2018, blog, blog post, blogpost, myblog, Uncategorized

Glamours of air travel

Doodles about my crazy morning trying to get to Houston.
You catch more bees with honey than vinegar.
You’re capable of more than you think, especially when you’re not afraid to ask for help.
It started this morning at 6 am, when Nate drove me to the airport. I boarded my American Airlines flight at 8:30am, ready to head to Dallas where I’d have a one-hour layover then catch a connection to Houston. I was looking forward to seeing my Aunt Susan and the rest of my family. Then, I would drive to Dallas for a work conference.

Sitting on the flight, about to take off, the pilot loudly announces that there’s an issue with one of the navigation instruments and that maintenance is looking into it. An hour goes by. The pilot comes back on to tell us they can’t fix it and we have to get off the plane. As we trudge off back into the terminal, a gate agent hands us pre printed postcards with a hotline to call and info about our options.

I’m naive about flying and honestly thought they would direct us to a new plane and the flight would leave immediately. I started to follow the people in front of me until I realized they didn’t know anything that I didn’t know at that moment. I’m such a follower. Instead of going to a new plane, we all stood in a long line waiting to speak to the gate agent to make other arrangements.
My first thought was panic. What do I do? I’m alone. I can’t do this. I don’t know. I can feel my breathing growing shallow and felt very aware of the other passengers all paired up, helping each other book new travel plans.
I texted my mom and dad to tell them what happened, looking to them for advice. My mom told me to talk to the gate agent. My dad told me to take a Southwest flight. He researched flights and told me about one that was leaving at noon. By now it was 9am.
I got a text message from American saying my flight to Dallas was delayed until 12:30pm. If I took that American flight, then I’d just be stranded in Dallas. I had a choice to stick with American, try to get rebooked somehow or switch to Southwest.

The guy behind me in the non-moving line to speak with a service agent, was talking about the 12:30pm flight and I asked if he knew anything more and he said he’d gotten rebooked by calling the 800 number. So, I put away my hesitation to call the 800 number and dialed. I politely gave the woman on the other end of the phone my record locator number. I think these phone reps have such a hard job and deal with so many jerks. The least I can do, is not be a jerk to them. Especially because I need them to help me. The representative told me there was a flight got Houston leaving at 3pm, laying over in North Carolina and arriving in Houston at 7pm. That itinerary sounded terrible. She said I could always cancel my reservation and book with another airline. So that was it. I called my dad and over the phone, we booked the Southwest flight. Scribbling on the back of my ticket I wrote down my confirmation number and my immediate to do list.

  • Cancel American flight. Only cancel inbound flight, not return flight.
  • Call Volunteers of America.
  • Call Aunt Susan.
  • Call Nate.
I ran through my list of people I needed to tell about this and then exited the American terminal. I could finally breathe easy, I’d overcome this hurdle.
Not yet. Dad texted me saying he’d booked the flight for tomorrow, not today. I stared at my phone in disbelief. This wasn’t happening.
My dad apologized and told me there was a similar flight available for today. I went to the Southwest Airlines gate and to my surprise, there wasn’t a line to speak with an agent. Instead of telling the representative the whole story of this morning, I said that I’d like to change my reservation. She pulled up my flight and I told her I’d like to be booked on Flight 38. I held my breath. I expected a firm “no, that flight is booked.” It would be too easy if this were to work. She looked up at me and said “yes, we can do that.” She printed my boarding pass and wished Ms.Gillum a nice flight.
And so, here I am, in the Southwest gate waiting for this new flight. Going thru airport security twice in one day seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I’m thankful for my smartphone, for decent strangers, for my dad helping me so much, for my Aunt Susan being flexible and for my work for being understanding.

My “I’m tired, maybe I should’ve just driven” face 
2018, social media, Uncategorized

Our new thrift store employee


This photo embodies what I think thrifty social media marketing is. The pic was texted to me by a thrift store manager this morning after I stopped in last week to say hello. Since I started a year and a half ago, I formed a relationship with her by coming into her store frequently. I listened, talked with her and got to know her staff. She knows she can send me pictures to post on social media. That’s easier for her than emailing the pictures to me or posting herself on her store’s Facebook page (yes, I trust her with her Facebook page.) She was telling me how they had a Justin Beiber cutout donated a while ago and the staff had some fun before the store opened taking photos of him.  I can’t be in the stores 24/7 to capture moments like this. I need managers and staff to know how important social media is and that I can’t do it without them. There’s something refreshing and authentic about a Facebook post with no call to action, no link to an outside website, and no filter. It’s just a photo that’s playful, relatable, funny and shareable.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 9.49.26 PM

2018, marketing, Uncategorized

September Thrift Email Newsletter

Below is the September Thrift Newsletter that we emailed out on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Formatting wise, I promise it looked better in email inboxes, than it does here.
I’m proud of the copy in the opening paragraphs and the blog posts. I wrote the first and third blog posts. I wrote the blog post about upcyling fall decorations last year and the blog post about the truths of a thrift store on Monday.


Debbie's Den

Hey Debbie,
It’s Debbie, your trusty guide for all things thrift!

It’s a bummer to see the summer months leave but at the same time, who doesn’t love the early signs of fall? Falling leaves, falling temperatures and the regular falling prices you’ll find only at one of our thrift stores. 

You’re sure to find autumnal fashions your whole family will love, like jeans, scarves, vests or sweaters. And because our prices are so low, you’re able to buy fall clothing and accessories with money left over. But more importantly, shopping at Volunteers of America helps uplift homeless veterans, families and individuals across Ohio.

Donate. Thrift. Give Hope. Repeat.  

Happy thrifting!

Fall decorations you can upcycle from the thrift store

As the leaves begin to change color here in Ohio, the holiday decorating season looms ahead. Thrift stores are full of so many things you can use to decorate with around the house. With a little upcycling you can give all your thrifted finds a new life. Learn how to spice up your pumpkin a latte so that you’ll wow all of the trick-or-treaters.

Fall Decorations You Can Upcycle from your local Columbus Th

Six tips to fall clean like a pro

When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? How about your whole home? As the seasons change, fall is the perfect time to finally tackle that overstuffed closet or clear out your cluttered garage. And with Christmas right around the corner, Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio thrift stores are in huge need of donations to fill their shelves.

Donate to Volunteers of America for a clean home and strong

The secret truth about thrift stores

It shouldn’t be a big secret how thrift stores operate, sort donations and how much they value the clothes and household items donated by community members like you. The proceeds of Volunteers of America thrift stores support life-saving programs for community members in need.

when you donaate.PNG

Save 50% on everything next week!

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, everything inside all of our thrift stores will be half-off! This includes furniture, showcase items, new products and miscellaneous items. It’s all 50 percent off!

sept 25 last tuesday sale_psl.png

2018, marketing, Uncategorized

Women in Digital Conference 2018

I went to my third Women in Digital conference last Thursday and Friday. My favorite part is always meeting new women who are total bosses at what they do. They inspire me to be more confident and a better digital marketer. I also like staying up to date on trends, best practices and hearing what other companies are doing.

I wanted to take a moment to share some of my notes and photos from the conference.
First, photos:

These are the notes I took during the Power Hours. My strategy at the conference was to go to the Power Hours because those would not be recorded. I will watch the recorded main stage presentations later.

Social Media
Olivia De Leon, Sr. Marketing Consultant at Rational Interaction

  • When working with influencers, have an influencer agreement with dates, goals of impressions or engagement, clarification about content ownership, requirements to see proofs ahead of time and spell out a set number of edits allowed.
    • Pay to boost the influencer’s post. Win-win for them and you. 
  • SMS is the new email 
    • Personally, I have hesitations about this intrusive form of communication but I recognize it has benefits when used sparingly.
  • To track in-store success of online efforts, use offers and codes
    • Okay, not ground-breaking advice but useful to remember
  • Let your followers define your hashtag. Ask them
    • “I #VoaThrift because…”  or “I’m #aeriereal because I love my freckles” 
    • Weekly use of the hashtag
  • Aerie did a campaign in the summer where when followers used #aeriereal they would donate $1 to National Eating Disorder Awareness non-profit
    • Love this idea because it allows brands to give back while encouraging social engagement.
  • Aerie put sticky notes in dressing rooms and encouraged folks to write down encouraging body positive messages
    • I went to the Aerie store at Polaris today and yep, there were green and yellow sticky notes around the mirror. My favorite one said Yassss Queen. 
  • Ask questions of your followers to increase engagement 
    • How do…
    • Which is…
  • Twitter is best for sharing news, asking questions and getting feedback
  • Using user-generated content leads to a higher conversion rate
    • I’ve seen this personally from VOA: Regrams outperform photos that I take. I find regrams from when people tag the thrift store’s location. Be sure to give the original user credit for the photo. 

Salary Negotiation
Lauren Hasson, Founder, DevelopHer

  • Ground yourself in data, numbers, stats and comparable salaries
  • Present the raise as a win-win for your boss
  • Take a snapshot of your week and show that. Show them what you do each week. If most of your time is spent doing things not in your job description then negotiate a title change.
  • Write out your stated job duties and what your actual job duties are.
  • Practice the conversation, rehearse the scripts
  • Prepare for pushback. How will you counter?
  • Build an agreement. Agree on goals and an action plan. How can I get where I need to be?
  • Have an alternative
    • This company will give me x amount of dollars.

Erin Acheson, President + COO, DemandSphere

  • Keyword research: what are people asking? What do they say on social media?
  • Mirroring: people like brands that mirror them
  • Easier difficulty score means is better. Helps you rank.
  • Link building is important
  • SEM Rush is a valuable tool
  • Google search console is a valuable tool 
  • Keep it conversational in your blog posts 
  • B2B can use Instagram and Pinterest too. 
  • Use language from a popular blog post in an email or email subject line. 
  • Pay someone on Upwork to transcribe a video

Content Strategy
Marissa Wilson, Marketing Manager, Blavity.com

  • Don’t be afraid to gate content on your website
  • Use guest bloggers
  • Webinars are content. They are like experimental content.
    • You could offer a free webinar
    • Send replay and similar resources
    • Email worksheets. Keep it personal
    • Remarket to them  
  • Blog about the questions you are already getting.
  • Give your customers value for free. Let them build confidence in you. Then ask them to pay for content.
  • Track customer journey thru Facebook pixels
    • Visited page
    • Lead generation
    • Thank you page

Nicole Hallberg, Copywriter, Blogger 

  • Personal writing is different than job writing
  • Don’t do free editing
  • Don’t say “It’s that time of year again”
  • Goal is to educate and inform
  • Cut the commercial speak
  • Don’t say “It’s the best.” Say why it’s the best for you. Answer “which is the best for you?”
  • Don’t be afraid to use I or We. It’s commonly accepted.
  • Write first. Then find what it’s about. That results in better writing.
  • Read your copy out loud
  • Assume your readers are smart yet uninformed
  • Don’t use “ this may sound obvious”
  • Don’t overuse adjectives. Show them.
  • How will my writing make people feel?
  • Google knows context. Don’t repeat keywords. Better writing is more important.

Jen Capstraw, Director of Strategic Insights & Evangelism, Iterable. President & Co-Founder, Women of Email

  • SMS text message is a good way to have people opt in to emails
  • Sending emails regularly helps with email deliverability
  • Follow ReallyGoodEmails.com
  • Test CTAs in your email
  • Consistently send emails when you have something to say
  • Test subject lines using A/B test
    • At least 1,000 emails for a good test
  • Give people an option to receive less emails
    • Opt down not opt out
    • Give them a choice to hear from you weekly, monthly, etc



Quoted in a press release

I was quoted in a press release for a campaign we did for Operation Backpack.

See it online: http://www.carwash.com/market-focus-dubois-chemicals-purchases-prowash-australia/


Moo Moo Express Car Wash raises $6,945 for Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack® Campaign

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Moo Moo Express Car Wash announced the donation of $6,945 to the Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio’s Operation Backpack Campaign, according to a press release.

Monetary donations were collected at all 13 Central Ohio Moo locations from Aug. 10-12, 2018, and customers donating $5 received a coupon for a free “Whole Plus” carwash on their next visit, a $13 value, the release continued.

“Through the hard work and dedication of our staff and the extreme generosity of our customers, we were able to more than triple last year’s Operation Backpack Campaign donation,” said John Roush, CEO of Express Wash Concepts and founding partner of Moo Moo Express Car Wash.

Operation Backpack provides school supplies and backpacks to thousands of homeless children, the release noted.

Nationwide, the average cost to fill a backpack is $87 — an expense very few families living in shelters can afford, the release added.

This year in Central Ohio, more than 4,100 children received donated backpacks through Operation Backpack as they headed back to the classroom, the release noted.

“We are grateful to Moo Moo Express and its customers for helping put brand new backpacks filled with school supplies in the hands of more kids this year than ever before. With smiles on their faces, kids experiencing homelessness returned to the classroom with confidence and ready to learn,” said Debbie Gillum, marketing and digital communications specialist at Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio.


September Donor Newsletter

I designed, wrote and sent this donor newsletter for September. We used to call it eSpirit but now it’s called Faces of Hope to match our annual fundraiser and because it really does showcase the faces of hope our donors are helping everyday.

I wanted this email to have a simple call to action of Watch Chaz’ video.  I used language from Tom Ahern and tried to shower the donor with love and keep the tone donor-centric.

faces of hope enews_banner_more space.png

You are the reason Chaz is hopeful for his future

I’ve made more progress in the six months that I’ve been here than I have in the four years I’ve been out of the military. That’s astounding. It’s hard to believe the amount of progress that’s been made. -Chaz 

You are the reason Chaz has made so much progress.

Donors like you are with us every day as families, veterans, and individuals rebuild their lives. Thank you!

Your gift helped Chaz, a Navy veteran, in his journey to overcome substance abuse and manage his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Watch Chaz’s Story


How to change your Pre header text in Convio

I think I’ve figured out a way to control what your pre header text says in your email, even when using Convio, a popular email software for non profits.

Preheader is short summary text that follows the subject line. Many mobile, desktop and web email clients show pre headers to tip readers off on what the email contains before they open it.  In the attached image “This Saturday: Auto Auction” is the pre text in Outlook. pre header.PNG

1. Login to Convio and go to Email> Stationery. Find the Stationary of the email you want to add Pre Header text to.
2. Click Edit
3. Click 3. HTML
4. Switch to HTML view (Edit HTML Source)
5. At the top, add this code

  Your Pre Header Text
6. Click Save.
7. Test it out by sending yourself a test email.

This allows you to have Pre Header text that won’t affect your design because the text will be white.
If you have questions, email me at debbie.gillum@voago.org


Operation Backpack Thank You Email

At work, I sent out this Thank You email today to everyone who participated in Operation Backpack this year and in previous years. I worked with Becky to revise the language and make sure the photo featured diverse kids. I’m proud of how donor-centric this email copy is. After I sent it out, Nicole replied to me saying “My favorite email!” which was a huge compliment. My mom texted me saying “Great Job” on this email and that some of the backpacks the kids are holding look like ones she and her company donated. That’s the reaction I wanted. Like hey, “That smiling kid is holding the unicorn backpack I donated. Wow, look how happy and confident he looks! I love Operation Backpack.”

You deserve an A+ for your generosity!
Image of the email

You can also click here to see the email online


From: Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio [mailto:operationbackpack@voago.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2018 9:48 AM
Subject: You deserve an A+ for your generosity!

You deserve an A+ for your generosity.
You deserve an A+ for your generosity. (1).png
It’s a happy new school year for more children, because of you!

You’ve helped over 4,000 children across Ohio who are homeless or in-need start the new school empowered to succeed. Because of you, they’re heading back to school this year ready to learn.

The next time you see a child walking confidently to school, or a school bus of smiling faces driving by, know that you helped put smiles on some of those faces. You’ve given hope and confidence for a better tomorrow to children who need it the most. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Thank you for your support!
A special thank you to our wonderful sponsors.
You deserve an A+ for your help with Operation Backpack too!
Oswald and Buckeye Health Plan logos



New laptop

I got a new laptop today.  I’d been planning and thinking about it for several months and finally placed the order earlier in August. I got the new Macbook Pro 13inch without the touch bar. After work today, I went to the Easton Apple store and picked it up.

First thoughts:

It’s so small and lightweight
It’s fast
The keyboard is loud and not as bouncy or fun to type
The trackpad is bigger
The Apple doesn’t glow
It holds a charge much longer
The charger doesn’t light up to tell me if it’s charging or complete
The charger isn’t magnetic
Doesn’t have USB ports
Speakers are on the side of the keyboard
I have so much space
It doesn’t have my Snow White decal on the front
Doesn’t have my stickers on the bottom
Doesn’t have a case
Doesn’s have Microsoft Word
Doesn’t have a keyboard cover
It doesn’t have that light on the front that showed the laptop breathing (It would glow brightly like it was inhaling then go dark almost like it was exhaling).

My laptop came with a pair of Beats headphones which so far are quite comfy. I don’t regret getting the bright purple and pink colored headphones. Purple is my favorite color!

I bought my Macbook Pro in July or August of 2010 before I started Denison. I didn’t have a laptop in high school. I would use my family’s computer at home. That laptop served me well through college, came with me on my study abroad trip to Copenhagen, helped me during my summer internships and came with me after graduation as I wrote articles for ThisWeek News. I would take it on road trips and pop in a DVD to watch. I would curl up in bed with it, watching Netflix, writing something or doing something or another online.

Now, it’s like I have this stranger in bed next to me. I love sitting in bed with my laptop perched on my lap. I know it’ll take some getting used to but I hope I learn to like this new laptop. Hey, it’s faster and lighter which is what I wanted in a new laptop.  I hope this one serves me another solid 8 years.


My Weekend

My den

With Nate being out of town, I found myself finally having time for myself and I wanted to take a moment to a) write in a spot that’s not on my phone or in my journal b) update my website with a fresh blog post and c) share what’s on my mind with you.


I went in early to work, toting two thermoses full of coffee. One spilled in my purse.
I sent out an external email about the Tax Free Weekend and encouraging people to buy school supplies for Operation Backpack. I was proud of myself for putting together that email so quickly and getting the team’s feedback in about 5 hours. Usually, I like to work on these external emails a week ahead of time but things have been really busy with Operation Backpack, the merger and being down a team member.

I left work at 2pm since I’d been working overtime this week and went to drop off some free Ohio State Fair tickets to my horseback riding instructor. I’d received the tickets Wednesday at our Operation Backpack station event and posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted the free tickets.

At home, I conquered the sink full of dishes and ran the dishwasher. From 4 to 6pm, I sat perched in my bed, watching Cleveland 19’s Operation Backpack Live event and sharing pictures Becky was sending my on social media. (As I was streaming, the same commercial kept playing over and over. Every commercial break, it would be 3 minutes of the same 15 sec ad for transitional lenses, a product I don’t use. Video advertising at it’s worst.)  I’d been sharing and posting for these Live Nights all week so I was relieved this was the last event of the year. It’s a lot of posting and I worry I’m bombarding followers.

From 6-11pm, I was at the Dublin Irish Festival volunteering. I sold tokens, like I’ve done for the past two years. Only at the Dublin Irish Festival, do they use iPads to sell the tokens and meticulously stack the tokens in piles of 6. (What if someone orders 5 tokens? We don’t speak of that. Keep stacking.)  It’s pretty much the opposite of volunteering at ComFest. This shift was incredibly busy from 7pm to 10pm. We always had a long line and the iPads were slow to process the credit cards. I found my groove by listening to the orders and placing the correct number of tokens on the counter. This helped the person on the iPad and kept things moving along.

The mug life didn’t choose me. I chose to volunteer to sell mugs at the Irish Fest. 


I went to brunch with my friend Kelly. We were going to go to First Watch but the wait was too long so we went to Panera instead. I always love hearing what’s new with Kelly and enjoy her positive attitude. It was nice to catch up with her.

For the rest of my afternoon, I did laundry, read my stack of magazines (Columbus CEO, Columbus Monthly, Glamour and Real Simple), watched some YouTube videos and a little bit of the new Orange is the New Black season (this new season isn’t really my jam, but I’ll stick with it.)

Around 5:30pm, I met Emily at the Irish Fest. It was so crowded that I parked in Hilliard and walked over. Not literally, but it felt that way. I had an extra ticket from volunteering and Emily had won 2 tickets at work, so I did my good deed for the year and gave my extra ticket away to a lucky man who was about to pay for his ticket.
We got some Killians and made a beeline to the Celtic Canines. I love seeing the Irish Wolf Hounds. And I like the Irish Setters and pretty much all the show dogs. They had these adorable Irish Fest bandanas.
We got some Cornish Pasties for dinner (then Graeter’s ice cream), bought some sterling silver rings and earrings from Ireland (we buy from the same woman every year, I’m quite loyal to her. I consider her my “jeweler.” Can you have a “jeweler” if you only ever buy $20 worth of rings or earrings?). We watched some Irish Dancing and I really appreciated it when the young women danced to an Irish dance cover of “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran. Good song choice.

Screenshot of a Snap
Look at the legs of that Irish wolfhound
Rings from my “jeweler” 


I slept in until 10am, heated up a quiche from Trader Joe’s, made coffee using this reusable pour over filter thing. I ground up the beans (from Upper Cup), put them in the filter, put the filter on top of my Patrick Star coffee mug, and then poured hot water from my Keurig over it.

I watched the movie “The Pretty One.” I’d rented it from the library because I loved “Ruby Sparks” so much and wanted to see more of Zoe Kazan.
“The Pretty One” is about a set of twins. One lives in the big city and has become quite the fashionista and the other twin still lives at home and feels inadequate in comparison to her twin. Together, the homebody twin goes to the salon and gets her hair cut just like the stylish twin. Driving back, they get into a car crash and the stylish twin dies. But, with her new haircut, her dad thinks the homebody twin has died. The girl has amnesia and doesn’t fully realize the mix up until a few days later when she’s attending her own funeral and no one says any parting remarks about her.  She goes on to move into her twin’s apartment, take her job, meet her friends. Eventually, she comes clean and admits who she is, and her friends and family are upset. But, they forgive her, move on, and she’s a better person after this experience.  Solid movie, a bit long. Would watch again.

I researched what Macbook I want to buy some more because I’m still so unsure if I want the new Macbook Pro. I’m worried about only having the 2 ports. I researched adapters on Amazon and they seem reasonably priced.

I wanted to take a bath and continue reading “The Myth of the Nice Girl” but ran out of bath bombs. Luckily, I live next to The North Market so I swung in and bought a lavender bath bomb from Better Earth.  I adore reading books in a warm bath.

Nate called me and said he’s busy on his work trip and misses me. I miss him too. I told him about my Lazy Sunday and he pointed out that it sounded like quite a productive Sunday to him. We have different definitions of lazy.

I watched some more YouTube. I watched a few episodes of Girl Starter because it had Claire Coder (who is so amazing) and reminded me of The Apprentice, minus Trump.

Then I watched old Vines on YouTube and missed Vine.

Oh yeah, I also walked over to Jeni’s and got some rainbow sherbert.