Internship Diary #11 — Discipline is Harder When Things are Easier

A few weeks ago, I traveled home for Thanksgiving break. Like most college students, I was looking forward to using the time to rest and catch up on a few things that had fallen through the cracks at school while I was busy. A day before making the trek home, I messaged back and forth on Slack with Kevin, just discussing a few upcoming meetings, ways for me to get more experience, and how I could get a couple things done on the road. In truth, my mind was mainly focused on spending a week with no assignments due for any classes. 

Over the course of the break, though, I noticed something. For some reason, despite the fact that my schedule was wide open for the week, it was more difficult for me to execute little tasks for my internship. At school, I juggle a lot of responsibilities and a decently busy schedule. But I get everything done at roughly the same time every day, and usually at the same place. Classes end, lunch is over, I land at my desk in my room to hammer out internship work. Not so at home, away from the busyness. For me, and I suspect for a lot of people, discipline is harder when things are easier. 

I live in south Georgia, near-ish to Savannah, in a tiny little nothing town that no one has ever heard of. From Jackson, the drive home takes about nine hours. I love to drive — always have, ever since I got my learner’s permit. There’s somewhat of a running joke in the family about how I never give up the wheel to let anyone else drive, no matter how long the trip. That’s neither here nor there, except that I again insisted on driving home for break despite having several pressing bits of work to do. So, at a gas station next to a coffee shop somewhere near Murfreesboro, while my brother and sister were getting coffee, I pulled out my laptop in the parked car and posted several clips for the Content Machine. I’d been putting it off, wanting to retain control of the driver’s seat (and the aux). It took me no more than 10 minutes.

That’s how things tend to go for me. I imagine a problem — for instance, I want to drive but I also have a little work to do — and then stew on it until I have no motivation to do the thing I need to do. In truth, getting work or homework or chores or whatever done is usually not that difficult. But, for me, it requires creating discipline during times of ease, breaks, and comfort. It’s easy to have a strong work ethic while I’m busy. After all, I’ve already got a lot to do, what’s one more thing? When I’m on break or have a lull in responsibilities, though, all of my mole hill tasks turn into mountain-sized tasks. 

I’m not saying I’m going to start getting up at 5 a.m. on Saturdays or working through all my breaks. I believe strongly in letting down time be down time. The ebb and flow of days and weeks, though, will naturally include both the hectic and the easy. I just don’t want to get lazy when the easy days come.

Internship Diary #10 — Little Crumbs of Payoff as I Get Better

A few weeks ago in this ongoing diary of my internship experience, I talked about a valuable piece of advice I received from my writing professor: “Say yes to every writing opportunity.” Part of my takeaway from that lesson was that, despite the fact that he meant it very literally, the actionable piece for me was to simply write any kind of thing until I became comfortable with it. Obviously, as a college student, a lot of the legwork in that department is done for me. My classes often present me with assignments in areas of writing I’ve never done before. Last year, for my major, I was required to take a Public Relations Writing course. This is not a genre of writing that especially interests me (I’m not convinced that it especially interests anyone), but the experience made me better. What’s more, my newfound comfort with PR writing landed me a few small-time freelance gigs. These were never much at a time, but $50 is $50. Seeing skills translate into money in real time is nice. As anyone who has any sort of semi-specialized skill knows, once other people find out about it, you become that guy in every group you’re part of. My brother, for instance, is “the video guy.” I’m the writing guy. 

These steps in our development produce little crumbs of payoff, even from the outset. After learning how to do PR writing, opportunities for it seemed to be everywhere. My fraternity was conducting a fundraiser, and since I was the writing guy, I wrote the fundraising letter. So on and so forth the process of learning and then doing continued. 

Another little crumb of payoff arrived last week. A non-profit organization that works with Adelsberger asked for a series of fundraising letters to be written on their behalf. Kevin saw fit to let me take the reins on the project and write each letter. If you’re anything like me, you know what it feels like to be asked to do something you’re sort of good at, only now in a higher-stakes setting. All of my fundraising and public relations writing to this experience had been low key. Fraternity brothers are not exactly the New York Times editorial board when it comes to critiquing my work. Now, I won’t pretend writing a letter asking for money is rocket science. Obviously, it’s pretty straightforward. I’m prone to anxiety, though, and there’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than staring at a blank document without a clue if anything you write on it will be correct. I believe this is called overthinking. The point is, my anxiety was quieted, at least a little, by the knowledge that at least this wasn’t entirely foreign. The stakes were raised, but the ground was familiar. 

I wrote the letters. I had plenty of questions to ask, and as usual, Brittany was kind and helpful in answering them. And I checked another box off, another opportunity said yes to, another skill at least a little more developed. 

Internship Diary #9 — Creativity As A Habit

Creativity as a Habit

There’s a dichotomy that anyone who is professionally creative has faced. On the one hand, creating as work relies on, well, being creative. It requires imagining and making something where nothing existed before. On the other hand though, to do anything professionally requires regularity and routine. It’s something you do every day, a schedule, a habit, and an exercise. These two ideas butt heads in the mind of the creative consistently, or at least they do in my mind. (If you’re a creative and you’ve never experienced this dichotomy, please teach me whatever secrets you’ve learned.) Imagination and routine are not compatible ideals. At least not without practice. So then, this is the rub: how do you build a way of working and living that allows creativity to become a habit? 

As a marketing firm, creativity flows through the channels of work at Adelsberger constantly. Alex creates videos, Tamara creates images, Brittany creates clean and compelling copy, Ricky and Katie create graphics, and so on and so forth. Creativity has to be a habit, as it does for everyone in every similar job anywhere. 

On the first day of classes, back in August, I sat at a conference table for syllabus day in a writing course. The professor walked in, looking exactly how you want a man who is going to teach you about short stories and poetry and great authors to look. He had glasses and a white beard and a pleasant way of talking that seemed constantly amused by the world around him. The first assignment he gave us was one that would last all semester: get a small notebook and your favorite pen, carry them with you every day, everywhere, and jot down anything at all that interests you. There are a lot of pages in that notebook filled with useless, silly things that I’ll forget. But there are also ideas that became several stories, a magazine article, and several entries in this internship diary. The world produces creativity, and you only get creative by being in it, just as you only get strong by going to the gym and not by sitting at home wondering why you’re not feeling strong today. 

Right now, I’m only an aspiring professional creative. We’ll see where that takes me. But I’ve learned from people a lot smarter and a lot more experienced than me that if you want a productive imagination, you have to build a little haven for it. Anybody truly great has had their haven. Thoreau had his cabin on Walden Pond, Roald Dahl had his desk in a shed overlooking his garden, and Haruki Murakami has his tidy desk in an office nook. For right now, I have a desk in a dorm room. On the top shelf sits a plant in a disposable cup that I saved from a coffee shop just outside the public library in New York City. I saved the cup because the logo is a little guy with glasses who sort of looks like me. A collection of old records by the likes of Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, and Hall & Oates hang on the wall above. A cheap faux Japanese lamp casts a softly warm glow from its perch on top of a collection of books. This is my haven, the place that lets me write my stories and all of these internship diaries. This is the place that makes creativity a (mostly) joyful habit for me.

Internship Diary #7 – Putting Faces to Names and Personalities to Faces

I remember, as everybody does now, where I was the day the world changed. It was March 13, three years ago, and my job consisted of traveling around the country with a non-profit. Traveling became, literally overnight, taboo. It was the primary thing, in fact, that you should not do at all anymore. The only thing more off limits, I suppose, would have been sneezing directly in someone’s face, but that wasn’t in my job description anyway. I went home, as the whole world went home, and my job changed, as did everyone’s. 

There was a plastic card table on the screened-in brick porch behind my sister’s house, and she had good WiFi, so that became my office. It took exactly one cardboard Amazon box and two paperback novels to elevate my laptop from the surface of the table to an even height with my face for the Zoom conferences that became my daily occupation. I badly wanted to avoid the up the chin and nostrils Zoom camera view, for the sake of my ego and my audience’s sensibilities. 

This became the new normal quickly, and I believe that for the most part we are better for it. My dad, who for my entire life had gotten up before dawn to make the 45-minute commute to the power plant where he has worked for three decades, was suddenly home in the mornings. He sat at the kitchen table with coffee and his laptop and did his work as he always did. He lost nothing in productivity, nor did anyone else from his office. But I got to say good morning to him when I woke up and made my own coffee and began my own work. 

That new normal extends to today, as the American work landscape has changed dramatically and in all likelihood permanently. I’m afforded the luxury and convenience of accomplishing all my work with Adelsberger Marketing from the comfort of the desk in my dorm, or a table at a coffee shop, or as was the case last week, from a camp chair beside the tent I shared with friends in Chattanooga. 

You will hear no screed from me about the dangers of working from home, the terrors of letting people reclaim the little minutes between work that might otherwise be spent staring at the wall of a cubicle. Enough ink has already been spilled on that subject by people who probably reminded the teacher when homework was due in grade school. 

That said, I do think there is distinct value in knowing the people with whom we create. Not every job, or every company, or every internship involves this aspect. But any working creative will tell you that it is vitally important. While there is a time to sit and think and fuel, there is also a time to exercise the muscles that allow us to actually make something. Ricky Santos and Katie Howerton, who together form the design team for Adelsberger Marketing, agree on the importance of collaboration and having a second voice. They bounce ideas off of one another all the time. That requires some baseline relationship, some idea of who the person on the other side of the screen is that includes them in three-dimensional form, a flesh and blood human. 

For all of these reasons, it was particularly refreshing for me to join Alex Russell and Tamara Waller, video team extraordinaire, on a shoot for the Leaders Credit Union podcast recently. One of the primary benefits of working with creative people is that they tend to be fun. This is true of Alex and Tamara. Over the course of the shoot, from the setup to the filming to the takedown to loading the van in the parking lot, easy conversation flowed between them. They knew things, not only about the work itself but about how the other liked to work, about how the clients liked to work, and about how to put the atmosphere at ease by having fun with the whole thing. I asked them questions about their lives and their hobbies and the music they listened to and gently ribbed them for their taste in artists and songs. They did the same to me. Though I have no wish for a permanent office or a cubicle or a desktop computer, I will say this: it’s good to get out and know the people behind the work, to put a face behind the graphic or the video. The workplace has changed, but we still need each other. I don’t think that will change.

Internship Diary #6 – Learning the Language, Raising My Cultural Capital

There’s a concept in sociology called Cultural Capital. Now I’m no Sociologist, so don’t go quoting me on this, but essentially this idea refers to our ability to understand the slang, the jargon, and the little signifiers that say we belong in a place or group. All these things operate as a form of social currency: they purchase credibility.

As the new guy in any place, your cultural capital is almost inherently going to be low. You’re the new guy. This has nothing to do with the kindness of the people who came before you, or even how welcoming they are. It’s just a fact — you don’t know the landscape yet. There’s not a lot of capital in your cultural bank account. It takes time and effort and knowledge to fit into this new environment.

In this sense, adjusting to a new place — whether you’ve moved places of residence, or you’ve started attending a new church, or you’ve joined a new company — is a lot like learning a new language. For instance, when I began my internship with Adelsberger Marketing, I was bewildered by the jargon used in conversation or on Slack.

“You’re managing the Content Machine.” Ok, what is the Content Machine?

“We have a shoot for Leaders next week.” I’ll bite, who or what is Leaders?

“That’s like Alex and Taylor Swift.” I know what all of those words mean by themselves, but I have no clue how they’re connected.

Overtime, and especially as I was taught my new responsibilities, the team at Adelsberger explained all these terms to me. They began teaching me the language.

Unfortunately for me, I have never been good at language learning. It’s my academic Achilles heel. I took Latin for two years in high school — not my choice, please don’t judge — and all I remember is the word “Oremus,” because I would say it as a joke before my family prayed at dinner. (Oremus means “Let us pray.”) I am in college now and taking my second semester of Spanish. Sadly, my language aptitude has not improved. Despite my love for words and writing, I have simply never been able to grasp the grammar, the syntax, or the intricacies of language that a truly fluent person understands intuitively. In my defense, I would tell you that I love words, not grammar. They’re different. I write for the meaning, not the commas.

But as I’m sure you’ve heard, the best way to learn a language is not a class, or a textbook, or a test. You learn by speaking, the same way a child does. You learn by immersion. For instance, anyone at Adelsberger Marketing will tell you that understanding Alex Russell, whether his quirks, his intricacies, or his relationship to Taylor Swift, is not a simple exercise. There’s certainly no textbook. You have to be immersed in the culture of Alex.

Over the past two months, give or take, I’ve gotten a crash course in the language of Adelsberger Marketing. I’m not fluent yet, but I’m conversational, which is a vast improvement. Immersion, simply diving in, has paid off. Hopefully it’s put a few more dollars worth of capital in my cultural bank account, too.

Adding Value: from Ticket Stubs to Car Mechanics

“Value.” That’s one of those often overused words that companies throw at their consumers in an attempt to make them feel better about opening their wallet.

Fast food chains used to have the “Dollar Menu.” Everywhere you went, you could find a backlit panel offering smaller hamburgers and small fries, each for $1. But it’s been replaced by the “Value Menu.” But what qualifies $1.49 instead of a $1.00 as a “good value?”

What does “value” mean to you as a consumer and to us as a business owner? By definition, “value” is “the regard that something is held to deserve” or “the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.”

We can assign value to anything from a rare coin to a ticket stub that was from a special night.

At Adelsberger Marketing, our team strives to add value to your company. After all, it’s not worth hiring us if we don’t provide value.

There are several areas in my life in particular that I assign value to hiring a professional. When it comes to my vehicle, I could spend an entire weekend watching YouTube videos in order to diagnose the squeaking sound from a belt. I could even drive around town and find the part. And, with enough sweat-effort, I might even be able to put on the new belt. But it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience. Fixing cars is not on the list of things I do well. Therefore, a trusted car mechanic is extremely valuable to me. I want my vehicle to run reliably so I depend on them to keep me on the road. They are experts which means they can diagnose and repair my car quicker, easier, and better than I could.

The same idea is true when it comes to how you communicate with your clients. You could put any old website together so that you can say you have a “web presence.” You could even create a Facebook page. But, when not properly utilized, neither are of much “value” to you. That’s where we come in. We take the tools you already have and improve on your business’ strengths.

We seek to bring value whether we are speaking at your event, designing a business card for you, or helping you launch something for the first time. If we provide you value, we know you will come back and you will tell your friends about us.

Over the next four blogs, we’re going to share four of our “tenets” of how we do business each day. It’s our hope that, through these four ideals, we will be able to better communicate to you how our team can add value to your business.


From the Clinton Presidential Library when Renae and I visited in Summer 15.
From the Clinton Presidential Library when Renae and I visited in Summer 15.


Do you give anything away for free?

Maybe it’s a free upgrade to an order, maybe it’s a free white paper, maybe its a free consultation.

Why would you do that?

Free is the opportunity to create a reciprocal relationship. Free could be the chance to prove yourself.

So what could you give away for free? Probably something you have in abundance. The reason a lot of restaurants give away free drinks, is because they have a huge amount of syrup on hand and it costs them very little. But at the same time their profit margins on the drinks are huge. But if it leads to a purchase of a burger or pizza, they come out ahead. It also gives them a chance to make you a fan!

I have an over abundance of ideas. While in the gym the other day, I saw a commercial for CopperFit Compression products. It had Brett Farve playing flag football with the compression product. My brain immediately thought, what an amazing campaign idea: take submissions of people using CopperFit products to win a chance to play flag football with Brett Farve! So I tweeted it to them.

No one responded. I didnt expect them to. It didn’t cost me anything to tweet it and I didn’t lose anything by sharing that idea. But the upside could be huge. What if someone from Copper fit saw it and thought, “Hey, I like that idea!” and gave me a call. What if someone else say that idea and thought, “That guy has a great idea, I wonder what he could do for my brand.”.

It could lead to future business. Ideas are worthless if you do nothing with them. I am going to start sharing more of mine with #freemarketingidea.

Are you making videos yet?

If not, why not?

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Video is the hottest thing in marketing right now! This chart from Marketing Charts shows that most marketers put video at the top of the most effective content types!

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Video is the new standard of content for engagement. Don’t have a sweet video setup? Start with your smart phone. Smart phones these days take great video! One of the most important things is to just start!

Video is here to stay, so the question is: Are you making plans to make the best of it?


Social Media #Win or #Fail: Gillette


This month in social media #win or #fail: Gillette Razors. I am classifying it is as a #FAIL (But Gillette if you are reading this and would like to discuss why its not, please send me a tweet @k_adelsberger)

(Also full disclosure, I have a beard and very rarely use my Schick razor to trim up my beard.)

It all started one October morning, I opened up twitter and saw a promoted tweet from Gillette Razors. But it was not Gillette’s tweet it is was someone else’s: IMG_2595


The tweet from @jlkirbee was a really interesting. It read like ad copy but seemed to be posted from a real person. Here are a few quick take aways from this attempt at capitalizing on someones social media comments:


  1. Not written like a real person. It looks as if @jlkirbee is a real person. Active on Twitter, Medium and Facebook. Although Bas Collective does not have an online presence(I did send a request to interview him for this post but he did not respond). I am a big fan of testimonials for marketing. However, the tweet above is written like it was copy from a marketing person for a print ad.
    I think where the ad went astray was the shot at Harry’s and the “#power in #research”. These two lines cross over from customer preference to marketing effort. Now of course, @jlkirbee could have written this himself, but it looks like something written by Gillette. This make it appear to cross a line that the internet holds dear: honesty. Because of the way this tweet was worded and subsequently promoted by Gillette makes it appear to be fake. The internet responded in kind.
  2. IMG_2598 Gillette took it to far. Gillette reached out thanked @jilkirbee for the tweet. This was good social media marketing, respond and endorsing your customers. But when the tweet started to be sponsored on 10/9, the push back was palpable. People started taking shots at @jilkirbee and Gillette:
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3. Gillette opened itself up to competition. In fact Gillette exposed one of its customers up to a competitor because they promoted a tweet that featured them.


Gillette took a sound idea for a strategy and failed on the execution. The strategy: find customers who like us enough to talk about us on social media and then leverage social media to promote that post. I think they took a misstep with the post that they promoted. I think the real winner here was Harry’s. The Harry’s customers came out and supported the brand and ultimately used the attack in their favor.

Harry’s was listening and replied to at least one of the tweets. Harry’s is doing smart online marketing with sponsoring podcasts and providing a product that is bringing real disruption to the market.


How we got 7k organic reach…over night.

Great content is the king of the internet. But by defining it as great means that it is rare. Do not expect to make great content everyday but be ready to take advantage when you do.

Making great content is hard to do and it can be even more difficult depending on your industry. This video started with an amazing story and we put the time into make it a professional production to create a huge PR coup for a small non-profit. Madison County CASA is a charity that I support and I was recently hired through a grant to create a new website and video for them.

Lets take a look at a breakdown of the stats:

The video did really well initially on its own. The organic reach was great! People were sharing, liking, and commenting organically. The key was amazing content that gets people emotionally invested. Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.03.26 AMIn the first 24 hours the organic reach went up to 7,721! What amazing reach for a Facebook page with only 647 fans(before the video was posted). When I felt like the organic reach was starting to come off its highest point, I activated a $25 boost to fans and friends of fans of the CASA page.  As you can see below, as the organic reach dropped I used the boost to help increase its reach to the community.

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The result were 16,838 total reach with 6,753 of those being paid. Thats amazing! The difference: amazing content people wanted to see! Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.00.29 AM

Now lets dig into the video statistics. Of that 16,838 people who saw the post there were 7,052 people who watched the video. 17% of those reached with the post watched some of the video. Now we can see through the audience retention panel that very few made it very far into the video. But the vast majority that made it 45 seconds in, made it to the end of the video. 7.15% of the 7,052 people who watched it at all is: 504. 504 people watched the entire video!

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Now in our context, the video was nearly 6 minutes long. It was a time investment for our audience to watch. This video was designed more for presentations than social media viewing. The story was too long to fit into an ideal :30-1:30 video. I feel like the 504 is a great number for completing the video.

We can also learn from the Facebook stats that the average watch time was 42 seconds. I also know that that if they made it 1 minute in, almost all of those watchers made it the rest of the way through the video.

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What other measurable things did we get? The page gained 32 new likes and the post had 418 likes in total. 101 on the pages post and 317 on the shares of the original post. This is an impressive number. There were also 63 shares. People loved the content. The content is king!

All of these measurable point to a marketing win for a small nonprofit that just had the chance to get in front of 16,800 people for a very small amount of money!


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