I’ve had the pleasure to speak to students from a variety of Minnesota colleges and universities as of late. I’ve been delighted by their follow up and requests for informational interviews, one of my most favorite things to do on both ends of the process. A lot of inquiries about my job, how I got here, what I do and requests to come to the Mall to see what it all looks like day-to-day. I’ve scheduled quite a few of these, but thought I’d also post a recent interview that answers some questions about what I do for Mall of America courtesy of the awesome Aaron Landry, producer at Heavy Table and IT manager at Go East… and general online media talent and enthusiast. I’ve only posted the questions not featured in his interview here. The original interview can be viewed here.
How did you get started in this career and how did you start with Mall of America?
“When you were little, you were far more interested in people than in toys,” says my mom of me. That has never changed, and I as I ‘grow up’ my fascination of people, their behaviors and motivations only intensifies. My life-long love of people and appreciation for story telling originally placed me on the film studies path in college, which eventually turned into a love of the social sciences, interpersonal communication and PR.
I graduated from Metropolitan State University with a bachelor of arts in public relations. When faced with my senior capstone project, I thought it only appropriate to conduct my research on how online social networks were effecting the public relations discipline. This was a fascinating project, paired with research and writing internship I occupied at the time, which included a significant amount of MySpace (yes, I just said MySpace) and Facebook brand engagement. I landed in an integrated marketing agency in the Twin Cities and found that I mostly enjoyed working with the online marketing group on integrated marketing communications campaigns. I was then recruited to a small B2B (business to business) sales training company where I did in house PR and marketing. Important here to give a nod to my extensive experience working in fine dining restaurants through college, which will teach you more about a lot of different things that you could ever hope to know, namely fluency in exquisite customer service (something beyond vital in today’s business marketplace). Through all of this experience, I concluded that I belonged in and wanted a digital communications/PR hybrid role, so when Mall of America posted the position, I hopped on it.
During the day, where do you spend most of your time?
This is a difficult question to answer and varies on any given day. Community management (monitoring online conversation, curating content and engagement with folks) is a large piece of the pie on a day-to-day basis. In addition, developing systems and implementation of social media strategy into the organization is in strong focus. There are many other things touched on a daily bases and sometimes your day takes a completely different direction than your to-do list originally dictated. The Mall is a very vibrant place, full of constant activity, projects and opportunity. I try to spend as much time upstairs, as I’m able to see the faces of our guests and understand what joys they experience, as well as any challenges or obstacles to achieving that joy.
How do you work with other companies and other entities inside the mall? With all the stores with Foursquare specials and deals on Twitter, how do you curate what gets pushed on the Mall of America feeds?
Among my responsibilities is to develop social media strategy for the Mall, of which the first tier is education, which has many moving parts. Specific to tenants, we are in system development mode. In the interim, we have communicated to tenants what we are doing and how we are supporting social efforts at this time. A large piece of this is actually connecting with 500+ tenants, not including outside partners and prospects, to understand where they’re at and what they’d like to achieve specific to leveraging Mall social media tools. At this time we are reserving our Retailer Promotions and deals (hosted on the MOA Fashion Sense blog) to a weekly post on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, we tweet about Foursquare specials and other promotions when relevant. We have not yet decided our exact plan of attack on educating our communities about MOA Deals, but are getting close to having some notification systems for guests and other interested parties.
We have a handful of pioneering retailers offering LBS (location-based service) specials (with use of LBS tools like Foursquare and SCVNGR). Among those playing in the LBS space are Gap, Express, Rosetta Stone, Crave, Noodles, Steve Madden, American Eagle, 77 Kids, Hot Topic, Game Stop, Journeys, Famous Footwear, Payless and Radio Shack.
I noticed a lot of buzz around “Mall Cops: Mall of America” online. What part did the Mall of America take in helping fuel the enthusiasm about the show online?
When the show began airing, Bridget Jewell (my partner in crime and project manager for production of Mall Cops) and I assigned monitoring times and tasks during show times. In addition, we set up searches for Mall Cops: Mall of America and other terms on Twitter, using Google Alerts, Radian 6 and other monitoring services. Based on search results, we helped answer questions and participate in the enthusiasm that viewers were sharing online. The Mall of America Facebook page was used to alert our fans about each week’s episode and served as a place for comments. Due to interest and a high volume of conversation around the show, it was decided that Mall Cops: Mall of America should have its own page, which grew to more than 4,000 fans very quickly. In essence, it was our goal to be present when the conversations about Mall Cops were happening and engaging where appropriate.
There’s a lot in between all of this, so if you’re still here and interested, bop over here to read the rest. A big thanks to Aaron for his interest and the interview.