It is difficult to find nearly perfect linear lines in nature; the same holds true for many professional career paths.
Many professionals tend to flow between different areas within a larger field throughout their careers. Each communication niche has specific goals in mind to achieve optimum understanding and positivity with their audience, especially in public relations. Jennifer Dohm, Head of Public Relations & Social Media for Hotels.com, has had a decade of experience in the field of Communication and Public Relations. In her eyes, public relations is, “what people think about your brand,” and “how you earn visibility in your consumers’ lives.” This exclusive take on PR with Jennifer Dohm reveals the thought process of the public relations role, providing insight on the effects of new versus traditional media and where public relations is heading in the future.
New Media v. Traditional Media
Especially in the last decade, new media has taken over traditional media. In Dohm’s experience, this has been a good thing, as she is given more freedom to flex her creative muscles. Before, she was quite restrained, for instance always being asked to talk to the media. Now, she is able to craft her own pitch ideas that will be received the best on various social media platforms. Although social media is an added challenge that didn’t exist 15 years ago, it also brings ample opportunity. With the tens of thousands of headlines seen each day on social media from various news outlets, cultivating an attention-grabbing headline is key for success. In her career thus far, Dohm has found a certain formula to work well: “XYZ brand launches XYZ dream job, and you get XYZ out of it.”
For example, Dohm and Hotels.com created this headline that led to thousands of applications: “The best summer job you can get: Hotels.com Pool Hop.” The job offered $10,000 for one person to stay at hotels for two weeks and write about which ones contained the best pools. Dohm added, “Wouldn’t you click on a headline that reads ‘this company will pay you $10,000 to swim in hotel pools for the summer?’ I would certainly want to learn more.”
Where PR is Heading in the Future
The only thing constant in life is death, taxes, and change; nothing stays the same forever, and public relations is no different. Over the years, Ms. Dohm has worked with several companies, some of which still have a traditional centric mindset focused solely on the brand. She thinks that these companies will get lost along the way because media has so many possible things they can cover, such as popular and trending stories. These companies need to figure out how they can get themselves in the middle. Traditionally, PR and media focused more on the company’s brand alone as opposed to being a part of a larger conversation and working with other brands that align with their goals. Ms. Dohm thinks many PR stories in the future will contribute to this style of thinking. For example, Justin Bieber has been wearing hotel slippers in public for the last few years and has sold a line of them over the holidays. This caught Hotels.com’s eye, and they capitalized on the moment and officially registered National Hotel Slipper Day for Justin Bieber’s 25th birthday. Hotels.com then proceeded to tweet out Bieber saying, “Happy Birthday Justin, we are making today National Hotel Slipper Day in your honor.” After the tweet, Bieber’s team reached out to Hotels.com, saying how cool they thought the gesture was and wanted to collaborate with Hotels.com for Justin’s next hotel slipper release. “To think this could be a news story even six or seven years ago is crazy,” says Ms. Dohm. “But that’s how it works now and moving forward, you have got to jump into culture and be really quick.”
Advice to COMM Students
Asked to give advice to the next generation of public relations representatives, Dohm encouraged students to “look for companies where public relations and social media are already embedded in the marketing team.” Dohm added that people shouldn’t be afraid to take a job that they might not necessarily enjoy right away. While this job may not be the best, it is temporary, can provide valuable experience, and could be a transition into another job that is more desirable.
LinkedIn: Jennifer Dohm
Story Authored By: Joshua Konecke and Kevin Dohm
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