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This week I interviewed Lauren Fernandez. Lauren is one of the first people I met on Twitter who has always inspired me to take (smart) chances in the Social Media world. She is friendly, energetic, and a real mentor to new and experienced PR professionals. This caffeine addict relies on coffee to get her through the day but Diet Coke will also suffice. Lauren enjoys spending time with her family, especially her grandparents. When she isn’t working as Marketing Coordinator for Mensa, you can find her at the beach or just being outside listening to AC/DC or even to 2 Live Crew. And so, I give you Lauren Fernandez discussing her position at Mensa and how she became what I call a Social Media superstar.
Your professional career began with an internship at Moroch Partners. How did it prepare you for your job at Mensa?
My professional career began with an amazing internship with Moroch Partners in their entertainment division. I spent 6 months working on the 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight accounts, then was moved to Sony Pictures. Under the direction of my boss, I handled grassroots marketing at local colleges, helped with promotions, helped with advance movie screenings, helped with actor PA tours and much more. I learned what it meant to work hard – and never stop moving. High energy is a must at Moroch – the people there are passionate about their work and believe in it. It taught me dedication, hard work and knowing what it was like when the two paid off. It was an incredible opportunity, and prepared me for the professional world. I knew I could do anything I set my mind to after working there.
Tell me about your position as Marketing Coordinator for Mensa.
At Mensa, it’s never dull. I feel working for an association suits me because there is always something new and different. It’s one of the most exciting places to work, because I get to work with more than 57,000 members with a variety of interests, all walks of life, in ages ranging from 2-106. (Yes, there is a 2 year old Mensa member!) I work on national media, including newspapers, radio and TV. I coordinate distribution of national news releases, track press clippings, responds to media inquiries, and keeps the standard press kit updated. I also coordinate publicity for national events. I’m the office lead for Mensa Testing Day, tracking advertising and group participation, developing a list of testing sites, and preparing correspondence to be sent to all prospects. I head up the social media campaign for Mensa as well.
I also serve as in-house PR counsel for 135 Local Groups to assist them with their marketing efforts. I help them generate media lists, brainstorm ideas for publicity and marketing, assist with local test administration, and provide in-house PR counsel. I have much more responsibility at a young age than I ever would have working in an agency.
For my type of personality, working for Mensa just fits. It’s high energy, putting others (members) first, and handling national media on a large scale. Plus, I get to serve as in-house PR counsel and help members get publicity at a local level.
What does a social media campaign for Mensa entail?
Our social media efforts include engaging with our members, prospects, letting them know about our promotions, event notifications, new podcasts, etc. I even ask our followers what their weekend plans are. Mensa is a social organization first, so we tend to be quirky and friendly on social media efforts.
How did you gain respect from your peers in order for them to trust you with that amount of responsibility?
I gained respect by working hard, asking questions and trying to learn as much as possible from my supervisors. I try to learn something new everyday – and meetings and establishing a working relationship eases that.
You started blogging in January and created a real name for yourself in the SM world. How did it all start?
My first steps were to convince myself I could do it. Anyone can start a blog or write it – you just have to find your niche. I had two mentors, Arik Hanson and David Mullen, who pushed me and told me I could do it. In that sense, I also looked to them for advice as I went along. David was never scared to say: “Lauren, I like you and all, but your blogs are way too long.” That was a turning point for my blog – I fine tuned, started engaging and have a great community going.
I started it because I was always taught you have something to say – and I was never oppressed either. If I have a platform, with thoughts, I should go for it. Some of my favorite blogs: Arik Hanson, David Mullen, Stuart Foster, David Spinks, Rachel Kay and Richie Escovedo. Their words continue to inspire me to be a better professional every day.
How do you draw the line between getting too personal on twitter or your blog?
I ask myself if it will embarrass me – and if it doesn’t, ask if it would embarrass my dad. My dad is very old-fashioned and traditional, and it makes me stop and think a lot of times before I post. Some of mine are quirky, but that’s just who I am. People have to accept you for your are without censorship.
What do you hope to accomplish through your blog?
I honestly just hope my blog makes someone stop and think. They don’t have to agree with me, but my best lessons were when someone gave me something to chew on.
What are 3 rules that you live by in regards to your career?
Listen, Innovate and Engage: Listen to your peers and supervisors, and learn from them. Innovate your ideas and present them to whoever will listen. Engage with those around you, because you have common ground with pretty much everyone.
As always I urge you to join our coffee talk and add to the questions/comments. If you have any additional questions for Lauren please post them below and we’ll see if she can spare a few more minutes for some answers.