Blog

Katy Nally

Katy is a digger, of information and earth. It just depends if her clients want an eBook or some endive. She helps companies across industries find their voices and speak the language of their audience. She’s also fluent in tomatoes.

Sr Storyteller | LinkedIn

07/09/2020

Amazing case studies start with radio-worthy interviews

By: Katy Nally

Amazing case studies start with radio-worthy interviews

Terry Gross could interview a ham sandwich and I’d still sit enrapt on the edge of my seat. Terry is an interview master, no doubt because she’s been doing it for 47 years. On her show, Fresh Air, she’s interviewed presidents, journalists, authors, musicians, you name it. If I’m lucky enough to be cooking dinner when her show is on, it’s a good day—especially now that COVID-19 has squashed my entertainment plans. 

Lately (let’s just say I’ve had more time for the radio) I’ve paid special attention to how Terry conducts her interviews, hoping to garner some wisdom I can apply to my own day job. As a writer for a marketing agency, I often interview customers or partners and use their insights to build out case studies. My goal is always to channel my inner Terry and stick to these best practices that earned her a black belt in asking questions.  

Construct a narrative arc with questions 

This isn’t just Terry’s trick for engaging radio. Organizing your questions into a beginning, middle, and end will help warm up the interviewee to feel more comfortable and make it easier for them to follow your thought process. The narrative arc for case studies is pretty straightforward—situation, challenge, solution, results—and that can serve as the framework for your questions. That being said, don’t be afraid to go off script and ask follow-up questions that are outside your conversation guide. If it seems like a juicy thread to pull, by all means, yank it.  

Give quick context to frame questions 

There are three kinds of interviewees—the talk-too-much, the talk-too-little, and the talk-just-right. I’ve never actually encountered that last group, but they’re rumored to exist. For the other two, giving enough context will save you time and dignity. For the talk-too-much-ers, you’ll want to frame your questions in a way that tells them what you already know, then you need to be very explicit about the answer you’re looking for. This will stop them from spending 10 minutes of your precious interview describing the landscape you’re already familiar with. For the talk-too-little-ers, questions with no parameters might freak them out and lead to three-word answers. A little context will go a long way to make them feel like they’re talking to someone in the know who’s actually listening. Of course, that means you have to do your research up front! 

Ask what we’re all thinking 

Terry asks the questions we’re all dying to know—not right away of course, where’s the suspense in that!? But it’s a good reminder not to shy away from tough questions just because they’re potentially uncomfortable. For case studies, that could mean asking how a customer could have done it better, or faster. Or asking how much money they made. This requires some tact and transparency, making sure the interviewee knows they’re allowed to push back.   

All that in mind, the best advice is to shut up and listen. You likely only have 30 minutes to an hour with the interviewee, so try not to waste precious minutes giving your opinion on things. And when in doubt, ask yourself what would Terry do.  

05/21/2020

Three tips to add public-speaking pizzazz to any conversation

By: Katy Nally

Three tips to add public-speaking pizzazz to any conversation

Sharpening my public speaking skills wasn’t exactly a priority for me. I’m not a big deal (I only have a few leather-bound books), and I don’t appear at conferences. I figured public speaking just wasn’t in my future, so why bother improving? Montana Von Fliss made me think again. Her take on public speaking is so fundamental, within the first few minutes of her course I realized I had room to grow in so many places. In our all-team training, Montana showed us that public speaking is the art of taking your audience on a journey—telling them a story so they understand your perspective

Here’s how you can bring some public-speaking pizzazz to any conversation.

Use storytelling to add emotion

It’s easy to dive right into the tactical tidbits of a conversation, for instance, showing your boss all the amazing progress you’ve made on a project. But it pays to step back and set the scene a little. Tee-up your spiel by giving some context on the problem you were trying to solve. Add some emotional flare by explaining the potential damage the challenge could have caused, then tell how your perspicacity saved the day. After all, a story without emotion is just a chronology…more like a yawn-ology.  

Keep it relevant

Now that your audience is listening and smitten with your insightful decision making, don’t lose them by talking from the wrong perspective. Remember to frame your discussion from their point of view. Explain how everything you did will benefit them, not the other way around.

Ooze confidence

I tend to start off strong, then run out of steam halfway through presentations. Don’t do that. Remember, you’re the confident captain of this conversation. How can you keep the audience hanging on your every word if your delivery is weak sauce? Channel your Captain Kirk and stand up, project your voice, try to pause instead of inserting filler words like um, and bring them along for an unforgettable (in a good way) journey.

04/14/2020

The legend of Darren Bendel—how not to be a consultant

By: Katy Nally

Unicorn on an island

This is the legend of Darren Bendel. He’s all about that ROI. Sometimes he’s so intense, his neck veins bulge out and intimidate his coworkers. Darren needs to take it down a notch, but that’s not in his vocabulary.

Darren doesn’t work at 2A, thankfully. He’s just a figment of our design team’s imagination and a reminder that you don’t have to be a Darren to be good at consulting. In fact, you shouldn’t be. Sure, intense drive is an element, but we like to balance it out with camaraderie, grace, and thoughtfulness.

Here’s what it’s like to work with Darren; just know that, in real life, our team at 2A is the exact opposite.

He’s got it all figured out

Darren isn’t exactly humble. When he’s working on a project, he doesn’t bother to pull in his team members and ask for input. He knows he’s right and skips out on taking a second pass to refine. This wouldn’t really jive with our work-in-progress mentality, where we acknowledge that we don’t have it all figured out. We value outside perspectives because they improve the end result. And we always leave time to refine—the final tweaks are more than icing on the cake, they pull the whole story together!

He shoots down ideas

Creativity thrives on yes, and halts when it hits a no-block. Unfortunately, “no” is Darren’s favorite word. Can we tweak the intro to have a security pillar? No. Can we show an emoji in our animation? No. Can we use a bird migration metaphor? No. You get the idea. We try not to shoot down ideas, and instead use a tip from improv: when your teammate or client has an idea, build on top of it with “yes, and.” That’s how many of our best ideas are born.

He’s strategic for no real reason

Darren is quick to come up with a solution, but when you dig a little deeper, you find it doesn’t really solve the problem. At 2A we know that not all strategy is created equal. Finding the right path forward comes from truly understanding the content, then weaving a story that connects the dots.

Hopefully the legend of Darren Bendel didn’t bum you out and make you hate consultants. But if it did, just swing by 2A for a dose of doing things differently.

02/04/2020

Meet 2A, greener than Oz

By: Katy Nally

Meet 2A, greener than Oz

There’s always a chance of disappointment when you reveal the face behind the curtain. For Dorothy, the Great and Powerful Oz turned out to be a green hologram operated by a stout, bald guy. So you might think that glimpsing behind the scenes at 2A would be a letdown—but when filtered through the demiurgic mind of our graphic designer Li, everything is a bit more glittery.

Let’s take a walk through the world of 2A according to Li.

First stop, the consultants. They’re always ready to take your call—happy to wheel and deal over landline, cell phone, Teams, or Owl. The footstool-supported power stance helps promote the body’s natural flow of creative juices so they can build the world’s greatest keynote presentations.

Now, the designers are a little more relaxed. They like their databases like they like their LaCroix, cold and bubbly. They’re the brains behind our shapes, handling all the triangles, squares, and circles we’re known for. Go ahead, see if there’s a shape they’ve never heard of, impossible!

How about our developers? Diligent as always, jamming to their own tunes, and working too hard to take their empty coffee cups to the sink (but not working so hard that they can’t get more coffee—it’s called a dev’s paradox). They handle our pest control (hah! Bug joke) and our beautiful websites.

Next up, our storytellers. They’re up to their elbows in ideas, so one draft is never good enough. It’s just a matter of sifting through every word for that perfect sentence. But don’t feel bad about their cluttered desks, the number of books they have is directly correlated to their intelligence…

And finally, the Coonis mesmerizers, our operations team. They’re ready to go Law and Order on that job posting to help us find our next, favorite 2A-er. Don’t be fooled by their feet-up attitude, they mean business. They keep this place running! And they make sure our snacks still surprise us.

We hope you enjoyed your tour through 2A! We’re certainly more exciting than a green talking head…and the shy showman behind the curtain. Come see for yourself! Swing by if you’re in the neighborhood.

07/10/2019

Laurie channels Mad Men creativity for inspired marketing

By: Katy Nally

Laurie channels Mad Men creativity for inspired marketing

While you won’t find a crystal decanter full of scotch in 2A’s bar, and only occasionally are we passed out on our communal couch, there’s at least one member of our team who’s bringing the Mad Men flair to 2A. Our Senior Consultant Laurie Krisman has a way with words and a knack for storytelling reminiscent of Don Draper’s best advertising quips.

“It’s not a wheel. It’s a carousel.”

Laurie commands the beauty and power of language. After a few years as a high school English teacher, she decided that words really make her tick, and transitioned into the world of advertising where she could write more. At a small agency in Colorado, she worked as a copywriter, crafting snappy ads and serving as a gatekeeper to all phrases that went out the door.

Much like Don Draper’s famous Kodak pitch where he branded the company’s slide projector “the carousel,” Laurie knows the value of landing the right words to stir nostalgia and connect customers to a product. By the time she transitioned to lead marketing manager at Qwest (now called CenturyLink), Laurie’s campaigns appeared plastered on kiosks at malls around the country. Today, she’s our in-house expert for turning wheels into carousels.

“Success comes from standing out, not fitting in.”

Laurie delivers strategic marketing so clients can stand out. With experience leading marketing projects at enterprises, like Xcel Energy, and small companies, like MD2, she knows how to build a story that resonates with the audience and solves business problems. First, she does her homework and analyzes the customer; then she ties in her clever way with words to produce meaningful assets that make an impact.

As a senior consultant at 2A, she’s found her sweet spot between creative and strategic. She may not work on Mad Men’s Pond’s Cold Cream account, but Laurie’s strategic thinking has helped 2A’s clients stand out.

“Technology is a glittering lure.”

Laurie expertly cuts through flashy tech talk to expose the real story. Don Draper knew what made each of his clients’ companies special—from Ocean Spray, to Jaguar, to Cool Whip—and Laurie operates the same way. She makes it a priority to follow the latest news from Microsoft, Amazon, Apptio, and F5 to understand the tech behind the trends. She’s fascinated by the power of the cloud to transform business operations, which makes her a perfect addition to the team.

We can’t promise cigarette-choked office buildings, or hard-liquor lunches, but when you’re ready to go a little Don Draper on your uninspired marketing, give us call. We’ll toast Laurie, Seattle-style (a grande, quad latte), and all the Madison Avenue talent she brings.

06/26/2019

Most likely to design your website? Vote for Annie.

By: Katy Nally

Most likely to design your website? Vote for Annie.

A yearbook chronicles bygone events—campy theater productions, glitter-dusted dances, and sports teams’ hot streaks. But for Annie Unruh, serving as editor in chief of her high school yearbook was less of a wrap up, and more of a surprising beginning. It wasn’t your typical yearbook. Called the Lair, it was award-winning and beefy. Before she knew it, the project had pulled her into the vortex of graphic design and set her on a course to 2A where she continues to use timeless design to capture the present.

Student life

Annie spent many afterschool hours camped out working on the Lair, slaving over page layouts to get portraits and feature stories just right. She even designed a profile story about a classmate’s World of Warcraft mastery that earned an award from the University of Kansas School of Journalism. On another page, she wrote a story about high school students who hang out at Sonic Drive-In because boredom is real! They passed the time slurping down the 44-oz-soda special.

When she heard about a yearbook convention in California, she didn’t hesitate to jump on a plane—it was a golden opportunity to refine her craft (and also get out of Kansas for a while).

Career superlatives

After getting a taste of California, Annie headed back to pursue a bachelor’s in fine arts at Chapman University in Orange. With her freshly minted degree in graphic design, and solid experience in print design, she landed a few gigs after college that pushed her skills further:

Annie collected credentials all along the West Coast, designing websites, apps, posters, swag, and animations for sole-proprietors and large enterprises alike. At T-Mobile, she worked as a graphic designer and communication specialist, finding ingenious ways to incorporate the patented magenta into onboarding swag and solve communications problems through design. But 2A won her over with the opportunity to take on a broad range of projects—like award-worthy sock graphics—and enter new territory with non-corporate clients—like Colombian artist Juan Manuel Echavarria.

She’s also steadily taken on more responsibility within the 2A design team. An insatiable reader, she’s devoured books about how to achieve a harmonious workplace culture, and how to run an efficient meeting. Annie doesn’t hesitate to apply her newfound knowledge, which has helped her team grow together.

Extra curriculars

Management books are just a subsection of Annie’s extensive library. Her extra-curricular schedule includes all the books the library is willing to loan her, in addition to scenic bike rides and queer events around Seattle. Her appetite for reading usually doubles as her breakfast companion—you might find her in the morning charging through a new memoir, its pages held open by the plate in front of her. Only halfway through the year and Annie is well on her way to best her 2018 total of 42 books read.

Need a designer who can give your work the timeless sheen of a yearbook? Just look up Annie (she’s on page 4) waiting for your heartfelt note about enjoying the summer.

05/01/2019

From taglines to tagliatelle, Clinton always lands the story

By: Katy Nally

From taglines to tagliatelle, Clinton always lands the story

Anyone who can make up a song about tacos just to entertain his Dachshund-mix, Remi, clearly speaks the language of storytelling. And no matter the medium—dog songs, data sheets, designer cocktails—Clinton Bowman taps his inherent skills for seeing the creative and strategic angles of each story to craft the perfect arc.

Photography was Clinton’s creative outlet growing up in Oklahoma. And it’s where his adventures in storytelling began, learning to capture the right image in the right moment to make an impact. His hobby eventually snowballed into an education at Oklahoma City University where Clinton earned his BFA in photography with a minor in advertising. After being selected as a young artist winner, he accepted the opportunity to tour the country and show his photos, starting at the Smithsonian.

Catching a glimpse of the museum side of things, Clinton quickly craved more. He worked as an exhibit manager, falling in love with nonprofit management, then went on to accept a prized fellowship with the Kennedy Center in DC. In his new role he drew on his storytelling chops, this time writing tug-on-your-heartstrings narratives for fundraising. Instead of capturing the perfect moment with his camera, he captured donor empathy with words.

Through the MBA program at UW’s Foster School of Business, Clinton took his background in nonprofit management to the next level, graduating with solid marketing expertise. He was attracted to 2A as a place where his creative yin could finally merge with its strategic yang. He loves the chance to problem solve for clients and devise marketing solutions, using his storytelling powers to craft the perfect one-liner for Microsoft Dynamics, and sum up the complexities of AI in a compelling datasheet.

Clinton continues to push the boundaries of his repertoire by mastering new storytelling languages—these days he’s focused on recipes in the pursuit of a homemade tagliatelle and Bolognese, and the perfect gin martini.

So the next time you need a consultant with a creative eye to sculpt your business strategy or even perk up your pup, bring in Clinton for a pow wow with the bow wow.

04/22/2019

We built a learning portal that keeps the Silicon Valley dream alive

By: Katy Nally

We built a learning portal that keeps the Silicon Valley dream alive

You know the story: a classically nerdy guy grows up tinkering with computers, teaches himself how to code, heads to college, drops out to launch his startup, and poof, becomes a millionaire. It sounds familiar because it’s the origin story of tech legends like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. And increasingly (finally!) there’s a parallel plot shaping up for women developers, just look at Melanie Perkins from Canva and Lucy Guo from Scale.

The DIY nature of coding—plus the potential for a lasting legacy—has lured many into the field of computer science. As our economy shifts to weight technology jobs more heavily, the once-nerdy hobby and self-taught education now hold the promise of a secure, lucrative career for people on the developer track. In fact, more than half of today’s developers don’t have a degree in computer science or a related field.

This idea of self-empowerment was central to a new initiative from the Windows Developer Marketing team at Microsoft. Meet the Dev Collective, a learning portal for developers to grow their coding skills across Microsoft platforms. 2A’s mix of developers, designers, and PM consultants built the Dev Collective site from the ground up to help all skill levels boost their coding acumen. Here are some highlights:

  • Extensive content: The Dev Collective connects developers to Microsoft tutorials to learn everything from Azure Blob Storage to working with Javascript.
  • Curated learning: Developers have the option to nibble away at a variety of courses—maybe they want to brush up on C# or better understand Azure Databricks—or they can bite off a whole learning path that includes each course they need to master a new skill.
  • Personalized experience: Skill level badges on courses assist with navigating the catalog, while progress tracking and bookmarks help developers pick up where they left off.
  • Mobile-ready: The truth is, learning happens everywhere. That 15-minute bus ride every morning or that coffee break at 2 are opportunities to brush up on old skills and learn the latest techniques. That’s why we made sure Dev Collective travels well and is accessible in all formats.

We’re proud to help democratize coding with this learning management system, because who knows where the next unicorn will come from?  

04/04/2019

Partners, ostriches, and everything in between, Jesi will be there for you

By: Katy Nally

Partners, ostriches, and everything in between, Jesi will be there for you

Defeathering a chicken isn’t the only valuable skill Jesi Chrisman brings to the table. Growing up on a 5-acre farm not only left her with a love of homesteading, it also gave way to fundamental qualities that make her a dynamite project manager. With chickens to feed, pigs to wrangle and horses to check on, Jesi learned quickly how to be a caretaker, and how to stay organized and flexible to overcome unexpected challenges.

From ostrich care to customer care

Her pet ostrich was one of the first things she learned to take care of. Little did she know that 6-foot bird would help her develop patience and attentiveness—skills perfectly suited for a string of customer service roles later in life. Before joining 2A, Jesi worked as a lead assistant at a dentist office, helping to deliver the utmost care for patients and efficiently run the back office. As a project manager at 2A, she supports Microsoft partners who develop accessories for Surface.

Ready to tackle new challenges

Jesi is always game to tackle new challenges to further her team. She’s on point when you need her, ready to get your flock flying together. Once she even chased down an escaped ostrich that managed to jump its fence. If she can corner an ostrich that’s capable of running 43 miles per hour, and successfully get the giant bird back through a gate… well, not much is harder than that. As a project manager, Jesi’s willingness to take on more responsibility is what transformed her first short-term position at Microsoft into a long-term role, advancing her entire team to provide better support to partners.

A rise ‘n shine timekeeper

If only Old McDonald had a coordination master like Jesi on his team, he wouldn’t waste his time finding one animal at a time—he’d have an animal inventory at his fingertips! Jesi knows how to keep teams organized and operating efficiently. To support her Microsoft team she works across departments, ferreting out events that spotlight Surface and tapping into her customer service skills to showcase the right partners.

Jesi might consider herself an ole farm girl, but when it comes to project management, she has some nifty tricks up her sleeve.

03/29/2019

3 ways journalists take your marketing to the next level

By: Katy Nally

3 ways journalists take your marketing to the next level

I ignored a lot of advice in college. My dad was the first one to try to steer me away from journalism—he nearly had a heart attack when I shared my “highly impractical” degree plan. Then there were my professors. Many of them had climbed the ranks at print publications and were still wounded by the slashed budgets and staff cuts occurring at outlets large and small. They weren’t shy about portending the demise of newspapers during lectures, and I thought I detected a little smugness in the “writing for web” classes.

So chalk it up to stubbornness, or naivety, but I stuck with journalism and surprised even myself when I landed a job at a small newspaper after college. It wasn’t until I ran into my favorite professor outside the state legislature building in Hartford that I started to think about other career options. Instead of telling me I was doing great and boosting my fragile 22-year-old ego, he told me, “Get out while you still can!” That time it sunk in. Maybe it was the genuine concern in his voice, but I started thinking about where—other than print publications—my journalism degree could take me.

Turns out marketing makes a great home for would-be journalists. Here’s what we bring to the table:

Structured, newsworthy stories

First and foremost, journalists can write. It’s drilled into us. We have to produce loads of accurate copy on deadline, and we rely on a proven formula that works and aligns with marketing. A lead goes at the top to hook the reader, then an explanatory body breaks down the message in clear, concise points. Journalists know how to keep your marketing consistent, on-message, and compelling.

New facts and emotion

Journalists are diggers. We’re trained to ask an annoying level of questions to uncover the truth! In marketing, this skill comes in handy when you want to validate a proof point with data, or beef up a campaign with first-hand testimonials. Journalists live for sifting through pages of documentation, or cold calling sources to learn the skinny. We have a knack for interviewing subjects to draw out click-bait-worthy quotes and uncover the emotional ties that give a story its relevance.

Less spin, more ground

Authenticity is the holy grail for brands. It’s how marketers want to sound, and it’s how consumers want to perceive companies. But many marketers fall into the spin trap, where they’ve piled on so many great things about one product that their pitch couldn’t possibly be genuine. That’s where journalists can help. Firstly, we have an inherent aversion to spin. And secondly, we’re conditioned to remove ourselves from the story and consider it from other people’s perspectives—in this case, the customer. We use that lesson in empathy to uncover new ways of framing the benefits of your product in a way that’s genuine, and makes you look muy authentico.

While newspapers may be falling out of fashion, journalists will find a soft landing in marketing. And we’re here at 2A when you’re ready for a fresh take.