Create & Cultivate has garnered a cult following of female entrepreneurs, creative artists, and aspiring social mavens. Community, support, and discovery has always been Create & Cultivate's mission and they've created an informative and inspiring space where female entrepreneurs can learn and grow together. This phenomenal team works tirelessly to constantly connect, inspire and encourage creative entrepreneurs in this ever changing digital landscape through their conferences, blog, and social channels such as Instagram. We recently interviewed Arianna (CC's brilliant Editorial Director) and today we are excited to sit down with Priscilla Castro -- CC's Social Media Director. Priscilla shares her story, passion, and advice as an exceptional millennial working at one of the coolest startups today.
I'm Priscilla and I run all social for Create & Cultivate. I got my degree in Journalism from Cal State Long Beach, with a minor in marketing. Since graduating, I've interned with Filter Magazine, LA Canvas, and after interning for (No Subject) and BeautyCon, I became BeautyCon's Social Director and later, their Editorial Director. It's a funny story how I came on board at Create & Cultivate. I started out as an intern for our founder Jaclyn's digital marketing and events agency (No Subject) about 3 years ago and before I came on board, I bought a ticket for the first Create & Cultivate LA. However, when I walked into the internship, I had no clue that (No Subject) produced it and was amazed to find out that I was a part of the team that helped create this event I looked up to. In retrospect, I feel like being a part of Create & Cultivate was meant to be. (Also, shame on college senior me for not doing my due diligence in researching that Create & Cultivate was produced by (No Subject).
My digital history dates back to the days I was playing Neopets at my middle school library, so as a "millennial" (I hate categorizing myself as such), digital media has been present from a very young age. Social media was always a means of communication for me and I never saw it as a profession, per se. However, when I started taking marketing classes in college and saw the ways traditional marketing strategies could translate to digital and the possibility of creating awesome out of the box content that would bring out the "personality" of a brand, I knew it was something I had to tap into.
One thing that I always keep in mind when posting content, is never post just to post. As a team, we've set the ground rules for what works, what doesn't, and if we try something new, we really evaluate to see if it works or move past it. I think this has ultimately helped us do a great job in establishing an aesthetic and tone that really defines our brand, yet still moves forward and evolves from its roots. While our imagery is always in line, our topics continue to grow outside of the box that our audience loves to read and discuss.
I've applied the same rules to my own Instagram, however, while I make sure that I'm optimizing engagement on Create & Cultivate's Instagram, I'm a little less concerned about my own. The things that matter on my feed are establishing a cohesive aesthetic (I stick to blue, white, black and gray tones), taking photos that bring out the beauty of my everyday life, sharing the things I love, and sprinkling in some rap and hip hop lyrics as captions here and there. All my friends always rave about how much they love my feed, so if I see that I didn't get a like from them on my photos, I know I messed up. LOL.
The three things that help me keep my content in line is my content calendar, digging for user-generated content, and reaching outside of our own circle to think of new content ideas. Create & Cultivate is more than a brand, it's a community that has brought many women together to create amazing work relationships and projects, so I try to bring that in all that I do for work as well. For content planning, we try to work two weeks out, but we also like to keep content very timely, so it can always change in the span of a few hours depending on what's trending and relevant. Just make sure to always have your content holes filled and ready to go live. For editing, we as a team go over everything and triple check. Typos do happen, and it's just a matter of making sure you're always checking your spelling. Grammarly is my go-to and life-saver. I just wish that it worked for Photoshop and InDesign (#designerproblems). Then I get to creating graphics... I'm not a graphic designer by any means, but I do know the basics of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, which I think is a MUST for any social media director. Nowadays, if you're looking to work in social media, no matter if you're doing copy or strategy, you should be familiar with the Adobe Creative Cloud. Finally, for creating blog content, don't just rely on what's trending. One of the publications that I follow religiously is Vice and Broadly, and they always tap into topics that aren't trending at all, they push the envelope and are the first to uncover them. I recommend listening to your audience on what matters to them, what issues are being swept under the rug, opening up your blog to pitches, and make yourself a funnel for content ideas and see what can work for you.
The minute I sit at my desk, the first thing I do is look over my content calendar. Do I have any typos on any captions? Do we have the content that's going live on the blog ready for me to link to? Is everything credited appropriately? Are there more timely trending topics today that I should slot in for content, etc.? Doing this at the beginning of my workday alleviates any last minute stress that I might come across because if there is a new content piece that we have to write and get imagery for that very day, we still have to run it for approval from our founder. After that's done, I look over my to-do list and notes on my notebook and see what I need to prioritize that day, and what I need to finish by end of the week to make sure I'm hitting all my deadlines. However, 50-60% of the time I'm on email connecting with all of our conference sponsors making sure that we have our sponsored content ideas locked in for our blog and social, connecting with speakers, coordinating interviews for our blog, and corresponding back with the rest of the team. 40% of the time I'm creating content, engaging on social with our audience on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, updating our website and creating graphics, and making sure I'm up to date with what's new in the digital space and discovering up and coming influencers that we should keep on our radar. The other 10% is meetings with Jackie and Arianna going over content and what we should keep on our radar and brainstorming ideas.
In all honesty, most of the amazing ideas that come up are thanks to Ari. Because of her, we've touched on more in-depth topics that have really struck a chord with our followers. She has really allowed us to step outside of our box and thinks about topics that no other media sites that caters to female entrepreneurs talk about. Because of her, we've pushed the envelope with our content and honestly we wouldn't have it any other way. However, as a team, Jackie, Ari and I are always in tune with what's going on with content. We hold weekly meetings to go over content for every week and we're also in a group chat where we're always sending each other ideas on what we should talk about based on what's trending or ideas we come up with. It helps us to always stay on the same page.
It wasn't until recently that I finally learned how to find a balance. I'm not the best at time management, but I honestly don't know what I would do if I didn't write down everything in my notebook and make sure to back it up with my calendar app. My weekends are the most important to me even if it means that I have to stay in the office late at night during the week to make sure that I have everything done by Friday, and just post and engage on social during the weekends, I'm clear. For many, weekends are for relaxation, but I have the itch to create and always learn new things. I treat work as a college experience because I like to keep that sense of curiosity alive, so I'm always looking to find new creative skills that I can integrate into my own job, be it graphic design, coding, or photography.
It's hard to nail down one thing that I love about my job because there are so many things to love. I love that in the past year, we've grown this brand and conference to such extremes that I wouldn't have imagined when I was an intern back in 2013. I love that it has grown so big, yet we're a small and close-knit team. I love that I have such amazing teammates and that I'm able to interact with such an awesome and inspiring community of female bosses that kick ass. I love that we're able to inspire one another and that we're so open to each other's ideas. I have the luxury of working for a company that is constantly working with inspiring women and I've been really lucky to create relationships and surround myself with them. Hearing their stories and seeing their successes inspires me to be the best version of myself that I probably didn't know I could achieve.
It's safe to say I have an obsession, LOL. I create so many playlists that it's hard to keep track of what I listen to at work and at home. It all really depends on my mood, but if it's a slow/chill day, I will generally listen to Ta-ku, Blood Orange, or Radiohead. If I know I have a lot on my plate that day and need to be pumped up to finish all of my tasks I will have Kanye or Run The Jewels on blast so I'm in my zone like when I'm at the gym. When I'm home I'll work on building my old school hip-hop playlist and listen to all the original samples. I can get lost finding the original samples and versions for hours.
Working in social media is an all-encompassing job. It's copywriting, it's photo editing, it's photography, it's graphic design, it's event production, it's web design, it's strategy - the list goes on and on. If you want to be the best social media strategist, make sure you can wear any hat you're given and the very least, learn the basics. I had so many internships when I stepped into this field and did so much, that I learned that you just have to become a sponge and take it all in to become the best. And a rule of thumb: never stop learning because social media never stops evolving.