The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Yahoo, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News … These are the sources from which you probably read your news each day.
One of the things that these news organizations and aggregators have in common is that they get a bulk of their news from The Associated Press, one of the most trusted and authoritative news gathering and distribution organizations in the world. What was started by a cooperative of newspapers receiving news by pony express is now one of the most expansive news networks transmitting text, video, photos and graphics digitally and via satellite. Additionally, the AP now offers an array of other products and services including a vast photo and video archive, news production software, corporate and commercial photo assignment and distribution services, and digital asset management. As you can imagine, this makes for an interesting marketing challenge.
My task as a summer business associate with the AP is primarily developing social media strategies. I am to audit the existing social media channels of the AP’s various business units— not for AP news, but for AP Video, AP Images, AP Archive, AP Mobile, etc. — and develop strategies that establish consistency in tone, frequency and types of content that each business unit posts, as well as differentiate the tone and type of content that should be posted on each platform. The AP’s current use of social media has garnered a strong B2C following, and they are looking to generate more B2B interaction as well.
That is why I’m focusing my efforts on LinkedIn, where we see the largest opportunity for AP to promote the range of its products and services, generate sales leads, initiate contact and maintain relationships with prospective and current customers.
On the first day of my internship, the Business Associates cohort of eleven interns including myself were given a full-day orientation, which included a tour of the AP’s newsroom (consider it Mecca for a former journalist). The internship director managing the AP’s Summer Business Associates program invited us to sit in on a morning newsroom meeting to understand the AP’s news operations. Following that, we were briefed by managers across AP’s various operational units— the newsroom, business development, technology solutions, global security, and the corporate archive . I welcomed this first-day introduction because it gave us a clear overview of the entire organization.
Day 2 was about diving in. After speaking to the marketing team, I realized that the most meaningful way I could contribute this summer was through strategic planning. My supervisor told me the marketing team was looking to adopt proactive marketing strategies. To me, that meant “planning the work, then working the plan,” as we’ve been taught by Prof. Noonan in our management practice course. I got to work by first understanding the marketing team’s goals and aligning them with corporate ones. I wanted to identify any areas where corporate goals could be further supported by marketing activities and any areas where marketing activities didn’t clearly tie back to supporting a corporate goal. This “Goal Alignment” document has a served as a guide throughout the course of my internship, ensuring that any recommendations I offer for social media strategy and tactics are directly tied to a corporate goal.
In the next few days of that first week, I continued Step 1 planning: complete with Gantt charts, action items, methods for completing those tasks, and deadlines, I created a work plan for my 12 weeks as a way to help me stay on track, and also to let my supervisor know what I was doing each week. I scheduled meetings with the marketing team so we could set apart time each week to discuss developments on the LinkedIn project.
Next would be Step 2: Working the plan.