Website Rebrand and Marketing

 

We initially worked with this client on a new website and marketing communications. A few years later, we were hired to function as an outsourced marketing department. A few years later, we were once again brought in to help them do a brand refresh. For this project, our team handled the brand messaging, updated logo and slider and the website redesign. We continued working with the client for a year on content marketing and social media.

Aging, Hallways and Reflections on Life

Corridor

Image courtesy of By Gabbyly (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Note: I wrote this post six years ago and it sat in my drafts folder. I stumbled across it today and nearly a year after my Dad’s passing, it seemed fitting to hit the button and publish it. 

I entered the brightly lit hallway and gave thanks for the welcoming absence of smells typical to healing environments. I turned right and moved past the doors, each one indistinguishable from the other except for the numbers. I reached the end of a corridor shaken from my inner dialog and realized I had taken a wrong turn. After several wrong turns, I landed in the right corridor and at the end spotted a man in a wheelchair. Even in the distance you could see the petal soft gray hairs surrounding a patch of bare scalp, they reminded me of the carefully planted daises around the outer edges of the tree in our backyard. My breath caught as memories of home washed over me. The old man, thin and slightly hunched over in a wheelchair was my Dad. When had he become an elderly man?  It was easy to look past the slowing gait and the memory lapses when he was at home but here without familiar anchors the pretense was stripped away, my father was no longer getting old, he had arrived. I slowed as I approached him not wanting to startle him and gently touched a shoulder. He looked up in my direction, eyes focused but unseeing, lost in another world where even English had escaped him.

As I removed my winter coat and sat in a chair next to him, a neighbor resident wheeled over to greet me. Her wide girth filed the chair and her equally big personality filled the corridor. She introduced herself and we made small chat as my Dad sat peacefully unaware of our presence. He was content in his own silence, interrupted occasionally by words that seemed reverent and prayerful. When I asked how long she would remain in the facility, she informed me that it was her home. The word “home” echoed like a scram in my head. How could this artificially cheerful place ever be considered home? She seemed nice, and though not ambulatory, fairly healthy.

I barely heard the cheery woman tell me that she was a childless widow, with nowhere to go. Her voice faded as my brain furiously spun out of control sizing her up and making comparisons that would fight the growing sense of dread that this woman was my future self. I was fit and this woman clearly was not and oh god I would never wear a sweater that ugly. I hated myself for my ugly thoughts yet seemed to temporarily lose control of one lobe of my brain. I shuddered visibly both to shake myself back to decency even as a part of me acknowledged with horror that I could end up alone in a nursing home wheeling through the halls as the resident Mayor of a town in which no one wanted to live.

The whole episode rattled me but I once again focused on my Dad. For the length of our visit, he slept on or off but was silent. I held his hand, and kissed his head and in fleeting moments of lucidity, told him I loved him. For now, this was home for my Dad but it was only a location. In that moment I remembered that the “where” of our dwelling was less important than those who shared the space. I cannot predict where home will be in my senior years, but I can live a life that ensures that the place will not matter. Like my Dad, I hope to be loved regardless of the address.

Dude, Where’s My Website?

Last week I had planned to take Thursday and Friday off. My planned time off was reduced from two days off to ending my day 30 minutes early on Friday. After a sleepless Friday night I had planned to treat myself to a little relaxation on Saturday. Unfortunately, hackers had other plans. Two of my websites were hacked and defaced and it was good-bye R&R hello hacking recovery. You can read the postmortem on the attack over at the Words For Hire Blog.summer moon

I still feel a bit shaky. It’s a lot like sleeping in your home after a break-in. Even after you have disinfected, changed the locks and added security you’re a little wary.All in all it made for a stressful sprint into the summer season. Now, it’s time to shake it off and look to the week ahead. Time to work on bylines, content, social media campaigns and new messaging strategies. How about you? What’s on your agenda this week?

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Boston Marathon Tragedy

http://storify.com/karenswim/boston-marathon-tragedy

Solo But Not Alone

Last month I had the chance to take a break from the Michigan winter. I got a healthy dose of warmth from the weather and the people

solo pr summit

Mary Ellen “Marketing Mel” Miller and Amanda Miller Littlejohn

that I met at a Solo PR conference held in Atlanta. In fact I had several down right sappy moments as I realized how much it means to be solo but not alone. Even the fiercely independent solo needs a cast of support to fully realize the power and potential of running your own business.

The two days I spent at the conference provided the benefits of a business incubator in the company of generous thought leaders who were happy to hold up pom-poms to cheer you on to your next level. In addition to practical tips like how to better promote my brand, and how to turn my website into a lead generating terminator, I walked away with a deeper sense of why no man is or should be an island.

You can read more of my key insights and takeaways on my guest post at MBO Partners. Please stop by and weigh in with your comments.

 

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Holiday Opt-Out

Dear Holidays,

Today I am unsubscribing. I am opting out and no longer wish to receive your messages. No I don’t want to change the frequency of

Holiday break

Holiday break (Photo credit: César Poyatos)

your messages, I want out completely. Your automated response says that you’re sorry to see me go but I know that I no longer matter.

I did not hit unsubscribe lightly. I have been a loyal subscriber for years. But over time, you’ve changed and quite frankly your content is no longer relevant to me. I was with you before the merger. I remember when Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and New Year were separate outfits. I supported all of you and enjoyed your distinctive offerings. But then you merged and became the “Holidays,” and you lost your distinction. Oh yes I know that you cited brand evolution as a natural progression. You talked of a new era that was inclusive. You were staying true to your core values but innovating to stay in the game…blah, blah, blah. I understood the words but could not help feeling abandoned by brands that I once advocated.

You have assembled an army of affiliates who use your name and marketing to sell everything from books to teeth whitening. It no longer matters if they align with your core brand as long as they use approved messaging and brand colors.
Now you have decided to expand your brand visibility. You’re not content to be a seasonal brand but are moving into the broader market. I read that you’re close to a deal with the 4th of July and Veteran’s Day and are developing new brands for the months that lack coverage.

Congratulations you have arrived. You took your mom and pop shops and grew them into big brands. I wish you the best but I can no longer support your vision.

We had some good times but please don’t contact me again.

Respectfully,

Karen
P.S. I found a small startup that is filling a niche you abandoned. They are focusing on people like me who still treasure faith and family. They are wide eyed idealists who care more about the experience than the profit. I don’t need shiny gadgets, apps and maps to access their offerings. They remind me of a little of you before you became a “season.”

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Facing Down Failure

Pressure sensitive starting blocks at the star...

Image via Wikipedia

Last Sunday, I watched Kellie Wells become the new women’s 100-meter hurdles champion. Even on television her joy was palpable. It was her first American title, and her chance to put old demons to rest. On the same site three years prior, she had a solid chance of heading to Beijing but fell to the track in agony, with an injury that brought her career to a temporary halt.

On Sunday, Kellie Wells had to return to the same place she had once failed. She had to compete among colleagues who had witnessed the failure. How many of us know what that feels like, to not only fail but have witnesses?

We all blow it on occasion. Our failures may not be as public, but they can be just as debilitating and heart wrenching as a career stalling injury.  Some failures are short lived and others require us to fight back through a rehabilitation period. The good news is that we always have an opportunity to try again. Whether you had a business crash, lost a job, lost a client or failed at a big project, there is always another opportunity to line up for a new race.

When Wells put her feet in the starting blocks on Sunday, her thoughts were not of the past. She was only thinking of that day and that race and her impending victory.

I know what failure feels like. Even when it’s not public you feel like you’re wearing a neon sign that flashes “loser.” It can rob you of your confidence and make you doubt your abilities. I know that tape that plays – didn’t you try this before…remember the last time you were here…are you sure you’re ready for this…and on and on.

Some are never able to shake off the stench of defeat. They allow themselves to be continuously victimized by past failures. They limit their potential by refusing to stretch beyond the boundaries of where past failure allows them to go.

I have had failures, and am confident I’ll have many more. Some have resulted in a long dry spell without a single victory. But giving up is never an option. Each day, is a new chance to win. As you get into position, feet in the blocks, the only race that matters is the one you are about to start.

Today as I line up, I know that I have a fresh chance to win, or at the very least to jump over hurdles and cross the finish line. My outcome is not determined by my yesterdays but by what I do in this moment, in this time. How about you?

 

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Perfection is Overrated

Imperfect Beauty

Image by ToniVC via Flickr

I had big plans for this site. Written plans with timelines and resources. But life does not always go according to plan. It started with the design that did not go according to plan. I had not planned on the complexities and had to delay the site launch. Unfortunately, business and life conspired to take over and I soon found myself off schedule and without time to even address the issues. Sigh.

I was stalled but my inspiration was not. I suddenly had so much to say and no place to say it. Life was happening all around me and I wanted to share what I was learning, what moved me and what changed me. I took notes and made drafts but could not publish them because my site was not ready. Should I continue to let these moments pass by or move forward in imperfection?

I am not a perfectionist. I am far too flawed to even aspire to perfection but I am someone who likes to give my best effort even if it draws blood. I don’t care what people think about me but I do care about people and would never want to treat them to less than they deserve. So deciding to embrace “undone” was not going to be easy.

This experience has reinforced that perfection is not always necessary. When it comes to life and death, by all means opt for perfect but at other times being a work in progress has its advantages. Things move quickly in our digital age. I could spend months trying to get the design perfect only to have it be in need of an update a few months later.  So, I’m launching or what we’ll call a rolling launch, a continuing work in progress. I hope you’ll join me in the journey. I won’t promise that it will be perfect but we can sure make it fun!

How about you, have you ever chosen imperfect over perfect? How did it work out for you?

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Launching Soon!

Site is currently under construction and will be live for 2011! In the interim you can find me on Twitter (@karenswim) or on Words For Hire.