SMPS Member Erin Bettison Rapp
October 8, 2020
In our member spotlight, Erin Bettison Rapp, CPSM, takes time out of her busy day to chat with SMPS. Erin, who’s the owner of EBR Marketing, shares the rewards of her job and the benefits of being an SMPS member.
How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? As the story goes, I fell into this industry by chance. After college, my first job was handling marketing communications for an oil and gas company in Houston. As luck would have it, a family friend who was a recruiter had a search out for a marketing leader at an architecture firm. I had no idea these firms even had marketing people, so I had a ton to learn. But I feel grateful I found this industry.
How would you describe your role/job? Over the last 13 years, I’ve been fortunate to work at several great A/E/C firms. I took the plunge late last year to go out on my own as a consultant. Little did any of us know that we would be dealing with a pandemic in early 2020, so the consultant path hasn’t been exactly what I imagined. But I’m seeing companies getting their feet under them and looking for marketing support. I work with a couple of firms in a variety of ways, from communications development, to client onboarding, to website development. I love the variety—that’s something I’ve always enjoyed in my previous roles.
What is your favorite part of the job? I love getting to work with creative, smart people. I took art classes when I was younger, but was never very good, so working with architects kind of scratches that itch for me. Since my first job at a construction firm, I’ve been blown away by how smart contractors are—they have to know the numbers and how things work mechanically, as well as be savvy businesspeople. It’s motivating as a marketer to be around such strong skillsets and work with people who are building tangible things that impact people’s lives every day.
What have been the challenges and rewards of your career? The biggest rewards of my career have been in the leadership opportunities I’ve been given. At my last firm, my boss was a big supporter and helped me improve my leadership and public speaking skills. It served me well, as I became the president of SMPS Austin and had to speak all the time! I think one of the challenges so many of us have struggled with is the upward mobility available to marketers and business developers. So many company structures have defined career paths for their technical staff, but there’s often not a path for marketing professionals.
What has been your most meaningful project? Several video projects have been impactful and great learning experiences. The first was with Austin Commercial as they finished construction of the Formula One Racetrack. That was a huge project, and putting the story together in video form was fun. During my time with The Beck Group, I helped manage firm videos about a building project and annual charitable golf tournament. Working with videographers to learn their trade, helping people be at their best on camera, and producing impactful final products was really rewarding.
Why is membership in SMPS important to you? SMPS helps you know you’re not alone. That’s what I always tell people and it’s so true. Our roles can be isolating, especially if we’re a one-person show. SMPS gives you a network to lean on.
How has membership in SMPS helped you to advance your firm and your career? I wouldn’t have been able to make some great career moves without relationships I developed through SMPS. My Houston contacts helped me find a job and move to Austin.
What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding your career or working in A/E/C? I had an amazing mentor when I was in Houston who set such an example with her assertiveness. She coached me on how to craft my communications to be more assertive. She helped me feel confident that my role was an important one and I should have a seat at the table.
What’s the best career advice you’ve given? Invest in yourself. I know it’s hard and can take time, but finish that degree, get that CPSM certification, take that class to learn a new skill. Never stop learning.