If College or International Program participants on the East Coast have questions about the living component of their program, they are referred to Housing. But what is “Housing?” Did you know that Housing is actually comprised of several different teams, all with the same goal of ensuring our participants have an unforgettable and seamless program experience? Although we share a common goal, the responsibilities each team has are very different.
This post is the third in a series that will highlight each team within Housing so you know how you can best direct your inquiries and become more familiar with the friendly faces that are here to assist you.
With all of the events, classes, and updates, among many other happenings, it seems like Disney Housing never sleeps! To keep everyone in the know, our Housing Communications team works avidly to make sure our participants and partners have the most up-to-date information about our ever-changing program. I sat down with Brianna who shared with me how her team uses a multitude of vehicles to keep our participants well-informed:
Who is on your team? What are their responsibilities?
We are a small but mighty team of seven! We consist of four specialists, two professional interns and our leader, Christina. The specialists all – you guessed it – specialize in a different area of communication: I focus on communication planning, writing and editing; Carmen’s responsibility is creating and editing all video projects for HTM and YouTube; Lindsay is our graphic designer and assists with posters and signage in Housing; and Bri is our resident tech pro as she concentrates on coding, creating animations and designing graphics. Our two professional interns, Kristina and Emily, work on communication strategy and graphic design, respectively.
As a team we create communication vehicles that most participants of a Disney Program are familiar with: The Communicator (our monthly newsletter), the weekly email, HTM: Housing the Magic (now on YouTube!), and all our social media accounts. We also contribute to blogs (like DisneyProgramsBlog.com!) and update our module on the Hub, CenterStage, digital signage and multiple bulletin boards around the complexes.
What social media accounts do you oversee? How have they improved communication between Housing and participants?
We know that our participants are social, so we are, too. We are on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and most recently, YouTube! You can follow us @DisneyHousing on all those channels and use #DisneyPrograms to share your story with us. I personally maintain and monitor these accounts and love to see all the adventures our participants go on and the memories they make during their programs. It brings me back to when I was on my program – but there was no Instagram or hashtagging then! We were all about the Facebook albums filled with hundreds of pictures!
I think having social media accounts has increased the amount of communication between Housing and our participants tremendously. Like I said, I monitor these accounts almost all day, every day, Monday through Friday, and am instantly able to answer questions they have, wish them a happy birthday, tell them to travel safely if they are just arriving on their program, or like the picture they just took with all their roommates in front of Cinderella Castle. Social media is not just pushing information out; it’s a two way street that creates an open environment of communication between an account and its audience. We have actually seen the amount of emails we receive to our communication inbox decrease in number since we have made the effort to interact more on our social media accounts. I hope our participants truly see us as a resource!
What is the most challenging aspect about your role?
Once again, I think I speak for the whole team when I say making sure that everyone on a program is able to take advantage of all the offerings available to them. You may be a cast member after your program is over, but there are many things that we make available just to program cast. Occasionally, we will advertise everywhere for an event we think is awesome; we’ll put it in the Communicator, the weekly email, social media, bulletin boards, YouTube – everywhere! And someone will still say they never heard of it. Obviously, this is a small part of our audience, but we continually ask ourselves this question: how can we be better communicators? Is there something we’re missing or something we aren’t taking advantage of as another communication vehicle?
What has surprised you most about your role?
I had to think about this one, so I asked the room for their responses for a little inspiration.
- Emily: “Everything! I had never worked at Disney before, so everything was completely new. I learned not only more about graphic design but about Disney as a company.”
- Lindsay: “How much has changed about how we communicate since my college program in 2006! We have a lot of great new resources for our participants. And also how some things have stayed the same!”
- Kristina: “I’m predominantly a writer, but am constantly encouraged to explore other areas of communication. Throughout my internship I’ve been able to work on my graphic design skills, photography, social media, video and more!”
- Christina: “I never expected that so many different areas are involved in making the program an extraordinary experience for each and every participant. It’s a network of truly special people from all over The Walt Disney Company that invest their time and talent; many of which are alumni of the program themselves!”
And finally, I realized what my answer was: “We’re still able to make a lot of magic, even though we are in a backstage role where we sit at a desk all day! I love it when participants get excited that @DisneyHousing liked their photo or when we are able to hold an online contest and surprise them with prizes. When they love a design our graphic designers make so much they ask to take home a poster or someone mentions a pun they laughed at in the weekly email, it makes you feel really good about the work you’re doing, even if it’s in a small way.”
The next time you walk through your Service Center, don’t forget to pick up The Communicator or peruse Housing’s social channels the next time you’re online. Our Communications team works tirelessly to make sure everyone is informed, and you don’t want to miss out!