What We Learned From Francesca Ernst, Deputy Communication Director for the Clinton Foundation
By Caroline Cakebread, Junior Newhouse NYC student and MAG major
Francesca Erst, the deputy director of communications for initiatives at the Clinton Foundation, got her job at the foundation in an unusual way; she blindly applied for it! Networking in today’s competitive job market is so important, but Francesa is proof that it doesn’t always have to be about who you know, and that no opportunity is out of reach. She visited the Social Media class on Tuesday, February 23 and had a lot of good insights for the class on social campaigns for nonprofits saying, “it’s such an incredible opportunity to tell your story in an unfiltered way.” She also gave the class some advice on life after undergrad. Here are three things we learned from Francesca.
1.Have a plan
When Ernst was tasked with creating social media accounts for the Clinton Foundation initiatives, the first thing she and her team did was take a step back and ask why. They realized before they even started that a strategy was needed for each platform, and that just creating accounts and posting was a bad long-term strategy. “Whenever you’re building a social platform, make sure you know what the next six months hold,” she said. The first step for the team was understanding who their audience was on each platform – the demographics for Facebook users is very different from Instagram. Having a process in place for when things go wrong is also a large part of social strategy. Ernst said that having sometimes controversial public figures attached by name to the initiatives makes things complicated, but that having a process built up to deal with crisis is incredibly helpful.
2.Think carefully before diving into grad school
Ernst graduated from American University in 2012 with a masters in communications and PR. However, she said that the when deciding to go back to school she made sure to weigh the pros and cons before just diving in. She went in with a specific type of job and field in mind for after graduation, and recommended going in only if you have an intention in mind. Doing so greatly lessens the chance of it being a waste of time or money.
3.When applying for jobs, it’s the little things.
In her current position, Ernst has the opportunity to hire new team members and has seen resumes and cover letters galore. For her, a clean resume with no formatting or spelling errors and actual metrics is key. It’s one thing to say you wrote for your school paper, but having the actual number of stories you had published says a lot more. She also said that having people with diverse professional and personal backgrounds is fundamental for a great team, and that in the communications world, there is no one skill set that is necessary. Good writing skills are also a must, and Ernst said that the best way to prove you have excellent writing chops is through your cover letter. Messy grammar and sentence structure in a letter does not look good for someone applying for a position that relies on the ability to communicate.