It also is the twitter-friendly description of what I help companies, organizations and communities do. I strongly believe it is the essential framework for sustainability in today’s world, and it is the vision I have for our community, country and planet.
For more than 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to help inform, engage, educate and enlighten using various communications formats, channels and strategies. I also have helped craft connections, enhance understanding, nurture relationships and grow partnerships among businesses, not-for-profit/for-impact organizations, government agencies, communities and their respective customers, supporters, citizens and members.
While my experience is deep and diverse, I believe strongly believe in and am dedicated to being a life-long student. The more I learn, the more I realize what else I want to learn!
It is, and has been, a richly diverse and energizing journey along a constantly evolving path that encompasses so many different elements that have been strategically crafted together in a variety of ways for many different purposes.
At times, I find myself challenged to describe exactly what it is I do in 140 characters, 25 words or a short elevator ride. So, here’s my latest attempt:
Connectications. That’s what I’ve boiled it down to – for now (I don’t like the connotation of and the old school ways of “marketing”, and I much prefer Peter Drucker’s spot-on take).
Whether it’s doing online and offline marketing, branding, public/media relations, advocacy, public affairs, advertising, promotion, etc., I integrate it all within the Connectications formula and framework: Connect + Converse + Partner + Grow!
The Back Story
Before I planted the first seed for the forest & the trees, I held senior local, regional, statewide and national marketing and communications positions in the financial services, commercial airline, economic development and not-for profit sectors.
I have worked for businesses ranging from Deloitte, Bank of America, the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, among others. I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse list of local, regional, statewide, national and international organizations ranging from Blue Mesa Grill, SourceCorp Tax, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Credit Union League.
I also have worked with PBS and the BBC to promote the broadcast of national television specials ranging from the 30th Anniversary of Fawlty Towers to Father Brown: Saving Souls, Solving Crimes. And, I have provided Connectications services to celebrity brands such as internationally recognized Master Chef Hubert Keller.
When my fingers first touched a computer keyboard back in the late 70s, Technology had me at “click”. And what an incredible ride it is every day! In an increasingly complex world, where New can become Old in nanoseconds, it is more important than ever to understand people and what makes things tick.
How else can one really understand how to connect, engage, build partnerships, craft solutions, innovate and really move things forward? The most important thing to know and understand – by far – is that everything starts and ends with P-E-O-P-L-E —individuals, not bits, pixels, or apps.
Seeing the forest & the trees: Born to see. Meant to look!
That’s what co-workers, friends and family have told me for years that I do very well. It closely aligns with my interest/passion/curiosity about how everything in the world is connected and the possibility and potential of such. It also symbolizes what I believe is the true need for better understanding about the inescapable interconnectedness and the networked composition of this living, breathing sphere and its ecosystems of organisms – of all sizes – that we ride along on, and with, daily.
People and their needs first. Strategy and objectives next. Then tactics.
Along the way, I’ve used various combinations of online and offline tools, across all screens. While there always will be an ever-evolving set of tools, they should never be the first and only focus. It is, and has always been, about People and Purpose – The Why?! I love helping clients discover the Why? Who? What? and How? of connecting, engaging and nurturing real partnerships!
the forest & the trees loves diversity and thrives on helping to plan, craft, implement and sustain well-connected, relationship-building platforms with the appropriate pathways that help nurture and evolve people from initial connections to energized, sustainable partnerships.
Examples of the forest & the trees at work:
Helped a community centered not-for-profit hospice — Ann’s Haven VNA — tap into its rich history of caring, commitment and trust to create its first branding and integrated marketing campaign built on stories from its very passionate community. The effort helped the agency increase awareness and gain a stronger market positioning among a growing field of deep-pocketed, for-profit competitors.
Worked to build a platform to inform, educate, connect and help engage communities across the country to take successful actions against serial polluter Exide Technologies and its violation-ridden, toxin-spewing lead smelters.
For a little Across-the-Pond diversion, I also consulted on the development of a very popular online pub for fans — here, in Great Britain and around the world — of British comedy and pop culture. (Full disclosure – it’s my husband’s!)
In addition to working with traditional communications channels for many years, I have been creating and engaging with many of the ever-evolving digital ones for some time, too. Over the years, the forest & the trees clients have been at the top story on boing boing, inspired YouTube videos, been podcasted about and ripped on Bit Torrent, tweeted about and posted about to different social media channels. (Hey, no snickering. I did this promotional blog for PBS/BBC waaaaay back in 2005 for the 30th anniversary of Fawlty Towers, and it was still getting thousands of visitors monthly before the platform it was built on went away, and tellyspotting graciously provided it a place to retire in 2012.
And there’s more. Just suffice it to say that the forest & the trees is well versed in All Things Social….the right way.
Lots to do! No idle hands, hearts or minds!
I was an instructor for the Center for Nonprofit Management (now called CNMConnect) in Dallas, and in addition to many custom trainings for nonprofits from across the state and country, I was one of the inaugural instructors for the Center’s Nonprofit Management Certificate Program. I taught the day-long Marketing, Branding and Public Relations course of that program for 15 years. And, it was an honor to be among the first to receive CNM’s Center Stage Spotlight recognition for outstanding faculty in 2011.
I have traveled nationally as an instructor for the Center for Nonprofit Success, and I also was a repeat guest speaker and instructor for the Center for Law Enforcement Administration division of the American Center for American and International Law.
In addition, I have had the opportunity to be a guest speaker for webinars, and regional and national conferences for groups ranging from Texas Instruments to the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Association of Partners for Public Lands. And, I was interviewed for and included in “Connected Causes: Online Marketing Strategies for Nonprofit Organizations”.
It is especially gratifying to be the founder of the Stevie Ray Vaughan Scholarship Fund, which has awarded more than $800,000 in scholarships to talented eighth-grade students at W.E. Greiner Middle School and Exploratory Arts Academy in Oak Cliff (the Dallas community where SRV was born). We celebrated our 25th anniversary this year (2017)! Check out our new video — Pride and Joy, definitely!
I am a member of the Advisory Broad for GreenSourceDFW, and I am very excited to be a new board member for Good Local Markets, the best Farmers Market and more in Dallas! I served as co-chair of the marketing committee for Distinguished Advisory Council for the Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems in the School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University. And, it was wonderful to be part of the team that created Mobileyes Against Hunger — an iPhone photo contest to raise money for the North Texas Food Bank.
To sum things up, I am a what-if, connect-the-dots, imagine-the-possibilities-then-partner-to-make-them-happen, life-long-learning, Geekette-with-a-360-degrees-view Connecticator.
I have one of my favorite gurus, Peter Drucker, to thank for this mantra: Born to see. Meant to look! It’s like seeing the forest and the trees.
Thank you very much for visiting and letting me share a bit about the who, why and what of the forest & the trees and my mission to help organizations like yours:
Connect + Converse + Partner = Grow!
Have questions or want to start a conversation about how your organization can evolve connections into mutually beneficial partnerships for growth and sustainability? Then, just click here, and let’s talk!