By: JuWan Graham
Printing out copies of my resume I had one thought in my mind: “JuWan you’re late!” Speed walking to the Speed Mentoring event at the Student Center, I had to be punctual. Being late is in the top five on my pet peeve list, even when trying to be “fashionably late.” Anyways, as soon as I got to room 352, the chatter became an individualized battle for how much information could be presented in a four minute time frame. Sitting and waiting for my turn to talk with these successful professionals, one constant thought appeared in my head, “What am I going to say?” I knew what to say, but what do I say to these professionals who have heard every statement when hiring an intern or new employee? More specifically, what do I say to let them know I’m not a machine, but an actual human?
Now, I know you might be thinking, “Well JuWan, you are a human.” That’s true, I think, but a lot of potential candidates already have a mapped out response to every question, sounding like a pre-recorded robot. I needed to respond with creativity and ingenuity. I began talking with different professionals and one in particular stood out for me. Her name was Marisa Bradley. She was the manager for consumer and broadcast communications at Ford. She talked about how increasingly difficult it was to have such a big corporation have a human element, establishing a connection with its audience. She went on to talk about how technology and other factors influence branding, but that was something that stuck with me for the duration of the event.
For a brand, developing a connection with its audience is critical for success in public relations. How a company relates with its audience and how it develops unique characteristics in order to maintain a following is important in today’s changing landscape. Take for instance Burger King. It had a tweet that had a person doing the Internet crazed “dab” on a picture, while using a verse from a popular song. A better example would be Old Spice. It has a loyal following because of its over-the-top commercials and overall presence on the Internet. Here is a great example of what I’m talking about. The human element of being funny allows the company to develop a stronger connection with its audience. Things like posting funny messages or innocuous tweets can help with a brand’s overall message. Personally, an over-the-top video or post (i.e. Old Spice) is something that sticks with me.
Of course, there are examples at the opposite end of the spectrum with brands doing it the wrong way. For example, we can use Hillary Clinton. She appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show doing Internet crazed dance moves. For a lot of viewers, it felt as if she was trying too hard to establish a connection with her audience. It seemed as if she trying too hard to become one with the younger audience, and the Internet let her know about it. But establishing a human element that allows your audience to connect with your brand is an ever-more important aspect that brands are making a part of their public relations strategy.
As for the Speed Mentoring event, yes I ended up being late (by 10 minutes). But the professionals who came gave me great insight on what it takes to make it in public relations. One of the many things that I learned was to establish a connection with your audience. To me, it helped me in connecting the dots for what’s really important in public relations.
JuWan Graham is a guest blogger.