Posts Tagged ‘Integrated marketing communications’

Build Your Influence With Micro-Content

July 14, 2014

I finally joined the Twittersphere (@Julie_Long_)! In my short time on the platform, I have complained to a brand, participated in my first tweet session, and most importantly followed others. As I continue to learn and navigate the intricacies of tweeting, I am reminded by the fleeting nature of communication. With just 140 characters at your disposal you have to tweet succinctly. Less is truly more. What I have found to be both an opportunity and a curse is that Twitter forces you to think differently about how to construct a call to action. The idea of finite content is not a new idea by an means. The gray area surrounds the integration of content across channels. Everyone can tweet and tell a story, but only those who truly understand integration will be able to realize a return.

One person that seems to understand finite content is Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vaynermedia, who is a proponent of “micro-content.” The micro-content revolution might just be around the corner. Thankfully, I joined Twitter, which affords me the opportunity to “micro-blog.”  Being able to build campaigns around the “micro” and the “macro” point of view will help to make me a diversified IMC practitioner.

Not only do you need the writing and strategic mind to master the art of micro-content, but you also need the confidence. Fortunately, thanks to Twitter, I learned about a free webinar that will help you build your online confidence.

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Make sure that you sign up! Gary Vaynerchuk just happens to be one of the presenters and you will be a first hand witness to his dynamic presentation style!

A Little Advice from Scott Stratten

June 30, 2014
One of my first blog posts for the IMC program at WVU was a gentle demand that you listen to the UnPodcast.  Hosts Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer provided a no holds barred approach to marketing.  Having been a fan of their work for a while, I was ecstatic that I would have the opportunity to meet them at ImComm (a marketing conference for the UW System) at which Scott was speaking.  I was thrilled the committee booked him because I felt this audience could really benefit from his message delivered in a very honest and blunt way…and I was right.  As usual, the content had the audience laughing out loud and questioning their marketing tactics in minutes.

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Scott was nice enough to answer a few questions after the presentation.  I racked my brain for days to try to come up with something to ask him.  So, with the knowledge that we are dedicating our lives to IMC and trying to sell it to our employers, I asked the same question I’ve asked 100 times to every IMC professional I’ve ever met.  I asked, “What does it take to get buy-in?”  Scott communicated the importance of finding what motivates people and connecting your selling points to what is important to them. There are no shortage of personality and character tests that are quick to put us into boxes and provide us with a precise bullet point list of tactics for working with each other.  “Personality type Q will best respond to charts, graphs, and 100 page documents outlining all possible solutions.”  Each test has their place, but are we really invested in finding out how to build relationships with our coworkers?  Knowing that many of my friends and coworkers had tried this tactic before I finally asked, “what it if it still doesn’t work?”  To which I received the very honest answer of “get out”….run.

 

If that last line scares you….good.  I always hoped that would never be an option, but for some companies it is never going to happen – and you can’t waste your time and energy.  The uphill battle to sell all of the right people on IMC might not be successful in your organization.  There are some people that will never buy in.  If that’s not something you can live with, you may need to get out. It’s tough to identify the companies that are receptive to IMC, but thanks to great advice by Elliott Nix, we at least have a place to start.

 

I also asked Scott what was important for us as IMC students to know.  He said, “Never stop asking why.  The reason we can’t do things the way they’ve always been done is because we’re dealing with things we haven’t had to deal with before.”  For me, this was an enormous take away from the conference.  We’ve all run head first into the “this is the way it’s always been done” road block, but Scott is right – the issues and challenges we are facing today are different than issues we’ve faced in the past. (Another great conference quote from a different speaker was, “You don’t have time to plan because you’re not planning,” which I thought was perfectly stated.)

 

IMC is not an easy thing to initiate at any company.  It is frustrating and, at least for me, can make you feel crazy at times.  The conference reminded me that we can make a difference, it just takes strategy and patience.  There will be times where the company culture and IMC just don’t mix and we have to move on.  That’s not to say it will never work for that company, but maybe just not right now.  It’s ok for IMC professionals to pick a different battle.  I’ve made it my personal goal to try to ask “why” at least once a day.

 

Are you asking why? What great “why” stories do you have to share?

Pay When You Hit Play.

June 23, 2014

YouTube has become much more than the land of viral cat cuteness and cringeworthy-yet-catchy music  videos. Today, both content creators and subscribers have different relationships with the platform. YouTubers like beauty guru Zoella and gamer PewDiePie earn a living from their content thanks to the millions of viewers who watch their channels every day.

But what if you had to pay a fee to access YouTube?

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Would you pay to watch YouTube videos?

As Google recently confirmed plans to introduce an ad-free subscription music service for the platform, things are moving in that direction. The fee-based service will be limited to music for now, but it could eventually apply to other popular categories like beauty and gaming. If so, YouTube uniquely challenges Netflix and Hulu for paid content subscribers by being a medium for creators of any skill level to publish content. Netflix and Hulu libraries feature movie and television shows, but YouTube is all about, well, you.

It will be interesting to see how Google, content creators, subscribers, and competing subscription services handle the shift.

Will YouTube successfully evolve its brand or is the move destined for failure due to established consumer expectations of the platform?

-R

Digital Tales From Two Days at INTEGRATE 2014

June 16, 2014

- Written by Julie Long and Kat Shanahan with artwork by Julie Long

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Pride.  After searching my vocabulary for the word that best described how it felt to be at WVU for the INTEGRATE2014 conference, that’s what I’ve come up with.  Being on campus for the first time and networking with fellow students, professors, and speakers all gave me an overwhelming sense of pride and reaffirmed my decision to get my IMC degree from WVU.  Walking through the gates and into Milan Puskar Stadium for the keynote dinner you almost felt like a celebrity walking the red carpet but instead of an entourage consisting of George Clooney and Meryl Streep, I was in the presence of presenter and Alexia Vanides Teaching Award winner, Joe Barnes, and fellow blogger and conference guru Julie Long (that’s my kind of entourage). –KS

It is rare to find a group of individuals – let alone an academic program – that pushes you to become your best self. I have spent the better part of my career looking for a mentor. It turns out that I all I needed to do was join the WVU IMC program. As a result of becoming a student, I now have an entire community of mentors. Even though the mentors in my community are remote and spread out geographically, I would call upon their advice before reaching out to individuals in my face-to-face network. The main difference between the two groups comes down to the understanding and passion that everyone affiliated with the program has for the IMC field. I never would have thought that an online program would be all this and more…

The “and more…” is in large part attributed to the annual INTEGRATE conference. Unlike other marketing communication conferences where attendees pass like ships in the night, I view the INTEGRATE conference as “the event” that anchors my year. It is not everyday that you are surrounded by the caliber of talent that congregates in Morgantown year after year. It was truly inspiring to meet new faces this year, including Kat, who epitomizes and exemplifies a passionate and dedicated IMC student.

Even though the weekend is jam packed with networking and breakout sessions, the event culminates and hits a crescendo during the reception. — JL

At the reception, the excitement began building as we recapped a great conference and prepared to hear closing remarks from WVU administration and Head of Media Solutions – Tech for Google and WVU IMC professor, Elliott Nix.  It was at this time that  I was able to finally meet all of the fellow students in my current class, connect with speaker Lee Odden, and take just one minute to bask in the final moments of the conference.  Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better we were seated for dinner. –KS

Three years ago, I was a wide-eyed Freshman attending the big event. I knew very few , if any, of the faces or names of anyone sitting around my dinner table. This year, I knew all but two individuals at my table.

With each passing year, I have begun to judge my professional IMC accomplishments against the calendar year of the INTEGRATE conference.  After year one, I forged face-to-face connections with faculty and fellow students and I even started an IMC Pinterest board. After year two, I became a blogger for the program and continued to forge even deeper relationships with fellow IMC’ers. After year three, I became an author for Steamfeed.com, connected with IMC bloggers Kat & Rebecca, joined Twitter, tried out Google Glass, and was accepted into the WVU IMC Classmates Facebook Page (The conference continues throughout the year on social media!) All of these accomplishments, including meeting the large majority of my e-connections, would not have come to fruition if I did not attend INTEGRATE.

The reception affords me time to reflect back and look ahead at my uncharted path. Looking around the room this year, I could not help but soak up the energy emanating from within the walls of the stadium. Sitting down at the table I was able to see first hand how the IMC field is directly being shaped by the program. The momentum of the evening hits a crescendo when the keynote speaker takes the stage. The impending speech is a pivotal turning point in renewing my sense of pride for the program, and my passion for the field of IMC. –JL

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The keynote presentation by Elliott Nix was nothing short of inspiring.  Elliott talked about the importance of tying innovation to business strategy and asking oneself, “Does this solve a problem?”  Having a great idea is one thing, but using that to solve a problem is where you find real innovation.  Elliott said, “Technology isn’t about making things easier, it’s about making lives better.”  Sounds great, right?  But how do you do that?  According to Elliott, you must build a culture of failure and challenge your preconceived notions of what’s popular.  Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

After Elliott’s keynote we sat down with him to ask just a few more questions about innovation.  Elliott said the key to overcoming blocks in innovation is to ask yourself, “What’s the immediate answer, and then what’s the exact opposite?”  What’s the answer that is going to get you fired?  You take the second idea and do what you can to poke holes in it.  If you can’t…that’s the one you should go with.  Elliott also challenged us to think about the problem in a different industry and find out how you can apply that to your industry.

We also asked Elliott what’s in store for those in the IMC program. He said that we should “think bigger,” find new ways of looking at a business/client, and show how you can tackle the narratives of traditional and digital marketing together.  We all know that trying to show the value of IMC and finding companies that support that way of thinking can be challenging.  Elliott recommended finding companies that are “on stage” and have a media presence in the mobile, video, and analytic areas.  Those are the companies that will be more forward thinking.  As you can see, Elliott left us with no shortage of important topics to think about.  Our challenge now is how to use it.  Where are you going to start? –KS

 

We would like to say a monumental thank you to the IMC team and executive team Nicole, Chad, Shelly, Judy, Briana, Rick, Michael, Aaron, Rachel Mort, and Rachel Angry for everything you did to bring INTEGRATE 2014 to fruition.

 

INTEGRATE2014: Lessons learned from Bill Oechsler

May 31, 2014

The last session of the conference was a little bittersweet. The conference has been absolutely fantastic and even though it’s not quite over, the information I’ve learned has made my mind race and my reading list double. I am very excited to apply all of this phenomenal information to projects in my IMC world.

The last breakout session I attended was Bill Oechsler’s, and it was fantastic. Just like with Lee Odden’s session, a recap of the information is not possible in such a small space.

One of the most beneficial parts for me was the insight provided by Bill on the Absolut campaign. For me, I’ve enjoyed watching the campaign grow because I’m a photography fan. The way that Absolut captured viewers through strong photography and simplistic ads is a great reminder that simple isn’t a bad thing. Much like the presentation from Joe Barns told us, give customers options, but not too many. We don’t want to overwhelm our customers. Simple, well executed ideas can go far.

The beauty of the campaign is also that it has legs. The product and packaging are the hero of the story. The ads focus entirely on Absolut and it has been marketed in a simplistic, authentic way.

Bill shared great examples from Absolute, Apple, and more with the emphasis of simplicity and creating campaigns that move. Simple and authentic make a great pair.

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What are your favorite simple campaigns? What sticks with you?

Seven things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program

May 1, 2014

It’s hard to believe that I started this journey to get my Master’s Degree three and a half years ago and it’s about to end in less than two weeks! I have learned A LOT in the last 3.5 years — about marketing yes, but also about endurance, time management, writing, research, and myself. Some of these lessons I picked up early on, and others only more recently. But all of them are things I wish I had learned a bit sooner. So here it is. For all of you who are just getting started in the program (and even those of you who have been with it a little while), here are seven (because five was too few and ten was too many) things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program.

1. Time management takes on a whole new level in the IMC program. No matter how good you think you are at time management, you will find yourself hitting that submit button with only seconds to spare at least once per semester. At first I thought maybe it was just me. But then I started connecting with some of my classmates offline and found out I wasn’t alone! Even the most dedicated and disciplined of classmates has had a week or two (or 9) when they have found themselves working feverishly on Monday night only to click that upload button at 11:54 p.m. I don’t recommend doing this a lot (I personally have had way too many close calls), but cut yourself some slack if it happens every once in a while. And know that Murphy’s Law will prevail and those assignments that you think won’t be such a big deal will end up taking you twice as long to get done! So try and start early as often as you can to save yourself the stress.

Calvin and Hobbs on procrastination

We all find ourselves hitting the submit button at 11:54 at one time or another.

2. Quality sources make all the difference! As I progressed through the program I learned from each professor which trade publications and sources they favored for quality information when doing research. Some of these I subscribed to early-on and used throughout the course, others I only discovered late in the game and I wish I had thought of them sooner. So, here are a few that I recommend you sign-up for now: AdAge, AdWeek, PR Week, DM News, Pew Research, and MarketingProfs. I also highly recommend you take advantage of the online library databases for accessing journals and competitor/industry information. They’re free and they will give you information you will not find in a Google search. I’m sure there are more that classmates can recommend, but those are the gold standards that have helped me through many a discussion board post and weekly paper!

3. INTEGRATE is awesome. Seriously. You should go! At least once. I almost didn’t go last year and changed my mind at the last minute and I’m so glad I did. Not only were there some great sessions, but it was the first chance I had to meet classmates and professors in person and see the WVU campus. It made me feel so much more connected to the program. I only wish I had gone sooner.

Evernote on an iPad

Evernote helps me work on school work from any place or device.

4. Empower yourself to be mobile. I think I was about 3 semesters into the program when I read a blog post by Kevin that talked about some of his favorite tools that helped him find success in the IMC program. It was the first time I had ever heard of Evernote. It has since become one of my favorite go-to programs for school, work and personal life. Using a tool like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote allows you to save your research, and even write your discussion board posts or papers in one place, but access it from any device. So whether you’re in your office at your desk, sitting on the couch at home with your iPad, or even on your phone while waiting for your kids to finish their piano lessons, you can sneak in a little work and pick right back where you left off at the next opportune moment.

5. Every professor is different. It’s true. No matter how consistent the program is (and trust me, it’s pretty darn consistent compared to others I know about), or how standardized the syllabus, each professor is going to communicate differently and grade differently. They are human, after all! Yet for some reason I’ve seen a lot of classmates get very upset by this fact. Were your undergrad professors all the same? I highly doubt it. I know mine weren’t. You will have favorites and some that kick-your-butt! And there may not be consensus on this by your classmates…so just because your friend said they loved Professor so-and-so doesn’t mean you will. All I can say is accept this fact now and it will save you a lot of disappointment and frustration down the road. For my part (and I have nothing to gain by saying this since I’m pretty much done with the program), I found all of my professors to be reasonable and fair.

6. Connect with classmates outside of Blackboard. It wasn’t until very recently that I got invited to a Facebook Group for IMC students, that was created by a classmate (and is not officially affiliated with the IMC program). This has been one of the best discoveries of the last 3 years because it has allowed me to “meet” people I’ve never had class with, ask for suggestions, tips and recommendations relating to certain classes, share ideas, commiserate about our lack of a life on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and just in general talk…you know that thing you did in the hallways when you were in undergrad? The stories that got shared around the lunch table or in the lobby of your dorm room? That stuff is missing when you’re in an online program. But thanks to social media there are ways to connect with colleagues outside of class. Whether it’s through Facebook, LinkedIn or even email, I highly recommend you get connected to other students outside of the Blackboard classroom! In fact if you’re interested in joining the Facebook group let me know!

7. At some point you will want to quit. OK, maybe this won’t happen to everyone, but I know that a good majority of the people I’ve met through the program have contemplated it at least once before they finish. And some even do quit…for a semester or two. Whether your personal life changes, your work life gets too hectic, or you just plain need a break, at some point you may find yourself wondering – “Can I really keep doing this?” The answer is YES! Yes, you can, even if you have to take a break — don’t give up! You will be so glad when you cross that finish line.

Who tells your story?

April 29, 2014

“The problem with television is the picture.” – Bill Mosher

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I never expected a documentary producer to say those words, so imagine my surprise when PBS Visionaries Producer, Bill Mosher, said them in front of a captive audience.  The discussion of the conference was storytelling and his comment slapped me in the face as I evaluated how we tell our story at the university center.  After watching amazing storytellers captivate an audience and nearly bring everyone to tears with their voice alone, I started to think he was right.  Reading, writing, and listening all leave room for the imagination of the participant.  Suddenly, the participant becomes part of the experience.  They fill in the blanks with their own memories, experiences, and ideas, and the story becomes real to them.  I began to wonder if we were spoon-feeding our audience a story that we wanted to tell, but they didn’t want to hear.

When I think of the stories that I remember and the experiences I share, I do so because they have significant meaning to me.  As marketers and storytellers, it is our responsibility to share the things that we do in a way that makes people want to talk about them.  Every experience a customer has with a company, product, service, or organization helps build a brand and tell a story.  The goal of marketing isn’t to teach customers to regurgitate a scripted story, but to make them feel like valued partners who share the story because they want to.  Isn’t that the goal of learning? I still believe that as marketers we are educators and we should be empowering the people we are marketing to (teaching) to be our advocates – not memorize the correct answers.

When you’re telling your story, are you leaving room for the customer?

Morgantown Field Guide For INTEGRATE 2014

April 23, 2014

Morgantown_Map

Last year, I designed a field guide to help first time students to WVU navigate Morgantown. (I will disclose that I am by no means a native of West Virginia, but the listed  attractions are places I have visited since I first began attending Integrate back in 2012.) Since your time in Morgantown will be limited, what attractions are you going to visit as part of INTEGRATE weekend? If you have been to INTEGRATE before, what destinations outside of the campus will you try to visit? Comment below and help me add to the INTEGRATE 2014 Field Guide.

Watch your tone.

April 22, 2014

It’s not uncommon for me to save two or three versions of the same photo while editing. Even on the simplest subject, a change in contrast or saturation can really impact the overall mood of the photo.

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Tone is something that, as IMC professionals in various pockets of the field, we all implement differently. While a photographer may rely on lighting, a graphic designer on typeface, a copy writer on word choice, and a brand manager on media channel selection, all leverage tone as a tool for their craft.

As a reporter, I find that my lead sets the tone for a story.

Whatever the medium, a tone can produce results if it resonates with the audience. Analytics firm Curalate studied more than 8 million Instagram images to discover that those with a blue tint received 24 percent more likes than other colors.

Here’s my question: Is leveraging tone an art or a science?

-R

#ACUI14 in Orlando

April 4, 2014

I was very excited to attend the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) 2014 Annual Conference in Orlando, Fl. as part of my professional development plan this year. This year marks the 100th anniversary celebration and what better way to celebrate than with great friends, excellent ed. sessions, fantastic keynote speakers, and the sunshine that (I am sure) is on its way to the midwest soon? I know we’re getting a little lengthy with this post, but there were so many great things I wanted to share with you during this five day conference! Buckle up and here we go!photo

I am a firm believer that the keynotes and ed sessions of a conference make or break the experience.  This year’s planning team really had their work cut out for them because they were not only planning the conference, but they also worked  with the 100th Anniversary Team to create an extraordinary experience for conference attendees.  The keynote selections at this conference were some of the very best I’ve seen.  The conference kicked off with a keynote by Jeff Salingo who addressed the role of the college union and the value of an undergraduate degree.  He shared great thoughts challenging our view of a traditional college experience.  Next, the planning committee incorporated one of my favorite sessions from last year, ACUI Talks.  If you ever have to plan a conference, I highly recommend incorporating this into your theme.  ACUI Talks was our version of TED Talks.  There were four keynote speakers who shared their perspective on storytelling for about 18 minutes each.  There were speakers ranging from David Coleman, the Dating Doctor, (who shared the most incredible personal stories) to Bill Mosher (who directs the PBS special, Visionaries).  Each presenter brought their own unique view on the importance of sharing our story.  This session got me thinking about how well we tell our story at the University Center, specifically in the Graphics & Marketing department.  Our story is what sets us apart from every other organization, business, and company on the planet.  It should be the foundation of our brand and radiate through all of our messaging.  I think that at times we get caught up in the “sell, sell, sell” aspect of business and forget that who we are and what we do matters.  Are you doing a good enough job telling your story?  The conference also facilitated a panel discussion between four university presidents and surprisingly three of them were women.  It was inspiring to hear their stories and life experiences.

The last keynote presentation was Laura Ling who is a journalist who was held captive in North Korea.  Again, her session focused on storytelling, but also on hope.  Both topics were themes throughout the conference.  As I was sitting in an educational session by a friend of mine, I began to think…how many times do we put out ideas and projects with the hope that they work?  At times, we got too caught up in budgets and numbers and analysis and forget that we need to believe in the ideas that we have.  I am completely in favor of analysis and research however; there comes a point where we have to stop and say, this is the right thing…I believe this is going to work.  The theme of the conference reminded me of an interview I saw a while back that said if you don’t believe in your ideas, how do you expect others to do so?

I’d like to share so many more of stories that were told by keynote speakers, but I just would not do them justice.  I highly recommend you look them up if you’re in need of a conference keynote speaker.  Finally, I’d like to share with you a few of my take-aways from the conference.

  • Do something that you’ve never done.  When I went to the conference, I had my entire schedule planned out thanks to Guidebook (an interactive scheduling app that lets you create your own conference schedule based on the one provided by the conference.  LOVE IT)  However, it occurred to me that I had picked every technology, marketing, and supervisory session out there.  I wasn’t doing anything new, I wasn’t pushing myself to learn new things.  So, after much researching and planning before the conference, I changed most of my schedule and attended sessions I would have never thought to attend before.
  • Push yourself to be a well rounded professional.  One of the members of the presidents panel said that you need to have a diverse portfolio.  Again, push yourself to meet new people and try new things to broaden your horizons.  Part of the reason that I get so excited to attend ACUI is because I didn’t go to school for Student Affairs.  Conferences are a great way to supplement your professional development.
  • Find a mentor! This doesn’t have to be someone that you have immediate contact with on a daily basis, but select your list of people that you can call no matter what for advice and an impromptu therapy session.
  • Under promise-over deliver, don’t hold a grudge, forgive quickly, and don’t settle.  All of these were extremely wise words from a university president that we often forget when life gets busy.

What do you take into consideration when designing your professional development plan? What are your must attend conferences?


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