I’m not on my own

I was just reading an article on called “12 Things You Need to Really Get Rid of in the Next 12 Months.” #3 leapt off the page at me, but not entirely for the reasons the author likely intended.

Stop thinking you’re on your own.

When friends and family have asked me in recent months what I do now that I left my full-time job at a university, I typically respond by saying “I’m on my own now, consulting.” That couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth. Yes, I am consulting. Sure, I am my own boss (when my clients are the boss of me). 🙂 I don’t have employees. I am single. I don’t have children. I live alone. However, I am anything but on my own.

This fall I decided to start my own company and offer consulting services in marketing and communications to higher education and small businesses in large part because of the community and network I have been privileged to be part of for twenty years. This is a community like no other. I have friends at various institutions and companies around the country who have been so kind to reach out, take a call from me, and connect me to others in their network. Because of them (you, since you’re reading this!), I have had a very successful and happy first several months as an official LLC. My many strong leads for the new year are from this incredible network.

So, I’ll repeat it again — I am anything but on my own now. I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for being part of this incredible community. Thank you to my close friends and family members who have stuck by me and supported me through this crazy journey of a year. Thank you all for being part of my early success as a consultant. Cheers to a happy, peaceful 2016, full of projects and opportunities that make us flourish.

AMA 2012 Conference Recap: Continuing to raise the bar personally, professionally and as a conference

Earlier this week I attended my third American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The organizers received about 150 paper proposals and selected 48 for publishing in the conference proceedings and to present at the conference. I was fortunate enough to be one of those selected and wrote an eight page paper and presented a 45 minute session in the brand alignment track called “An Integrated Marketing Revolution at Ithaca College.”

On a personal note, this conference has been one I’ve aspired to present at for the last several years. I sat in many sessions in admiration at the last two conferences, looking up to my peers with far more experience than I have in my new(ish) role as the associate vice president for marketing communications at Ithaca College, telling myself that 2012 would be the year I would throw my hat in the ring. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity, and am humbled by the positive feedback I received during the session on the Twitter back channel, as well as in person from attendees following the session.

I met some terrific new colleagues, re-connected with others I’ve met before or knew through Twitter, and was again inspired by many of the sessions I attended. There was one woman in particular that I’ve been working with off and on for a year and a half and finally had the pleasure to meet in person. We had a magnificent meal at a restaurant recommended by a friend of mine who lives in New Orleans (R’evolution… ohmygosh), and her presentation at the conference was the one I’m going back to the office armed with a pile of notes from and a fire in my belly to put this knowledge to work. I’m going to share those notes internally first before blogging about them to the world. Another colleague also pointed out how interesting it was that the theme of my speech was about a marketing revolution and the one restaurant I went to had the same name. 🙂

I attended several other great sessions as well. My other favorite was delivered by the ladies from Loyola University Chicago, who talked about brand fragmentation and set up a bit of an improv skit with eight scenes:

  • Scene 1: We want our own logo
  • Scene 2: We want our own colors
  • Scene 3: “Everything you do looks the same” (To which one of the speakers said, “I have two words: Thank you.” I loved that!)
  • Scene 4: We’re different
  • Scene 5: Who doesn’t know us?
  • Scene 6: We’ve always done it this way. (Challenge the status quo. Invent the status quo!)
  • Scene 7: Just do as we (or they, as in, other colleges) say
  • Scene 8: We don’t really need you (thanks to Microsoft Word, Publisher, low or no budgets)

If nothing else, this was a fantastic group therapy session. But the passion with which Kelly Shannon and Katie Hession presented and shared tips for dealing with each of these “scenes” stole the show. They do an annual college-wide marcom audit and share a brief report with their President’s Cabinet. They track a rough percentage of consistency across the different units, and continue to ask what they can do to raise that percentage and get better each year. She also emphasized how unhelpful identity standards guides are for folks outside of the marcom world, largely, which gave me a new perspective for thinking about how we share that information currently. They talked about the infamous House of Brands vs. Branded House, and her analogy of having a House of Brands is like Cybil (multiple personalities) had the crowd roaring with laughter. They’ve also had to give up on certain  “off-brand” logos. Their theory is if it stays within the campus and is internally focused, they let it go. If it’s going to be seen by a larger external audience, her office steps in to assist and work to bring it under the brand standards for the college. We’ve had much discussion and debate about this at Ithaca College in recent years, so this session definitely helped further shape my thinking about where we might go with the minor logo garden outside of the IC logo family on campus.

These ladies kicked off this session with a terrific video, which they use on campus to help faculty, staff and administrators understand the pressures we’re under and the current landscape of higher education. We have to change the model. We need to stay affordable and clearly communicate our value while not sacrificing our objectives core to our mission.

The AMA Symposium is in Boston next year, and I can’t wait. Is it November 2013 yet?

I’m very proud of the integrated marketing revolution my team has accomplished over the past couple of years. But, we’re just beginning. Much more revolutionizing to do. I’m back with lots of fresh new inspiration, albeit a bit exhausted, but ready to go. Let’s do this.

A new role, a new location

It is with great excitement I announce that I have accepted the position of Associate Vice President for Marketing Communications at Ithaca College. I am joining a staff of extremely talented, creative, passionate individuals and will lead the Marketing Communications office to help set priorities for our efforts that align with the College’s strategic direction. We’re about to kick off a brand identity initiative, which many of you know I’ve been integral with in my current position at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Leaving New Paltz will be bittersweet. I started as an undergraduate transfer student at New Paltz in August 1996, and have been there ever since. I began as an intern in the marketing office in the Campus Auxiliary Services company at New Paltz, did a bit of freelancing to develop many department’s very first Web sites, and then was hired as the College’s first full-time Web professional right after graduation in May 1998. A couple years later I was promoted to Web Coordinator, and then five years later to Director of Web Communication & Strategic Projects. I’ve grown the College’s site from approximately 10 pages to more than 25,000, and have hired two full-time Web Developers to assist with the College’s Web services.

In February 2006 I opened the College’s first Welcome Center, and have continued daily oversight and management of the staff and the Center. I’ve implemented the OmniUpdate Content Management System, two different mass notification systems for emergency alerts, led the College’s social media activity, and have served as an active member of the President’s Brand Marketing Taskforce, and the Emergency Rseponse Team. Last summer I was named Team Lead for the Creative Services Team, which includes the 10 staff members from the Office of Communication & Marketing (media relations, Web services, design services, print services, video services) and Arts Services. In December, I earned my MBA in marketing and management from New Paltz.

My last day at New Paltz will be Friday, June 25 and will begin my new position at Ithaca College on Monday, July 12.

Sharpening my saw

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” (Closing Time, Semisonic.)

I started graduate school with the hope that I could bring greater value to my current position, and someday advance my career in the field of marketing and communication in higher ed. After three and a half years, I earned my MBA in marketing and management in December.

In November 2008, I met some amazing people at the Stamats SIM Tech Conference, and those connections have been instrumental in much of what I’ve been able to accomplish since. I joined the .eduGuru blogging staff in December 2008, which gave me the opportunity to start blogging for the first time, make some wonderful connections, and became one of the primary forces thrusting me into a whirlwind of conference presentations in 2009.

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