Meet Deirdre Breakenridge- Our October 2014 Lady Lennia
What makes you an expert for Millennials and education?
For the past 27 years, my experience in PR and marketing and navigating new technology has given me a well-rounded perspective on the disruptive changes in the field of communications. To think, I started my career in the days of the typewriter and fax machine, and now we’re using social and mobile technologies in our communication programs to build relationships. I’ve also spent the last 14 years researching and writing books on PR, marketing and social media and teaching for more than a decade on the university level. My passion is educating students and young professionals, so they’re ready to tackle the communications challenges businesses face today.
What led you to becoming a marketing professor?
The opportunity came about when I was completing my MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). Sitting in a class, the professor was discussing the topic of brand messaging online. I had just published my first book, Cyberbranding, and shared some of my insights on the subject. He asked me if I would give a copy of my book to the Dean and long story short, the next thing I knew I was an adjunct professor at FDU. I taught Interactive Marketing and PR for their Global Business Management program for about seven years.
Tell us about a difficult client you’ve had before and how did you help them?
Sometimes it is challenging for clients to find an interesting way to tell their story. Mostly because they just don’t have breakthrough technology or a product that is revolutionary to the market. You have to find the excitement or figure out how others can be motivated to share on your behalf. A few years ago, I had an online steak and seafood client. We used National Nutrition Month as an opportunity for our food bloggers to take advantage of $75.00 gift certificates used on the client’s e-commerce site. The bloggers selected steak and seafood products to make their favorite healthy and nutritious recipes, which were showcased on their blogs. The program was a success with influential bloggers raving about our client’s products, and sharing their recipes with friends. Awareness spiked, website traffic increased and the program continued long after National Nutrition Month ended.
In what ways has marketing changed with technology?
The technological changes have been so advantageous and they continue to occur. Today, marketers and PR professionals can really tune in and understand so much more about their audiences, by monitoring conversations in social communities. You are invited to hear what customers say and then do something good with the valuable feedback. Naturally, the ability to interact with your stakeholders through collaborative technology also creates more intimacy, translating into loyalty and advocacy. Because of technology, consumers are feeling closer to the brands they like and they are involved in the brand-building process. Technology is changing consumer behavior and brands need to deliver what customers want and in the manner that they prefer.
How many books have you written?
I’ve published five books in total. My first book, Cyberbranding, was published back in 2000, but I started writing the manuscript in 1999. Taking a year to publish basically made the book obsolete when it hit the shelves. Technology and communication continues to change rapidly. By the time I wrote my fifth book, Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for PR Professionals, we had the book out in a fraction of the time.
Can you tell us what PR 2.0 is?
PR 2.0 marked a time in public relations that revitalized what we do, based on the proliferation of social media. Suddenly, PR needed a new approach to participate with customers and other stakeholders directly and more transparently in their social media communities. PR 2.0 became a way to be targeted and have peer-to-peer interactions with customized stories. Consumers were no longer tolerating “spammy” broadcast messages and PR professionals learned quickly that human and open dialog was the only way to interact with people. At the end of the day, with these monumental changes, we realized an entirely new way to plan and strategize our programs, being much more effective with our communication to the public.
What has been your biggest struggle in achieving your goals? How are you overcoming it?
My biggest struggle has always been the desire to do more than is humanly possible in a day. If sleep were not a necessary function, then I would wipe it out entirely. However, it has also been a challenge to narrow the playing field to those few, important projects and not want to take on so much more. Of course, technology and great apps help me to be more organized. With technology, I’m able to overcome some of the timing challenges. However, it really comes down to being a lot more selective with my projects to be more effective.
What inspires you?
I feel inspired by smart, creative people who love to share information, from the young professional to the seasoned executive. I never want to be the smartest person in the room. I also love art and when I feel like I need an inspirational boost, I go to my favorite art museum or gallery to get lost in the incredible artwork.
What will you write about for the blog?
I spend a great deal of time educating students and professionals. For the blog I will focus on how you can find education in new places, select the right mentor, collaboration in the classroom and into the business setting and how to stay ahead of technology.
Do you feel like you can inspire women in their 20′s and 30′s? If so how would you go about doing this?
My goal has always been to inspire women by making myself approachable from the conferences I attend to my social media communities where I interact with friends and colleagues all over the world. I try to listen carefully to young professionals with their challenges and guide them toward success. What may start as a tweet often turns into a DM, then an email and eventually speaking via Skype or telephone. I use my social media communities as an opportunity to hear concerns, answer questions and to help Millennials tackle new obstacles, especially as they relate to communications or women in business.
Who does Lady Lennia represent to you?
Lady Lennia represents the opportunity to learn and grow. Whether you’re a young professional just starting out, or you’re well into your career, Lady Lennia is a figure that represents empowerment. She’s a symbol of inspiration for young women who strive to reach their goals, and who look toward education and learning so they can make better decisions along the way.
Why would you make a great Lady Lennia for the Education edition?
My dedication to education and teaching has always been apart of my DNA. Once in the classroom, always in the classroom. I’m a student and an educator at heart. I will spend the rest of my career helping and mentoring professionals regardless of their age. I’ve received so much help from colleagues over the years as I advanced in my career, and I feel very strongly about professionals giving back.
Do you have any tips for anyone out there who wants to aspire to a career in marketing?
Yes, the tips go across the board for any career. Always shoot for the stars, don’t let anyone hold you back, enjoy the climb along the way and don’t forget all of the people who have helped you to achieve your success. Then, at some point take the time to give back.
Where can we learn more about PR 2.0?
You can learn more about PR 2.0 on my PR Expanded blog. I also love to share articles and give PR 2.0 and communications advice on Twitter. Please feel free to follow me, I’m @dbreakenridge.