“Write, create, publish. Repeat.”
In a world overflowing with content, it’s passion and persistence that sets the successful apart, said Alaina Shearer, founder of Women in Digital and Cement Marketing and 2018 keynote speaker at Craft Content Nashville.
“My career began in radio,” Shearer said. “After winning two Associated Press awards and landing a spot as the co-host of a major market morning radio show I was abruptly fired without cause. Shocked by the experience, and after a morning show producer in another market asked me if I would be willing to get pregnant in coming years because it would be good for ratings, I made a complete 180 and ditched the radio industry.”
She started over as an intern at a PR firm and “slowly” worked her way to a senior interactive copywriter position at an advertising agency. However, repeated harassment would ultimately lead her to start Cement Marketing in 2009.
“After my creative director asked me to move to a new department simply because he was attracted to me, and after he told me, ‘I can’t be alone in a room with you because I don’t know what will happen,’ I sought employment elsewhere,” she said. “But then the creative director at the other agency actually grabbed my rear at a bar recruiting gathering. Needless to say, I didn’t see another agency as an option.”
Wanting to create an agency that “delivered results,” and irritated by the difficulty traditional marketing agencies seemed to have when it came to digital content, Shearer swept into the industry to do what others couldn’t, “cutting to the truth and the hard questions immediately” on behalf of clients’ bottom lines, not their egos.
Motivated by her experiences and a desire for change, she had the idea to meet with other women in Columbus, Ohio’s digital space in 2016. Within days, 115 women had signed up to attend.
“During that very first event, I told my story from start to finish and in that moment we were all changed. We all wanted this group to continue, and when it did continue, it changed our lives and our careers. Because it was going so well in Columbus I felt compelled to take the show on the road and we started kicking off in city after city,” she said.
Today, Women in Digital has 19 chapters and 1300 members across the United States, all seeking to
“catch up to the men” by sharing their power and gaining more control over inequalities in the digital space.
Bringing women together to work in the same direction towards change will have a larger impact than smaller groups acting alone, Shearer said. Together, the group aims to “level the playing field and gain fair treatment, equal pay and to, of course, end all forms of sexual harassment.”
“Look, we can’t change men tomorrow or next week or even next year. Yes, they will change, but it will take decades for the power to shift in a significant way. In the meantime, we can control ourselves. And women are traditionally competitive with each other, fighting for a few select spots available to us in the leadership or C-suite. Through women in digital we hope to empower them with the simple idea that we actually have as much power as men we just need to share more of that with each other.”
Along with a movement towards a more equal environment, Shearer also believes that content creation itself will move towards a more videographic focus in the future, pairing video and copy to create packages that were previously limited by our technology.
“I think we’ll see a shift back to heavy video production as the social channels continue to rank video higher. I mean, we’ve always known that, right? Americans, we love our TV, we love our videos. It just took some time for the bandwidth to free up.”
After seven years as a blogger on MsSingleMama.com and almost 10 years at the helm of Cement Marketing, Shearer said that her content creation strategy hasn’t changed. It still involves listening to an audience and telling an interesting story. But perhaps the greatest, and most difficult part, is the persistence, dedication, and passion needed to keep creating, keep expressing one’s voice passionately.
“We are living in an unprecedented time in history,” she said. “Social movements now have access to tools allowing them to tell their story, to find their voice and to broadcast their message without filter. Can you imagine Selma with Facebook Live? Would it have changed or accelerated change if those generations had communication tools like ours? Absolutely. That’s my belief anyway. I hang on to that because it gives me hope and drives everything I do, every day and in every moment.“
Alaina Shearer will be the keynote speaker at Craft Content Nashville on April 21, 2018. Register now.