Shortly after being accepted into the Mohawk public relations program, I applied to the jobs available on campus. I knew I wanted to be immersed in college, which is something I was not able to achieve during university. Working as a marketing assistant while studying public relations at Mohawk has been a wonderful challenge for me and allowed me to learn and grow professionally. In many ways, I was able to apply concepts from the program into my work. I was even lucky to submit work I did for my position as assignments for a class (two birds, one poster). There were some differences, however, since my position was marketing-focused.
Working with the Hospitality Department and Mohawk Food Services, I was able to do different aspects of both marketing and PR. My responsibilities included social media management, event marketing, event planning and design. The biggest portion of my work was focused on social media management, where we had to create a bigger following for the Mohawk Food services as well as the McIntyre Performing Arts Centre. Getting more followers meant more student engagement and better awareness of the events and services offered by the department. Increasing the following was a big challenge on all platforms; for instance, in September our followers on Twitter for the MohawkFood account were 53, whereas now they are 102. The increase was not as big as I would have liked it to be, but I am still very happy to have it going up.
During this semester we learned marketing relates to selling a product, while PR is all about promoting awareness and a positive image of a company or organization. In my mind, you cannot separate the two: you cannot sell a product if public is not aware of or has a negative image of your organization, and a company cannot survive on reputation alone with no revenue. Especially since working on social media management, I saw the importance of creating a good image to achieve larger following and engagement, which then helps us promote events and sell products. We need to create awareness of the Mohawk Food accounts on social media, because we need to market sales and products to students.
Another aspect these two worlds share is design, where you can find yourself asked to create posters to market an event or a product. A recent example is the Holiday Market event, which is on next week (Thursday and Friday 10am-3pm). I was asked to create a poster on short notice for the event. Luckily, our print design instructor, Shane Tiley, showed us how to use Photoshop just a week ago and I was able to make up a poster for the event. Not only was I able to create the poster but also prepare it with appropriate settings for printing, which is something I thought very little about before this class.
Here is the poster I designed for the event:
I do think I made the right choice for me with PR. As much as I enjoyed marketing, I feel like working in public relations gives me a chance to connect with different individuals and other organizations on a personal level. As a communicator you get to see different levels of any organization you work at and create a connection with your audience. As a consumer, I definitely value products and services from companies that take the time to connect with me. I hope one day I’ll be able to create that connection between a company and its audience.
Here are the links to the social media accounts mentioned above:
McIntyre Performing Arts Centre