How hard can it be to make it big in the Digital Marketing field? This is the story of Alaina Shrearer, a fearless leader and digital nerd, who paved her way to success in this competitive industry and is now a leader of the Women In Digital group. An association that connects, supports and inspires the like-minded digital nerd ladies. 

 

Alaina Shearer is a popular personality, coveted speaker and provocative marketer who never shies away from a challenge. Her ten years of copywriting, marketing and journalism experience culminated into the creation of a highly successful personal blog. In her “Slings and Arrows” podcast she talked about the early days of blogging:

In 2007 I started blogging and then that led to a vlog. During the day i was an interactive copywriter at a huge ad agency and then at night I would go and blog away and learn about SEO and social marketing and all of this, and at the end I had 30.000 readers a month.

Being a single mother herself, she wrote to other single mothers about dating and that struck a chord with her readers. It was a whirlwind: dozens of national media interview and major brand endorsements, leading up to Alaina joining the first group of true digital influencers. In 2009 she quit her day job to start a ground breaking marketing and advertising agency that would specialize in web design, search and social marketing.

Her idea came to life as a Cement Marketing agency and is now one of the leading digital agencies in the Midwest servicing national and local accounts in everything from digital to branding.

Today, Alaina leads Women in Digital. In her own words it is “the most inspiring and empowering professional experience of my career thus far”.

We challenge the status quo within our industry on a daily basis and have learned that as individuals we have the power to change our lives and our careers, but collectively we have the power to change the entire industry.

Concerns with inequality at workplace was a big part of motivation behind creating Women In Digital. Women in digital are the most valued and coveted employees in today’s marketing, communications and advertising industries. However, in most cases we are not the most respected or promoted and we do not hold an equal amount of seats in the C-suite or at the leadership table of companies and agencies. Additionally, most of us do not receive paid family leave or child care benefits. And on top of this all, there remains – at many agencies, corporations and tech-focused startups – systemic and cultural sexism, which distract and prohibit us from reaching our true potential.

In one of her blog entries, Alaina talked about the importance of Women In Digital to her:

If building Cement was my first professional calling, I have found my second – inspiring, connecting and learning from other women in digital media and marketing.

Women in Digital is a quickly expanding national association dedicated to inspiring, educating and empowering women in digital marketing, communications and advertising through connections and true local networks. Women in digital believe there is far more work to do to gain true equality in our work places and within the industry as a whole and that by uniting as one we can change the world one person, one company and one industry at a time.

 

As for the men, they are not allowed in at the quarterly meetings of the association. This is done for the sake of creating a safe space for women to freely connect and network:

Men use each other to network. They’ve been doing it forever. Blatantly they call on each other for favors. Why? Because this is okay, favors are awesome. For women though, it is perceived as a sign of weakness. Not by others, mind you, but by ourselves and each other. For women, we are often too busy competing with each other instead of building each other up. And at the end of the day, women have a harder time asking for help. 

Alaina had a very clear stance of the issue: “Why can’t we have our own organization, with some exclusivity, that allows us the ability to call on a powerful network of friends for advice and counsel or flat out favors in the way of new job recommendations or business acumen in a time of need?” Women In Digital is just that much-needed organization, making it easier for women to ask for help, without feeling weak.

So, Alaina was happy to give it a little push. She posted an invite to the first Columbus Women in Digital event on LinkedIn and on Facebook. She then shared the post with a few key stakeholders, women who she had consulted prior to the event like Linda Lolla, the Digital Marketing Manager, Social Media at Big Lots and Carli Lanfersiek the Senior Marketing Manager at Nationwide Realty Investors. She also sent the event around to a dozen or so other connections and then something remarkable happened. Over the course of the first 48 hours, half of the tickets were gone. Within a few weeks all 100 tickets were spoken for, so another 15 were added. And then they disappeared.

Women in digital marketing need a voice, they need an organization and together, with our specific focus on this industry, we can institute change.

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