SuperBowl XLVI was certainly the biggest event of the new year for Indiana, but for one IWU Communication Division student, it may turn out to be the career-changing moment of her college life. Senior Public Relations major Nicole Chromey was hired to manage social media for a major hotel management group in Indianapolis. While thousands flooded the city, Chromey ran Twitter and Facebook accounts for the Indy-based Marriott chain of hotels, including the JW Marriott downtown, a hub for media personnel from around the world.
Chromey interned for the management group the previous summer, so its leaders were already aware of her social media skills. Each day, she tweeted, ran contests, checked site statistics and replied to the throngs of visitors seeking information online. She also learned there was no template for this kind of public relations work, since social media is still so new. “I was just told to tell a story, bring Super Bowl online for those that cannot be there. The company never did something like this so they couldn’t tell me how to or how not to do it. They just sent me out for the week and it was up to me to shape the position and the results,” she said.
For the week, the various social media sites had close to 1.9 million total impressions, meaning a unique audience of approximately 395,000 different users visited the company’s sites. The numbers point to the importance of social media across in most businesses. Michael Bennett, Vice President of Commerce and Communications for the company, praised Chromey in a congratulatory email. “You were professional, diligent and went above and beyond to make our hotels look great and more importantly be a positive face to our guests and the city. It was a record-setting week from every aspect at our hotels and because of you we can add social media to that list,” Bennett wrote.
Chromey was paid for her exhausting work week, received lodging and meal expenses, and got to keep the iPad given to her for the job. But the story may not end there. Officials at the management group want to hire her for an ongoing social media position, that may become full time once she graduates this spring.
The exhilaration (and exhaustion) may be over, but Chromey said she’s energized by what she was able to do. “It was beyond exciting to be a part of a brand new position, a brand new movement in the tourism industry. People kept asking if I was worn out, if it was really hard and to be honest I never felt more well rested and never have thought to my self this is so hard.when your passions align with what you’re doing when you walk out the door in the morning, it feels a lot less like work and a lot more like purpose, fun, and enjoyment,” she said.