Ask Aunt Susan CONTEXT

Ask Aunt Susan CONTEXT
Authentic Artifice: Crafting Identity Online

June 16, 2014 | 6:30pm in the Owen

Ask Aunt Susan introduced us to an online advice guru whose web of deceit grew with her popularity. How do people, tasked with creating and maintaining false personas, hold the line between their creation’s identity and their own? Real life “Aunt Susan’s,” professionals in search engine optimization, social media, and digital marketing, discussed the creation of content versus identity and the space that lies between. Panelists included Dan Fietsam, the former creative director of BBDO and a current U of C instructor in Creativity, Branding and Technology, Shannon Downey, owner of Pivotal Chicago, and Alex Mohr, formerly of Ketchum Inc. with NPR's Cheryl Corley moderating. 


CHERYL CORLEY, moderator (@nprcherylcorley)

Cheryl Corley is an NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk and is based in Chicago. She travels throughout the Midwest covering issues and events throughout the region's 12 states.

In recent years, Corley has reported on the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, on the efforts by Illinois officials to rethink the state's Juvenile Justice System, on youth violence in Chicago, and on political turmoil in the Illinois state government. She's reported on the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida and covered tornadoes that have destroyed homes and claimed lives in Harrisburg, Illinois; small towns in Oklahoma; and Joplin, Missouri.

In addition, Corley was among the group of NPR reporters covering the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as they tore through the Gulf Coast. She returned to the area, five years later, and joined the reporting team covering the impact of the BP oil spill. Corley also has served as a fill-in host for NPR shows, including Weekend All Things Considered, Tell Me More, and Morning Edition.

She is a past President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago and is also the co-creator of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. The critics/journalism training program for female high school juniors is a collaboration between AWJ-Chicago and the Goodman Theatre. Corley has also served as a board member of Community Television Network, an organization that trains Chicago youth in video and multi-media production.

SHANNON DOWNEY (@ShannonDowney)

Shannon Downey launched Pivotal in 2007 in response to the need for a responsible, transparent, forward thinking and agile marketing company. With an instinct for people and a passion for what's new and next she has built a career innovating new techniques to communicate in an increasingly complex and ever expanding universe. She has logged hundreds of hours training agencies, corporations, small businesses and nonprofits alike in digital and social media marketing. Shannon is adjunct faculty at DePaul University, board member for the Firebelly Foundation, advisory board member for Geek Bar Chicago, world traveler, whiskey lover and cross stitcher. Her new mission is to teach people how to extend their humanity into their digital lives.

DAN FIETSAM (@fietstweets)

Dan is a passionate Creative Leader.

Works hard. Plays fair. Thinks big. Writes well. Moves fast. Connects Dots. Speaks Human.

He believes that people don't want advertising. They want stories, meaning, information and experiences. To paraphrase Howard Gossage - people don't engage with ads. They engage with what interests them. Sometimes it's an ad.

Previously he was the Chief Creative Officer of BBDO in Sweet Home Chicago.

Upon taking the CCO reins in 2008, Dan helped drive unprecedented business growth by adding SC Johnson, Frito-Lay, Quaker, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Rosetta Stone and King's Hawaiian to cornerstone clients Bayer & Wrigley. Subsequently, agency staff almost doubled in 5 years.

Dan's creative direction for several blue chip brands and pro bono efforts have won numerous times, across all media categories at The Super Bowl, The One Show, Cannes, Art Directors Club, D&AD, Clio, Archive, Communications Arts and the one award his Mom actually recognizes - an Emmy.

In addition, Dan teaches Brand Creativity in the IMC Certificate Program for the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies at The University of Chicago. His expertise is on creativity, brand story and content creation.

ALEX MOHR (@alexophile)

Alex Mohr has been an SEO analyst for the last five years, but has been pretending to be people online for over a decade. From selling EverQuest accounts from the perspective of the character to ghostwriting opinions for an armada of blogs.

Most recently, he spent the last few years at Ketchum PR pretending to be a professional, developing paid reach extension programs, setting up client analytics programs, and somehow always leading discussions to bitcoin.

Prior to that, Alex worked with a number of web enterprises of varying legitimacy, developing content, copy, and external communications. Now he spends most of his time roasting coffee, evading The Man, and trying to figure out how to make eSports into better media.