Laura Halsch is the newest Digital Strategist on MWW Group’s digital media team, DialogueMedia, having joined our team in May 2009. Laura will help develop and execute strategic online communications programs for a number of our top clients. Before joining our team at MWW Group, Laura was a digital specialist in the 360˚ Digital Influence Group at Ogilvy Public Relations, and also served as an account executive in Olgivy’s Washington D.C. office. Laura is a graduate of Georgetown University, and can also be found on Twitter at @lauraah. – AB
DM: My first question is the class job interview question: Why did you want to become a PR professional? Was this something you always wanted to do?
LH: I always liked writing and was interested in art and design, but I was an English major in college and didn’t really know where that would take me. My Junior year, I started taking journalism and marketing courses and that set me on track to work in PR. While I do have a traditional PR background, I’ve always liked looking at the intersection of PR and other marketing disciplines.
How did you get into social media? Were you on Facebook in college?
For me, social media was always a part of my online experience. I remember getting all these emails inviting me to join Facebook during my semester abroad in college, and it became this great way for my friends to keep track of each other while we were all around the world. I read blogs, watched online video, and joined local social networks, but it was always just for fun.
When I started in the Consumer Marketing group at Ogilvy PR, I was drawn to the work being done in the Creative Studio and the Digital Influence Group. By hanging around their team, and picking up work when they were over-capacity, I started to learn about creating social media programs as part of PR efforts, and was eventually invited to join the team full time.
What do you like about working in digital media, versus traditional media? Why do you think it’s important for companies to be involved in social media?
The reasons I like digital media fall in line pretty closely with the reasons for companies to get involved, so I’ll answer these together. It allows companies to connect directly with the people who are passionate about them to create additional value, reward their fans, and help their detractors. It is constantly changing and evolving, which creates a challenging work environment but a huge opportunity for companies to try new things and grow and evolve with the landscape. Especially as younger generations age, digital media is becoming the primary source of information, and it is our obligation as PR practitioners to make sure our clients are represented there.
You’ve also worked in Washington D.C., when you worked for Ogilvy. Do you notice a difference in how social media or public relations are approached between D.C. and NYC?
Government organizations and partners obviously have a big role in everything that’s happening in DC. It was exciting to be a part of and watch as government organizations started getting involved in social media and really began to see results from their efforts. In DC, I had the opportunity to work on more issues-driven projects, whereas here in NY my work has largely been in the consumer space.
What advice does Professor Halsch have for all the newly-minted graduates about to start working in public relations, especially when it comes to landing a job?
The job market is definitely different now than it was when I started out. Recent grads need to work to stand out among their peers and demonstrate their passion. The best advice I’ve read recently was from Charlie O’Donnell, over at Path 101. If you follow these steps, you’ll be more than set.
What are three blogs you think everyone should visit?
For quick-bites on WOMM and Customer relations, Church of The Customer.
For technology, healthcare and social media, and just a really passionate guy, Andre’s Blackman’s Pulse and Signal.
And to get some laughs from a smart social media enthusiast: Catch-Up Blog.