Level up your LinkedIn

Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professional connections, making it ideal for career and business networking. With millions of users in the U.S. alone, more and more recruiters are using the site in their candidate searches. Most likely you are missing an opportunity to leverage your LinkedIn profile, connect with peers, recruiters, companies and grow your personal brand.

If, like me, you are only updating your profile now and then, you are not fully utilizing all LinkedIn can do for you. Below are some tactical tips on how you can leverage LinkedIn to expand your professional network and land your next dream job.

  • Add a quality photo: Include a clear, welcoming and preferably professional photo of yourself.

  • Be personal: Although your LinkedIn profile should include your current position, work history, education details and skills, your profile should also project your personality, values and passions.

  • Tout your achievements: Include your promotions, leadership roles and any other high-performance achievements.

  • Update your status – Just like Facebook and Twitter, you can update your status. Share an interesting article or photo from your latest event.

  • Use LinkedIn groups: LinkedIn groups are a valuable source of information, ideas and support. Exchange knowledge with others in your group.

LinkedIn can be a valuable online tool for professionals, students and businesses alike. From finding jobs, exploring opportunities, hiring employees, locating leads and business partners, discussing interesting topics with other professionals, building relationships, the possibilities are endless.

-Melissa

Freedom of Speech in the Age of Social Media

As Americans, freedom of speech is considered our pinnacle right. After all, the First Amendment is first for a reason. But as social media becomes the source of choice for many to express themselves and ever more integrated in how we communicate every day, it’s leading to fresh discussions about freedom of speech and censorship.

Politicians, politically minded groups, and everyday citizens are turning to social media giants like Twitter and Facebook to get their message out and share their thoughts. These companies have their own policies about what is acceptable and unacceptable to post on their pages, and what content is taken down or banned is oftentimes controversial.

What’s clear is that as companies and as a society, we’re struggling to find a balance between freedom of speech and what constitutes censorship online.

A recent example, is Twitter temporarily suspended Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account for sharing cellphone videos showing threats against him made by protestors outside his home. The backlash was quick, with many Republicans pointing to no clear Twitter policy on this type of post, and instead calling it political censorship.

Talking about this incident, Kalev Leetaru of Real Clear Politics noted that, “In essence, Republicans have afforded a private company, most of whose employees are known to be liberal, some measure of control over their official government and campaign speech. And as talk among prominent Democrats increasingly turns towards regulating social platforms, they too may find their own speech curtailed.”

On the other side of the issue, many Americans are concerned about social media as a venue for hate speech and violence, which some argue are fueling violent actions like the recent tragic shootings in El Paso and Dayton. How can social media monitor this speech, and is there a way to stop these tragedies—preventing violent words from becoming violent actions?

In March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a piece in the Washington Post calling on government to be a better partner in how they monitor social media. He said that “we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.” He went onto argue for a more standardized set of rules to monitor major social media platforms.

Since the founding of our nation, our country has struggled with the question of what free speech really means, and social media and the internet make those discussions more complicated than ever.

Leetaru’s piece on the McConnell’s Twitter incident ended by reminding readers “of the enormous dangers inherent in allowing the whims of private companies to dictate speech, particularly that of government officials.”

Freedom of speech is a critical and essential American right. But has its meaning and the viewpoint of Americans on this issue changed in the age of social media?

-Chelsea

Why network?

Career networking isn’t at the top of everyone’s to-do list. But it should be. While networking can be time-consuming and, for some, awkward and draining, the power a strong professional and personal network can have on your success cannot be overstated. Investing your time in developing long-term relationships can help you land jobs faster, can give you a competitive edge throughout your career and can improve your skills throughout the course of your career development. 

Networking is about establishing, building upon and nurturing long-term relationships. Networking gives you the opportunity to find out what is happening in your community, make meaningful connections, ask for introductions and let people know more about yourself, business and expertise.

Professionals agree that the most connected people are often the most successful. In fact, according to a report by LinkedIn in 2016, 70 percent of people were hired by a company where they had a connection. 

While career development is influenced by a number of factors, including formal and informal educational training, the jobs you hold and your personal and professional experiences, networking gives you the unique opportunity to take control of your development. 

As you network with individuals in your company, industry and outside your field, you will find and uncover opportunities that are endless.

Here are some tips on how to become an effective networker:

  • Think outside the box – networking can be with past or present co-workers, supervisors or colleagues, clients and customers, alumni and acquaintances in your personal life. However, it can also include individuals from your gym, church, a community event or a volunteer organization.

  • Keep in touch – keeping in regular contact, even if it is just a brief email to say hello, is an important piece of building and maintaining relationships.

  • Pay it forward – Networking is not a one-way street. Providing help and opportunities to others in your network not only deepens your relationship but it makes it more likely they will help you!

It is never too late to invest in your network. The best way to improve your skills and expand your opportunities, both professionally and personally, is to get out there and try!

-Melissa

The Great Minnesota Get Together Means Big Opportunities for Minnesota Brands

While most Minnesotans can’t believe it’s already August (where did summer go?!), it also means we are just weeks away from the Great Minnesota Get Together. The Minnesota State Fair is one of my favorite events of summer, and while most people focus on all the amazing food, this annual event also gives local brands, advocacy groups, politicians and more a chance to engage directly with the public and get their message out.

The State Fair should really be known as the great exchange of ideas.

What’s most interesting about the State Fair, is that is really brings in a vast array of people. It’s Minnesotans coming from different parts of the state, who have different political ideologies, and people of all ages and income levels. According to the Minnesota State Fair, a third of the state’s population attends, meaning you are able to get your brand and ideas in front of a large audience. If brands, advocacy campaigns, companies, political parties and/or politicians can find creative ways to engage fairgoers during this two-week event, it can pay off big.

For brands, engaging people at the fair can mean providing unique discounts and offers that will help increase your customer base and grow your brand loyalty over time. It can mean people being exposed to a product or idea they would have never considered before. There’s are opportunities for unique hashtags and social media shares, increased brand awareness and a positive association with an event that is beloved by so many.

For issue advocacy and political candidates, the Minnesota State Fair is a rare opportunity to bring your ideas to the public—many of whom may not be engaged on the issues you care about otherwise. It’s more than signing a petition or working to get more votes, it’s about finding ways to persuade the public to your side in meaningful ways that can have long-term benefits to the issues you care about most.

So when Minnesotans come out in droves later this month to the Great Minnesota Get Together, brands, companies and politics will have a chance to shine a light on themselves and engage with the public in meaningful ways—all while enjoying some cheese curds and Sweet Martha’s cookies too!

Also, please share your favorite part of the State Fair—always looking for fun new ideas and must-dos at the fair!

-Chelsea

Excited to join K2

Hi! I’m Melissa Wolf and this is my first week working as K2’s new Vice President of Accounts. I am excited to be joining the team! I am a lifelong Minnesotan and currently reside in Maple Grove with my husband, two children and our yellow lab. As a family, we love being outdoors and enjoying Minnesota’s ever-changing seasons, parks, lakes and trails.

I came to K2 after working for a lobbying firm in St. Paul, helping clients navigate complex and difficult political landscapes. Prior to that, I spent time in the Minnesota Senate and working all over the country building grassroots coalitions on a transportation issue.

Although my background includes over a decade of legislative, public affairs and government relations experience, the most challenging and rewarding “work” I have done is being a mom. One of my most important goals is ensuring I am a positive role model for my children and teaching them the importance of caring for others and having a servant’s heart.

When Kirsten and Kristen opened the doors of K2 and Company, it was just the two of them following their passion for helping their clients achieve their goals and succeed in the corporate, nonprofit and political worlds. Their focus, drive and authenticity are what drew me to this company, and I am thrilled to be joining a group of women leaders who have pursued meaningful careers working with businesses and individuals who strive to make impactful changes – both now and for the future.

Looking ahead, I am enthusiastic about deepening my personal and professional relationships, delivering exceptional results and making a difference for my clients. I look forward to meeting and working with you!

-Melissa

mw@k2andcompany.com

Finding Joy in Helping Mission-Driven Clients

“Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.“

We’ve all heard that quote before, and I think every person truly wants to find a job they’re passionate about and a career path that leaves them feeling fulfilled.

As we navigate our career paths, most people strive to find a job that is more than just a job. Our job is part of our identity, and we want to find meaning and fulfillment in what we do as we grow our skills, build relationships in our field, and find what works best for us.

One of the best parts about working at K2 & Co. is we get to work with so many different clients, and for me, doing work for organizations I believe in makes the work meaningful. Working with clients who are non-profits, mission-driven, or who are working to make real, impactful changes means you’re working with clients who are passionate about a cause, and you become passionate about helping them achieve their goals.

Sometimes, we find meaning and passion in many issue areas, and client-based work is a great way to help cater to those passions! Working with clients who are championing important issues, means I get a chance to help them increase their impact and make a difference too!

And if you haven’t found a career where you feel like you’re doing what you love or making a difference yet, volunteering is another great way to grow your skillset, make meaningful connections and most importantly, find your passion!

-Chelsea

What is the value of public affairs?

Public affairs work encompasses so much more behind the scenes than people realize. Over the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working in this space for a company that has poured an immense amount of time, heart, and soul into its projects. This job has taught me a great deal more than being a young professional and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

Because we don’t always have a clear picture of what public affairs is, people come up with their own preconceived notions. I’ve learned that public affairs professionals use a lot of strategies to bring important issues to a human level. We connect dots and problem solve for people. From project to project, I’ve encountered people from all walks of life and have received a new-found respect for issues our own neighbors face that many don’t know about.

Meeting new people, hearing their stories, and finding avenues for those stories to reach a larger audience has definitely been one of my favorite parts of public affairs. While it might feel like our stories are unique to ourselves, more often than not there are others who have gone through something similar. In the most kumbaya way, our personal stories and experiences are opportunities to grow and help others understand. Companies like K2 & Co help take it one step forward so more people can become aware. That’s the value of public affairs.

-Mary

To do an event or not?

Starkey’s marquee event that held headlines for years is changing. The 1600+ person event that will now be half that size - 800 people – is still a nice size gala! Trust me I've managed events in both of those sizes. This shakeup got me thinking as I do often about event galas and their purpose. Events are a heavy lift - from the little details of what to put on the salad to making sure there are enough parking spaces to match the flow of the entire evening. Events require focused execution and a team of people all working to ensure the event goes off without a hitch.

If you are thinking about doing an event or planning your organization’s annual function, here are a couple questions you should ask yourself.


1) What do I need to raise. Of course this is the first question but don't throw an unachievable number out there if you've never done a major event gala before. Think about what you need to actually raise to support your organization. After you figure out the number, build the plan working backward from that number to see if it's possible. You also need to factor in all expenses for fundraising. 

2) What do I need to spend on this event?  I see this regularly. Many organizations do not take into account the thousands of dollars it takes to put together a well-run event. Events cannot be planned by one person, they require a team. Add that to the budget! Events are NOT cheap. From the food to collateral, staffing and speakers, everything costs money and needs to be incorporated into the budget.

3) How much time and money is our target audience willing to spend for an event with our organization? At the end of the day, you need to have buyers which means you have to answer the question of who will want to buy a ticket and why. Talk to your best supporters and see what would interest them and if they would help sell the event. 

4) Who is making the sale? Figure out who on your team is going to be selling your event. Is it your development director, executive director or someone on the board? Events don't just "happen." You have to call, email, meet, pitch, sell the why and follow-up on it all to sell tickets and sponsorships.

5) Do I need to bring in a special guest and what will that cost us? Speaker fees can be high and don’t necessarily translate into higher sales. You have to factor in that fee plus travel, lodging, food and other expenses. Many times the speaker will drive more in sales, but not always... My advice: work every day as if it’s possible but also plan every day as if it’s not.  

Are planning the next big event/gala because “it's what we always do?" Evaluating these questions regularly will keep your events fresh and profitable.


1) What's the primary purpose of my fundraiser/gala?  Obviously, it is always to raise more funds, but there are other reasons as well like forced collaboration, excitement with attendees and building up morale with your staff or best supporters. These are all good reasons to keep events if you can net a decent amount of money at the same time. As long as your net is high enough to spend on the mission of the organization, collaboration with likeminded supporters is always great and will help you with donor retention. 

2) What does it cost and where can we improve to net more? With one of our previous clients, we adjusted ticket prices, added higher sponsorship levels based on what other organizations were doing and it worked! In all things you need to continuously improve. With another client earlier this year we reorganized the layout of the room for a major gala. It was one of the best events and added a nice touch for our speaker. 

3) What are other organizations in the industry doing? We need to share best practices with each other! I regularly email other development directors with "hey I'm thinking of adding this to our event, has it worked for you." 

I could go on and on about events - I joke that I hate them because they are a lot of work, but secretly there’s nothing better than a well-planned, well-executed successful event. When the event goes as planned - you get to celebrate at the end. Then wake up the next day and start planning the next one!

K-

 

K2 is Hiring an Account Executive

K2 & Co is a growing Communications and Public Affairs Agency in the Twin Cities with clients across the Midwest and nationally. We are looking to hire an account executive to continue the growth K2 & Co has experienced the past two years. Looking for someone who can multi-task and work in a fast-paced environment on local, state and federal public affairs issues.

Role/Title:

·      Account Executive

Responsibilities:

·      Work directly with clients on communications and public affairs projects

·      Draft short and long form written materials for clients

·      Work with media on behalf of our clients

·      Manage and produce events from registration to execution 

·      Work with influencers, grassroots and grassstops individuals on advocacy projects

Proficient in:

·      General Microsoft products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc)

·      CRM experience preferred

Location:

·      Office is in St. Paul, some travel 

Compensation:

·      Salary/Full time

·      Commensurate with experience with an opportunity for commission and bonuses

·      Opportunity for performance based commission and bonuses

Contact:
Kristen Sheehan – 612-325-3597, ks@k2andcompany.com
Kirsten Kukowski – 608-335-8785, kk@k2andcompany.com

The New University of Minnesota President is Making History

Just a few weeks ago I shared a blog post about Best Buy’s new CEO Corie Barry. Now another woman in Minnesota is making her mark—new University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel. Gabel is the first woman to hold the position since the founding of the university in 1851, and the 17th person to hold the title.

She told the regents that, "It's very important that anyone, who might not see themselves reflected in the position or goal that they aspire to achieve, know that it's possible for them. I hope that I'm showing that not only to women and girls on campus and in the community, but anyone who doesn't see themselves reflected in what it is they hope to achieve."

Taking on this role will of course come with many challenges, so it will be interesting to see where her leadership leads Minnesota’s largest university. From navigating today’s political landscape, working with legislators and regents, to rising tuition costs. She shared her early focuses will include student mental health, campus inclusion, and rethinking the university’s several billion-dollar budget.

You can see more about President Gabel in articles from the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio.

As part of a women-owned small business, it’s always wonderful to see women leading the way in their fields. I wish her all the best as she takes the helm at the U of M!

-Chelsea

Is Earned Media Dead?

Our world and everything in it is spinning at a million miles a minute. It’s hard to keep up when things are moving so fast and aspects of our job are constantly evolving. In the public relations world, we are always trying to look for ways to grow brand awareness for our clients.

One particular area that is a staple for public relations is earned media.

But with the evolution of social media and emerging outreach options, does earned media still have a place?

We’ve heard over the past decade that the print industry is declining…thanks, NO THANKS, millennials! If people are deciding to forego their subscription to local newspapers, then it takes away the option for citizens to submit their thoughts and concerns to the opinion sections. We’re seeing more and more papers turning to paid earned media for business purposes.

What does that mean for regular people? If you want to send a letter to the editor or opinion editorial to your local paper, many papers are now asking you to pay for the post. We understand the rationale, which is to save the print industry, however we wonder if it’s deterring regular people from sharing opinions on matters that impact their community?

Another question is even if these posts are free, would people even read them? We live in a world that demands news to be front and center on our mobile devices. We don’t like to involve a lot of searching.

As a public relations professional, I know there are benefits to earned media. For example, normal people have a voice where they otherwise wouldn’t on very important issues. When a letter to the editor or opinion editorial run it can be used to direct people to a message or issue instead of just talking about it.

As much as I’d like to believe that earned media isn’t dead, the future is looking pretty bleak. But all of us have a role in how we get our news.

Let us know what you think! Do you read the opinion sections in papers (print or digital)? Tweet us @k2andcompany

-Mary

Happy 4th from K2

With the 4th of July just a few days away, we wanted to take a few minutes to reflect. This is a wonderful time of year where we can enjoy the beautiful Midwest weather and make fun memories with friends and family. It’s also a time to be thankful and celebrate the great country we live in.

We might not always agree with what takes place or who represents us, but that’s the beauty of living in the United States of America. We have the choice and voice to make change. We’re thankful to live in a country that encourages us to pursue our dreams and help others on issues that matter most to them.

So, as you’re sippin’ an ice-cold beverage this 4th of July, cheers with your neighbors and family to the strong country we are and the ever-evolving country we hope to always be.

Happy 4th of July from K2!

KK's thoughts from her People to People visit to Cuba

Cuba has always been interesting to Americans for decades, that beautiful but elusive island off our coast, a place stuck in history that we’ve been told we couldn’t go. The very reason many of us want to.

Many of us grew up hearing from older generations about Cuba, including my parents who talk about the drills they conducted in schools during the missile crisis. I was in high school during the Elian Gonzalez saga. I took history and political science classes that focused heavily on Cuba America relations. Many of my Cuban American friends, many working in Republican politics like I’ve done for the past decade, tell stories about their families fleeing after the revolution. Our relations with the Cuban government have been a campaign issue as I worked my way up in American politics and I’ve spent a lot of time prepping candidates on the issue for U.S. Senate and presidential candidates.

All of that gave me a strongly held but it turns out fairly uneducated opinion about the country. To me and many others on the right, the Cubans left Americans for the Soviets and socialism and their corrupt government couldn’t be rewarded until they treat their people and their neighbors better. 

When President Obama opened up U.S. relations with Cuba, I was curious like many others who said, “we should go to Cuba before it gets built up,” but most in the GOP said it was wrong. The government wasn’t treating the Cubans right and we couldn’t incentivize that behavior.

When President Trump reversed course, it’s been controversial to many.

Right before the new Trump Administration’s new policy I had the opportunity to go on a People to People educational trip to Cuba with 10 strangers from across the country working in politics and business. It was a great group of diverse people who I learned a ton from. Despite my Cuban American friends telling me not to go, not to incentivize the Cuban government, I decided I needed to see and learn for myself. And I’m glad I did!

After seven days meeting farmers, restaurant owners, educators, economists, former military, entrepreneurs and officials from the Cuban government, I now know I’ve only touched the surface of a very complicated relationship between our two countries that I had been ignorant to for decades.

My trip reinforced one thing very strongly – I’m a proud capitalist. I cannot understand polling in the States showing a rise of support for socialism. I loved every minute of my trip and the Cuban people are amazing, but I’ve never been happier to step foot in America. We take our ability to achieve whatever we want to achieve for granted every day.

Seeing what socialism looks like firsthand made me more confident than ever that it’s a fool’s errand. Doctors, educators and janitors all make the same government salaries (equivalent to $25 a month), there is no incentive to compete or innovate, the government penalizes private businesses that are too successful, waitstaff at state owned restaurants do not care about providing service for their patrons, access to information is still severely limited with the internet being patrolled and the Cuban people just got data on their phones a couple of months ago. 

But despite the Cuban government trying to stifle entrepreneurial spirit, the Cuban people are fighting it – they are naturally curious and innovative. The best food in Cuba was at private restaurants in homes of entrepreneurial Cubans. Their food is sourced from private farm to table farms in the Havana countryside who are also opening catering companies. One farmer told us he uses YouTube to find new ways to cultivate his land.

The best renovations and construction are being done by private companies; they are winning government contracts over their government-run competitors. There are private construction, agricultural and textile cooperative popping up everywhere, giving their communities jobs that pay ten to fifteen times the income they make working for the government.

I urge everyone calling themselves a socialist in America to go to Cuba and talk to the people. Time and again we heard from Cubans that socialism was a great theory, but it failed in practice. The best that I saw of Cuba was directly related to their entrepreneurial and community spirit, not their government.

 - Kirsten

Below are some pictures of a traditional bodega where Cubans get their staples, so flour, cooking oil, etc. It’s all rationed so they have to bring their family’s ration card (one per family), they look at the board to understand supply and bring their plastic bags to get their food. It was one of the most eye opening experiences of the trip. Our bodegas in America look very different.

There’s also a beautiful picture of what Cuba has to offer - it’s a beautiful island with fantastic architecture. The 1950’s American cars are much-talked about in America and they are very cool but there’s a lot of history of why that happened. Fast forward a decade and it’s all Russian cars and then now you’re seeing Japanese cars as well.

This is their rationing system so people know how much of a product is available.

This is their rationing system so people know how much of a product is available.

These are the staples you’d get at a Bodega in Cuba, bring your own plastic bag and they weigh in on the scales.

These are the staples you’d get at a Bodega in Cuba, bring your own plastic bag and they weigh in on the scales.

Beautiful sunset drive along the ocean in a 1950s American car (sorry can’t remember which this one was :) ) in Havana

Beautiful sunset drive along the ocean in a 1950s American car (sorry can’t remember which this one was :) ) in Havana

Success is like an iceberg

It’s so easy to get caught in the daily grind of work and everything else that takes place outside of the office. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and acknowledge all the different facets that actually go into being a full-time, successful working adult. Believe it or not, it requires a lot more than just waking up and sending a few emails.

Recently, I stumbled upon a great picture that used an iceberg as a representation of success. If you can imagine the part of the iceberg that is above water, that represents the things people see which are titles and awards. Everything under water represents what people don’t see. This can include sacrifice, rejections, determination, persistence, good habits, daily goals, and many other things.

As I look at the list of things people don’t see, I can’t help but agree with the majority of these in my own life. In the process of reaching successes in my life, I’ve encountered tears, rejections, disappointment, the need to time manage, needing to stay healthy, and of course remaining focused. Even though people don’t see the submerged part of the iceberg, it’s there and ultimately you get to decide which aspects will be the most helpful to achieving the end goal.

We all have experienced the frustration that comes with people not understanding all the hard work that goes into successfully executing day to day operations or projects. We at K2 & Co. have found it beneficial to recognize a win in our business and what it will take to achieve that win. This helps show value to our clients along the way and keeps company moral up. When there aren’t clear opportunities to show the fun and flashy accolades to people, knowing you have wins on the board keeps the fire going!

No matter what profession you’re in, we’ve all been in positions where hard work isn’t always acknowledged. What’s important is knowing you’ve put in the effort and achieved the client’s need or personal goal at the end of the day! We’ve got this!

-Mary

Iceberg.jpeg

Women Reach a Workforce Milestone

News outlets across the United States are reporting that in 2019, college-educated women will make up a majority of the college-educated U.S. workforce.

The recently released analysis from Pew Research found that 29.5 million working women held at least a bachelor's degree in the first quarter of 2019, compared to 29.3 million men. According to the analysis, women, ages 25 and older, now account for more than half of the college-educated workforce which is an 11 percent increase since 2000.

While this is a notable milestone for women in the workforce, it’s interesting to to note that women have been a majority of college-educated adults for more than a decade, and have outnumbered men in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded since the 1981-1982 academic year.

Women in the workplace still remains a hot topic in the news, in politics and in the boardroom. Unequal wages, women dominating industries with lower salaries, maternity leave and childcare, harassment, and bias are all topics that continue to be a focus for employers and women navigating their career paths.

Some additional interesting statistics from the Census Bureau figures show that:

·       The typical worker (ages 25 and older) earned $41,900 in 2017, but a worker with at least a bachelor’s degree earned $61,300

·       The earnings bump associated with a bachelor’s degree is larger for men than women

·       The median earnings of college-educated men is $74,900, compared with $50,200 for men overall

·       The typical college-educated woman earns $51,600, versus $36,000 for women overall

·       About one-third (35 percent) of U.S. adults 25 and older are college educated, but these individuals generate 57 percent of the economy’s earnings – $4.7 trillion out of $8.4 trillion total labor market earnings in 2017

As women pass men and make up a majority of the college-educated workforce this year, the study notes it’s an important step toward growing earning power and income equality.

2019 is a milestone year for women in the workforce!

-Chelsea

KK at Yale's Women's Campaign School

Last week I had the opportunity to teach a course on communications planning to the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. It was an amazing room of women of all ages who are either running a campaign or running for office themselves. The school runs an intensive weeklong class bringing in top national campaign professionals on both sides of the aisle to help these women learn the art and sport of political campaigns. From vote goals to targeting, direct mail, paid and earned media, and legal compliance, the students learned every facet of a 2019 political campaign. There’s homework at night and they are graded at the end. 

They brought wonderful questions based on experience and just plain curiosity. It was great to see the energy of budding public servants. What a resource this campaign school is for these women! 

To many of us who have worked in national politics for years, some of what we teach seems obvious - the longer you talk to a reporter the more chance you will make a mistake, that reporters are people too and building relationships with them is appropriate and important, and like most other things in life, that every piece of a campaign should be planned from the endorsements you hope to receive to the coalition rollouts you will do, to the education TV ad that will air. Campaigns may be unpredictable but nothing on a campaign should be left to chance. 

But to most in this arena, some people just know they have a story and a desire to serve and I’m happy to have helped some of them get the knowledge they need to take the next step.

Politics gets a bad rap these days with people’s opinions getting the better of them. It’s tough to wear your beliefs on your sleeve every day while others insult from behind their social media apps. I applaud all of these women for putting themselves out there and stepping up to the plate. We need more highly competent, energetic people to run for office and we need more women to run for office. And all of us voters out there need to see them for what they are - people who want to make a difference while diving into the deep end of politics.

KK at Yale's WCS.jpg

Why Media Training Makes All the Difference

Maybe you’ve done hundreds of interviews, or maybe it’s your first time talking to press. Either way, media training and preparation are incredibly important! At K2 & Co. we work with our clients to provide thorough preparation and advice before interviews so you can be ready to talk to reporters and get your message and brand out to the public.

Looking for more on what to do before your big interview? We have a few helpful tips for you.

First, as the Boy Scouts’ motto goes, and as Scar from the Lion King tells us: Be Prepared. That means formulating and understanding your key talking points, anticipating what questions reporters will ask so you have answers in mind, and of course, practicing! In today’s quick media culture of soundbites, you need to be able to get your message out quickly, clearly and concisely.

Practicing in front of a mirror, or better yet videotaping yourself, will let you review and critique how you’re answering questions, as well as how you can improve. Posture, appearance, projection, confidence and body language all play a part in your message beyond the words you speak.

And just as important as it is to be prepared with your message, it’s also important to understand who you’re talking to! Is it a newspaper reporter, a radio interview, a live television interview or an editorial board? Do they have a political persuasion? How long have they been covering this beat? If you can understand the outlet and reporter you’re speaking to, as well as their audience and history of reporting on similar topics to what you’re discussing, it will go a long way to help you create a positive interview. 

Next, it’s key to understand what’s interesting and what’s newsworthy. Demonstrate why you and who you represent are important, and why what you’re adding to the discussion is different, unique and innovative. If you can understand what drives news, it will help you get your point across in an interesting and memorable way.

Finally, while it’s incredibly important to practice, prepare and be ready with a strong and engaging message, it’s also critical you don’t forget to be yourself! Authenticity and passion go a long way in connecting, and whether it’s a one-on-one with a reporter or you’re live on television, make sure that you stay true to yourself. Your message will resonate all the more for it.

We hope those tips were helpful, and If you want even more advice on media training, crisis communications and building relationships with media, let us know! K2 & Co. is here to help!

-Chelsea

Inspiration Coming to the Twin Cities

Looking for a fun event that is guaranteed to lighten your soul? The Inclusion Revolution has returned to Minnesota for the Special Olympics Summer Games at the University of St. Thomas campus. Athletes, unified partners, coaches and volunteers from all over the state are coming together to this weekend to celebrate a year of hard work, passion, and love of the game!

Special Olympics holds a special place in my heart. My older brother, Robert, has Down Syndrome and has participated with Special Olympics since he was 8 years old. Many lasting relationships were built during the years of my brother competing, my dad coaching, and all the siblings volunteering. I’m forever grateful for the friendships and memories made through Special Olympics.

You too can get in on the memories and cheer on over 3,600 participants! During this weekend’s Summer Games, you can check out track + field, basketball and swimming.  Another awesome feature of the Summer Games is the Opening Ceremonies. This takes place on Friday, June 21st and includes the Parade of Athletes. This year’s Grand Marshals will be Joe Mauer of the MN Twins, and John Randle and Ben Leber of the MN Vikings.

Leading up to Friday, keep an eye out for local law enforcement’s participation in the Final Leg. This is a statewide run put on by the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Minnesota. Officers from over 75 agencies across the state work together to carry the torch and the Flame of Hope a total of 1,066 miles to Summer Games in support of SOMN. LETR’s mission is to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics. On Tuesday, the torch was carried through Mankato before heading to the Twin Cities.

Special Olympics has not only been a beacon of hope for my family but for so many others throughout the world. Join the thousands of fans from around the great state of Minnesota in celebrating our athletes and their accomplishments. Hope to see you there!

-Mary

Best Buy’s New CEO Talks Work-Life Balance

Working for a certified women-owned small business, it’s always inspiring to see other women succeeding and blazing trails forward in their industry. Corie Barry, is one of those women who begins her new job as CEO of Minnesota-based Best Buy this month.

Barry is not only making headlines for taking over a major company, but for also being the youngest female CEO in a Fortune 100 company. At 44 years old, it’s exciting to see her success and candid attitude about work-life balance. She is a parent to two young children and also is the caregiver for her grandmother.

“I think, from the outside, an employee might look and say it's all figured out she has people driving her kids to work or she has tutors and nannies. We have none of that. They get on the bus with everyone else,” Barry said in an interview with KARE 11. “I wanted to be as genuine as we could about the challenges we face about how hard it is to make some of the trade-off decisions and just let every parent, whether it's a mom or dad, let them all know it's not always clean it's sometimes messy and that's ok.”

According to a CNN story from April when Best Buy announced Barry would be their new CEO, women represent just 5.2 percent of all S&P Fortune 500 companies.

That’s why when we see women like Barry rise to the top, it’s newsworthy, and the business world and media stop to take notice. They want to hear about her leadership style and what it means to be a woman in this role.

And while it’s important to celebrate female entrepreneurs, leaders, elected officials, CEOs and boss women who work their way to the top, what Barry and most women leaders will point out is that at the end of the day, what matters most is results.

“I carry a lot of responsibility in that role, and I love that I also maybe can set an example as a woman or set an example as someone who is younger than average, but that is not the priority. The priority is to be the best possible CEO of this amazing company,” Barry said.

So way to go Corie Barry, and to all the women out there leading the way in their industries!

You can see more about her in a recent KARE 11 story with Julie Nelson here.

-Chelsea

What does work life balance even mean

As a semi-young professional (what even is the cut off age for a young professional anyway?), I’m always looking for tips and tricks to make sure I’m using my time efficiently. I grew up with a dad that hammered into my four other siblings and I, “think smarter, not harder” so if that’s any indication of the person I’ve been molded into…well you get the picture!

The phrase “work life balance” is thrown around an egregious amount these days but what does it really mean? And it really being used in the proper context that it was created? Shockingly enough, these aren’t the questions that keep me up at night, however, it does stop me momentarily.

I recently read an article in Entrepreneur about this topic that went into the myths associated and how focusing on this ideal is setting people up for failure. From my experience, work life balance usually comes up in a super positive or super negative way because folks have either achieved it or they haven’t. After reading through the article, I’ve settled on a few takeaways:

Good in theory, bad in practice

The idea of work life balance seems great at the onset but work culture has changed a lot over the years that it’s pretty much impossible to have a clean cut between work and social life. If you constantly stress about have the divide or balance between the two, you’ll just add stress when that doesn’t consistently happen. There’s bound to be crossover, so accepting that will save you a lot of frustration.  

Office hours are often home hours

This goes in tangent with the first takeaway but sometimes office hours are all over the place. We often have the intention of shutting off as soon as it hits 5pm and yet, that’s not always possible. Sometimes we have to take a call or respond to emails during family time or on vacations. Being flexible and having open communications with management and your co-workers will definitely help alleviate stress.

Times are changing and the work environment is changing too. Upgrades to technology, pace of projects increasing and other indicators are all factors that influence this new “work life balance”. What does it mean to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

-Mary