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15 PR and social media career moves in Minnesota in 2014

Each year, about this time, I write a post highlighting all the big PR and social media career moves here in Minnesota in the last twelve months.

This year’s list, like last year’s, is chock full of big moves. But, fewer BIG moves than I anticipated. A lot of agency folks stay put in 2014–something I didn’t see coming. With this much demand, I thought we’d see much more movement. But, this probably also proves that agencies know about the demand and are doing everything in their power to keep their superstar talent locked up.

Regardless, there were a number of moves worth noting in 2014. Take a peek–and let me know who you would add. I certainly don’t hear about every move…


Kaitlyn Cox


Former role: Athletic Events Social Media Manager

Current role: Social Content Specialist, Sleep Number

My take: Really excited about this one as Sleep Number is a client (and has been for five-plus years) and Kait is a friend who I think will do very well on this already strong team (also: couldn’t resist using this photo of Kait and Lisa Grimm from this year’s MIMA holiday party!).


Bob Ingrassia

Former role: Senior director-content marketing, Fast Horse

Current role: Vice President of External Relations, Minnesota Children’s Museum

My take: People rarely leave Fast Horse (must be a great place to work!), but when they do they take on interesting and great opportunities like this one.

Sarah DuBois

Sarah D

Former role: Senior Account Executive, Fleishman Hillard

Current role: Corporate Communications, Wells Fargo

My take: Worked with Sarah a bit at Sleep Number (Fleishman is their PR agency of record). Smart young woman. Watch her career path skyrocket.


LeeAnn Fahl


Former role: Senior digital marketing manager, Sleep Number

Current role: Senior Manager-Global Marketing, TE Connectivity

My take: Nice to see this friend and colleague take on a new challenge last year! Completely different category and industry, but I know LeeAnn is up to the challenge! (Note: Photo courtesy of the Heartland Mobile Council)

Curtis Smith

Former role: Director of Marketing & Business Development, PadillaCRT

Current role: Director of Business Development-North America, Olgilvy Public Relations

My take: Big step up here for Curtis, who still works here in Minneapolis even though Olgivly PR doesn’t have a huge footprint locally.


David Erickson

Dave E

Former role: Director of e-Strategy, Tunheim

Current role: Vice President-Online Marketing, Karwoski & Courage

My take: Trading his kush suburban digs for a new downtown location, I thought this was a good move for Dave. And, a chance to work with Glenn Karwoski (who’s always been one of my favorite people after I had him as a professor years ago at the University of St. Thomas).


Lauren Fischer

Former role: Administrator-Digital Experience, American Academy of Neurology

Current role: Social media community specialist, Medtronic

My take: Seems like a big step up for Lauren. Congrats!


Heather Rist

Heather Rist_Headshot

Former role: Senior manager-Communications, Cambria/Sun Country Airlines

Current role: Director-Social Media & Content, Deluxe

My take: Joins Cameron Potts (see below) as fellow WSU alum, Amanda Brinkman continues to build out her team at Deluxe. I think she hit a bonafide home run here.


Cameron Potts

Former role: Vice President, Weber Shandwick

Current role: Vice President-PR and Community Management, Deluxe

My take: Don’t know Cameron that well, but the local Weber office is chock-full of outstanding talent. So, I’d say chances are pretty darn good this was another “good get” for Ms. Brinkman.


David Folkens


Former role: Director, PadillaCRT

Current role: Vice President, Risdall PR

My take: Another friend making another move in 2014. This time, Dave joins another friend (Joel Swanson) over at Risdall. Men of Minneapolis PR UNITE!


Gabby Nelson

Former role: Director-Earned and Social Media, Sleep Number

Current role: Director, Communications & Change Management, Cargill

My take: A former client (and friend), I was sad to see Gabby leave Sleep Number, but happy she found a new home in 2014.


James Anderson

James A

Former role: Senior director-Client Content, Bring Me the News

Current role: Director of Content Marketing, TopRank Marketing

My take: Wow, Lee Odden and Top Rank certainly staffed up late last year. Not only did they add James to the mix, they also added Debbie Friez and Joel Carlson. (Note: Photo above courtesy of the lovely Erica Hanna)


David Pendery

Former role: Director-Firm Communications, Baker Tilly

Current role: Diretor, Communications, United Health Group

My take: Relatively new to town, David joins a solid communications team at UHG (hello Bryan Vincent!).


Gregg Litman

Gregg L

Former role: Senior producer, WCCO-TV

Current role: Brand Content Manager, Storyteller Communications

My take: Another media member wakes up and realizes life really is better on this side :)


Maria Reitan

Former role: Senior Principal, Spong

Current role: President and Chief Strategy Officer, Lola Red PR

My take: I don’t know Maria, but this seemed like a pretty big move for her and Alexis Walsko the Lola Red PR team.

How to pitch the modern journalist

A recent report from the folks at Edelman last week got me thinking about how we approach and work with our colleagues on the media side.

As our world has changed the last number of years, so has the media world. No big epiphany, right?

But, how often do you actually think about how those changes that are shaking up their world impacts the way you pitch these “modern journalists?”

Note: I couldn’t resist using this pic of two of my local favorite reporters/anchors, Jason DeRusha and Jamie Yuccas (courtesy of Jamie Yuccas’ Twitter account).


Let’s take a look at a few key stats from the Edelamn/Muck Rack study and talk about what they mean for US on the PR side of the coin:

Stat: More than 75 percent of journalists say they feel more pressure now to think about their story’s potential to get shared on social platforms.

What it means for PR: Like it or not, these numbers are likely to drive even higher in the coming years as media outlets continue to favor shareability of stories online. Again, no big surprise–we’ve seen this trend coming the last couple years. But, have you thought about how this impacts you and what you can do to help? As PR folks, we sometimes have a better handle on what gets shared online. Why not give our media friends a few ideas on items that might drive those clicks and shares online? Suggest positioning a certain article as a “How to” post. Point out a key stat that might work well in a headline. The key is not to over-step your boundaries. Journalists get paid to write objective stories. You just want to make sure you’re not telling them how to do their jobs.


Stat: Nearly 3/4 of journalists are now creating original video content to accompany their stories. However, very few journalists (13 percent) are relying on sourcing consumer-generated video and only 3 percent are using corporate video.

What it means for PR: The age of B-roll is slowly dying. Sure, it works in spots, but according to the stats in this study, more journalists are shooting their own video–probably more so than ever before. So, instead of wasting your time capturing your own corporate video to use in pitches (to be clear, I’m not suggesting you move away from video–just b-roll-type video), why not make suggestions to the journalist about video they can capture on their own? Then, do your best to make that process as easy as possible. It’s all about facilitating–instead of producing the video yourself.


Stat: Non-legacy media publishers make up the majority of the most-engaged sites on Facebook (top sources: The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Mashable, PlayBuzz).

What it means for PR: Again, no big surprise here that HuffPo, Mashable and Buzzfeed are among the more shared media properties on the social web. What is surprising is how often PR counselors can minimize the power of these more non-traditional sites and outlets. For example, did you know Buzzfeed publishes honest-to-goodness news? And, they have a business section? Would it be worth adding Buzzfeed to your national lists? Or, what about thinking creatively? Is there a way for you to pitch your client as part of one of the popular Buzzfeed lists, as my friends at Life Time Fitness did last year?

When are we going to stop coddling Millennials?

A PSFK post stopped me in my tracks earlier this week. In fact, at first glance, I really thought it was an sponsored Onion post on PSFK.

Really, I did.

But nope–this is very real. Grey Advertising, AdWeek’s 2014 Agency of the Year, has created a separate work environment–specifically for Millennials–within its New York office called “Basecamp.”

Working in Closet

Grey representatives describe “Basecamp” as “an environment that gives structure, but creates self-sufficiency [and] encourages relationship building with key learnings more readily shared.”

And, according to the PSFK article, Michael Houston, CEO of Grey North America, says that Basecamp shows that “we’re learning from this group rather than showing them how we’ve previously worked. We’re working to understand their organic tendencies.”

So, essentially, Grey has cordoned off Millennials from the rest of the workforce in the interest of “understanding their organic tendencies”?


OK, so I’ll fully admit, I’m a huge skeptic when it comes to discussion that leads with “how do we adapt to working with Millennials in the workforce?” I know Millennials are a big demo. I know they have incredible power. I know they work differently.

But man, I think this is a horrible idea.

For starters, think about the message it sends to the rest of Grey Advertising.

Grey claims to have 1,000 employees–48% of which are Millennials.

OK, so what about the other 52%? What about the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, who, by the way, are most likely the managers and leaders of the agency at this point? What message is this sending to those folks?

I’ll tell you what message it’s sending. It’s the same one we’ve been hearing non-stop from Millennials and those looking to accommodate them for the last few years: We need to coddle the Millennials in order to better work with them.

That’s it. Plain and simple.

Why else would they create a SEPARATE WORK ENVIRONMENT for these employees? Why would they go out of their way to talk to the media about it?

I mean, I get it from a business perspective. You need to attract the Millennial market. You need them more than they need you. Junior to mid-level talent is the engine that runs agencies, right?

I’m just not sure this is the right way to go about doing that.

Look, I’m sure Grey has done their due diligence. And who I am really? Just some consultant with a blog in Minnesota. I’m not running AdWeek’s 2014 Agency of the Year. So, clearly these people know more than I do.

I’m just sick of the coddling.

And I don’t think it’s doing the Millennials any favors either.

Think about the message they’re sending to Millennials now for a moment. We’re going to give you your own work space. We’re going to go well out of our way to make you happy. WE WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY!

I think this, too, is a horrible message to send. It says: People are going to go out of their way to accommodate you and your workstyles. So, don’t worry about it. We’ll work around you–don’t you worry about learning to work with other people. You’re Millennials, after all!

Also, think about this. If you put up a wall around these Millennials in the workplace, how will they find mentoring opportunities with more experienced staff? Aren’t you kinda telling them the opposite by doing this? Stay with people your own age/experience. Learn from them–not the older folks.

I don’t know. We’re now crossing an awfully dangerous line with all this coddling.

I mean, really, isn’t this taking it a bit too far?

photo credit: Jin_sama via photopin cc

Talking Points Podcast: Is Digital Strategy All Wrong?

In this latest episode of the Talking Points Podcast, Kevin Hunt and I talk about a very interesting (and very well written) article in HRB titled “Your Digital Strategy Shouldn’t Be About Attention” (see Show Notes below for link).

In the article, the author laments that digital strategy, as we know it, is essentially broken. That too many companies are focused on gaining attention through online channels, and not nearly focused enough on providing true value to customers and giving them YOUR attention instead.

Talking Pts Podcast

It’s a very interesting read–Kevin and I agreed, the “must read” of the week. Hope you’ll take a listen to the rest of the show, too.

SHOW NOTES – January 22, 2015

“Your Digital Strategy Shouldn’t Be About Attention”


“Nike Sends 100k Customers Personalized Training Videos”


“To Boost PR Results, Look to Paid Channels”


“Storytelling in the Age of Social News Consumption”


“25 Disruptive Technology Trends for 2015 – 2016”


LinkedIn vs. Facebook: What’s the best social network for job seekers?

Last week, author and consultant, Shel Israel started an interesting conversation on Facebook:

LI vs FB 3


So, this isn’t necessarily a new discussion. People have debated which social network is best for job seeking, business networking and recruiting for years.

But, in previous years, I haven’t heard it discussed in terms of LinkedIn vs. Facebook, which is what the comment threat on Shel’s initial post devolved into:

LI vs FB 1

As you can see, tech influencer, Robert Scoble got involved, and as sometimes happens when he does, things got a little “interesting.”

People advocated for both sides, and made some good arguments, but Scoble defended Facebook. Vehemently. Citing research and evidence all along the way.

LI vs FB 2

Now, for every person who says they sourced 10 jobs via LinkedIn, you’ll probably meet 10 more people who will claim they found a job on Facebook. But, let’s set that aside for a minute. We know both are useful, but ever since its inception, LinkedIn has HUNG ITS HAT on the fact that it is THE social network for business networking. It is THE social network, THE place to go to find a job.

And, now you have people debating whether Facebook may now be that place. That one place where people go to network professionally and uncover new opportunities?

When you think about it like that–that’s interesting, right? That’s certainly not the way it’s been positioned the last few years–not by the networks, or by most people you talk to.

Yet, there’s Scoble making that claim right in the thread. And, he’s making it and citing he has research to back it up (we’ll see, I guess–he doesn’t share that in the thread).

Here’s my take on all this. Facebook is still THE social network. It has the users. It still has the majority of people’s attention. It is THE place people hang out online. At least, from a mass population perspective.

And, through all that time we spend on Facebook, relationships are nurtured. New people are met. And, all that “networking” and getting to know you, can (and most likely does) lead to new opportunities. After all, you can get to know someone a lot better on Facebook than you can on LinkedIn, right?

However, it’s a much more closed network. A lot of people still want their personal and their professional worlds separate (read: Facebook vs. LinkedIn). They don’t want to mix those two.

But, for those using Facebook as a networking tool, I could certainly see those personal relationships driving new opportunities. It’s probably not a direct line of sight, but it starts and ends with the relationships you’ve developed and nurtured on Facebook.

On the other hand, you have LinkedIn, which has become a recruiter’s rolodex. And, let’s face it, that’s really what it is at this point. Most people only use LinkedIn when they have to–when they’re looking for a job, need to update their profile, and connect with a few new people. They’re not on LinkedIn every day. They’re not connecting with new people each day there. They’re not sharing details of their lives.

They’re merely using it as a job-finding tool. Period.

I don’t use it that way. You may not use it that way. But, I would venture to guess most of the people in the working world DO use it that way.

Add to that the fact that LinkedIn is littered with garbage. Recruiters. Real estate agents. Tons of garbage content (thanks now, to LinkedIn publishing).

People complain about the Facebook algorithm, but if you spend any amount of time on LinkedIn, you know that experience isn’t exactly perfect either.

So, Scoble’s notion that more people are using Facebook to find jobs and opportunities starts to make sense.

But, here’s the thing: It’s not an either/or scenario. It’s BOTH.

For example. I use Facebook the way most people use it. I post pics of my kids, my life and the beers I’m drinking. I DM with friends and family. But, I also use it to keep in touch with professional friends and people I know here in town. I’m friends with a lot of people I know–but don’t know all that well. From a “new opportunities” perspective, you could say I use Facebook to bring these people closer to me. To allow them to get to know me a bit better. And, it’s a way for me to get to know THEM a bit better, too.

I use LinkedIn, on the other hand, to build my official professional network and resume. And, I use it to keep tabs on people and their new jobs and promotions. I send DMs regularly to new connections and friends, congratulating them on new jobs. I use it to re-publish my blog content, so there’s a thought leadership angle, too. But, it rarely leads to new business. In fact, neither Facebook or LinkedIn lead to much new business.

But, they’re both very, very powerful in the way they allow me to nurture relationships with friends, colleagues and clients.

And those people are all referral sources.

And that’s how you get jobs, folks.

So, the answer to the question in the headline is simple.

It’s not Facebook VERSUS LinkedIn.

It’s Facebook AND LinkedIn.