Communicator’s corner: Maryann Separovic

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Maryann Separovic is an Account Director at the c word. She made the move to the c word after years of experience in arts and entertainment publicity and promotions.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

It all depends on which campaign I’m working on but it usually starts with checking news sites to see what happened in the world while I slept. I try to check my Google Reader at this time too; I get a wealth of information here from PR news, social media to what’s current in the blogosphere.

While I tap away at my keyboard, I like to keep an eye on Twitter. This is a great tool for me to source articles, news and also engage with fellow communicators, clients, media and the community.

Our projects at the c word are varied so the day can include anything from strategy development, proposal writing, copy writing and editing, research to brainstorming sessions and coming up with creative ideas and plans for our clients. Publicity tours can means endless days shuffling from one radio station to a TV studio with my phone glued to my ear.

When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?

After finishing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Communications, my career took a slight detour in IT. I leant some invaluable skills in varied roles but I wanted to put my communication skills into practice. A little bit of networking goes a long way and I was offered a fantastic opportunity to work with a freelance film publicist and reintroduce myself to the world of comms.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

I’ve worked with some amazing women in the early years of my career who taught me the ropes. Their support, tenacity, guidance and expertise were invaluable. Thanks Roxanne and Elise ☺

Given that I’ve invested years into watching the West Wing, I think I can count C.J. as a mentor too. What a woman!! Great press secretary and super awesome Chief of Staff.

Which tools can’t you live without?

My laptop and my iPhone. I consider them extensions of my body. I cannot fathom what life was like several years ago when we weren’t connected ALL the time. What did I do with my time? 😛

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Keep up to date with the changes brought about by technologies. This not only includes the technology itself but knowing that Sally from the suburbs may be a key influencer in your field.

Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?

I’m very proud of the Run for Safe Climate social media campaign we worked on last year. We didn’t have much lead-time but we hit the ground running (oh dear … pun not intended) and managed to achieve some great results for Safe Climate Australia. During that manic six weeks, we grew their social media network to 1500+ fans on Facebook and close to 1000 Twitter followers. With key influences like Greenpeace, Cool Australia, Green Cross and Victoria Police lending support through their networks, we reached a further 50,000 fans and followers and also secured interviews with traditional media via Twitter.

Working on Passion of the Christ also needs a special mention. Up until this film, I had worked mainly on small independent films that did solid box office takings given their size. The media mayhem that led up to the film’s release was eye opening. Great experience.

Which campaign do you most admire?

I love the campaigns that do so much with so very little.

Given my history in film publicity and love of the Interwebs, I always admired the crazy phenomenon that was the Blair Witch Project. To be a worldwide success on a small marketing budget is remarkable. With a clever strategy anything is possible. Artisan Entertainment picked up the film in 1999 and the late Steven Rotherberg developed the groundbreaking distribution campaign. It extensively used the Internet, creating a website suggesting that the events that took place in the film were real. I still get shivers recalling their website and the Blair Witch legend. Blair Witch Project grossed more than US$248 million worldwide, making it the second most successful independent film of all time (It was only recently surpassed by Paranormal Activity). Source: Wikipedia

This was well before myspace, Facebook and other social media channels. Word-of-mouth at its best.

What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?

While technology has changed how we work as practitioners, the fundamentals are still the same. Building and nurturing relationships, and conveying key messages are still crucial but we may go about it a little differently.

If you had to cut/keep something in your communication budget, what would it be?

*hand over ears* nah nah nah… I can’t hear you.

What quality do you look for in your communication team members?

Curiosity, enthusiasm and diligence.

What’s your favourite brand?

Hmmm…not sure if I have one. Apple may be my closest experience with brand loyalty but even I look upon that relationship cautiously.

I am impressed with a couple of Australian organisations who have flourished since gaining an understanding of their audience and tapping into it effectively. Channel Seven and Country Road have made this turn around. Sportsgirl is another I admire for having an impressive digital strategy.

What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?

When I was in New York in 2009, I happened on a book launch tweetup for World Wide Rave. The tweetup launch was being held at the NASDAQ with author David Meerim Scott ringing the bell to open the NADAQ stock market. It was a fun day and introduced me to this fantastic read about marketing online packed with useful examples.

After attending the launch, I added Mr Scott’s blog Web Ink Now to my Google Reader subscriptions. Easy read, great advice, the man knows his stuff.

What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?

The Scout’s are onto something … be prepared. Research and planning make solid foundations for any campaign or activity.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

Ever evolving

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