Interview with Leslie Saint McLellan '81
Social Media Personal Trainer
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Wow, starting off with the hardest question of all!
Creative – that’s a must if you want to be successful in marketing. My favorite word, since I was a little girl, has always been “imagine” which is a big part of the creative process.
Passionate – from my career to my family, that’s another trait in being successful. (At least in my opinion!)
Community – it’s not just “about me.” It’s always been about my community and how I can play a part in making it better. In this day and age many of us have 2 communities to deal with – our “real life” community and our virtual community. It’s very important to me to be making a difference in every community I’m involved with.
What is a fun memory you have from the U of R?
There are so many, beginning with attending summer music camp at U of R when I was in junior high. However, my biggest “fun” memory of all is the Fall 1980 Salzburg experience. The whole semester was so much fun and to this day a vast majority of those of us who shared the experience that semester are still good friends. That is just one of the many programs that sets the U of R experience apart from other universities.
When were you introduced to world of social media? How did you come to find yourself in your current career?
It was an introduction made from pure desperation. In the fall of 2008, my marketing budget was cut to ZERO so I had no choice but to learn social media in order to continue to market Lake Arrowhead, CA. Social media proved to be extremely successful for the community and our efforts were showcased nationally as we were one of the first to be able to prove a return on investment (ROI) with social media. In 2012, after being the director of marketing and tourism for Lake Arrowhead for 21 years, I left to become a partner in Tourism Currents, which is a global company that teaches tourism and hospitality professionals as well as small businesses the intricacies of integrating social media into their marketing mix – in other words, I’m a social media personal trainer.
What did you study while at the U of R? Has that had any bearing on what you currently do?
I knew from junior high on that I wanted to attend U of R with the ultimate goal of being a writer. Therefore, my degree is in English, with a Creative Writing emphasis. I’ve written all sorts of things since graduation, from brochures to travel stories to radio commercials and video scripts. When I started using social media I realized quickly that in order to get your point across in a limited space, now more than ever, my creative writing skills would be put to use. Promoting, marketing, conversing using social media is like a word game to me. It’s fun to play with words and figure out how to get the most mileage with the limited number of characters available. So yes, without a doubt, my U of R degree has had a huge bearing on not only what I currently do, but what I have done since graduation!
What was your favorite, or most memorable, work project using social media?
It was the summer of 2009 - using Twitter to promote Lake Arrowhead’s summer concert series. We asked attendees to help us by tweeting about the series each week as it took place. By the end of the summer, we had thousands of people exposed to the weekly concerts via Twitter who never would have heard of the series, as we had no money to market it. Because of certain social media tools, I could track who was talking about us and how often. We asked people to help us spread the word via social media and they bought in and played a big part in our success. It was amazing to watch the effort grow as well as amazing to watch the power of social media as it began to take hold.
Do you recall a professor, friend or counselor who influenced you while attending the UR? How did they inspire or support you?
Bruce McAllister was my advisor and guided me throughout my U of R career. There aren’t many schools where classes in your major are small, where you get true personalized attention, and where your advisor really stays on top of what you are doing. I wasn’t a number, I was a person at U of R and that’s what I love about the Redlands experience. Also, I loved all of my English classes and I think I took every one that Bruce McAllister taught.
Dr. Alfredo Brigola was a family friend as well as a professor at U of R. The University of Redlands has a true “family” feel and with Dr. Brigola there, that feeling was even stronger for me. When I graduated, he stepped in and presented me with my diploma – that will always be a very special memory for me.
Dr. Peter Madler had a profound influence on everyone who was fortunate enough to have him as his or her Salzburg professor and friend. He was an amazing man and gave all of us a lasting appreciation for looking at life with more of a global perspective.
What is one thing that you learned in the “real world” that you can give as advice to current college students?
Live for experiences. It starts at U of R. The university allows you to take part in so many varied experiences – from Greek life to programs like Salzburg. Experience all that you can while you are there. When you graduate and are out in the “real world” never pass up an experience. Don’t get stuck living your life in a cubicle. By that I mean, regardless of what your occupation is, look outside the box, look for things you can take part in that create meaningful experiences for you and for others. You can choose to live your life as a series of experiences or you can choose to live your life in a cubicle. Always remember your U of R years, the experiences you had there, and the stellar education you received. Continue to grow, learn and really experience life out in the “real world.” After reading this through a few times I see that I’ve used the word “experience” several times. That probably should have been one of my words that described me at the beginning …….
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