Introducing my two favorite Directors of Emerging Media

Last year at South by Southwest I met up with former co-worker Dan Shust and had the pleasure to meet David Berkowitz. As we were discussing the particular demographics of different social networking sites, I realized they shared a fairly unusual job title: Director of Emerging Media. Unfortunately I didn’t think to snap a photo at the time, but later I emailed them both to ask if they’d be interested in contributing to a bit of an interview: the day in the life of a Director of Emerging Media.

Both complied, and responded to the few questions I threw out to them.

That was last April.

As excitement already starts to mount around SXSW 2010, I thought I’d pull up the ole emails to share.

Dan Shust (DS) is the Director of Emerging Media at Resource Interactive. From social media to mobile applications and mashups to surface computing, Dan shares his enthusiasm for applying digital experiences to business goals. His creative, business and technical experiences fuel his unique blend of well-balanced innovative experience strategies for the RI:Lab.

David Berkowitz is Director of Emerging Media & Client Strategy for 360i. A frequent speaker and media pundit, he has been published hundreds of times in MediaPost, Ad Age, eMarketer, and elsewhere.

Dan Shust of Resource Interactive

Dan Shust of Resource Interactive

David Berkowitz

David Berkowitz of 360i

AH: What is a “typical day” for a DEM?
DS: Wow…not sure there is one (which I like!) Could be anything from working on client projects, innovation pilots, business development, internal education, speaking engagements, etc.
DB: I’m still waiting to find out, after a few years of this. But usually it involves some mix of developing campaign strategy, answering a few internal questions about whatever social or mobile sites or tools are getting some buzz, scheduling and holding meetings with technology vendors, catching up on the latest buzz from various social media channels, and registering with at least one new site du jour. And then when I’m at events speaking or blogging, all of the other stuff doesn’t go away.

AH: What is your educational background? Work experience?
DS: My degree is in Industrial Design from The Ohio State University. I have been luck enough to have worked in a variety of Experience Design/Development capabilities, from Interactive Designer to Creative Director.
DB: I have a BA in Psychology from SUNY Binghamton. My work experience over the past decade has been dedicated to the digital realm at such companies as eMarketer where I was an editor and media relations lead, and then at iCrossing where I was focused on corporate marketing.

What I found interesting in this response was that neither of these men have technology backgrounds (bad luck for me? 🙂 ) Technology is a necessary part of the equation, but these men are more in tune with the experience and its impact on individuals. Obviously this is not to trivialize their technical prowess: I recall the first time I worked on a project with Dan at Resource Interactive: he knew more about Yahoo Pipes than I did!

AH: What is the biggest misconception about your job? Do people think you’re a media buyer, etc?
DS: Ha..I haven’t gotten that one yet! Probably that what we work on is “future stuff”. We are always looking ahead, but my goal is to use the latest digital trends and technologies to solve our clients problems today. (When appropriate, of course!)
DB: The media buyer angle comes up quite a bit; I spent a lot of time at iMedia Breakthrough in March telling ad network representatives who else they should call in my agency. The other biggest misconception is that I spend my day under some giant emerging media tree waiting for an apple to fall on my head, or alternatively jet setting at every event known to man, to the point where that’s all I do. One client even named me the Paris Hilton of Search back when that was more my focus years ago, and I think he was trying to be flattering. I actually do have client deadlines, meetings, and paperwork.

AH: If the Internet didn’t exist, what would you be doing, career-wise?
DS: Some form of Graphic Design.
DB: I’d probably be a teacher. That was the original plan, at least. Or maybe I’d be an official taste tester for Sprinkles Cupcakes, since I do that on a volunteer basis already.

AH: Is your job primarily predicting future advancements, researching what’s new and upcoming, or explaining what’s here?
DS: Yes.
DB: The future’s important of course, but most of my clients don’t need to be the very first to do something. It’s more important that they use the tools and technologies in the smartest ways possible for them, and that’s the bigger focus. I do still play around with some of the more emerging stuff, from mobile social applications to augmented reality technologies, but those are less important for day to day campaign planning.

So there you have it. Apparently Directors of Emerging Media DON’T just sit around and play with the latest and greatest digital toys: they are talented marketers and strategists looking for how this technology can best be applied in client engagements. They certainly have the pulse of where things are headed, but ever with the consideration of its applicability and relevance to a particular situation.

Interested in learning more from these talented folks? You can help ensure they get to SXSW again this year.