Farewell message for Panthers fans from social media guru Amie Kiehn

Farewell message for Panthers fans from social media guru Amie Kiehn

Photo by Chanelle Smith-Walker/Panthers

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Amie Kiehn, the wizard behind the Panthers’ entertaining social media feeds, stepped down from her coveted job last week to spend more time with her 3-year-old son. We wanted to give her a little space to say goodbye.

Driving the news: In a letter we’re publishing below, Kiehn explains something many parents are feeling, especially during the latest wave of the pandemic: “I need to be a more present parent,” she writes.

  • She’s taken a part-time job, still in social media, that gives her more flexibility.

Why it matters: Even people who love their jobs are leaving them in this latest wave of the pandemic and the so-called Great Resignation.

  • Kiehn’s one of Charlotte’s most brilliant media minds. But media’s one of many fields now where it’s difficult for parents trying to find balance.
  • When the team fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady on their bye-week Sunday in December, for instance, Kiehn’s off day quickly became a workday.

The big picture: When she started with the Panthers in 2016, social media jobs largely were seen as something to hand to interns.

  • The Panthers were an exception; their feeds exploded during the 2015-16 Super Bowl run.
  • Kiehn took it from there. Her team’s wit and creativity turned the Panthers into one of the city’s most influential online brands, gaining 1 billion impressions a year.
  • Now many other businesses and operations are investing heavily in social media as a way to tell their story, some with big results. (Look, for instance, at the Charlotte Sports Foundation’s success with the Duke’s Mayo Bowl feed.)

Between the lines: Kiehn’s son, Tripp, was born three months prematurely in September 2018, just days before the season opener. He was 1 pound, 3 ounces. I wrote about Tripp’s determination to live in a feature story we published last April.

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What she’s saying: Here’s Amie’s goodbye letter, in full.

“As I sit to write this, I’m really struggling with what to type. But before I even try, let me say I understand I’m not a famous athlete or someone firmly in the public eye, so I’m somewhat uncomfortable even doing a thank you/goodbye note like this. I’ve been fortunate to have a job running social media accounts for a sports team – hardly solving world problems – but I hope our tweets, fun videos and memes have been a bright spot on your internet.

So here it is:

Thank you, Panthers fans.

In my five seasons with the Panthers, our content team produced more than 58,000 social posts across nearly a half dozen platforms. It’s hard to put that number in perspective, but it’s massive, and I’m not sure how we even did it.

Those posts were a mix of “Welcomes,” “Goodbyes,” and even a “Can you believe he’s baaaaack!?” post.

So it’s ironic that after all these years producing that much content, I’m having trouble finding the right words as I step away.

But it’s really as simple as this: I need to be a more present parent. One where our growing toddler doesn’t get my leftovers. That I make time before the sun goes down to, as a family, watch the light-rail train pull out of the station by our house because our son is currently obsessed with trains. Or that I share the load my partner James has carried while working full-time and raising our boisterous 3-year-old. He has sacrificed an enormous amount to keep our lives operating around a football schedule.

The role I’m leaving is a dream job for many, and it certainly was for me. But dreams change, life evolves, and kids grow up. I want to make sure not to miss that last part.

This previous chapter with the Panthers was about impressions on social and making impressions on others. The next chapter is about creating a more lasting impression on my son.

— Amie Kiehn

My thought bubble: My son’s about a year younger than Tripp, and Amie and I have become friends since the story I wrote on her ran last spring.

  • One of the questions many of us parents of toddlers of the COVID-19 generation are asking ourselves these days: Are our kids growing up thinking our laptops and phones are permanent accessories dangling in front of our faces?

The bottom line: Kiehn’s last day was last Wednesday. She says she still loves the Panthers and that they couldn’t have been better to her.

  • But after just a few days of focusing on Tripp, he started to say “Mom” more.

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