Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

Posted on May 6, 2021

Two lemons with a sticky note that has a handwritten note that says "Make Lemonade" and a smiley face.

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Danielle Rogers, Community Marketing Manager for Newton, Iowa. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

What I’m Listening To: I’ve been listening to two podcasts this month: Unlocking Us with Brené Brown and Dare to Lead with Brené Brown

What I’m Reading: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

What I’m Watching: Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is my new obsession. 

After the year that was 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, I was hoping that I would take the second quarter to breathe and work on some of my passion projects. But instead, I seem to be handed a bushel of lemons every day. EVERY day.

There’s always something wrong or immediately needs attention. Someone asking something to be posted on social media, residents asking why their property taxes went up, questions about what the City even does, a lack of housing inventory for new buyers, potholes in the streets, the struggle for small businesses to hire new employees, or questions about activities and events that you aren’t a part of. And as the Community Marketing Manager, I’m expected to communicate and market a way out of it. Or at least that’s what I feel like the expectation is.

Emails are sent to me because I’m a catch-all for communication and marketing. Someone sees something shiny – let’s forward the email to Danielle. Sometimes it’s just information. And there is never any ill-intent, but it can be a lot when the emails and ideas are coming from every angle.

Especially when I – like many others – have a lot working against us. Being a division of one, budget cuts, changing algorithms, and less local media to name just a few. And I understand why. But I have to explain that over and over again – and it hurts.

I find myself turning sour at the thought of even opening my email or messages most days. I want to stick my head in a hole and not deal with anything.

The fact that I even thought that made me stop in my tracks last week.

That’s not the type of person I want to be, even though I identify as an introvert. Sometimes I feel like public service chose me, but I know that I chose public service because I genuinely love seeing the difference I make in the lives of my community. There’s just something about seeing change daily that is exciting, refreshing, and good.

I am taking all the lemons that are appearing on my desk and making some lemonade.

  • The requests to post something on social media? Let’s create a form that gets me all the details I need, so there aren’t seventeen emails back and forth—streamlining at its best. But also explain that social media isn’t the only communication tool we have. Pocket some of these things for email newsletters, website news flashes, etc.
  • The disgruntled taxpayer asking why they pay so much for the City? Start planning a video explaining what residents’ taxes pay for and showing them what their money does. It’s not going to happen overnight but let’s have it in our back pocket for next spring.
  • And for the person asking what the City does? I’m exploring the idea of introducing a podcast that talks about city services and interviews my coworkers to humanize who we are and what we do.
  • The workforce issues? Empathize with the business owner, direct them to the partner agency that can help them but understand that this may be something bigger than just my community.
  • The questions about the spring and summer activities? Let’s figure out more ways to promote the community calendar and encourage businesses and organizations to submit their events.

All these lemons can become lemonade. The recipe and the direction may be different, I might not even be in charge of it. But changing my mindset and taking this approach – even in the last five days – has settled me and brought me back to the focus of trying to help make a difference in the lives of those who live in my community.

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