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SIPA Member Profile: Yeomans Puts Clients in Fashion

Rachel Yeomans, Marketing Director, Social Media, Astek, Chicago

SIPA: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
RACHEL: I graduated in Journalism with a concentration in magazines. When I graduated, the journalism industry was already somewhat difficult to enter into. I received a lead from a college friend about a temp agency that was looking for candidates to work for a construction reporting firm. Basically I cold called general contractors throughout the Northeast and Northwest areas and asked them what projects they were bidding on. I’d then input that information into the company’s system, of which people would purchase for construction job leads. It wasn’t ideal, but it was a job, and it “sort of” tapped into my interview skills from journalism school.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
Absolutely. I was attending Mercedes Benz Fashion Week to cover the events for my fashion blog, TheWorkingWardrobe.com. I took vacation from my full-time job at McGraw-Hill Construction (my promotion from the first construction reporting firm I worked for) to attend Fashion Week, and I received a text message from a friend during that time. He forwarded me a tweet sent out from a colleague of his in social media. I just started diving into social media for my blog, and the tweet read, “Do you know social media? Do you love fashion? Are you looking for a job?” After four years of working in construction publishing, I got a job managing social media for the fashion and apparel business units within Sears Holdings Corp. That was truly when I knew I was able to do what I loved full-time. Not everyone is that lucky!

In brief, describe your business/company?
I work as marketing director, social media for Astek. Astek is an interactive web marketing firm—we specialize in everything from web design/development to applications to *ahem social media. Also, Astek helped me launch TheWorkingWardrobe.com back in 2009 as a friendly favor. It is an honor working for the company that to this day supports my side business as a fashion publisher.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
I have most definitely learned that you have to “go for it.” I have sent so many emails and tweets asking to meet people for coffee to pitch ideas and concepts, and I’m always surprised how many actually say yes! You have to have a thick skin as well, because many ideas I’ve had have fallen flat. However, I wouldn’t have learned from those scenarios if I didn’t try them to begin with. I’m a risk-taker and someone who has the “crazy ideas.” Sure, not all the crazy ideas are appropriate for realistic applications, but sometimes they can make the biggest difference with a business objective.
Along the same vein of “going for it” applies to social media in general. When I started blogging and applying social media strategy to my own business, I had to teach myself everything from the Facebook post to the hashtag. I did a lot of things wrong and I learned that a new industry does not offer a template of “how-to’s” and guidelines. I learned how to trust my instincts and just get on the platforms and let the chips fall where they may. My position at Sears is when I truly learned strong strategy and best practices, and now I continue to shape them as I grow in the industry. The most important thing I learned during this time was that if someone introduces themselves as a social media expert, run the other way! None of us are experts in this field; we are pupils and brainstorming partners. We are learning new things every day and need to continue to do so in order to keep up with this ever-changing industry.

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?
I’m incredibly proud to see the social media applications that Astek is developing on both mobile and online. I also am excited to create a social media conference management package with Astek. One thing we discovered about conferences is that managing their social media is no easy feat. And personally, I love doing it!

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto as we look to 2012?
I personally am relocating to New York for a year to develop and grow our business on the East Coast. A lot of exciting things are in store for Astek right now, and I’m excited to feature those in the Big Apple!

What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
From the standpoint of working with SIPA to assist them in social media, I have had so much fun working with the association and communicating with its members! The content and discussion that is shared among the members are incredibly insightful. I always learn something new with each newsletter that I read. I also love that I can tap into my journalism background when working with SIPA. It’s always good to keep different parts of the brain active!

Where did you grow up?
Markesan, Wisconsin. My next door neighbor built totem poles for a living—that’s how small the town is.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
I started at the University of Tampa to study international business. I quickly learned that I loved international and hated business. But I knew that I loved writing; I switched my major to communications and joined the school newspaper. I quickly became obsessed with the newspaper and realized I wanted to study journalism. I transferred to Columbia College in Chicago and graduated in journalism in 2004. The moment that stands out is when I drove to Tampa for my second year of school and met the editor of the school paper while moving in. She let me borrow her dolly and then asked me to write for the paper. The rest is history!

Are you married? Do you have children?
No and no, but I am a very proud aunt of a nephew and two nieces.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
Reading. I can read three novels at a time, and it’s my favorite way to escape and turn my brain off (well, at least the part thinking about work). My mother is an avid reader, and she started loaning me books when I was young. I wanted to write my first novel when I was six. I am much older than six and still have yet to write that novel—maybe next year.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?
I just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. As much as I want to read books about the industry, I keep going back to novels. It’s a lovely story about a fantastical circus and its place in people’s lives. It’s a fun read and helps spur the imagination. I definitely recommend it!

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Join us this Wednesday for SIPA’s
December Webinar (FREE for members):
Group Sales and Site Licenses
Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011, 1 pm EST

PLACE: Your telephone and computer
COST: FREE for SIPA members!
Speakers: Anne Holland of Anne Holland Ventures;
Michele Givens from Editorial Projects in Education

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– The opportunity to connect with our speakers during Q&A.
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Posted in Multiplatform Publishing Strategy, SIPAlert Daily

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