Taking on a new challenge

It seemed like such a good idea when they asked…

What was I thinking?…

I can totally do this…

What if I can’t do this?…

This is going to be fun!…

Am I really ready because it’s almost time to get started…

These are just a few of the thoughts that have plagued my brain over the past few weeks as I prepare to teach a Marketing course this spring for the Gordon Ford College of Business. If I’m being perfectly honest, I must admit that perhaps I was slightly overzealous in taking on a class in addition to my regular duties as CMO (which seem to be anything but “regular” in 2017), my volunteer work, the upcoming high school baseball season, and generally trying to keep my sanity.

Ready or not, starting on Tuesday, January 24, there will be 30 students in my Marketing 331 class who will be looking to ME with the expectation that I know something about Social Media Marketing (SMM). Being in the trenches of SMM every day versus teaching it to others are two very different things. My goal is to present information in a way that provides a new perspective, that makes sense from a professional standpoint, and that gives students the opportunity to gain some real world experience.

As I’ve been working to build the content for the course (with a ton of help from Dr. Corie Martin and others), I realize that this is a great opportunity for me to evaluate the things we do in the Marketing & Communications Office, to read the latest research on the topics we’ll cover, and to really appreciate the value of an area that has become so vital to what we do every day. At a minimum, we rely on social media for WKU branding, for customer service, for engagement with current and prospective students, for communication of major news and events, and the list goes on. Other businesses and organizations use social media for their specific purposes, and – heads up to my students – those are all things that we will cover in class.

Even though this new endeavor is taking up a big chunk of what little free time I had, I’m convinced it will be worth it, and I’m looking forward to the challenge!

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Shortcut thank-you notes…no thanks.

I’m all for doing things efficiently, but there is a fine line between being efficient and just cutting corners for the sake of taking the easy way out.

While searching for new “productivity” apps tonight I came across an app called “Thank You Job Interview Note Email Generator.” My apologies to the developer, but I would never recommend such an app to anyone who is job hunting. Worse yet, the app instructed users to run the most recent upgrade which “Corrected numerous grammatical and spelling errors.” Really? I can’t believe a developer would launch an app of this nature with those kinds of errors in the first place!

If, after interviewing someone, I happened to get a so-called thank-you note that was obviously “generated” via a shortcut app, that job candidate would no longer be a candidate. Write a short note or send a quick email, but make it a genuine acknowledgement – not a canned response. Anything less will reek of laziness and may be just as bad as sending no thank-you note at all.

Would love to hear from others on this topic. Is a thank-you note after an interview important to help a job candidate stand out? Does it matter what kind of note it is, or is the fact that they sent anything at all good enough?

9 ways that marketing and parenting are a lot alike.

As a working mom, I have two full-time jobs.  The job that pays the bills is overseeing Marketing & Communications at WKU, and the job that I go home to every evening is parenting a teen and a tween and running a household with my hubby.  I’ve been a ‘practitioner’ in both fields for 15+ years, so, while I don’t claim to be an expert at either, I feel sufficiently qualified to talk about them both and to point out the similarities that have been swirling around in my head.  I realize it seems like a bit of a stretch, but read on, and I think it will make sense.

Marketing and Parenting are a lot alike in that:

  • Most of my efforts go smoother with Planning and preparation, but even the best plans have to be flexible.
  • In both jobs I am trying to reach a specific Audience and hoping like heck that they listen.
  • I often have an important Message to get across to the intended audiences, usually hoping for some specific action in return, but they don’t always do what I want them to do. Sometimes I have to ask several times before anyone seems to react as I had hoped.
  • Social Media plays a big part in the communication with my audience (I can get my son’s immediate attention if I hack his facebook!)
  • There is all kinds of Competition vying for the audience’s attention. I can’t ignore those competitors or pretend that they don’t exist lest they lure my audience away.
  • Every situation requires a careful Situational Analysis to figure out how to handle it. Knee jerk reactions aren’t usually productive.
  • I can learn more about the audience by Listening to and Communicating with them, rather than by constantly talking AT them.
  • The Results of my efforts over time can be extremely rewarding, but there are bound to be frustrations along the way. The key is to not give up.
  • There is constant Change, and I have to accept it and adapt to it or risk getting left behind.

Both of my jobs come with good days and bad days, fun days and crazy days.  But I am thankful for the rewards I get from both roles – and that is true every day.

It’s so quiet in here I can’t hear myself think!

I’m a confessed geek, attending a geek’s conference, and looking forward to gaining lots of new info over the next few days that I can take back to WKU. The eduWeb conference starts tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.

So here I am alone in a hotel room in San Antonio where I have a huge king size bed, a big screen tv with the remote all to myself, no laundry or dishes looming nearby and nobody vying for my attention. I crave this kind of quiet, alone time because it’s a luxury that I don’t get very often. And while I’m thankful for the solitude….I’m bored!! After a week of vacation where our family had a lot of “togetherness” I thought I’d be excited to have this time to myself. But as luck would have it, I really do love all those Biggs boys, and I miss them already.

Of course, it will be nice to stay up late reading and to sleep right in the middle of the bed. I hope to even get some work done while there aren’t a lot of distractions. Right now though, the biggest distraction is the deafening silence in this room, and it’s going to take some getting used to!

The good news is – I know I’ll adjust, enjoy my time in San Antonio, learn lots of new stuff, and best of all, look forward to lots of hugs and kisses waiting for me when I get back home.

An unscientific theory on feedback

I have a theory (who doesn’t, right?).  It’s not scientific, and it’s not meant to be defensive.  It’s just a personal theory, and I’m sure not everyone will agree with it, but that’s OK.  And here it is… If someone thinks that they could step right into someone else’s job and do it better, then that someone else is probably doing a good job, because they’re making it look easy.  That’s it…pretty simple.  I guess this comes back to two things – that everyone has an opinion, and that sometimes we all need to be reminded that there’s usually more than one means to an end.

And here’s why this is on my mind.  What we do every day in our division is very visible whether it’s the website, a printed publication, a news story, or a special event. Typically, the public sees only the final product – not all the behind the scenes work and preparation that went into it.  We welcome feedback, ideas and constructive criticism.  Some folks give us great feedback, but for every positive message we get, we get an equal number of slams. I should clarify that my idea of a positive message isn’t just “good job” or “I like it” but also “have you thought about doing ______” or even “it would be helpful if _______”.  A slam typically starts with something like “Why in the world did/didn’t you _______” or my personal favorite “You people are so stupid…(usually followed by a detailed explanation of why)”.  I’ve noticed that most of us are usually much more responsive to people when their feedback, whether good or bad, is presented in a nice way instead of a rude way.  Just sayin’!

So I’m just putting this idea out there…when giving someone feedback (especially if it’s unsolicited) on work that they have done or on how they’ve chosen to go about one project or another, keep in mind two things that I said before: 1) everybody has an opinion, and 2) there is usually more than one means to an end.  What you say and how you say it will play a big part in whether or not your feedback/opinion is respected or rejected.

What makes a ‘good’ day?

There are lots of things that can make any given day a ‘good’ day or a ‘bad’ day. Usually for me a good day is one where I think about all the things that happened – where I can look back and say that I was able to check items off my to-do list..or a day where I spent quality time with my husband and kids…or a day where I hung out with my BFF…or a day where I got to visit with my family. But sometimes it’s the things that DON’T happen in a day that make it a good one.

Case in point: today after work my husband kindly asked, “Did you have a good day today?” My response: “I guess so…nobody told me off today, so that was a good thing.”

Looking back that was a pretty pathetic response, but unfortunately it was just an honest one. Of course the day isn’t over yet! In my job, each and every day brings with it the potential for a good tongue lashing (fortunately my skin is getting a little thicker every day). This is especially true given the current project of rebuilding the university’s website. Some folks think this means the sky is falling, but fortunately, unless you count the rain, that didn’t didn’t happen today either. Yet another reason to call it a good day!

Many other much more important things didn’t happen today..no one got sick, I didn’t get a request for a parent/teacher conference, the crock pot didn’t burn the house down, the post-Christmas credit card bill didn’t arrive in the mail…the list could go on and on, so I know that there is a lot for which to be thankful!

Now I will wind down and get some rest in preparation for another day, because who knows…in all of its craziness, tomorrow could be a good day or a bad day. I’m hoping for a good one!

All for one and one for all

I recently began putting together a Marketing Council at WKU.  This is a group of people on campus who “do marketing” as part of their job – even if it’s not their primary responsibility.  There are several purposes for this group.  They are to provide a new networking opportunity, to be a resource to one another, to have a way to disseminate information about branding, messaging, logo usage, etc., to provide opportunities for collaboration and perhaps some shared media buys, and just to share information and ideas.

One of the things I want to emphasize to the group, and to everyone on campus, is that the marketing materials we publish, whether print or digital, reflect on each and every one of us.  That’s why everything we do should look and feel professional, the logo should always be used correctly (can you imagine anyone trying to “mess with” Nike’s logo?), and we should all be sending out consistent messages about the university.  This is a special place and we have a good story to tell!  To help with this we are working on developing a Branding and Graphic Identity Standards document.  It will include information on logo usage, website content, social media, presentation templates, and information on who to contact with questions.

No matter what college/department/division we are representing, we are all representing WKU.  I think that by working together and having open lines of communication, we make ensure that everything we do represents WKU well.