Process

Recap: Internet Summit 2018

It’s that time of year again! The Internet Summit in Raleigh just wrapped up and, as always, was a great experience. Seth Godin returned as the keynote speaker, and the biggest takeaways this year seemed to be the rise of video and voice technology.

Keynote

Godin’s keynote was largely a Q&A session, much like he did last year. For those who attend the event each year I was hoping for something a bit different, but Godin is always a joy to listen to. A large part of his message is that successful marketing requires ignoring the masses and focusing on a very specific audience.

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My Favorite Sessions

My favorite sessions were those that addressed workflow. The first was about alternative agile frameworks, presented by Andrew Fryrear of Agile Sherpas. Andrew discussed the core practices of Kanban and how hybrid forms of agile, such as Scrumban, can be beneficial to marketing teams.

The other session I enjoyed was presented by Juan Parra of Accelo. Juan discussed automating workflows to scale effectively and get more of your day back to do more of the work you love.

Other Takeaways

Recap: WPCampus 2016

Last week I attended the inaugural WPCampus event in Sarasota, Florida, a Wordpress conference with a focus on higher education. The conference was hosted by the University of Florida, and the campus was absolutely beautiful! Palm trees, hammocks... 

The highlight of the conference, for me, was the session called "We Don’t Need No Education: Web Governance Through On-Demand Online Training," presented by Shelley Keith, director of digital communications at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Through listening sessions and content audits, Shelley developed a great case for web governance:

  • 77% said the web was influential in college search
  • 97% said web was the most reliable resource for researching colleges

  • 94% indicated a preference for the school website over the facebook page

  • Approximately 75% of new, off-campus traffic does not come through the homepage

  • Content not focused on audience, hindering readability and findability

  • Content difficult to find, IA problems

  • Content off-brand, painting an inconsistent and inaccurate picture

  • Content not written for the web

Her team then developed formal online training courses for their "site stewards." 

Quizzes at the end of each lesson ensure that the person in training actually learned the material. (Only those with an 80% score can move on to the next lesson.)

Shelley has made documentation available on a public Facebook group called Web Governance Through On-Demand Online Training and you can also check out her slides on LinkedIn

How I Became "the General"

It was my first job out of college. I landed a gig as a graphic artist at an ad agency whose biggest client was Kmart Corporation. (I'll never forget my very first interview when I showed my design portfolio full of college projects, which included a newspaper layout with a story about how Kmart had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy... The hiring manager noticed the story in my portfolio and said, "Kmart. They're our client." Talk about embarrassing. Yet they hired me anyway.)

I was thrilled to receive the job offer yet nervous to start. I joined the offshore account on a team of 14: a creative director, art director, production manager, traffic coordinator, editor, two account executives and seven graphic artists (including myself). I learned the processes and workflow of an agency setting and thrived in its fast-paced environment. We had ads due every week for four offshore markets: Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

We'd receive our job bag at the start of a project, complete with assigned pages and hand-drawn mockups. We would build the pages based on the mockups and client-provided content. We would hang the pages in a conference room and do what we called "Walk the Wall" – a chance for the entire team to look at every page and mark up mistakes. We would update pages and they would go through an editing process and a few rounds of client reviews. Once pages were approved, they would be sent to print (or in the case of the Puerto Rico ads, they would be translated to Spanish before going to print).

I observed other roles on the team and learned how to look for mistakes ahead of time to reduce markups from the editor. I learned what needed to be perfect versus what needed to be let go in order to meet a deadline. I gathered a good understanding of everyone's role on the team even though I did not perform those functions myself – and it came in handy.

Little by little, team members were laid off. Our team got smaller and smaller until we were just a team of three. Three graphic artists. No more creative director, art director, production manager, traffic coordinator, editor or account executives. Just three graphic artists. Yet somehow those missing roles still had to be filled.

The three of us would often rotate some of these functions, each week taking on different responsibilities: sketching page layouts, assigning pages, assembling job bags. We continued to do our Walk the Walls with the help of creative directors from other teams in the agency. Then even more people were let go.

I eventually found myself doing a lot of this work on my own, as well as communicating directly with the translator and sometimes even the client. I began sitting in on meetings with directors and managers to give updates on the offshore account. I wanted our projects to be just as successful as when we had a team of 14, and to continue to meet deadlines without skipping a beat. I became known as the point of contact for the team, and was eventually dubbed "the General" by one of the agency's senior copywriters and it stuck.

At Meridian she became the point person on our Offshore Account in a relatively short time span. Versed in both writing and design, Nikki quickly established herself on the account as one of the best and was looked to as the primary contact.
— Robert P.

The day then came where those of us who were left were called to a meeting where we were told that the agency would be closing and that – unless we were able to move to Chicago – we would be losing our jobs. Kmart would be merging with Sears, moving to Chicago where Sears was headquartered, and our work would move to Sears' agency, Ambrosi Advertising. I was devastated, but I kept pounding until my very last day.

New employees were hired to take over the account at Ambrosi and were brought in to cross-train with those of us who were left – and by that time, I was the last [wo]man standing on the offshore team. I trained three graphic artists (and even the new production manager!) for six weeks, traveling to Chicago for part of that time during the transition. 

I was a newlywed at the time and relocating to Chicago was not an option for me. Plus, I decided it would be in my best interest to go someplace new and develop new skills.

And that is how I became known as the General.

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So long, Chicago

This photo was taken as I left Ambrosi Advertising on my very last day with the Kmart account.