Advice from a Disney director of communications

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As the director of communications and public affairs for Disney Signature Experiences, Cynthia Martinez shared her expert experience with members of UF PRSSA and HPRSA on Monday, March 18. With many opportunities in the communications field, Martinez offered her professional advice for students, emphasizing her top three skills needed to succeed.

UF PRSSA’s Vice President of Programming Leah Antovel and HPRSA’s Public Relations Director Marta Sanchez prepared a Q&A session to give students the opportunity to hear Martinez’s background, career experience and lessons she has learned. Her laid back and relaxed demeanor reflected her authenticity in answering questions, allowing students to learn and apply what was said.

Throughout the entirety of the session, Martinez continuously stressed the importance of writing.  

“Writing is too important to not know how to do it,” Martinez said.  

In public relations, writing is at the center of our work. With press releases and press kits, it’s vital to understand the importance of strategically connecting with the audience. Storytelling is key to the public relations industry. Martinez has found it important to create content the way people are used to digesting it. Learn to tell the story in a way that personalizes the message to your audience.  

In her various public relations positions, Martinez emphasized the importance of getting experience. Asking questions and volunteering to work on projects is the best way to accomplish this. Seeking work in different areas of the profession allows one to know his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

Learn, ask questions, soak it in.

It’s better to ask now than to make a mistake later. In addition, it’s also vital to have a broad picture of the communications plan. Asking what the brand wishes to accomplish and how to accomplish the task is essential.

The top three skills Martinez suggested students should focus on include writing, media relations and social media.  In writing, professionals need to understand how to use different styles and voices.  This is effective in communicating a message to the audience. With media relations, learn the importance of the relationship. The media can be used to benefit a brand and effectively communicate messages.  Lastly, social media’s popularity influences how people communicate with each other. Understand how it impacts a brand.

During the hiring process, Martinez shared the important qualities she looks for when hiring new team members. First, she looks at the cultural fit. It’s crucial that the person fits with the environment. Having the ability to work with others can impact the overall content produced.  Martinez admitted that at the end of the interview process for potential employees, she asks two situational questions: “You had a really good day, what is it that made that day good? You had a really bad day, what is it that made that day bad?” These questions measure what someone views as successful and what throws someone off.

The Disney Signature Experiences director encouraged students to gain experience by exploring different areas. With Martinez’s expert advice and goal-driven knowledge, students were able to understand the role writing and storytelling play in the evolving public relations industry.

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Written by Ashtyn Steele

Cover Photo from Beam Travel