News

June 3, 2009

Dynamic Marketing in New York City

Sarah Smedley ’07 works with Staples, GlaxoSmithKline, and projects involving rockers Maroon5 and former tennis star John McEnroe

Sarah Smedley ’07 loves seeing the payoff of her hard work.Smedley, an assistant account executive at the Taylor public relations firm in New York, has been working with corporate clients like office supply retail chain Staples and pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline. She also engaged alternative rock band Maroon5 in a marketing campaign for Mars Inc. A big part of her job is reaching out to news media and TV talk shows to convince them to discuss her clients, their programs, and the topics that matter to them.

As part of her work with GlaxoSmithKline, Smedley is engaged in an effort to promote awareness of prostate disease among men older than 50. The program has seen its spokesman, former tennis star John McEnroe, take to daytime television talk shows and direct viewers to a web site GlaxoSmithKline maintains.

“We’re driving men to go to 50Over50challenge.com. There are three tests; you take a health assessment, and it gives you talking points to discuss with you doctor,” says Smedley.

The day McEnroe began his media tour in mid-March, Smedley and her colleagues watched the web traffic at 50Over50challenge.com begin to trickle in at 6 a.m. with five visitors and then start to surge into the hundreds by the time McEnroe had appeared on the Today show.

“We’ve always been a PR agency, but what we’re working on right now is a complete marketing communications program,” says Smedly. It has involved not just old-fashioned networking and phone calls to reporters and editors with traditional news media, she notes, but pursuit of an Internet-savvy audience to create a fully integrated public relations effort.

“This is the first time that we’ve had a company like this at our agency, where we’re touching every aspect of communications,” she says. “To be part of that is huge for me.”

For Smedley, like many other alumni, the proximity of Lafayette to New York proved to be a significant asset in getting her established in the city and its professional sphere. The Office of Career Services helped her secure an internship at Taylor during the fall of her senior year.

“For the real-life experience I commuted into the city two days a week,” says the double major in economics & business and anthropology & sociology. “The fact that it was close enough that I could commute was the reason I got the job.”

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