Memoirs of a Dutiful X'er

Memoirs of a Dutiful X'er

Most of our friends know that at ROBYN, we are focused on honing our marketing skills... And we enjoy sharing what we have learned! To this end, we are thrilled to introduce a side project we've been working on: The 7 Minute Smarketer.

The premise behind the podcast is to sit down with innovative marketers who are experts in different disciplines and give them 7 minutes to make us smarter. The podcasts are hosted on the7 Minute Smarketer website, which you can hear by clicking the button below...




Jennifer James           7 Minute Smarketer

Bobby Lehew:  Well, hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of the 7‑Minute Smarketer. This is Bobby Lehew. I'm with my faithful co‑host, Brian Blake.

Brian Blake:  Good morning.

Bobby:  And I actually have the mics working for the first time.

Brian:  Nice.

Bobby:  Yeah, that's kind of cool. And we are sitting here today with Jennifer James who is the author of the blog‚ Memoirs of a Dutiful Xer, where she writes eloquently about Generation X. Her blog has been featured on the Washington Post, MSNBC, Huffington Post, Alta. She's a full‑time mom, full‑time public relations practitioner, and we are so delighted to have you, Jennifer.

Jennifer James:  Thank you so much, Bobby.

Bobby:  And you are ‚ I have to say this, in my estimation, one of the smartest bloggers that I know.

Jennifer:  Thank you.

Bobby:  And that whole output of content and all that is just rich. I think what would be helpful for our marketers is just hearing about some of that, but we also have a couple of other topics we want to get into.

So you know the premise. Basically you have seven minutes to make us a smarter marketer or you owe us a beer or coffee.

Jennifer:  [laughs]

Bobby:  It might be a little early. It might not be early for Blake.

Brian:  No, I'm good with whatever.

Jennifer:  [laughs]

Bobby:  So here we go, Jennifer. Make us smarter.

Jennifer:  OK, great. Well, I think when you think about content and content development, which is really at the heart of blogging and social media, one of the lessons that I learned most recently is to not doubt myself. I had attended a high school football game and I carried my camera. I do a lot of original photography.

Bobby:  Like GREAT photography… yes.

Brian:  I love it, yeah.

Jennifer:  I do. I love taking pictures and capturing those very candid moments in American life.

I attended this high school football game. It was at a private high school and one of the high schools was very conservative. I noticed that all of the boys were tucking their shirts in and wearing very conservative blue jeans, plain pocket blue jeans with belts.

So I snapped a picture and when I went back to create the blog post, I almost didn't post it. I thought it wasn't relevant. I didn't think it was particularly interesting. I worried that it might come off even offensive. But there was something very beautiful about the picture and about these young boys. I went ahead and posted it.

Well, the next morning, I noticed that a very prominent person in the Oklahoma City community who’s on Twitter had tweeted it. Her brother in Chicago picked it up and had said that that photo possessed, within that photo, it possessed a literary essay. And so I was just so struck that I had.

Bobby:  Wow.

Jennifer:  ...yeah, so deeply doubted myself.

Bobby:  Right.

Jennifer:  That in that moment when I saw those boys walking, I saw something interesting, but when I went back to create the content I started to doubt myself. I think there is just this part of developing self‑trust and to be able to stay connected to that moment where you first recognize the brilliance of something...

Bobby:  That is great.

Jennifer:  …and then doing that content development and then the cross‑marketing of it.

Bobby:  Right. Because not only do you have your own doubts that come up, now you have the digital world and you run it through your own personal filter. You doubt yourself. Then you run it through another filter that says, "Well, will that fly? What will people think of it?" I mean, that's brilliant.

Jennifer:  Right. And actually the feedback I got on Twitter was that it was genius. Here I had what somebody else is calling genius I'm thinking is completely irrelevant. And so I think that part of the lesson is that we don't always have this all figured out and we don't always know what's going to resonate with somebody else. And so really my blog is in many ways a laboratory for my public relations clients. What works on my blog might work for them and what fails on my blog might fail for them.

Bobby:  That's fantastic. Most marketers have gravitated toward this field because they’re creative people to begin with. And that's part of the love. That's why we stay with it because there's a lot of drudgery involved as well. It's not all beautiful and fun, but to capture that essence is fantastic.

You just mentioned something I find interesting. You have a personal blog that has obviously translated into working relationships with other businesses. Blog content for you… you're a pretty prolific blogger.

Jennifer:  [laughs] Yeah.

Bobby:  Do you have any tips on how do we find content? How do we go grab those stories? And you tell a great story with your camera. What tips do you have for how to develop fresh, good content that would be compelling?

Jennifer:  I started off creating content… original content, which was kind of the mommy blogger genre. And then I, this was three years ago,  got deeper into the Generation X stuff, I used Google Alerts which were very effective in finding ideas and thoughts that other people were hitting upon in terms of this whole theme of Generation X, those of us born from '61 to '81.

For a good while, most of my blog content was generated through ideas that I curated through these Google Alerts of what was the dominant themes in conversation across the Internet. Where I have come now is, again, just to trust in myself more, that I can identify themes and I can identify trends, and I can look up what the 25 and the 30 year anniversaries are, and I can commentate on pop culture and politics as it relates to my generation.

And that I'm just, now, really looking more inward, and that's why I changed my blog name to more memoirs versus just, again, going back to the Google Alerts and commenting on what other people are finding relevant. I'm creating what I think is relevant.

Bobby:  That's fantastic. So you're bouncing off of those ideas. And you tell a great story with the lens, as well as with copy. A lot of our marketers are in positions where they're having to talk about brands. Some of them may not be necessarily really excited about the topic they're talking about, but they've got a good eye for that kind of stuff.

Now you had mentioned earlier there were a couple of other topics. We have about two minutes left in our podcast here. What other things do you want to communicate to marketers? How can you make us smarter with the other topics you were mentioning?

Jennifer:  Well, one of the things that I've been really thinking a lot about lately is just reciprocity. I'm just always amazed at how often people fail in this two‑way communication model. You'll send an email to someone and they won't respond. You'll be in a conversation with somebody and their eyes will be downcast.

Bobby:  Has that been exacerbated because of the web? People don't think they have to respond? But now you're saying it's far more important that they do. This goes for brands, like Brian had an incident recently where a brand wasn't responding on Twitter. Are you kidding me? Is that what you're referring to, to some degree?

Jennifer:  Yeah, I don't know if the web has exacerbated it. I mean, I don't know. I have to confess, I'm really mystified by it because two‑way communications is the complete foundation of all positive human relationships, and so if you are not managing your feedback loop by being a good listener, by acknowledging people, by understanding or seeking to understand them, even if you have big differences. It's just amazing to me that people are just not more reciprocal and that, in some cases, are even negligent.

Bobby:  Yeah. Well, and as a marketer and as a professional that means that if you are, if you do abide by the law of reciprocity, you're actually going to stand head and shoulders above a mediocre crowd that's not doing it. And that goes for your brand, too.

Jennifer:  Yeah, absolutely.

Brian:  You know it's interesting you mention that because you're the third person in two days to say this, and the third person I respect, one being Paula Porter with Easter Seals who just said the same thing on Twitter, "If you're not communicating back, I'm going to quit following you."

Jennifer:  Interesting.

Brian:  Yeah, she wasn't being snide by that.

Jennifer:  But it's the truth, yes.

Brian:  She was just saying if you're not coming back and going back and forth with me, I'm not going to do it.

Seth Godin, just this morning, had a blog post that talked about the same thing and this overabundance of information now and how we don't appreciate it. People will go on vacation and have their outgoing message saying, "Hey, I'm going to be gone for a week and when I get back I'm deleting all my inbox, so you might want to wait a week to email me," because they don't care.

Bobby:  Right.

Jennifer:  You know, it's interesting, too. I had an interaction yesterday the other day with a state senator, a very prominent state senator, and his email communication, and this is a very busy person, very high profile, and yet he took the time to close the feedback loop and to say "Hey, thanks," and to be kind and to be thoughtful.

If somebody at that level who is pressed in from all sides, has a young family, lots of responsibilities, can engage in two‑way communication and be kind and thoughtful, we all can.

Bobby:  Absolutely.

Brian:  That’s right.

Jennifer:  It does go to the bottom line. It really does. Where people want to do business with people they like.

Bobby:  That's right. Client retention, and for marketers that are trying to do that, that's fantastic.


Well, this has been brilliant advice. It really is. It's a very sober, very down to earth.

Jennifer:  So do I owe you a beer?

Bobby:  Yeah, you do.


Bobby:  Since it's so early in the morning, I think that would be a good idea, yeah. No, that's all right. Actually you owe me coffee. No. It was fantastic, you don't owe us anything. It was great, Jennifer. I really appreciate the advice.

Jennifer:  Thank you, Bobby. Thanks Brian.

Bobby:  Hopefully we can do this again soon.

Jennifer:  Oh, I hope so.

Bobby:  Thanks.

Jennifer:  Thank you.