Key Learnings from the Mass Conference for Women

More than 11,000 women from all across the state of Massachusetts attended this year’s Massachusetts Conference for Women, and I was lucky enough to be one of them! It was a jam-packed day, and I’m so excited to share with you some of my most important learnings.

  • You don’t ask, you don’t get– Carla Harris, Wall Street Exec. and Motivational Speaker
    Carla Harris shared multiple “pearls of widsom” carla-harrisduring her breakfast keynote, but “you don’t ask, you don’t get” resonated with me the most.  You may have heard of the Tiara Syndrome– the idea that talented women often put their heads down and hope that someone will recognize their good work and place a tiara on their head. Carla knows that’s not the right approach, and she encourages women to “own their power” and look after their own career.   At the end of the day, if you want something, don’t wait for it to happen. You have to go after it yourself and make sure that all the excellent work you’re doing is being acknowledged.
  • It’s crucial to failSara Blakely, Spanx CEOsara_blakely
    Sara Blakely, the creator on Spanx, told an amazing story from her childhood. Growing up, her father would sit her and her brother down for dinner and ask them how they failed that day. If they didn’t have anything that they failed at that day, her father would actually be disappointed. His reasoning?- if you didn’t fail, that means you didn’t try anything challenging or new. Sara attributes that to giving her the confidence to pursue Spanx. Now she has learned to not be afraid of failure and is one Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
  • Every ask is an opportunity to negotiateDeborah Kolb
    Have you ever wanted to negotiate for higher pay, a more flexible work schedule, deborah_kolb2more opportunities, etc., but didn’t know when or how? Deborah Kolb gave excellent advice- next time you are asked to do “invisible work” (work that doesn’t relate directly to your job and will not impact your job performance) use it as a chance to negotiate for something that you want. It can be hard to say no to an ask, so instead, leverage the work that is needed in order to get more exposure or something else you desire. Deborah wrote a book that contains many tips for negotiating, get more details here.

Did you attend the Mass Conference for Women? What were some of your key takeaways? Leave a comment & let me know!

Brands love #LoveWins

When I logged on to WordPress the other day, I was excited to see a beautiful rainbow bar at the top of the page, right where you can click to start a new post. In fact, for the past few days, every time I open my screen and log in to Facebook & Twitter, I can’t help but smile at all the beautiful, rainbow-colored images I see. The Supreme Court Ruling making gay marriage legal in all 50 states is a historic moment worthy of celebration, and many brands are showing their support by creating original content and sharing via social.  Here are some of my favorites:

5. Visa

What I love about Visa’s tweet is that it stays true to their brand voice. Visa promotes that their card is accepted “everywhere”, and the clever play on words in their tweet reinforces this messages and rings true for love of all kinds. The graphic is touching and the message here is simple and powerful, which remains consistent with their other social posts.


4. Pandora

The biggest problem with companies tweeting about current events is that they can’t relate it back to the brand in any way.  Pandora, however, doesn’t have that problem. By quoting one of the most famous songs of all time and adding a killer line “Rock On”, they embrace the power of music and show their audience that they proudly support the LGBT community.


3.  Ben & Jerry’s

It’s one thing to tweet about something, it’s another thing to actually make a change based on something. Ben & Jerry’s, a company that has always been very supportive of the LGBT community (remember the Hubby Hubby flavor?) renamed their chocolate cookie dough ice cream in their scoop shops to “I dough, I dough” flavor and hearts fluttered everywhere.

2. American Airlines

With their powerful, clever message & beautiful visual, American Airline’s post was spot on. Get me on the next American Airlines flight!

1. Youtube

If you haven’t seen this video yet, get your tissues ready. Youtube shows how their platform has helped brave people spread their message of love & support for the LGBT community. The video is touching & moving from start to finish.  And, with over 3million views so far, it’s definitely making an impact.



A ton of companies have also created rainbow-colored logos. Check out some of them below:

Things Just Got Social: Q&A with Melanie Cohn

Social takes on a whole new meaning in the form of Melanie Cohn, a Digital Media Supervisor at GY&K Antler Agency in Boston, MA. mel cohn

Not only does Melanie work for some cool clients like Wagamama, Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, Moxie soda and Boston Harbor Cruises, but she also has a pretty impressive side job. She’s the founder of Young Women in Digital (YWD), a networking organization that connects female professionals who are interested in social media and online marketing.

A graduate of  University of Colorado at Boulder, Melanie worked as Marketing Manager of Online Social Media at SmartClick AdWorks, a marketing agency in Salt Lake City, and as a Project Manager at Mom Central Consulting, a firm which connects “Mommy Bloggers” and other socially influential mothers with products, before making the long journey to Boston in 2012. These two jobs have given Melanie insight into the different facets of digital marketing.

Now, at Antler, Melanie manages the online communities for her clients, creates strong blogger relationships and focuses on digital strategy.

Let’s check out what Melanie has to say about her work:

L: When did you first become interested in digital marketing and social media?

M: It all started when I was in college and I interned at Filtrbox, a company now owned by Jive Software. Filtrbox was ahead of the game at the time (2010), and was one of the first social media monitoring platforms to listen to conversations across social media, blogs and news sites. Their biggest competitor was Radian 6. I was living in Boulder, CO where the start-up tech scene was beginning to boom, and this was my first taste of the industry. I interned amongst tech-savvy entrepreneurs and really started to see that brands were making engaging online conversations with their customers a true priority. From there, I got my first job at an online marketing company where I was immediately responsible for the social media channels for large national brands, including Fresh Product Clothing, a 50 million dollar woman’s clothing brand.

L: That sounds amazing! So, how does Young Women in Digital fit into the picture?  Where did you find the inspiration to start this organization? 

M: I was involved in a young professionals group in Denver, CO before I moved to Boston. This group really opened my eyes to all the great networking opportunities and learning you can get by meeting other likeminded people at fun, fresh events. When I arrived in Boston, I didn’t know very many people in the industry, and wasn’t meeting people at events that I kept in touch with, or felt a true connection with. That’s when I knew I had to stop complaining about it and take it into my own hands. I asked two girls I knew if they wanted to start YWD with me, and they loved the idea! I seeded the idea to other young women I met and always had great feedback, so I took the leap. For me, it was a group that I could shape to have all the attributes I felt other groups were missing, and that young professionals wanted. I was able to carve out a niche for other young women like me.

L: After you thought of the idea, how did you get Young Women in Digital off the ground? 

M: I teamed up with a few people to help me start the group and then I made sure to lay the brand groundwork before launching. I asked my friend who works in graphic design to come up with a logo for our group, and a general look & feel so that we had a real brand identity from the start. I named the group (which was hard to come up with!), created our social assets– a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn group– and then launched an Eventbrite for the first event, that led people to all of those channels. With our personal channels, we put the word out, and people started buzzing about it. Within a few weeks, we had 30 sign ups for our first event!

L: How did you assemble the Young Women in Digital team, and what are you looking for in other women interested in being a part of this experience? 

M: I’ve assembled the group in a very organic way. YWDs that come to my events have introduced themselves to me and shown interest in helping, offering their services and skills typically over a cup of coffee! I love when people are really excited about the group and ask to meet with me to see how they can help. I’m looking for women that have new ideas, can help us develop the group further and grow our brand recognition so more YWDs in Boston know about us. Since it is a volunteer opportunity, people must be willing to dedicate time to this outside of work. We’re also looking for contributors to our blog as well, so women that are thought leaders and have a solid understanding of trends in marketing, are great assets to help us become an online and offline destination for marketers in Boston.


L: What is the best way a woman can take advantage of all of Young Women in Digital’s networking opportunities?  Do you have any networking tips for aspiring digital marketers?

M: The best way is to sign up for our newsletter and becoming an official member! Our members get first access to all of our events, blog posts, jobs and more. You can also follow us on our FacebookTwitterand LinkedIn accounts to find out about the latest events! In terms of networking, I think follow-through is really important. If you take the time to go to an event, seek people out who you connect with and get their information. Then, ping them to grab coffee with you so you can learn more and begin a deeper relationship. I’ve learned so much about other women’s roles, skills I should be learning, and unique opportunities over a cup of coffee.

L: How do you balance a full-time job while still managing a networking organization like Young Women in Digital?

M: It’s definitely not easy! I typically dedicate Sunday’s to organizing YWD. I’ll promote our upcoming events, craft email newsletters, manage our blog editorial calendar and handle details of event planning. I also have weekly meetings with members of YWD to discuss anything and everything YWD! Being a morning person is one of my best assets, as I typically meet people at 8am before work and get a ton of things done. Wake up one hour early—it’s amazing what you can do with that time.

L: What’s the most rewarding part of working on Young Women in Digital?  What about GY&K Antler?

M: I love meeting other likeminded women and inspiring and empowering them to be the best they can be at their jobs. We’ve even landed a few people jobs directly from our events—which is so rewarding. It’s also rewarding to provide an outlet for YWDs to share and swap stories, and bounce creative ideas off each other to get a new perspective. When people tell me that they’ve learned a new skill, or made a new friend, or launched a unique campaign at work with more success because of one of our events, it makes it all worth it. The most rewarding aspect of GYKAntler is being able to push our client’s further on social media and spark interesting conversations through creative content, campaigns and strategy that elevate our clients to the next level. I love seeing a campaign through to execution, then measuring the tangible results, which makes it completely worth it.

L: What’s a typical day like working at Antler?  What clients do you work on?
M: The best thing about working at GYKAntler is that there is no typical day. Each day is different depending on the projects or campaigns we’re working on. One day I could be doing a report on our social media performance, while the next I could be launching an integrated campaign, and the next I may be at a client pitch meeting sharing our creative concept. I work on consumer brands such as wagamama, Boston Harbor Cruises, United Bank, Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce and Moxie Soda and make sure to engage and inspire our audience.

L: Why is it important for brands to embrace social media?

M: Social media is no longer a “new” medium, and every brand should have a strategic presence on the channels that make sense for them, based on their goals. Marketing has seen a huge shift from one way messaging, to a more consumer-centric approach, where brands need to be having meaningful dialogue with their advocates when and where their audience is ready—on their phones, on social media and on the favorite blogs. Brands have a great opportunity to organically integrate into these conversations and make themselves valuable to their customers and their unique needs.

L: Where do you see Young Women in Digital in 5 years?

M: I would love to expand YWD to other cities around the country, and eventually have other offshoots of our brand—such as young women in tech, young women in coding, etc.But that’s a far away dream! For now, I’d love to grow our Boston group and replicate this model in other cities to inspire young people across the country.

L: What advice do you have for young women aspiring to work in social media and digital marketing?

M: My advice would be to take advantage of all of the opportunities you have. If you have an internship, don’t simply go in each day and just do what’s asked of you. Go above and beyond, create projects for yourself, find holes in the company and offer ways to fix those, find a local start-up that you can make a big impact in and offer your services. Expand your skill sets so you can offer a company something other graduates may not have. There are great classes from General Assembly, and Skillshare for this. Be aggressive, and don’t be afraid to talk to people in the industry to get their advice—find a mentor and keep in touch with them!

Melanie has a really interesting story, and her insights were really smart and helpful!
To stay up-to-date with what she’s doing, follow her at @SocialMel!
Become a member of Young Women in Digital here!

What I Learned from Watson

It’s elementary, my dear Watson.

Well, to be fair, everything is pretty elementary for Watson.  After all, he’s a computer system that analyzes and processes information.  Watson understands natural language, and generates hypotheses based on the evidence.  Watson is more intelligent than  Siri, and thinks more like a human than a computer. In fact, Watson is so smart that he dominated in a live game of Jeopardy.

Factoids may come easy to Watson, but marketing and branding IBM’s new technology took some out-of-the-box thinking and real creativity.

Cue  Cindi Ellis from IBM and Kimberly Duffy from Ogilvy who worked together with their respective teams to show the world Watson’s amazing capabilities.  These two articulate and smart women visited Boston University’s College of Communication for the Doers, Makers and Innovators series to discuss how they made Watson a household name.

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Watson’s journey didn’t stop at Jeopardy, though.  Recently, at SXSW, Watson made headlines by using Cognitive Cooking.  IBM food trucks used Watson’s computing powers to reinvent traditional foods, adding ingredients and combinations that even some of the world’s best chefs would have never imagined. People at SXSW were very impressed with the food, and food trucks were a huge success.

So, how did IBM and Ogilvy think up these creative ways of promoting Watson?  Well, these ladies gave the audience four takeaways that they said contributed to the campaign’s success.

1. Every Campaign Needs The Big Idea

Kimberly quoted Ogilvy’s fearless founder David Ogilvy:

“Unless your campaign contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.”

She says that is the motto of Ogilvy, and something they continuously use as inspiration. Clever puns or interesting pictures aren’t effective unless their is a concrete, creative idea at the core.

2. Reach the customer by using insights. 

A brand’s customers are important.  They have stories and passions, so brands shouldn’t treat them like numbers or cash cows.  Instead, they should spend time getting to understand the customer and use data to connect with their consumers in engaging and effective ways.

3. Think outside the billboard and commercial. 

Advertising isn’t just print and TV spots anymore.  Brands can promote and advertise their products through different ways. What new outlets could a brand use? If a campaign has a strong message and key insights into the consumer, this will help the team find innovative ways to promote the product.

4. Show, don’t tell. 

There’s an old-fashioned saying: actions speak louder than words, and that is completely relevant with advertising.  IBM and Ogilvy could have shared Watson’s intelligence test results, or explained how smart Watson is, but they wanted to prove his intelligence!  So how can they show Watson’s brains??  By putting him to the test through Jeopardy competitions and cooking challenges.

This session was not only inspiring because these two women are taking the integrated marketing world by storm, but also because the audience received an inside look at the innovative ways that IBM is promoting their newest technologies and products.

Special thanks to Mullen & Edward Boches from bringing this presentation to BU COM.

5 Things Ad Students Should Do Over Break

Most college students spend their spring break partying in Cancun and soaking up the sun. But some students may chose to take a bit of a different route… like me! Boston University’s College of Communication sponsors a yearly Spring Break trip for Advertising students in the Big Apple! We’ll be visiting some of the top advertising agencies in the country like (R/GA, Publicis Kaplan Thaler, Grey, Giant Spoon, Firstborn and even Google!
I’m SOO excited!

But, for aspiring advertisers who are taking it easy this Spring Break at home, fear not! You can do so much more than binge-watch TV shows on Netflix and take every quiz on BuzzFeed.

1. Update your resume

Make some edits to your resume. Add what you completed last semester and delete what is either irrelevant or unimportant. Here’s a list of 6 changes you can make that will make a huge difference! While you’re at it, also, order some business cards! I used VistaPrint to order mine, and they turned out great. It’s useful to carry them around in case you ever run into someone important!

2. Create a website and start a blog

When potential employers Google search you, you want them to find only professional, interesting information. That’s why having your own website and brand is really important. Sites likes WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace allow you to show off your resume and any presentations or work that you’ve done! If you already have one, spruce it up a little to make sure it’s in tip-top shape.

Aspiring social media professionals, strategists and copywriters should also take the time to hone in on their skills by writing a blog. It can be about anything, but it should be authentic and should show off your writing style and voice. WordPress is a great platform to use, but other sites work too. Try to post somewhat frequently (I have a schedule for what I’ll be writing about, but I also post about current campaigns sporadically as well!)

3. Work on your portfolio

Haven’t started yet? I suggest CargoCollective because it has some clean, interesting designs and it’s very easy to use. Heads up though, you have to “apply” for an account, so you’ll be contacted shortly once you put in your information.

If you already have one, use this time to touch it up. Add an element to any of your campaigns to show you can think across multiple platforms (maybe social, experiential or out of home). Make sure you make it cohesive though. When you get back to school, show it to on of your professors or intern coordinators so they can take a look at it and make suggestions.

4. Network, Network, Network

I’ve participated in many Tweetchats Tweetchats, and they’re a great time/place to network with other people (it’s basically live-chatting through Twitter). Here’s a schedule of all the Tweetchats out there (I suggest #LikeableChat, #InternPro, #PinChat, #PRSSAchat, etc.)

Also, use this time to connect with professionals. If you’re applying for a summer internship or a job, send out some emails, tweet at companies that you like, message people on LinkedIn and make an effort to get your name out there. Share a link to your website with them to show off your work! Don’t be shy!

5. Learn a new skill
Just because you’re not sitting in a classroom doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Take this time to gain more knowledge. Learn HTML (CodeAcademy is a great resource!) Photoshop, Final CutPro, After Effects, etc. Now’s the time to do it!

Will you be doing any of these things over break? Let me know! I’ll try and write about my experiences checking out the awesome ad agencies in NYC, so keep an eye out for that!