Crain's Social Media Group: Social Media Planning & Training

How I Use Social Media to Do My Job: XA's Amanda Puck

How I Use Social Media to Do My Job: XA's Amanda Puck

Melanie Stone |

Chicago publicist and foodie Amanda Puck is the executive vice president of public relations at XA, The Experiential Agency, where she's in charge of lifestyle brands, non-profits and restaurants. Previously the host of WTTW's "Check Please!," Amanda has had an award-winning career in the food and PR industry -- Crain's Chicago Business called her a "cool-under-pressure strategist and brander."

When it comes to social media, Amanda's strategy for XA is driven by photos: from gorgeous Instagrams at Chicago's hottest restaurants to Facebook albums of recent events, she is dedicated to make PR digital. Amanda also reviews and photographs her dining experiences for her blog,

To illustrate Amanda's answers, we've created a Slideshare. Click through the presentation below or download it here.

You're the EVP of XA, The Experiential Agency. Fill us in on your daily and long-term responsibilities.

Overall, I oversee the day-to-day in our ever-growing public relations and social media departments in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

Each day is different at XA -- but it is usually chock full of meetings with clients, prospective new clients and our team members. We love to brainstorm and come up with new ideas for our clients' success, especially in the digital space. We also get to taste a lot of great food from our amazing clients -- so check out our drool-worthy Instagrams.

How do you use social media to make business connections and service your clients? How has your field evolved with the changing media?

Social media is used every day at XA to promote all the great things our clients are up too, as well as engage users and fans. We create content on a daily basis to engage and get people excited about all the events, menus and food specials our clients are offering.

The industry has evolved from faxing press releases back in the day. Now, we are creating cool viral videos to launch our clients' products. Staying ahead of the curve and making our clients relevant is what we are all about.

A career in public relations is almost always extremely busy. How do you find time to stay active on social media and keep up with your blog, The Foodarazzi?

Luckily, they are all so intertwined. We encourage our staff to be active, so we are all perceived as in the know. But keeping up my blog is not an easy task! Ruby Elephant developed my blog through Wordpress so it is easy for me to maintain -- all I have to do is produce the content.

Lately, I have been partnering with other bloggers or sites like so we can share posts. I also have been experimenting with different blog apps like the WordPress app so I can blog in the go. When I am on an airplane -- I have a few hours to catch up on creating the content. I just pray for WiFi!

Speaking of your blog, how do you use social media to grow your audience? How frequently do you write new posts?

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are used to promote the blog -- I always share links when there is a new post. A good rule of thumb is to post once a week -- but sometimes it is tough the find the time. I would love for to be photo driven, but my readers like the back story and some tidbits about the restaurants or names of the dishes. So, well, I aim to please and add more written content.

Through your experiences in PR and the food industry, what are the biggest lessons you've learned about social media?

Be visual -- everyone loves a great photo. It is the easiest way to engage people and get a conversation started.

Take us through a typical day of social media usage, from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep.

All I can say here is #iheartinstagram. So I check it often throughout the day. But when I wake up I check emails first, then all our client feeds on social media. Then I like to check my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. When I am posting for myself, it is really organic and not really planned, which I think why it is has allowed my social media community to grow.

Regarding social media, what is one thing you wish you did better?

Engagement -- I wish I had more to time to interact with all my favorite bloggers and social media stars, especially on Twitter.

Who should we ask next to tell us about their personal social media strategy?

Jena Gambaccini from ChiCityFashion -- she always draws me in with her images and posts.

You're a foodie, so we want to know: What's the best restaurant in Chicago?

Ha -- we have so many great clients that it is hard to pick a favorite -- but let's just say you may spot me at the bar Big Star from time to time, Instagramming some sizzling Queso Fundido.

Check out other posts in our series "How I Use Social Media to Do My Job." We spoke with freelance writer Fruzsina Eördögh, the Leap Year Project's Victor Saad, the Joffrey's Fabrice Calmels, KOTM's Andrew Keene, Crain's Stephen J. Serio, Chicago magazine's Whet Moser, Dose Market's April Francis, Ogilvy Mather's Scott Smith, ADP's Nick Stepanovich and Doejo's Phil Tadros. Who would you like us to interview next? Leave a comment below or tweet me at @MelanieAlissa.

Latest Tweets from Crain