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Create something today even if it sucks.

March 31, 2016

Today, I break my blogging dry spell, thanks to a t-shirt.

I went outside for lunch about 30 minutes ago, stressed about the growing number of emails in my inbox, the baby at home, and a lovely car snafu from earlier in the week.  As I was walking towards the grocery store, I passed a guy in a maroon t-shirt with the words:

So here we are.  Thanks, maroon shirt guy.

And so what am I creating today?

My happiness, I hope.  By actually putting words to website and making real what’s always in my head, I want to create:

-Short stories

-Big novels

-Words about beautiful things

I’ve been hesitant to blog about life with baby because I’m unsure how she’ll react to being written about when she’s old enough to register that she didn’t have a choice.  Sorry, Simone, but mommy needs an outlet. We’ll negotiate payback when you’re older.




On 10 years together

September 24, 2015

When my husband and I moved into our house in 2012, the first thing I did was tear the garden apart.

In the waist-high grass, I found an old shovel with a rotten wooden handle that broke apart in my hands.

In the dirt, I found hundreds of tiny, electric green orbs, magical bead-like things that we dubbed fairy balls, whose purpose was a mystery.

In the clearing, I found a perfect four leaf clover that I kept and framed.

On our 10 year anniversary today, I’d say our love is a little like that garden we moved into: hidden inside ourselves we found broken pieces of each other to mend, hundreds of moments from a fairy tale, and from the first moments were impossibly lucky to have found each other.

Bringing our baby girl Simone into the world together is just the beginning, and watching him with her makes my overflowing heart feel like it might explode. Saying I love him feels so inadequate sometimes, because there are no words for this beautiful life we have.

Anthony, I love you madly, and all I can do is thank our lucky stars we found each other. Here’s to us, and to growth, and to creating the clearings.


What I learned leading 7 people in a content audit

May 7, 2015

There are a lot of reasons why a content audit should be done by one person.  Consistency and thoroughness come to mind as two of the top reasons. Recently I completed my second major audit, and in both audits, it just wasn’t possible for one person to do an entire audit.  Hello, they have a day job! And the description does not usually include auditing their entire library of content.

So, you compromise. You use what you have. The first time around, I had myself, my direct report, and a good chunk of holiday downtime when people were out of the office. This time, I had 7 colleagues all running different categories ranging from food to electronics, and they all had plenty of other priorities. Here’s what I’ve learned – I hope it helps you run a smooth audit with whatever resources you have!

1. Make the goal & benefits really, really clear.

Whatever you have to do to encourage your team to climb the mountain that is combing through each piece of individual content, do it. This is best done prior to announcing that you need their help – and it’s also best to remind them of those benefits often during the process. Don’t be above bringing in treats to facilitate – my personal favorite bribe consists of fancy pastries from Tartine or Mr. Holmes. Whatever it takes, people, and that includes cruffins.

2. Create a master spreadsheet formula and stick. to. your. columns.

I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to maintain consistency in both the column setup and the monikers you use to identify content.  If you have everyone rating the content’s quality, but don’t give clear parameters about what quality means and how to rate it, then you’ll be left with analysis troubles. Imagine going through your quality column of 2K-plus items and realizing everyone has called their top notch content something different, in monikers like “superb,” “excellent,” “really good,” “killer,” “so-so,” “could use an update,” “update,” “update (broken link).”  Varying forms of the same word only serve to confuse and distract come analysis time; rein it in now.

3. Talk about how great it will be once it’s over.

This goes back to #1, but it’s so important I’m mentioning it twice. Talk about how it will make their life easier once they can hand off this entire spreadsheet to everyone who keeps asking for “that one buying guide from last year that did really well,” so they can search it for themselves.  Wax poetic on how cool it would be to transform this spreadsheet into a searchable database — oh wait, that’s what we’re going to do! Cool! Now just a few hundred articles left to go…

4. Set reasonable milestones.

Breaking the audit into chunks bound by time and task seemed to work best for me. Our first milestone was to pull every title from the CMS along with URL to get an accurate representation of sheer amount of content, and I gave the team two weeks to do this. For some, quick and easy – but for others, this involved lots of deleting of duplicate titles. For the next milestone, I had them pull a page view report on their entire set of content for the past year. With this, we sectioned off the top 20% of content and called it Group 1. The next highest 20% of content was Group 2, and so on. This gave us an indication of performance without pulling in the exact page view numbers, which would have had to be redone practically every month.  Although it would have been nice to see exact numbers, the reality of the static spreadsheet we had as a tool made it so that this seemed like the best option. Last, I gave them an additional month to touch every piece of content in their inventory. We ended up having a few extensions, but the milestones definitely helped keep the project top of mind.

5. Celebrate!

I’m kicking myself for not doing a good enough job celebrating, but Walmart prohibits me from bringing in champagne for the team due to policy.  So, drinking alone at home it is (just kidding).


If you’ve had a similar experience and have wisdom to share, I’d love to hear from you.  Have you pulled xml files? Copy-pasted like a caveman? Let me know!

Infographics and the attention span

May 7, 2015

The active learner.It’s really a shame that the infographic is dying off (reports FastCompany in this recent article: What Killed the Infographic?) or, as they eventually reveal, not so much dying off as retreating into internal data science reports. As most of us are visual learners, the ability to hook a reader in the first few seconds with a visual is usually an effective means of getting them to read your content.  Anecdotally, I’ve seen that content with gorgeous imagery performs better – as in, you see a lift in time on site and page depth. On the flip side, content sans imagery does terribly.  You’re lucky if you can maintain a 50% bounce rate.

It really makes me wonder if society is moving closer and closer to how it is portrayed in Idiocracy. We’re already watching our phones with the attention a mother gives her newborn.  A friend remarked to me the other night how he noticed his attention span during a movie recently: the least bit of a slowdown and he whipped his phone out to check baseball, catch up on Facebook, and wait for the movie to pick back up again.  No wonder blockbuster action thrillers win at the box office and cerebral think-pieces tank.  I’m guilty of obsessive internet-checking too, although I like to think I’m avoiding commercials more than waiting for a plotline to thicken.

There’s a place for infographics on the web, though, we just need to think of them as more than data visualization. What is Instagram if not one long, scrolling infographic on life?

How’s this to catch your attention? The below is an illustration of all the ocean currents in the world.  Data, meet art. (Aside: there’s a Star Trek reference in there somewhere, there has to be…)


Nasa visualizes all the world’s currents –

The rise of content at Walmart eCommerce

February 9, 2015

Recently, I did a quick interview with our PR team about Walmart’s growing acceptance of content marketing – every January, Walmart does their version of a New Years’ Resolution play called Start Strong, Save Big.

Not the most inspired writeup, but hey, worldwide exposure for my team within the Walmart mothership? I’ll take it! 😉


The science of beauty

December 29, 2014

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an avid beauty buff. I hardly wear makeup (although I appreciate the artistic prowess necessary to apply it, and I CAN do that) and as for hair, I like to experiment with different colors – sometimes unnatural, orange is a favorite – rather than styles.

It surprised me, then, when I started taking a liking to the beauty content I wrote myself out of pure need (aka slim budget and few internal copywriting resources). Here’s a recent favorite that I spun to pair with my other love: figuring out WHY things work.

Apparently the Outbrain crowd liked it too, because it was a hit! Well, actually 1,318,567 hits to be exact.

The science behind coconut oil for your hair – written by yours truly for Walmart Beauty.

science of coconut oil

Font of the Day

November 28, 2014

Screenshot 2:9:15, 10:33 PM




This font reminds me of sitting in math class, concentrating on solving a problem when all of a sudden your pencil snaps and it’s probably because Pencil is feeling vengeful for all the times you chewed on the eraser.  Then you’re pissed because a) you have no pencil and b) you’re still in math class.


Slo-mo Wes Anderson is everything

March 24, 2014

I have a particular hankering to see a Wes Anderson movie right now, and I thought this slo-mo video that captures all those moments would make it better but it just makes it worse. Off to the movies…

WES from Alejandro Prullansky on Vimeo.

The tale of the secret Prince

March 22, 2014

Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.
– Prince

On Wednesday morning I was walking down the hallway at the technology company where I work to get coffee and was stopped by two coworkers talking about the secret Prince concert.

“I can’t go – but look, Kayla is all purple, she should go.”

I was wearing wine colored jeans and a purple flowery button-up, so yes, technically I was all purple. I stopped and struck a pose to model my outfit, then asked what they were up to.

My coworker then asked if I wanted to go. I had nothing to do that night. I said yes, because of COURSE you say yes to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like a secret Prince show!

We met up outside the Fillmore where they banned all photography and video, so sadly I don’t have any to share.  What I can note is that Prince was wearing a cabernet flowered carpet jacket with fro and headband. His ladyband was amazing and talented. At one point, Prince was playing piano behind a veil of pink smoke just like in his videos.

Then he told us not to take photos with our smartphones because technology is all that is wrong with the world.


Don’t hate technology, Prince, it brought you and me together.

Super Bowl Snacks!

February 2, 2014

Ahh, the Super Bowl. I’ve got vegetarians coming this year, and since I personally love to eat I wanted to make relatively healthy and low calorie snacks. We’re having a dog friendly event (4 dogs!) this year, make-ahead with ample time to sit and watch the game was a must. Here’s what’s on the menu at my house today:

Vegetarian Potato Skins & Spicy Jalapeño Poppers

These are great because although they seem like a lot of work, you can do other things between steps, and they can sit out for hours before anyone actually consumes them. Makes 20 skins and 20 poppers (we ate a few immediately because they were so good, which is why you see fewer in the photos).

  • 10 medium sized potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 green onion stalks, plus 2 more for garnish
  • Sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Pierce each potato several times with a fork or sharp knife. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until the skins are crisp and a knife easily pierces the potatoes, about 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Set the oven to broil.
  3. Slice each potato in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch intact; reserve the flesh for another use. Brush the insides of the potatoes with the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Flip the potatoes over, brush the skin sides with butter, and season with salt and pepper. Evenly space the potato halves skin-side up on a baking sheet and broil until the butter foams and the skins start to crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes (keep a close watch so they don’t burn). Flip the potato halves over and broil until the top edges just start to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. Finely chop the garlic and 2 green onions, and mix with the cheddar cheese. Evenly fill each skin with cheese and garlic mixture. Place in the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the broiler and top each with 1 teaspoon of the sour cream and a sprinkling of the green onion. Enjoy!

Spicy Jalapeño Poppers

  • 8 ounces whipped cream cheese (I used low-fat)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Swiss because it was all I had and it turned out great!)
  • 1 tsp. Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 jalapeños, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with Pam or olive oil spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, green onion, garlic powder, onion powder, hot sauce and salt and pepper (to taste).
  3. Spoon the filling into each jalapeño cavity. Then top each jalapeño with the shredded cheese. Place on prepared baking sheet, cavity side up. Bake until the filling is melty and the cheese on top is bubbling, about 15-20 minutes. If the cheese isn’t browning up fast enough and your jalapeños are cooked through, put in the broiler for 2 minutes to brown the tops.