Uncategorized

Listening in the background

I went to a Denison event this evening after work and was talking to a current student who was studying English and he asked me, “Do you still write for fun outside of work?” I thought about it and honestly answered, “No, but I’d like to.”

I think I felt compelled to sit down and type something out after that comment.

A couple weeks ago I got an email inviting me to a “Career Ready Boot Camp Networking event as an alumni of Denison.” Sure, why not? Just say yes, right? Something I’d learned at Denison and that has been reinforced since graduation and since learning about improv comedy.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into but was lured by the detail of free drinks and food. For the same reason, I’d gone to a Yelp Elite event last night at High Bank Distillery.

At both events, when I first arrived by myself and saw a crowd of people, I wanted to so badly turn around and run for my car. It’s terrifying showing up alone to places and seeing a crowd of happy people talking to one another. I tell myself that I just half to stay for 15 minutes. Then, if I still hate it after 15 minutes, I can leave.

This Denison event started out by all the alumni going around the room and introducing themselves to the students. I hate introductions and felt really shy in that room. It also became somewhat comical because alumni were going around saying things like “I work for the FBI,” “I’m a litigator,” “I’m a speech pathologist,” “I work for Facebook.” I pictured someone adding “I cured cancer.” “I worked for Obama.” I just could not imagine myself chiming in, “I do marketing for a non-profit.” I know, I know, I shouldn’t compare myself to others. I really do love what I do and I’m not ashamed of it. I think I get a bit insecure when comparing myself to other Denison alumni. The university puts so much pressure on you to be spectacular after you graduate, and if you’re not, then you’re never talked about or respected. It’s like you don’t exist or you’re a Denison failure. I felt this type of pressure in college and it rises up again at these Denison events.

The networking began (release the wolves!) and I felt lost. Here were these amazing alumni, well-dressed students who looked like they already had been accepted into law school, and me. I was in my snow boots (it was snowing outside!) and these tight business pants I’d gotten at the thrift store and convinced myself were a business professional. I took a deep breath, reminded myself I’d survived these types of things before and told myself I could do this.

I reached out (okay, followed awkwardly then when he turned around began talking) to a guy who looked just as awkward and out of place as me. We have something in common! I asked him what he was studying. He said English. Hey, we have another thing in common! I asked him what professors he had and he drew a blank. Okay, weird, but I’ll let it slide. I guess spring semester hasn’t even started yet. Another student joined our table and he studied Communication. Hey, English and Communications were my majors!

They told me they’d been on a full day of externships visiting Grange Insurance, Oologie (they couldn’t remember the ad agency’s name so I thought they went to Origo. Then they were talking about how the agency focused on higher education and I knew which agency they meant.) and another place they couldn’t remember. I was kind of jealous and proud of my alma mater for giving students this chance to see real workplaces in Columbus and meet current employees.

When I was a student I did a day-long externship at GSW, an agency that focused on pharmaceutical ads. That definitely influenced my career into marketing. I was fascinated by this company and wanted to work there or somewhere similar.

At the networking event, I migrated to another table (still nursing my CBC IPA beer) to chat with a young woman. She was an Education major. I asked her what her thoughts were on the teacher strike in LA. She didn’t know what I meant. At first I was mad at myself for making her feel awkward and ignorant but then I reasoned that this was an appropriate question. You should know and stay up to date with the issues going on in your industry across the nation (and listen to NPR religiously.) I remember when I was talking with a Dension alumni about working at a magazine she asked me what books I was reading. I was not expecting this question so flubbed my answer. Later, she told me that I should be prepared for this question if I want to pursue this career path. It makes sense.

I asked the student if she had studied abroad and she said yeah, she just got back from Copenhagen. Did you say Denmark!? My face lit up and I exclaimed I did too and I’m going back to Copenhagen in May and can’t wait. She was surprised I was still in contact with my host family. Heck yeah, I’m still Facebook friends with them and we still chat. She said she lived with a host family and had a great time too. We talked about our European travels and agreed the experience made us more independent and confident. She traveled alone to Amsterdam which I was so impressed by. I haven’t had the courage to travel alone yet.

Two other girls joined our huddle and I did my best to welcome them into the circle. I’ve been in their shoes where you slide into a group, listening and waiting to be acknowledged. I find myself becoming almost an unrecognizable best version of me where I’m overly friendly, smiling and wanting to make everyone comfortable. I’ve seen this part of myself come out at Women in Digital events.

My conversation with the three girls shifted away from academics and careers into the current party culture on campus. Apparently, there’s a party tent now? Students can’t party in their dorms anymore unless they register their party? Times are changin’. I liked learning how campus had changed since I left in 2014. Alumni are just regular people who want to hear how the campus has changed and stayed the same.

Someone at the front of the room tapped on the microphone and announced that the alumni would now go around the room and share what they observed of the student’s networking abilities and offer them a piece of advice. I looked to the ceiling, avoiding all eye contact. I’d skipped the introductions, maybe I could skip the recap. I’m usually not this much of a rebel but I think again I was just terrified by speaking to a whole room of people. What would I say? The other alumni went around and said valuable things like, “showing up here tonight is half the battle,” “say yes to projects at your first job,” “don’t make typos on your resume,” “email someone if they give you a business card,” etc. I nodded along and stayed quiet.

I liked talking to the students one-on-one but something about speaking in front of everyone and waiting for my turn just freaked me out. Writing about it now, I think back to my 9th grade English class with Mr. Shoemaker (who inspired me to study English in college.) We did this Socratic seminar as a test and you got points each time you spoke up and participated. I think we were discussing one of my favorite books, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I couldn’t get a word in. I couldn’t chime in or make my point. I didn’t want to interrupt or be rude but there was never a pause or lull in the conversation.

After the class, Mr. Shoemaker asked to see me. “What happened today, Ms. Gillum?” I loved that he called everyone by their last name. It gave us high schoolers this level of respect that we didn’t deserve.
“I don’t know. I got nervous. I couldn’t find a way to speak up. I wrote down what I wanted to say and add to the conversation. But couldn’t find a pause in the discussion.” I showed him my notes, which were scribbles of the points I wanted to add and gathering my thoughts in order so I’d say something intelligent. He said he understood and that it was fine this time but next time I’d need to speak up more.

So many years later, at this college networking event, and in meetings, I find myself still listening and struggling to chime in and say what I need to say.

Uncategorized

Sparking Joy on Instagram

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. I was looking forward to the show since Netflix sent me a personalized email in December about the show and when it was premiering. Yes, Netflix, I was interested in a show about organization.

Nate, my boyfriend, teased me for watching a show about organization and cleaning. I can’t fault him. Rather than organize my own stuff, I’ll just watch someone else do it on TV.

I realized the concept of Tidying Up and donating what doesn’t bring you joy fits in perfectly with one of the goals of Volunteers of America: Get more donations to the thrift stores.

So, I hopped on the bandwagon and used this trend to my advantage on social media.

Originally when I made this post, the copy read, “Donate what does not bring you joy.” I remembered how in the show she always uses the phrase “sparks joy” so I changed the copy. Plus that shortened my text by one word.

I made the graphic and wrote the copy.

This post has an engagement rate of 10.7%. Our usual engagement rate is 6%

I was proud of myself for this post. It did really well on Instagram, getting over 54 likes and 6 comments. It was relevant and trendy.

I also made this post which so far has 19 likes on Instagram. I think it’s not doing as well as the first one because the design is more text heavy.

Our thrift stores have been seeing an increase in donations with everyone cleaning out their closets. I had some fun regramming this meme:

It made me laugh when I was searching #mariekondo on Instagram so I trusted my gut and posted it. If it makes me laugh, then others will laugh, right?

With our audience, humor always does well.

Uncategorized

A little social media fun

Social media should be fun and playful.
When I saw this Volunteers of America Michigan hat in our thrift store, I knew I wanted to have some fun with them on Instagram. I chose Instagram because it’s one of our most active platforms and a space where we as a brand choose to take more risks and be playful.
Plus, I know the young woman who runs VOA Michigan’s social media and knew she’d be up for a little bit of good spirited fun.

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Okay, so we’re not Wendy’s level of sassy but that’s okay.

2018, Uncategorized

Why VOA? My Employee Spotlight

I was asked to do a short video by the national branch of Volunteers of America for their weekly Friday Bulletin email. They wanted me to talk about why I work at Volunteers of America, which was an easy topic for me to talk about. Below is the video I filmed in my office:

I was flattered by how many employees noticed and shared it. One person asked me for my autograph. Haha!

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In addition to the email newsletter, that’s sent to all affiliates, they also shared it on their social media channels. Does this mean I’m famous now?

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I didn’t think it would be too selfish if I retweeted it on our Twitter.

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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.
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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.

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My “I’m tired, maybe I should’ve just driven” face 

2018, social media, Uncategorized

Our new thrift store employee

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

SEO
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

Copywriting
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.

Email
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

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Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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.

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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