Phil Kawabata, a senior Illinois State University PRSSA member, has found his niche using social media for local businesses.
How did you start the Twitter account for Chasers Bar in downtown Bloomington?
I started it almost two years ago to help cater to Illinois State students. We weren’t usually open during the week, and students would go to Champaign, so we expanded our hours to include Mondays and used Twitter to promote it. My boss didn’t really know anything about social media, so once he realized the number of people I was able to reach, he was very impressed and onboard with it. Everyone should go follow @_ChasersBar!
How do you use Twitter to attract new followers and customers?
When I started it, there were already two or three accounts that people had started and left, so I made sure to go and follow everyone I knew that had a Twitter. When I started out, there were two or three hundred followers. I would promote our new Monday Night Chasers hours and after our first Monday night opening, our followership increased to eight or nine hundred. We also use it for some promotions, which have helped us grow. On New Year’s we rewarded our followers with VIP treatment. A couple Fridays ago, we had DJ Flipside come, and that was a big hit. We would tweet at him and his music group, and they would retweet us. People saw that, and it drew in alumni and even people from the Chicago area. They came to Chasers because they saw DJ Flipside tweet at or retweet us. We can’t rely on just ISU for business, so Twitter has really expanded us.
What have you learned by being an admin for the Country Financial Facebook page?
I have learned the way a business benefits from public relations. The job has helped me learn ways to show my progress: the analytics of it and how tangible I am. When I started out, my boss laid out what marketing does or what advertising does, and I was kind of in the middle doing it all, plus social media.
What classes at ISU have benefited you the most for these jobs?
Definitely the visual classes. Visual Communication (COM 240) and Web Design (COM 366) have been really helpful and helped me understand how to make a post targeted at a specific audience. They showed me the design aspect you want to think about before sending something out. A photo, for example, engages more people than a sentence would. Most of my social media knowledge has also come from using it or reading blogs about it. I especially find pr.alltop.com very helpful.
What is your advice for other public relations majors at ISU?
Learn how to do EVERYTHING. PR is such a broad field that you can do anything. You can go into PR, marketing, advertising, sales or even start your own business. Learn everything- from designing websites to photography to graphic design. It helps diversify you, and when you have those skills, then employers only need to enhance them instead of teaching you.
Questions composed by Ali Seys
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.