In this episode of Be EPIC, Matt is joined by Rachel Mooreland, a brand manager for Tyson Foods and alum of the Walton College. During their conversation, Mooreland explains her role as a brand manager and details how Walton College resources helped her find an internship that led to her career at Tyson Foods.
0:00:08.3 Matt Waller: Hi, I'm Matt Waller, Dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Welcome to Be EPIC, the podcast where we explore excellence, professionalism, innovation and collegiality, and what those values mean in business, education and your life today.
0:00:27.8 Matt Waller: I have with me today Rachel Mooreland, who is Brand Manager at Tyson Foods. She is on my Alumni Advisory Council, and she is an alum of the college. While she was an alum, she took an internship at Tyson, and has been a faithful employee for nine years. Thanks for joining me today.
0:00:53.5 Rachel Mooreland: Hi. Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be on today.
0:00:57.2 Matt Waller: Well, Rachel, one thing that really caught my attention when I was looking at your background, and one of the reasons I wanted to interview you, is you are immersed in marketing in many different dimensions, working for one of the largest CPG companies in the world in marketing, and you also have a side gig where you're engaged in marketing, and I wanna talk about both of those over the course of our conversation. But right now you're in brand management?
0:01:34.6 Rachel Mooreland: Correct.
0:01:35.5 Matt Waller: So, what is brand management?
0:01:38.5 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah, that's a great question. And I think, as you mentioned earlier, I'm a faithful employee of Tyson, so I could really speak to brand management at Tyson, but I think it does span across CPG. And so when I think of brand management, it's really you're being a true owner of a business, you are making a multitude of decisions on a daily basis, you're managing teams and you're really driving the business forward. And so that can be a consumer-facing decision, so you'd be working on a TV spot or something that a consumer would see in the store as far as the shopper marketing ad, or you could be making non-consumer-facing decisions such as changing the formula on a product to drive out costs and help drive more dollars to the bottomline. So you really are touching just about every single thing on the brand that you're managing, it's not just consumer-facing marketing, you're really touching everything from one into the other, on the P&L.
0:02:31.5 Matt Waller: And I noticed, just from looking at your LinkedIn profile, you started... You'd had an internship for a couple of years while you were a student at Tyson, and you were in marketing.
0:02:44.8 Rachel Mooreland: I was.
0:02:45.7 Matt Waller: Would you mind telling me a little bit about how you found the internship and how you were able to balance that with school.
0:02:53.8 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah, absolutely, I'd love to. And it was actually fun thinking back on this not too long ago, is how I was balancing both school and my internship. I found my internship with Tyson through a Walton College career fair, I was recruited at one of those, you go through and talk to different brands, different businesses, and I really was drawn to Tyson, the culture and their values, and was lucky enough to get an internship on the Bacon business, so it started in the breakfast, the summer after my sophomore year, and the way that we did it back then is that you would work for 20 hours a week during the school year and then 40 hours a week during the summer, and it was a real job. I know some internships, you may have a project and you end it at the end of the summer, this was a year-round gig, and so really had to learn how to balance my classes and work. And so I actually remember I would have all my classes scheduled in the morning, and then I would come home and change because we were business professional at the time, and I didn't wanna wear that to my class at 8:00 AM, so I'd come home and change and then drive out to Tyson.
0:04:00.9 Rachel Mooreland: And I really, really value that experience, for a few different reasons. I think one is, it just gave me that real life experience while I was in school, and so I was able to take what I was learning in class and then apply that in real time to my job. And then vice versa, I would be learning things in class that I was already doing in my internship, and so it gave me a leg-up in both areas, which is really nice, and because it was a pretty much full-time year-round job, I was able to make a lot of connections, network, learn the culture and processes, which then ended up being beneficial to me to get a full-time job offer before I graduated. And so, I came straight in out of college, had a leg-up and a head start versus a completely new hire because I was already ingrained into the business. And so, having that internship definitely propelled me forward and gave me a really nice head start as I started full-time.
0:04:57.9 Matt Waller: You were working as an intern for two years during your undergrad program, which is longer than most people do internships, especially a single internship, but I've noticed that students who do that, who really have the internship full-time in the summers, they keep it going during the year, even if they switch companies it's still... I think they wind up getting more out of their coursework while they're going to school.
0:05:27.8 Rachel Mooreland: Absolutely.
0:05:30.3 Matt Waller: For example, if you took a class on brand management and you had never worked in marketing, it's harder to understand the benefit of it or what it really means, so that is a big benefit of internships. We have lots of students that get into internships, but I noticed the other thing is, that caught my eye, you started your internship well before your senior year.
0:05:55.3 Rachel Mooreland: I did.
0:05:56.7 Matt Waller: Which I think is a good idea. I always encourage students to start trying to get internships as soon as they can.
0:06:03.6 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah. And I think to your point too, even if you don't end up with that company, you just get that real life experience and it's just so valuable to have in addition to your classes, that way when you do graduate, you're already set up to get started and you're not having to learn from scratch after graduation. Me starting earlier definitely helped me out with getting that offer as well.
0:06:24.7 Matt Waller: Where are you from originally?
0:06:26.8 Rachel Mooreland: I am originally from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, actually, so not Arkansas, I do have a lot of family in Arkansas but I'm from Oklahoma.
0:06:35.1 Matt Waller: You've been with Tyson now for nine years, in marketing, you talked about brand management earlier, but you've been involved in more than just brand management, you've been involved in marketing in general. Clearly, you must really enjoy marketing at Tyson. Tell us a little about why you like it and some of your experiences and highlights of your career.
0:06:58.9 Rachel Mooreland: Sure, yeah. You're absolutely right, I've been there almost a decade now, which seems wild to think about, 'cause I remember when I was an intern, but I think the thing that really keeps me around and I really enjoy about marketing at Tyson is that you're never bored. And the thing about Tyson is, we recently merged... Well, it's been a few years now, but we merged with Hillshire Brands and really acquired a suite of iconic brands to work on. So we've got Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, some of those household names, in addition to the Tyson brand. And you really get the opportunity to work on these large brands with big budgets that are really impacting so many consumers and families. There's always a new challenge, there's always something new coming out, but you have those big brands that you work on, but then you make it a rotation within marketing to a smaller brand, or a startup brand, or an up-and-coming brand that has an entirely different set of challenges to overcome, and so you're always working on different sized businesses, different challenges, different consumer targets, and so you always get to flex different muscles.
0:08:02.7 Rachel Mooreland: I've never worked on the same thing twice, I can tell you. I've worked on brands like bacon, as I mentioned when I was an intern, I worked on Hillshire Farm. I worked on Tyson Brand, which was really fun to work on the signature flagship brand of the company. Right now I work on State Fair Corn Dogs, a completely different consumer, I'm targeting kids now, which is new for me. And so, no matter what you're working on within the company in marketing, it's gonna be a new challenge, a new adventure, and it's really fun. And I would also say that people that I've worked with have really kept me around. I feel like you are working with, you need that people that have been there for 30-plus years, worked on different products and have so much knowledge, and so you're really surrounded by so many experts as the marketer that you've got a great team around you to really make some exciting moves on these brands.
0:08:52.3 Matt Waller: So one thing that I'm curious about, Rachel, is during your time over the past nine years in marketing at Tyson, digital marketing was around before you started at Tyson, but the importance of digital marketing has escalated.
0:09:11.1 Rachel Mooreland: Yes.
0:09:11.6 Matt Waller: Dramatically during that time. How has it affected marketing at Tyson?
0:09:18.8 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah, it definitely has. I've seen such an evolution even in my nine years, but you've got your traditional digital marketing, so it may be online advertising, the banner ad that you may see on a website, or a pre-rolled video that you may see before a YouTube video, as for example. So we worked on that and really evolved that, how we target, who we go after, things like that, that have been really beneficial, but I think the huge escalation that I've seen is within the last year just with the pandemic, a lot of consumers stopped going to the stores and shifted over to online grocery, pickup and delivery services. Walmart was a really big proponent of that, and so we had to pivot from a Tyson perspective as well.
0:10:01.7 Rachel Mooreland: We typically do a lot of in-store promotions, and you might see a sticker outside of a freezer door in the freezer aisle at a grocery store. We really had to shift our thinking to make sure we were present in the digital space because we needed to remain competitive, and we wanted to make sure that our consumers still knew to find us, even if they weren't going into the store. And so, it's been such a huge shift for us in the last year on just how we market. It's been interesting to see how we've been able to evolve so quickly. Some of that growth has been just unprecedented in some of these different online grocery outlets like the Instacart, for example, and so we've been really agile and able to shift our focus over there, and it's very important for us right now.
0:10:45.2 Matt Waller: Well, as I was looking up information on you, before I invited you to my Advisory Council of course.
0:10:52.7 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah.
0:10:54.0 Matt Waller: I noticed that you had a really well-done website of your own, it's heyraychh.com, brand work.
0:11:04.5 Rachel Mooreland: Yup. It is.
0:11:08.9 Matt Waller: But you also have an Instagram account, and I looked at your Instagram account, and I noticed that you have over 20,000 followers, which is unusually high.
0:11:21.7 Matt Waller: That's a lot of followers. Your website talks about fashion, food and drink, lifestyle accessories, and then you list brands that you've worked with. If you wouldn't mind, just tell us a little bit about how you got into it, and what is the business.
0:11:41.4 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah, absolutely, I'd love to. So Hey Raychh is my social media platform, and that name is... That's actually how my mom and my grandmother address me, any time I call them they answer the phone, "Hey, Raychh," that's how that started. And it really started as a creative outlet, back in 2016 is really when I got more serious about it, started off as a blog, and I actually started off pulling in my food, passion for food from work and tying it in with fashion. And so when I started, I was actually going to different restaurants in the area and basically writing reviews on them, and I would talk about what I ate at the restaurant and then what I wore, that was how we started off tying in food and fashion, it was a nice little bridge between my full-time job and the things that I love outside of work. Over time that since evolved into my social media platform and influencing where now I partner with brands to promote their new products, things like that, and it's been a really fun creative outlet that also has been benefited by my work at Tyson. And so, being able to have that marketing background from Walton College, working full-time professional marketing in Tyson, it gives me an advantage as far as branding, I know how to brand myself. I also know what we, the brand on the Tyson side look for when we look at influencers.
0:13:03.6 Rachel Mooreland: And so I've been able to pull that intel over into my influencing side of things, and it's really been beneficial for me. I've heard brands compliment me on my professionalism because not all influencers, some of them that's their full-time job and they've never done anything else, and so me being able to have that professional background and tying that over to the influencing side has been super beneficial, because it is, and just, I think a lot of people think of influencing as taking pictures and getting free things and... Well, that's a part of it and a lot of it is a lot of business, you're signing contracts, you're doing a lot of different email correspondence, you're making pitches, you're making briefs, you're doing so much work on the upfront, that also is what I'm doing over at Tyson for some of these other brands. So it's a nice cross tie, but then it's also something that's my own that I have on the side as a creative outlet that's seen tremendous growth over the last year and I'm super grateful for, 'cause I've been able to work with some pretty nice brands. But yeah, it's a nice business tie with my other job at Tyson.
0:14:05.1 Matt Waller: And I noticed, obviously your website's really nice, you've got photos and blogs. How did you learn how to build your website, or did you outsource it and...
0:14:20.7 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah. And thank you, first of all, and I think, ever since I was a kid I've always loved to edit and create, I used to make newsletters for my family and what was going on in our household growing up, and I would write big stories, and that's what led me to my blog, and I would edit photos and make everything look really nice, so that's always been something that I've just done since I was younger. As I worked my blog and started to make it more professional-looking, I have outsourced a few different things. I built my website, however, my content and my photos are taken by a professional photographer, it's an investment that I make, but it comes back to me through brand partnerships that wanna work with me because of my content. I do work with a photographer for the photos that you see, but the writing and the editing and things like that, it's all me, but that's just been a passion of mine since I was a kid, which is creating and making things look nice and visually appealing. I appreciate the compliment 'cause that is something that I'm really passionate about.
0:15:18.9 Matt Waller: What is your website? Is it WordPress?
0:15:22.5 Rachel Mooreland: It's Squarespace actually. Yeah. And I highly recommend it if anyone's wanting to start one. I haven't worked on WordPress, but I know that Squarespace for me has been really user-friendly, they have great tips on how to make your website look nice, and their help center is 24 hours, so I highly recommend if you're looking to start a blog at Squarespace.
0:15:42.8 Matt Waller: You've also got an email list, obviously, I noticed when I first went on your website it invited me to...
0:15:49.7 Rachel Mooreland: Sure.
0:15:50.1 Matt Waller: Join the email list. How do you manage your email list?
0:15:54.7 Rachel Mooreland: Good question. I use an application called MailChimp, and that's how I manage the list itself. The majority of my email list is when I post a blog post, it emails out to everyone on the list, but I've used it for other things to promote content over my Instagram or other things that I have going on, but it is nice to see that list grow. I think, let's say tomorrow Instagram goes away, I lose all of those followers, but I still have my email list. I would say that that's something that I've learned is, as I've gotten in in the influencer space, I listen to a lot of podcasts like this one, around influencer marketing, and that's one thing that they always say is that your email list is really important because social media platforms could change in an instant, you think of the ones like Vine, or some of these other platforms that have gone away over time. If Instagram for some reason, I don't think so, I hope not, but if it does go away, at least you'll have your email list and can still reach people that way, so that's been my go-to for just making sure that I keep those emails.
0:16:53.4 Matt Waller: Do you ever use video at all?
0:16:56.7 Rachel Mooreland: I do, so I have a YouTube Channel actually. I haven't done quite a bit on it recently, I just have gotten pretty busy on my Instagram side, but I've done some YouTube content primarily around, actually, home decor. At the beginning of the pandemic, actually, I moved into a new apartment, in April, right after a lockdown pretty much, and with it being a lockdown and not being able to do much else, I spent a lot of time at home working on decorating my place, building furniture and things like that. And so I actually documented that entire process on my YouTube channel and that got a really nice response, I would share links to things that I had ordered and how I had built things and stuff like that. It's actually funny, one of my followers actually recommended this name and it stuck; my Instagram is heyraychh, and then we turned my home series into RAYCHH-GTV, like HGTV, and so that was my own segment of my platform. That was really fun. Yeah, I've done video on YouTube and then I'm also getting into Instagram Reels, a little bit of TikTok and things like that, just because I do think there's value in that more short-form content. Not just for influencing, I think for any brands that are marketing, I think people's attention spans are lower, frankly they're not watching 20-minute videos anymore, and so I really wanna make sure that I stay on top of that as well and move into some of that short-form content like Reels.
0:18:22.2 Matt Waller: Rachel, we had commencement on Saturday, the Walton College...
0:18:26.7 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah. Congrats, everyone.
0:18:29.7 Matt Waller: Thank you. Well over 1000 students participated in the commencement. I think this year we'll have maybe 1500 students graduating, but we had... Of course, we had four different commencement in Bud Walton Arena, for the undergraduates, in Walton College, because we had to socially distance, and went really well. But I'm curious, you work for a large company, you have your own business, you have lots of experience in marketing for many different dimensions, what advice would you have for students that are just graduating from the Walton College?
0:19:13.8 Rachel Mooreland: Yeah, I would definitely say, and this is from my own experiences, don't be too hard on yourselves. I think, I was lucky to have my internship and to have that experience before I graduated, but I do remember that transition into full-time, it's a challenge; it's a completely different lifestyle, you're a full-time career woman or man, and you're trying to figure it out. And I know, there were times where I was a little hard on myself, and I think looking back I wish I would have... If I could tell myself back then, "Be easy on yourself, this is new, you're learning, lean on people around you, find mentors in wherever you're working, if you're in a job... If you don't have a job yet, that's okay, you can network, make sure you make as many connections as you can in the industry, you never know when someone may have a role open up and then they can think of you." So I would say, be easy on yourself, network, find a mentor, even if it's not in the workplace that you're in, just having a professional guide is super helpful.
0:20:11.7 Rachel Mooreland: I would say I've had so many people pull me up throughout my career because of the relationship that we've had. So regardless of if you have a full-time job now, or if you're looking, I think just finding professionals in your area. I think the Walton College did a really good job with RazorLink to connect you with alumni. I'm on there, so if you wanna reach out to me, feel free, I'm happy to connect with you. But yeah, I think that would be my biggest advice. And thinking of what I'm doing now, just being on your council, is giving back to the Walton College because I wouldn't be where I am today without it, and I really do attribute a lot of where I am today too with the college and just the way that I was set up for success before I even graduated. So, that'd be my advice, and, yeah, just be easy on yourself, it's a transition but you'll be alright.
0:21:02.1 Matt Waller: Thanks for listening to today's episode of the Be EPIC podcast from the Walton College. You can find us on Google, SoundCloud, iTunes, or look for us wherever you find your podcast. Be sure to subscribe and rate us. You can find current and past episodes by searching BeEPIC podcast, one word, that's B-E-E-P-I-C podcast, and now, be epic.