Aaron Hite

An Introduction to Our Newest Addition to the Advisory Council

Spring welcomes many things on campus: countdowns to graduation, sandals and shorts, longer days of sunshine... But the Department of Communication is always very excited for the arrival of our Advisory Council members for the spring conference. From April 9-11th the communication professionals will be in classrooms, mentoring students and participating in meaningful discussion. A new member to the Council is already pretty familiar with campus though: Aaron Hite, Vice President and Director at Digitas, graduated from the College in 2001. We wanted to go beyond his professional biography to hear about his time at the College and what motivates him today.

What are you most looking forward to as a new member of the Advisory Council? 

Well, first off, I'm very proud and excited to be the first CofC Comm alum to be elected to the council. It's amazing to see this group of industry leaders dedicating their time for the betterment of the department and Comm students. I'm really looking forward to working directly with students, discussing their interests and helping them understand what comes after graduation. All of that, plus the Council is a great excuse to come back to Charleston more regularly. 

What are some of your most vivid memories about the College and the Department

My best memories are from hanging out with friends, many of whom stemmed from my time on the swim team. That involved lots of time spent at the old Downtown Andolini's Pizza (R.I.P.), Folly Beach and the Music Farm. When it comes to the Department, my best memories are of working closely with Dr. Vince Benigni, who really encouraged my academic growth and helped spawn my career in communications. Actually, I enjoyed my time in Charleston so much that I convinced my younger sister Claire (Class of 2010) to major in Communications at the College. She's now working in the industry in Atlanta.

How did your time at CofC prepare you for the professional world? 

Overall, having a liberal arts education has been invaluable. Having that broad base of knowledge that promotes intellectual curiosity has really driven my career and allowed me to be flexible and try new things. And while I certainly learned a lot around the craft of communications during my time in the Department, what I've found to be most valuable is actually how my major so greatly impacted my own personal communication style. So, not just being able to communicate on behalf of a company or a publication for example, but being able to effectively communicate my own thoughts and ideas. Whether or not you end up in a communications career, being an effective personal communicator is vital to any role. It is without a doubt, the single most important attribute I look for when I speak with job candidates.

What are some of your biggest challenges? 

The world of digital marketing and technology changes every day, so there's certainly no shortage of challenges. One of the biggest is simply staying informed. I dedicate time every day to reading industry news and staying conversant so I can help my clients stay competitive and innovative. Another big issue is rapidly changing consumer behavior - whether it be media consumption, mobile device habits or the fact that they're bombarded with marketing messages - understanding and adapting to shifting behaviors is hefty task, albeit a pretty exciting one. 

What are you most proud of? 

Professionally, I'm most proud of growing up in Cayce, South Carolina and building a life and career that's led me New York City. I’ll never take that for granted. (But of course, my heart is still Southern.) Personally, I’m most proud of my small, but growing family.

Who has been a mentor to you, and what was the biggest lesson you learned from him/her? 

Jared Belsky, a former manager of mine who is now President of 360i, which is one of the top digital ad agencies in America, has been a great mentor to me. The biggest lesson I learned from Jared was the true value of building deep relationships with clients and colleagues. Honing your craft is certainly important, but at the end of the day, you'll only be as effective as the strength of the relationships you have with the people around you.

What new trends are you seeing in your field? 

Some of the most interesting recent trends have been in the wearable technology and "the quantified self" movement. The quantified self is a focus on measuring and recording data on certain aspects of your daily life. If you’re wearing a Nike Fuel Band or a FitBit right now, you’re part of this movement. Besides the fun gadgets, what makes this so interesting is that the consumer is now creating and controlling their own data. This is providing a treasure trove of information that marketers can use to tailor personalized experiences and offerings for their customers. For example, from the data that you’re providing in real-time, Nike might be able to automatically recommend the ideal shoe for your based on your physical activity habits. There are, of course, more altruistic uses – imagine being able to share your movement and sleep activity data with your doctor instead of guessing. This is a very exciting space that has the potential to create great experiences for consumers.

How do you like to spend your time outside of the office? 

My wife Sarah and I are 10 months into parenthood, so we spend a lot of time with our son Emmett. Otherwise, we like to eat and drink our way through Brooklyn, where we live. I enjoy running and exploring the city by foot and I’m also a budding photography buff, so NYC provides plenty of opportunities to test my skills. And, I try to read as much as possible news, magazines, Twitter, books – really anything I can get my hands on. I recently finished Mike Tyson’s autobiography, which was fantastic.

What inspires you? 

So many different things inspire me in different aspects of my life. Professionally, the people I work with and all of the exciting things happening digital communications keep me inspired. In my personal life, my wife and son inspire me to be my best. And, as a global citizen, I’m inspired by humanity and the greater good.