Julie White is the head of a new marketing division recently launched by Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (LS2group). With 18 years of experience in the world of marketing, public relations and communications, White most recently worked at Two Rivers Marketing, where she represented Miller Electric and actually took a welding course to better understand the client. Prior to that, she worked as a marketer for Iowa Telecommunications Services Inc. White joined LS2group in the fall to help the company launch its marketing division.

What is the purpose of the new marketing division?

We already serve regional, national and international clients, providing public relations, public affairs and government affairs assistance to them. And so what we found over the last few years is they also needed marketing services. So this really is just a way to make us more well-rounded and to be able to offer our existing clients these marketing services as well. I think marketing can be defined many different ways, but we help clients create creative materials to support some of their business objectives, whether it be signage for an event, or it could be an advertising campaign. We also get into, more specifically, brand development and website marketing and such. So I think the real purpose was to really be able to provide our clients with full service.

What are your goals with the position?

My most basic goal is to help our clients succeed. I’ve enjoyed learning about some of the work we do for our clients the past several months, and really trying to figure out how we can help them enhance their communication efforts. I think one of the hardest things for marketers today is to really drill down and understand their core audiences. I think with the Internet, people think it’s easy to market, but it’s probably actually become quite a bit more complex. Consumers want more personalized communication, and sometimes companies try to be everything to everyone. My goal is to really help our clients drill down so we’re not just communicating a bunch of information, (but) we’re communicating very relevant, targeted information.

What is the biggest challenge with the new division?

For sure it’s been the patience to really get the foundation established, and trying to keep up with client needs at the same time. I’ve spent months kind of laying the groundwork for this, which is everything from selecting marketing software to establishing some internal workflow processes. We recently updated the LS2group brand and the website. And finding the creative talent. We’ve got all those pieces in place now, which is really exciting. But the biggest challenge has been taking the time to make sure we’re setting it up appropriately.

So you actually took a welding course?

I did. The funny thing is, I grew up on a farm, and I watched my father weld for years. I’d never tried it, but it’s actually kind of fun. It’s hard work, but it’s different than I thought.

What drives your passion for being a marketer?

I like to bridge the gap of communication. The way that people communicate today is obviously changing. The Internet and mobile phones have also changed that tremendously, and I think it’s actually probably widened the gap between what people try to communicate and what actually is communicated. So what drives me is really getting in to understand, again, who is the audience? Why should I care, as an audience, about a specific product or service? And how do you really try to keep it as simple as possible, and still be able to impact behavior?

What do you do for fun?

I love to travel. I like to travel with my family and like to experience other cultures. Recently, I just returned from Costa Rica with my 18-year-old niece, and tried some exciting adventures down there. The most interesting place and probably the most eye-opening was China. It’s amazing that even though there’s a communication barrier, you’re still able to communicate with people, and people are people. They’re the same almost everywhere. They may look a little different, the food may be a little different, but it’s kind of interesting.