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At the AP: The Home Stretch

View from marketing office

It’s the final week of my internship here at The AP, and it’s been a truly rewarding experience. I’m still in disbelief at how quickly 12 weeks have passed!

My mentors have guided me in better understanding B2B marketing, and through the weeks, they have given me more ownership of assignments. While the first part of my internship was about getting up to speed and understanding our various business units, the second half has been more about developing the strategies and providing recommendations on how to best implement campaigns to boost lead generation. I’ve been able to apply strategic and analytical skills as well as the marketing concepts learned at Goizueta.

The highlight of my internship was designing actionable social media campaigns for AP Images, AP Mobile and AP Archive, and developing guidelines and best practices that AP can use as a basis to develop full-scale plans moving forward. For example, I trained regional AP bureau chiefs to use social media to promote AP business, resulting in improved posting by more than half of the state Facebook accounts. This is the first step in promoting the AP brand on Facebook and increasing interest in its products and services. Additionally, I launched test ad campaigns on Facebook for the AP Mobile app based on Salesforce benchmark data. Here, I had to fill in the gaps where certain information was unavailable, so I used estimation techniques learned in Prof. Noonan’s management practice course to approximate values (talk about dealing with ambiguity!). I also recommended we narrowly target only one customer segment per campaign, based on Prof. Hamilton’s golden rule: You can only have one target. I used the results of the test campaigns to show the AP Mobile team how Facebook advertising could boost installs 12% higher than their baseline figure. I also provided them guidance on what worked well and what to change for next time. These insights will be used to formulate their marketing tactics for 2014.

AP Mobile ads
These were two of the top performing ads that we ran as part of the Facebook campaigns.

As for the LinkedIn project, I’ve worked with our counterparts in London to improve the AP’s company listing on LinkedIn to better reflect the scope its products and services. I’ve recommended a content marketing strategy via the new Sponsored Updates feature that LinkedIn rolled out this summer, and have designed an actionable test case through which AP Archive can try it out. I anticipate that use of Sponsored Updates will draw up to 20 new leads per update.

linkedin USE screengrab

Thus, my contribution has laid a foundation of strategies that AP can further hone to suit each business unit’s needs.

Of course, there have been challenges along the way. As is true with many organizations’ social media efforts, there is limited bandwidth to plan, post content, and engage on each platform. Part of this challenge stems from the fact that it’s hard to assign concrete ROI metrics to certain social media initiatives, and that may discourage stakeholders in supporting those efforts. That is why I made it my personal goal to leave behind actionable, ready-to-use plans, making it easier for each AP business to engage online. These can then be used as templates moving forward. Furthermore, I have ensured that any recommendations I offer tie back to corporate marketing objectives, thereby providing stakeholders clear value in following through with them.

Another challenge is that because the AP is such a vast, global organization, I’ve made it my goal to establish consistency in how content is posted, so our customer-facing platforms are uniform.

These challenges have presented a valuable learning experience.

AT ap

As a former journalist, I relied on my mentors to guide me in thinking more like a marketer, which is exactly what I was looking for from my MBA summer internship experience.

I was given multiple opportunities to share my experiences with other interns and learn from them, too. I found the lunch-and-learn sessions arranged by the AP Business Associates Program to be useful in understanding AP’s various operations, and I especially valued the opportunity to work across departments on projects with other interns. The internship culminated in a chance to present our accomplishments during a two-hour group discussion with Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt.

I have enhanced my knowledge of social media advertising, have learned about content marketing, and have gained experience in a B2B setting.

Above all, I’ve learned about myself.

I’ve noticed that for me, it’s not so much about the industry, department, or function in which I’m working as it is more about how fulfilling I find the day-to-day aspects of the job. I know what to look for, and what I find most satisfying.

Because with all due respect, that’s not the kind of thing you can learn from a textbook, a professor or even the most experienced mentor.

It’s something you have to figure out on your own.


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