Sep 30

A Case of the Mondays – Quit Your Job

Come on, everyone. Quit right now! Nah, I’m just kidding but if you don’t love what you do, Mondays really do suck. Luckily, I love my job!

Marina Shifrin quit her job in this epic video that’s making the rounds today. Her point, that content is king, is important and one I hope her former employers will take to heart.

Sep 27

A Whole New SMC

I attended my first Social Media Club New York event last week. I’ve been active in the SMC Seattle chapter for four years, so I was eager to get involved here and meet some new folks. The event was held at the PR Newswire offices and as I arrived I saw a familiar scene of a table with hors d’oeuvres and many professionals mingling with wine and beer in their hands. A woman greeted me and it turns out this wasn’t actually the SMC event. I made my way back to a small conference room where the SMC event was being held.

There were about 15 people sitting around a conference table and a few snacks, beers, sodas and a bottle of wine or two on a table in the back. I was a bit surprised because this was so different from the huge, sold-out SMC events back in Seattle. But I sat down and got ready to meet some new people and learn something.

Stephanie Grayson, @critiques4geeks, presenting at #SMCNYC

Stephanie Grayson, @critiques4geeks, presenting at #SMCNYC

The speaker for the event was Stephanie Grayson, Social Media Editor at Yahoo! Finance. She talked with us about real-time social media response, which is a topic I have experience with and have written about recently. I was interested to hear what Stephanie would have to say on this subject.

One of the benefits of a smaller group is the ability to make it more of a conversation, rather than a lecture. Stephanie lead us in a discussion about the risks and rewards businesses must weigh when deciding whether or not to respond to a trending topic or event. For example Stephanie asked us, how different would the story have been for Oreo if the blackout at the Super Bowl turned out to be related to a terrorist attack?

@Mr_McFly: Risks include: Insensitivity, wrong info, brand damage, backlash, public safety, financial, legal, etc. #SMCNYC

What I really loved was what we did next. We broke into two groups and we were each asked to “create” a company, one B2C and one B2B. We needed to determine our company name, what products or services we sell, and our competitors. This was just the first step so we could get to a real-time marketing situation simulation, but I loved how into it everyone got! There were some super smart marketers in that room who started to build a business plan. There was discussion and debate about our bestselling product, our name, our specific value proposition… it was so detailed I was pretty sure we were all going into business together as soon as the event was over!

After each team established their fictional company, Stephanie gave us our real-time marketing situation. It happened to be Talk Like a Pirate Day, so that fit well for this purpose. Of course, this example goes back to what I’ve said before that you need to be prepared.  But there will always be things we miss; special days or events that we forgot to plan in our brand’s editorial calendar. These things will happen, so it is good to be prepared for what you will do.

I won’t retell every part of the simulation, but it was definitely a fun and educational experience. If you want, you can read more in this recap of the event. I did want to share my key takeaways from the night, which go along with my earlier post on real-time marketing.

@PRNTech: Opportunities for rewards in social response can be anytime, don't limit yourself to specific perennial events #SMCNYC ^KL

Key Takeaways:

  • Create a calendar of events and special days that relate to your brand.
  • Create a process to get approval quickly when last minute and after-hours events occur. Who do you call? Who gives the final approval before you publish?
  • Keep an eye out for opportunities to engage in trending topics and events. Pay attention to the trending hashtags on Twitter, but make sure you know what it’s about BEFORE you jump in
  • Build a process to work quickly – time is of the essence with trending topics!
  • Stick to you brand voice and keep it related to your business
  • Think it through – what are the possible outcomes and how will you address them?
  • Do what you can in the time you have. You might not have time to create a full video or even a static image. If so, then craft the best damn copy you can for a text-only post.

Overall, it was a terrific night with some savvy professionals. I actually really appreciated the size of the group which allowed us to be more interactive and engage with one another. I’m definitely looking forward to the next Social Media Club NYC event.

What tips do you have for real-time marketing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Sep 18

Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned by Teaching 3rd Grade

Ms. Stinson in her classroom

Me in my classroom

Five years ago, I resigned my teaching position and moved away from my career as an elementary teacher. It was a difficult decision, made even tougher as we entered a recession and jobs were scarce, but I have never regretted it. Every day I am more certain I made the right choice for me, going back to my first love of marketing and communications.

I’ve often had people ask me about my diverse background. With my mix of experience in marketing, social work and education, I understand why it’s a question. At first glance, it can seem as though these positions have nothing in common. How did I go from communications to teaching elementary school, and what brought me back?

When I graduated from college, I planned to do public relations for high tech companies. I had some connections at agencies, and I planned to follow in their footsteps. Unfortunately, my timing was not ideal and due to the bubble burst, most of those agencies weren’t hiring. I did land a job doing marketing for an internet-based learning startup, which was an amazing experience. But sadly the company was not able to survive the crash and closed down leaving me wondering what to do next.

I spent some time doing the typical jobs recent college grads do when they are trying to figure out their next steps. I was a waitress at The Spaghetti Factory. I was a temp employee. I worked in customer service at Mt. Bachelor ski resort. And I bartended at a few different bars. I could actually write separate blog posts on how all of these different experiences make me a better marketer, but that’s for another time.

The farther I got away from college and my plan to work in public relations, the more I started to question if it was what I really wanted to do. Did I really have a passion for communications, or was I just following that path because that’s what my friends were doing? I questioned if I wanted to work for Corporate America. I was feeling a bit lost and without direction.

All my life I’ve had a desire to help others and I’ve always loved kids. It’s the reason I almost majored in Education in college, before I decided on Communications. So when I was trying to figure out what to do next, I was drawn to The Children’s Farm Home, a psychiatric treatment center. The two years I spent there were probably some of the most exhausting, heartbreaking and rewarding of my life. When it was time to move on from The Children’s Farm Home, I decided working with kids in a public school would have the rewards of a psychiatric treatment center, you know, without me getting punched, kicked and bit daily at work.

I received my Masters of Teaching from Pacific University and started teaching in Auburn, Washington. I loved my students! I enjoyed building lesson plans and designing new, creative ways to teach them. I adored thinking of fun ways to use emerging technology to help my students learn. I took over the school yearbook and taught my students basic design skills. I built a community in my classroom where students felt supported, encouraged and safe to speak their minds. There were many things I loved about being a teacher, and in many ways I excelled, but I felt something just wasn’t right. I like to think ahead and plan where I’m going, and when I asked myself where I wanted to be in 5 years, I didn’t really see myself still in the classroom.

As I was beginning to ask myself some tough questions, I happened to be in a leadership training course through Seattle Works. I learned a few things about myself as part of that course and the personality assessments. I learned that I’m driven by achievements, titles and promotions. I learned that I actually do want to be part of Corporate America, and I want to succeed and excel there. I’m competitive and driven, and that’s okay. I don’t know why I had resisted and tried to suppress those parts of my personality, but I couldn’t do it anymore. It was time to find a career where I could combine all my talents and traits.

When I resigned from my teaching position that August, I didn’t have a full time job. But I had some experience doing pro bono PR and marketing work for Seattle Works, an event planning contract position with another non-profit, and I was enrolled in the University of Washington’s public relations professional certification program. Over the last five years I’ve had the opportunity to work with some super smart professionals at fantastic agencies. I’ve learned so much. It hasn’t been an easy road at all, but I know I made the right decision for me because I love what I do. I love helping my clients succeed. It makes me so giddy to help build a thriving, healthy online community for a brand. I enjoy explaining what my clients do that makes them special, to reporters, bloggers, the general community or even my family. I know this is the right career for me. I can feel it every time I get to flex my muscles with creativity or writing. It just feels right when I can advise brands on the latest trends and tactics.

Since I made the big decision to go back to communications/marketing, I’ve realized it was always what I wanted. I even found old papers from high school where I talked about wanting to work in PR and marketing. I’m not sure why I started questioning that or thinking it wasn’t my path and I was just following along. One look at my history of running for student council nearly every year in high school and college, working on the high school newspaper, anchoring the college news program, and my lifelong love of writing would make a career in marketing an obvious choice. While there are times I kick myself for not believing in myself, I don’t regret my winding path. My diverse background has given me a broader perspective, more patience and the ability to quiet down a room of 30+ 8 year olds. :-)

Every fall I do get a pang where I miss my students. I miss setting up my classroom and greeting them every morning. I will always love kids and want to see them succeed. But now that my career is a better fit for me, I’m not so drained and burnt out. Now I can spend time mentoring kids and supporting their growth in a way that gives me energy. Spring Creek Group has a long relationship volunteering with the Technology Access Foundation in Seattle, which was an incredible experience. Now that I’m in New York City, I’m looking for a new opportunity.

They say to be happy in life, follow your passion. My passion is helping people connect and learn. I’m a lifelong learner, always striving to better myself and the world around me. PR, marketing, social media… all of these give individuals around the world an opportunity to meet people, learn new things and connect with the brands they love. This is my passion. I took a winding road, but I grew my skills and experience along the way. And now I’m exactly where I was meant to be.

Jul 22

Real-Time Marketing Tips

Did you hear a baby was born today?

One of the great things about social media is how immediate it is. You can share what is happening at that moment with your audience. This provides exciting, and sometimes challenging, opportunities for brands to get involved in a conversation happening right now. But sometimes the larger brands struggle with how to get in on real-time marketing with their established review and approval process.

Brands can be part of the latest news, but this doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning and coordination, long before the lights go out at the Super Bowl or the United Kingdom announces the birth of their future king. Here are some steps that can help your brand tackle real-time marketing.

One caveat, this is more focused on pop culture events. There are definitely things brands can and SHOULD do during national and global disasters, but my colleague Kim Ervin covered this topic well on the Spring Creek Group blog.

1.       Plan for events you know are coming

We’ve known for nearly nine months that William and Kate were expecting a child. That is plenty of time for you and your marketing team to brainstorm ideas for the birth announcement. But what if it isn’t a pregnancy when you know the approximate time to expect something? You’ll want to plan ahead for large cultural events, such as the Super Bowl or the Oscars. Even if you don’t know exactly what will happen, brainstorm with your team about how that event ties to your brand and how you can incorporate it into your social marketing efforts.

2.       Prepare creative ahead of time

If possible, work with your creative team to pull together some possible images. For example, with today’s announcement of the Royal Baby, I’m guessing most brands did those images earlier and just waited to see whether they should post the baby boy or baby girl image. While it might not be “real-time” marketing in the strictest sense, I think it’s good sense to plan ahead. Having a few sample images to work with will give you a head start during pop culture events.

3.       Set up a strategy room with your team and/or agency

If you want to move fast and be involved in real-time conversations, you can’t have all the back and forth, reviews and approvals you might normally have. To help facilitate a fast turnaround, consider setting up a strategy room for key decision makers and content creators. If you work with an agency, bring them in to sit with your team. If that isn’t possible, at least set up a conference call so you can get as close as possible to being in the same room. Make sure you include the creative folks who can draft stellar images, the copywriters who can write fantastic posts, and the top decision maker so you don’t have to wait for approval. I’ve done this with clients before, and it’s fun and exciting to see the whole team working together and producing excellent content.

4.       Consider brand voice and audience

Everyone wants to jump on the trending topic, but if it doesn’t fit your brand it will just look like a desperate attempt to newsjack. When deciding on the pop culture topics and events your company wants to pay attention to and plan for, make sure you consider your brand voice and audience. If you’re a sporting goods store, the Super Bowl is a perfect fit for your brand. The royal baby, however, might not be a topic of interest to your fans. Consumer products like Oreo, Starbucks and Charmin all have established brand voices and they each had a different take on the Royal Baby. Make sure your posts stay in your brand’s voice and always consider who will be reading the post and if it will be of importance to them.

5.       Get creative!

One of the most exciting things about real-time marketing is that you can get creative with your posts. Have fun with it and join the conversation. But don’t forget tip #4. If your brand is never fun or silly, posting a joke out of the blue will be odd and might turn your audience off.

Successful Examples from the Royal Baby announcement: Oreo is known as the leader in real-time marketing. After their lights out Super Bowl tweet, they are the brand to watch during pop culture events. This is an example of a graphic that was likely created before today, but Oreo was on it and was one of the first brands to acknowledge the birth.

Charmin has done a fantastic job establishing a brand voice that is fun, a bit silly and family friendly. This post is definitely in the Charmin voice and connects the birth to their product. Starbucks social focuses on their cups out in the wild, so this is a cute way to relate to the birth announcement. Also, this was posted from the UK account, so you know the audience is interested.

Right now, real-time marketing is the next big thing. When a pop culture event happens and brands respond, it is still enough to get people to notice. But I predict it will become the norm and an expectation soon. So look at the events coming up in 2013 and into 2014. Which make sense for your brand? How will you keep track of the conversation and be ready to jump in?

Brand managers: what are you doing now for real-time marketing?

May 22

Bright Lights Will Inspire You

I have some very exciting news to share! As of July 1st, I will be relocating to be part of Spring Creek Group’s New York office!!!

New York Skyline at Night

New York Skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge

For some time now I’ve been craving a change. I bought some new clothes. I cut my hair. But these small changes didn’t satisfy my desire for change. I needed a bigger change.

Then the perfect prospect presented itself. Spring Creek Group offered me a fantastic opportunity to move to New York City and work on new accounts back east. At first I thought there was no way I would do it. I consider myself a West Coast kind of girl, a PNWer through and through. I’ve never lived outside of Oregon and Washington and most of my family is here.

I went out to New York for a week to try it out and give it a chance. I really didn’t expect it, but I fell in love! In love with the city. In love with the energy and the pace. In love with the lights and the skyline. I fell in love with it all.

I’m thrilled for this opportunity to continue to grow my career with Spring Creek Group, a company I’ve loved being part of for the past two years. I’m excited to expand my experience with new clients, as well as build relationships with our agency partners in IPG Mediabrands and Interpublic Group out in New York.

It is scary to leave my family, friends and the amazing community of Seattle, but I’m so lucky that I already know some incredible people in New York who have welcomed me with open arms! I think it’s time for me to take a risk and shake things up in my life. I can’t wait for the adventures it brings!

“Start spreading the news…

I’m leaving today (Well, end of June, but you get the idea…)

I want to be a part of it,

New York, New York!”

nson on the Brooklyn Bridge

Nov 07

A Muppets’ Case of the Mondays

I am a child of the 80s. I grew up on The Muppet Show and watching The Muppet Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition for me. So I’m thrilled for the new Muppet movie, opening this Thanksgiving.

Today Google+ opened up for businesses, but even more exciting for me is the fact that the Muppets will be doing a Google+ Hangout  at 4:30pm PST today!

The Muppets have been taking over social media channels, like Facebook, to promote the new movie. So far, the campaign seems to be generating a lot of buzz. We’ll see how they do when the movie opens. My guess is it will open in the number one spot for the weekend. But I’m probably biased. I love The Muppets!

What do you think of the Google+ Hangout and the Facebook Fan-a-thon campaign? Do you plan to see The Muppets?

Oct 31

A Case of the Mondays Spooktacular

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! I love getting dressed up and pretending to be someone else for a day. It makes me happy to see how excited my nephews get about their costumes and trick-or-treating. I’m impressed with the creative and unique costumes with pop culture references, like the Allstate Mayhem guy or Lego Batman.

What I don’t love is being scared. I’m the biggest scaredy cat about horror movies. For reals. I mean, even episodes of Buffy gave me nightmares! So yeah, the Take This Lollipop thing kinda freaked me out. If you haven’t done it yet, go do it now before you read further. I’ll wait…

I’ll just look at this cute LOLcat while you do that.


Are you done watching it? Creepy, right? I think it might just give me nightmares! Someone is out to get me, you guys!!!

But seriously, this is both genius and creepy. The integration of your Facebook profile and photos is very well done. For me it even picked out a picture of me with a friend’s one year old son, and I got scared for him for a minute and forgot that this was all fake.

On the other hand, it shows just how much information we share with the world online. Sure, most of us probably don’t have some gruesome stalker out there… but if I did, there are plenty of photos and information available online. I’m certainly not saying we should go off the grid, but it does remind us all to think about all that we share on the web.

Are you a scaredy cat like me? What did you think of Take This Lollipop?

Have a Happy Halloween! 

Oct 24

A Case of the Mondays – Every Monday I’m Shufflin’

I first heard Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO at karaoke, when my friend Woo rocked it with dance moves and all. Since then, this song has been EVERYWHERE… but it still makes me dance in my chair. So, to cure your case of the Mondays today, I offer you several creative versions of this ultimate earworm! Enjoy!

Every Halloween I’m Shufflin’

Every Game I’m Shufflin’

And one of my favorites…

Everyday I’m Snufflin’

Every Day I'm Snufflin'

Have you seen any other fun examples? Which is your favorite?

Oct 17

A Case of the Mondays – Trunk Monkey

I woke up in a fantastic mood today! The sun was shining! My apartment is clean! I was ready to take on the world this week! :)

If you weren’t so lucky, however, maybe Trunk Monkey can help you out! I had completely forgotten about this ad campaign until it came up in a discussion with my family yesterday. If you’ve seen them before, watch them again. They’re still funny! If you haven’t seen them before, you’re in for a treat!

Do you think the ads helped Suburban Auto Group sell more cars?

Oct 10

A Case of the Mondays – Amazing Time Lapse Video

Landscapes: Volume Two from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.

A stunning video. Take a moment to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Thank you Gizmodo and Chris Warfield for sharing this video by Dustin Farrell.

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