From Athens, Ohio to Walla Walla, Washington: My Interview With Melaina Lewis

Kelsey Miller

Melaina Lewis graduated in the Spring of 2015 from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism to pursue a career in digital and social media marketing for the admissions office at Whitman College in Washington State. As a student, Melaina was extremely involved in where she served on the PRSSA executive board for three years. For her senior year, she was the director of ImPRessions, the student-run PR firm on campus. With her leadership, the firm won the PRSSA National Award for Best Firm in the

Melaina Lewis (center) with her mentee, Jess Carnprobst after accepting the Ron Culp Scholarship for Mentorship

Melaina Lewis (center) with her mentee, Jessica Carnprobst, after accepting the Ron Culp Mentor Scholarship

nation.

Lewis also received the Ron Culp Scholarship for Mentorship from PRSSA National and the Outstanding Student Media Leader in Strategic Communication award from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Melaina has always been a great role model, mentor and friend. Since she’s always been someone I’ve admired, I decided to take some time to pick her brain about what it’s like in the business of social media with a university.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring social media professional?

A: I would tell social media professionals stay up-to-date with news, technology, and industry topics/trends (whatever industry you choose to be in). Since digital media changes so rapidly, the hardest part of the job is staying relevant and knowing what media demographics are using or interested in. Know your industry, know your data and start to develop a way to spot trends. It will help you plan media strategically.

Q: What is the most challenging part of the job?

A: The most challenging part of my job is truly marketing to millennials. As millennials ourselves, we understand that hundreds of brands are fighting for our attention each day, we’re pushing for change and want to connect with brands who share our values not just sell a product we need. So making a college stand out with similar marketing messages that match dozens of other colleges can be difficult and takes a lot of creativity (and then you have to get everyone on board).

Q: What is your biggest social media pet peeve that you see brands do?

A: My biggest pet peeve is when brands jump on a trending hashtag just for the sake of being “relevant.” Plan to be helpful, intentful, strategic, and useful.

Q: What people/organizations do you follow to stay up-to-date on social media trends and why?

A:

Inside Higher Ed

Ologie

Tech Crunch

Slate

Forbes

Chronicle of Higher Education

Hubspot

The Muse

These bring a great mix of what’s causing controversy or setting trends.

Q: Would you explain some tools that you use to plan, implement, or evaluate social media campaigns?

A: For my job I really like Hootsuite, Tailwind, Facebook analytics/scheduler, Chegg, Piktochart, and just a regular old calendar to plan a social calendar. Hootsuite helps build out content in advance (if you like doing it that way), Chegg helps plan digital advertising, Facebook obviously is a new data monster and has its own great analytics and scheduling program. Piktochart is awesome for quickly whipping up infographics/posters. Tailwind does a nice job with Instagram analytics.

After interviewing Melaina, I realized how difficult working at a university is. Melaina has worked with higher education through internships she’s had through Ohio University as a student and now does it professionally and still struggles trying to stay relevant with millennials….and she is one! She makes an excellent point in that there are hundreds of universities trying to get attention from potential students — how can you make one small university in Walla Walla, WA or Athens, OH stand out above the rest? This is one thing I’ve also struggled with as a student.

I assumed it would get easier, but it doesn’t. Social media is somewhat formulaic, but it certainly is not a science quite yet. With millennials’ being so finicky in what they like, it is CRUCIAL to stay up-to-date with trends on a weekly, or even daily, basis. It seems like Melaina is very well equipped wit organizations to keep herself up to speed with trends!

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