A Morning with Mary Henige

I woke up Saturday morning feeling refreshed and ready to dive in head first. After grabbing the ever so important Starbucks and grazing the continental breakfast, I headed to the keynote address. Given by Mary Henige, director of Social Media and Digital Communications of General Motors, she spent the next hour answering questions she received on Twitter and explaining in depth what her job entails.

She spent the majority of the time talking about social media. She mentioned the importance of monitoring what people say about your organization on social media platforms. As a consumer, I’ve witnessed this first hand. I’ve seen angry comments left by consumers on a company’s Facebook profile. Either these comments go unacknowledged, which leaves the customer feeling more angry with the company, or the comments have been noticed, and responded to, which often times resolves the problem with the consumer. Henige shared that GM initially only had four members of their customer service department serve as web representatives. However, now that their online presence has grown, they’ve now increased their web representatives to include 20 employees. These employees monitor what is being said about not only their company but the automotive industry to GM’s social media platforms and 96 other forums that aren’t affiliated with GM.

Henige was filled with valuable advice. She shared that during a crisis; a company should always acknowledge and admit their mistakes. Then they should tell and show how they are going to fix the problem. She offered advice for students looking for internships. She said it is important for students to intern at not only agencies but within corporations. This allows students to see both sides of the spectrum and have a better understanding of the industry as a whole.

She encouraged students to be continual learners and stay on top of industry trends. Social media is constantly evolving, with new platforms and features popping up regularly. As future PR professionals, it is our job to make sure we are keeping up with the field. I loved hearing all that she had to say about her job. Her advice had depth and the knowledge she shared is going to stick within my mind long after I leave Philadelphia.