Westword: Tell us a little about your work history. Ef Rodriguez: I spent the first part of my career in public relations, needling local reporters about my clients and their state-of-the-art paradigm shifts or whatever. Over time, I began to focus more on the then-nascent world of social media and eventually made that my primary focus. Determining the best way for a brand to moonwalk with its audience online.
WW: Why did you decide to start working in PR, and when did you know it was what you wanted to do? ER: I originally studied to become a journalist, earning a news-editorial degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. I decided to shift gears and work in PR when the avalanche of reporting jobs never arrived. I knew I had found my calling when I discovered I was the only person in the room who didn't refer to the world's most popular search engine as "The Google."
WW: How would you recommend someone get themselves started in the field? ER: If you're bold enough to pursue a career in social media, I'd recommend swigging as much common sense as your belly can handle. It's routine for agencies to plug your name into a search engine during the hiring process -- the results are just as important as your resume. What kind of trail have you left online, and does it lead somewhere interesting? Manage your personal brand with care before attempting to manage someone else's.
WW: Can you describe an average day? ER: An average day includes lots of social media monitoring, lots of meetings, strategic thinking and collaboration. You need to know as much as you can about the brand, what people are saying about the brand and what a conversation between those parties will look like.
WW: What's the best part about your job? ER: The best part about my job is that I don't have to wear slacks. I wore slacks for two years when I was working in traditional PR, and I destroyed those poor pants the day I transitioned completely into social media. No offense to pants in general, mind you. I like pants. But you show me a crease, and I'm like, "Playa, please."
WW: How about the biggest misconception? ER: The biggest misconception about what I do is that it's a fad. Some oldsters insist that social media has a very short shelf life and isn't worth the investment and expenditure. They are silly geese. The social web is divided into various sites that can flare out any second, but the core shift is irreversible.
WW: Anything you're particularly proud or embarrassed of? ER: I'm embarrassed by my first professional headshot, which I've since removed from the internet completely. I'm wearing a tie and look as though I slept with a hanger in my shirt. The photographer told me to "look regal." The result is hysterically tragic.