Towson Town Center turns to social media as forum for shopping guru

She walks, she talks, she blogs, she tweets, she answers questions and she posts the deals and trends at Towson Town Center mall.

Anneslie resident Rebecca Klein is the mall's 2011 personal holiday shopping consultant.

Since Nov. 11, she's has been the guru in the new GURU — Get Ultimate Retail Updates — social media program launched by the mall, which is owned and managed by General Growth Properties.

Klein provides them through the mall's page on Facebook, on Twitter and on daily posts on the GURU blog She also offers advice on gift giving, fashion, parking and mall services

"I'm having "a tremendous lot of fun," said Klein a former magazine editor and TV news reporter and producer. "It marries everything I love to do: writing, talking to people and working with video.

"The most exciting part is when people write in and ask questions, and I'm able to help them," Klein said. "It takes away some of the stress of the holidays."

The Klein household includes her husband, attorney Grant Murchison, as well as son Seth, 7, daughter Samara, 5, and Smuggs, the family's 80-pound St. Bernard puppy.

Klein met her husband in Bakersfield, Calif., where she was a news reporter and he was a video photographer working at a competing station.

They moved to Charm City in 2001 when he decided to enroll in law school at the University of Baltimore. These days, she manages the business side of his practice and also freelances.

She applied for the GURU position when one of the other moms at her daughter's preschool — who had turned the position down — told her about it.

Klein has always loved shopping at the mall, she said. She enjoys "the thrill of the chase" when she finds a great deal for herself or someone else.

To apply for the position, she submitted a video, in which she conducted interviews with a few mall customers and with friends describing why she would be good at the job.

In the interest of getting her application in quickly, most of the interviews were conducted during a birthday party for her son, she said.

Towson Town Center hired her.

"Rebecca knows the mall well and can give that inside scoop," said mall senior marketing manager Annie Wildasin.

"Being a mom of two also helps her connect with our readers," Wildasin said. "Rebecca is smart, likable and a great candidate to represent Towson Town Center."

Klein works closely with mall management and store managers to keep her blog well fed.

On Black Friday, for instance, the blog, Twitter and the center's Facebook page offered alerts on sales and way customers could win prizes, as well as nuts-and-bolts information about parking and mall hours.

The blog also allows people to ask questions about certain products and stores.

The whole campaign "engages our customers by giving them a forum, " Klein said. "No other medium allows us to have a direct conversation with our customers and respond to their questions and comments immediately."

The mall plans to continue the GURU program into 2012, according to Wildasin. Klein is more than willing to oblige.

"The only problem for me is being around so much eye candy," she said. "It's hard not to want to buy everything you see."

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