Not all astronauts make it to the moon. And not all wanderers get to see the pyramids. But when it comes to navigating through complex universes, you can bet Jennifer McKee, Wendt’s digital strategist, can find her way around. Meta-certified (yes, that Meta) and analytic genius, McKee is both the brains and the wit behind each of our client’s unique and intricately targeted digital campaigns. And in case I lost you back at Meta (the old Facebook), we sat down with McKee to get her best advice on unlocking the ever-expanding, ever-changing digital universe.
Man. Start with the hard one first. Like all of us, I’m a lot of things. I am a mother, a wife, and family member. I am a worker. I am a volunteer. I love the mountains. I love being on my feet in the mountains. I am someone who wants to leave the world better than how I found it and I know that takes more than wanting – it takes doing.
There’s probably a lot of ways to answer this. The digital universe is enormous; it’s most of the advertising universe. For me, I work to align the message with the audience – what they’re doing and who they are – in the digital place where we’re looking for them. That involves knowing how the platforms work not just work for users, but in a way that actually pays the bills: How do platforms deliver ads? What does the surface look like where the rubber actually hits the road? Overall, it's a big task and many people on the Wendt team are involved in the digital world in various forms. It isn’t just me. That said, the top three ways people use the Internet is for personal messaging, email, and social – and so I also specialize in social media. It's such a huge way in which people live in the digital world, so it’s hard not to be in that space, especially as an ad agency who needs to be comfortable in all the platforms.
Yes, mostly. I was a print journalist for the first 13 years of my career. But in a weird way, it’s not that different. It’s still figuring out what people care about and giving it to them in a way that resonates. Journalism’s outcome is truth – which makes its own conversion.
When I was younger, I also used to play teacher at home a lot, which was why in college I first majored in elementary education. I just always thought that was what I was supposed to do in my adult life! As an adult, though, I realized the only subject I would focus on when playing teacher was math – my love for the subject is what led me to changing my major to accounting after three years of college. I also have several favorite numbers (not just one like most): 3, 5, 7, 19, 33 and my favorite, 777. Why they’re all odd numbers, I have no idea?!
You can’t do it casually. You have to stay organized – internally and externally. It’s easy to spiral when you never really NEED to wear pants with a waist band, so I try to plan my day out hour by hour to maintain my internal organization and get everything done I need to do. And one of those things is leaving the house, if only for a walk.
The digital world is dripping with data, but all that data is really looking for is feelings. And that’s one thing you can’t entirely predict. When I'm planning a campaign, on the surface, I’m working toward all things “click” – the idea, the images, the words, the targeting. But here’s the big thing: Those clicks find the feelings. Those good old analog feelings. That’s my one measure. And when you take the time, you begin to see those feelings in a lot of different kinds of data.
Successful work is about healthy relationships. And those healthy relationships are about more than just working at a place that feels good. Wendt is too busy, and our standards are too high to hang up on the ordinary emotional pivot points of any human interaction. You need a way to move through those pivot points. You do it with honesty, vulnerability, connection, productive praise, and respect. Wendt is organized to do that from the inside out; it's built into our entire system. So, yes, it absolutely feels good to work at Wendt. It also feels good to sprint down a field with a team. Those two halves are built on healthy relationships – and that’s what I love most about Wendt.