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How to become a digital marketer when you don’t have the time

As a graduate of Journalism and Mass Communication, with an emphasis in Strategic Communication (hello, advertising, marketing and PR), I thought I was very well prepared for the field I was entering into. My education gave me a great foundation for communications planning and strategy.

But when I landed my first job, I found there were holes in my education, primarily with implementing and reporting on digital marketing functions. How could it be that an educational institution sending marketers into the workforce did not cover digital marketing comprehensively? This was 2015! Social media platforms had been well established at this point, and banner ads were on every website a person could visit!

I realized I needed to enhance my skills in order to stay relevant, but how was I supposed to fit in courses to learn everything I didn’t know about digital marketing? My weeks are full. I work full time, pick my son up from school, help with homework, cook, clean, etc., etc.  Going back to school just didn’t seem like an option. It would require too much time and would be more than I could afford, just to add some skills that I was sure I could learn on evenings and weekends.

I started my search. I knew I needed a flexible schedule and something cost effective with hands-on projects to help me solidify the skills I learned. Who out there in internet land offers what I need?

Well, there’s General Assembly; they offer digital marketing, but don’t seem to have the specific skills I need. There is Lynda.com; they have a number of digital marketing courses and are relatively affordable, but it seems like a lot of information and no application. And then there is Udacity. They partner with Hootsuite, Google, Mailchimp, and Moz, who are industry leaders, and offer the most comprehensive courses using tools marketers actually use. The courses are tailored to my specific needs: courses on Google Analytics and AdWords, SEO, and more. There are hands-on projects to complete, and mentors available to give me feedback. This sounds great!

I signed up for the DMND program right away! Fortunately, because my supervisor is aware that I am actively trying to improve my skills for the benefit of my organization, pitching the cost of the program was not a big deal. The value of what I would be getting far outweighs the cost of the program.

Now I’m a couple weeks into the program and building a strong foundation for digital marketing. While some of the material is very similar to what I learned in college, there are so many tools and resources I did not know how to use before. Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nano Degree will give me a competitive edge as a marketer, allowing me to do my best work for my organization. And, along with such a comprehensive education and DMND credentials, comes the opportunity to grow my role and title. What a win-win situation!

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Eternal Summer

I was invited this week to write a piece for a Stranger’s Collective salon. The challenge was to write a short story, poem, or review inspired by artwork of my choosing at Meow Wolf’s 8th Birthday show at David Richard Gallery.

I remember you. We used to drive just for the sake of driving, drinking Boone’s Strawberry Hill and eating Doritos and eventually scurrying to find a wall of juniper bushes to hide behind so we could evacuate the doomed pairing out of sight. We never put two and two together. That was the brilliance of it all. And then we did it again.

We weaved in and out of man-made tunnels pondering their route. “I hear there’s a lost subterranean city ruled by lizard people down there. Let’s go!”

The night would fall and we would make our way to the vast and vacant desert. A caravan would follow and create a covered-wagon style circle of dust-covered high beams. We ran and danced and jumped, our sounds disappearing into the darkness. Headlights flickered with every body that passed in front. Eventually we would be discovered. The yellow lights were drown out by flashing red and blue. You and I would hide, again, with our friend the juniper bush. Every movement we made was a constant effort to prolong the summer. Every word was a Fuck You to those who said we couldn’t do it! Go ahead. Leave. You can’t have us.

But I left. To you, I went the way of the dodo. I succumbed to the pleated khaki wearing, butt cheek-clenching MAN. I took my piercings out and stopped wearing fairy wings.

But you shouldn’t worry for me. I have lost nothing. The colors of my concert T-shirts have not bleached and faded.

Make no mistake. Have no doubts about it. I have not lost. But as I stand here watching, I am certain you won. You stood by the integrity of your middle-finger salute. Your summer reigns eternal.

End of the Semester Reflection: How Will I Use Social Media After College?

I want very desperately to break into the communications world here in Santa Fe. There a numerous people and organizations whose work I admire and that I would like to emulate. I am learning that, like anything worth doing, becoming a great communications specialist takes time and work. I am given a small glimmer of hope, though, having watched an interview with Gini Dietrich, who said to get hired, a communications specialist must show how they are engaging with their community, they must know how to distribute content, and they must know how to write. While I am at least on the path to achieving these things, you have to start somewhere, and I have started with creating this blog.

I have ideas for how I would like to continue to create content for this blog. I think that making certain changes would contribute to a more engaging blog and also create a better foundation for my own personal branding. It’s difficult to narrow down topics to write about when you are person who is interested in everything. Such is the case for me. When I started writing for this blog, I overgeneralized and thought it would be a good idea to write about some of life’s nuances. However, most of my blog posts have seemed fairly cliché. At least, they have to me, anyway.

I would like to up the ante. I would like to write about Santa Fe culture. Of course, even that has so many different definitions associated with it. Well, I hope to include all of those definitions. From the opera to the low riders, I want to encompass everything that Santa Fe and its people stand for and what makes our city so great.

It may take me some time to get it off the ground, considering I am a full-time student, mom, and worker. But I think it has the potential to be a very rich series of stories.

I have learned so much during my very thorough and well thought out class in social media. Social media have the potential to make a business seem more human, help them expand their reach, and potentially gain new clients/customers. I would like to continue to create stories and share ideas through social media. So far, I have only ventured to do this on a personal level. However, I would like to utilize what I have learned for other businesses and organizations.

Protect your Online Reputation

With so many brands using the internet to garner followers and customers, there is great potential to make mistakes that all of your followers will see. We’ve all seen it. You know, that tweet gone awry.

It has become imperative for companies to use caution and plan ahead when it comes to their social media efforts. But anyone who has ever tried to keep on top of a social media page knows the challenge of running one. To remain relevant in the social media landscape, you have to create a lot of content, and quickly.

It seems pretty simple. Don’t post stupid stuff! But like I said, if you’ve ever known the pressure to produce content quickly, you’ve probably been in a situation where you’ve done, said, or written something really stupid. The great, but in this case unfortunate, side to the internet is the ability to get content out in real time. Just one click, and the words are available to EVERYONE!

But really, there are ways to avoid the messes that people get in when they post stupid, irrevocable words on the internet.

Have a plan:

This is really important if you are working for somebody else. When they put you in charge of their social media sites, they are basically saying, “You are going to be my spokesperson. I nominate you to create and disseminate my identity to everyone, everywhere.” That is a huge responsibility. Make sure you know exactly what kind of identity your boss/client/company wants in order to best represent itself. Have meetings to discuss what kind of content is appropriate, what is not appropriate, which platforms to use, and how they will be used. This should result in a thorough and complete plan that you can later refer to whenever in doubt.

Don’t get involved in sensitive issues:

The best way to avoid saying shit like this

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is to not say anything even remotely like it. Stay away from politics and religion. Don’t say anything that could even be remotely construed as racist, sexist, or any kind of bigotry. Period. Don’t engage with negativity. As your mother probably told you, negativity breeds negativity. Don’t do it!

Treat posts like research papers:

Would you ever hand in a paper to a professor without having looked it over twice? Three times? If the answer is yes, you do not belong on social media. Get out!

But in all seriousness, write the post, check it over, check it over again, have your buddy read it, have some random stranger read it, sleep on it, and if all is well after all of these checks and balances, then you can post it. Although it doesn’t seem like the best advice for posting in real time, there are ways to utilize the same kinds of thinking and strategies that will get your (thoroughly edited and revised) post out in time.

Honesty in Communications

While at dinner with some lovely family and friends, recently, I had the great pleasure of meeting a person who has been involved in the advertising industry for many years. This was a treat for me, you see, because I am a strategic communications hopeful. Advertising makes me happy (I know it’s weird). But sitting with someone who has been in the field, I am going to want to ask questions. I asked what his best piece of advice for a young, budding professional like myself would be. He said, “Always tell the truth. Never bullshit.” He basically told me that you can create a story however you want to create a story, but do it honestly. Don’t ever lie.

He’s right. And, hopefully, there are very few people in my industry who feel the need to fabricate the truth. Public relations, advertising, and marketing are all about creating images for the public. A lot of people tend to associate image creation, story creation, etc. with dishonesty. But think about it. People are smart. They are going to figure out when you or your company has been dishonest. It’s really very easy these days to find out pretty much anything you want to know about pretty much anyone. 

It’s not hard to find others in communications who are talking about truth and honesty as a value to uphold. I recently came across Honesty and Truth: A Practitioner’s Dilemma, a blog post on the Public Relations Student Society of America blog. In essence, the writer assumes an understanding of what a PR professional encounters on a daily basis. There are times when there are aspects of a company one may not want to reveal. But in not revealing said aspects, are you being dishonest? Untruthful? It seems easy to let certain things stay obscured for the current benefit. But eventually, these things will come to light.

As I mentioned earlier, information gets around so quickly these days, that there’s no sense in thinking that you audience won’t dig up whatever there is to be uncovered. It is the most creative professional who will find a way through these dilemmas and remain truthful and honest. It is a practice that will not only cause growth in any individual, but will be recognized by those who are the most important in these situations :your boss and your audience.

How to be a professional in a casual online atmosphere

The lines of professionalism have the potential to become greatly blurred when creating an online persona. Whether you are writing for yourself or an organization, you want to have a clear image for whoever it is you are representing. But what if that image is a humorous one? A laid back one? A controversial one?

Or moreover, how do you continue to have a personal presence online that doesn’t affect your professional presence. Or can you at all?

Things could become pretty messy if you are trying to keep your personal profiles while also cultivating a profession image. The two do not necessarily have to be exclusive of one another. But there are expectations when it comes to keeping up appearances, whether online or not.

So what is considered professional in the online world where almost anything goes?

Be prepared:

Who are you going to be interacting with? Learn about this person or group of people so you can be familiar with what their expectations of what a professional may be. Try to align your values and anything you may say with those of your audience.

Be you and be business-like:

 Understand that anything you say or write has the potential to be seen by many different types of people. Try to anticipate what they may or may not think as a result of what you’ve said. Consider that anything you say could be seen by a potential employer, and make decisions accordingly. But also, be true to who you are and your personal style.

Avoid Hot Topics:

Keep your political and religious ideologies to yourself. People have varying opinions and are very passionate about them. It is best to talk about these things in private company and avoid posting them online.

Do your research:

It’s easy to post things that we agree with. Sometimes we do so without checking the validity of the content. Be sure that what you are getting behind is true, or if it is an opinion, that it is a researched and well formed opinion. The moment you start posting false things of any kind, you lose your credibility and thus your air of professionalism.

Topic: Santa Fe Art Economy

Santa Fe boasts the one of the largest art industries in the world. People come from all over the world to walk Canyon Road, to stroll through Indian and Spanish Market, and to see what the movers and shakers in the contemporary art world are creating at places like Site Santa Fe.

It’s no wonder Creative Santa Fe was able to produce such findings as these:

Santa Fe’s Creative Economy

The economic power of arts and culture in Santa Fe was quantified in a research study in 2004. The leadership of Creative Santa Fe collaborated with local foundations to commission the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business Economic Research to measure this economic engine. This initial study became the basis for other economic impact studies around the state of New Mexico.

Among its findings were that Santa Fe’s arts and cultural industries:

  • Generate $1.1 billion in receipts annually
  • Support 12,567 jobs (17.5% of total employment)
  • Pay $231.5 million in wages and salaries
  • Attract 78% ($814 million) of its revenues from outside Santa Fe County, bolstering our economy with new capital
  • Contribute 39% of total inflow into our local economy annually
  • Produce $22.6 million in City taxes and revenues: approximately $5 for every dollar the city spends on arts and culture
  • Produce $13.4 million in County taxes and revenues
  • Serve as the top contributors to New Mexico’s economic development
  • Exist as the highest per capita businesses in the county

(information obtained from creativesantafe.org)

It’s exciting to live in an art hub. It is very easy to feel the pulse of creativity and be inspired. While I am not a visual artist, myself, I was brought up around art both in my family and in my surroundings here in Santa Fe. As I move forward in my career, I hope to continue to be involved in the arts in some way.

As an aspiring communications professional, I see my role as someone who perpetuates the rankings of Santa Fe’s art economy through my efforts. I would love to pitch stories about a gallery or write a visitors guide featuring a gallery tour. I would love to write the stories behind each artist and their inspiration. This is what every visitor looks for when coming to Santa Fe, and I hope I can be an integral part of the success of the Santa Fe art market.

Visual Storytelling

So I found this article that was inspired by an infographic used in place of a traditional press release. The article sings the praises of this company for thinking outside the box and notices that the trend must shift more toward this kind of PR in order to garner attention in the ever-changing media environment.

Infographic

“WordStream’s experience points to the new world of public relations, where every picture tells a story. While PR has long been considered a word-driven medium, agencies and marketers are increasingly foresaking written communications in favor of more visual media. Infographics, videos, slideshows and various multimedia tools are augmenting or replacing traditional press releases and article placements.”

Let’s think about how people consume media. While sitting next to classmates, all who are roughly in their 20s, I notice that they are mostly looking at visuals; photos, videos, infographics, etc. Also, they don’t look at them for a long time, like one would examine a piece of fine art in a museum. They scroll through them fast. So what does this tell me as a budding media professional? You have all of 2 seconds to convey your message to any given consumer. Also, the average consumer is more likely to share a visual medium than something that is solely text.

“Facebook’s internal analysis has found that posts that contain a photo or video generate 120 percent and 100 percent more engagement, respectively, than the average post.”

Remember my post about PR professionals as storytellers (link to post)? Well, visual storytelling ups the ante. In this ever-changing media environment, one must be chameleon-like in their approach. Shift with the environment. Notice the trends and jump on board.

Visual storytelling isn’t new, but it’s a relatively new development in how to approach a press release. To stand out in a sea of releases, one must think outside the box. One must find new, engaging ways of capturing the essence of their client’s story and telling that story to the world.

This isn’t to say that the traditional release should be ditched completely. But one must consider their audience. If you are looking to increase your reach online, try to opt for a shareable medium. In all honesty, a video or infographic may just be more fun to create. The world of PR just gets more exciting all the time.

Santa Fe on the Horizon

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For several years, I have been noticing a shift in how are young people in Santa Fe engaged with the growth and development of the city. Before, when a person reached a certain age in Santa Fe, they would leave for “better” horizons. Now, the young people are sticking around and trying to figure out how to make this place a little more reasonable for a younger person to live, work, play, and stay. While this trend isn’t really quite a trend just yet, it is something I want to nurture and support.

I, too, was one of the young people who dreaded being over 18 in Santa Fe with nothing to do, nowhere to work, and trapped in a seeming vortex. That is how it felt to be here. That is how we all felt. But then, after traveling some places for short stints of time, I realized just how unique and awe-inspiring Santa Fe really was. I think this is something that a lot of people in my generation who have lived here for any given period of time are beginning to see the City Different.

So when asked the question “what audience are you looking to interact with more,” I came to find that I really want to direct my efforts as a communications specialist to those of my generation. So many people are contributing to a way of life that will be beneficial for us all, and I want to be a part of it. I want to lift Santa Fe into the spotlight that my peers have been working to create for the past 5 or so years. And I believe I can do so with whatever work I end up doing, whether I am using social media/communications personally, or whether I am creating content for any entity in Santa Fe. I believe that there are many groups, businesses, and companies who are noticing this vital shift in Santa Fe and are wanting to support it, as well. So, for the mean time, I will direct my efforts towards those that serve to benefit the younger people in Santa Fe.

Although this may not address the question I was asked for this post directly, I believe that interacting with this audience will be the most beneficial for me and for my efforts. This may not be an audience I am “selling” to. But these are the people I will be creating, working, and living alongside. These are the people who will be putting in the effort to make Santa Fe a great place for a long time. I want to be a part of that in a constructive way.

Topic: Santa Fe Tourism

I live here.

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This place was voted Numero Uno for small cities by Conde Nast Traveler. How awesome is that?

I love this place! Sometimes it loves me, too. Which is why I want to do everything in my power to see my little mountain town grow and thrive. Not just for me, but for all of the people who live here and occupy this space, too.

One of the main contributors to our economy is tourism. And with good reason! Santa Fe has so much charm, history, and culture that many people are drawn to our beautiful landscapes to enjoy a piece of it as we do.

Because of my love for Santa Fe, I hope to find my way into the tourism sector in some regard. I have known and loved this place for over 20 years and can’t wait to show others the reasons why they will love it, too.

Since I discovered my interest in the tourism economy, I have noticed one campaign in particular that contributes to my idea of solid tourism marketing.

New Mexico True:

The New Mexico Department of Tourism launched their New Mexico True campaign not only as a way to gain tourism, but also to include New Mexicans in the story of their home. The campaign is extensive in its use of multimedia, but by use of social media, the conversation opened to those who have stories to tell about our state (everyone), and they are simultaneously shared with the rest of the country.

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New Mexico True has captured the essence of what it means to be a New Mexican, why we love it, and why that is important to anyone who visits our state. In fact, I believe they have done a much better job of it than any of the other tourism campaigns I have seen for our state.

Although New Mexico True has provided a rich and beautiful campaign, I think more efforts can be made on smaller scales that will pack a punch for the tourism market, particularly in Santa Fe. Using the same sort of techniques, I think the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau could enjoy the benefits of multimedia campaigns. I know they are making real efforts on the social media front and likewise are including locals to join in the conversation, which only serves to strengthen their efforts. Because any Santa Fean knows, if you are not backed by the locals, it ain’t gonna happen!