Apryl Pilolli's career in media started when she walked into the wrong room.
“When I was 15 years old, my mom sent me into the local newspaper's office to pick up some newspapers for her. But I had walked into the wrong room where they were hiring for a part time photographer. Because I was on the yearbook staff in high school, they saw I had a camera, and they thought I was there for the job. Turns out, no one showed up for the interview, so they said, ‘You got the job,'” she recalls.
And that's how Apryl got her first job as a photographer.
“I fell in love with storytelling, and that's been a theme throughout my entire career.”
We're listening to people on social media to tell us what we should be reporting on.
For over 20 years, Apryl's been in the media business working as a photo lab tech, copy editor, designer, and graphic artist as well as working in sales. Now, she's focused on analytics, content, and social media.
“In some ways, media is completely different from when I started, and in some ways, it's exactly the same,” Apryl explains.
“These days, people can be more involved in the news process and say what's important to them. Before social media, the newspaper and TV stations would report what they thought was news. But now, we're listening to people on social media to tell us what we should be reporting on.”
As the Manager of Social Analytics and a member of SocialMedia.org, Apryl provides data and analysis for Cox Media Group's TV, radio, and newspaper properties. But how did she go from the creative side of media to the data side? While building content and campaigns for Cox Media Group, Apryl kept running into the same question: What's the ROI?
“The more I had to report the ROI, the more I found a love of data.”
To measure the right things, you have to know what your goals are and what drives your bottom line.
Apryl says, “I loved finding that storytelling data and using the numbers to tell the client the story of how their ad campaign performed.”
And in 2013, Apryl founded Cox Media Group's social media analytics program. Like most social media leaders, Apryl says she picked up skillsets and knowledge along her career path mostly through self-education. She used reports from Cox Media Group's data team to learn the ins and outs of analytics and develop her own reports for social.
“Except for the conversations we have in SocialMedia.org, there isn't anyone guiding you in what we should measure and how we should measure it. It's a lot of learning on your own and figuring out what works,” Apryl says.
Within two years, Cox Media Group's Analytics and Insights Department grew by 16 new hires.
And they're not done growing. Now, the department has four different areas of focus: platform data, ad client-side data, ad platforms, and social data.
On the social data side, Apryl works on a team of three. One analyst handles social for TV, one focuses on social for radio, and Apryl is in charge of digital and newspaper social media.
“What we measure for TV is not what we measure for radio because they have different goals in social media. To measure the right things, you have to know what your goals are and what drives your bottom line.”
Apryl's proud that now, as the Center of Excellence, her team supports about 300 employees in social.
Because social media is new and changing, people are willing to share information about what they're doing.
She says getting to this point took a lot of building buy-in, tracking the value of social media, and bringing that data to light. For example, Facebook is one of the biggest drivers to Cox Media Group's website.
“We're really about customer service and being the Center of Excellence first. So we make sure to focus on what our brands need and build up buy-in and understanding of their need. I think that's what has helped our team become a success — we talk to them and understand their needs instead of just telling them what they have to do in social.”
Apryl says she also encourages her team to find ways to help both online and offline — to be social.
“Social media is about more than being on Facebook, it's about actually being social.”
“Whether it's getting on calls with SocialMedia.org, going to Member Meetings, or joining Facebook groups with other social media managers, I love the sense of community. My favorite part of my job is that because social media is new and changing, people are willing to share information about what they're doing.”
Follow Apryl on Twitter and ask about her early days as an “accidental” photojournalist. Apryl's been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014.