington, DC, BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc., is a provider of entertainment, music news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households, and can be seen in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, the U.K. and sub-Saharan Africa.
With the company for 14 years, Defrank likes that every single day is different. “I could be on a press tour with talent in the morning, drafting remarks to a keynote address by our general manager in the afternoon, and hosting a media screening for one of our upcoming digital series in the evening.”
Some of his recent projects include launching the publicity efforts for The New Edition Story and the inaugural BET Social Awards, and announcing BET’s digital partnerships with Beautycon and Amazon with BET Breaks.
“Currently I’m working on a few speaking engagements for our senior leadership team, the launch of our film contest, Project Cre8, that gives aspiring, undiscovered filmmakers the opportunity to produce an original film, and the return of Freestyle Friday, the global search for the next big MC.”
Defrank’s job is creative in “so many ways,” from drafting an eye-catching headline for one of BET’s press releases to planning a red carpet launch event. “I’m able to provide a lot of creative input and think ‘outside of the box.’ With my creativity opportunities I can make our events/materials stand out and result in press stories.”
He calls public relations “an ever-changing landscape,” and explains that while some may see social media as an untraditional platform to release information, he sees it as a much-needed and valuable tool to help maximize your message.
“The immediacy of social media may mean we need to move much faster if messaging catches fire in a negative way, but it’s just one added element that all well-rounded executives need to be prepared for,” says Defrank.
His career advice? “Network! It’s important that you start building organic connections early on with others in this field. Even in your own classroom and circle of friends you may have a great pool of influencers that can help you score the career of your dreams, or teach you a skill that you can transfer into your PR skill set.”
Browse betcareers.viacom.com for BET careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
LaCour Helps Tell Voya Financial’s Enterprise Story
Talk about a career change! Going from a legal assistant right out of college to later becoming the vice president, external communications at Voya Financial. But that’s exactly what Jeanne LaCour has done.
“My first job out of college was as a legal assistant on the litigation side of a global law firm,” the Voya communications executive recalls. “I wanted to be a lawyer, and learned a lot as part of my experience with the firm, but it was hard to see the impact of my contributions.”
Instead of pursuing law school, LaCour - who is based in Voya Financial’s corporate office in New York, NY - pursued financial journalism.
“From there, I went to business school as a way to deepen my understanding of business strategy, corporate finance, risk and other areas that businesses grapple with. Communications was a natural transition given the intersection of my background,” shares LaCour, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA in finance from Columbia Business School.
Prior to joining Voya three years ago, most of her career was spent as a communications consultant, working with companies going through transitions of all types - legal or regulatory issues, bankruptcies, business disruptions and so forth.
“My experience runs across various industries, with an emphasis on financial services and healthcare. I think the breadth of my experience, both from a business strategy and communications perspective, is a key strength I bring to Voya.”
LaCour adds: “We have an experienced, high-performing, team; each member with his or her own unique skills and background - and our leadership genuinely appreciates the diversity of thought we bring to the business.”
Her focus is currently on telling the enterprise story of New York, NY-based Voya, an American financial, retirement, investment and insurance company founded in 1991.
“What differentiates us from others; how our culture and values, business mix and strategy drive our success; and what insight, perspective and point of view Voya can offer the organizations and people that sell our products to help them become more knowledgeable or make better decisions,” she details.
Her team implements brand and corporate communications strategies to enhance and improve the company’s reputation with media, customers, partners and other external stakeholders.
“I work closely with Voya leadership to identify opportunities where we can solidify the company’s view on key issues in the marketplace. I’m always looking for insight that we can share to help people manage their finances and prepare for, and live in, retirement.”
LaCour and her colleagues also “focus on social media for institutional and consumer clients, as well as communications that raise awareness of our efforts in corporate responsibility; law, compliance and public affairs; and risk.”
Additionally, LaCour is always working on multiple projects at once, which is one of the things she enjoys most about her job. “Right now, I’m really focused on building the infrastructure that we need to be successful from a social media, digital and more traditional media standpoint.”
She enjoys the culture at her job, too, and enjoys coming to work every day. “Every company talks about values and culture, but we really try to live them here, and that’s true from our senior-most leaders to the individuals working in our call centers, to our sales teams out in the field. This isn’t a ‘go along to get along’ company. We ask hard questions, and we have honest, in-depth discussions that result in better outcomes for our businesses.”
View corporate.voya.com/careers for Voya opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.
Park Creates & Delivers Marketing Materials for MaidPro
Maine native Madeleine Park is the marketing manager/new brand specialist for Boston, MA-based MaidPro, a residential cleaning franchisor with more than 250 offices across North America. Park’s been with MaidPro for just a little more than a year.
“What I enjoy most about my industry and my current role, is my ability to work with both our creative and business departments,” says the half-Korean, half-Irish businesswoman and philanthropist who moved to Boston to attend Framingham University and cultivate her interest in the marketing and advertising industry.
“It’s a lot of fun to develop ideas and strategies that will grow our business and later get to see those ideas come to life through the creative process.”
Specifically, Park’s current responsibilities at MaidPro include “collaborating with the franchise development team and consumer development team to research and identify target audiences, assist with the creative strategy of both franchise and consumer marketing campaigns across email, direct mail, social media and ad hoc campaigns, managing corporate social media accounts and more.”
Park feels that “marketing is a lot of research, ‘think-tanking’ and teamwork. It’s very interesting to see how different campaigns are received by the public; it’s a great feeling to pass by a billboard or branded car that you helped to create and design!”
Her career advice is to “be ready to shake things up! The media is constantly changing, and you don't want to be the person that gets stuck always ‘doing what you did last year.’ Don't be afraid to bring up new ideas, be creative and take risks.”
Park further encourages young communications professionals to “stand behind your ideas and opinions, but also realize that marketing is a long-term, team game. You cannot go at it alone.”
In addition, she recommends joining clubs, especially in college or grad school. “I made an effort to join advertising and marketing clubs whenever possible, so I could get experience and build my resume,” says Park.
“Every little bit counts when you’re just starting out. Do what you can to meet industry people, even if it’s just grabbing coffee with someone in marketing. It really is about who you are, and how well you can network and advocate for yourself, off paper.”
For this marketing maven and philanthropist, giving back to the community is important, as well. In fact, she’s also the founder and president of Together She Can, a Boston-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to help the homeless community with hygiene care.
“We partner with local companies, hotels, and individuals to collect new and gently used toiletry items. We’ve recently partnered with Sephora, Garnet Hill and Girl Scouts of America, and are hoping to expand nationally within the next five years.”
Make your way to jobs.maidpro.com for MaidPro possibilities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
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