Scripps PRSSA was pleased to welcome Zach Wright from Sprout Social. Currently, Zach is the director of professional services and strategy at Sprout Social. Zach has worked in social media since 2009, after he graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in strategic communication. He has worked with multiple large and small agencies, brands and other software as a service (SaaS) tools in the past 11 years, and also previously served as an advisor for Ohio PRSSA. This is Zach’s fifth time presenting for our Chapter.

Sprout Social is a SaaS tool that gives brands a platform to amplify their social voices. This service has over 20,000 customers, the highest average rating, award-winning services and fastest time-to-value. Some brands and organizations that utilize Sprout Social include Chipotle, Evernote, Vice, Edelman, Shopify and several others. Ultimately, Sprout Social helps brands create real connections through social management, customer care, analytics and social listening. 

These professional services also allow the team at Sprout Social engage in conversations and gain valuable insight and receive strategic offerings. Sprout Social works diligently to align and to introduce the service to the brand. They set up the platform together, training them along the way. They go above and beyond compared to other competitors, and they make sure they feel extremely comfortable and successful when using Sprout. They go through a handing-off process, and even follow up with them in the future. 

At the time of his graduation, Zach wanted to work in social media, which just emerged. He built up his experiences and jumped around many positions. Eventually, he networked with an old friend, who started a small agency in Chicago. Zach was offered a role as a social media manager, which began his trajectory in spending time in multiple agencies and spaces, small and large. Ultimately, he learned that agency life was not for him. He wanted to try branding.

“There is no one path to follow — there is only you. Make the best choices available to you at the time.”

Zach Wright

Zach relayed to us to figure out exactly what we want out of our career. Zach said he was under the impression that he needed to work at an agency because that’s what everyone else did. His path was different, and it took him time to realize that. He said to get away from searching for jobs by titles. Instead, go into the job descriptions and find the skills and day-to-day activities. Create your own job description and search for those activities. It might take you in a different path, but on a similar trajectory. 

Zach’s day-to-day: Different from an entry-level job, so but we could move into a position like his. Every different company uses socials differently. Sprout tries to uncover what each needs are, help them to the best of their experience, and see them succeed. Each customer needs to feel value unique, especially when SAS is an expensive investment. Sprout Social is very user-friendly, and users are able to learn how to use the product in days. The service was designed to users to work their hardest using the easiest tool possible.

Q&A Section:

How does your job differ from those at a traditional agency or other PR role?

  • Zach’s answer: “When I worked in PR Agencies and social roles, I got burned out by focusing on brands and answering angry messages from consumers.” Zach said, explaining how he likes to connect with brands, but he prefers not being tied to brands. This was the biggest change between an agency role versus other roles.

Can you talk a little about what it was like to look for a job after college when the market was really bad? A lot of us feel like we are in the same boat trying to find jobs internships during the pandemic.

  • Zach’s answer: The simple answer is there is no right answer. You have to do what you need to survive. Take any job you can, and make sure you take something from it. Even if it isn’t where you want to be, learn and grow from the experience. Learn from the positives and negatives in any position, and reflect on a story you can tell at your next job interview. 

What’s the future of social media?

  • Zach’s answer: Social media is going into a dark place. The future of social is changing by demographic, and it has changed over time. Video content is the newest trend, especially with the rise of TikTok. Many users are having issues with privacy, and APIs are closing. Will SaaS be able to keep up with video-based content is a big question. Moving toward video content and capitalizing on Zoom virtual content will be likely. SaaS tools are for businesses to track metrics, but since more video-based content is popular, this could present a change in the service.

What’s your favorite part of working in social media? What’t the hardest part or something you didn’t expect about it?

  • Zach’s answer: It’s the best to amplify a voice and see the reactions to it. Now, he loves helping people be successful on social media in general. The joy of working in social media is seeing the wins from others, and being in an industry helping a multitude of people, which makes him feel like his work is worthwhile.  However, there are a lot of people who use the service, and each can be challenging to keep up with because each social account thinks they are the most important.

How can we use our own personal social media accounts as leverage as we strive to become professionals in the field of PR?

  • Zach’s answer: Make everything personal. When you message someone, think of organic ways to build actual relationships, which spirals into networking. Be bold, don’t lurk. You can engage with specific audiences or people. Be responsible. 

Is the business world becoming more aware humans being people before workers now that many of us are virtual?

  • Zach’s answer: The world is changing, and it is one of the silver linings of this time: we’ve become more family inclusive and more freeing. It can depend on the type of people you work with — some people are more open to this idea and others not. Once you step off the call, step back into the life you love and know.  Lastly, you don’t necessarily need to be in a high office to be good at your job. You will see some people go back into offices, but this new hybrid is the preferred method. 

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