Brand Socialites Summit, CPR and virtual hugs

The second day was much like the first – incredible. In case you missed the first day, it’s here.

On day two, we were still standing.


We kicked off the morning talking about career paths. The big question: Are we all destined to become consultants? For some, maybe. But we are in a wonderful industry that lets us mold our careers.

Also, you should interview once a quarter, even if you aren’t planning to leave. It helps staff weed out the people who are going to jump ship any way, it tests your skills and keeps you aware of what’s out there.

Executive sponsors are the lifeblood of a successful social media program. We are too.

A lot of tools are similar, you have to find one that fits your organization’s needs and culture.

Influencers are fantastic to boost affinity for your brand. Treat them like people, because they are.

Target social ads with your own data, with other people’s data… but always target and test variations of the creative.

Facebook works well for pre- and post-event pushes, but experiment with Twitter, Periscope and Snapchat during.

Considering we’re leading social media for some of the largest brands in the country, there was little tweeting and a lot of connecting. Sometimes it’s great to disconnect, and be present.

For the recorded story of tweets (because like I said, we weren’t much for tweeting):




We decided to have a BS Summit

So I’m in this group… for brands… and social people… and it’s awesome.

About three years ago, the Brand Socialites thought it would be a good idea to plan a summit of the some of the brightest minds in brand social media.

Yes, it took us three years to plan a Brand Socialites Summit. Don’t look at me like that. We’ve been busy.

So finally, we’ve pulled it off (well, the first day anyway). And we gave it the hashtag #BSSummit.

Because, why not?

And here’s what we learned…

In the future of social, don’t be afraid to try to new things and adjust your tactics accordingly. We’ll continue to learn from one another, as we should.

It may also include cat videos.

Create a content strategy which uses social listening and supports your business goals. Never stop asking questions.

Also, Post-it art is awesome.

Photo from demilked.
Photo credit demilked.

If your hair is on fire, don’t stop talking to your consumers. Even if your answer is, “We’re investigating,” at least you are communicating.

No response is a response.

Online customer service is a spectator sport.

When managing a team, pair your junior staff with more seasoned staff – both can learn from one another.

Also, this from Ben:

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 11.16.32 PM

For the full story of tweets:


5 things future social media professionals should know

Every year, I have the wonderful privilege of speaking to a group future marketers at my alma mater, the University of North Texas.

Let’s take it back to when I was in college for a second. I was the cheezy kid in the second row (the first row seemed a little too presumptuous) asking all the questions. I was a nerd when it came to classes I was interested in. And the thought of getting to connect with well-networked people who were already in my field, was an idea that I loved.

When I started my career, social media was barely a thing. We had Myspace (I’m not that old), but the rest were yet to come. There definitely weren’t classes in social media.

My career started in public relations, at an agency.

I think agencies can be beneficial if you want to try a lot of things, for a lot of clients. My experience was valuable, but the grind wore me down and I wanted to move to the brand side of things and move to social media… which was a fantastic idea.

On the brand side, you get to dig deep and hone your skills. I was able to step in and build a social media program from scratch – growing it from a community of 38,000 to an audience of 60.4 million. It’s been quite a journey; and I couldn’t have done it without an amazing group of people along the way.

I’ve always been thankful for my mentors, family, former teachers and communications/social media friends who have supported me. I feel like I owe it to them to pass along the knowledge, advice and good vibes I’ve gotten along the way.

Now, it’s my turn on the other side of the desk.

It’s crazy to think that this year, millennials are expected to overtake the majority of the workforce according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2030, the generation who won’t remember the time before dial-up is expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce.

The world has been changing the last decade, and social media has been leading the charge.

The newest graduates are joining the workforce as digital natives. And here’s some of the advice I gave to them:

  1. If you aren’t passionate about it, don’t settle for it. When I think about my career, there are three things I’ve needed to be successful (and it took me a while to figure this out, which is why I’m telling you now): the culture, the team/boss, the job. If you can find the trifecta, you’re set. Remember during interviews you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Find out as much as you can about all three to see if it’s a fit for your personality and work-style.
  2. Learn quickly and fail fast. Sorry to use corporate jargon, but it’s true. You’ll make mistakes. Take ownership. Move on. And don’t make them again. You’ll need to make an impact quickly to be successful. So find out what keeps your boss up at night and solve that problem.
  3. Have a plan. If you look at the most successful people in business, they have a plan of where they want their career to go. Each job you have in your journey should get you closer to that ultimate goal. Keep in mind that sometimes one step back will help you take two forward.
  4. Think about your personal mission. Do you have a personal mission statement? It’ll help you think about where you want to go. I want to squeeze every ounce I can out of life – both personally and professionally. This is what drives me: “Live life to its fullest – with integrity and passion in everything I do.”
  5. The best and brightest around you aren’t your enemies, they are your mentors. Find them and stick by them. They’ll show you the ropes. If you model your work-style after them, you’ll also be successful.

I had a baby during the snowpacalypse

It was the day before my husband’s birthday, and the day before K was due. Super Dad was in full force – saying that he and K would share the same birthday – which they would.

But there was a catch.

“A rare winter storm hit much of Texas early Friday with sleet and snow, creating chaos on icy roads around the state and hampering travelers trying to get to the Super Bowl near Dallas,” said an article by the New York Times.

The Snowpacalypse of 2011, seemed like a great time to go into labor.

I woke up about 2 a.m. to contractions. I woke up soon-to-be Super Dad, who decided to take a shower before heading into the hospital. What can I say – he likes to be clean and fresh.

I heard clattering on the window, what I assumed to be ice, so I turned on the TV.

Sure enough – our local weather guy was full-on freaking out, “If you live in this area!” He hovered his hand exactly in the spot where we lived. “Then you aren’t going anywhere for at least five days.”

“OMG! OMG! OMG! Get out of the shower! We’ve got to go NOW!!!” I screamed.

Side note: On a good day, we live about 40 minutes from the hospital I was planning to deliver in. This was not a good day.

Two long hours and lots of labor pain later… after sliding around on the ice and nearly being taken out by a few cars… we made it.

Being our first born, it took several more hours before K arrived into the world.

The world around him was experiencing rolling black outs, and the drive home was intense.

When we made it, we barely got up the hill to our driveway.

The garage was broken. During a rolling blackout, our house alarm went off and the cops came to check on things and locked the garage. When we hit the button to open it, it ripped it off the hinges and fell in a puddle on the driveway.

Inside wasn’t much better. The pipes were frozen. In our haste to get to the hospital, we forgot to leave every faucet dripping and instead of no hot water, we had no water.

To top it off, my doctor forgot to sign the prescription for my drugs, and he left to get out of the cold. So we were left, with a broken house, no water and no drugs in the Snowpacalypse of 2011. Awesome.

But, I can officially say that we had to fight a snowstorm, while in labor, up hill both ways, while barefoot, to have him… maybe I made up the barefoot part. But it’s a good story.


That time we used YouTube to fix the water heater

I should start off by saying hubs and I are not very domesticated.

I’ve tried my hand at Pinterest crafts and have created a handful of Pinterest fails.

Now that we have that out of the way… Shortly after we bought our first house, our water heater stopped working. Several calls to my dad later, we decided we should check the pilot light.

… Where is that?!

So, to YouTube I went. As my husband was crawling into the small space that contained our water heater with a lighter, I grew a bit nervous that he might blow us both up.

I found a video that showed how to fix a water heater pilot light without blowing yourself up. I stood as far away as possible, but close enough he could see my iPad.

Crisis averted. The pilot light lit. We didn’t become homeless. No one lost their eyebrows.

I was reminded of this story today when I read a new report from Think With Google. It says:

Today’s moms want show-not-tell answers in the moment.

And my silly story is a great example of that. If we can’t figure it out, we’ll Google it or look for a YouTube video on how to not blow ourselves up.

The report goes on to discuss how we should build content strategies to win moments that matter. There are moments in the customer journey that can act as a tipping point or a turn off. If you can win those, you have a new customer.

From the report:

Few moms have time to scour a dozen fashion magazines for the latest trends, or test drive a dozen different strollers around the store (while their toddler is crying). Instead, in those I-want-to-know, I-want-to-buy, I-want-to-domicro-moments, they’ll often turn to YouTube. Today’s moms want show-not-tell answers in the moment. And YouTube delivers.

It’s no wonder the most popular channels are those that focus on “how.”

The takeaway: Use your YouTube content strategy to teach moms how to do something in that micro-moment, and you’ll build a stronger following and more passionate consumer.

Let the cultivation begin!

Kids’ TV shows that should make a comeback

I realize that TV has become a bit taboo when it comes to kids, but let’s be honest. It would be nice to take a shower once in a while; and a TV show is an easy way to buy yourself some rare and treasured time alone. By alone, I mean alone for five minutes… followed by a series of “Mom, I need more milk…” “Mom, I hungry…” “Mom, my show’s over, can you start a new one?”


My kids engrossed in an episode of Mister Rogers

A photo posted by @krisleighh

Well, you get my point.

When I was a kid, TV was better than it is today. I was captivated for hours – that is, minus the period of time when I only watched commercials (it actually makes sense why I went into communications now). The shows I watched then, I carry with me today. I’ve found myself telling my kids about them, and have even dug up a few, in all their 80s glory, to share the experience with them.

I recently introduced my son to Doogie Howser when he wanted to be a doctor for “character day” at school. I loved the nostalgia, but think it was lost on him.

Here are a few shows I think should make a comeback:

1. Fraggle Rock

This is one of my husband’s favorite shows as a kid. Jim Henson brought us the muppets, and kept going when he created Fraggle Rock. The songs… the crazy, furry characters… the drama. Similarly to Sesame Street, the show dealt with difficult issues in a fun way.

But have no fear – I heard this one is coming back in movie-form. We have Joseph Gordon-Levitt to thank for this one. Maybe they’ll tackle what happens when mom’s caffeine has run out.

2. Reading Rainbow

This one was kind of re-booted a few years ago through in an app; and then in 2014, a Kickstarter campaign raised funds to make the app available on the web and streaming devices. Who doesn’t remember LeVar Burton? While I was really confused why he could see on Reading Rainbow, but wore crazy glasses on Star Trek, he was a great story-teller.

Everyone poops. This is important stuff people!


4. Punky Brewster

I had a purple vest just like Punky’s. She was spunky, to the point and super cute. Weren’t all 80s girls like this? At least we tried to be.

When it makes a comeback, they should totally cast Elsie Fisher, voice of Agnes in Despicable Me.

5. DuckTales

My mom taught piano while I was growing up. And for years, she taught at my grandmother’s house in a nearby town. So after school, I watched plenty of DuckTales. I’m pretty sure there was nothing to gain from watching this, but it was definitely entertaining – and for that reason alone, it should make a comeback.

6. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

This one is hands-down, my all-time favorite. My kids watch the originals and love them. Although, I once had to explain 8MM film, and immediately felt old. Fail.

I realize they’ve tried to re-boot it with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, but it’s not the same. I miss his calmness, his clever sweaters and the old wive’s tale that Mister Rogers’ used to kill people with his bare hands.

Nonetheless, he was still awesome.

Which childhood re-boot would you like to see?

A Lesson in Leadership: Things I learned from a great leader

When you leave an organization, what will people say? Will they gossip about your failures, or will they mourn your loss?

If it’s the latter, you are probably a great leader. I’ve had the wonderful privilege of working for one. When he left, we definitely mourned. Over the last few years, my mentor managed crises, supported staff and inspired his team to do things we would have never imagined. I’ve watched closely, and have tried to implement those characteristics into my management style. He always made it look easy, but I know he made a conscious decision to care for his team every day.

Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1. Family first.

This one is easier to tell your team to do than to do yourself. Work is important, and if you love your job, it’s easy to do. But it’s a job. And it can’t take care of you when you’re old. At the end of the day, family matters more – every time. Turn off and tune in.

2. Learn how to tell a great story.

Stories can engage your imagination. One of my favorite talks from my mentor was about his vision for the future. Every time he gave the presentation he would read the audience and tailor it for them – speeding up sections if they were losing interest, or going more in-depth if the audience was engaged. And today, we still talk about it.

Another great example of fantastic storytelling are TED talks. They explain often complicated subjects in a very energizing and memorable way. This is one of my favorites:

3. Sometimes you just need to listen.

At the beginning of every update, my mentor always asked about the kids, my husband or what was going on in life. He also remembered what I told him. It was a simple gesture, but one that I will always carry on.

4. Be authentic and transparent.

He didn’t beat around the bush. You always knew what was on his mind. And for that reason, I always trusted him to be honest. I still do.

5. Be loyal to build loyalty.

A good leader fights for his or her staff. I often have crazy ideas – I’m all for “failing fast” or finding success and learning from both. I always think about one that went all the way to our board. He fought for me all the way up. I saw him do that for my colleagues day-after-day. And because he had our back, we’ll always have his.

6. Be visible.

He would always say to be visible. Practice what you preach. Show your team what you want to see in them. If you can’t live to your standards, they’ll never buy in.

7. Stay calm.

We’re in communications. We deal with crises. When we’ve been in the trenches and urgency is pressing in, he has always been calm and resolute. Even if I would be under a lot of stress, he would calmly help me think through a solution.

8. Take risks.

I came to the organization when social media and digital was still a new thing to the organization. My role wasn’t in his background, so I would often ask him to take a risk and trust me. While I “failed fast” a few times, we certainly nailed it a lot. And we’re better because of it. I taught him a thing or two. And he taught me it’s OK to trust and leap.

9. Show kindness, even when people don’t deserve it.

I watched this one in awe. Sometimes people make stupid mistakes that can be costly to their career or their personal lives. My mentor had a fantastic way of addressing an issue; but made it a quiet, teachable moment for people. As I work through my career, I often take a step back and think how he would address it. I always see better results.

10. Be hands on, but hands off.

He would bring coffee, stuff bags for media drops or pick up trash. Not once did he complain. But he gave us the space to do our thing and produce results. So, we did. By being willing to get the job done, he earned the respect and loyalty of everyone who worked with him.


Sleeves Up. Hearts Open. All In. Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later

On anniversaries of national-scale events, people always talk about where they were, what was going on in their lives. Today is the same.

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina made landfall and changed the Gulf Coast as we knew it. As a North Texan, we watched with tears in our eyes as homes and people were swept away by the storm. We took in those who were left with nothing – many never went back.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

When it happened, I was visiting my dad in Raleigh, NC. He was the regional VP for the American Red Cross at the time. As you can imagine, he was busy coordinating help for the disaster.

Both of my parents have been avid volunteers. It’s been ingrained in my existence. They always made me feel like I could save the world; and it’s my duty to give back for all the wonderful things I’ve had in life. They’ve always been right.

So, I rolled my sleeves up, opened my heart, jumped in and took calls from those who wanted to help or needed help.

It was before the days of disaster operations via social media, otherwise I would have been tweeting with the best of them. But, in some small way, I had the privilege of helping to make a difference.

The funny thing is: A decade later, I work for a nonprofit. I’ve never been able to get “doing good” out of my system.

It’s something I hope to instill in my children. It’s not always the big things, sometimes the small things can make a difference in people’s lives.

Kindness with no expectation of reciprocation is the best gift. Always.


I’d like to share a post from a friend of mine and Red Crosser, Anita Foster, as she remembers Hurricane Katrina. Much has changed, and we have much to look forward to.

5 Tips To Carry-On Travel

When I travel, I make it a goal to only bring a carry on and my computer bag.

No, really.

I hate checking luggage… I don’t want to wait on my bag after a long flight. I know how it will be cared for if it’s in my possession.

I’ve been to Europe, the Carribean and dozens of cities with my carry on. Along the way, I’ve picked up a few things that make packing and traveling light simple. So, I’ll pass them along to you.

1. Choose luggage with flair.
My carry on is a bright purple bag with four wheels. It’s seen better days, but is still simple to maneuver through airports, cabs and down the street. No one would ever confuse it with their bag (or let’s be honest, want to steal it).

2. If the hotel provides it, don’t bring it.
Shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wash, hair dryer… If you stay at a decent hotel, the hotel stuff is just fine. I do bring my travel toothbrush and flat iron, but the rest I can make do with what the hotel offers.

3. Bring just enough to get you by.
No one will notice if you wear the same pants twice. Start with everything you “think” you need. Cut it in half. Then, mix and match. Also, one jacket will do.

4. It’s the roll. Learn it.
And she’s right. Use your dusters too.

5. You really don’t need all those shoes… Really.
Just like No. 3, think versatile. I usually pack two shoes: one casual (like my TOMS) and one dressy (like a black pair of pumps or the new Tory Burch travel flats).

Remember this doesn’t include what came on your feet! And that pair is most often an in-between and the bulkiest.

What are your tips for packing light?


Full disclaimer: if we’re traveling with the kiddos, we check. We have to check car seats anyway… So we might as well bring as little as possible on the plane – like some snacks, an iPad and a couple small (quiet) toys.

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