Last year Thoroughly Modern Marketing was THRILLED to award two very special candidates with a scholarship for PSU’s Intro to Digital Strategy course. Both Tracey and Jessica took the initiative to complete the entire certificate program and were selected as finalists to present their final digital strategy projects at the Student Marketer of the Year Awards presented during the 2014 SoMe Awards Forum.
Jessica Chang was originally an ALTERNATE and was asked to be on stand-by in case one of the other finalists weren’t able to present. Luckily for us, she was given not only the opportunity to PRESENT her final project but WIN the entire competition!
Jessica reveals what it was like to compete and present her winning strategy during our interview below. You can also see a post-win interview with Jessica on the TMMPDX YouTube channel.
A HUGE thanks to everyone in the TMM community who has supported our mission of providing educational opportunities for eager young professionals. We’re ALL making a difference!
How did it feel to win the 2014 Digital Student Marketer of the Year Award?
It was amazing! I couldn’t believe it. Before the presentations I had seen pictures of Jana Kopp winning from last year and just thought that would be awesome to win. When I did win, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening!
You were an ALTERNATE originally and then due to other students dropping out – got to present. What gave you the edge over the other presenters?
The competition was tough. Everybody had presentations with great content.
Based on the feedback from the previous time I presented during class, I needed to be more clear on what the problem was and to provide more quality content.
I was really struggling with what constituted “quality content”. Should I concentrate on one tactic and go into great detail about it? Do I stick with creating an overall strategy plan and just talk about a couple tactics that will help reach the objective? Will that be enough quality content? The requirements for the presentation was very loose, so it was hard to decide which direction to go in.
Luckily I went with the overall strategy plan and the presentation ended up coming together really well.
What were the key lessons you learned from the process of learning about digital strategy in PSU’s Digital Marketing Certificate Program and then applying that knowledge and presenting to a packed room of forum attendees?
Learning how to create business and marketing objectives was huge for me. I knew how to use social media, but establishing goals and objectives is fundamental in developing a marketing strategy.
Things like establishing metrics, personas, analyzing results and identifying key performance indicators really helped me present my pitch well.
Presenting in front of over 100 marketers was intimidating, but when I saw how the other agencies presented their campaigns in the “Digital Marketing Agency of the Year” nominations panel, they were showing their objectives, KPIs and results and I thought, “Wow, we totally learned all of that in the certificate program and my presentation includes a lot of similar things!”
Were you surprised by any of the judges comments? How valuable was the judges feedback?
I really didn’t know what to expect. Billie, Dennis and Jana all had great feedback drawing from their own work experiences. It was really valuable and insightful.
Keeping the presentation simple, using metrics and numbers and having realistic goals, to name a few, was great feedback that I know I will use in the future.
I met with Tom Bennett once to just establish the problem and how I’m going to solve it. I rearranged my slides and better organized the message I was trying to convey. It was really helpful to get a fresh perspective on it because I had worked on the presentation for so long. It was hard to see it from an objective stand point. I tweaked my presentation from Tom’s suggestions and then kept working on it until I knew every slide’s purpose and I felt like it flowed really well.
I practiced everyday for the week prior – going over it in my head, out loud, and I was reciting it in my sleep!
Do you feel presenting and winning this award will help you meet your career goals? How?
I hope so! I’m going to attend networking events and setup as many informational interviews as possible too.
Receiving the award helped me gain more confidence in my abilities to pursue job positions that I was hesitant to apply for prior to winning.
What’s next for your career journey? Where do you go from here?
I think I just need to keep chugging away and keep networking and informational interviews. I just scored my first client managing their social media while I look for a full time digital marketing position.
What’s you advice for other aspiring digital marketers – how can they best navigate their way to a new and promising career path?
Networking, networking, networking. The Digital Marketing Strategies Certificate Program at PSU really helped with this. I was hesitant to take the program beforehand, but you meet experienced people in the industry (your teachers), who are directly accessible for advice or questions outside of class. I never would have been able to become so connected otherwise.
I think the best thing so far for me has been just diving in. Start your own blog, or know someone who owns a business who would like help with social media? Get in there and start experimenting. Then while you’re in the DMS program you have a real life situation you can reference and apply the new things you learn in the program. Gain experience, but make sure that experience is quantifiable and that you have metrics to show companies how you made a difference.