Company: 451 Marketing
Interviewee: Lauren Benyo
Interviewer: Maithe Penaherrera
A few words from Maithe Penaherrera; a member of BUMKC:
My interview with Ms. Benyo was very informational and made me feel more confident in my decision to concentrate in marketing at SMG. I was ambivalent of the job market and worried about graduating with a job but her insight on how this job field works, I believe, has given me a new perspective on what my goals should be and how I should go about in trying to achieve them.
Lauren Benyo is a graduate of Boston University School of Communications with a degree in Public Relations and a Business minor from the School of Management. She is currently the account executive on the national team for 451 Marketing. 451 Marketing began as a company who catered to their clients mainly on a digital level but added Lauren’s PR team 3-4 years ago. She and her team work with clients on the national consumer brand level such as Yankee Candles with a focus on tier one national media and national broadcasting.
Maithe: Did you always know you wanted to do Public Relations? What made you get into this?
Lauren: No, I always liked writing and knew that was what I wanted to do but when I started taking more journalism classes it was more about structured writing and very focused on news writing and I’m not really a huge stickler for rules. I’m more into the creativity of developing an idea or telling a story so I decided news journalism wasn’t really for me and with that I switched into PR. I had known a little bit about it based on my intro courses but it seemed to be more in line with what I wanted to do by telling a story and creating a story that you want to tell without the really strict word count and professional diction, I wasn’t into that. I got my business minor because it’s great to have a business background, my goal was always to work with big brands too so obviously knowing about the inner workings of how large corporations work and having a perspective about what they’re going through is always good.
Maithe: You graduated not too long ago, how was it getting into the marketing world in terms of job opportunities?
Lauren: Well, 2010 was a tough year although I hear it was better than 2009. But it’s good news for you guys because it’s definitely getting easier, people are a little more confident in how the economy is going and more people are willing to hire. But it’s still a tough place because it’s such a young profession so a lot of people you end up working with are in a narrow age range which is kind of unique to a handful of industries. Chances are most of your bosses are going to be 50 or younger which in some ways makes it very competitive. One thing I always tell my interns: don’t worry about having a job the day that you graduate, obviously it’s great if you do and it’s the ideal situation but a lot of times you see things. My friends in finance graduated with a position at PWC already, but you just don’t see that in marketing. I applied for jobs around Feb./Mar. before graduating and people were interested but they needed someone that could start working 2 weeks later so that’s kind of the road rough of marketing, but I tell people to not get discouraged by that, really start submitting your resume and cover letters around April…it’s a very last minute thing, the way it works in most marketing companies is they hire after they win a client so when a client hires a company they do not have the money to start later. You shouldn’t really panic if you don’t have a job in April, it’s not a big deal.
Maithe: Did u work on the Hood blimp?
Lauren: We did actually! We like to do a lot of social media stuff, a lot of different contests for Hood, just recently over the holiday weekend we did a whole promotion around Hood cream. They wanted to promote the kind of upscale cooking that could be made with their products so we had a food truck giving away samples of soup made by local renowned chefs with Hood products.
Maithe: The Hood blimp, that is old school PR/ marketing mixed with social media, do you think this interactive mixture is best, what do you think is the best kind of marketing or PR?
Lauren: It really depends on your goals for the company and what you’re promoting. Looking at the blimp, it’s like you said, pretty old school, and actually two years ago there was no Hood blimp because there is only one blimp in America and it was already booked so Hood couldn’t get “The Blimp;” so when you look at something old school like that it’s really more interesting and beneficial when you bring in the social media and newer forms of marketing because you need to freshen it up and make it interesting. If there is one thing marketers have learned it’s that you can’t do the same thing every year, it’s not going to work. So that’s always a good way to freshen up something that’s maybe a bit more traditional and old school and it’s also a nice way to tell a story that maybe a younger generation does not know. It’s better than putting it in a super market circular and reaching a new age group with a product that’s more traditional. We hardly do anything that’s just traditional PR.
Maithe: Where do you see PR five years from now?
Lauren: Social networks dictate where marketing is going. The little that I do know about that is that there are a lot of rules of what you can promote, how you can promote it, who you can promote it to. So as those rules shift and change the marketing that goes with them will as well. As far as traditional PR, it’s kind of been happening the past couple of years, we’re being asked to create content that’s a lot different than what our predecessors where asked for. So when we look back at the history of the profession it was previously about being able to coordinate an interview, a press conference, or write a quote. Pretty short list of stuff because the media you were doing this for was a short list: newspaper, magazine, TV station. But in the last 10 years the internet changed everything. Whether it’s social media, online content, or blogs; which are important but they’re also a slippery slope, anyone can be a blogger, where do you draw the line to with who’s important and who’s not is something a lot of clients struggle with. At this point we get asked from updating website copying, updating press releases, media alerts, we get asked to approve story boards when our clients make videos to post on YouTube or twitter, we get asked to create contest ideas. That Hood food truck was completely new; it was “we have a bottle of cream sitting in the middle of the table, it is not interesting, it is not cool, what can we do to make it all these things?” We create events, promotions; the scope of work has totally broadened and being able to incorporate social media and search marketing is really important. Also, a lot of PR is creating and maintaining relationships and the number of relationships we have to maintain has skyrocketed. It used to be five people. Now I have to pick people out of twitter, bloggers, and online news outlets. Things like the Huffington post are popping up everywhere but they don’t have any printed docs and their writers come from all over the world, so how do you manage that?
Maithe: What has been your favorite campaign/client?
Lauren: My personal interest is with luxury services. I came here and I’ve been working with a couple of very similar clients, if I had to pick a favorite, Ariana skin care. They are a Dead Sea mineral skin care company and we helped them open their first store here in Boston. The owner is from Israel, been to the dead sea every Saturday since birth, the founder when she was in high school got diagnosed with cancer, had to go through various chemo and there’s a lot of things you can’t ingest, chemicals you can’t put on your skin because it was so sensitive and your immune system is so weak. All of her products are great for people who have some kind of medical skin issue, or just sensitive skin in general. It’s all good for you, which is not something a lot of companies can say. I use a lot of their products now; it’s really good for you. They’re one of those clients that you just feel good helping out. We did the store launch, about 50 people in their tiny store. We had 25 media rsvps, the client was happy. She was recommending us to everyone. She was so happy, they’ve been my favorite thing to work on so far, I would have worked for them for no money. It’s something to feel good about.
Maithe: So any advice, closing tips for students?
Lauren: I would say, have an idea of what you want because marketing is a very broad field and you can pretty much do anything. You should have an idea of what you want to do and definitely go after it, whatever it takes. There is a lot of different ways people don’t necessarily think abut to get into the field they want. Let’s say sports PR, the only way to do that is not only to work for the team, you could work for a closely tied charity of a team or an athlete. With that said, don’t put on a blinder, there’s a lot to be said about having a plan but keep an open mind. I thought I wanted to do sports marketing for a while, then restaurants and now I’m in consumer goods. It was something I was unsure of for a while but now I know that’s where my sweet spot is. But I wouldn’t have gotten here without a plan. Things happen for a reason. Be open to things that do come up that u wouldn’t have thought of before.