Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kansas City - City of Entrepreneurs and Google Fiber

This is about a three minute Kauffman Sketchbook video providing us with a background on Kansas City's rich entrepreneurial roots and how Google is partnering with local businesses to keep the entrepreneurial spirit thriving.

I am so proud to have taken part in Kauffman's entrepreneurial program at UMKC, work for two of the five highlighted Kansas City brands listed and most importantly call Kansas City home.

Big thank you to Stephanie Sharp for reminding me about this video.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

The SoDA Digital Marketing Outlook Survey

It's that time of year. 2011 recap surveys are hitting our inboxes. Here's one for you to not overlook...

Share your opinions on digital marketing with the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA). They have released their 2011 Digital Marketing Outlook survey and are looking for industry insiders to provide their input. These insights will be printed in the 2012 edition of The SoDA Report.

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete and will focus on your experiences with, and plans for digital marketing. To participate, click to start.  In return for your time and sharing your insights, you will receive a copy of The SoDA Report as well as additional content updates throughout the year as The SoDA Report moves to a quarterly editorial calendar for 2012.

Take the 10 minutes to fill the survey out, The SoDA Report is worth it!

Still doubtful? Check out the 2011 report and then decide.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Gives You Pause?

Pausing a moment on this hectic day to reflect on how blessed we are to have four healthy children. We are so very thankful!



Happy Thanksgiving from The Weists!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Louisville Emerging Media Summit Social Business Optimization Presentation

Just getting around to uploading my presentation from last week's Louisville IABC-LDA Emerging Media Summit. We walked through two Fortune 500 social business case studies and discussed emerging media methods and trends from Edelman.

Louisville IABC - Operationalizing Social Business View more presentations from Zena Weist

A huge thank you to all the IABC-LDA volunteers who really went out of their way to make all the speakers feel right at home last Monday. And a special shout-out to Jason Falls! Thanks for making my first trip to Louisville such a memory maker, Fallsy!


Please leave a comment if you have any questions on the deck's content and I'll follow up.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

She's Five, Hold on!

Our five year old was so excited to have me all to herself tonight. It's rare with three older siblings and hectic nightly practice schedules. I thought she'd want to look at magazines, paint her nails, or dance to the latest teen singer's hit. I was wrong. She wanted to go for a walk.

Not only did she want to go for a walk in our neighborhood but she wanted to hold my hand the whole time. She's typically five going on 17 in her prefereneces so I was savoring the moment and felt compelled to share as these requests present themselves so rarely. She's in such a hurry-to-grow-up-and-be-big-like-her-brothers-and-sister mode.


We walked hand-in-hand talking about butterflies ("there's not enough in our neighborhood, where do we go to get more?"), dogs ("they just bark because they are looking for another dog to play with"), the chill in the air ("the leaves will change soon Momma") and I was soaking it all in.We stopped every few blocks to sit on the sidewalk, rest and chat. Neighbors drove by and waved. I silently hoped they could be in my shoes soon...walking with their kiddos hand-in-hand.

When we got back home. She took a long bubble bath and we played with all her "little girl" bath toys. She wanted to go to bed early before the "big kids" got home. Before I tucked her in she wanted me to read her a story. This is big time old school because she typically needs to read to me or my husband.

She picked out her princess storybook and I read her two stories while we snuggled in her twin bed ("Momma, I love how we both fit in my bed, we are little girls.") My answer was matter-of-fact "I love being a little girl." ("Me too, Momma. Me too.") Extra snuggle. What a memory for me!

She turns six next week.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

How I found Rachel's Story

Lunch was late today for me, so this post is a bit late

Quick recap: I caught this PSA with Jennifer Connelly for charity: water on TV. My thoughts went to all the great work the Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) team did a few years back on the charity: water international twestival kick-off and I was thinking how mainstream the initiative is now. How it had gone transmedia. I also thought about how we had a boiling water advisory a few weeks ago and how terrible it would be to not have clean water. The ad reminded me to check up on what charity:water was doing online.

My first search online was on Twitter. I searched on "charitywater" and up popped Chris Wragge's tweet. Here's the unique twist,
I didn't click on Chris' tweet because I knew who he was - CBS The Early Show Anchor. I didn't know him. If I watch a morning news program which is rare, it's another network or cable show. Anyway, I clicked on Chris' content in relationship to my search charity:water. And this is how I came across Rachel's story.

If you haven't heard about Rachel's 9th Birthday Wish, her tragic death and the media keeping her wish going see this CNN story, read this Huffington Post article, take in this NBC Nightly News video, or probably the best way is to read Rachel's Mom's update on Rachel's charity:water page.

And why did Rachel's story move me to post today?????
I was overwhelmed with Rachel's mom's response on Rachel's charity:water page. You have no idea how much it means to get support from people (some you have met, some you haven't met) but all mean well for you and your family through giving in honor of a lost don't understand until you've gone through it. It gives you hope. It helps you breathe. It helps you live.

The way I came across Rachel's story was typical for me. A PSA that I ran across yesterday, I thought about this morning with SMCKC, I searched on Twitter mid-morning, a link from the tweet took me to Rachel's page which made me aware of an amazing 9 year olds' wish that I had missed in the masses. This is my real-time transmedia search-and-find.

This cross-media, back-and-forth sourcing happens everyday for all of us and it's a no-brainer. Rachel's story crystalized this process for me because her story resonated with me and it unfolded for me through multi-channels on and offline. From losing a loved one unexpectedly; to the non-profit charity:waterwith a social media start; and, to button it up - how social media plays an integral part in getting the word out, period - it all made sense to me, I related to it.

The back-and-forth, transmedia sourcing, and especially my ask to consider donating on Rachel's page, are things I want to share, hence the post.

I'm sure y'all had hear about Rachel's story, thanks for taking the time to read my take. Do you have a transmedia story to share? I'd love to hear it.

Long Time No Post

Yep, I fell victim to time starvation and consciously narrowed down my online activities over the last eight weeks. My Empire Avenue stock is down, my klout score too, I'm connected on Google+ but not really engaged...I'm not tweeting or posting on Facebook as much. The biggest victims have been this blog and posterous accounts.

I've been traveling a lot for me (8 of the last 10 weeks) some personal, most for work and I haven't gotten into my new schedule groove. I always write my posts at home at night when I can't sleep. Well, when I am at home these days, I'm sleeping like a baby and when I'm not, I'm not making time for posting.

With my new job, I am taking in a lot of industry content specific to our agency, our clients and also broader trends. There's so much amazing stuff being produced that I have gotten caught up in consuming and I'm still figuring out how to share, what can be know all that IP stuff that comes with agency work, and what really do I want to share. And I'm not producing. Yep, I'm making this way too complicated.

All that said, I got knocked off my "figuring out" mode and long list of excuses this morning. Well, it actually started yesterday...I caught this PSA with Jennifer Connelly for charity: water on TV. My thoughts went to all the great work the SMCKC team did a few years back on the charity: water international twestival kick-off and I was thinking how mainstream the initiative is now. I also thought about how we had a boiling water advisory a few weeks ago and how terrible it would be to not have clean water. The ad reminded me to check up on what CharityWater was doing online.

Just a few minutes ago, my "get back into posting" moment happened and I'll share it with you over my next post (coming at lunch).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Still Walking Down the Digital Path with a bit of a Different Swagger

My career has been a winding path on the digital superhighway to say the least. I began in the early 90s in interactive marketing with digital start-up agencies (I remember posting on newsgroups using 2400 baud modem - completely dating myself, aren't I?), switched to in-house with large corporations in online brand marketing, then IT project management, back online brand marketing which evolved into integrated interactive marketing and then my latest gig - social media.

Friday was my last day with H&R Block. I am no longer the Director of Social Media for the best tax company in the business. It was a very sad farewell as the people that make up the spirit of Block are some of the brightest-minded and dedicated individuals that I've come across in the corporate world. I will forever be indebted to so many of them for their support, friendship and guidance. We had an amazing two tax seasons together and I'm excited to see how Block continues to integrate social media into its core operations, marketing and communication efforts.

So where am I off to are you wondering????

I doubt it's a surprise to those of you that know me well...I'm heading to Edelman, specifically Edelman Digital as VP of Digital Strategy. I'm excited to join Dan Cornell's team and work with industry friends David Armano, Dave Fleet, and Phil Gomes and industry mentor, Rick Murray. I'm staying in Kansas City but will be traveling to Chicago frequently for work and to grab rides on David's Harley every now and again with Mrs. Armano's blessing.

It's been 15 years since I've been on the digital agency side...I'm craving it and can't wait to start down this new path. I'm really looking forward to sharing more here again about this industry and the passion I have for it.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Executive's Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy - Book Review

Disclosure: The H&R Block Social Media Team's initiatives are sprinkled throughout the book and because of this, author, David B. Thomas sent me a copy.

Long Ass Title, Short Worthwhile Read
First off, authors David B. Thomas (@davidbthomas) and Mike Barlow (@mike7pilot) landed on the longest, most descriptive book title I've come across since grad school days - The Executive's Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy (pause for a breath, ok more title...) How Social Networks Are Radically Transforming Your Business.


Do not let that robust mouthful scare ya away. This book is a gem. I've read it twice through now (yep, unlike it's title, it's a quick read) and it's made my short recommend list for business leaders just kicking off or overhauling their social business programs.

Quick Overview
Thomas and Barlow provide the necessary but brief overview needed for executives to understand the business rationale for integrating social media into their companies initiatives. They chunked the book into three parts: The Grand Scheme of Things(why), Building a Structure for Success(how) and Putting Your Social Media Strategy to Work(well done). They weave diverse social business cases throughout each section which helps show the "why" and explains the "how" while delving into the "well done".

My favorite part of the book is in Chapter 8, "The Keys to Success in Social Media" Thomas and Barlow whittle it down to Five keys to success in social media:
1) Be real - "make a genuine effort to be valuable member of the online community"
2) Be relevant - "gear your efforts toward what your audience cares about, not what you care about."
3) Be practical - "social media is a set of tools and a philosophy f communications, not a strategy in itself"
4) Be patient - "establishing a presence in social media takes time"
5) Be active - "social media is about community, sharing, and immediacy."

They sound basic, simple and deceptively easy to accomplish. balancing all the components is delicate and complex. Thomas and Barlow help you develop your multiple-lever-5-social-media-keys ebb and flow process.

Here's the bad news...This book isn't a magic wand - once you finish it do not expect a "poof! moment" with a voila-here's-your-social-media-plan in tow. Sorry, ya bummed now? ;)

And the good news, it is the executive primer for you to begin operationalizing social media into your core enterprise initiatives. It is the reference source.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Brand Reflection

Looking Passed The FOG

As brands, we look in the mirror. We look in the mirror a lot. We make sure our brand promise looks fresh. We reflect on our objectives. Sometimes, we need to look passed our [insert whatever your favorite objective/gubbins is here - aka FOG] to focus on our customers' needs. Yep, we need to wipe off the FOG. Objectives that make perfect sense to those of us peering into the mirror can become foggy (aka - favorite objectives/gubbins gone yo-yo) to our customers.  When our FOG doesn't align with our customers' expectations, their experience is inconsistent. They lose trust. They tire of the fog. They don't feel appreciated. They leave. 

I'm reminded daily to wipe the FOG off the mirror...glance at the FOG for a gut check, maybe, but then look passed the mirror. Usually I put the mirror down. I used to have to remind myself to peer out from the FOG into our customers' experience through chatter online. Not just a quick look-see, but a long take-their-perspective-on gaze. As Chris Brogan explains:

The Zulu greet each other by saying “Sawubona,” translated literally to mean, “I see you.” It means, “I know that you’re there and I acknowledge you as another person.” The response back is, “Ngikhona,” which is literally, “I am here.”

Chris discusses why brands need to become their customers in detail in his post today, Become The Buyer. Let your customers know you really see them through the FOG. Next post, I'll talk about how we at H&R Block are actively cutting through the FOG and showing our customers "Sawubona".


Photo by Roland Hutchinson of Geeky Gadgets.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Now Revolution Book Review

A couple of disclosures: 1) The H&R Block social media team is included as an example in Jay Baer's and Amber Naslund's book The Now Revolution and 2) Amber leads Social Strategy at Radian6 which is H&R Block's online listening tool.
You know you are reading a breakthrough business book when industry cohorts hear you are reading it and they say something along the lines of this book:
1) Nails the issues my team is dealing with;
2) Gives me reassurance we are on the right track;
3) Brings it all together for my management; or
4) That's on my list to read.
Well, I heard all of these quips (with #4 being the most popular) when discussing The Now Revolution by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund with industry peers. 'Now' explains how organizations are not only making changes to accommodate real-time business but also shows us how we can weave these changes into our own processes.
Jay and Amber lead us through seven core business shifts with case studies, checklists, charts, best-in-class lessons learned and interactive QR codes jam-packed with yet more brain food. It's an easily digestible "read, learn, adapt, blend, repeat" book. Yep, I dig it. And for the record, this is the best use of QR codes (greatest end-user utility) I've come across to date.
Have you noticed I haven't said anything about social media? To me this book is not a social media book. And I for one am thrilled this isn't another social media strategy read. This is a playbook for how to operationalize your company for client-focused, real-time business.
One quick example, Shift Four, in Jay and Amber's book, dubbed Answering The New Telephone, helped me take a step back and realize how far our team has come in a year's time with operationalizing listening, from executive buy-in to response-ability. And, honestly, it's shed light on how much more we need to do to really integrate online brand reputation management into our listening and response processes.
There have been several reviews of 'Now' from folks not appearing in it, just in case you think there'a a bit too much fangirl going on with my post. Here's a few diverse 'Now' review posts:
1) Sparkplug Digital
2) PureDriven
3) The Customer Collective
4) Ask Aaron Lee

Still skeptical? Download a <i>free</i> chapter to taste test 'Now' yourself.

Ready to dive in? Go devour 'Now' and thank me with a Guinness later.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Listen, respond and share

More and more I'm heads down with work and don't make time in the evenings and weekends to post. I need to make time because I need to practice what I preach which is listen, respond and share. We all (individual contributors, brands, agencies, partners) need to listen first. Active listening, respond (repeat first two repeatedly), then share value-based content. I need to do a better job at all three so I can help others do an amazing job at all three.

Over this weekend, I've been catching up on social media initiatives - campaigns, new public and private communities, influencer outreach strategies, etc. and in news posts the brands all come back to listen first. They listen to what the target is asking for and respond, then they share.

Are we listening and responding to the ask OR are we sharing for sharing sake or campaign sake? Is there a way to blend? That's the secret formula we all hope for, right?

Digging through my old blog posts and found this one, a bit rusty, but the premise of going where your customer is, actively listening, then responding still holds true.

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