Behind the Headlines With Morgan Givney
Morgan Givney, account manager at BizCom Associates, says brands need to put in the work to protect their reputation and maintain their online presence.
In this interview, Morgan discusses the importance of having a social presence, how to keep your digital community engaged and why the fundamentals of public relations will never change.
What drew you to the field of PR?
Going into college I just knew that I would be a reporter at a newspaper. I’ve always been really strong in English so I thought that was my only option. However, I accepted an internship in Dallas after my sophomore year with Project Transformation, a non-profit working with underprivileged children, as a media, communication and PR coordinator.
During my time at PT, I worked under an industry professional, Hendrika, who I grew to admire so much. She introduced me to PR and showed me the ropes, I was hooked from there!
I love that working in PR provides a different storytelling opportunity that you don’t get working for a paper. I really fell in love with how strategy can be supplemented with creativity to share your client’s story.
After that summer, I changed my concentration in the journalism school and never looked back!
It’s no secret digital has transformed communication. What are some of the benefits of digital communication? Is there a downside?
The advancements in digital communication allow literally anyone with a smart phone to become a journalist. I think this is a great thing; we now get to see the world through the perspectives of millions of people.
This can also be troubling to brands, since now there isn’t a “gatekeeper” to filter through the noise. It takes a lot more work to stay on top of your image, and it’s now more important than ever to stay proactive in maintaining your reputation and online presence.
What are some of the biggest social media mistakes brands make?
I think the biggest mistake a brand can make with social media is underestimating its importance and power. Some execs are quick to dismiss social media as a waste of time and money, but no matter what industry you’re in, it is so crucial to maintain a strong social presence.
Beyond creating a buzz, generating leads and informing an audience (all things social media is great for) it really comes down to a question of credibility. If I’m interested in a brand but their social media is boring or non-existent, then there’s a good chance I’m moving on to the next option (probably a competitor).
The second biggest mistake I see is brands being in such a hurry to be the first to something, whether it be an announcement or a current event/trend, that errors are made. Your botched tweet already has 100 screenshots before you’ve even had the chance to take it down. And yes, social media posts can live forever.
What are some of the key components of a successful social media strategy?
Frequency and quality/engaging content are at the core of a great social strategy, but beyond that it’s critical to create a community within your social followers. Make your pages a place that people want to go and be a brand they want to interact with.
It may just be the Texan in me, but Whataburger is one of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow. They’re always timely, engaging and entertaining!
You’ve helped clients gain coverage in top publications. What’s your secret to media relations success?
I don’t know that I have a secret, but I’ve found that the greatest success comes with staying on top of trends and news in your client’s industry. That’s nothing new, but it requires a lot of time and commitment to being the first to know things going on with them, their competitors and their industry in general.
Trying to forecast where the story will be not now, but in the future of their industry is where I’ve found the most success.
How do you envision the future of PR?
Digital has completely disrupted the way audiences are consuming media, so I think the future of PR lies in keeping up with the disruption. I don’t think the fundamentals of PR will ever change. Press releases and pitches will always have a place, but we do need to evolve as our audience does.
There are going to be more and more platforms that emerge in the future, and it’s going to be crucial to maneuver through the changes and identify how we can best utilize these emerging platforms to reach our audience.
Also, it’s not enough anymore to just focus on media relations; communication pros today need to be competent in social media strategies and various marketing tactics as well.
What advice do you have for those looking to begin a career in PR and communication?
Get as much experience as you can while you’re still in school. Do internships or volunteer work. Anything you do during this time will put you steps ahead of your peers, and that is so valuable when you’re competing with hundreds of other applicants!
Once you land the job, you have to be pretty fearless; don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Volunteer for projects that seem intimidating, network with professionals and don’t be discouraged when you find obstacles along the way.
Rapid Fire Round
1. My favorite social media platform is…Instagram.
2. If I was stuck on a desert island, I’d…probably pretend I was on “Survivor.”
3. One thing most people don’t know about me is…I’m absolutely terrified of frogs.
5. My guiltiest pleasure is…”The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
6. I laugh most at…memes.
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