University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa alumna Melissa Chang has more than 25+ years’ experience in marketing and public relations, including work with Starr Seigle Communications, as the Marketing Director for Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, and as the Marketing Director of Aloha Tower Marketplace. She is the co-owner of AdStreamz, Inc., a social media company that services clients like Pearlridge Center, Alexander & Baldwin, Tanaka Ramen, Jade Food, Bogarts, Hickam Federal Credit Union, and Goma Tei, to name a few.
We asked Melissa a few questions about her career, her work at AdStreamz, and her time at UH.
Did you always imagine that you’d be doing what you’re doing today?
No, because social media didn’t really exist way back then! But what I’m doing today is somewhat in line with my career path and what I envisioned back then.
When I was a kid, I wanted to go into advertising. If you’re familiar with the TV show Bewitched, one of the characters Darrin Stephens played an advertising account executive. I was fascinated with ads and commercials, and how they were created — and how they influenced me. So when I went to UH, I went to see a career counselor and asked how I could get into advertising. UH didn’t have an advertising major, so they suggested a major in journalism. As part of the journalism program students had the option to specialize in PR, and from there you could get into an ad agency.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role as AdStreamz vice president?
That’s a tough one. I think the most rewarding part of my job is when we’re working with clients and we’re able to see that we’ve helped them grow their business. A lot of our clients hire us because they’re so busy running their business that they’re not able to fit social media in to their schedule. So we take over their social media for them — from creating the content to managing posts and engagement — and from there they can focus on running their store or restaurant, producing new products, etc.
Among your many talents, you are often recognized for your knowledge and expertise in social media. What do you love most about social media? What do you dislike most about it?
One thing I absolutely hate about social media are the trolls and haters! But on the flip side, I’ve met so many awesome people through social media, people that I might never have met otherwise. I always say that social media is like networking on steroids.
What is your fondest memory of your time at UH? What makes that memory so special to you?
Too many memories to choose! When I was at UH, social sororities and fraternities were a big thing. I had some friends who were in Phi Sigma Rho, so I joined that one. Being a part of that sorority really carried me through college. I made a lot of friends for life! And I continue to meet people who were part of the Greek system at UH, which makes for great conversation as we share our memories from that point in time.
How has your UH education prepared you for your career?
No doubt, the most important thing journalism teaches you is the ability to distill your thoughts into short sentences! But aside from that, back when I was in the journalism program, our professors taught us the importance of finding people’s stories. Every person has a story, and you just need to find it. And you somehow have to be bold enough to step out of your comfort zone to ask the question, or get that photo to tell that story.
That applies for your own popularity as an artist — writing is an art, after all. The most notable journalists don’t just do good work, they provide pieces of their own stories in their work, as well. You don’t have to reveal everything about yourself, but the more personal you are in your work, the more relatable you become.
Photo caption: Group photo from Phi Sigma Rho's 75th Anniversary event in 2019. Courtesy of Melissa Chang.