Carving Out a Place for “ME” in the Midst of a Recession

Businessman walking out of office with box full of stuffRemember in 5th grade when your teacher told you there were NO stupid ideas? While I thought Ms. Goldfeder was trying to make the kid feel better we all laughed (read: ME!), I had NO idea that statement would turn out to be the best advice I could apply to the business world.

It’s no big secret that the US is in one of the worst recessions of our lifetime. And while every other person I knew became victims of cut-backs, my job seemed to be bulletproof. Our agency worked hard and the clients were happy, all was right in “Wonderland.” Of course with the state of the economy, the nagging thought was always in the back of my mind – if the client cut back I would be on the chopping block.

Less than a month later my nagging thought became a reality. Instead of waiting for the axe to drop and my walking papers to be signed, I took a proactive stance; I HAD to carve a space for myself that would make me an invaluable asset to the company. No matter what hardball was thrown my way, if I found my niche, which was also profitable to the company, should the time come for layoffs – I would be indispensible.

After reading one of my favorite Wall Street Journal blogs – Laid Off and Looking – the light bulb came on. While my CEO, THE “Branding Renaissance Woman,” could literally be EVERYTHING to everyone in the branding process, there was one area she was highly interested in but never had enough time to properly implement – social media. My potential “niche” was near slapping me in the face.

With her interest of social media in mind, I immersed myself in everything I could get my hands on. I read about brand building via social media, I talked to industry experts on developing a social media strategy; I even tapped into my resources like the network of former colleagues who were implementing social media plans for their clients and attended some digital immersion courses to get an initial grasp of the concept.

Prepared is putting it lightly – I went into the CEO with a “game-plan.” I presented my ideas and was awarded the opportunity to prove how useful social media could be starting with one client – OUR agency. In hindsight it was my Everest. Although I worked for the company for four years my time was spent concentrating on the client, never the agency. I know what our business is but was I really truly, knowledgeable about our brand? With the support of my CEO, I set out on my conquest.

The results were spectacular. Not only did our agency get more media coverage than it had in OVER eight years, we also rekindled relationships with former clients (who were in the market for branding services!) and built a database of new clients. Perhaps the BEST outcome was obtaining a clear understanding of my agency’s brand – something that is beyond valuable!

Today, after our own “tried and tested” success, our agency offers clients social media strategy as part of bundled branding services.  Going from the fear of losing my job to working with a new range of clients has been a whirlwind.  It has not only given me a new area of concentration but I also have a better grasp on how to strategize and promote a brand properly. AND the icing on the cake – I honestly look forward to going to work everyday!

Thank goodness for Ms. Goldfeder, her “crazy” advice, my CEO’s faith in my abilities and her willingness to challenge me to prove my value. When you find your “sweet spot” it can not only benefit you but your company and in turn our clients.  Yes, the actual approach will differ depending on a company’s needs, but take away is – take a chance! If you’re determined to be a success you really can’t go wrong.

kreeKristen Massaro is the Director of Social Media, Communications for STC Associates in New York City. Having spent six years in the communications and PR world, Kristen has a passion for non-profit public relations and is currently in the process of starting her own non-profit, the Fearless Heart Fund, which was inspired by her 2 year old goddaughter who received a heart transplant in 2008.  A born and raised NYer, Kristen has a love for roller coasters, the New York Yankees and her dog, Alfie.

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