When you don’t know how to do something, you ask the experts—even if they're "kids.” That’s just what leading commercial insurance company FM Global did when they reached out to JWU students.
New PR Solution for Old Company The firm wants to use social media, particularly Twitter, in its public relations strategy. But social media is new, and FM Global is 175 years old. “We’re pretty traditional,” admits Steve Zenofsky, FM’s assistant vice president of public relations. Business Students to the Rescue So the firm went to Michelle Morin’s marketing class for some advice from a generation well-versed in the art of the Tweet.
The challenge: convince FM’s public relations group that Tweeting was not just advisable; it was essential. It was no small feat. Imagine older clients wading through the mysteries of Twitter, Zenofsky cautioned. “My question is, if you build it … will they come?” Morin says this concern is understandable. Twitter turns traditional marketing on its head, she says. “The challenge with social media is to engage and entertain, not just inform.” Presenting a PR Proposal So as Luis Rodriguez '10 addressed a panel of public relations reps at FM's headquarters, he and his classmates kept it simple.
“What do you want when you’re sitting at your desk at work?” he asked. “People spend a long day in the office. So they want some quick information and a laugh.” The students proposal featured a comic superhero, based on FM’s founder, to “come to the rescue” and answer client questions on Twitter.
The interactive style is perfect for social media, Rodriguez says. But it also shows how a traditional company can use new tools to market its services in a simple, direct way. Student Consultants Make an Impact “We were very impressed with everyone’s efforts, and the discussion that followed,” Zanofsky said. It shows how much JWU students have to offer, adds Gregg Perry, president of strategic communications firm The Perry Group.
“Anyone going into PR today has to be grounded in social media,” Perry says. He looked around at the students. “So we’re going to be listening to your ideas very carefully. Because you’re the experts."