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.

1381350_650370821650372_989177834_n
GET TO ZEE CHOPPAH!

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.

Curator Q&A: Chelsey Allodi

C4Name: Chelsey Allodi Title: Account Executive Joined Curator: June 25, 2012 Go-to Happy Hour Drink: Rosé or Moscow Mule

What's the best vacation you’ve ever taken? In the summer of 2012 I traveled to Europe with my three younger sisters. The trip started with three of us meeting the fourth sister in Italy where she was studying abroad. We toured through Florence, Rome and the beautiful cities that make up Cinque Terre. After Italy, we made our way to Spain where we stopped in Barcelona and the islands of Ibiza. Not only were the cities breathtaking, but the food and wine were amazing! We met a lot of really interesting people along the way, but I think what was most special was getting to make these memories together and surviving all the sisterly quarrels to tell the stories! If you haven’t been to either country, I recommend them both, however I will tell you the beaches of Ibiza are to die for!

Ibiza

Riomaggiore

 

How would you compare working in London to working here? While I was in grad school I had the opportunity to spend a summer in London working at a travel and tourism PR agency. Aside from getting used to everyone’s accents and how fast they seemed to be talking, the work itself was pretty comparable to the traditional PR work I had been doing in the states. But what stood out to me the most about working in London was the office culture. The agency I was at was small in size, but had a stellar client roster, so it felt bigger in terms of the caliber of work. What I loved about being in this kind of environment was the team camaraderie and how everyone jumped in to help on different accounts no matter what their normal role or position may have been. At that point in time I hadn’t experienced that before, so it was very cool to be a part of.

Everyone worked incredibly hard, but they were also BIG on taking time for themselves throughout the day or getting drinks after work. This was also a new phenomenon to me having come from years of experience in the entertainment world in LA where people don’t seem to ever stop working. I was forced to take my one-hour lunch everyday, meaning to leave the office even if I brought my food in. This took some convincing as it was such a foreign concept to me, but I learned what a difference it can make to change your scenery, even if it’s briefly. Walking around the nearby park or going to Starbucks (of course I sniffed out the closest Starbucks), became a regular part of my day and totally helped with my productivity and energy level. Oh yeah, I also had to learn to drink tea, a lot of tea.

London

 

Every Curator has at least one orange item. Which of your orange things is your favorite? If I’m being totally honest, I actually used to really dislike the color orange. Before the gasps come out, let me explain. I never thought it was a color that looked particularly good on me and I think I just hadn’t seen a shade I really liked. Oh yeah, and did I mention my car in high school was an orange Saturn Vue that had a license plate that read, “KRUSH?” But, after coming to Curator I realized hey, orange looks pretty good on a wall, and from there it began to grow on me and I realized it actually isn’t horrible to wear either. Now that I am an orange-convert I have started acquiring more and more orange things. I think right now, my favorite item would be my orange Kate Spade stud earrings. Thank you, Curator, for opening my eyes to a whole new orange world!

The KRUSH mobile (not my park job)

 

What major learnings did you take away from your previous career that you can apply to your job now? There are a lot of experiences both in school and in the real world that have shaped the way I work and approach things in my job today. When I started exploring career paths, I did what every college-aged girl in LA does: got an internship in entertainment PR (come on, we all watched The Hills, it looked awesome). The truth is, it is fun and exciting, however it is also exhausting and sometimes scary intense. After a few years of playing in that industry, I realized that those positions totally prepared me for more drama and crisis than I will probably ever see again. Working red carpet events, wrangling media, crazy fans, and dealing with lots of demanding individuals all while keeping a smile and my sanity has totally influenced the way I cope with people and high stress situations. Things happen, people can be difficult and plans may not always go as they’re intended, but I feel like I can handle pretty much anything that comes my way, and will be able to keep calm and collected doing so.

Another big takeaway from my pre-Curator life is the importance of relationship building. I’ve had the privilege of working with some really inspiring and well-respected individuals, and one common thing that I admire about all of them is their rapport with clients, colleagues, media and even mere acquaintances. Writing those thank you notes, remembering people’s names, really getting to know them and talking to them about things beyond the project at hand will always pay off, even if it’s not immediate.

Grammy Awards

 

What's one piece of advice you have for someone getting out of school or in the interview/job search process?

I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Be proactive. Show that you’re hungry; be willing to put in the time to meet as many people as you can and be open to all kinds of experiences. If you pigeonhole yourself right out of the gate you may miss out on something wonderful you didn’t think you would like or be good at.
  2. Be candid. Really look at your resume and cover letter; make sure that it is a reflection of who you are and what you’re capable of, not just what you’ve done.
  3. Be creative. My philosophy on job searching is that you have to be resourceful and creative because some companies don’t post job openings and a lot of businesses nowadays have the ‘black hole’ application process where you submit everything online and hope that someone receives it. Think about where you’d most want to work, the companies you like or the brands you admire. Find a contact and introduce yourself. You don’t even have to bring up job openings, think of it as a learning opportunity. I’ve personally had a lot of luck just reaching out to people and asking if I could pick their brain about the kind of work they do and asking them for tips because they’re where I wanted to be.

I'm always an open book, so feel free to holler at me anytime: @C_allodi