Lisa Bialecki

“I had a kind of goofy career path,” SocialMedia.org member Lisa Bialecki says.

Anybody who’s working in integrated communications is a better leader if they’ve worked at an agency at some point in their lives.

With a degree in English and a plan to be a teacher, Lisa went on to work in PR in the financial industry and the corporate travel industry. Then, with a Masters in Writing from DePaul, she learned to hard code HTML and build websites back when some big companies were still saying, “this web thing might not stick around.”

So after building the first official website for Rust-Oleum back in 2001, Lisa says she was looking for something a little more challenging. That’s when she moved to Edelman’s digital group as social media was just starting to take off.

Now, in her current role back at Rust-Oleum, she says her agency experience was invaluable.

“I have this theory that anybody who eats in a restaurant is a better customer if they’ve waited tables at some point in their lives, and anybody who’s working in integrated communications is a better leader if they’ve worked at an agency at some point in their lives,” Lisa says.

She explains that working for Edelman helped her better understand the challenges agencies face. She can empathize with the time agency work takes and the cost, which helps her build out her budget and make her programs more effective on the brand side.

When Rust-Oleum asked Lisa to come back as their Communications Director in 2007, she asked to add “Integrated” to her title.

We’re not writing whitepapers — we’re creating projects that are on trend and attainable.

They wanted her to handle advertising, PR, and web development as well as manage a blogger program. Lisa says she was thinking ahead when she asked to become the Integrated Communications Director.

“I wanted to be able to do a lot more with that position than just the traditional advertising and PR.”

She says that integration piece of her role also helps from a budget standpoint. For example, TV campaigns are made stronger and easier to share with social extensions, and PR campaigns can reach more people faster through social.

“Every tactic and medium in which we work has to work closely together, because Rust-Oleum doesn’t have huge marketing budgets. Every tactic has to work really hard.”

Now, she’s helping her team build a strong content program.

She says that more visibility from senior leadership has helped her team grow in staffing and budgets for social tools and advertising. They see the power of content sharing through social, so now Lisa’s team has a bigger budget to do it.

They even built a studio for a full-time painter and builder who works with a full-time photographer to create projects to support Rust-Oleum’s content strategy. Lisa calls him their “Maker.” They’ve also built relationships with bloggers and freelance project idea developers.

“We’re not writing whitepapers — we’re creating projects that are on trend and attainable.”

Their biggest opportunity comes with supporting retailers with social content.

“We have partners who are very large and partners who are very small, where they are the owner, stockperson, and marketing person. But no matter what the size, they’re all looking for assistance in building out social programs for their company,” Lisa says.

And according to Lisa, the social content program they’ve built at Rust-Oleum to support that need is expected to double or triple in the next year or two.

Lisa’s been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014. Follow her on Twitter and ask about her favorite place to go for a run.


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