Senior Social Media & Digital Content Specialist, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
AMADC, Membership Committee and Ambassador, formerly Marketing Mentors Network (Mentee)
How long have you been a member of AMADC?
Two years. I attended an analytics event and learned about the Marketing Mentors Network. I joined, the next year my mentor Andrea Smith became chair of the membership committee, so I followed her to that team!
Tell us about your professional background.
I’m a mix; I specialize in digital marketing and communication, and health. Some of my subspecialties are social media, content strategy, plain language, branding, strategic communication, and campaigns. I’ve worked across very large entities, like Johns Hopkins and the Food and Drug Administration, and have also helped launch start-ups, for example Classic Custom Medical, a medical isolation products company, or in a government context, the FDA Office of Minority Health’s strategic communication program, which was established as a part of the Affordable Care Act.
I earned my bachelor’s in Communication from Tulane University in 2010 and my master’s in Communication, concentration in Health and Digital, from Johns Hopkins University in 2016. Right now I’m studying for certifications including Google Adwords and AMA Professional Certified Marketer, and considering Facebook Blueprint.
What attracted you to the marketing profession? What keeps you inspired?
I started off between public health and communication. And I’m still a very idealistic person—I love that there is purpose behind the work that I do. But the strategy, messaging, and creativity make it so me.
Actionable insights are fun to find. Then, I love uncovering the sweet spot in a message, look, and feel that moves my audience, and when a campaign or a feature really knocks it out of the park. It’s so fun when I notice little things that I wrote become part of the culture; I love that I get to create the culture.
The people I work with inspire me the most. I work at Johns Hopkins, the people are special—including our guests and partners. They’ve had incredible experiences, developed culture-changing things (literally!), and I just get to talk to people, hear amazing stories and learn brand-new things, everyday. I can only work with products I think are amazing. When I think it’s amazing, I communicate it in a way that is equally amazing, and it turns into a ton of web traffic. There’s been a 56% increase in traffic to our magazine and blog since I started.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming marketers in your field?
First, social media is a great place to start. It’s so big, critical to our field, and really helps you learn how to connect with an audience. And you don’t have to be particularly extroverted or an “influencer” to do it well. Second, you don’t have to go it alone or recreate the wheel—find people doing what you’re interested in and get to know them. Informational interviews are so helpful for figuring things out and those relationships build your network. I highly recommend the Marketing Mentors Network, too.
Be conscious about what skills you want to build, and look for opportunities to work on them inside and outside of work. I took up photography to improve my overall communication skills, volunteered with my church’s social media team, and speak up and tell my superiors if there is a new project I’d like to take on and grow into. Recently that was improving my understanding of and skills with paid search and social media, and campaigns.
Sometimes there will be setbacks and a breakthrough might take a little longer than you’d like, but keep showing up. The time will pass anyway.
How do you see the role of the marketing, communications and advertising industry in supporting diversity, equity and inclusion to build a more inclusive culture?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are not determined by marketing. They are determined by organizational leadership and are only done well if there is true buy in at the highest level. Marketing reflects the level of organizational commitment—you’ll run into trouble if your marketing is extremely diverse but the actual experience is not, which is an issue in higher education.
That said, the stories we tell and the images we convey become reality. It’s our responsibility to be honest and authentic. For messaging, it’s so important to read the room, remember nothing about us without us, and own it when you have work to do (remember the black box fiasco last summer?). Go deeper than a historic photo or a name change and show systemic change from within. For profiles, let people tell their story — don’t try to fit them into your narrative. And finally, at a basic advertising level make sure you fairly rotate your features so no one feels left out, and commit to using the right lighting and production tools for different skin tones.
Marketing, communication, and advertising have the power to move hearts and minds, as well as drive sales. The world we live in, everyone is not the same. But everyone should feel welcome and be heard, and the stories we tell make that real, inside our organizations and in the culture. Across industries, what we build is so much stronger and more anticipated when we’re all invited to bring our unique gifts and insights to the table.
If you could have done anything differently, what would it have been? In other words, what would your older self say to your younger self?
I wish I knew about more marketing and communication rotational programs, fellowships, and internships before I aged out of them (although I was an ORISE Fellow with the Food and Drug Administration). Some of them are really good, introduce you to a variety of departments within an organization, and really round out your skills and polish off your education. I’d also say don’t avoid the hard classes. They always come back anyway, and make a big difference for your qualifications.
On a personal note...
Fun fact, right before quarantine started I was front row on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert!