Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Maggie Schmerin is the head of digital and social media at United Airlines. I had the pleasure of joining an interview with her at a #Newhousespeaks event. She described the early years in her career as well as her position now as a media manager. She began her career working in social media at the public relations firm, Edelman. She explains that she was happy to have landed a job with Edelman and she learned a lot during her time there. However, when her time with Edelman came to an end, she started a new path with United. Schmerin states that her days now include several long meetings but also require a lot of impromptu work. As airline policies are continuously changing and adapting to customers' demands, Schmerin and her team work endlessly to release social and digital media that engages the public.
In public relations, it’s very important to follow current events in order to accommodate the customer’s needs and interests. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, safety is the primary concern of travelers in 2020. Schmerin and her team had to work day-in and day-out to prove to United's customers that their health was a top priority. She states that one thing that set United apart from its competitors is its partnership with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic. I believe that having two health and safety leaders working alongside United assured customers that the airline would meet their concerns and demands. Although her job consumes a lot of time, Schmerin enjoys it immensely. She emphasizes how important it is to be passionate about your work, and she feels she has found that. She states that prior to working for United, she had a bit of an "aviation bug" (Schmerin 2020), but now she has completely fallen in love with travel. She states that her job has given her an excellent opportunity to travel. This has in turn offered her the ability to get to know her customers across the globe. She speaks about the intelligence of United Airlines' customers. Every year United releases a video that allows customers to guess a mystery destination. She states that typically, customers can guess the location almost immediately. For this reason, United decide to increase the difficulty of its video in 2020. Schmerin says that the video has had a fantastic response, and for the first time, customers were struggling to decipher the video! In my opinion, it became increasingly clear that Schmerin cares about her customers.
In the interview, students began to ask her what advice she would give for anyone looking to join the PR/marketing industry. She could not emphasize enough how important it is to network. She states, "networking and figuring out where you want to be…and finding people who can teach you" (Schmerin 2020) is one of the first steps you must take in order to break into the industry. This gave great insight into what it means to work in PR, as well as what it takes to land a job that you love. I had an excellent time participating in this interview with her and will try to implement Schmerin's advice into my life moving forward.