Alisha Alvarez, Account Director at Bospar, discusses with Isis Simpson-Mersha and Katy Colón from Ragan and D S Simon Media about how she discovered her niche in the communications field. Alvarez shares her advice on how to stand out when starting a new job, and her passion for mentorship.
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KATY: I’m Katy Colón. I’m the Client Service and Marketing Associate here at D S Simon Media.
ISIS: Hi, I’m Isis Simpson-Mersha, Conference Producer and Reporter at Ragan.
KATY: And we’re here with Alisha. Alisha, it’s so great having you here today.
ALISHA: HI, thank you for having me. I’m so excited.
KATY: How did you find your niche within PR?
ALISHA: I actually started in entertainment PR, marketing, and comms. I was working at Paramount Studios in the Paramount Television department. And then Bospar came to me and I started my career here. Something that I have found as my niche is I love when entertainment, and consumer, and technology collide. I mean, that’s our everyday now, right? Everything from the tools you use at work to social media, everything is now figuring out a way for us to connect. One of the things I love most about Bospar when it comes to finding your niche is that they are really great at hiring people who have all kinds of different backgrounds and from all different kinds of industries. And then when an opportunity arises that can fit that niche of yours, we already have the people to service that type of opportunity. We had a client command that was all about entertainment and technology, and I was like, this is me, this is my time to shine. I love this, put me up for a coach. So, I have been thankful, you know, that they gave me that chance knowing that I didn’t have that tech background, but that I can use my skills from other areas to be able to understand where I thrive. And for me, it’s where that right brain and left brain sort of collide. That’s what I would say is my nation.
ISIS: I know coming from the entertainment industry, which is really cool, to where you are now for your role, I’m sure there are things that you learned along the way, some skills that, of course, transferred. But can you share some tips that helped you grow when you started at those Bospar?
ALISHA: Particularly, read everything and when I mean read everything, I mean everything that comes into your inbox, whether that be a contributed article that we may be writing on behalf of a client, a press release. In those first few weeks when you were like, I actually have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing, that is the best way to help your teams, because the minute that you start pitching or you start putting together media lists, you know, at least a little about the way the brand portrays itself and what kind of media would be interested in that. I am a big fan of receiving anything and everything in my inbox in the form of a newsletter. So, when I was first starting out and I was put on different accounts in different industries, so I was put on a fintech account, I was also put on an AI account. So, I had to learn quickly about these different industries that before I really just had no knowledge of. So, the minute I heard somebody on a call talk about, oh, you know, how do we get into TechCrunch, what, what are TechCrunchreporters really interested in? The minute I would hear any sort of publication, I would go on to the TechCrunchwebsite or whatever website, and I would look for their newsletters and I would sign up for every newsletter that I knew would be relevant to me to receive it directly in my inbox. And I would sign up for all the events and the awards to receive all of those directly in my inbox. And from there you’re able to get that news quickly. And while you’re drinking your coffee in the morning, going through those stories and saying, “Okay, this is what the audience is into, this is what the reporter specifically is interested in.” And you can take that knowledge to a client call and say, “Hey, what do we have that’s similar to this? What’s a customer story that’s similar to this? Because that’s what this reporter is interested in and that’s how we can likely get attention.” And then when it comes to awards and events, that is a big deal for a lot of tech companies being recognized among, you know, competitors and relevant companies were able to be the one that has your pulse on the news and you’re not having to do that much work. And you look great which we all love. Ask questions, no question is too silly because when you enter any job, there are processes and a way of doing things that you want to know about. And the only way you’re going to learn that is either by, you know, trying and failing, or trying and getting it right, or asking questions and maybe avoiding all of that to begin with. So, ask questions.
KATY: I love that. Thank you for sharing that. Those are some great tips, especially trying and failing. Don’t be afraid to do that. I know we talked about how you mentor some people and I wanted to know why is mentorship essential? What traits should good mentors have?
ALISHA: It’s having that person in your corner that you can go to, to ask any question, big or small, that provides feedback for you, that gives you a different perspective on maybe the way you are thinking through something. One of my favorite things about Bospar thus far is that I had never understood or had a mentorship program the way I did when I started at Bospar. Immediately when you start, you are paired up with somebody who may be, you know, a few levels above you, but that is the person that you can go to, to ask questions and you know everything from like, how do I send the PTO request, you know, to, hey, this client is asking for this very specific thing, like, can you help me point me in the direction of somebody that might know? And mentorship for me has taught me how to be the manager that I want to be, because people that you work with receive information really differently and want that sort of feedback differently. Nobody is the same. So, you know, you may like receiving feedback in real-time, whereas somebody else may like receiving feedback all in one bundle on a touch base. Without understanding people, I don’t think you can really understand how to be a leader. So, I’ve been fortunate enough to have several mentees and to have several mentors that even if they go off to other companies, I still confide in them for, you know, tips and tricks. And to give me a different perspective on the way, you know, they would maybe handle the situation to kind of open my eyes to a different way of doing things.
ISIS: What is the valuable information that you know now that you didn’t know going into your current role?
ALISHA: Don’t forget that the other person on the other side of the screen is also another person with a life, with things happening in their lives with, you know, annoyances, etc. It’s just always important to lead with compassion. It’s the way I lead my day-to-day because I want to make sure that I am helping somebody, you know, in a time like that, the way that they would help me. So, a perfect example is I have gone to many reporters and been like, hey, I really need you to do me a solid today to make this day a little easier. It would be awesome if you could do this, and you’d be surprised at the response. Like people are willing to help you if you have helped them and you have understood them like they’re willing to come back and also help you in it. In our line of work, that’s really important to build those relationships. Same with clients. When you are able to of course keep it professional, but break that sort of like an initial barrier of, you know, of life or of professionalism, I guess you can say. I love so much that my clients feel that with me they can share their dog pictures, their family photos, it is my favorite thing and breaks up even the most annoying of days. Something that has absolutely been something that I have learned is wherever I go in my career, I want it to be somewhere where I feel valued and where my core values align with those of the company. So, now more than ever, we have had the seven years rolled into these last two and a half. So much has happened, there’s so much going on in the world that for me personally, it is important that my values are celebrated, they are respected and they align with a company. So, I think where you go in your career, just make sure you feel celebrated. I mean, at Bospar, I am Latina, I am part of the LGBTQ+ community, and that is not only valued, it is celebrated. I am encouraged to go out and find those opportunities that I am passionate about when it comes to those parts of my identity. And I think that is the only way that you can continue getting up and doing your best work is if you feel like you are valued and celebrated.
KATY: Yes, absolutely. Alisha, I feel so inspired just by the tips you’re sharing, the stories you’re sharing, and what you’re bringing to the table. Thank you so much for joining us today.
ALISHA: Thank you so much for having me. This is amazing. Thank you.