November 25, 2015

Thankful for the Past, the Present and the Future

It is with bittersweet excitement that I share the news that I will be leaving Babson College for a new opportunity in mid-January.

Each role at Babson has been a stepping stone for the next one along my journey. I have been thankful to have had great opportunities, to have developed meaningful friendships, to have been inspired by amazing leaders, and to have partnered with mentors to work with and to work for. For 15 years, the next opportunity has always been right in front of me, and in a way it still is, but it just happens to be 30 miles south of Babson Park.

As many close departmental colleagues have known for days, and what after today is widely known across our two campuses, I have accepted a position at Wheaton College to become their first Vice President of Marketing and Communications. I’m thrilled about the role, about joining the community and about helping to lead the marketing opportunities ahead of us at Wheaton. While I look forward to celebrating the current and the past over the next two months, I equally look forward to celebrating many years ahead as a member of the Wheaton Community. I hope you come along for the ride!

I am obviously sad about leaving my home for the past 15 years. I mean, that’s 39% of my entire life so far! From starting in Alumni Relations, through roles in the Undergraduate School, and most recently as a senior leader within our centralized College Marketing team, every department I have worked for and every department I have worked with has been instrumental in shaping who I am today. From marketing the Graduate School’s 50th Anniversary, through redesigning the undergraduate school’s first suite of materials tied to institutional strategy, to creating a digital marketing strategy from scratch, each and every marketing initiative has been a learning experience. Babson has meant so much to me, my career and my family and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the community for the rest of my life as an MBA alumnus.

While the timing is never perfect for any big life transition, the news being shared this week does provide the right context to give thanks to all of my partners through the years. I have been blessed with the best of colleagues, many of whom have become the best of friends. I am truly thankful for those relationships. I look forward to the opportunity to build new friendships, and maintain existing ones, in yet another great community.

As I reflect on the experiences of the past while eagerly looking forward to what the future holds, I am more thankful than ever, this week especially. Happy Thanksgiving!

March 30, 2014

Your Digital Marketing Director Has Left the Building

Digital marketing is dead. Sounds dramatic, but it really is true. I have been talking about this concept with trusted peers over the past year and it's finally ringing true in my professional life.

An October blog post of the same title as the above opening line, by fellow Babson alumnus Maja Stevanovich, really motivated me to push that concept further within our own internal organization. This line really is where I wanted us to be:

"Savvy brands have figured this piece out and integrate their digital efforts across disciplines and truly operate as if this is an ordinary way to do their business."

After a few months of internal conversations, we've reorganized to integrate our efforts, our functions and our resources to focus on being one of those savvy brands. We continue to evolve as an organization, sometimes even before the industry norm is evolving. My role has changed from Digital Marketing Director to Senior Director of Integrated Marketing. In addition to overseeing our interactive, multimedia and social media efforts, I will now oversee our creative services team of designers, copywriters/editors and project managers.

At the same time, we our reorganizing our communications professionals across departments (admission, alumni, development, student experience) to create a Life Cycle Marketing and Communications team, which I am just as equally excited about! This is another concept I've been talking about a lot the last couple years and it fits right into the thought process of:

integrated marketing utopia - a clear, consistent brand message to audiences via all channels throughout their entire life cycle.

When my digital marketing role was created three years ago, it was intended to create a digital marketing strategy for the institution, from scratch. The three-year business plan focused on laying a foundation for the institution in terms of governance, guidelines, processes and appropriate channel selection. We have laid that foundation and it is time to show how digital is now just an every day part of the marketing solution.

Internally, we have already made many strides towards becoming an efficient, integrated marketing operation, even before our recent shuffle. We have incorporated digital quality assurance tasks into all projects, we've incorporated weekly meetings and process checks to ensure all channels are taken into consideration and our digital marketing and creative teams already work extremely well together. I will continue to partner closely with our other marketing functions - institutional communications, life cycle marketing and communications, the magazine, and public relations - to blend our functions into integrated, marketing solutions for the rest of campus.

Our internal reorganization is a great message to send to ourselves, our departments and our clients that marketing is best not done in silos. Integrated marketing is the new essential to success. It's now time to find a way to evaluate business needs as early as possible to determine an integrated approach - communication, creative, digital, multimedia, and public relations - to accomplish business objectives. And while that responsibility is on each one of us within our marketing team, it's time for that challenge to have an advocate responsible for it on every initiative. And I can't be more excited to be that advocate.

Integration (n.) - the state of combination or the process of combining into completeness and harmony

July 29, 2013

It's Not All About Facebook

Facebook has been the go-to platform for institutions to connect with prospective students. The statistics are endless in terms of its scale and the time users spend on there.

Let's not kid ourselves, though; Higher Education is full of control freaks. And Facebook is truly not in our control. Via a coordinated content strategy across Facebook and other social platforms, there is room for a college-owned, private social network within your digital strategy. With the ability to more closely control the experience, you can better align with institutional brand, more directly tie to programmatic, business unit goals and more intimately understand your users' personal interests. But a private social network should not stand on its own.

At today's eduWeb Conference, I presented with colleague Vanessa Theoharis on "It's Not All About Facebook: Define Your Own Private Community". The presentation showcased the benefits, challenges and opportunities of past and current private social networks, including Babson's own Define You portal for accepted students, Cafe New Paltz, MyIthaca, and Schools App by Uversity (formerly Inigral). But first and foremost, we discussed how it was both hardwired to our institutional content strategy AND fit within our undergraduate admission's primary objectives.

At the end of the day, while Facebook is necessary, it can't be everything. You must coordinate a digital marketing strategy across multiple social platforms with intentional, distinct goals and purpose for each platform. And remember, your social strategy can include owned platforms.

July 31, 2012

Crowdsourcing a Brand Campaign

Today at the eduWeb Conference in Boston, I had the pleasure to present with my colleague and Babson College Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Sykora on "Crowdsourcing a Brand Campaign".

Redefining a word can be overwhelming as can be facilitating an institutional branding campaign. Combine them both with a crowdsourcing microsite at its core and you have Babson College’s Redefining Entrepreneurship campaign. From strategy and implementation to feedback and results, our presentation showcased an institutional branding campaign integrating multiple channels to increase brand awareness, engagement, adoption and advocacy with our target constituencies. 

Crowdsourcing certainly has its benefits, but it also has to be used for the right objective. In our case, we wanted to engage the marketplace in redefining the word entrepreneurship to be a more inclusive term and activity. Historically, and even to this day, the traditional definition of entrepreneurship to many people equals a traditional small business start-up.

The strategic goal behind both the campaign and the presentation is to get individuals to understand that the emotional connection is about "the Cause, not the College". The brand campaign promotes the cause and effect of entrepreneurship, not Babson College. Rallying advocates, old and new, around a cause is much more impactul than simply rallying people around a brand. Starting with the internal community, and especially when expand to our alumni, tactics were aimed at using advocacy marketing as the fuel to engine the campaign. In addition to the definition submissions, social sharing and engagement energized all activity around the campaign.

The presentation shared our constituency map, a  new look at the higher ed consumer decision journey, an overview of our brand campaign channels and creative, and a deeper dive into the microsite engagement hub that served as the core of the campaign, Its analysis, impact and transition into V2 of our campaign was shared as well.

View a slideshare of our presentation »

June 16, 2011

#Winning in 2011

Yeah, I did it. I pulled out the lame Charlie Sheen hashtag reference for a title. But it's retro now so it's okay to bring it back. Hear me out...

I was privileged enough to win a free pass by Karine Joly to attend the Worldviews Conference thanks to a contest on Karine Joly's It has been a great conference on the blend of social media, PR and #highered. For something this close, I planned my flight end of day so I could get the most out of the workday, but also be settled in time for the first day of sessions..Unbeknownst to me when I submitted my comment entry and won the free pass, the Boston Bruins would not only make it to the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup finals, but they would be in Game 7! As a lifelong Bruins fans since my Dad starting taking me to games when I was a kid in single digits, this was a BIG deal for me.

My flight was to arrive in Toronto at 8:15 p.m., right around the time the puck would likely drop after the introductions and anthems. Unfortunately, Air Canada customer service agents decided to strike this week. Delays were expected; and they occurred. Flight was delayed 50 minutes and we didn't land until midway through the second period. After being stuck on the tarmac even longer thanks to the limited staff, I raced my way through customs and to the baggage claim. Big kudos to Toronto's Pearson Airport for having flat screens at the baggage claim. Loved it.

Thankfully, we now have technology and platforms that allow me to share this experience with my family, friends and connections. While in Toronto, I was able to text with family back home in Massachusetts and with friends in Chicago and Pennsylvania; I was able to check in on Foursquare and engage with friends where they were geographically located on this special day; I was able to interact via Twitter and not only get updates about the game when I was missing the first half of the game stuck on a tarmac in Toronto, but i was also able to converse with so many long-time and new friends about this likely, once-in-a-lifetime experience; and I was able to engage on Facebook with an entirely other subset of friends around how lucky we are as Boston sports fans.

It is an amazing time to be alive and engaged. If this was 20 years ago (the last time the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup Finals), and I was stuck in a Toronto airport bar during Game 7, I would have not been able to connect with all of these individuals...unless i had lots of dimes, quarters or whatever it cost for pay phones at that time. I feel lucky to not only have been part of this experience as a sports fan, or lucky to be engaged in the digital marketing space, but I feel extremely lucky to have been able to engage in this experience as a human being.

Try not to forget how far we have come...and how lucky we are to be able to connect with each other in this way.