They say friendship is a two way street. During my time in Digital as part of Edelman’s Associate Enrichment Program, I learned that it indeed is. Throughout my rotation in Digital, I learned how to harness the qualities of a truly good friend through my client work. Because really, brands and their fan-base work much like a friendship.
But before we get into that, here’s the back-story on the Associate Enrichment Program. It is an 18 month long rotational program in which eight recent college graduates, including myself, were selected and hired at the Assistant Account Executive level. The program debuted in July 2011. When the program was constructed, digital knowledge became a focal point, reflecting one of Edelman’s organizational goals. Dina Tarter, Senior Vice President of Human Resources explains “We eventually hope for everyone in the firm to have a basis of digital knowledge and thought that this program would be a great way to help spread that knowledge.” Dina oversees the program along with Rachel Baratz.
Throughout the course of the 18 months, we rotate through four different groups within the firm. I along with three others am on the Consumer track where I get to rotate through Digital, Media Services, Health and Consumer. The other half of the group is on the Corporate track, but also must complete rotations in Digital and Media Services. “Digital is an important skill to have in any division of PR, no matter what the campaign because there is always a potential for digital involvement, voluntarily or involuntarily,” says Kaity Fischer, a member of the program.
While I personally learned how to use several analytics tools, managed a brand’s Twitter page over the holidays and wrote insights reports based on consumer conversations in my Digital rotation, I ultimately think that working in Digital teaches everyone one thing, and that is how to be a good friend.
The Art of Conversation
Through community management on a client’s social media embassy, you learn how to be a great conversationalist. The art of conversation lies within balancing the topics you want to talk about with those of your friends.
Listening Goes a Long Way
Through analyzing what fans are saying about your brands, you learn how to be a good listener. You’re able to really get to know what it is that your fans want and try to determine ways to give them just that as a token of your friendship.
Emily Wray, another member of the Associate Enrichment Program says, “Two way-communication between the brand and its fans allows us to curate ideas for new programs and outreach efforts that tap into the expressed needs of a perfectly targeted community, taking out a lot of the guesswork.” In other words, through our conversations as well as listening, we’re able to become very good friends with our fans and find out a lot more about them.
Through influencer mapping, you’re able to find out who your true friends are as you determine who is saying good things about your brands and who is being critical of them.
Lastly, how else does one put their friendship to the test without some sort of conflict situation? Through managing social media crises, you learn how to say sorry, admit your faults and do everything you can to make it up to your fans after messing up.
Continue to Build
In order to succeed in making your fans happy as a digital PR pro, you can never allow the human element to escape your communications with them. The easiest way to do this is by seeing your fans as your friends, and your ongoing client work as a strong friendship that you want to foster and grow.
If you are interested in learning more about the Associate Enrichment Program, contact Dina Tarter at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rachel Baratz at email@example.com. The next round of program candidates will begin in July 2013.
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