Curator Q&A: Paul Balcerak

paul_using Name: Paul Balcerak Title: Social Media Strategist Joined Curator: September 4, 2012 Go-To Happy Hour Drink: Rainier

How did you get into this field? I kind of came in through the side door – social media. Unlike a lot of people at Curator, I’m not formally trained in PR. I majored in journalism in college and spent a few years as a reporter before shifting my focus more on social. That gave me a really good feel for PR, though I didn’t necessarily know it at the time. Managing a highly visible brand through social media (I was the person behind KIRO 7 Eyewitness News prior to this) put me under the microscope. Every word I typed was scrutinized and interpreted in unique ways by the audience I was speaking to, so I had to become really good at communicating concisely, and in a way that everyone understood and found interesting.


What do you love most about the industry? Our job, when you really break it down to its essence, is to act as translators. We combine data, experience, case studies, and so on, and take that to clients so we can show them the best ways to communicate so they can be successful. Think about it like a political campaign: It’s not our job to change the essence of what a client wants to say, but the way it’s said could be (and often is) the difference between winning and losing – that’s where we come in. I find that aspect of our industry incredibly fascinating and rewarding. It’s my favorite part about what we do.

What's a misconception about your role as Curator’s Social Media Strategist? For the people who even have a vague conception of what I do – let’s be honest, my grandmother doesn’t have the slightest damn clue what my job is – there’s a perception that, “Oh, you update Facebook all day.” That’s one part of my job, but what I actually do is probably closer to Jonah Hill in Moneyball. If we’re translators, I largely speak in data, and the bulk of my day is spent swimming through mountains of it in spreadsheets.

What's the best piece of advice you've received? When I was a reporter in college, I covered the Seattle ComiCon, and Brian Michael Bendis, who’s been Marvel’s star writer for about the last 10 years, showed up for a panel. He was answering a question about how to become a great writer, and in the midst of it he said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Writing is a lot like working out; you’re never going to get stronger if you only go to the gym once a week. If you want to get good at something, you have to do it every day.” I apply that advice to just about everything.

‘Star Trek’ or ‘Star Wars’? I love both franchises, and they’re not always fairly compared, but at heart, I’ll always be a Trekkie (specifically, The Next Generation). Star Trek takes place in our future, rather than in a galaxy far, far away, and it’s a vision of what humanity can accomplish when we set aside our differences and work together. I admit that sounds really cheesy, but look at CERN. Look at the International Space Station. We have the ability to do these amazing things; it’s just a matter of deciding they’re the most important things. Star Trek is a plea to strive to be great ("to go where no one has gone before," literally and figuratively), and it argues that if we do, amazing achievements don’t have to be very far from our reach.