Thursday, December 22, 2011

Presents and possibilities

I can't sleep.

Not for my usual reason of there being so much to do that I can't quiet my mind.

I've got Christmas under control for the most part. All 53 presents that have arrived or were purchased locally are wrapped. We're awaiting a few more from on-line stores, but they'll come over the next few days and I'll be able to wrap them leisurely. This year, I've been wrapping a bit each night instead of doing my usual marathon wrapping session right before Christmas Eve. This worked well for keeping my stress level down, but our kitchen has been a huge mess and virtually unusable for about five straight days. My cook had some issues, but he coped well and overall things went much more smoothly for me.

We tried as much as possible to purchase from local small businesses this year. While we may have paid a bit more here and there, I think it was worth it. I've been noticing a movement to support small business and I hope more and more people listen and that it pays off. Some things just couldn't be sourced locally though, and in those instances we purchased on-line from reputable companies. We finished up Zoe's shopping tonight, finally hitting the evil Wal-Mart behemoth only in an attempt to make sure we covered all our bases, and I'm pleased to say that the retail bully got less than ten of our Christmas dollars this year.

No, I think the reason I can't sleep has nothing to do with Christmas, and everything to do with a new opportunity opening up at work. When my position was created for me last year, we threw pretty much everything related to communications in the job description. And then some. We had no one handling comms for the North America Zone thus far, and it was a stretch to even get a headcount of one, so we figured why not? Well, why not turns out to be that it's insane to expect one person to handle media relations, website creation and maintenance for both corporate and multiple product sites, and internal communications, along with translation responsibilities ("Here, we French have roughly translated this scientific document on poultry vaccines into English and we mangled it but good. Can you fix it before we send in to the international journals?"). My communications counterparts at headquarters also recently took on event planning, which is fantastic when you have a staff of six plus but damn near impossible when you're trying to tack that on to the sole team member in the US.


Since this was the only option to start the comms department in North America, I gamely took it all on. Suffice it to say, I've given it my best shot and, as in most cases where one is stretched too thin, I've managed to do none of it particularly well. One of my three bosses began to recognize this much earlier than any of us, and took it upon himself to retain an independent external PR professional with whom he had worked in the past. We all got off on the wrong foot as he basically hired her without informing anyone, and because she can be (okay, is) a royal pain in the ass to work with. The last six months consisted of petty cat fights and a tug-o-war of responsibilities. At one point I thought we were going to resort to pissing on the corners of the building in Lenexa to mark boundaries.

In a come-to-Jesus meeting a couple of months ago, I finally admitted that I don't have the bandwidth to get everything done. At least not get it all done well. But I also demanded that if we were going to rely on external vendor support, I needed to run it. It's the only way to ensure that messaging stays consistent and the only way to keep France happy. My US boss balked at first, but finally agreed. I grudgingly let go of the media relations portion of my job and he grudgingly gave up micro-managing. It's been going extremely well, and I feel as though a weight has been lifted and that I'm finally free to really focus on some much-needed projects and do them well.

My second boss has been hounding me to research and purchase a new DSLR with video capability. I resisted for a long time, simply because I couldn't take on any more. Video shooting and production on top of everything else? Pssshhhh. Ain't gonna happen. In a conversation this morning, one of our first since the shift in responsibilities, he brought it up again. And, for the first time, I began to understand the value and feel as though I could, indeed, take it on.

And it would be fun.

A new camera (squeee!), and a new format (video!), and training on how to edit video (hooray for learning!), all paid for by my company.

So that's what has my mind reeling tonight, I think. Why I can't sleep. I'm pretty excited about this. I have no idea what this may translate into for the future, but it looks pretty damn good. And fun. I've already started research, and it appears I'll wind up learning the Canon system. My beloved Nikon is behind the 8-ball these days with innovation, due in part to a manufacturing facility in Japan being taken out by a tsunami. Lenses and bodies are short in supply, and I think they've released only one new body this year. What they do have available is half as good as Canon and twice as expensive. The internets are rife with rumors about pending competitive releases, but I can't sit around and wait for conjecture to become reality. Nope. I think a Canon 5D Mark II, a kick-ass lens, and the latest in editing software is in my future.

Come to mama.


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