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PR Rock Stars: Life Time Fitness’ Nora Purmort

The legend of Nora Purmort existed far before I ever met Nora. She has a sister who is very successful in the interactive world here in Minneapolis (Meghan Wilker). She’s a successful interactive/communicator/marketer at Life Time Fitness. She was on the MIMA board of directors for the last two years. She’s won awards left-and-right, as of late.

But, I didn’t really get a chance to meet and know Nora until about a year ago when I asked her to speak at the 2013 Minnesota Blogger Conference. I expected smart. I expected professionalism. I expected nice. What I didn’t expect was how damn funny this woman was. And, I think that’s why so many people are drawn to Nora Purmort. Her personality and humor are contagious. People want to know her. People want to hang out with her. People most likely really enjoy working with her. So, it was a no-brainer to feature her here in this series. Let’s here more from the woman. The legend. Nora Purmort (did I embarass you enough, Nora? :)


You’re currently the senior social media manager at Life Time Fitness where you work with two of my good friends–Tony Saucier and Natalie Bushaw. It’s your first corporate job after years on the agency side. What would you tell those who are considering a career in social/PR about the differences between the two?

I consider myself so lucky to have started my career at PR agencies in New York that were founded and staffed by some of the most influential women I’ll ever meet. I’m newish to the corporate world, but I do believe that agency experience does everybody good. There’s no other position where you so quickly learn how to work hard and well under pressure. And yes, on the agency side there’s almost a comical amount of pressure (ask me about the time an intern was having a legit nervous breakdown in the bathroom because the lotion samples she was supposed to have couriered to Allure hadn’t arrived on time — CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?!).

Agency has a lot of fun perks: beer! Scooters! Ping pong! Free things! And the energy is really addictive and contagious and just talking about it I miss it a little.

I love the corporate side primarily because of where I am: Life Time aligns very closely with my own personal values. Our health is so damn important, guys. If you don’t already take care of yourself, start today. Also, if you don’t have health and life insurance, please stop reading this and take care of these things ASAP.

On the corporate side, you’re naturally more intimately tied to the performance of your company as a whole. There are certainly plenty of agencies who are truly passionate about your clients, but you truly and consistently see the impact that your work has when you’re client side.

Should I return to the agency side, I’ll be a better partner to my clients having seen this side of the table. Overall, the best thing for your career is diversity. I know some people still start at job at 22 and retire from it at 65 (WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?) but I’m happy to have had the experiences I have, however varied.


You just ended your two-year term on the MIMA board of directors. What did you learn during your term on the BOD that you probably couldn’t have learned anywhere else?

You know what people love to wax poetic about? How wonderful our professional community is here. You know why they do it? because it’s true. A board position for a non-profit is a volunteer position. The worldly perks are generally food related (holler if you’re never touching Jimmy John’s again, fellow MIMA boardies!). That means people are there out of their own passion and love for the community. Flipping beautiful. You tend to forget about that when you’re obsessing over deadlines and to-do lists: holy crap, we’re all a bunch of people, and we belong to this group because we care about what we do and the other people who do it. Lauren Melcher and Tim Brunelle are two people who personify MIMA: much of the great events you’ve been to are directly related to the work they put into that organization and their energy was truly inspiring.

If you’re not currently involved in a volunteer position for something you care about, do it.


You may be most well known for your popular blog “My Husband’s Tumor”. It’s an incredible and inspiring read for anyone who has the time. Who’s your inspiration as a writer (because I think you’re a pretty damn good writer)?

My Husbands Tumor

Oh gosh golly, where do I even start? As far as fiction, I can curl up and live inside anything by  Jhumpa Lahiri, Ernest Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald (eye roll as much as you want, both these dudes knew their feelings). For non-fiction, Joan Didion and David Sedaris tell their personal stories like no other.


It’s also interesting to me that you use Tumblr for the blog since most of the posts are text-heavy. Why did you choose Tumblr initially as a blog platform and do you believe that’s helped or hindered you along the way?

I chose Tumblr because Tumblr is my platform. I joined in 2007 when you needed an invite (thanks to my long-lost friend Josh for picking me), and posted this incredibly deep thought for my first post in 2008. At last count, I had 15 or so Tumblrs that I was sure at the time were genius ideas (I still think Baby Glares has some promise). My blog wasn’t started with any specific goal in mind other than to document what my husband and I were going through, and maybe attempt to outline that into a memoir (currently in the works).

Tumblr’s helped me in that the platform itself has it’s own ecosystem: my followers there get posts in their feeds, and each of their engagements helps me reach more Tumblr users.

But any average reader doesn’t even know that it’s necessarily on Tumblr, and can engage with or ignore it like they would any other blog. I have comments enabled for Facebook and Disqus. I have social sharing buttons. It does everything I need to do, and most importantly, it’s easy and it’s on a platform I already use. The best blog platform isn’t Tumblr vs. something else, it’s what you’ll use vs. what you won’t.


You’re a working mom in a two-worker household. That in itself, would be tough (I know, because my wife and I live that scenario!). But, add your husband’s health concerns to the mix and (I’m sure you get this a lot), but I don’t know how you do it. What’s the one thing, above all else, that allows you to get through the toughest of tough days from a work/life balance standpoint?


I do it the way you do it, and your wife does it, and every other working family or working single person, or just any other human in general does it: because it needs to be done. The world doesn’t stop spinning just because your own universe has ground to a halt. And really, your own upended world rights itself eventually. Or you just get used to the new angle. Everything I’ve learned about life I’ve learned through my husband Aaron: it’s not that hard, it’s not that serious. Be grateful, be good, be happy to be here. It’s a fucking miracle in every sense of the word that we even made it on this planet.

But, on really hard days, I for sure just cry in my car. Benefit of a long commute!


You were recently recognized as part of AdFed’s #32Under32 list–quite the honor. You were also listed as one of Minnesota Business’ “Real Power 50″. You wanna leave some for the rest of us? :) In all seriousness, what’s next for you with all the great professional success you’ve seen lately?

Five years ago, I was living in New York City working in beauty PR. 5 years before that, I was starting my first job after going through an entire interview process not understanding what the company actually did (you’ll not find that job on my LinkedIn so don’t even try). 5 years before that I was a high school senior convinced I’d someday be an attorney. I wouldn’t have accurately imagined any of my life the way it turned out, and not because I have a bad imagination. We have an ingrained desire to flip ahead to the back of the book and try to overplan our lives. All of the best things in my life, from my job at Life Time where I get to help people live healthy lives, to my husband and our son, were completely unplanned.

Aaron and I were married a month to the day after he had brain surgery to remove a malignant tumor. Aaron had his second brain surgery three weeks before our son Ralph was born. Tony interviewed me when I was (obviously) 6 months pregnant. None of these seem like auspicious times for something wonderful to happen, but they were.  When you’re focused on what’s happening now vs. what’s next, you free up a lot of mental energy.

I don’t know what’s next, and I never have. Whatever it is, I feel like it’s awesome. 

How to impress your new client in the first 30 days

You just signed that new client.

You’re excited. Anxious to get started.

And you want to knock their friggin socks off out of the gate.


But, how the heck do you do that? How do you really make a great impression on that new client right away in that first month (other than the obvious–do great work)?

A few things that have worked for me over the years–both on the independent and agency sides:

Under-promise and over-deliver

This is key. Resist the urge to make crazy promises out of the gate (which will be tough). And focus on over-delivering on every key promise. Do that, and you will have one very happy client.

Get to know your client

Yes, the work is important. Of course. But, so is the relationship. One approach I learned along the way that has served me well is to ask at least one personal question when you first sit down with your client. How is your family? How was vacation? How was that Twins game you were at last night (obviously, they lost, but did you have fun watching them lose 8-1? :)? These kinds of questions will serve two purposes: 1) You’ll get to know your client better, building a long-term relationship, and 2) You’ll learn all sorts of things about your client that may come in handy down the line (think: Birthday/Holiday gift ideas).

Do one little unexpected thing every once in a while

Things I’ve done under this umbrella over the years: Delivered donuts to a early morning meeting; sent a few links along about a recent social media trend I thought might impact our work down the line; sent a handwritten thank you card just thanking the client for hiring me; and showing up to a mid-afternoon appointment with an iced coffee as a “pick me up.” The idea? Just think about one little thing you could do that would surprise your client each week. Early on, you want that client thinking: “Man, am I happy I hired this firm/person.”

Achieve at least one “quick win” in the first four weeks

Sometimes this is outside your control. Sometimes there are no “quick wins” early on. But, search for them nonetheless. Because they are big for your long-term success. Sure, the long-term success of your engagement is what matters, but again, those first few weeks are key. That is when the client is forming his/her initial impressions of you and your firm. So, you want to make sure those impressions are positive. If you can find just one quick win to notch–whether it’s project-based or simply making your client look good in front of his/her boss, you want to find that opportunity and take advantage. Trust me.

Those are my tips. What about you–what have you done to impress clients in that first month of the engagement?

photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photopin cc

What’s the best Instagram reposting app?

What are the two biggest challenges for brands just starting with Instagram?

* Find compelling visuals worth sharing that aren’t overly brand-focused

* Building a community within the platform from scratch

Am I right?

Indian IG

Most brands don’t have a ton of Instagram-ready visuals just sitting around. Sure, they have catalog photography. Great brand pics. Advertising visuals. But, by and large, those aren’t the kinds of pics that usually work really well on IG.

At the same time, it’s tough to build a community from the ground up on Instagram. With paid advertising still relegated only to the big spenders, most brands are left to build organically (for now).

But wait, there’s a potential solution that gets at both these needs–and it doesn’t cost a dime (well, kinda): Reposting user posts.

Instead of coming up with your own content (all the time, at least), what about reposting your fans’ best pics that mention or feature your brand?

Why not involve your community in YOUR community as you get it started?

Doesn’t reposting fan pics get at both these key problems?

Even brands that don’t need the help sourcing visuals are using reposting apps–like Indian Motorcycles.

Indian IG


Or, brands you may have never heard about–like Starkey (an organization that produces hearing aids–disclosure: ACH Communications client):

Starkey IG

OK, so this makes sense, right? Although I’m a little perplexed as to why we haven’t seen more brands use these tools yet. Regardless, it seems to be an easy, cheap and effective way to source content and build community on IG.

The question is: What app do you use? Which one makes sense?

I thought I’d break down three of the more popular reposting apps on Instagram: Regram, Repost and InstaRepost.

Here’s a quick breakdown of all three:


First, here’s what the main Regram app looks like when you open:



If you hit “Regram” in the bottom right-hand corner, this is the screen that pops up.



After you choose a location for your watermark, you can select between reposting on Instagram (or Twitter). Hit that, and you get this screen:



After putting your final filter on the image, you’re then sent to the final IG screen before posting:




The Repost app interface is a bit different than Regram. The biggest advantage: Easier to scan.


Select a pic and you’re sent to this screen:


As you can see, you have the opportunity to reposition your watermark, just like you did with Regram. You can also make the watermark lighter or darker. Hit repost and you’re sent to this screen:


R&R (free version)

Interface of the R&R app is similar to Regram. Looks just like your Instagram feed.



Select a pic and you get the following screen:



Again, ability to reposition the watermark is there. You can also lighten or darken the watermark. Just like the other apps. His repost and you get this screen:



As you can see, the apps don’t offer a lot of different features and functionalities.

All have the ability to reposition the watermark. All seem fairly intuitive and easy to use (outside of those annoying ads on the free versions).

I’m just not sure I see a lot of differences. So, it kinda seems like a personal preference.

At any rate, I do believe the strategy of reposting IG pics from fans/customers is worth pursuing. Obviously, your legal team should be involved in that initial discussion, but after you’ve got them on board, reposting from Instagram can be an effective way to source content and build community, at the same time.


Talking Points Podcast: Why are Marketers so Hung up on Real-Time Marketing?

In this week’s edition of the Talking Points Podcast, Kevin Hunt and I talk about why marketers are so hung up on real-time marketing (no really, why are they?), the campaign-based natures of many digital marketing efforts (hello Barbie!), and many brands’ rush to use Instagram’s new Hyperlapse tool this last week.


SHOW NOTES – September 4, 2014

 “The campaign approach to content–and how it’s killing brands (you can thank Barbie)”


“‘BarbieStyle’ Joins Instagram; Let the Product Placements Begin”


“Back In Camp” Brick by Brick: Gopher Football 2014 (Episode 1)”


Gopher Athletics website


“Why We Shouldn’t Confuse Real Time Marketing with Data Driven Marketing”


“Belize Tourism scores real-time marketing win with ‘Don’t Stop Belizein’”


“Why public relations and media relations don’t mean the same thing anymore”


“12 Marketers Already Experimenting With Instagram’s Hyperlapse App: In first days after launch, social video is moving fast”


The campaign approach to content–and how it’s killing brands (you can thank Barbie)

Oh you remember the blitz back in late June. “Entrepeneur Barbie” was everywhere.

Including LinkedIn. Predominantly, LinkedIn, actually.

The new tagline: If you can dream it, you can be it.


Fans could follow Barbie on LinkedIn for business inspiration (don’t laugh), news about her company (what?), and social media updates (I can’t wait to hear what Barbie has to say on social media!!!!!).

I’m hardly alone in my skepticism–see what Forbes had to say about Entrepeneur Barbie.

The whole thing had a huge campaign feel to it. And, according to Barbie/Mattel, since Entrepeneur Barbie was going to be all over LinkedIn now, I should expect a steady stream of content from her, right?

The business inspiration.

The company news.

For God’s sakes, the social media updates!!!!!!!

And what do you think happened?

Not more than two months in and we’ve already seen Entrepeneur Barbie’s content bubble burst.

After a flurry of posts in late June/early July, Babs has only posted three times since then.

And those posts have been pure PR playing up media stories Barbie has been featured in lately.

Oh Barbie, how you disappoint me.

Where is the business inspiration?

Where is the company news? (OK, ONE piece of company news)

Where are the social media updates?!?!?!!??! (I want to know what’s up with you, Barbie!)

I know we’re only a couple months into this, Babs, but the whole thing wreaks of agency campaign approach to me.

Let’s recap, shall we:

* Big, splashy launch. Did I mention Barbie was everywhere in late June?

* Extensive media coverage. Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider. The list is long.

* Big content push. Barbie made 16 updates on LinkedIn in those first few weeks.

Sounds like a campaign launch to me. And, that’s fine. In fact, Mattel did a great job with the launch–again BARBIE WAS EVERYWHERE!

Except, we didn’t see or hear much from Barbie AFTER the campaign launch.

And that’s too bad.

Companies like Mattel put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a launch like this, only to let the momentum slip away month by month because the long-term content strategy dried up.

Now, there are probably a host of reasons for this type of behavior. Money dried up. Lack of long-term vision. Competing priorities internally (or changing priorities).

Regardless, feels like a missed opportunity for Mattel. And, sadly, a movie we’ve seen a number of times before.

So, the next time you’re planning that big product launch, or big content push, take a few moments to think about the long-term content effect for the brand, and your team.

Where are we going to come up with the content?

Who’s going to produce it?

How often are we going to post?

Toward what specific and measurable goal?

I can’t believe I’m saying this. It’s 2014 folks. Haven’t we learned by now?