Summit Speaker Q&A: Maureen Fitzgerald, United Technologies
Meet Maureen Fitzgerald, Senior Director, Public Relations & Global Social Media at United Technologies and one of the fantastic speakers that will be taking the stage at Zignal Summit 2019 on April 25th. Twitter: @Movandy
Ahead of the event, we spoke with Maureen to learn a little more about her background, her thoughts on the communications industry and why she’s excited for Zignal Summit 2019.
Q: What was your first job?
A: My first job was as a TV Producer, producing Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and commercials for community and brand partnerships. I really wanted to get into the news industry, so creating these 30-second spots for things like annual toy drives and summer charity walks really helped me learn about production, field producing and writing.
Q: How did you get into the communications industry?
A: After I had been in TV production and the news industry for over a decade, I wanted to try something different that was still within the realm of writing and storytelling. One of my friends, who worked at Pratt & Whitney (one of United Technologies’ brands), encouraged me to consider a job in public relations at the company.
While I didn’t know anything about aerospace, I was willing to learn. My first job in public relations at United Technologies primarily focused on corporate social responsibility, HR partnerships and employee storytelling, a nice callback to my first job producing PSAs.
Q: How has the industry changed since you first started?
A: The biggest change has been the impact of social media. We used social when I was producing live newscasts, but it was still evolving. Now, social has exploded into more platforms than ever and is fundamentally changing the way news and content are produced, retrieved and consumed. Anyone with a phone is a storyteller, journalist or activist.
Q: How has that change challenged or impacted your work?
A: The shift in social has turned everything upside down in the best way possible. In the past, social was the endgame, especially from a distribution point of view. Now, you have to think about social from the very beginning. If you are building a communications plan or strategy, no matter what it’s for, integrating social and mobile-first thinking is the new standard.
Expectations around speed have also gone through the roof. We now have the ability to get real-time feedback from anyone, anywhere in the world. There’s no waiting to see if something works – you’ll find out right away. For example, if you post something on social media and it doesn’t get a response right away, you start to worry. That challenge is magnified when you work for a large global company and help manage social content for more than 200,000 employees and multiple brands across different geographies and languages.
Q: What are you most excited for as the industry continues to evolve?
A: I’m really fascinated to see how new technologies can help us better understand and experience the content we consume. I’m curious, for example, how VR, AI and other similar technologies can create more experiential moments. Right now, most of us are on the receiving end of a lot of messages – content is always coming at us. But it’s very different when you’re actually put into that experience through VR or AI. When you actually feel something, it sparks an entirely different way of thinking.
Q: What advice do you have for other communications professionals?
A: We often underestimate our value as teachers. I spend a great deal of my job educating – up, down, sideways and all around. Regardless of where you are in your career journey, you can always teach somebody and learn something.
My other piece of advice is to stay flexible and run toward change. One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years is the power of a pilot program. I like starting at the beginning and building something – I’ve done it with newscasts and United Technology’s social media program alike. By design that means you’re trying a lot, making mistakes and collaborating across the board. If the pilot works and everyone loves it, then that’s wonderful! If the pilot doesn’t work, no harm done – it’s just a pilot. Piloting is a great opportunity to learn and grow.
Q: What are you most excited about for Zignal Summit 2019?
A: I’m most excited to meet people outside of my industry and learn about the strategies they use to capture and analyze content and data. Having the capacity to come up for air amongst a constant flood of information – and then understanding what to do with that data – is one of the reasons I’m so excited to work with Zignal.
Excited to hear more from Maureen? Register for Zignal Summit 2019 here.