Thoughts on Digital Media, Before and After CAP 105

In recent years, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with social media: I love how these channels help me stay in touch with friends and family, make new connections with people in my community and around the world, and stay informed on social issues; I hate how much time I spend on them, how I almost always feel the need to “catch up” after even half a day away from my feeds, and how scrolling social media detaches me from all the “real life” happening outside of my phone and laptop screens.

Before taking CAP 105, I was curious about a future working with digital media, but I was unsure to what extent I’d want to pursue it. I did know I had a lot to learn. Coincidentally, I spent a lot of time in middle and high school exploring very basic graphic design and website design using HTML and CSS. In the early 2000s, I had my own domain, a personal website, which I created graphics for, and a blog – which was just my personal diary, but online.  I had a lot of fun with it, but it never occurred to me that it presented a potential career path. I didn’t know anything about strategy at that point, though looking back, I realize I had a head start on the concept of my personal brand.

Before I made the decision last year to return to school, I was feeling a pull towards helping small businesses or individuals with their writing projects and websites. Taking CAP 220 this summer helped me realize that I wanted to learn more about effectively using digital tools for a career in public relations.

During a marketing for nonprofits session I attended for a work conference just over a year ago, I felt my heart rate increase as the experts discussed website analytics and SEO. It was a feeling of clarity, that yes, I was interested in this, and yes, I want to learn more. CAP 105 has affirmed these interest areas for me and has presented so many directions to explore further.

In jobs I previously held, I witnessed what I believed was weak implementation of digital media for the employer’s PR and marketing. But without having the experience or knowledge of what really was the “right” way to do it, I didn’t feel was qualified to criticize or suggest a better way.

Now, near the end of CAP 105, I feel empowered – though I still have more to learn. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to learn about social media as part of my college experience. Because I’ve become HootSuite certified, I am confident that I could work with social media in a significant capacity in the future. The tools that Derek DeVries showed our class for digital and analytics also made me very excited about the prospect of working with such resources in the future. And while SEO is still somewhat cloudy to me, and I haven’t had an opportunity to implement Google Analytics yet, I am excited to learn more and put that knowledge into practice.

Since I am pursuing a future in public relations, there’s no question that digital media will have a huge impact on my career. Communicating with publics requires being present where the publics are, which is increasingly online. For instance, 79 percent of online American adults use Facebook. After catching an audience’s attention, it’s important to use the right kind of content to engage them, which could be an infographics, videos, or text. I could someday make any or all of these myself, or I could use my network to find the right professional for the job.

CAP 105 has also echoed the fact that how I represent myself on social media can have an impact on my future career opportunities. I still have some work to do to let my personal brand truly shine through, and also to use social media as platforms for showing my knowledge and skills. By practicing with presenting my personal brand, I’ll be better prepared for managing social accounts for brands in my future employment.

Social media platforms are always changing and play an important role in marketing. Rules for SEO have changed over time, and new digital media tools are being created every day. There will always be something new to learn. However, CAP 105 has also helped me realize that while it’s useful to have a broad knowledge of the tools that we’ve covered, what will be most helpful to me as I enter my career will be specializing in some of them, rather than continuing to wade a couple inches deep in all of them. I’m looking forward to discovering where my talent and interests best align.

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