I'll be smarter in 2012

I consider myself pretty crafty. I grew up as a designer, I've used Photoshop since 2.0, I've dabbled with Macromedia Director (before Flash), and I can even write a little HTML. I'm sure you could care less... but this is important because I'm smart damnit!

I recently noticed that my blog stats went from a pretty nice and steady pace to almost nothing. Instead of weeping because no one loves me, I went ahead posted a few new stories, and still, no activity. But then a few friends posted comments on my facebook about my newest blog posts, and I realized that Google Analytics just wasn't working.

How is it that I can keep updated with the Kutcher divorce saga, Kim Kardashian's new hair cut, and keep a steady 9-9 job...but I didn't know that Google revamped their entire google analytics system?

Where have I been? Under a rock I suppose. I'm always one of the first people to accept an upgrade, learn new the UI, and report back on how awesome it is. I totally failed this time. For someone who loves analytics and data, I should have been in the know.

But there I was all happy under my rock. See above for nice rock. So for 2012, in addition to my new diet and work out plans, I'm going to add reading RELEVANT marketing material to my daily blogroll. I will stop (ok, maybe not stop, but less-frequent) my visits to TheSuperficial.com, USweekly.com and my favorite potty mouth blogs in favor of keeping up to date on the latest tools and techniques made for keeping track of my own blog (minus the potty mouth) and for making sure I have the background know-how for my day job.  

So this is what I've done on my day off. I've updated my analytics site, added new blogger features to this blog, I've signed up for AdSense, and I'm adding time in my schedule to read about the latest marketing techniques. I'd love to get your suggestions on what to read. Here's my start: 
  • Mashable (I've always followed, but don't read enough)
  • HubSpot (Frequent pod cast listener on the way to work) 
  • Looking for good blogs to follow (see my new widget at the right of the screen here for my current list) 
  • Looking for others... please help! 
Happy New Year! Here's to a Smarter Rachel in 2012.

Makeovers that make you cry: The ones worth having

I love nothing better than a marathon of my favorite shows to get caught up on weeks of missed episodes. For this I suggest Modern Family, NCIS, Finding Bigfoot (don't tell anyone about that one) and What NOT to Wear. Tonight is dedicated to TLC's What Not to Wear.

I swear I've gotten better at dressing myself. (mom jeans rule!)

I absolutely love this show. I love clothes, I love shopping, I love changing my hair--and I love seeing the women on What Not to Wear go through these major transformations. They fight the change, they cry when Stacy London and Clinton Kelly make fun of the wardrobe they've sported for years. Eventually, they cave. They take the $5,000 gift card and start out buying the same crap they already own. Stacy and Clinton swoop in, stop the madness, remind the subject of what she has learned. She heads down the proper path, and comes out looking amazing.

I usually cry at this point. (I love a good happy ending story--or commercial for that matter.) I'm excited for the plane-Jane girl who dresses like a hooker, a homeless person, or an old-maid. She is unveiled as elegant, sophisticated, re-styled and reinvented.  Ah, success!

This is a seriously amazing process. I've never seen a woman take a different route. Each subject is hesitant to change, but in the end takes the advice of the pro's -- and the result is nothing short of amazing.

Why am I rambling about this fashion show on a Marketing blog? Well, for one: I'm watching it right now and am amazing at multi-tasking. But more importantly, the process is the EXACT same for a marketing makeover.

I just helped to launch my first User Experience (UX) web project. It, too, was nothing short of an amazing process. It began with a group of people so close to the project that naturally they saw nothing wrong with the way things were. The web pages were frequently visited, the content was updated when an update was due, and the product was a rock star.

The product champions have decided to move ahead with the UX process, taking the advice of the pros. While were discussing user flows, click paths, content creation, and new ways to view the product--our Subject Matter Experts begin to back up... They're worried about the unknown, not sure they want to go down the path that requires so much work, so much time, so different than what they're used to.

In the end, they decide to move with forward--struggle with change and VIOLA! The entire product team ends up elegant, sophisticated, re-styled and reinvented.

What I'm getting at, is sometimes it's a small change--but sometimes an entire make over is eminent. As the marketing pro, or the person in charge of the product under the microscope: Change is GOOD! Sometimes the people--I mean the product most in need of an upgrade have no idea what a difference a new look will make.

People or Product: People will notice the extra effort. People will hear the real you -- you won't have to scream from underneath that outdated facade. When change is due, accept it with open arms. Be kind to those making the recommendation. Be kind to those TAKING the recommendation. In the end, it's so worth it.

Kind of makes me want to go buy some new shoes! Maybe even get a perm.

Jobs Update. Steve Jobs that is.

If I was any kind of decent blogger I would have updated my status since, "hey I have a new job, I'm awesome!" Truth is, this job keeps me busy. Super Busy. Super woman busy. It's crazy, but good crazy.

Tonight, I got online to make fun of my daughter's golf team website and pick it apart and discuss how much better I could have done it... (but never did volunteer--see paragraph 1). And what do I see on the yahoo home page?

Steve Job Dies.

Honestly, I'm crushed. This is a huge part of my life. Steve Jobs is exactly 20 years my senior. That gives him just enough time to create that amazing Macintosh 128k Graphical Interface.... or the Macintosh Classic? Probably the classic. I was in high school from 91-94. (Note to self delete all blogs when you are over 50). 

I remember being able to create your own icons for desktop files. I remember changing the trash can to Oscar the Grouch, "I love trash!" There was no color. We build entire double page spread layouts from a screen as big as my hand. We had an amazing set of fonts, lazerjet printer and a wax machine. That's all you needed to make a yearbook or newspaper back in the day. 

I truly believe I was part of something big. Such a huge difference from the macs in high school to what I use today. My daughter is in college with a MacBook. I'm typing this from my iMac. My iPad is named Schmoopie (because I love her), and I have not one but TWO iphones (work/pleasure). My very first home computer was the Bondi Blue iMac. I was a proud owner of that 2GB hard drive and that little smidge of RAM. 

Technology has become crazy fast in the last twenty years. I can't imagine life without my mac. I can't imagine life without the battle of Jobs vs. Gates. Without that rivalry, we wouldn't be where we are today. 

I read Steve Job's speech to the graduating class at Stanford just days after they announced his step down from CEO. I knew it wouldn't be long from there. I read that entire speech. (I have zero attention span so that's a big deal). He is an inspiring man. His entire life story is a journey. Make mistakes, but become better for them. 

He has passed as a truly remarkable sole. 

AMA Houston: I'm not only a member, I'm also a fighter.

Aug 2011 Luncheon

Really people? I finally decide that I need to get away from the desk and get myself to an AMA Houston luncheon. And here's the photo that represents the event? Actually, I find it humorous the lady and I look like we're either 1) Italian hand talkers or 2) about to get in a cat fight.

Neither are true, but good catch from the photographer! Much better pics of Scott Berg's "Digital EcoSystem" presentation here.

In addition to this blog entry being an excuse to post this awesome fight scene, I wanted to give my two cents on an AMA membership. Do it. There were two people at my table looking for full time work. Two ladies looking to expand their sales in the event business. One vendor who reunited with a client he thought he lost. And one seasoned pro who could give her tips on her company's digital eco-system and how they developed material related to the speaking topic.

Aug 2011 Luncheon
I'm sure each table had their own conversations and reasons for being there. I was there to solely for the speaking content. (Any time you have a chance to meet Scott Berg, marketing genius with HP...do it) I came to get another view into the marketing case studies of HP (because they are awesome - check out the Let's Do Amazing video ads - LOVE them almost as much as Allstate's Mayhem). But I left with much more. Maybe some new resumes to share with my employer, new views on microsites from an Oil & Gas pro, and well... a fantastic photo and reason for posting a blog. 

Get Scott's presentation here: Scott's HP Blog
Get your AMA Houston membership here: AMA Houston Blog

Cross Pollination for the Greater Good.

I'm not job hopping-- I'll refer to it as "cross pollinating". (And yes, I'm totally stealing this from someone else's mouth.)

I met with my new brand police top ranking general in my new company. He is from California, I'm sitting in Texas. He talked about how in California the cross-pollination between technology companies is so amazing. People go from one company to the next "cross pollinating" their ideas as they work with new teams. I have fallen in love with this term.

cross-pol·li·na·tion (krôs p l -n sh n, kr s -). n.  fertilization by transfer of pollen awesomeness from the anthers of one flower to the stigma of company to another 
This definition is right on. I honestly can't wait to meet everyone that I work with and find out what I don't know. I like to think I'm all knowing of all things, but because I'm all knowing, I also know that I don't know everything. Sigh...

My first week was meeting after meeting to meet people whom I've never met. I'm going from a team of three who did all things marketing, to a team of hundreds. Literally. This is a completely different work-style for me. I'll be just one person in a long trail of marketing professionals who will make go-to-market decisions. Honestly, this will be a little tough at first. Its been so easy just to pick things up and finish them myself. Now I'll have to wait and beg just like everyone else.  I thought I knew teamwork before, but honestly, that was just a sliver of what I have in store for me at BMC.

My first week is over, and consisted of meeting everyone, finding out where the coffee was and getting to know the process of everyday work at BMC. My second week should be hell week. This starts tomorrow. I'll finally meet my boss, I'll find out what my objectives are and I'll start pollinating.

I really can't wait. I'll be keeping my readers updated. I've set up my community page at BMC.com and will soon be interacting with the public in behalf of the company. I even received some Atos love. Seems like cross polination has begun!

I have a new job

I really really thought hard about this blog post title. I thought of creating something sentimental, maybe something with a "fish" reference, or maybe something cute. When it boils down (as my mom would say) I really just want to talk about my new job.

I will be a Senior Marketing Programs Manager at BMC Software. I hope to make a big splash (unintentional fish reference) in the Mainframe buzz for this Houston based software giant. I'm super excited. I already have my first week mapped out from my new employer. I can't tell you how exciting that is. I'm geeked out about schedules, meetings, meeting new people and my company iPhone! (burning ceremony for my Samsung Blackjack this Friday)

My twitter account remains the same @RachelMacik, and this blog will still be about marketing, and how my everyday life events spark marketing thoughts and new ideas for my company. Only now, the company is different. I am still focused on B2B marketing, still for an IT company. BMC has actual products, which makes my job more exciting. I'm very much looking forward to sharing the journey with my readers.

Meanwhile, I would never neglect my Atos Origin comrades! It's been an amazing journey with you all. I've made my first international trip with you, I've attended my first Olympics, I even had my first Amex Corporate card with you --that's special. Good thing is, BMC and Atos Origin are vendors and customers of each other... we are very likely to cross paths again! Here's to building the future!

Thanks Atos :)

How far is too far? Obsession with analytics and feedback

Press Coverage Done Right: A Story Of Social Media, PR And Stalking is an article that was posted today by Michael Brenner. Michael will no doubt be excited about all the Google Analytics his blog is wracking up today. However, it might be a little downer when he realizes they're all from me. My bad.

I can be all cool and talk big about how not to bother Journalists, and what the best way to keep up with their coverage and know when to pounce on a good story pitch. However, how can I be all cool, and not bother myself?

I confess. I have a problem. I have a google analytic addiction. This goes back to a previous post about being over informed and having too much information at your fingertips.

I analyzed what I would say, made sure I could provide back up links to relevant information, and I set my clock for when Michael said the blog would be live. I was so excited to see it. It's my first interview. To me, this equals Oprah. I'm pretty excited. (I'll let you know if Michael has a "Brenner Effect" at a later date).

After I sent the email to my mother (She's my biggest fan), I tweeted a couple times, and posted the article on Linkedin. This wasn't my post after all, it cited me. So, I can't be too aggressive with my posting or I'll just be tooting my own horn. However, here I am blogging about blogging because I don't think my numbers are high enough. (toot toot.)

Yes, I understand what this looks like. But I've already said I have a problem... I can't help it. Same with my work analytics. I send emails for B2B marketing for a technology company just about monthly. We use Salesforce for analytics and I'm addicted to watching the numbers go up as the email goes out. Who's opening? Who's ignoring? And GASP--who just unsubscribed?! 

Each number, each part of my ROI point is personal. What can I do better next time? How can I make changes? There has got to be an easier way...

Meanwhile, we're looking into social media monitoring software, I'm testing new gadgets for my personal blog and learning how to take them to the enterprise level for work. All these things will help my addiction. Or will they enable my addiction? hmm...only time will tell. 

Am I alone here? please say no, please say no, please say no, please say no, please say no, please say no...

A little change goes a long way. Botox for your Brand. Or just take your braces off.

In case you haven't noticed, I can relate just about every instance in my personal life back to my marketing life. Basically the two are merging and I'll soon not be able to change from corporate to mom alter-egos. I'll remain a mother-marketer forever. Almost superhero-like.

Today is a big day for motherhood in the Macik household. Jessica gets her braces off. We've taken the entire day off, I'll buy her a dress, take her to eat corn on the cob and she'll flash those slimy pearly whites to everyone she comes in contact with. She can hardly wait. I'm pretty sure she believes this day will change her life forever, opening the doors of complete hotness, boy craziness and perhaps some modeling contracts. (Hey, she's 5'9+"!)

I was debating if I should get up and be productive this morning, or just sleep in...and started thinking about our day and thinking about how such a small change will change her self image and outward appearance forever.

So my question is, when is the last time you made any alterations that would change the perception of your brand, your image, or your company? Sure its true, a brand is created so our audience has immediate recognition of who we are and what we stand for... BUT.... if you see the same logo at trade shows, during broadcasts, or flashy online banners, then eventually they become white noise.

I'm not suggesting you need an entire makeover, but maybe just a little botox. A simple color refresh or design alteration goes a long way. My corporate alter-ego is a little bored. Why not be more accepting of change? Why not be a little more bold? HP is using Alicia Keys and Dr. Dre in their recent advertising campaign Everybody On. Or Microsoft's To The Cloud commercial spots using real life scenario from everyday people. I think both of these campaigns are great for their companies. A little out of the box of what they would typically do. I like it. It makes you notice them. The other day, the buzz around the neighborhood was that a kid got that "Dr. Dre laptop!". Now that's branding.

We can't all endorse rap stars, (and too bad, because that would be amazing! Hey Dre--call me ;) But we can change up the face of our image. Its the little things. An unexpected email campaign? Someone who tweets with personality? An ad using humor (that people actually understand)?

That said, I'm going to review my company website... what can I do different to shake things up and still stay within our brand guidelines? I'm planning for SAPPHIRENOW, now can I keep within brand and still make a splash at the event?  I manage several twitter accounts for Atos Origin, how can I shake those profiles up a bit and make them more engaging. Get ready for my mini-makeover. Long overdue.

Note to self. Get a pedicure while you're at it.

Age of the Over-informed and Undecided

While I should be packing for a fantastic learning opportunity with other Argyle CMO Forum attendees, I'm instead blogging from home. The conference is in New York, you know--the city under scrutiny for not knowing how to properly respond to a blizzard? The latest reports give all the doom and gloom of expected inches of snow and possible mayhem. This Texan girl must decline potential blizzards, trips to visit the New Yorker Office with old pals, and chances to rub elbows with new marketing comrades. Dangit.

Why? Because the internet told me to.

Friend of mine (and fellow blogger) is having a baby. Nearly freaking out about diapers, strollers, food, daycare, you name it, she is Googling it. She is rightfully overwhelmed. Have you seen the reviews on these things? Frightening. You go with a 3-Star stroller instead of 4-Star, and you risk your baby's life and wellbeing. Not to mention their rep at the playground-for like, LIFE. Luckily, I can come to the rescue and refer her to another friend of mine (and blogger) who has reviewed several of these items. Alas, she still has no idea what she wants.

Why? Because the internet changes it's mind.

I get home, boyfriend tells me how John Elway has embraced Twitter. How the once "CIA-like" secrecy of the NFL is being released for the first time, and people are loving it. They love the new influx of information. This will  no doubt cause controversy every Sunday and Monday in the household. As if the new ESPN iphone app wasn't accessible enough, now Elway has a play by play in the boardroom.

I'll be the first to admit. I love it.

I google everything. If I'm going to an event. I search for pictures so I know what to wear. If you are selling me something I'm the slightest bit interested in, I'm checking you out. If you're applying for a job, you better have a linkedin profile. And if I just met you, I already know more about your ex-girlfriend that you do. But honestly what good does this do? Ya, not much.

What I do know, is that over-informed travelers are likely to spend more time at home. Maternal instincts make you spend sleepless nights googling poop-holders. And Twitter scares stockholders to death.

I'm wondering how many others out there are like us? (assuming you are reading this because you googled me) The over-informed and undecided... 

Knowledge is power...right? Multi-tasking was the premier trait seeked by job recruiters in the 90's (see INC interview with Julie Morgenstern.) Now, is the more focused individual the more informed? Do people without the white noise interruption become the most wanted? Is it better to know more of less than less of more?

Honestly, I still don't know.

Therefore, I blog about these topics, pose these questions, google for reference material, post on twitter, write about it on Facebook, and anxiously await feedback from my readers. If I don't receive immediate feedback, I'll post again on Twiiter tomorrow morning. If I don't hear anything then, I'll check my Google Analytics account to make sure people are reading my blog. Then I'll check what company they are from, then how long they spent reading, then maybe check what search term they used to find me... then maybe... oh gosh.... its a never ending circle isn't it?

I google so I can learn more. So I know what to google better, so I can learn more....

When do you stop growing?

This blog post is dedicated to my little/big daughter, Jessica. She says I only blog about Lauren. (I posted one blog about Lauren, and to my credit, neither girl remembers I blog in the first place.)

So, fine. I'll post a blog about Jessica. (who probably won't read it anyway.) Sounds easy enough, but really this blog is dedicated to the Macik Market, and all things marketing. So how can I relate Jessica to marketing? Got it.

Lately, she can't stop eating. Mind you, this 13 year old girl is already over 5'9" tall. I tell her she's hungry because of a growth spurt (up or out, I don't know which). She asks, "When will I stop growing? I'm tall enough!" I think it's funny. I finished growing in 8th grade at 5'5.5". Her older sister is in at 5'4" (she'll lie and say 5'5").

Everyone is back to work after the holiday, so we're all swapping holiday stories about kids and family. As I'm talking about Jessi getting even taller, they say they'd love to be taller and think its cute she's still growing--how awesome it is to be 13 and full of the unknown. And really how cool is that?

So here I am wondering... Am I still growing? Am I still looking toward the unknown? Man, I sure hope so.

Awesome Giant Lawn Chair seats too-tall-teens Comfortably
If you've kept up with my employer, Atos Origin, we're looking toward a big year in 2011. North America is set to triple in size, the company is set to more than double their expertise and gain one of the largest IT contracts in history. For me--for marketing, this means lots of changes ahead. With change, I can only hope for growth. Growing to unknown heights is kind of exciting, right?

You never know where you'll end up. All you can do is feed your charisma, feed your inhibitions, and watch how far you can go (or "grow" in this case). As you enter the new year, why not wonder where your career will take you. Are you finished growing? Do you want to be finished growing? Do you think you've grown enough? Clearly, my answer is no. I'm not finished. I want to see how far this ride will take me.

I'm booked for New York next week. I hope to learn from the Argyle CMO Leadership Forum around all things Marketing in 2011. I'm begging for the departments first iMac for video production. I'm learning how to better utilize Microsoft Project to track true costs of project work. I'm learning to research the market better, to research our clients needs and expectations. I'm learning to groom my marketing team for reaching new heights. I'm learning to grow, I'm learning not to stop. I'm learning to love it.

How far will you grow in 2011?

Happy Holidaze! Acquisitions and Planning, OH MY!

Its that magical time of year again... snow is falling, Christmas lights are twinkling, everyone is singing, the kids are begging to unwrap their gifts under the tree. Ahhh.... such a serene life we lead.

Ok, well I'm sure that's in someone's house, but not here. In Texas we're enjoying 80+degree weather (and by enjoying, I mean suffering). I still have to do Christmas shopping, my kids are Lord knows where, and I'm still at work pumping out projects as a last ditch effort to finish them as promised in 2010. (Sorry, Pete, I'm working I promise!)

What happed to the end of the year when things calmed down? Maybe that's not true anymore, or maybe its just not true for me anymore. Atos Origin has shared some exciting news over the last few days. We're set to acquire Siemens IT Solutions by 2011 mid-year. As the sole seat for communications in the US, its is an exciting time for me, as the US operations is expected to triple in size. Its my first rodeo (that's Texan for my first M&A experience). Just like any other employee, I wonder what the next step will be...but as a Marketeer, it has me thinking on a different level.

I've interviewed employees who were part of an outsourcing transition. They spoke about how they didn't know if they would be chosen to stay in their current seat until end of transition, they spoke about worry, and spoke about times being tense. It seems this acquisition will be similar to a new contract for Atos Origin and Siemens. And honestly, that makes me feel better. All teams will have expert transition managers,  highly-trained HR representatives, and on-board staff who are no strangers to this practice.

I expect the next six months to be filled with tense communication, rapid market deployment of new strategies, documentation of all best practices, and committee upon committee to decide best steps for the way forward for Atos Origin. It's exciting to be a part of such whirlwind change.

As I finalize my work today, and hit shut-down for the last time in 2010...I'll enjoy my time off, enjoy the kids, enjoy the gifts I haven't bought yet, and just relax. For 2011 looks like a shotgun start!

See you on the flip-side folks!

Notice the tank-tops and boots. Texan Christmas Ya'll.

Tweet Intentions

Tuned in to the Seinfeldian absurdities of life...

I wish I had written that, but it was from the hand of Peggy Orenstein in her NYTimes article, "I tweet, therefore I am." I saw the article days ago from a friend’s Facebook feed. It was interesting enough for me to come back to it for an actual read (that’s a huge feat).

In the past week I've heard several different opinions around social media, self promotion, and electronic communications. I thought it was odd that all of these conversations, completely different subjects, were in fact, connected.

My daughter’s teacher suggests she clean-up her Facebook account before applying for college. The radio morning show was talking about their online twitter stalkers.  A family member was scolded for using too much text messaging “it’s not real communication”. My mother is upset to be the last to know everything (she’s not a facebooker).  And perhaps the most interesting to me was, a potential client was perceived as “self promoter” not a “company advocate”.  Thinking back…each piece of yielding advice was provided by someone who is not part of the social wave of daily interaction.

In Orenstien’s article she mentions we are all now part of a reality TV show—using Twitter and such to post our every move, vying for attention and looking for feedback.  I’m definitely guilty. I love tweeting a good article, sharing news about my company, turning my 101 random thoughts into a cohesive blog post… and there is nothing better than receiving personal feedback or watching those google analytic numbers go up.

But does this make me a “self promoter”? I have a personal blog, but all tweets and postings keep my companies culture, newest services, and SEO in mind. I tweet random thoughts (sometimes I just can’t help it) but mostly, all is for the company. I also post blogs for official company business, where often times, my name is attached.

As I read other tweets and blogs, I immediately cling to those with more personality. I remember their thumbnail photos. I reply and interact often. There are plenty of webinars and articles that say personality is the key to social interaction. So, in my mind, my outward self-promotion is nothing short of a daily sacrifice for the good of the company. *sounds trumpets and flags*

So do we work on toning down our personality while the rest of the population catches up with us? Or do we continue posting opinions about the “Seinfeldian absurdities of life” in hopes that it will strike a chord with someone looking for our service, someone interested in a connection, or by-golly even someone who will leave a comment or *gasp* reference our blog on their blog!?

You're born with it, or You're not.

 I lost my new Bluetooth ear-piece this morning (again). I started thinking about my 17 year old daughter. She's been in big trouble lately. She wrecked and totaled her first car, she broke her brand new G3, got a new one, then lost it and has consequently lost all privileges to life in general. 

So I'm searching the parking lot of Petsmart, hoping I find the stupid Bluetooth thing - I did. I just laugh at myself thinking I'm an idiot. I've lost or broke about a million cellphones, my brand new iPod touch spent its first six-months of life lost in the couch cushions, I can never remember where I put anything. Wow... could I have taught this behavior to her? Or maybe she was just born that way

I decide to go with some people are just born that way (obviously nothing to do with my rearing). Some people continue behavior patterns no matter how hard you try to groom them for change. This links me to another subject, (I've got an hour commute, this happens a lot)... Can you only be successful with a natural talent? Do you have to be born with the ability, or at least the desire to do something? Or, can you teach someone to like something enough, to be successful at something even if they don't want to do it? Can I teach Lauren to respect her phone, not wreck her car, or to at least stop losing stuff? I've given up. No, I don't think I can.

Consequently, can you create a social media person? Can you create a social media leader? Can you get non-believers to find the magic in social media? Can you actual show them that it can be used for good not evil? This is my battle today.

Our General Counsel, Mike Hamilton, was the feature of this months internal newsletter for Atos Origin North America. He puts it so eloquently: “…there are some rules of thumb to keep in mind when communicating in the social networking world.  Rule number 1: use common sense.  Rule number 2: see Rule number 1.”

We've been on the cusp of some amazing social media potential lately. Our CIO CTO Blog created in the UK is up for a ComputerWeekly Blog Award, service delivery line guys are creating content and making sure we're posting within a certain time-frame, external communications is working with program managers and our scientific community to create social links and individual blogging potential. All these things are a step in the right direction.

But I still get comments like
  "Are you going to Tweet that?" 
  "I'd like a job that lets me Facebook and Google myself all day."
  "Twitter won't be around forever, you're wasting your time."
  "We don't want our information out there."

These are legitimate concerns I suppose, if you aren't made the same way I am. The same way other people mixed in the social media frenzy are also made. I don't think we will always tweet. I don't think Facebook will be the last best-thing. I DO think that the way we're communicating has changed. I DO think spending my time researching the market online, observing our competition within their own social confines, and connecting our service delivery personnel to the outside world is very important. But, again, I'm just born that way. I've always been open to a new way of working. I like change, I expect change, I need change.

If your company wants to go in a "social" direction, it doesn't mean you lose control of your privacy. It doesn't even mean that you have to do it. It doesn't even mean that you have to like it. This is not unlike the telegraph, telephone, cell phone, email, online messaging, text messaging... its just a progression. If your not jumping into the social waters now and could care-less about doing so, no worries. You don't have to. You just aren't born that way. I'm learning to accept that. I'm learning to accept that some people think my twitter and Facebook are silly. I'm not even trying to change that. The fact that I can still communicate your message through all the newest outlets and keep your brand connected with others keeps you from having to do so. I'm pretty sure you also winced back in 1998 when websites first began emerging. "The competition will find us!" You've gotten used to it, or at least accepted it by now. (fingers crossed). I'm hoping you can do the same thing with my tweets. It's all for the greater good. I promise.

My daughter on the other hand....

As I dust off the road rash from my bluetooth and stick it back in my ear, I see I owe her an apology. You are clearly born with it. Sorry sweetie. I love you anyway. (but yes, you're still grounded)

Necessity of a Mentor: Your catalyst to the next step

I'm probably the best* case study for mentorship there is. (*as she toots her own horn) I was launched into the workforce directly from high school and have worked under some amazing people who saw my potential and kept me under their wing. Each person willing to let me go to the next step, and proud to keep in touch and watch me grow. I attribute my mentors to being able to get where I am today.

Confessional here: I don't have my college degree *gasp*. I know, I know. It's crazy to think that a kid can even get into the corporate world without it. While I don't recommend it to anyone, I'm proud of my accomplishments so far. I am still young, and am waiting for my girls to start college before I go back to finish my own course work. But that's not what this post is about...

I wanted to give a shout out to the people in my life who have made a huge difference in where I am today. Being able to grow up and work with such amazing people have given me the skills, endurance, patience, and drive to move ahead to my next challenge. If you can't look back on your life and say WOW-- That person really made a difference... then maybe you should start looking for them!

  • 1975: My mother... Mentor since BIRTH!

  • 1985: My aunt... Because she taught me how to paint and appreciate art

  • 1991: My teacher... Mrs. Linda Winder for teaching me to do more, be more than I thought I could do

  • 1998: These were my "wonder" years. I just wondered around, not really knowing what to do. This is where I go back to my mom for help. (See Mentor 1)

  • 2000: My SLB friends, Julie and Stephen taught me corporate world necessities. How to dress, how to network, how to look beyond where you sat.

  • 2003: Mr. Hutton... Best quote ever: "Your reputation doesn't follow you, it precedes you." This made me start thinking about how I wanted people to perceive me, and what legacy I wanted to leave.

  • 2008: Mr. Schebler... When I started at Atos Origin I thought he would be the death of me. Today, I've learned to "Speak Ryan" and learned that he expects more out of me and my department than I thought possible. I can honestly say my skill set has tripled since working with him because he is TOUGH! 

  • 2010: Mr. Cyran... Mark is my current mentor and the first one in an official capacity. We're in complete different lines of work: he, the VP of a Service Line and me, the manager of a Shared Service. We're able to learn from each other. He has been a great mentor and I'm looking forward to learning more. I've been able to look at my job in a whole new way.
So, have you thought about it? Who are your mentors? I also have high hopes for making a long list of mentees. Am I on your list? Kayleigh Kannady, I'm lookin at you :)

The Oprah Effect

The Oprah Effect has been reported by several media outlets. I heard it again this morning on NPR. They were talking about the implications of Oprah going into retirement. How she has changed Chicago, provided jobs, and how her "Midas touch" has rippled throughout the community. "What now? they asked. What will happen to Chicago once Oprah retires?"

This really got me thinking... not that I'm any where near retirement age, but when I do retire, or go on vacation, or change positions within the company... will people freak out? Has "The Rachel Effect" rippled throughout my organization? I certainly hope I am making my mark within the company, but at the same time, I'd like to think the organization has been set up to run, no matter where I am. I plan on leaving a legacy for anyone to follow or research. Do you do the same?

I saw a tweet last week that said, "Never teach everything you know." I have to say I think completely opposite of this. I enjoy teaching others how I learned something, sharing new found shortcuts, and keeping everyone up to date. Is this naive? Do other managers not do this?

Has Oprah not left a legacy? Is she leaving her over 400 employees without jobs upon her retirement? Or will she keep the Oprah Effect going by endorsing her replacement? It will be interesting to watch.

Has Your Effect been documented and taught to those around you? Or are you taking Your Effect with you? I'm interested to hear...

So, a girl walks into a bar...

None of these are Suzy, but a good reason
to post a wine/working/drinking photo.
Ok, so the girl was my friend, and we weren't at a bar (we were at Arturo's, yum!) but there was wine and social media conversation involved. Let's just call her Suzy.

Naturally, I'll help Suzy. She hears opportunity knocking, and knows that the public relations industry is ever changing. What once was a glad-hand, take-the-media-to-dinner, buy-some-advertising, play-nice-with-my-financial-report type of relationship, has transformed into an online-googleable, is-it-SEO-worthy, follow-me type of shout outs. (right now she's thinking - oh crap! what does that mean?!)

Now, these are obviously my nonsense description of how I see another change in the world of communications, and doesn't apply to all PR of course. There are still the perfect reasons for pitching the best story ideas over lunch, good media coverage from product roll-out events, and of course the ol' wire press release. However, if your still doing all these things, and skipping social media integration, you've GOT to be missing out!

So, my dear friend Suzy wants to get started. I've promised to help (as long as more wine will be involved). What better way than to make Suzy read my blog to get her answers. After she's read my blog and built the structure for her community, I'll sit down with Suzy and talk strategy. Since she is REALLY new to this, we're starting her off with baby steps.

Step 1: Brand yourself
This is a huge step all on its own. Decide on a profile picture that is professional and easily recognized by your peers. Decide on a writing style and stick with it. Decide what types of conversations you want to have. Decide on where to draw the line (or if you even want to) between personal and professional.

Step 2: Decide on an outlet
Now, I say this because I don't think everyone has to do EVERYTHING. I think you can choose one type of social media, and just start there. I am going to ask Suzy to create a Facebook account. Why Facebook? She can easily create automatic updates for a twitter account, her Linkedin account and even a blog if she wanted to. This way, she updates once, and all the different sites keep her account active. Later, when she gets the hang of things, she can concentrate on different strategy for each outlet, but lets try and keep her from getting overwhelmed.

Step 3: Interact
Suzy has to learn that no matter how cute she looks in her photo (and she will because she is using Victoria Lind Photography) and no matter now many friends she collects on Facebook (and she will because everyone loves Suzy) her accounts are worth nothing unless she uses them. You must read other peoples posts, you must send people material you find interesting, you must stay connected. Be sure to tell your manager how you found a journalist through a group on Linkedin (by the way nice to meet you Paul Desmond) Show your sales team how to find leads on Twitter. Easily keep relationships across the nation with all types of Journalists (hope all is well Kristin Burnham).

Step 4: Read, Read, and Re-Read
My marketing coordinator asked me the other day "do you think Facebook will always be this popular?". Nope, I don't. I have no doubt that something (one day) will replace it. And whatever that is, I'll be one of the first to join it because I'll have already read someone's blog about it and saw the numerous amounts of tweets and youtube coverage about it!

Well Suzy, I really hope this helps. When you've completed steps 1 and 2, I'll come help you with the rest...

See other stories of "How to get started in Social Media" here. (from people who are much more qualified than I am. But not as good looking)


Branding Yourself on Social Sites

Every designer knows you can't use twenty different fonts on the same layout, you can't mix different photography styles in the same periodical, and you certainly must use a common color pallet for your brand. These rules also apply to social media. My team worked to keep a consistant look for the Atos Origin Facebook pages, the Atos Origin twitter, the Atos Origin Linkedin groups, and will continue to do so as new social media outlets become available. It's important to keep current, and keep your brand in the forefront. See Chris Brogan's Blog on branding with Social Media
This got me thinking... how can I link my personal social media accounts all linked? I'm not a company, I'm not a brand. The lines of my personal facebook account are quickly being blurred into my professional life. I want to keep the "personal touch" on my facebook account, yet still keep the same "rachel" brand on my other sites. I don't want to appear to be simply self-preserving... (but aren't us bloggers all kind of ego surfers?)

I took my first step in doing this today! In true ego-surfer fashion, I hired Victoria Lind Photography to take my first ever professional profile pics. While I'm standing in Houston's Uptown Park, trying to keep my hair from flattening, wiping sweat off my face, and pretending that all of this completely normal... I'm thinking (I do this a lot)...Is this normal? Do people really pay this much attention? Will people pay more attention to my tweets if they recognize me? Will branding "Rachel Macik" in turn help to brand my company? Will Atos Origin benefit from a little social pr?

...I guess I'll just have to try this and find out!

Reinventing yourself, Reinventing your company

With Paul Stewart, North America CEO
I've been a part of a technology company now for 3 1/2 years. I am fortunate enough to be able to work with the North America CEO, Paul Stewart, sitting just down the hall from me, and have been able to meet several of the C-levelers from across the pond. In my first year at Atos Origin, (and my first trip to Paris) I met then CEO, Bernard Bourigeaud at a marketing communications meeting. he was very cordial, had no real speech... just stopping by. 
Paris 2007, Just before Beijing Games
I met our newest CEO Thierry Breton when he first took his position in 2009. Naturally I admired his curly locks. I even had to google him to see if I was the first one to mention his fabulous hair (I wasn't). He offered a lot of news regarding the financial side of the company. He had a swift presence that let you know big changes were coming, and the change would be good.
This year, I was able to meet Gilles Grapinet (yes he has nice hair too). Mr. Grapinet attended our Global Marketing meeting in Paris back in April. He spoke after our Sales Director Hervé Payan with a quick speech on how marketing will play a large part in helping change the company in a way I had never thought of before.
His voice was soft, capturing attention of 20 chatty marketeers. He started with the story of evolution for television. He explained how they were easy to sell-all TVs had the same technology, and we all wanted one. Instead of becoming a commodity, and being a simple choice of price, the TV kept reinventing itself. Now, nearing 100 years later, the television is still being reinvented.
Mr. Grapinet says Atos Origin should follow this model. There will always be services that are contingent on price, but us marketeers will be the ones to help promote the newest most advanced solutions to become an "enhanced business function". He used an example of cellphones, and how companies offer them for free, yet we wait in line for hours to spend over $400 on the latest smartphone. So true!
So, what am I getting at? I'm trying to say that (besides being a great speaker), Mr. Grapinet really has a point here. As marketing managers, we don't create the technology, but we must be able to utilize the "best of the best" thought leaders. We must make sure other companies know about our solutions before they even know they need it. It is our job to make sure those innovative thinkers get their time in the spotlight.
It has been 3 months since this meeting. We have implemented thought leadership into our Facebook account, the marketing department has dove into ways of working more strategically with our partners, our CIO/CTO Atos Origin Blog is more popular than ever, more training and a new way of thinking is afoot.

Stay tuned folks, Atos Origin has an entire community of smart folk, and we're not afraid to use it.

Feeling tweet-ledee or tweet-ledumb?

So how do you chose a technology to promote your business? Do you need to use all of them? If you don't know what to do, do you do nothing? I saw an article called "To Tweet or Not to Tweet" on a cover of some magazine that was inadvertently thrown away before I had a chance to read it. (happens a lot) So I google it today, and there are multiple articles ranging from The Huffington Post, The New York TimesSuccess Magazine, and blogs.  There are several arguments for each faucet of every opinion, but this is my blog, so I'm just giving you my non-referencable opinion :)
Let's say I want to buy something whether it's a pair of shoes, hotel stay, housekeeping service, a new house, or a new laptop, I'm going google it. I'll check for references, likes-dislikes, are they innovative, is it cutting-edge, endorsements, corporate culture, and more...If I'm tweeting, facebooking, blogging, and at minimum have updated websites I can steer my prospects and customers to the content I want them to read.
My point is, if you are not active in these spaces, you will be lost. Your great offerings, custom designed printed flyers might never make it in the hands of your client before they make a decision. Its our job as marketeers to make certain everyone can find our products and services.
So back to my point. Do you NEED to be in all of these spaces? My answer is no. And yes :) As you become comfortable with each of the new tools, implement them into your daily routine. Kind of like a diet or exercise regim. Slowly implement at a regular speed so it becomes a part of your every day. If you try to do everything all at once you're going to just quit, and end up fat. end up off the SEO radar!
My co-worker asked me the other day, but do you really think Facebook, blogging, and twitter will last forever? Nope, I don't.... nothing lasts forever, but this is part of evolution and we're in it. So embrace it!
I'm going to be working on this theory with our new SAP Global Campaign for Atos Origin. So far, I have a twitter and facebook page. They virtually have the same content, but soon they will  be picked up by other global marketeers and Atos Origin SAP users around the globe. I'll keep you updated...