Elyise Brigman is an Associate at Mueller Communications. Her role is wide ranging across all facets of this small communications organization. Elyise is a graduate of Marquette University, with a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications and a concentration in marketing.  I recently had the opportunity to ask Elyise about Digital and what it means to her.

Audrey McGuckin (AM) – Elyise, tell me about your vantage point. Where do you come from in a Digital Era?

Elyise Brigman (EB) – I come at this from the lens of public relations and media relations. I work for a boutique PR firm in Milwaukee, of about 18 people.

AMTell me about the digital trends that you’re seeing Elyise?

EB – I’m seeing changes in consumption of news. Journalists certainly have to be more diligent in their reporting. It needs to be packed with third party proof points. That’s what the consumer is demanding, given the ease of access to data and information. It’s interesting, in our industry, storytelling is in our hearts but we are challenged to stay modern and contemporary through robust data and keeping with technological trends. As an industry, public relations would probably be considered ‘late majority’ if placed on the technology life cycle.

There is so much information out there where anyone could be considered an “influencer” and as a result, many third party bloggers/podcasts/news sites have saturated the market.  Although I’m considered a Digital Native because of my age, I am a traditionalist at heart. Most PR professionals or journalists live and lead with our hearts, we genuinely look for symbols and meaning in our work. For example, I have an old-fashioned typewriter, it’s symbolic of a time when news and the correspondents were at the heart of information and a source for global connection. Now, we are in an age when a single person in the global can highjack the world’s interest with a video or a passionate blog post.

At Mueller Communications, we are taught to be ‘politely persistent’ when conducting follow-up with media outlets and recognize the importance of a phone call. Managing and being intentional about building relationships are what make us successful and it is what we enjoy about our work.

AM – What’s it like to work at Mueller Communications?

EB – We strive to operate efficiently, like a small start-up. This means there is less “clutter” to get through to move from point A to point B – from problem to solution. There are less checks and balances and we able to operate with agility and flexibility which is a big deal in a digital environment. Our clients rely on our speed and accuracy and quality of work.

AM – How does this show up from a leadership perspective. What are the leaders like in your organization?

EB – Leadership wants to share the range of client-work with their larger team. Once junior staffers prove they can be trusted with delivering client needs, on time and on budget, leadership will pass along an account or a project. The key is keeping management updated with project checkpoints to provide that reassurance. Digital communication even within this small physical space happens with IM, text and email. We rarely even pick up a phone to speak with each other while in our office.

AM – What’s the culture like where you work?

EB – Our culture finds its success in the trust of its team structure. If our clients’ needs are being met, our leadership team trusts us to be responsible in our time management from personal and professional perspective. Junior staffers find promotion once they have proven skillsets for the next role they wish to achieve.

AM – How about your views on learning and digital Elyise.

EB – I was a member of the first graduating class with a major in “Corporate Communications”. I emerged with a technology biased degree in order to smoothly transition into a digital business world. I feel like I’ve learned on the job in real time, but the graduating classes of today are already coming into the workplace with Adobe and Photoshop software skills, in addition to basic business and communications skillsets. I see the new entrants coming into the workplace with a level of urgency and immediacy around learning and career promotions. Always ‘on’, due to the nature of an always connected digital world, and with an appetite for fast learning and mobility within an organization. This means that organizations have to provide a way to satisfy this desire for continuous improvement and learning opportunities.

EB – I think about my generation and we feel we need to learn fast and have a large impact, almost immediately upon our hire. The new graduates to the workplace come in with a lot of knowledge from school but it’s jolting for them to have to learn how to work within the organizational constraints and stay within what is ‘a process of a business’. It’s sometimes tough to get them to work urgently towards deliverables, budgets and customer deadlines. These are skills that are not learned in school or somehow not deemed as important but have become our workplace challenges.

AM – Do you think your view on this is particular to your generation?

EB – I don’t like to think about this as a complete generational issue, even although I am a Digital Native. Organizations have to figure out how to create a digital mindset in their organization regardless of generation. How we get work done in my organization is by figuring out what each of us brings to the table and determine how to leverage that knowledge for results. We tend to have more of a generalist approach. We start by figuring out what the customer needs, then we work as a team to execute the work. We are less bound by organizational structures per se. Talking about job titles and organizational structures can be frustrating and non-value add when dealing with tight timetables. It is important for every member of our team to master foundational skills before moving into a focused area of work, which they may prefer. Our team structure finds success when everyone at least understands all the roles, which they could possibly be asked to play at any time – I hope this idea never goes away.

AM – If you were advising a senior HR leader trying to create a funnel and career path for Digital Natives, what would you advise?

EB – I guess I’d tell you to spend time within the digital world we enjoy – experience a world where physical boundaries like banks, stores, shipping, dating are completed by a touch of the phone. We plan our outings in group texts, we show the funny moments of work in a Snapchat, we post our great lunch with friends on Instagram, we split our check using Venmo, we hail our ride with Uber, we sightsee with Bublr Bikes… our world is not blocked by physical reality anymore – our phone and the number of our apps are our connection to the world. Can you feel comfortable with a nano-second world? Can management understand that two years to the next promotion is a lifetime for us?

Interviewing Elyise was an incredible experience, you could feel the emotional connection she has with her organization, her team and her leader. The payoffs are huge for organizations who get the environmental factors right for Digital Natives.

Audrey McGuckin consults with top CEOs and HR Executives to solve their toughest and most complex talent and leadership challenges. To connect with Audrey on how she can assist you and your organization, visit our contact page or message her directly at audrey@audreymcguckin.com.