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Taking that next step.

Today is my last day at MGA Communications.

That’s right. I’m leaving the job I’ve known for the last 3.5 years and diving into the unknown – a land filled with no time sheets, a great corporate culture and about 33,989 more faces in the sea of employees.

I’ve accepted a position at DaVita – a Fortune 500 healthcare company specializing in kidney care. I’m joining their corporate communications department on Monday.

This change is scary and exciting at the same time, but I’m no stranger to setting out on new adventures. When I joined MGA, I had never written a press release and I sure as heck didn’t know one thing about oil and gas operations

or NEPA processes or superfund cleanup sites. I was a recent marketing grad from Arkansas who had aspirations of fashion school, and while the opportunity to join MGA kind of fell into my lap, I am grateful for everything I learned and the fantastic (and smart!) people I had the pleasure of working with.

My experience at MGA, if anything, has been extremely diverse. I’m so happy to have been a part of fun office

videos, big client wins, several awards, awesome events, employee volunteer days, and more.

I’m most thankful for the constant opportunities to do the kind of work I truly wanted to do. Along the way, I realized that I really had a passion for social media. MGA recognized that and let me jump in head first to continue learning everything I possibly could, train other MGAers on tools, build strategic social media plans, talk with numerous clients and potential clients about the importance and benefits of building their online presence – in a strategic way. Without that opportunity, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

All of my experience at MGA has prepared me for this next step. One of my main roles at DaVita will be to design and execute a strategic social media program. The company is really carving out its reputation by already doing cool things in the online space, and I’m looking forward to what we will build.

The company moved their corporate offices to Denver from Los Angeles last year, and I’m one of the first three communications employees to work out of their new Denver office (over half of the team is still in the LA office). I’ll still be working downtown and with my new schedule of 8-5 Monday – Friday, I am excited to actually make it to happy hour (at MGA, we get out at 6PM, but we have half-day Fridays).

Going from a small agency to a large corporation is bound to bring many changes, but I’m welcoming this new experience and all of the challenges it will bring. If you have advice to share for this kind of transition, please do!

Here’s to new beginnings.

Why @skyjosh rocks.

I hope that other markets around the country are as blessed as Denver is when it comes to news outlets “getting” social media. Scratch that. We are blessed primarily because CBS4 “gets” it.

We’ve been singing the praises of Misty Montano, an assignment editor at CBS4 (with a Twitter problem), for a while now. Misty rocks. Misty has revolutionized not only the way the station gathers news, but the way that they interact with viewers online. Being a PR professional, I especially love that I can easily interact with her on Twitter about everything under the sun, and even pitch her over DM!

However, there is another rock star who also deserves some attention. @skyjosh is an aerial cameraman who often tweets about traffic, posts pictures around Metro Denver taken from the helicopter, and more. I’ve interacted with @skyjosh before, but he really impressed me last week. Last Tuesday, I was headed from Denver to Boulder for New Tech Meetup and was dreading the traffic on Hwy 36. I sent out a tweet before I left to let folks know that I was on my way:

Just a few minutes later I received a response from @skyjosh who answered my question, even though I didn’t ask it:

This is what real engagement on social media looks like. I had a concern (no matter how small it was) and @skyjosh proactively eased my anxiety by sending over information that I needed at that moment. What was even better was that he was dead on with his traffic information.

I just want to say “thanks” to @skyjosh and let him know that he rocks! If you’re not already following him, do it.

Number of times I said “rock” in this post? Four. Because it’s true.

Three Social Media Wishes for the Colorado Rockies on Opening Day

Cross-posted on MGA’s blog

My favorite holiday is finally here! This Friday is the Colorado Rockies Home Opener, and for me, Opening Day is pretty much baseball Christmas. With that being said, here are my three Opening Day wishes for my favorite baseball team.

1) Get rid of the RSS feeds on your Twitter and Facebook accounts!

In social media, transparency and authenticity are valued more than most other things. I don’t want to talk to a robotic “feed,” I want to interact with someone who is connected with the organization. Unfortunately, the Rockies have chosen to resort to RSS feeds on both their Twitter and Facebook accounts to post content.Their Twitter account is a big disappointment (as noted by their low follower count) because they have nearly 1,000 tweets which have all been automatically fed in to Twitter from a news source. Not one tweet has been sent out by a Rockies representative who has physically typed a message and made it fit within the confines of 140 characters.

While the team’s Facebook page content is about 99% RSS feeds, I find it more successful than their Twitter account completely because of the fan-generated content. The Rockies have nearly 111,000 Facebook fans who show their enthusiasm and support on the page by leaving hundreds of comments and “likes” on each one of the Rockies automatic feeds. But, just because the fans are active doesn’t make the RSS feeds okay.

2) Show Rockies fans you care what they have to say!

With such a high number of Facebook fans, I think the Rockies owe it to them to make more of an effort. Unfortunately, the Facebook default wall view is set to show Rockies posts only (no wall posts from fans are automatically displayed). While fans can toggle through the settings to view fan posts, there is a whole conversation that is happening about the team by its fans which is currently being hidden by the Rockies Facebook settings.

With Twitter, the root of the problem is that there is not a real person behind their account. No one is engaging in any true conversations. They have so many unanswered at-replies, which makes me wonder… are they even listening? Do they care?

3) Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with social media!

A “great” social media program isn’t run by Twitter and Facebook alone. Consider updating the Rockies Web site to show what fans are saying about the team. How about using a part of your site to show as-it-happens discussions about the team by filtering in tweets which contain the phrase “Colorado Rockies,” “Rockies baseball,” or even “Rocktober?”

What about giveaways? Since I go to a lot of games throughout the year, I always buy my tickets in the cheap seats (aka Rockpile). I would love it if I were able to enter some sort of giveaway to win tickets behind the Rockies dugout, or even a Rockies jersey, perhaps? I’m sure all other Rockies fans would feel the same way.

Another idea is to leverage Foursquare, a location-based social network which allows venues to set up specials for the Mayor of that venue, i.e. the person who has “checked-in” more than anyone else. I know first-hand that there is an intense rivalry brewing for Coors Field mayorship. The Rockies could give the mayor of Coors Field a free hotdog, but not just a plain hotdog, one of those fancy hotdogs from the Top Dog stand. Maybe the mayor could get featured on the big screen at special home games!

The Rockies are also missing the boat in taking fans behind the scenes through videos and pictures. We hard-core fans want exclusive Facebook-only interviews, live-tweeting throughout the games, and as-it-happens Twitpics of Helton giving Tulowitzki high-fives after an unbelievable catch.

All that being said, there are a lot of different ways that the Rockies can improve their social media presence. I hope that they’ll take this cue and re-evaluate their strategy to keep their fans in mind. We want more from you, and I know you can deliver!

I must leave you with one final thing: Go Rockies!

My SXSWi takeaway? Motivation.

Needless to say, my brain is still decompressing from the amount of awesomeness that was SXSW Interactive (SXSWi). A couple of days ago I wrote about SXSW Interactive and QR codes on MGA’s blog, but for this blog, I wanted to write about some of my personal takeaways. First off, I was lucky to room with a great group of friends from the Denver/Boulder area–Elaine, Ingrid, Cali, Meredith (pictured with me to the left) and Mike. Throughout the week I met fantastic people, ate delicious BBQ, listened to awesome people speak, and made stronger friendships with the massive group of Colorado folks in Austin. These were all things that I absolutely expected to happen while there.

The big takeaway for me was a theme that followed me throughout the whole week and while it was unexpected, it was definitely welcome. I wouldn’t say that it came from any particular panel or conversation, but a culmination of the whole experience. We all need a kick in the pants sometimes, and this was mine.

I left Austin feeling motivated. Simple as that.

Motivated to work hard. Motivated to make things happen. Motivated to be the one people count to “get ‘er done,” as we say in Arkansas.

I think the hardest thing about being “motivated” is turning that motivation into action. For me, it starts with spending time after work and on weekends at poaching wifi at coffee shops working on:

  • This blog (which is proving to be harder to keep up with than I thought);
  • The Denver nonprofit I’ve recently started managing social media for (yes, I can end this sentence fragment with a preposition because under my domain, I make the rules); and
  • Any work projects that I can complete to begin Monday with a head start.

Also, since I’m a big fan of to-do lists, I’ve started keeping a personal list so I can mark off accomplishments and progress I’ve made for myself.

While I realize that I’m young and that I could find more “fun” ways to spend my free time, the way I figure, the more time I can spend getting these little things done in my spare time, the less stressed my life will be. It’s all about shifting your mindset.

So if you find yourself working from a coffee shop in Denver, let me know. It is highly likely that I’ll be plugging away at a cafe in Capitol Hill or Uptown on the weekends, at least until Rockies baseball season starts. Then all bets are off!

Preparing for my first SXSWi experience

My flight to Austin leaves Wednesday afternoon. This leaves me approximately 48 hours to tie up all the loose ends, figure out what I’m going to pack (most importantly, which shoes I will take), and ultimately de-stress myself. Oh, and sleep.

Yes, I have been a total stress wad the last week or so. But, I think I have figured out why. Usually when I go on trips I am that person who has thoroughly researched every last teeny-tiny detail before departure (I’m sure I completely annoyed my travel buddies while planning our trip to Spain last September). I could draw you a map of where the hotel is located with my eyes closed. I have walked the area with Google Street View and know (roughly) how many steps it is to the nearest pub. My packing list and the details of each activity I want to do has been written down on a crumply piece of paper for at least a week prior to my leaving. I just do better with a plan.

So, as I said, my flight leaves in 48 hours. I haven’t gone through the SXSW panel list hardly at all. I don’t have the slightest clue what shoes I am packing. And, I still have loads of things I need to wrap-up at work before I depart for a week.

What is saving me right now is knowing that I have amazing friends who remind me to do things before I leave (thanks to Aimee for the iPhone prep e-mail, and Josh and Cali for sending along events I need to RSVP to). Also, I do know where my hotel is, and I do know that I am going to have an amazing time.

Last year I wanted to be at SXSW Interactive so bad and I am really excited to make that happen this year. Honestly, I don’t think I could have handled watching the #SXSWi hashtag run through my Twitter stream again without being there.

If you have any last-minute recommendations for something I may forget, please let me know! I’ve got the Emergen-c, umbrella and multiple power cords covered.

Finding my voice.

Here’s to the start of something (hopefully) great.

I’m heading to SXSW Interactive in just a few days and I made it my personal goal to launch this blog before I depart. I am expecting to be full of inspiration when I return from Austin and I thought it important to have a dedicated place to spew my thoughts afterward.

What am I hoping to get out of this blog? Well, I think I will find my voice as I move through it. Initially, I want to focus on social media and Star Wars because I am a nerd like that. Okay, maybe not Star Wars, but from time to time I may make Nintendo references. Don’t judge.

In any event, social media is something I’m really passionate about, but it’s not the only thing. There are also several other hobbies that I’m hoping to post on from time-to-time like jewelry design, photography, fashion, music and more.

A big shoutout to PJ Hoberman who helped me set up this blog and is hosting my site. For you, I am forever grateful.

Also, I would like to thank Cali Harris for being awesome and for chatting with me over lunch about her blog and how she’s found her voice. Lastly, I’d like to thank the lovely Elaine Ellis for pointing a stern finger at me and pressuring me to get this blog off the ground.

Here’s to getting this going and to the inspiring week ahead.