PR Profile: Serena Matter

Serena MatterName: Serena Matter

Job title: Social media strategist at the Robert H. Lee Graduate School

Company you work for: The Sauder School of Business at UBC

Career background: While attending university, I worked part-time in marketing and communications for two North American mining companies. Upon graduation, I spent close to five years climbing the ladder at a Vancouver PR agency where I worked on both traditional media relations and social media campaigns. In 2009, I founded Be.Social, a digital media consulting firm that services clients in the health, real estate and resource sectors.

Career aspirations: To use my skills and experience to bring awareness to the plight of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the DRC, statistics show that 1,150 women are sexually assaulted on a daily basis – that amounts to four women victimized every five minutes. It’s a statistic that I’m determined to change.

Greatest career challenge: Digital media is one of the few industries where memes come and go within hours, the leading social networks make technical changes on almost a daily basis, and oversaturation of information is a frequent occurrence. It can be a challenge to manage all of the information I receive via my various social channels, but it’s a necessary evil in order to ensure I am up to the second (literally!) on the latest and greatest social media news, platform changes and so on.

Greatest career success: Leading several national media relations campaigns for Canada’s top art auction house, each of which typically generated more than a hundred media stories. The key to securing considerable media exposure was to develop story angles that appealed to a variety of audiences, from hyper-regional stories about local artists, to news and fine art stories, to personal interest pieces. My favourite part of these campaigns was always the night of the auction, where I had the opportunity to wear several different hats: serving as an on-site media liaison, co-ordinating interviews, writing and distributing news releases following the auctions to 400 media outlets, all while live blogging and tweeting on the client’s behalf. Definitely the most exciting part of the campaign!

Biggest career mistake or regret: I don’t believe in regrets. Life truly is too short to spend your time ruminating about past mistakes. Like everyone, I have experienced success and failure, but I see failure as a learning opportunity rather than a cause for regret. To move forward, one must look forward.

PR role model: My mentor is Jeff Domansky, a legend in the local PR scene. Jeff was my first boss in this industry and has been there to guide me and offer his wisdom ever since. As an aside, Jeff runs one of the best online PR resources out there. I highly recommend checking out his site: www.thePRcoach.com.

Best career advice: “Allow yourself to be creative”, which my friend and fellow PR gal Helena Cox told me once upon a time. I always believed I didn’t have a creative bone in my body, but her comment prompted me to explore and utilize the creative side of myself. I have since begun to relish the creative process and have come up with some of my most innovative ideas yet, such as a "digital detox" package for one of the city’s top hotels – the first hotel package of its kind in Canada.

Best place to ‘do coffee’ in Vancouver: I prefer tea to coffee, so I really like East is East, which serves some excellent chai teas.

Favourite journalist to pitch to: I really enjoy working with Raul Pacheco-Vega, AKA Hummingbird604, and the team at Vancity Buzz. Hollie Shaw, the marketing reporter at the Financial Post, is also a real pleasure to pitch.

Favourite website: It’s a tie between two Fastcompany offshoots: Co.Exist and Co.Create. Between the two, I’m kept current on ground-breaking innovations and ideas, as well as the leading creative campaigns from around the globe.

Favourite social media site: Being a social media junkie, I couldn’t possibly choose just one! I love Pinterest for personal use, Twitter for news and Instagram (technically an app rather than a site) for making my photos beautiful.

Fun fact about you: As my friends can attest, I have an uncanny knack for trend forecasting. Whether it’s related to food, fitness, music or fashion, I have a tendency to identify what I call “pre-trends” before they become mainstream fads.

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