A modern public relations consultant has to be image conscious, has to be up on current events and trends, and has to know how to think quickly. She has to be an expert communicator, and crafting a message tailored to her specific audience must be like second nature.
And according to Navi Ganancial, PUC class of 2007, she also must be a bit of a geek. In her public relations job specializing in social media marketing, Navi helps companies establish a strategic presence on Web 2.0 sites like Facebook and Twitter. “It’s such a new field, and so I’m getting involved with it,” she says of the post-Myspace social media applications she uses every day. “That makes me more of a — I don’t want to say a guru — more of a force to be listened to in regards to that space.”
This expertise is a key part of her work with several current clients, including K/F Communications, a San Francisco-based public relations firm; KODA, a web startup that combines elements of career building and social networking; and San Francisco Magazine, the Bay Area’s premier lifestyle publication. She is single-handedly responsible for creating and managing the magazine’s Twitter profile, a feature that guides the magazine’s 2000 followers toward its website and headlines.
In a typical day at the magazine, for example, Navi starts by managing the client’s Web 2.0 presence, updating information on its blog, and then seeking out recent posts, headlines, or conversations from others in cyberspace that may be of interest to the magazine or its readers. “Who’s talking to us? Who on Twitter is trying to sell us new stories? Who has concerns about the magazine?” she says. “Or if there’s anything like local restaurants that we’ve featured, is there a way that I can get in touch with them so that they can talk about it on their websites, or on their Twitter or their Facebook, so potentially their followers will spread the word, and maybe even come back and look at our website.”
Next, she often presents tutorials and workshops to the various departments teaching staffers how their jobs can be made easier using these interactive tools. “For editorial, here’s the best way to get stories. For marketing or sales, here’s the best way to reach out to potential advertisers,” she says. “It’s my job to go around and say, ‘Here’s what you need to learn about Twitter, here’s the best way to leverage it for your task.'”
What is it that makes a presence on social networking sites like this so valuable for companies? “It’s getting back to the human level,” Navi says. “As a company you should be listening to what your customers want and what they say. If you’re not take advantage of that tool — especially since it’s free — you’re not part of the conversation. You’re not engaging the customer.”
Her current specialty is a far cry from what she thought she would be doing after college. “When I was in high school I always thought I was going to be a fashion editor, or a glamorous PR consultant in the entertainment industry,” she says. Instead, Navi often spends her free time searching the internet for tips, applications, and new technologies that she can use to help her clients leverage these new developments in web interactivity.
The unique aspect of Navi’s job is that since this is such a new facet of the communication field, the sole requirement is initiative. “Most likely anyone who’s a social media marketer is just somebody who took the initiative, who took the time to learn about social media,” she says. “I did not get a certificate in it. I did not take any classes in social media.” It signals an evolving world of communication, a do-it-yourself approach that goes beyond training.
“It has opened up more doors for me than I thought I had,” she says. “Who would ever have thought that I’d be a geek?”
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