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TIFF Social Media Specialist Shares Secret to her Success

Michelle Nguyen is a fourth-year Bachelor of Public Relations student, published writer and digital content specialist based in Toronto. Michelle has worked for Canada Media Fund, IPG Mediabrands, Broken Heart Love Affair, and through her degree work placement, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). We sat down with Michelle to talk about her role as a social media producer for TIFF, what her creative process looks like, and her experience in the Bachelor of Public Relations program.

What was your experience like working for TIFF during COVID-19?

This is my second festival for TIFF as a Social Media Specialist! For TIFF20, this was the first digital festival in the organization’s 45-year history. The entire festival came to life through social media because in-person events were all essentially cancelled, replaced with at-home screenings and drive-in theatres. It was a massive undertaking.

I was responsible for the entire corporate partnerships portfolio and spearheading all their social media campaigns during festival. This included Visa, Mazda, Nespresso, L’Oreal Paris and more, making sure their stories were told on TIFF’s social channels in a dynamic and engaging way. Their goals ranged from driving traffic to their website or just generating meaningful buzz online, and it was really exciting to craft these innovative ideas and watch them go live for the world to see.

My favourite project I worked on was between actor Shamier Anderson and Hugo Boss. In a regular year, Hugo Boss would host a TIFF exclusive party and outfit all of the celebrities in Boss clothing, invite the press and get featured in the media all night long. This year, all parties were cancelled. So we decided to host the party on Instagram with a takeover, following Shamier to his fitting, his hotel room and then to the premiere of his film, Bruised. Shamier used silly stick figures to pretend like the whole film cast was with him celebrating the premiere of their movie together. The Instagram takeover was so fun that Halle Berry reposted it to her own story and her 6.6 million followers. It was a lighthearted campaign in a summer where everyone just needed a good dose of escapism, and was definitely one of the most successful brand partnerships I’ve ever worked on.

What does your creative process look like?

My creative process is hard to pin down. I’m always consuming content 24/7, so when it’s time to create something new, I’m pulling information from things I’ve seen and making it unique to the brand.

I read a quote once that said “all great art is theft,” and I love that. It’s pretty rare that anything you create is brand new and never been done before — it’s about whether you can take the big ideas and make them impactful and specific to your brand. Once your brain is always floating around with random ideas and great campaigns, you find it easier to work through a process because you already have all the information you might need, now you just have to put it all together.

How has your experience at Humber helped you succeed as a social and digital specialist?

If it weren’t for Humber, I don’t think I would’ve gotten to where I am today. The professors in my program have always been open to offering professional advice on my career and being a sounding board when I’m stuck in a rut. My Humber professors pushed me to create a personal blog, and that portfolio piece is the primary reason I landed an internship in my first year. It has been so inspiring to learn from professors and collaborate with my classmates in an environment that encourages originality and critical thinking. I couldn’t imagine picking a better school.

Michelle Nguyen