An IMC Professional’s Field Guide To Success

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This past July, I connected with Christine Donato, Integrated Marketing Senior Specialist at SAP, on LinkedIn. I was intrigued to learn more about her role in the IMC field and her involvement with the SAP Business Innovation blog. If you are not familiar with the SAP Business Innovation blog it has become the premier example on the proper way to leverage content marketing to increase digital reach.

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Even though I have not personally met Christine, she graciously agreed to be profiled for this blog post. Fellow IMC graduate student, Colin Haas, and I prepared seven questions for her across a variety of communications disciplines. The following areas will be highlighted as part of this interview: digital storytelling, best practices for career advancement, causes of employee disengagement, and details on her role as an Integrated Marketing Senior Specialist at SAP.

Julie Long: Can you describe what a typical day is like as an Integrated Marketing Senior Specialist at SAP? 
 
Christine Donato:  As a social media blogger and promotions experts at SAP, my primary objective is to serve as the voice of SAP’s customers.  What does that mean?  Here’s an example. One of our customers is a large cancer research hospital in Germany.  My objective is to interview that hospital, research the industry and interesting facts, and then write a credible, thought-provoking blog explaining this hospital, their patients, and the relationship they all have with SAP.  In this particular case, the hospital is using SAP in memory computing to create specialized treatments that can better combat cancer.

Typically though, my day varies, and for that I love my job.  Some days my team and I star in short one-minute long videos that explain what SAP customers do.  Some days I feel like I’m writing a research paper… endless searching to craft the perfect customer story. Some days I am in back to back meetings and brainstorming sessions, waiting for the next “big idea” to hit.

Julie Long: WVU IMC graduate students are preparing a capstone campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The target audience is young professionals (21-30 years old). How would you go about planning a scalable event that could be replicated in other US markets? Could a virtual event be engaging enough to prompt the target audience to volunteer, champion, or donate to the cause?

Christine Donato:  As part of my previous role at SAP, I planned virtual events.  The purpose of the events was to train our Sales colleagues on how to sell SAP Services.  However, retaining the attention of busy Sales colleagues was no easy feat, and so we had to get creative.   In this case, we needed to evaluate our audience and entertain them.  To do this we incorporated gamification and short humorous videos throughout the training.

My advice for planning a scalable virtual event would be to evaluate your audience.  What do you want to achieve?  With an organization like St. Jude Children Research Hospital (great choice, it’s one of my favorite charities), I would try to evoke emotion.  In your advertisement and marketing efforts, I’d focus on a story of an individual child as opposed to large statistics and numbers.  People are more likely to donate or volunteer if they can relate with a person in need.

Julie Long: In what ways has digital storytelling positively changed the health care industry? 

Christine Donato:  The health industry is a mess right now.  People lack quality care.  People lack insurance.  People are not taking care of themselves.  Hospitals are disconnected and unorganized.  The government is disconnected and unorganized.  It’s pure chaos.  But I truly believe that if the country were to run on one unified technology platform, and all patients and hospitals were unified under one system, we could cut significant administrative costs and complexity.   With digital storytelling, I can express this notion in many ways, and hopefully, with each reader, we gain one more advocate for technology in healthcare.

Colin Haas: What skill or skills are you looking to learn, that you feel are important to your career?

Christine Donato: I am looking to develop my leadership skills. As a young female professional, I think it’s important to build your executive presence early. Carry yourself professionally and always expect respect.

Colin Haas: You have been building a great career with SAP, what do you think has helped you go from where you started, to your new role as Sr. Integrated Marketing Specialist?

Christine Donato: Networking! At SAP especially, networking is key. I started at SAP in 2011 as an intern and each week I set up a coffee meeting with a new person. My goal was to expand my network as much as possible to hopefully land a full-time role at the company. To this day, I still try to meet a new person each month just to get my name out there.

In addition, I’d recommend finding a mentor. Having someone you can trust and can speak to in confidence, will go to bat for you, and can coach you is invaluable.

Colin Haas: You recently tweeted an article from Gallup about how workers are not engaged in their work, which I would agree with. What are your thoughts on the causing? Is this something that is the fault of the employer or another factor?

Christine Donato: I think that half of the problem with employees losing engagement is the confinement of a 9 to 5 role. I’ve found that a flexible work schedule helps to keep employees engaged. Instead of sitting in front of a computer screen in the office “working” from 8am until 5pm, with a flexible schedule you can take an hour break to exercise, do laundry, run an errand… whatever it is that you need to do, and then return to your computer screen recharged and ready to actually work.

Colin Haas: I am a huge advocate of LinkedIn and Twitter, but some are slow to really adopt a strategy of using it to grow their network. What would you tell the young marketing professional that is slacking or putting off using these networks, on a consistent basis?

Christine Donato: Connect with every professional you meet on LinkedIn. You’ll never know when it can come in handy. Until I became a blogger and shared my LinkedIn as a promotion channel for my blogs, I didn’t accept people on LinkedIn that I had never met in person. Unless you’re a blogger on LinkedIn, I’d stick to that rule. Don’t connect or accept people that you’ve never met in person.

As far as Twitter, I think it’s a great place to grow your brand. Follow and be followed. Tweet out anything that interests you and make intelligent commentary on articles you read. I just caution you to be professional. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back.

On behalf of the West Virginia University Integrated Marketing Communications Program, I would like to thank Christine for sharing her point of view with all of us! Be sure to follow Christine on social media for the latest insights on the healthcare industry, recent advancements in the technology field, and best practices for content curation.

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