Bourbon Women National SIPosiumBy Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

In August, I went to Lexington, Kentucky for the nation’s ONLY female whiskey consumer conference. The Bourbon Women National SIPosium showcases and celebrates whiskey education and industry trends to 400+ women from across the nation.

There were exciting excursions, seminars about mixing whiskey cocktails, history and unique experiences like going to the contemporary art museum and designing whiskey labels with experts in that field.

Women account for 40% of all whiskey sales in the United States.

Bourbon Women National SIPosiumAlex Castle, Master Distiller and Senior Vice President told one of the most inspiring stories of the conference – she had graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, but had to start at the very bottom, rolling barrels, to get into the distillery business.

The men, who owned all of the distilleries at that time, fought having a woman in the room. Even though she had her degree in engineering, she felt every day that she was going to be fired because she kept telling them that what when they were constructing the stills, they were not doing it right.

Another story I loved was about a woman distiller in that lived high on a mountain called Black Rock in the Appalachians in the early 1800’s.

All the women distilled whiskey from leftover fruit, rye and corn, and there were over 15,000 distilleries spread across the US. She would see the Whiskey Tax men coming down the river and would run up a red flag over her house. This would alert the women to dismantle their stills and hide them in the woods. They would cover themselves in flour and start baking, because the smell of whiskey distilling in close to the smell of baking bread. They never got caught!

Bourbon Women National SIPosium Bourbon Women National SIPosium Bourbon Women National SIPosium

Meet and Greet with Bill Samuels, Maker’s Mark

We were also lucky enough to tour and meet with Bill Samuels – his mother and father started Maker’s Mark. She had a great presence behind her husband and was responsible for all the marketing, including the distinctive shape of the bottle and the red wax.

North Kansas City Woman Distiller

We have a woman distiller right here in North Kansas City – Benay Shannon is the Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Restless Spirits Distilling Company. She went from teaching high school chemistry to making beverage alcohol for a living, sort of like Walter White but clean and legal. Her current best-seller is a gin, but she’s got an Irish Whiskey and is aging an American Single Malt.

Check out the organization at

Bourbon Women National SIPosium Bourbon Women National SIPosium Bourbon Women National SIPosium


By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

Italian Driver in the Office?Most people know that I love Italians and Italy. Their driving? Not so much.

With your co-workers, it’s always best to communicate with confidence and be decisive about decision making.
With zero decision making, Italians propel themselves into traffic without making sure it’s safe.

In a meeting if you hesitate, people assume that you are thinking about the correct way to answer.
Italian drivers assume hesitation means you’re not going. They will go around you, which makes it even more difficult to eventually insert yourself into traffic.

When someone asks you to stop something you are doing, most people are courteous and listen to what their co-worker needs.
Italian drivers consider a stop sign a suggestion, stop signs in Italy mean the coast is clear. There may be no need to stop, or even slow down. And if you do stop when it’s not necessary, you may get rear-ended.

A well know Italian saying about driving is, “You watch your front, let everyone else watch your back.” Not true, if they feel that 100 miles per hour is not fast enough, they will get inches from your bumper and start flashing their lights incessantly. They also love to straddle the white line, while trying to intimidate you. This behavior would not last long in an office setting.

A turn signal means “HERE I GO!” not I want to go, or I’m waiting to see if you will let me go. Can you imagine the disruption in meetings?

Italians are passionate, using hand gestures, strong words, and aggressive driving and honking. It cracks me up when I drive there, but I would not under any circumstances allow this behavior in the office.

The moral of the story? Don’t behave like an Italian driver in an office setting. If you do, you may crash… hard.

Burning BridgeBy Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

There are times when you need to consider firing a client. It’s always a delicate and stressful situation that requires a lot of tact.

Before you decide to fire the client, evaluate the benefits and risks of doing so.

  • How will this affect your reputation and resources?
  • Are there unresolved conflicts that could be resolved?
  • Is the client too demanding, expects impossible deadlines and wants more than they’re paying for? (Sound familiar?)

I’ve had to fire clients in the past because of the way they treated my team. If you don’t let your employees know that you will stand up for them, how can you inspire loyalty?

Parting on Good Terms

If you decide to move forward, it helps to do some planning. When you talk to your client, you should have an honest message that explains why you’re dissolving the partnership, what you appreciated about the relationship and how you will handle the transition. (Having an exit strategy will help avoid misunderstandings, disputes, and legal issues.)

The way you talk to your client about your exit can make a big difference. Don’t blame or criticize them. Don’t accuse them of any wrongdoing even if there are good reasons to do so. Of course, if they did something illegal, that is fair game.  Focus on the positive parts of your relationship and acknowledge their contributions.

A Bridge in Kansas CityWe can’t forget that even though this is a business relationship, people’s feelings are involved. Most importantly, Kansas City is a VERY small town, so be respectful.

You should also consider maintaining the relationship with your former client if possible. They can still be a valuable source of referrals and insights. You never know when you might cross paths in the future.

Post Breakup

After the transition is complete, reflect on the experience and learn from it.

  • What worked and what didn’t?
  • Was there something you did in the beginning that led to parting ways?
  • What lessons did you learn that will help you make sure the next partnership works well?

Some people are going to be angry. Some people will understand. All you can control is making the right decisions for your team and your company. And if that means parting ways with a client, even one that’s important to your business financially, trust your instincts and act. There’s a reason your gut is telling you it’s time to make a change.

Customer Support Hold Times are NO FUNPeople really, really hate contacting customer support – so much so that they would rather spend a night in jail or shave their head. (Source: Gray News)

A recent  survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Twilio Flex asked 2,000 Americans what they would rather do than contact customer service. The poll found that 30% of people would rather do their taxes, 28% would rather go to the dentist, 25% would rather go to the DMV, 24% would rather shave their head, and 22% would rather spend a night in jail.

People are willing to go to those extremes to avoid contacting customer support because, on average, it takes three attempts and more than 1.5 hours on hold to solve just one issue with a customer service representative, the survey found.

Here are some things that a company can do to help their customers:

  1. Customer Support Hold Times are NO FUNMake sure the issue is resolved on the first call – customers hate having to call a company multiple times to resolve an issue.
  2. Don’t transfer the call so that they must repeat all the details again. Give the next person relevant information to their issue if you can’t resolve it.
  3. Have more than one option to reach customer service: we have a help line, local and 1-800, and a email our clients can use.
  4. Make sure they can reach a live person quickly and not spend too much time listening to bad music.
  5. Have a good connection – nothing is more frustrating that getting disconnected or a hard time hearing the representative.
  6. Make sure you give your employees the power to resolve an issue so that the customer does not have to wait for an answer.

The survey found that because of these frustrations, the average person waits 16 days to contact customer support about an issue. There are always issues in any business, ultimately, your success depends on how you resolve them.

By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

The Paper ShortageWhile we’ve felt the pains of the paper shortage in the printing industry for a long time, the extreme, national paper shortage is creating order delays and some printers are refusing work since they just don’t have any paper on the floor.

The paper shortage can be attributed to many factors such as tightening capacity, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions. During the pandemic, many mills switched to making cardboard because everyone was ordering everything online.

The misalignment between capacity and demand has led to longer production lead times, late deliveries, and volatile pricing. Experts tell us we can expect capacities to remain tight through 2022 and potentially into 2023.

As we continue to navigate this tumultuous market here are some tips to bear in mind.


As a result of high capacity and strains on the supply chain we are seeing unprecedented lead times, some as high as 12 weeks. Planning and communicating needs for upcoming campaign can allow us to source the appropriate material as needed.


In certain circumstances, it may be easier to source an uncoated vs a coated stock or an 80 lb. stock vs a 100 lb. stock. If you are unsure of a paper substitute our team is happy to make recommendations. All the “cool” papers that designers loved to spec have just disappeared from the market.


We have certain paper stocks allocated to us every month and thankfully our plant manager, Mike Leavey, started advising me to buy skids whenever they were available.

As always, we are here to help and answer any questions you may have regarding the paper market and any upcoming changes.

Value PropositionGot a product or service to sell? Then your company has value beyond the sale. Innovative companies communicate this value, directly and indirectly, every time they send a direct mail piece, blast an email, or design packaging for their products. How do they do that? It starts with creating a value proposition.

Create a value proposition.

A value proposition is what your company promises to deliver should people choose to buy your product. Ideally, it is something distinctive to you.

Let’s say you are a boutique furniture store selling pieces crafted from reclaimed wood, metal, or architectural salvage. Your value proposition might be: “We offer unique pieces that fit your style while reducing the burden on our landfills.” Your customers could buy furniture anywhere. By communicating your value proposition, you are explaining why they should come to you. This concept applies to any market. If you’re a plumber, your value proposition might be, “We show up within a 15-minute window—or your money back.” If you’re a dental office, it might be, “We are the friendliest dental practice in town.”

Fulfill on that promise—every time.

Once you communicate your value proposition, fulfill it every time. Fill your dental office with happy, colorful wall stickers and train your staff to serve with a smile, even when they’re having a terrible day. Always have a backup plan in case a plumbing job runs long. By ensuring consistency between your marketing message and your customers’ experience, you create a sense of trust and loyalty. In a world filled with uncertainty, that has value far beyond the products and services themselves.

Speak to customers based on that value proposition.

Reinforce that value in your marketing images and messaging. “By purchasing from us, you have helped to keep 3,000 pounds of scrap wood, metal, and glass out of the landfill.” Create brochures with images of children with dazzling smiles and parent testimonials about the helpfulness of your dental staff. On your direct mail pieces, add online reviews about the promptness of your plumbing service.

By communicating a value proposition and creating consistency between that value and your customer experiences, you develop loyal customers who trust you—and who keep coming back.

Interested in learning more about MEDiAHEAD’s value proposition? We would love to talk with you!

By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

Zoom CallsThe pandemic created a silver lining for me and that was getting to know my clients in a different way.

During our zoom calls, the cameras provided a glimpse into our personal lives and made people more human after seeing where they live and work. I was able to meet their pets and sometimes their young children.

This happening before the pandemic might have felt like the end of the world if a child or husband walked into the room or interrupted my presentation.

A year later, we don’t even notice when their cat crawls up their back or a child interrupts because they are hungry or thirsty. I’m able to see into their homes and offices – what kind of sports they follow, what kind of art there is and it all just seems so much more personal.

Tech Support!

Soon, we will be able to get together again!It was also pretty hilarious as people were learning to use zoom. How many times have you yelled “turn on your microphone” or you can only see the top of their head.

My 26 year old daughter, who was quarantined with us, was constantly rolling her eyes bursting into the room yelling “TECH SUPPORT!”

Despite all this, most of us were able to find the beauty in continuing our relationships remotely. I think because of the pandemic we are more open and vulnerable and had to let go of the small stuff, like being perfect.

I’m ready for some serious outdoor time when it’s warm and of course less zooms, but I feel like I have grown closer to my clients and that I will always cherish.

Cheers to 2021 and and seeing you on a patio somewhere my friend!

Kat McDaniel



Michele StillwellBy Michele Stillwell, Director of Marketing and Accounting at MEDiAHEAD

I am pretty sure we all feel the same about this… Good Riddance to 2020!!!

Never in all my years have I ever gone through anything like this. And I’m sure you haven’t either. But I would like to put a positive spin on this blog. Even if you don’t agree with me totally, I am going to put this out there for us to ponder.

Let’s think about 2021 and all the great things to look forward to.

I am going to try to think positively and hopefully everyone else will as well. We’ll have a vaccine for this horrible virus (fingers crossed) so let’s wipe this thing out. Let’s begin to eat out again and support all our small, local companies and restaurants that are still with us and help them out. Let’s travel. Take the vacations that were put off. Book them and get out and see this wonderful and beautiful world we live in.

Looking forward to 2021!How about all the relatives we need to go visit that have missed our faces/hugs that have been so needed for over a year? Book those trips, see those relatives and give those great big hugs. If you have the opportunity to get back into the office, you should do so. Being around people and your friends is a good thing.

Let’s all look forward to:

  • Going to a movie in a theater without a mask
  • Attending a concert in person (and also no mask)
  • Sitting with your best friends and go do whatever you want, go out to eat, shopping… just hang out and no masks.

Then think of all the events like the Olympics, football and baseball games you will be able to do once again. They may not look the same, but I truly believe we’ll get going once again.

I believe that as we look beyond 2020 and the coronavirus, there are things that will make 2021 a better year. A couple of things we know for sure going into the new year is that we know how to test for and treat the virus. Think of all the anti-viral remedies that are out there for other types of viruses that we’ve been successful with. I have complete confidence in this one.

So bring on 2021!

I am so ready, and I am sure you are too.

Looking forward to 2021!

Kathryn McDanielBy Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

My children (and I) did not discover Elf on the Shelf until they were in their twenties. As adults, we would all take turns every night putting the poor elf in many hilarious positions to surprise each other in the morning.

According to the book, Elf on the Shelf by Carol Aebersold, Santa sends an elf to each house to be his eyes and ears to determine who is naughty and who is nice. Each night, the elf flies back to the North Pole to report back to Santa, and then returns back to the home they came from.

When Christmas time rolls around, honestly the only way to survive it at our house is to have fun with it. The McDaniel tradition is to think up a million ways to entertain ourselves by putting the elf in situations that are something less than PG.

Our little Elf can get himself into quite a few pickles.

From obnoxious pranks to inappropriate scenarios, that little elf has been put into many, many compromising positions.

My favorite time with Elf was when Amy and I lived in the Crossroads. Many times, we woke up to Elfie sprawled face down on the balcony wrapped around a bottle of J. Rieger Gin, with frost forming on his little body.

Naughty Elf on the Shelf Naughty Elf on the Shelf

We lowered him on fishing wire with a tiny set of toy binoculars to the floors below, so he could spy on the other loft dwellers.

He was roasted, microwaved and frozen in a block of ice.

Last year, Elf’s girlfriend Santa Baby came to live with John and I. Many hilarious scenes ensued – one night they even got Teddy lit on a bottle of wine.

My daughter alerted me that this year they are selling clothing for the Elves – when I Googled it, one of the questions was “Can Elf on the shelf wear Barbie clothes?” My thoughts are now rampant as to what we will do with the Elf this year.

Some 2020 themes I am thinking of – a mask of course, Elfie in a dumpster fire, evil Zoom elf and home school frazzled parent elf.

My first December elf today was bacon wrapped and in the cast iron skillet for John – just a little sizzle to get him moving on this cold morning.

Naughty Elf on the Shelf Naughty Elf on the Shelf

Tom Mentzer’s Version

This morning I laughed so hard I spit my coffee out when Tom Mentzer posted a picture of himself as the Elf on the shelf. You’re welcome at our house anytime!

Naughty Elf on the Shelf Naughty Elf on the Shelf

Have some fun with your Elf this year – we can all use a little more laughter right now.


Naughty Elf on the Shelf Naughty Elf on the Shelf

By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD

Nature is NurtureSo many of us have turned to nature to escape and to diminish the many negative emotions stemming from the current state of the country and the isolation we’re experiencing. We’re rediscovering parks and hiking with friends at a safe distance. Our back yards have become our sanctuaries where we enjoy time with family and friends. Even removing your shoes and standing on the grass can reinvigorate your connection to the earth.

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.

My Octopus Teacher is my new favorite nature film on Netflix. The filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest learning about nature as the animal shares the mysteries of her world.

“What she taught me was to feel that you’re part of this place, not a visitor”
Craig Foster

Nature is NurtureFoster, meeting the octopus every day for 250 days, learns about healing, caring and growing in a world filled with solace and newness. The eight armed animal touched his soul in a way nobody else did, he felt for her deeply as if it was someone he had to take care of.

We watch the octopus grow from a little animal till the day she gives birth, turns white, and dies. There is something so heart touching about this documentary that you feel some amount of the pain Foster did watching her every day. She has to dodge pajama sharks and other predators constantly. As she fights to survive in this wilderness, you grow so proud of her wit and skills – realizing how smart she is.

The documentary finds its core, in its earnestness – an affection that is beyond the boundaries of science and sea. A bond where their pain feels like a personal loss. At no point do you lose the ground reality where you feel that this is scripted – it all feels genuine and heartfelt.

Indeed, nature is a friend everyone seeks!