16 Things I Learned from My Dad: Basic Tenants of Life & Social

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So, if you’ve followed any of my blogs at all, you’d know that I can, at times, get a little sappy (or maybe a lotta sappy). Well, this blog is one of those times. How can you talk about Father’s Day without being a little mushy?

In any case, our fathers will always have a special place in our hearts. And that usually shines through in our work everyday. We may not like all of the characteristics we carry on from our daddy-o’s, but we have to admit that we’re thankful for some of them. And more than thankful for the lessons we’ve learned that help us as advertising professionals.

In that light, here are a few things I’ve learned from my dad:

  1. Be careful. Details are important and my dad taught me that a long, longgg time ago. When he took me on trips to the flea market, I was not allowed to touch anything. Take that back, when he took me most anywhere, I was not allowed to touch anything!!! If he was helping me with a project or craft, he always stressed taking my time – I can remember watching him as he cut the edges of a photo for literally 10 minutes. You better believe those edges were straight. In an age when everything is right now, it’s so easy to rush. But in the digital world that could mean a tweet with a huge grammatical error, or publishing the wrong version of a blog. So this tenant has been one of the most important to my own success.
  2. Never Lie. Well, it seems obvious. But it’s a basic one that my dad could NOT stand. He always would rather that I tell the truth about something I did, then lie. He always was truthful with his feedback to others and to his daughters. And he was truthful with himself. And in the advertising/PR/marketing world it can be so easy for a brand to fudge the truth just a bit about its product, or blow things out of proportion. But I’ve found, transparency and honesty are the things that make the best brands engaging and successful.
  3. Be a do-er. Now you may not all agree with this, but my dad is the ultimate busy body. He always has a list of things he wants to do, and he’s always doing some new hobby, whether it’s gardening, making hot sauce, drinking wine (yes that’s a hobby), fixing something, getting artsy, he’s ALWAYS doing something. Except of course when he’s asleep on the couch. I’d argue that there are times when you should just relax, but I know that I always feel more accomplished when I’m out and about in the world, taking a hike, writing a blog, even doing laundry. And that’s something I’m definitely a proponent of – there’s always something to do.
  4. Disconnect. Kind of counterintuitive given his busy-bodiness, but I have to say that I have never once seen my dad answering a work email or taking a work call when he’s with me. When he’s at my soccer game, he’s at my soccer game (and likely the loudest cheerer in the bunch…something I’m fond of now, but was not so fond of back then). When he walked through the door for dinner, he took a shower and he ate with us. There was no more work…at least no more actual work. In PR this one is a little harder to carry out because news never stops and neither does social media. But the basic principle of taking time to be in the moment and be present, is one that could help us all be that much more creative.
  5. Read the Newspaper. Okay, I admit that I don’t read the physical newspaper every day. Why would I when I have Twitter?! But my dad did. He’d come home and read the paper every night (usually falling asleep to it). I never really realized that this is something he did often until I sat down to write this blog. But his fondness of keeping up on the times trickled into my life and has become a large part of what I do on a daily basis. Social media is always changing. Journalism is changing as you read this. And if you’re not keeping your eye on the world’s broader context, you won’t keep up.
  6. Ask for Help. Almost embarrassingly so, my dad always stopped to ask for directions. I know, he debunked all of the stereotypes. He asked people what their favorite menu item was. He never hesitated to ask my sister or I to help him hold something while he fixed the car. This is something I carry with me everyday. Guess what, everyone has different experiences and different knowledge sets. Asking questions only fosters collaboration and innovation that never would have happened otherwise. So thanks dad, I always ask my coworkers for help or advice. It’s a way of life.
  7. Never get bangs. Pretty straightforward. No bangs allowed in the Wassum household. Why would you want something covering up your eyes?! Same is true in social. Open your eyes. Look around you. Listen to your customers. Be aware. If you’re not, someone else will be and they’ll be all the more relevant because of it.
  8. Turn the other cheek. It’s just too darn easy to retaliate, whether it be in your life or via a Twitter convo. But it never ends up the way you want it to. I learned that from my father, who never struck back with words or let someone else’s behavior affect his own.
  9. Never give up. I think it comes from his athletic background, but my dad never, ever let me give up. If I started something, I was going to finish it. From girl scouts to school to a swim meet. No matter what I was doing, he always taught to give as much as I could. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to look at a behemoth brand and think, “I’ll never be able to compete against them.” But it’s just not true. If you never give up, you can carve your own niche and become something great. What would have happened if Thomas Jefferson got discouraged? Or Picasso? Or Steve Jobs? All of the greatest innovations came from people who never gave up.
  10. Make a to-do list. I sort of alluded to this earlier, but I list everything. I even make most of my blogs into lists (16 things…). Why? Because my dad had list after list after list. My favorite was his chalkboard list of things he wanted to do around the house. I think there are some things still on that list from when I was in high school. But, he does cross things off from time to time. And it helps him remember all of the genius, crafty ideas he has. Now, I have google doc after google doc. I have a list of the lists I want to make (okay that’s an exaggeration). But my best ideas almost never come at a convenient time, so I keep lists in the Notes app on my iPhone. And to make my days more efficient, I create lists of the things I must accomplish the next day, every night before I leave. Sometimes I don’t need to look at it, but the act of just writing things down keeps me from ever dropping the ball.
  11. Embrace Diversity. Enough said.
  12. Get Smart. This one is hilarious to me. Before we could get an aquarium, we had to read a book about taking care of fish. Before we could get birds, we had to read a book about taking care of birds. Before I could get my driver’s license, I had to log 100 hours of driving time and show him I could change a tire. Before I did any craft project, in my dad would come asking “well did you read the directions?” “Did you read the book?” That was a mantra. Don’t start anything without getting smart and reading not just the instructions, but fully immersing yourself in the subject. This is almost second nature to me. We have to know everything about our clients. We have to be subject matter experts, industry experts and media savvy – how else can we help our clients tell their stories? So I always read the book. I always scan for industry trends. I always follow  influencers. And I have my dad to thank for learning that early, early on.
  13. Give to others. Another basic principle of life, but something that’s often overlooked. My dad was so good about giving of his time, talents and resources. Whether that be at work, in the community, with his family, etc. It’s something you can’t miss about him. And now it’s something I bring into my everyday. And it doesn’t mean donating money. It could just mean helping a coworker out. Or, as a brand, making sure to commit a percentage of what you or what you earn to some cause. It makes you feel good, and that stimulates your creativity and your exuberance in life. Something that can’t be missed by those around you.
  14. Recycle. And I’m talking a real commitment here. We lived pretty far out, where the recycling trucks didn’t go. So we hauled our recyclables 5 miles away and separated it into huge bins ourselves. Now, you might wonder what that has to do with social media. It’s simple. Things have several purposes and they shouldn’t just be cast aside after one use. And that tenant is true in content creation. Create content that can be re-used, re-invented, recycled. It’s more efficient for you and it’s more helpful for others. A good story is a good story, no matter how many times you tell it.
  15. Dance. My dad never misses a chance to live it up a bit, liven up the party and dance. He’s even got a signature dance, which I’ve gotten pretty good at replicating. And I think the real point here, is that he’s not too embarrassed to have a little fun. He never lets the status quo dictate how he’ll react. And the same is true in communications. You have to embrace your brand’s personality and stop taking yourself so seriously. In your press releases, in your tweets, in your internal communications, don’t be afraid to do something a little goofy or different, because the most essential part of building relationships and meaningful interactions, is being real. And you can’t be real if you’re stodgy or serious with every piece of communication.
  16. Enjoy a gin & tonic. Or a glass of wine. Or a cold beer. Or a root beer. Or a ginger ale. Just enjoy your beverages.

There are a ton of other things I learned from my dad. In fact, I deleted a few to keep this post under 2,000 words – yowza! Anyway, I’m always learning and I love my ‘did’.

Happy Father’s Day to all!

#TBT: Don’t Hate on Valentine’s Day: Relationship Marketing in 2015

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Originally written for Search Marketing Daily, published here.

Thanks to Taylor Swift we know for sure that, yes, haters are gonna hate. But I’m pleading with you, don’t hate on Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re in marketing.

I will hand it to you, Valentine’s Day definitely has a commercialized aspect to it – a “Hallmark holiday,” as one of my colleagues referenced it the other day. But I remember a Valentine’s Day that’s all about hope, passion, and displays of appreciation, placing importance on making those you care about feel wanted, loved and connected.

Okay, I’m sappy. I know it. And, no, I don’t think red roses are mandatory for healthy relationships. But what is mandatory is emotion – tapping into someone’s heart and pulling out happiness. And just as positive emotions and connections are the keys to healthy relationships (marriages and friendships alike), they’re also the keys to great marketing.

Why? We receive more marketing messages today then ever before. Marketing is everywhere, it’s in our video streams, our email, on our phones, I’ve even seen it on my cup o’ joe. And, according to the most reliable study I’ve found on this topic, we see about 360 ads per day. But there’s a finite amount of data that our brains can actually pay attention to, which means we end up ignoring 10,999.950 bits of data every second we are awake.

“Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.
”– Unknown

Marketers can’t rely on just getting someone’s attention anymore (if we ever could). We have to engage people, build relationships with them, pull at their heartstrings. When a campaign isn’t targeted or specialized or doesn’t consider the actual person on the other end, it just becomes noise – another bit of data to ignore.

And with each new generation this is becoming more and more important. We’re all looking for ways to make our choices both easier and more informed. And that’s what’s influenced the rise of brand loyalty among younger generations.

48% of people between the ages of 18-44 report that any loyalty they feel toward brands in the future will be determined by the types of experiences brands create for them (Analytic Partners).

And how do you create meaningful experiences? Being vulnerable, or in business terms, being transparent. Being considerate. Creating content your audience actually needs. Investing empathy and thought into each message you put in front of someone. Making bold moves and creating special moments. And that’s the entire spirit of Valentine’s Day.

So, before you hate…appreciate. Take a moment this Saturday to appreciate your employees, appreciate your customers. No, you don’t have to send them a Valentine’s Day eCard (though I really enjoy them, especially those with great subject lines). But you can take a moment to evaluate your content strategies. Evaluate your marketing plans from your customer and prospective customer’s point of view.

And next week as you return to work, start making the changes you need to ensure that every part of your marketing mix screams “BE MINE!” Ensure that every tactic works toward creating lasting impressions, forging new relationships, and creating experiences. No one can ignore that approach.

P.S. Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!

linkedin publisher

LinkedIn Publisher: A 2015 Content Marketing Must

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I’ve heard it time and time again from clients, and I’ve even considered it myself, what’s the ROI of this blog post? Is it worth the time creating it, when I could be finishing my laundry? And while we’re all trying new innovative ways to drive traffic to our blog in order to answer this question, we’re finding that the number of blog views isn’t always the best indicator for success, (nor is leads generated).

Rather it’s the quality of the people who read it, the impressions they’ve drawn and their importance to you or your company. And, we get it, more traffic increases the likelihood of getting quality views. But, really, it only takes one important prospect reading your post to justify its ROI. So how do you ensure that both important and relevant people read your blog post? Two answers: LinkedIn Pulse & Publisher.

LinkedIn Pulse has been around since earlier this year, and it recently opened up its Publisher tool to everyone. Now there have always been concerns about LinkedIn’s actual relevance for marketers – LinkedIn’s UX has taken more than one attack, LinkedIn Groups are a bit lackluster when it comes to providing genuine engagement, and many see the network solely as a recruiting and job searching tool – however, with LinkedIn Pulse and the new Publisher tool, LinkedIn has moved to the top of our must-use content marketing tools list. Here’s why:

  1. Exponentially Increase Impressions. As with any social network, your content has the ability to increase exponentially based on the size of your network and extended network. As you publish blog posts via LinkedIn Publisher, your network receives updates in their LinkedIn feeds about your posts. As they begin to share this content, people in their networks will then see your content as well.
  2. Hyper Relevance. Your network of LinkedIn connections likely includes former classmates, colleagues, clients (new and old) and industry-related professionals that you’ve met meaning that they’re predisposed to either be invested in or interested in the content you create.
  3. Showcase your expertise. Blogs published via LinkedIn Publisher also get posted to your LinkedIn profile. Consider the new business prospect you just Linked in with. He or she will not only know who you are and your experience, but he will also be able to see all of your thought leadership in the form of blog posts. A powerful tool to showcase your knowledge as well as your company’s expertise.
  4. Enhance your LinkedIn profile & LEO (LinkedIn Engine Optimization). By publishing, not only are you upping the ante on your profile, but as with SEO, the more you post on LinkedIn, the more eyeballs your posts and profile will receive – we like to refer to this as LEO. The more eyeballs, the more opportunities to connect and engage with leads.
  5. Ease of Sharing. LinkedIn may not win any UX awards any time soon, but it does make sharing very, very easy. Though easy sharing has become standard practice, we’ve actually found that our posts are more likely to get shared on Twitter when they’re posted via LinkedIn Publisher, than when we post them to our blog alone. So there must be something special about LinkedIn’s sharing experience.
  6. Ongoing Engagement & Optimization. Once your post is seen, users can easily follow you on LinkedIn Pulse so that each new post you share gets automatically shared with them, and also raised to the top of their LinkedIn feed. Users with the LinkedIn Pulse App will also get push notifications on their phones about any new posts. This speeds up your ability to notice which blogs resonate with the majority of your network, allowing you to tailor posts moving forward based on what gets shared most often.
  7. Opportunity for Super Stardom. Okay, well you may not be a super star over night, but if your LinkedIn post gets enough views, it could get picked up by LinkedIn Pulse and re-posted under a particular category (like social media, marketing, etc.). LinkedIn Pulse curates the top articles to show to each individual user based on their interests, so once placed in a category, your post can then be viewed by even more people who will find it interesting, giving you the potential to connect with new contacts or new biz leads. If your blog is amazing, it could even get posted in the Pulse’s “Top Posts” section and viewed on the front page of Pulse. Content marketing gold.
  8. Knowledge of the “Who.” This might be the most important element. Not only are the people who see your post more likely to read it and share it, but you’ll know exactly who shares and comments on it, including a link to their LinkedIn profile. This is the piece of the puzzle missing on traditional blogging platforms, because people often use aliases or different usernames. But with LinkedIn, you know exactly who that person is, their name, their profession, where they’ve worked, etc, in order to reach out to them in a meaningful way.

So, now that you’re convinced. How should you get started and what are the best practices for using LinkedIn publisher? I’ve got that covered – 10 Best Practices for Maximum Impact with LinkedIn Publisher.