PRSSA hosts social media panel

Liz Kovac, Engagement Editor

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Oakland University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) brought four social media experts to campus during their fall semester panel on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

PRSSA’s e-board had been planning their panel, “How Social Media Affects Your Career,” since the start of the semester. The organization, previously known as PRAd, has held a fall panel for the past three years, varying in topic but corresponding in theme, and all related to public relations and advertising.

This year, the panelists came from Facebook, Trusscott Rossman, Shift Digital and Finn Partners and represented the diverse and similar ways social media can be used across platforms.

At Facebook, what some consider to be the “mother of social media”, data drives business decisions.

“We found that 61% of Millennials use Facebook daily while only 32% of Gen Z use it daily,” said Lennon Kyriakoza, client solutions manager at Facebook, when asked about the loss of popularity of Facebook with Gen Z. “However, data shows that 62% of Gen Z do use Instagram daily, and Instagram is an app by Facebook.”

Beyond its expansion with Instagram, Lennon explained that Facebook is expanding even further, producing more social media services with the goal of making “by Facebook” a new tagline.

Panelists stressed that knowing your audience is the heart of a social media career, no matter what industry, and that the best way to know your audience is through data.

Chad Cyrowski, director of digital media at Trusscott Rossman, a PR firm that specializes in non-partisan ballot initiatives and public affairs, explained that with today’s technology, political campaigns can use data to pick out the people that will be most influenced by or sympathetic to a cause.

With this data, he said, “We need to be doing everything, hitting as many touchpoints, and firing on every front.”

Cyrowski continued to explain that older people tend to run political campaigns, but what they really need is the younger generation’s votes. However, due to the generation gap, many campaign managers aren’t familiar with the most effective forms of communication for specific target audiences. In order for a politician to know their audience, they “should always be talking with younger people,” according to Cyrowski.

A career based on trends is bound to be fast paced.

“My day changes rapidly on the hour,” Kaitlyn Patrick, program specialist at Shift Digital, said.

Patrick’s statement was met with unanimous agreement from the panel.

But the fast pace of a social media profession doesn’t just apply to the day to day, but to months and years.

“When I started my career in social media, there were no classes for it and there certainly wasn’t a degree for it,” said Sam Mertins, vice president of Finn Partners.

Similarly, Cyrowski noted that “your job changes because technology changes — you should worry about career longevity, if for nothing else, to motivate you to do your best.”

The panel took a turn near its end, focusing on how to approach landing a job in social media.

“Your portfolio is never going to be perfect, so start growing your network,” Mertins said.

All panelists stressed the importance of a strong work ethic and personal connections to get you to where you want to be.

“Transferable skills like communication and sales and timeless initiatives like working hard and staying late, will help you in any landscape,” Kyriakoza said.

As the panel came to a close, president of OU’s chapter of PRSSA, Olivia Braun, said with satisfaction, “Our panelists were engaging and gave useful advice. I didn’t recognize a lot of faces, which is awesome. No one had to come out tonight, but they did and they were attentive.”

Similarly, Chiaoning Su, adviser to OU’s chapter of PRSSA, was pleased with how the panel turned out.

“It was a great kick-off to the new PRSSA chapter and a great way to introduce ourselves in the PR community of metro Detroit.”