i wish I had a snack for every time someone used the phrase “snackable content"

6 Things I Learned at the AMA Higher Education Symposium

1.     SEO-M-G:
I think for anyone who is not “traditionally” trained in digital marketing, SEO or search engine optimization, is not only hard to say, but hard to implement. I attended a few sessions that alluded to this dark horse strategy and I learned a lot. I learned how tools like GoogleAdWords can help you to successful reach a wider audience. I also learned the important of word choice, and how that drives SEO. I feel as though the veil has been lifted. The shock and confusion has instead turned into SEO-M-G, this is a game changer. Shout out to the crew at VisionPoint Marketing for dropping all kinds of content/SEO/marketing knowledge.

2.     Blogs are not just for lifestyle:
Spinning off of SEO-driven content, I learned how higher education institutions are using blogs to make their information accessible to their current audience, while also engaging others who may not have looked to them for answers. These sessions opened my mind to the possibilities of posts we could do at the law school, that would drive people to our site organically. Blog posts give schools the opportunity to be a vessel for must-know information, while getting their brand in people’s mind. The best part of these kind of blog posts is that while it is advancing a brand, it is not in a blatant advertising fashion, and that brings me to the third thing I learned.

3.     Me as a GenZ (marketer)
First of all, I did not realize I was on the cusp of this new generation called “GenZ,” but after listening to my favorite keynote address of the conference by Google’s Education Evangelist (yes that’s his title, how BA), Jaime Casap. This first-generation college grad turned education converter pointed out how successful marketers must grow and adapt to their audience. GenZers (GenZs, GenZinials?) distrust advertising and instead connect with brands that tout authenticity, and evoke and emotion and personal connection. They live in a world where the jobs they will hold have not been created and where technology has always existed. (Point: I use the word “they” while also acknowledging that I in part belong to this generation.) Our voice must change as our audience changes.

4.     Inclusion is the enemy:
Not that you want to portray your brand as an all-exclusive, you-can’t-sit-with-us elitist, but you have to understand that your brand is not going to be a perfect match for everyone. *Best line of the conference: if you try to speak to everyone, you’ll speak to no one. Um hello sticky not on my computer. I think in PR we try to project a universal message. But in trying to make everyone feel they have a place, we leave a surface-level impression, when our audience craves a deeper connection. We need to tell stories that speak to a select few and entice passion and a sense of belonging, and then tell another story that does the same for another segment of our audience. There is power is saying “hey you very specific segment of the universe, we see you, value you, and cater to you.”

5.     Storytell, don’t storysell
Easy—make your stories about people and experiences that enhances your brand, not how your brand enhances people and experiences.

6.     Unclog your creative artery
The last session of the conference was a storytelling workshop. Jill Pollack from StoryStudio Chicago, who also has an incredible title, Chief Story Wrangler, took PR and marketing writing and flipped it on its side. And it made me think, most of us went into journalism, advertising, marketing, public relations, etc. because we love to write, but once we got into those roles we turned into salespeople. While tone and mission are certainly important and irreplaceable aspects of our jobs, our best work comes from our passion and innate ability to tell a story. She suggested starting every project with a creative writing exercise that will open up or unclog that creative artery. Even if the project you’re working on is not innately creative, training your muscles to relax and allow words to flow can unleash untapped potential that will add heart to a daily task. This is why I want to continue writing pieces like these, where I get to make bad jobs or snarky side comments. I’m just flexing my imagination muscle and keeping the blood flowing through my creative artery.

A big thanks to everyone at the AMA, including all the people who helped it run so smoothly, selected helpful topics and encouraged a platform for learning and discussion. I left inspired to create content snack-size that matters, as well as always keep snack-size candy bars at my desk.