Q&A: April Cunningham
- Name: April Cunningham
- Age: 23
- Hometown: Houston, Texas
- Position: Video Specialist
- Company: Dallas Market Center
April Cunningham graduated from the College of Media & Communication in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism. During her collegiate career, Cunningham kept herself busy with various jobs and internships. She was a news intern for KAMC 28 News/KLBK 11 News, where she shadowed reporters, wrote stories and conducted interviews for broadcast and online, and edited videos. Cunningham was also an investigative reporter for The Daily Toreador. She conducted extensive research of many public records, along with in-person interviews for newsworthy material. Additionally, Cunningham maintained the position of student telecounselor for Texas Tech's Undergraduate Admissions for a year and a half. She served as a liaison for prospective students inquiring about admissions and campus visits. After graduating, Cunningham was picked from thousands of applicants to intern with Southwest Airlines as an audio/video production and digital broadcast intern. While at Southwest, she worked on many film projects for the company which gave her the opportunity to travel around the country. Cunningham is now the video specialist for the Dallas Market Center.
How do you utilize social media as the video specialist for the Dallas Market Center?
I view social media as any platform that connects you with an audience. With that being said, for my direct position, all the videos I create for my company help develop our brand and better connect us with our customer base. We host these videos on YouTube or Vimeo and then share them on Facebook and Twitter as another way to connect. As for my department (there are five of us), we use Pinterest to highlight trends and products that can be found in our marketplace. Instagram is also a platform we use to showcase trends and products. We're a large wholesale company, and we sell everything from lighting to apparel, so we want to show buyers we have the best products and that they can find all their needs at our marketplace. Pinterest and Instagram are great avenues for that. We also use Facebook and Twitter as a way to check-in with our retailers and exhibitors, share exciting news, post events, and other various things. I often proofread our Facebook and Twitter posts on HootSuite before they go out. I work closely with the public relations department on a series of videos which show our exhibitors how to connect with us on social media.
Can you describe your internship experience with Southwest Airlines?
Interning with Southwest Airlines was a great and fruitful experience. I put my filming and video editing skills to work and got a taste of the corporate side of communications. I traveled around the country for various work assignments, and I realized how much I enjoyed working for a company and helping develop and grow its brand.
As journalism major, how did social media play a part in your curriculum and work experience?
In just a few short years, social media has completely changed the way news is reported. Journalists are now competing with Twitter users for breaking stories; news stations use Facebook to connect with viewers and find stories, and so on and so forth. Regardless of which side of communications you enter, whether it's corporate or news, it's important to be social media savvy. These days it seems to be the best way to connect with your audience. However, the most important role social media has played in my experience, is reinforcing the importance of being right rather than being first. With all the social media platforms out there and the desire to be the first to break a story, it is easy to jump the gun. No one will remember who broke it first, but rather who got it right and who got it wrong. My professors instilled this notion in us in college, and I have seen it play out in the real world.
How did the College of Media & Communication prepare you for the real world?
The College of Media & Communication prepared me for the real world in a number of ways, but the professors impacted me the most. I was blessed with great professors who truly cared about my future, and these professors came to be mentors and important individuals in my life. I walked away with something from every single one of my classes because of these professors and their honesty, knowledge and experiences in various fields. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I have to give the College of Media & Communication a lot of credit for where I am today.
What advice would you give to students who want to pursue a career in new media?
The media world is constantly evolving, so you have to be willing to evolve with it. Learn how to do it all—be a great writer, learn how to shoot and edit video, become well-versed in social media, dabble in design. It's great to specialize in something, but learning other skills will take you far. My current position mainly involves video filming and editing, but since I have a journalism background, I also draft talking points for interviews, proofread emails and press releases, and occasionally write a post for the company's blog. Having the ability to go beyond your basic job duties will prove to be beneficial to not only your future employer, but to you as well. Also, never be afraid to put yourself out there because you are the only person who can hold yourself back.
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