by Kate Kendall
Robin Webb is the Public Relations & Community Events Coordinator for Athens County Children Services. She has worked with the agency since 2013. As an Athens County native, Robin knows the area and the people well and is excited that her job allows her to interact with and help families in Athens County. Her favorite event that she works on is the Santa Tree Project. She likes it most because the project has the opportunity to reach thousands of children in Athens County in a personal way. Being able to give the kids something special for the holidays is why she likes this project the most. Aside from event planning and writing press releases for the agency, Robin also handles the agency’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
I choose to interview Robin, because I had the pleasure of working with her for more than six months at an internship where I learned so much from her. She helped me understand the inner workings of doing public relations and event planning for a non-profit, which is something I have always been interested in.
KK: Why do you think that using social media is important for building engagement with the community?
RW: When we post on Facebook, we are able to engage with thousands of people in the community. Our friends on the page are able to engage and share the content that we post. It helps get the community involved with our events.
KK: What organizations do you think are “doing it right” when it comes to using social media, and why?
RW: The Dave Thomas Foundation is one that we follow on Twitter because it has great content about adoptions on an international scale. We also follow Adopt U.S. Kids because they are consistent with their posts (about a dozen a day) on profiles of children up for adoption across the nation. State wide, we follow children services agencies on what is happening at their agencies such as Loraine County and Franklin County. It’s interesting because we (Athens County Children Services) are often seen as a cutting edge agency, especially for a rural area, for the way we utilize technology.
KK: What is the most effective type of social media that the agency uses, and why do you think it is the best?
RW: For us, Facebook is the most effective. Most of the residents in Athens County are older and as such don’t use Twitter. For them Facebook is easy and intuitive. For us, its easy to create content that we can ask our followers to share with their friends.
Because the agency has a limited budget, social media is a great way to reach out to the community for free. With Facebook we can create one post and reach several thousand people for free. Whereas if we take out space in the Athens Messenger, it can cost several hundred dollars, and we don’t really know what our engagement is. Facebook has the ability to give us feedback on our statistics.
KK: How do you handle negative comments or posts about the agency on the social media sites?
RW: We try to use any negative comments as an opportunity to educate. For example, someone made a rude comment about the space for one of our next events saying that it wouldn’t be large enough. We informed them politely that it was actually a much larger facility than we had ever had and that we can’t wait to use it. We try to put a positive spin on anything we can.
KK: What is one piece of advice you would give to a young professional who will be working with social media in the future?
RW: I would tell them not to be intimidated by new technology and to be open to trying new things. I would also say to always try to keep it positive, people respond and engage with positive interactions.
I really loved having this interview, getting back in touch with someone I worked with was great. This was a great example of an organization that uses its social media to the fullest, even if it might seem like they are behind in the times. However, by utilizing the social platforms that play to their strengths such as Facebook and Twitter, and staying away from doing too many accounts at once, that are able to focus on and engage with the community in Athens more effectively.
This interview had important insights for me as a young professional because it helped put theory into action in terms of knowing your audience and keeping your company’s/organizations best interest in mind. Robin is a very talented public relations and event planner, and I am excited have interviewed her and to be able to call her a mentor.