When Meredith Ulmer decided to switch her major to public relations, she never could have guessed she would wind up becoming the social media specialist for one of the world’s largest fast food chains. Now, she works for Wendy’s, and you’ve probably read her work without ever knowing that the woman behind it once walked down Home Street or ate in the Campus Center. Ulmer’s tweets from the Wendy’s Twitter account are famous for their roasting of other burger joints (frozen patties and all) and even of Wendy’s fans themselves. Ulmer gets to interact with Wendy’s customers like Carter Wilkerson, the teenager who got free chicken nuggets for a year after his tweet got over 3 million retweets and broke the Twitter record for most retweets. The hashtag #nuggsforcarter expanded into a campaign for donations to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Ulmer’s job is fun, challenging and allows her to make a difference. Find out just how she got where she is today after starting out as an Otterbein student.
What did you study and get involved in while you attended Otterbein?
I was actually an art education major to start with. I met with Dan Steinberg and changed my major after learning what public relations (PR) was and that I could still be creative in my work. I really loved my experience at Otterbein. I was a tour guide, orientation leader (OL), Rho Chi and president of Tau Epsilon Mu.
After you graduated, what were some of the jobs you landed?
Before I graduated, I interned at Lifeline of Ohio, SBC Advertising, Otterbein’s Marketing and Communication Office, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and L Brands. While interning at L Brands, I landed my first job at Delta Gamma’s headquarters where I was a marketing and communications specialist for a little over two years.
What are some of your duties and responsibilities as the social media specialist for Wendy’s?
I am responsible for leading the strategy of our voice, creative imagery and community management efforts. I make sure that there is consistency among all of our social [media] work and that the tone is being carried across as it should be. Wendy’s works in marketing campaigns for different items. I work with our agency to develop creative strategies for each item as well as our overall social presence.
It’s been said that you are the mastermind behind the well-known Wendy’s clapback tweets. How did that start?
It’s not just me! We have an excellent community manager at our agency, VML, in Kansas City. Our voice actually has had the sassy tone that it currently has for about four years. The clapbacks have been a ton of fun, but it’s nothing new.
Did you ever expect the tweets to become so popular and trend the way they do?
The internet can tell when a marketing account is being genuine. No one predicted that our Twitter account would take on the popularity that it has. We feel that it has been as popular as it is because our fans can tell that it’s genuine, and we really are proud of our products and the company’s values.
Since you’ve been at Wendy’s, what have been the hardest and most rewarding parts of your job?
The hardest part of my job is knowing that everything I do is on the most public stage that’s out there. That’s also the most rewarding part of my job.
A good example of that was when Thrillist, an online media brand covering food and entertainment, did a post to talk about how our customers LOVE dipping a french fry into a Frosty. We simply retweeted it with playful and naive copy and let the love from Twitter come to us. People told us how much they love the combo, and we were able to direct message people and send them gift cards just for being nice on the internet. I love having this public stage to get to know our customers and what makes them awesome.
What is something that helped you get through college that you would share with other students?
Something that really helped me was always knowing when to ask for help. I also got really involved. Some people said I was overly involved. That level of involvement gave me such an amazing network and support system that helped get me the introductions that I needed to get to where I am today.
My advice to students is to look at your college experience as a time to get your hands dirty. Do the internships, volunteer on campus, do informational interviews and get involved. You’ll never have a time in your life again where your only purpose is to be getting an education and making valuable connections that will stick with you for the rest of your life.