By: Kim Sellmeyer, creative director – Greater Omaha Chamber
You just celebrated 10 years at the Chamber, what was your role when you started and how has it changed?
I was hired as a manager of communications and graphic design. I was responsible for writing and the design of marketing materials. I started the position with 7 years design experience – it is not common to ask a designer to write – and WOW did I struggle. However, I think learning this skill ultimately set me up for success when I was promoted to creative director, my current position.
What was your biggest mistake at work and what did you learn from it?
I had been promoted to lead the marketing team. My supervisor and I set out to convince our President & CEO that he was wrong for disagreeing about the direction we had taken an ad. Setting out to change his mind AFTER the fact was my first mistake, then our actions made the situation worse (Think shock and awe, immediate regret, steal that version off his desk before he sees it, and oops…busted…he saw it…).
I proceeded to hide under my desk
until the heat was off,
because well, you know,
he can’t fire me if he can’t find me.
He was able to laugh off how we attempted to change his mind and has since bought me a desk that does not lend itself to be a hiding spot. It was a valuable lesson – one that helped us build a better process and stronger relationships. Having conversations and setting clear marketing objectives from the start of the project, with on-going communication until completion has helped us to better think, plan and stay on target.
We continue to take risks and try new things – so of course, I have a new hiding spot picked out…just in case.
What have you done here that makes you the most proud?
Without a doubt the collaborative process to build the brand for the region. No other community had attempted to build a brand the way we did, bringing 200 volunteers and 16 creative professionals from 15 different agencies together to do it. It was a risk (and ultimate test of my harmony skills) that resulted in an impactful brand and story that is authentic and can be used by every community in our region. Our process and the We Don’t Coast brand itself have been nationally and internationally recognized. We have done many presentations to communities who want to try to emulate what we did.
Maybe a close second to that is the time I ran out of my office and chased down one of our mounted police for 2 blocks to give him a t-shirt and ask for a photo opp. Let me be clear, I HATE to run…so yeah, it was kind of a big deal.
What do you see for the next 10 years?
I am excited to see the brand evolve and take on a life of it’s own. I frequently get asked, “how long do you think We Don’t Coast will live?” I want it to live on indefinitely. Think Keep Austin Weird, which came to life in 2000. 16 years later, it still serves as an image for Austin, as a rally cry for them and an opportunity to set them apart from the rest of Texas. In order for the We Don’t Coast to become a lasting image will take the effort of many. Our job at the Chamber is to be the brand’s champion, not it’s sole owner. It is a promise we are making on behalf of the community. We acknowledge that we are not perfect, but we aren’t ever going to rest, we will continue to work hard and make a better life for all.
“…how long do you think We Don’t Coast will live?”
What is the best part of working at the Chamber?
Partnering with some of the best and brightest in Omaha, in efforts that truly make a difference in our community has given me the privilege of creating relationships that have become real, true, cherished friendships.
How many jobs can offer you that?
-Kim Sellmeyer, creative director – Greater Omaha Chamber