Q&A: Sydney Holmes
- Name: Sydney Holmes
- Age: 22
- Hometown: Houston, Texas
- Position: Public Relations Coordinator
- Company: TOWN Residential, New York City
Sydney Holmes graduated from the College of Media & Communication in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism. From the beginning of Holmes's college career, she knew she wanted to be a writer. She worked for The Daily Toreador for three years as a columnist and reporter. From there, she helped launch the college's multimedia news outlet, The Hub@TTU, in September 2012. As an entertainment director for The Hub, Holmes created sports and entertainment content. As students sent in material to contribute to The Hub, Holmes took part in editing and posting their content for publication.
Before graduating, Holmes obtained internships with Wilks Broadcasting and CBS Radio in New York. As a digital media intern for CBS Radio, Holmes wrote material for music and celebrity gossip articles for national syndication. Holmes used social media to foster audience engagement, run contests, and promote concerts.
Holmes now holds the position of public relations coordinator for Town Residential in the Greater New York City Area.
How do you use social media in your everyday activities as a PR coordinator for TOWN Residential?
TOWN is less than three years old, so the last few years have been focused mostly on getting the business off the ground. At TOWN Residential, we are learning how to promote ourselves via social media. That's something that set me apart when interviewing for the job. I knew enough about social media and, like I said before, was a strong enough writer that the combination of those two things made me a good fit.
As of now, we have a company that takes care of our social media that I work closely with. I provide them stories I write within the PR department. They then send me copy for approval and post once everything is put together. I talk with them about our parties and events that are most notable. Or if a story isn't necessarily worth an entire press release and pitch, we at least will put it on social media to get clicks on our pages. I'm now learning about peak hours and when the most people are on each social network at any given time.
Describe your position as a digital media intern for CBS Radio.
I created original content for all three CBS websites, transcribed interviews, made sure social media was up-to-date, and filmed and edited man-on-the-street interviews for online. I got the opportunity to meet celebrities and make tons of connections with record labels and writers. I helped set up the interview equipment and learned more about video editing and board operating. I became a nationally syndicated writer while working there.
At CBS Radio, was social media a tool that you utilized? If so, in what way?
TweetDeck was my life. At any event I attended, I was using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for everything. We tweeted and posted to our Facebook our online content at least once an hour and cross-promoted on all relevant stations. Social media were everything.
Each time new material was created, we used social media outlets to push it out. We would schedule our postings as much as possible, so that when we left the station our social media was still promoting content.
When it came to hashtags, we had to be selective. We'd have to utilize hashtags that were short and simple for others to follow, so that could trend or at least have a chance of trending.
As a director for The Hub@TTU, how did you use social media in the areas of sports and entertainment?
Social media was vital to our growth at The Hub. We started from the ground up, and with that came the need to grow and progress and think a little outside of the norm. We had a designated social media person, Claudia Tristan, who controlled all social media outlets to have one sync voice online. We posted all types of entertainment content from spring break blogs to movie trailers. It was an interesting balance to find. If we were at an event, we would tweet and Instagram from The Hub@TTU. The world is so visual now, so we always made sure to have a picture handy.
When we promoted the logo contest for our Valentine's Day party, we got an overwhelming response of students who wanted to get involved. I specifically remember a time when Anthony Hall was live-tweeting the Student Government Association elections and scandal which increased the number of followers for The Hub.
In our monthly reports, the majority of our traffic was from Facebook and Twitter. The more social media was used for a story, the more clicks it got on our site.
What advice can you share with students who are looking for internships?
Don't be afraid to shoot for the big time. Interning at CBS in New York was the greatest introduction I could have had to “real-life.” Talk to as many people as you can because someone somewhere is going to have a connection to where you want to be. I won't say it's all about who you know, because there is something to be said for hard work and tenacity, but if you're lucky enough and you ask the right questions, you can get your foot in any door.
What skills would you recommend students have in order to obtain a job or internship in public relations?
Well, I didn't have an internship in public relations. I was a journalism major, which actually has helped me vastly. Understanding the other side of my job—the reporter's view—has put me in a different realm of public relations. I'm a different type of commodity than someone who has been trained solely in public relations. Of course, I'm playing catch-up and learning constantly, but I come at things with a different angle.
Learn how to write. While the industry is changing, writing is not becoming obsolete. It's actually a commodity because most people our age are neglecting their writing skills. Knowing how to write, being articulate, and being open to learn can be the difference between, “Nice to meet you,” and “When can you start?”
Almost everyone understands the social media basics, but if you can couple that with strong writing skills, you're in.
How did the College of Media & Communication prepare you for the professional world?
It's so easy to get swallowed up in the sheer size of Tech. The College of Media & Communication is huge, but getting involved in organizations like The Hub@TTU is really what propelled me forward. The professors that surrounded The Hub were especially interested in helping me get to where I wanted to be. I wrote as often as I could and because of The Hub, I was able to build a pretty extensive resume that got me noticed. If you can forge relationships with professors, do it. That was the quickest way I learned was by getting to know and understand what different aspects and real-life events they brought to the table. Being close to Pete Brewton, Kelly Kaufhold, Paul Hunton, Todd Chambers, Robert Wernsman and so many other teachers made me feel like the college was actually invested in my future and where I ended up. I was obnoxious about the fact that I wanted to be in New York, and while other people talked me down and told me how expensive and hard it would be, my professors knew that, while my successes may not come initially, if they're going to happen, they would definitely happen in New York.