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 collegewebeditor.com. 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.

April 16, 2011

Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy from Scratch

The transition is on. Well, it's been on for a while but I've finally ramped down from my undergraduate marketing activities as much as one can when transitioning to a new role within the same organization.

While there has been some web services support for the College in the recent and distant past, my new role is a strategic shift for the institution. My vision is for the department to be a team who can assist the institution and its business units with one's digital strategy and online initiatives, not just support.While there has been support activities in the past, it has mostly been website content updates and email newsletter distribution.

With a new institutional strategy and branding platform, we must now develop a digital marketing strategy for the institution, essentially from scratch. We have no social media strategy and no mobile strategy; our blogging platform is 6 years old; we use at least a half dozen content management systems; a web governance model is non-existent; our analytics systems are severely lacking and are used with no strategy. And I have yet to mention the core piece that everyone knows most about - our current black hole of a website redesign project. Just look at this quote from StudentAdvisor.com's Top 100 Social Media Colleges regarding our home page:

"Home page is inexplicably a social media wasteland that screams 2002."

And they couldn't be more right. Literally. I actually think the home page design was created in 2002.

The optimist in me says that we were #65 on this list with no strategy. Many parts of the College have been doing some great things, especially within social media, but we have not leveraged any of those best practices effectively across other parts of the institution. At a small college, we should be able to break down those silos. The role and its mission will be a challenge, but I look forward to the rollercoaster ride and have already enjoyed its ups and downs over the past 6 weeks.

More exciting news is that I get to share this ride with peers at the eduWeb Conference in San Antonio in August. I promise those attending that you will see the good and bad of creating a digital strategy from scratch. I don't know if that August 2nd script will be a comedy, a drama, a horrow show or a fairytale ending. My best educated guess is a mix of it all, but that part of the story has yet to be written. I hope you all come along for the ride and hopefully even see some of you in San Antonio.

Updated: My Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy from Scratch presentation from the eduWEb Conference can be found on my slideshare.

February 23, 2011

Role 7 in 2011

Today, I formally resigned as Marketing Director for the Undergraduate School at Babson College.

This has been one of the most enjoyable roles I've had here at Babson. It's timing was perfect for me and has helped shape me as a marketing professional. I was lucky to acquire this position at a time when the program was able to make great strides due to a strong leadership team and unified effort. A LOT of marketing activities have been accomplished during these past 4 1/2 years. Even more importantly, I've worked with some amazing individuals to help positively impact the undergraduate student experience in a way that has led to great success...in external rankings, by internal standards, in admission gains, etc. Any marketing success that could be attributed to that was really just a small part of the enjoyment of this role. I've worked with amazing peers, a phenomenal centralized group of creative experts, and an epic staff in the most recent year and a half.

Working with undergraduate students - as my most important customers, as my best marketing strategy, as my word of mouth marketers, as students in my class, as friends - has been so dam fun. I've always said I was perfect for this role because I have the same maturity level and sense of humor as some of the younger audiences I'm marketing too. That doesn't give them enough credit. The students here are so dam smart. My connection to them has grown over my time in this role and it really impacts you positively. If you are in higher education and you have not worked with undergraduate students, find a way to do so. Volunteer. Teach. Transition into a new role. Whatever it takes. It's worth it. Not even just at Babson. I'm sure this is true at other institutions. But DEFINITELY here.

Where am I going? Drumroll...I'm going nowhere. I'm staying at Babson. For those of you that didn't know already, I hope you didn't just say letdown. If so, you'll probably not going to want to read the rest of this.

Prior to resigning, I formally accepted an offer to become the Digital Marketing Director for Babson. Living within the centralized College Marketing function, this role will have responsibility for creating, managing and promoting Babson's digital presence. Those of you close to me know this is where my heart is right now and has been for a while. And it brings me back to my roots! My excitement and ideas on taking on this challenge could fill up even more pages of a blog post. That will surely come in the weeks ahead after I formally begin the role on March 28. In the meantime, I really want to give my current position its full due and help transition the undergraduate program. It continues to have some unprecedented success and would do so without me, but I hope I can continue to be instrumental in its success going forward...only this time with a digital marketing focus.

I'm going on my 10th year at Babson and this new role will now be my seventh one. Unbelievable. I've been blessed with great bosses for every single one...a benefit I can say many peers who have come and gone have not been able to mirror that luck. I truly feel lucky being able to say that with all honesty.

And the Babson Community (capital c) is special to me. It's like family. And like every family, it can be challenging. It can be a whole lot of fun. It can also have its sad days and it certainly can be dysfunctional. It can also be there for you when you need it most and I have certainly seen many of those instances during my time here. So many that it could actually be a great, cheesy Lifetime movie. That's another movie I'll have to script now.

Anyways, the caring, intelligence and humor that I am surrounded with here every day in terms of faculty, staff and students is unique. And that doesn't even include the great relationships I've made with alumni and parents. I'm excited to be able to stay to connected to that - both with the undergraduate school and the campus and external community at large - in this new role.

February 19, 2011

Timeliness vs. Quality

When it comes to producing video content in 2011, there are many factors that help drive your decision-making process on an individual video project - goals, objectives, format, technology available, etc.

First and foremost, there are many options on how to even record your video, with much of the decision-making process depending on your end goal. You can put a flip camera in the hands of your customers. You can record an event or speaking engagement and post it after the event. You can even live-stream a show like my new addiction, HigherEdLive, and still archive the content. You can produce a high-quality informercial for your product or service. Or as we recently did, you can parody an existing video.

Recently, we ran into a timeliness versus quality debate for a video project where our end goals were community-building and building awareness of our mascot. Upon seeing the Bridgestone Beaver commercial during the Super Bowl, a colleague and I joked about finding a way to get our mascot, Biz E. Beaver a.k.a. The Biz, into a future Bridgestone commercial. I even reached out to their social media manager via Twitter and half-jokingly told them we have their talent for any future commercials. After not hearing back for a couple days, the idea finally popped in my head to film our own "commercial" with The Biz, a parody on the original.

We tried to mirror it as closely as possible to the original, but injecting some of the personality of our mascot, our institution and our dean. Unfortunately, it still took us a week to get this posted due to schedules and the fact my idea came 3 days later than it should have. Ideally, we would have filmed and edited this the day after the Superbowl.

We definitely feel filming and editing quliaty was sacrificed some, even with the one-week timeframe between the original's first airing and our video posting and promotion. We obviously wanted to capitalize on the timeliness and popularity of the Bridgestone commercial, including their success in  #brandbowl feedback, and I felt that timeliness was most important. With that being said, time will tell if the quality holds up over the months ahead as the commercial becomes less popular and searched on.

We're happy with the community's response to it these first few days and The Biz has even made a dozen new friends!

January 11, 2011

Brady and Belichick Are Overachievers

Just like Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, the two icons of the Patriots organization can also be considered overachievers. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were underdogs early in their careers and are still driven by that fact. It's no coincidence their team revels in the underdog role. 

We all know Brady was a sixth round pick, drafted 199th overall. He wasn't always the starter at both University of Michigan and early in his career in New England and he had to repeatedly prove that he deserved to play. That motivation from being overlooked still drives him today. Just take a look at the quote below by Tom Brady from a recent Bill Simmons article on the Brady and Manning rivalry.

"Being someone that many teams passed over," he explained, "there was a reason for it, you know? They didn't think I was a very good player, and they were probably right. I wasn't doing a good enough job listening to my coaches, I wasn't working at it hard enough, I wasn't good enough.
Going 199th, it forces you to be critical of yourself. That ends up being the best thing for you."

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Bill Bel...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeAfter playing football at Wesleyan University in Connecticut , Bill Belichick didn't have the talent to play professionally, but went right into the NFL as a $25-per-week assistant for the Baltimore Colts head coach. I'm sure oaching in a sport that you played colleagiately is a dream, but the fact you are not playing must motivate you to succeed as a  coach. Despite his success rising through the coaching ranks, Belichick was not a sought after head coach after his four losing seasons during his five-year run leading the Cleveland Browns.

This season, Belichick was surely driven by the fact that his team was supposed to finish in the middle of the pack, considered too young to even make the playoffs. He knows how to take advantage of the underdog situation, whether it's his team or individual players. He is a master motivator. Whatever the hell they are, his motivating tactics are able to pull the best out of everyone.

These two icons are created in the same mold. They are driven by the fact they were not expected to succeed at this level, perhaps even considered overachievers. It was a perfect marriage that is the foundation that the past 10 years of New England Patiorts success has been built on.
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