Laura Lake's background in marketing started as sort of a fluke.
Not all of our images are always polished… It's about allowing people to see who we are in our everyday world.
She began writing for About.com in 1997 when it was known as The Mining Company and started writing on Internet communication. Before long, she became self-taught in consumer behavior and digital marketing, and the site she worked on and wrote for went to the top 25 of 900 sites.
With a background in accounting, Laura says she's a numbers person. “The fact that you could do marketing and gain insight within a matter of minutes was always very appealing to me.”
She also worked with small businesses on the agency side at EAG Advertising & Marketing — an experience that worked surprisingly well for her when she was brought onto YRC Freight.
“Even though we're a Fortune 500 company, I like to think we're grassroots company,” Laura says.
That's because in 2009, competitors Yellow and Roadway merged to become YRC Freight, and the transition wasn't easy.
“If you think of Coke and Pepsi, that's somewhat what the brands were like. In order to keep the legacy of where we come from but also create a new brand through a grassroots perspective, I applied the strategies I've learned from working with small businesses.”
“We went through some tough times. And while we're a big company, we don't have large budgets that some other companies have.”
When Laura joined YRC Freight's marketing team in 2013, she wasn't there to do social media.
If you're silent, often you're sending a message, and it's not the message you want to send.
Instead, she was hired to help dust off some of the cobwebs that lingered online for YRC Freight.
“There was a sort of digital deadlock. The website wasn't search friendly, social media was dark, and we didn't have a great email marketing strategy,” Laura explains. “Logistics companies have not always been on the forefront of digital marketing.”
Gradually, Laura and her team worked internally to earn buy-in for a social media presence. And eventually, someone in leadership did some monitoring of their own and realized YRC needed to be more active.
Now, Laura looks at social as a way to drive employee engagement as well as give support as a sales channel.
One of her favorite campaigns happened during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. She says that with many Yellow and Roadway branded trucks still out there, they wanted to use this opportunity to create some brand awareness for YRC Freight. The campaign asked YRC drivers to share photos drivers across the country, so that it could become more apparent what the brand looked like out on the road.
Laura says it was their first time to use social media to reach out and gain feedback and it became one of their most memorable campaigns.
She says one thing she's learned from that campaign is to stay 100 percent realistic.
“Not all of our images are always polished — we are a logistics company, after all. It's about allowing people to see who we are in our everyday world,” Laura explains.
For now, one of her biggest challenges just comes with not having enough hours in the day.
With so many opportunities since they entered the social space in 2014, Laura explains, “It's about managing the day-to-day, but also being able to keep your eye on the strategy and the end goal.”
Looking forward, she hopes that more brands like YRC Freight will realize that if you ignore social media it won't go away.
She says, “If you're silent, often you're sending a message, and it's not the message you want to send.”
Follow Laura Lake on Twitter and ask how she got such a famous sounding name. Laura's been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2015.