Born in the BBQ capital of the world, Owensboro, KY, Amanda Duncan has undoubtedly grown into an inspiring woman. Growing up, she worked on a tobacco farm with her family, but always knew she was meant for the city life (what PR gal doesn't?). Amanda is a social media junkie, crazy cat lady and Cincinnatian at heart. Taking advantage of the city life, she loves to attend Cincinnati Cyclones ice hockey games, pigging out on Tom + Chee's "Flying Pig", and spending spring days at Mirror Lake in Eden Park. After graduating from Northern Kentucky University in 2011, Amanda is now an Account Executive and Social Media Specialist at Mahan Advertising and my PR "Big". (It's a sorority thing) Q. Why Public Relations?
A. Public Relations seemed like a good fit for me. Initially I wanted to work in the music industry but didn’t want to be a performer. After researching and talking with college advisors, I felt Public Relations would allow me to do what I wanted.
If you would have told me then what I’m doing today, I would be surprised. PR is the “jack-of-all-trades” and has so many aspects to it. I’m learning every day but I have no regrets. I love PR!
Q. Did you have any internships throughout college?
A. I started interning as soon as I could. When I was a sophomore I interned for a non-profit theatre in my hometown for college credit. Although I filled the requirements of my major, I knew it wouldn’t be last internship. I loved getting real world industry experience.
Starting my junior year, I interned at an agency in Cincinnati called Empower Media Marketing. I interned there for almost a year and it was the best experience of my college career. This is where I completely refocused my career path. I learned that I loved agency. I loved the idea of working with national and local brands, being a voice for their social media, and working in a wide variety of industries. Seeing how an agency environment worked fascinated me. Through interning I learned that I love agency and I love Cincinnati.
Q. You were a member of PRSSA. Would you suggest joining to current college students? Why?
A. Yes! Networking is crucial in PR. Although you become familiar with classmates in your major, I met so many older students in PRSSA who were far ahead of me in the program. Many of them became successful individuals at companies like Kroger or P&G. Through PRSSA, I was able to network not just with fellow students but also with leaders in the industry. The guest speakers PRSSA chapters bring in are amazing. Every member should take advantage of this networking opportunity. You may find your future employer anywhere, so take advantage of every opportunity.
Q. What does a day at Mahan Advertising consist of for you?
A. Every day is different. I have about five client accounts I manage myself, but I help with some other accounts as well. I’ve done everything from website testing, focus groups, social media management to art directing creative for billboards. I couldn't even give you an itinerary because there's so much to do.
Q.What do you enjoy most about working at Mahan?
A. My favorite part is making my clients happy. I get so ecstatic when I work hard on something and get recognized for what I do.
For example, one highlight I’ve had at Mahan was getting one of our clients into QSR Magazine, a national online and print publication on quick service restaurants. Another example was when I planned an event in 12 different markets and it ended up being their most successful year. If I receive an email from a client and they are satisfied, my job is worth it!
Q. You've held a few social media positions. Any social media advice?
A. Social media is very underestimated by the general public. When I tell people what I do I get, “You get paid to be on Facebook?!” or people simply just don’t get it.
Social media is very strategic, you have to know what your audience likes, know what keeps them engaged, increase likes, and not break the Facebook rules. Trust me, it is a lot harder than you think. My heart pounds every time I post a status on a brand’s Facebook page that reaches over 5,000 people. It’s scary.
If you’re a current student here are a couple of things I advise: 1.) Be socially active: Have your profiles on public and be actively engaged in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Foursquare, Yelp or your own blog. On social media, it’s kind of like “the more the merrier”. The more personal experience you have, the better you’ll be in the transition to running a brand. 2.) Stay informed: Keep up with the industry by reading Mashable or Advertising Age. This will be great to discuss in an interview or find blog topics.
3.) Familiarize yourself with the rules: If you plan on working with any brands, familiarize yourself with Facebook’s rules and promotions along with other social channels (Pinterest, Instagram, etc.). The LAST thing you want is to get into legal trouble because you don’t know the rules. 4.) Follow brands: The best way to develop your own content is through observing other brands. Check out Facebook pages for a variety of industries; QSR (quick service restaurant), beauty or the pet industry. Take note of what type of content they are posting. Is it photos? Links? Are they running any contests? Are they breaking any rules?
Q. What keeps you motivated?
A. I’ve always felt like my career was the one thing that was mine and I knew I had control over it. I was very self-motivated in college but my mentor pushed me harder and helped me realize what I could become. Eventually, I’d like to become a Thought Leader for social media and speak at South by Southwest. Having goals and dreams is what keeps me going.
Q. Do you think you've found your PR niche?
A. Although I am continually learning, I feel social media management is definitely my forte. I’ve managed social media accounts for industries such as off-site airport parking, electrical distribution, organic soaps, to luxury pet suites. I love coming up with relevant content and challenging myself.
I’ve done theater all my life and I get that same satisfaction with social media. I transform myself into these brands and it can be a lot of fun. You learn how to be their voice, their vision, and the in and outs of that industry.
Q. What advice would you give to current PR students?
A. I can’t emphasize this enough-take a graphic design class. If your college or university doesn’t offer graphic design courses for non-majors; take an after school course or learn on your own. Every position I’ve held has expected me to do some kind of basic design. Small companies especially want graphic design experience. They would rather hire a PR person with some graphic design background than a PR person and a graphic designer.
That is the one and only thing I wish I had changed about my college experience. I minored in Spanish, which I love; however, I haven’t used it much since I graduated. I deal with graphic design and art directing on a day-to-day basis.
Follow Amanda on Twitter: @Vivaamanda