Four years ago, I made a decision to join the Winona State Alumni Board. As part of that work, we started the Winona State Mass Comm Reunion. It’s an annual event held each January at a brewery in downtown Minneapolis, and it gives me a great chance to reconnect with old friends and meet new WSU alumni. People like Katlyn Bourget. I was first introduced to Katlyn a few years ago in organizing this event. The alumni director at the time encouraged me to connect with Katlyn because “she knew everyone.” Man, she wasn’t kidding. Since then, I’ve gotten to know Katlyn a bit better. What I’ve found is that Katlyn is the kind of person you want representing your alma mater. She’s a hard worker. She’s connected. She has a sterling reputation. And she’s always looking to get smarter. Let’s meet Katlyn!
Tell us about your current role at Pediatric Home Service?
Working for a midsized company, my role is very broad and keeps me learning and adapting every single day.
I handle our media relations, whether it’s local consumer news or national industry pubs, I work to build relationships and create partnerships that can help enhance our brand. This includes strategy, pitching, building talking points, media training staff and distributing through applicable channels.
I manage our social media platforms which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube. That includes writing content, monitoring and paid strategy and execution. In correlation with our business goals I come up with our paid social strategy, which is constantly evolving. I also work closely with other departments, such as HR to find ways we can tap into potential employees via social.
Video is another aspect of my job. I video plan with my team to support our marketing initiatives. I film and edit the footage, distribute through applicable channels and to relevant targets.
I lead our brand advocacy program. This group was developed two years ago after seeing how engaged our employees already were on social media and that they were talking about the brand without even being asked. This group is composed of employees from each department which ensures a consistent brand image across all external facing channels, and has sparked many creative ideas over the years!
I manage our website content which is constantly changing. Whether that’s adding a new page for an initiative or adding in keywords to correlate with a campaign we are working on.
It’s so fun to work with a small team, because you really do get to do so many different things, which keeps me always learning and definitely always on the go.
You, like many others, are asked to do a whole lot in your job. From social to media relations to video production. How do you keep your skills sharp on all those different fronts?
I am truly never bored 😊 I do make time to attend further education events whether that’s the MN Search Summit, Social Media Breakfasts, Women in Digital events, MIMA meet ups, Ad Fed gatherings, etc. As you know, In this industry it’s crucial to stay on top of the ever so frequently changing trends in order to be sufficient at your job and that’s one way I keep a pulse on it. Also, social media. The first thing I do every day is check my social media feeds and email. Whether Facebook ads manager has a new update or a reporter is moving to a new network, I find most of my industry news this way (and by following industry people like you who know all of the things). Also, alerts are huge for me. If there’s something I need to stay on top of, I have an alert for it and get those sent directly to my inbox as they happen. Organizing my priorities is something I’ve incorporated into my daily routine to make sure I’m not missing anything and staying on top of it all. Learning is fun! And crucial to keep up in this world.
As a Millennial, your generation is the most talked about generation of all time. But, you’re also the most scrutinized when it comes to the workplace. Do you think the stereotypes against the Millennial generation when it comes to job-hopping and title-clamoring are true? Why or why not?
I think our generation gets a bad rap for being entitled. For me, it was finding the right fit. When I first started out I hopped around at a couple of agencies and quickly realized they were not the right fit for me. Then I found the job I have now, where I get to use my skills AND make a difference, and I’ve been here for almost five years. I think it really depends on the person and what they are looking for, not their age. For me personally, if I’m happy at the end of the day that’s what matters and is what’s going to keep me at a company.
Somehow you also find time to do a little consulting on the side. I’ve noticed this is a trend among younger professionals, such as yourself. What do you attribute that to? Why are more young people taking what little free time they have and devoting it to side-hustle consulting?
I feel like I accidentally fell into this one. It started out where I was helping friends get their businesses off the ground or supporting small businesses that I frequented and slowly through networking and word of mouth my services were something I started getting paid for. Once I realized that something I enjoy doing can also bring in some extra cash, expand my network, and give me more experience I started actually taking on paying clients.
I think more young people are taking on a side-hustle gigs because at the end of the day we are all just trying to get ahead. Whether that’s paying off student loans, taking exotic trips or finding that next big break in your career, it’s always nice to have a little extra income at the end of the month. For me, keeping my network expanded in this world assists in so many ways, whether it’s having that touch point for a story opportunity or a partnership that could help me professionally, and sometimes even personally.
You’re a fellow Winona State alum–go Warriors! In fact, I believe we first met helping organize one of our now-regular WSU Mass Comm Reunions. How did WSU best prepare you for your role in the PR world?
First of all, Go Warriors! What an incredible experience going to school in Winona was. With small class sizes, my professors knew me by name (and some still do!). The experience felt very hands on. We had the opportunity to actually take on real-world projects, with real clients which was amazing experience to have straight out of college. Working with small groups also gave you the opportunity to dig in and do the actual work. You could literally walk into a Mass Comm Professors office if you had a question or needed assistance and they welcomed you with open arms. While we may have not had the big city school experience, we had the tight knit community experience. Winona feels like home.
In that role helping me organize the WSU Mass Comm reunion, I noticed something: YOU KNOW EVERYONE! Clearly, you’re very well networked. Is that something that comes naturally to you? Or, do you have to work at that? And, how do you prioritize networking with everything else you have going on in your life?
Networking has opened so many doors for me and I think it’s so important for a variety of reasons. I’ve gotten interviews, side projects, jobs, made lifelong friends and gained insight I never knew I needed because of networking. I always learn something from every networking event I attend, whether that’s an industry trend, a piece of advice or even stepping out of my comfort zone to talk to a stranger. And, I actually really enjoy networking events! I see them as an opportunity to see friends, learn and check out new hot spots around town.
I had an enlightening moment a few weeks ago actually. Someone reached out to me on LinkedIn and asked if we could grab coffee. I kept putting it off because life is, well, just busy. I finally made the time to meet this person for coffee and found out that not only do we have very similar jobs, but her personality and insight was raw, refreshing and contagious. I immediately knew we would be friends beyond that meeting. I hugged this person (who I had literally met an hour before) at the end of our meeting and she gave me a very good book recommendation (Social Media ROI, check it out!) and I left thinking, this is EXACTLY why we network.
Over the years, you’ve been involved with a number of non-profit organizations including the Animal Humane Society, Pet Project Rescue and The Ronald McDonald House. How and why do you find time for this level of volunteerism? And, what have you found YOU received from all this time your donating to these lucky organizations?
I have always made volunteering a priority. I feel very fortunate to live the life I do and one small way I feel like I can give back is to contribute to those who need it more than I do. I have gained things I can’t even put into words over the years from seeing and experiencing things through volunteering. Whether that’s watching mistreated puppies get placed in good homes, helping a child in a wheelchair play baseball or seeing a smile on a non-verbal child’s face because they simply get to be outside and feel the sun- they are experiences that put your bad days into perspective and make life that much richer.
Unfortunately, you’re a Packer fan and Wisconsinite. Fortunately (for me), #12 is on the IR for the rest of the year (still hoping that’s true). How will you ever deal with a year where the Packers actually miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years?
A friend of mine said it best, our motto this year isn’t Go Pack Go! It’s Grow Pack Grow! I’ll still proudly be sporting my green and gold. No matter how many years I live in Minnesota I’ll forever be a Wisconsinite and proud cheesehead (and I might just so coincidentally be on a warm weathered vacation during that time 😉)
There’s been an awful lot of talk about “hustle” in the business world lately. I blame Gary V. for 98% of this. All kidding aside, Gary is merely a small part (OK, fine, BIG part) of the larger “hustle culture” that has emerged in the business (and PR/social) world the last few years.
And, truth be told, it’s a culture I’ve embraced (in a way) throughout my eight years as a solo consultant. After all, you have to have a big dose of hustle to make it as a solo. You’re chasing new business. You’re networking. You’re doing the work. You’re doing the admin thing. Hustle or die, is really what #sololife is all about.
But, there’s a bigger problem at play with the whole “hustle culture” and it’s one I don’t see too many talking about.
Let’s start with the word: Hustle. For me, it’s a loaded word, as I immediately think to athletics and my experiences as a youth (and now, as a coach with my son who’s playing basketball and soccer). Hustle is a attitude that is applauded by coaches across the board. You’ll never hear a coach say “You need to stop hustling!” In athletics, hustle counts for an awful lot.
However, when you translate that attitude to the business world, some thing change.
Successful people in business aren’t necessarily evaluated on “hustle.” I’ve rarely heard a manager, boss or client say my “hustle” was the reason I got that promotion or scored that new project (my work ethic has been noted before, but I see those as different terms).
Now, I’m not saying “hustle” isn’t valuable in business. Certainly, a little bit of hustle is a good thing. Chase down that approval from a client. Jam that networking meeting into your day. Or, spend just 30 more minutes at the office finishing up that deck, but also get to your daughter’s soccer game on time.
Some hustle is a good thing.
But, the hustle culture has gone far beyond that. Today, hustle is celebrated much like other key skills and attributes like building trust, establishing a clear vision and demonstrating a great work ethic.
And I think that’s just flat-out wrong.
Here’s why: The further you progress in your career, the more you realize your job is much more about how you can best use your brain to solve business problems than it is about “hustle.”
In essence: the people in more senior-level jobs at agencies and corporations aren’t rewarded for “hustle”–they’re rewarded for efficiently using their brainpower to solve business challenges with teams.
Hustle is a factor–but I see it as a small one.
Attributes, attitudes and skills I see as much bigger indicators of success include:
- Analytical thinking–the ability to look at numbers, data or a problem, analyze it and provide thoughtful insights to a client or manager.
- Ability to build trust with partners and teams–those who win the trust of managers, execs and teams ascend much faster than others.
- Emotional intelligence–the ability to relate to others. The ability to be empathetic with team members. The ability to understand and anticipate what others are thinking.
- Curiousity–this always comes up in the interview process, and for good reason. Those who are inherently curious and life-long learners will always out-perform those who are not.
I’ll take people who exhibit one or more of those attributes or skills any day over someone who “hustles.”
The hustle culture is vastly overrated folks. Don’t get sucked in.
As a blogger, I don’t get pitched all that often. After all, I’m not a trendy food blogger/influencer.
However, I did receive two somewhat interesting and relevant “pitches” in the last month. They were both local events that I would at least consider attending. They were both at least mildly intriguing (to be clear, neither of those events was SMB 100, which is pictured below).
However both completely missed the boat when it comes to one key component of influencer outreach: They failed to address the “WIIFM” question.
In both cases, I’m quite certain I got the canned pitch that was most likely sent to hundreds of people.
But, both actually had legit chances to personalize and address the all-important WIIFM question.
The first event is actually a big-time local event. But, it’s not really something that impacts me all that much. However, the person who was featured at this event attended the same college as me. We know each other a bit. And, as many fellow #Warrior know, I support my Warriors 100 percent. So, the WIIFM angle in that pitch should have been quite simple: Come support your classmate and fellow Warrior. Nothing more really needed to be said.
The second event was a bit more low-key, but actually more interesting to me than the first one. However, it still didn’t address the WIIFM question. In fact, the pitch addressed more of the “what’s in this for your readers” than “what’s in it for me”. And this is a mistake I believe PR people often make–confusing bloggers and influencers for journalists.
Because the “what’s in it for your readers” angle is one almost every journalist would care about. No question. But, a blogger or influencer? Sure, they care about their readers. What blogger wouldn’t? But, let’s face it, readers aren’t always their primary concern. Bloggers and influencers are out for themselves, really. And in the case above, I found myself asking that same question: “What’s in it for me?” Or, really, more accurately, “Why should I attend?”
I think THAT’S the question we must all answer as we put these influencer programs together. Don’t start with “who’s on our list?” Start with “why would these people even consider attending?” And, really think about the potential answers to that question. In my experience, that’s been one of the keys to successful influencer outreach.
We did just that with an influencer project I worked on with the Minnesota Pork Board (via broadhead) a couple years ago. When we were crafting the “ask”, we thought long and hard about the WIIFM question. And, the answer to that question was pretty compelling: A free dinner out at one of the Twin Cities best restaurants (on a patio, in the middle of summer, no less). Keep in mind, we weren’t necessarily targeting big-time influencers–but instead, regular “urban foodies” who were active on social media. These people don’t get pitched that often, so a free dinner out at a fantastic Minneapolis restaurant in the throws of summer bliss sounds pretty good. We answered the WIIFM question, and almost across the board, the answer from our influencers was “yes, I’d love to attend.”
Influencer marketing has definitely evolved into more of a pay-for-play program in the last couple years. But, the WIIFM question still lives at the heart of this discipline. Always make sure you answer that simple question. Always.
An interesting post titled “No, Organic Content Isn’t Dead. It Just Has a New Purpose” on LinkedIn got me thinking recently. We’ve heard so much recently about organic social being completely dead, with huge drops in organic engagement. We’re constantly told that social media is now a pay-for-play environment. And, if you don’t want to play, you my as well not play at all.
That’s the reality of social media marketing in 2017.
Or, is it?
In the last couple weeks, I’ve noticed a few stories in my feeds talking about an earned and organic social media comeback.
First, I read this MarketingLand story on Facebook Stories and how more brands may start experimenting with these “stories” as a way to recoup lost organic engagement in the newsfeed. Interesting.
Then, I listened to Greg Swan talk about the organic content comeback at our first sparked social media training program last weekend.
Then, I started to consider the following:
- Instagram Stories. Organic content 101! There is no algorithm to Instagram Stories (yet). It’s all orgnanic. And, increasingly, brands are seeing big engagement numbers here.
- Facebook Live video. With video getting more placement in the Facebook newsfeed (especially LIVE video), you’re starting to see more of this show up. Again, organically.
- LinkedIn video. Again, the algorithm may be prioritizing these videos in an attempt to promote usage of LinkedIn’s new video feature. Opportunity for brands!
You know what, maybe they’re right. Maybe organic isn’t dead. Maybe organic IS making a comeback!
I thought about my client’s recent post on LinkedIn about their big move to downtown Minneapolis. Completely organic.
I thought about another client’s work on Instagram and how we don’t see huge numbers there, and that’s OK, because we’re using it as more of a searchable outpost for job seekers.
I thought about another client who told me “organic isn’t dead yet” months ago, and said they’re OK with lower engagement numbers because they’re after a very niche audience on Facebook.
My take on all this: There are definitely opportunities out there right now for good organic reach on many different social media platforms. BUT, it depends on your goal. If your goal is massive reach and big engagement numbers, paid social is still going to be the best way to do that.
But, if you’re not as concerned with gaudy numbers, and you’re after more specific customers, the search and discovery angle to organic discussion makes a lot of sense.
Think about the types of content you promote via paid social. Offers, sales, product features and benefits. Basically, advertising 101.
Now, think about the kinds of content you would post organically via social media channels. More how-to posts. More education-focused content. More customer stories and testimonials.
Both work–but in different ways.
What’s more, the organic opportunities with video, live video and stories are there right now. But, what about a year from now? Won’t those options be monetized and prioritized in the newsfeed just like photo-based content is now? I’m guessing yes.
Now, that doesn’t mean there’s not credence to the “organic isn’t dead” discussion. It just means, in my opinion, it’s not an all-or-nothing discussion.
Organic isn’t dead. There are uses for organic content.
But, paid social isn’t over-rated either. It’s highly cost-effective. It drives traffic. It can even drive conversions. It delivers business value.
I guess the moral to this story is: all the talk about organic being dead is a little over-blown. Sure, organic social isn’t going to splash the way it once did. Expectations have been adjusted. But, there is certainly room for it in your overall social media approach and strategy.
Over the course of any given year, I meet a lot of people. It’s the nature of my business. Essentially, in many ways, I get paid to know a lot of people. It’s good for business. It’s good for this blog. It’s good for the podcast. And it’s good for the events I help run.
And, when I meet someone for the first time, you can bet your behind I look them up online (let’s use my friend Karl, below, as an example).
I typically start on LinkedIn.
- Where have they worked? (Ameriprise, FRWD, MinnPost, Ciceron)
- Who do we know in common? (Lots of people!)
- Where did they go to school? (Eau Claire grad)
- What kinds of things do they like and comment on?
Then, I move to Facebook. Try to get a feel for who they are, as a person (if their profile is open, that is).
- Are they married? (Yep)
- Where do they live? (In the Seward neighborhood, so I know he’s a Minneapolis guy_
- Do they have kids? (Yep–another item we can talk about)
- What are they involved with? (He started a #MugshotMonday hashtag/blog/theme years ago; also loves the Pack; we might not be friends 🙂
Then, I just kinda look around the web for more info.
- Are they on Instagram? (Yep)
- What are they posting about there? (Beer! Another commonality!)
- Do they blog? If yes, what do they blog about? And, have they been to #mnblogcon? (He has! And, he does blog and has for years!)
After all this digging around, I usually have a pretty good feel for the person (in this case, it seemed like Karl and I had a lot in common and plenty to talk about, which has absolutely been true!).
Except sometimes, the person I’m meeting with doesn’t really show up at all.
They have the bare minimum profile on LinkedIn–no head shot (now I don’t know what you look like!), few details on previous jobs and limited interaction.
They have a locked-up Facebook profile, which I can’t fault people for in today’s climate.
And I can find very little about them with a simple Google search.
That’s happened to me a few times recently. And, it got me thinking: What would people find if they researched ME online before our meeting? Because, certainly, this is happening, right? What would they find?
Well, I put myself through my own paces. Here’s what I think they’d find (if I was evaluating myself):
- He’s a blogger! Looks like he talks about a variety of topics in the PR and social media worlds. Posts a couple times a week.
- He’s an independent consultant. Has been for eight years now. Looks like he works with big companies like Sleep Number, Toro, Cargill and HealthFitness.
- He’s pretty active on LinkedIn. He’s posted more than 180 articles on LinkedIn over the last few years. And he’s out there sharing, liking and commenting every day.
- He also spends time on Facebook (lots of sports and PR/marketing talk here), and Instagram (lots of family and beer shots here).
- And, it looks like he probably used to spend time on Twitter, but doesn’t do much there anymore.
- Looking at a simple Google search, it looks like he started this #mnblogcon event. He has a podcast. And, he has an old blog out there on Blogspot.
So, overall, if I’m being objective, that’s a pretty fair picture of me. So, the online research is accurate.
The question is: What does the online research say about YOU?
Because, believe me, people are looking you up online. Whether it’s in preparation for an upcoming coffee, for a job interview, or because you’re starting to work with a new partner/agency. People are looking you up online every day.
Do you like what they’re finding?