Erika DiProfio is an instructor for San Diego State University's College of Extended Studies and she oversees SDSU's student-run media agency, Arrow Media Group, also known as JMS 596.
DiProfio graduated from SDSU in 2000 with degrees in communications and public relations. She is currently the vice president of marketing and public relations for Slater's 50/50 restaurants.
1. What inspired you to do this kind of work?
I have been in the marketing industry for nearly 15 years and have experienced first-hand how quickly it evolves. From the time I graduated from SDSU to today, new tools have emerged that have allowed brands to reinvent themselves.
Even when you are immersed in the industry every day in a practical sense, it’s nearly impossible to stay up-to-date with how marketers are reaching customers in new ways. Arrow Media Group is our way of bringing that real life immersion to students who are learning the fundamentals in their other courses, giving them an advantage over others who may not otherwise take that opportunity.
We know students who are entering the workforce have a larger challenge than any of us imagine. Employers are looking for experience well beyond what we had 15 years ago so that their new hires can hit the ground running. It is my goal to bring some of that experience to students and to provide a professional environment that is as true to life as possible.
2. How long have you worked at SDSU?
I started teaching Social Media Strategies for Business at CES a year ago and taught JMS 596 last spring when it was first offered. Spring 2015 will be my second semester overseeing the Arrow Media Group.
3. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.” It’s very easy to get sucked into marketing jargon and make decisions solely based on what the data tells you. We are all consumers and know what we like and what we don’t like and how we want to interact with brands.
Taking yourself out of your cubicle and into the shoes of your customers can be hard sometimes. One of the best things about teaching both courses is that the students aren’t jaded by what can’t be done, or the saying we’ve all heard before, “we’ve always done it this way."
4. What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite part is that I have the opportunity to teach at my alma mater. I get to watch the campus change and grow, all while sharing memories with students and my former professors of what it was like when I attended.
My next favorite part is when a student tells me what he or she learned the week prior actually worked in the real world when put into practice. That real time feedback tells me that the information we are sharing and the scenarios we are facilitating are achieving our goal of providing real world examples and experiences.
5. What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?
Surprisingly there are still people that ask, “What do you do in marketing and public relations?" Shows like "Mad Men" have painted a picture of glitz, glamour, drama and cynicism. Today, it is not only a marketer’s responsibility to drive awareness and reinforce a positive perception of a brand, but, and possibly more importantly, the customer’s relationship with the brand is held in the marketer’s hands.
We give the customer a voice at the table so that their feedback and ideas are represented and implemented. Knowing what your customer wants and how they interact with your brand is critical to a successful product or service.
6. What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you?
What a hard question! I don’t think anything is really that interesting, so I asked my husband, my daughters, and my friends. Here are their answers:
Husband: You were Miss Rancho Bernardo 1996.
Ysabel (7) and Sophie (4): You are our mommy and the best mommy in the world.
Friends: You had a life-size cardboard cutout of Gwen Stefani in your delivery room when both you daughters were born.
7. If you could only rescue one thing from your burning office, what would it be?
Easy. My backup hard drive because it has tens of thousands of photos of my family and my children. I keep it in an accessible place for this very reason.
1. What is your favorite kind of music/what are your favorite bands?
My friends will tell you 90’s hip hop because I can rock it at karaoke. But my favorite band/singer is No Doubt/Gwen Stefani. Gwen has been a role model of mine since I first saw No Doubt perform at SOMA in 1995. I would need more than two paragraphs to explain that, but in a nutshell, she is a strong, fun, smart, entrepreneur, wife and mother who is classically cool and confident. See question 6.
2. What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete?
If I followed sports my answer would absolutely be SDSU Aztecs Football, Basketball, and Baseball. Go Aztecs!