Jillian Warren

Digital Project Management & Communications

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Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas 2012

Email Newsletter Wins State Government Communications Award

Honorable Mention in Publications: NCAGIO Excellence in Communication Awards 2012

On Friday, September 16, I won the Excellence in Communications Award from the North Carolina Association for Government Information Officers (NCAGIO), during a ceremony at the association’s annual seminar in Chapel Hill. My email newsletter, the N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin, took home Honorable Mention (third place) in the Publications Category.

The NCJC Building Bulletin is a monthly email newsletter for employees who work in the N.C. Judicial Center. I’ve been the editor since June.

NCJC Building Bulletin: October 2012

Check out the October issue of the NCJC Building Bulletin

For the awards, the judges reviewed the following three issues of the Building Bulletin:

I am responsible for all newsletter content. Staff members are encouraged to submit story ideas and drafts, but I also create original articles and images. Then, I put all the content into an HTML template, upload the files to an FTP server, and email the newsletter webpage via Outlook. We’re in the process of transitioning to an email newsletter software service that will eliminate all the hand-coding of HTML that I currently do each month.

I put a lot of hard work into the Building Bulletin, and I’m so proud that it was honored by the NCAGIO!

Internet Summit 12 Notes


Last Wednesday and Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend the Internet Summit 12 conference right here in Raleigh. The conference featured speakers from across the country who are experts in various web-related disciplines, from analytics to content to user experience to social media.

I hope to share more insights from the conference soon, but, for now . . . Here are the rough notes I took during each session I attended. I saw several of my friends and colleagues struggling to keep up with their note-taking, especially during some of the more fast-paced presentations, so I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

Advanced Photoshop Training

Training Class

I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop for about a decade now. I first remember using it in college for my film courses, and I’ve been using it personally and professionally ever since. However, I’ve never had any formal Photoshop training.

Well, it’s about time!

Currently, I’m halfway through the N.C. Office of State Personnel (OSP) Professional Skills Program’s Photoshop 2 course, and I’ll have earned my certificate from the program by the end of the week. So far, after the first day of class, I’ve actually learned a lot! Over the years I’ve developed my own workarounds and “hacks” to achieve certain effects, but the class has taught me easier and more efficient ways to get the same results. I’ve already been able to put my new skills into practice in my projects at work.

This is the second course I’ve taken through OSP. Earlier in the year, I arranged for a group of my coworkers and me to take their Web Writing and Search Engine Optimization course as a precursor to our web redesign content migration efforts. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to take more courses in the future!

Another Photo Album

Screen shot 2012-10-14 at 4.07.30 PM

I put together a photo album for my mom’s birthday, featuring the photos from their recent trip to Europe, using Mixbook.com. Click on the album cover below to check it out!

Laura & Jim's France & England Mixbook

European Vacation

Warren Family European Vacation 2012

As I mentioned in “The Secret Talent of a Good Project Manager,” I’ve spent a lot of time this past year planning an international vacation.

Well, the vacation finally came and went … And it was a spectacular success!

Eiffel Tower

My husband and I spent two weeks in France and Italy, and my parents joined us in France for a few days before continuing on to England. We sipped champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, toured the town where I studied abroad in college, dipped our toes in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, saw the most famous works of art in the world, sat 11 rows away from Pope Benedict XVI, visited the grave of one of Jesus’ disciples, walked in Augustus’ footsteps, and hiked to the top of Mount Vesuvius. It was amazing.

I’ve included links below to photo galleries for each leg of our trip. Enjoy!

Date Location Photos
9/1 – 9/2 Paris, France Album
9/3 Paris, France Album
9/4 Versailles & Paris, France Album
9/5 Paris & Tours, France Album
9/6 – 9/7 Biarritz, France Album
9/8 Nimes, France Album
9/9 Nimes & Nice, France Album
9/10 Florence, Italy Album
9/11 Florence & Rome, Italy Album
9/12 Vatican City and Rome, Italy Album
9/13 Rome, Italy Album
9/14 Pompeii, Italy Album
9/15 – 9/16 Rome, Italy Album

Writing vs. Editing

writing or editing

“How many tablecloths does it take to cover a football field?”

That was the single most interesting (if incredibly bizarre) job interview question I’ve ever been asked. Coming in a close second, though, is the question: “Do you prefer writing or editing?”

Most people might not find this inquiry that fascinating, except for those of us with a deeply rooted love of the written word and all things grammar-related. I really had to take my time and think through the correct response to this question – not “correct” meaning the answer for which the interviewer was hoping, but “correct” meaning true to myself and my passion for written communication.

First of all, there is writing. There can be no editing without writing. Writing requires creativity to come up with an idea, an argument, and a structure. Writing requires research to make the story work and a vocabulary to make it come alive. Writing is creating.

Then, there is editing. All good writing is rewriting. It takes a keen editing eye to tweak and perfect ideas and words into their strongest possible versions. Editing means examining existing thoughts, detecting flaws, imagining all the possibilities, and rearranging writing until it really truly pops.

It was a tough decision – but, ultimately, I chose editing. I love writing, but I love the rewrite more. It can be incredibly challenging but also extremely fulfilling. I love taking my own thoughts and finding ways to improve them – making them clearer and stronger. I love helping others improve their words, as well. From proofreading for grammar and style to restructuring entire arguments, I enjoy working with other writers to strengthen their communications. In the end, editing is a more satisfying experience.

Which do you prefer?

SEO Audit: Step 1

SEO Audit: Day 1

How do I know if I’m doing SEO right? Sure, I know the rules, but am I really practicing what I preach?

After attending the Monday’s Raleigh SEO Meetup on How to Audit Your Site for SEO, I returned home with the motivation to finally kick the tires of JillianWarren.com’s SEO strategy and see how it’s working. I always update this site with SEO best practices in mind, but (as it’s a personal side project and not my actual work), I’m not always as diligent as I could be, usually in the interest of saving time.

With my SEO vigor renewed, I set out to accomplish Day 1 of Phil Buckley‘s SEO site audit workbook. (It also helps that I spent the rest of the week at home sick, so I had extra free time to devote to the project!)

Day 1

  1. Test my domain at urianalysis.com to confirm that all instances of my domain name (http://www.jillianwarren.com, jillianwarren.com, etc.) all resolve one single canonical page. I added a few basic 301 redirects for different possible versions of my homepage URL that users might type into their browsers, just in case.
  2. Spider my site (I used Screaming Frog) for an inventory of all links to check for 404s, missing meta data, and complicated strings of redirects. I realized I haven’t always been diligent about creating unique page titles and meta descriptions for every tiny piece of content, so I spent plenty of time adding those. Plus, I found and fixed an internal link spelling error and a few external links to pages that had since changed URLs.
  3. Check Google Webmaster Tools, particularly the new Site Health feature, to confirm Google is able to properly access my site. No problems there!
  4. Test my site at ReverseInternet.com. For a site like mine, this really didn’t come in handy, especially since I didn’t want to sign up for an account.

Day 1: complete! I’m always invigorated by attending industry events like the Raleigh SEO Meetup, but then other priorities compete for my energy and I fail to follow through on all the ideas and tips I accumulate. I hope to stick with this one and put all 7 days of the SEO Audit plan into practice.

Pinterest for Professionals

Jillian Warren's Pinterest boards

At times, Pinterest feels like a glorified recipe swap. But, at its best, it’s a way to bookmark interesting web content and share with other likeminded individuals.

I’ve got two boards, titled “Work” and “Content,” that serve as a repository for articles, infographics, etc., that pertain to my line of work: everything from marketing to design to SEO to content ideas. Take a look, and see if anything appeals to you!


Run For Our Heroes 5k

What adjectives best describe you?

I have always been fascinated by branding, and a lot of branding – particularly personal branding – relates to character traits and values. Branding exercises constantly challenge us to find the perfect word or set of words to describe ourselves or our businesses.

In my personal branding efforts, I’ve long struggled to find the precise word to describe one of my defining characteristics. Am I determined, resolute, driven, ambitious, or dedicated? There are so many words that describe the same basic idea (the long list below from thesaurus.com is just the tip of the iceberg), but they have varying shades of meaning that can sway the brand in different directions. Which one of these best defines me?

Definition of determined

As with many things in life, I find that my determination/dedication/what-have-you is best described through an example. I am currently training for my third half-marathon – which takes a ton of determination in and of itself – but it’s been a long, hard, bumpy road to get there.

As a teenager, I was an average but consistent member of my junior high and high school cross-country teams, before other extracurricular priorities forced me to take a hiatus from the sport. Seven years later, I jumped back into distance running – starting with a one-mile fun run in July and working my way up to my first half-marathon by November. It was an amazing achievement! I started dreaming of fulfilling my teenage goal of running a full marathon.

City of Oaks Half-Marathon 2007

City of Oaks Half-Marathon 2007

Then, I broke my foot.

A painful stress fracture from overuse (read: too much running!) sidelined me in January 2008. I spent two months hobbling around on crutches … Then, in May, I got back on the treadmill for the first time. I took it easy and did everything I could to avoid further injury. Running takes a lot of patience and dedication to keep chipping away, week by week, to build up strength and endurance. By November, I ran the City of Oaks Half-Marathon for the second year in a row. Take that, right foot!

Little River Trail Run 2008

Little River Trail Run 2008: how I broke my foot!

Of course, as luck would have it, just two days after crossing the finish line, I came down with a mystery knee/hamstring ailment. I couldn’t run more than one quarter of a mile without severe pain. I went to doctors and physical therapists and even yoga teachers, but no one could figure it out. This left me with no choice but to retire from the sport.

Two years later, I got the running itch again, so I joined a walk-to-run group – thinking that taking this slow approach might help me avoid another injury. At first, we would run for less than one minute at a time, and each week we kicked it up a small notch until I could do 10 minutes at a time without pain. Eventually, I did a full 5K. It was tedious but worth it. Comeback #2 had worked!

I was so excited that I signed up for a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. Five miles seemed ambitious, but I thought I could tackle it by sticking to my run/walk intervals. Unfortunately, my fears were realized when my knee issues flared up by the second mile. Despite the pain, I finished the race – before spending the rest of the holiday stuck in a recliner, unable to easily straighten or bend my knee. However, this cloud did have a silver lining. I finally figured out my problem: I have runner’s knee. And, now that I knew the issue, I could work on solving it!

Now, another 1.5 years has gone by, and here I am … Resolved to be a runner again, and working on my third comeback from injury. I started another run/walk interval training program in March, and I’ve run a couple 5Ks. I’ve now run up to 9 miles at once, and I signed up for my third City of Oaks Half-Marathon in November. If all goes well and my body cooperates, I may finally run a full marathon next year: Chicago 2013.

Running isn’t an easy sport in the first place – physically or mentally … But, I’ve taken on this challenge a few times and am going to keep at it until I truly succeed. I may not yet have settled on the perfect word to describe the tenacity and resolve required to run, but hopefully this example illustrates some of the characteristics I possess. Also, if you think I’m the type of person who gives up easily, the story should prove you wrong! That’s just not part of my personal brand.

Race for the Cure 2012

With a few of my running mates at Race for the Cure 2012

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