social networks

What a working mom can offer to her kids

I’ve not been publishing posts lately.  In part of my busy schedule, the maturing of my role, the dedication to my family time.  But also, my vigilance to not share what #agencylife can not be shared.  It concerns me to share too much.

This past Friday was a PA day – and I was asked if my kids would join in some field work.   I’ve long admired @mszego – my former boss of integrated strategy.  One of the things that @mszego always encouraged was the importance of getting personally connected to a category.  This doesn’t generate a focus group of one – just the opposite.  It opens our minds to the possibilities of the category.

Anyhow – here is my thank you letter to the amazing planning team at the agency that welcomed my kids this past Friday.  It is raw, heartfelt and interesting in its own right as a window into a working mom’s soul.

There are times, as a working mother, that I feel like I just can’t keep up to the stay at homes.   Choosing to work over staying at home is a decision you might know is right but often feels painful.

I can’t make paper mache pinatas, I don’t send personalized family portrait holiday card ornaments, I can’t even sew my daughters brownie badges on her brownie strap.  I’m a bad day time volunteer for my kids’ school pizza day – having stood up the school three times last year.

But I was quite certain this past Friday – that I was a mom who rocked both in my eyes and my kids eyes.

Who else could offer their kids focus group experience [doing xxxx], then a pizza movie and gifts.  Where else could my daughter run the halls with a little friend and my son terrorize the 3rd floor …  [judgement aside please –  They have received a taste of my working work – work, inspiration, energy, my coworkers and the environment.  I know they will remember this for a long time.]

For this, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You have balanced the scales for me.


Joining DraftFCB

I’m excited to join a new advertising agency – DraftFCB as their Planning Director in Digital effective August 13th 2012.

Why move?

Whereas it was true that I was very much enjoying my clients and our work together at my former employer, JWT Canada – I’ve been interested in the opportunity we have in integrating digital, and in particular, social media, better with communications or innovative efforts.  Admittedly, this is difficult when media, search, PR, customer service, etc are owned by different players and served by different agencies.  I felt I was making terrific progress  – certainly, on the Mazda business, we were constantly optimizing and integrating marketing efforts on a completely new level.  Still – multiple P&Ls made efforts more complicated.

Michael Szego, VP of Integrated Planning and my new boss at DraftFCB spoke to me about the value of having the whole global agency operate under a single P&L.  This isn’t just a financial arrangement but a philosophy and operating model that supports true integration.  Perhaps it is this integration philosophy that has played out in the floorplan..  at DraftFCB’s Toronto offices – my new desk in a swank open concept office – is across from the media guy, kitty corner to a strategist and behind a creative director.  And, might I add, just down the hall from the killer in-house cafe serving really good lattes for $2.75.  Now wasn’t that just the tipping point?

I am looking forward to working with some strategy heavyweights, to some pretty ambitious agency goals and earn the honour of working with a new set of clients – who I trust and hope will be as awesome as my past clients.

digital strategy, How to, social networks

Top five skill sets of today’s digital strategists

I get a significant amount of natural search visitor traffic [a.k.a. Google] against two key phrases —  “digital strategy job description” and “resigning from IBM“.    Since I resigned from IBM six years ago, I thought I’d offer a quick update on the role a digital strategist plays in today’s advertising industry.

At first consideration, people may think that the bulk of a digital strategist’s time is spent writing digital strategies.  But alas – that is only a small part of the role today.

Being in the position to write a digital strategy assumes that you or your client clearly understands where you have been and where you want to go.  Afterall, a digital strategy & plan is just the careful articulation of how to address a gap to a future digital vision.

But indeed, with the advent of social media and with emerging technology – some organizations do not have clear picture on what the digital future should hold.   So today’s digital strategist must be able to help clients develop a future perspective.   Among future opportunities – and there will be several – a strategist needs to help the client/brand prioritize the opportunities down to a few that will make the most substantive different (based on earlier identified organizational & brand goals).  Then as social media/digital has so many owners, a digital strategist also helps with alignment within an organization. These are great consulting muscles to flex!

Given this, the top five desired skill sets for today’s digital strategist include

  • facilitation experience.  Ability to work with many cross functional groups to create alignment on objectives and plans
  • influence & negotiation.  Ability to properly articulate the benefits & risks associated with digital opportunities.
  • analytics.  Ability to conduct or source research to identify the insights that will contribute to a balanced, thoughtful review of a business.  Ability to distill intelligence from data.
  • project management.  Ability to estimate the scope of efforts required, time & materials and clearly articulate the best project approach to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • synthesis.  [a rare skill]  Ability to synthesize activity, client needs or discussions to distill to the most salient facts.