#Integrate15: Networking

May 30, 2015 by

The day sessions at INTEGRATE are a fascinating, educational component of the two-day experience. Equally enjoyable, however, are the opportunities to socialize outside of these scheduled presentations.

I’ve met WVU IMC instructors, former classmates, fellow bloggers and new IMC friends. INTEGRATE conversations are an incredible reminder of the range of talent and experience connected with this conference.

Here are some photos from Friday’s Graduate Pinning Ceremony and Networking Reception:

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Shout out to my fellow WVU IMC bloggers attending #Integrate15! I first met Kat and Julie last year at INTEGRATE. Sarah and I met at graduation in May; we also shared the same Capstone course. It’s great connecting with these bloggers in person.



WVU IMC graduates participating in the Graduate Pinning Ceremony on Friday. Thanks to Tyler for snapping this shot with a selfie stick!


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Becky, Becky and I thought we would take a “Rebecca” photo as we all share the same name. This was my first time meeting these two, and they were so friendly! One of the great things about INTEGRATE is how easy it is to start a conversation with anyone attending. Meeting others who share your passion (and in my case, name!) is always inspiring.


What was your favorite part about Friday evening’s events? Did you meet any former classmates or instructors?


Customizing the customer experience ecosystem with Scott Cuppari at #INTEGRATE15

May 30, 2015 by
More and more companies are being asked to build relationships with their customers, but what happens when you take that relationship a step further?  #INTEGRATE15′s Saturday opening keynote, Scott Cuppari Global Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Freestyle, gave us a little insight into what it’s like to not only create a cohesive and engaging customer relationship, but to build a customer experience ecosystem that personifies your brand.


Scott encouraged us to not stop at a destination, but think about what that destination may mean for our experience ecosystem.  If you’re directing a customer to a billboard, web site, mobile app, or web banner…what happens next?  What is the next option or action that takes the customer from completing a mutually beneficial transaction (purchasing, downloading, etc.) to going on a brand journey.  Essential…now what? What’s the authentic message that fits with your brand?




What is the take away from that experience?  More importantly, taking customers on a journey requires that you tailor your message to your brand and the medium.  If customer’s can’t digest the information when they get there, your company is missing an opportunity to bring them along on the rest of the journey.  As Scott said, “It’s not enough to do something well, you have to customize it.”


As marketers we need to think about creating a personalized journey for customers in our experience ecosystem because that’s what will turn them into brand advocates.


What steps will you take?

Culture For Hire

May 30, 2015 by

Culture can make or break a company. It sets the tone for everything from how a team interacts to how customers are treated and to how new hires are made. Culture helps to sustain employee enthusiasm, and thus aids in productivity.

Today, every organization is looking to hire the brightest and best employees to help forward their business – and company culture can be employed as a powerful and important recruiting tool! Successful companies understand the values that are core to their culture. They don’t only look for talent in new employees, but they also consistently hire people who will practice those values and project that image effortlessly.

Below, IMC Professor Kohler shares his thoughts in a Q&A about building company culture and the important role it plays in the hiring process.

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Question: What advice would you offer a company that is looking to build a stronger company culture?

The good news for any company that expresses interest in strengthening its culture is that they’ve already taken a step in the right direction. You have to want it, and saying so sets the right tone.

Culture change takes patience. A nuclear solution may seem tempting, especially if the organization is confronting some toxic issues, but developing a game plan and then executing incrementally has the greater chance for success. Incremental doesn’t have to mean slow. To satisfy those favoring urgency, I offer this reminder, that the enemy of a good plan is the perfect plan. There’s no need to wait for an exhaustive, fully-baked plan if there are small steps that can send positive signals to the workforce and start to make a difference.

Question: How can internal communications aid in developing a company culture?

In matters of culture and branding, you have to look to the core of the organization. Top-down communication is a business reality, and not a negative one. But in order for top-down to be effective, it must start at the top but then be two-way and transparent. The workforce looks to its leaders to set the agenda, and buy-in happens when employees are trusted and respected to be “in on” the game plan.

Employees feel trusted when their managers engage in real dialogue with them about the business. Meaning and purpose are much bigger factors in an increasingly millennial workforce. A CEO Corner of the newsletter means nothing without evidence that actual dialogue is happening in the organization. Our imperative as professional communicators is to act in an ambassador role and facilitate the dialogue.

Question: Why is it important for companies to infuse culture into their hiring process?

“Hire for fit” is a philosophy that I wish more companies would practice. Some may say they like to hire for it, but when they rely on keyword matching to identify qualified candidates, they’re likely to miss back stories of candidates who would be ideal matches for their culture.

The same applies to the interview process. The employer and the candidate need to be candid with one another to make sure they share matching values. That doesn’t mean there’s a textbook values statement that fits every employer. Both parties just need to know what those values are.

Question: Which companies do you think do this best and why?

Thanks to my internal brand communication students, I get to vicariously experience the “greatest hits” of the business world in terms of strong, positive cultures. Some of the most noted success stories, of course, are companies like Google and Zappos. They are famous for their incredibly progressive work conditions, things like game play, flex time and other perks. But I don’t think that’s the whole story. I know of fast-food and even beef-packing plants that have strong cultures that are based on human relations – just treating people with trust and respect.

Question: Can you share a resource or two that can help students that are interested in learning more about the impact the internal communications and culture have on hiring the best employees?

Two recently published books come to mind, partly because I know the authors and have benefitted directly from their fantastic teaching. The first is Ripple: A Field Manual for Leadership That Works by Chris Hutchinson of The Trebuchet Group. Chris has helped many dysfunctional organizations get their act together. Another is David Firth’s Change Your Organization One Word at a Time. David transforms organizations from “have to go to work” to “want to go to work” cultures.

Professor Michael Kohler was just recognized at #INTEGRATE2015 as the winner of the Alexia Vanides IMC Teaching Award, an award based solely on student nominations. Speaking from personal experience, he is an extremely inspiring educator, advisor and mentor. He pushes students to be their best and I’m thrilled to see him as the recipient of the award this year. Professor Kohler teaches Internal Communications as an IMC elective and if you are interested in employee engagement, internal communications and company culture it’s the elective for you. If you’ve already graduated or don’t have any more electives left, read Inside the organization: Perspectives on employee communications by Jack LeMenager, one of the class textbooks. It is a quick read that provides an outstanding overview of the importance and impact that internal communications and culture creation have on a company.

While sometimes overlooked in the IMC landscape, Internal Communications and company culture impact everything from talent recruitment to employee productivity and marketing transparency. Don’t forget how important it is!

Top 10 Takeaways From Day 1 At #Integrate15

May 30, 2015 by


 The INTEGRATE conference kicked off at Ming Hsieh Hall on a beautiful day in Morgantown, WV. Four speakers (Paul Roetzer, Rod Brooks, Duane Dub, and Patti Girardi) took to the stage to share insights on marketing topics ranging from establishing automation technologies and key performance metrics to best practices to engage Generation Z.




With such information rich sessions, the following are my top ten day one takeaways:


1. Get Inbound Marketing Certified.
@paulroetzer (www.academy.hubspot.com/certification)
2. Get Google Analytics Certified.
– @paulroetzer (www.google.com/intl/en/analytics/learn/)
3.  Construct a Marketing Scorecard to Monitor and Manage Performance.
4. Turn Data Into Artificial Intelligence.
– @paulroetzer (www.automatedinsights.com)
5. Data > Intelligence > Action > Outcomes
– @paulroetzer
6. Compare The Best Business Software With G2.
@paulroetzer (www.g2crowd.com)
7.  Scale Downward. Think Global. Act Local.
– @NW_Mktg_Guy
8. Do Something! Ready. Fire. Aim. Adjust.
– @NW_Mktg_Guy
9. Sustain Momentum by Keeping Content Fresh, Relevant, Engaging.
– @NW_Mktg_Guy
10. Generation Z Are Not Millennials.
– @PattiGirardi


What was your favorite takeaway from day one at #Integrate15?

#Integrate15: Move Over, Millennials. Generation Z Is Here.

May 30, 2015 by

Millennials aren’t kids anymore.

There’s a new generation capturing marketers’ attention, as Patti Girardi explained during Friday’s INTEGRATE breakout session titled “Marketing to Generation Z.”

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I enjoyed having the opportunity to chat more about Generation Z with Girardi, also a WVU IMC instructor, at Friday’s networking reception.


Who is this rising generation? Born between 1995 and 2010, those in Generation Z are currently in the age range of 5-20 years old. While young, they represent more than 25% of the population and command $44 billion in spending power—meaning marketers cannot ignore them or just toss them under the millennial umbrella.

While millennials—Generation Y—are frequently described as tech savvy, Generation Z is tech innate. Think millennials’ average multitasking of 2 digital screens is excessive? Generation Z averages five.

It’s no surprise that Generation Z expects brands to be on point on all social platforms as the group doesn’t differentiate between the internet and social media. In fact, many search brands’ social media rather than websites when seeking online resources about things like schools.

A focused and realistic group, Generation Z place high value on rallying around social causes. As many volunteer and show concern for the planet, they want to do work that makes an impact on the world. Both 9/11 and the Great Recession have been defining moments in shaping Generation Z youth.

Also a key influence on Generation Z is the dynamic of the young group often living in multi-generational households. Further, they often take the diversity associated with millennials to the next level as many are multiracial.

For marketers trying to effectively approach this new generation, storytelling, trust-building, and establishing a brand-consumer friendship are important.  As Girardi said, “If they believe in what you’re selling, they’re all about it.”

How do you think Generation Z will influence the future of integrated marketing?

The Power of 12!

May 30, 2015 by

During his session today at INTEGRATE 2015, Rod Brooks, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, PEMCO Insurance shared the story of how PEMCO – a Seattle challenger brand – was able to break through the noise, and eek out the big brands by evoking the power of the 12th man.

Here are 12 takeaways:

  1. The customer voice trumps the voice of the brand. Consumers now trust the feedback of others more than advertising. Listening to and creating consumer opinions and recommendations are important both offline and online.
  2. Consumers want brands to, “show me that you know me in ways that others don’t!” Understand the audience and opting for a hyper-local campaign can be just as powerful as thinking big.
  3. You can’t just build a campaign and run an advertising spot – you have to live it on the inside. If you have a company culture that lives the brand, you have a secrete weapon that you can tap into: internal spirit and pride.
  4. Why do a contest that only allows for one or two winners when you can engage the entire community?
  5. If you don’t shoot video, you can’t use it. Don’t forget about the mainstays like photos and video. Be sure to capture both.
  6. “Renting” can be just as powerful as “owning.” It’s important to leverage what exists because it can trump creation.
  7. Incentivize participation to get people interested. It doesn’t have to be with dollars, but it can provide access to something individuals might not be able to do without joining in.
  8. Aggregate participation (#tagboard is one cool tool) but on the whole, when consumers see the involvement of others, it helps to fuel even more involvement.
  9. Don’t just think like a marketer, think like a business person. Sometimes you have to just do something! Ready. Fire. Aim. Adjust.
  10. The goal should always be to build brand advocates. Those are the consumers who will defend you even when you aren’t looking. It’s vital to build relationships – those direct connections will develop consumers who will speak positively on your behalf for no reason at all.
  11. You don’t have to sell, sell, sell. Rather, have a conversation that is important and highly relevant to the audience. Let the sales come as a side result of that conversation.
  12. Be the best at what you choose to take on internally and hire help that is the best at what they do when you choose to outsource.

Go PEMCO. Go Hawks!

Hear from #Integrate15 Attendees – Why INTEGRATE?

May 26, 2015 by


The INTEGRATE conference, hosted by the West Virginia University IMC graduate program, is scheduled to celebrate its fifth anniversary as the event that brings marketing industry thought leaders and professionals together in Morgantown, WV to discuss and debate the ever-evolving field of Integrated Marketing Communications. As a veteran three-time attendee, I feel strongly that you should make the investment to attend. You will not be disappointed in the material presented and the professional connections that you will gain during this information-rich two-day event! 


• #Integrate15 attendees are coming to Morgantown from 32 different states and Washington, DC.
• More than 40 organizations have sponsored #Integrate15, donating almost $4,000 worth of food and prizes!
• Four #Integrate15 speakers are IMC program students or graduates – Scott Cuppari, Diane Centeno, Andy Flick and Cyndi Greenglass.


Outside of the general and breakout sessions, the INTEGRATE conference offers attendees the opportunity to participate in a resume review session. This is just one example of one of the many perks of attending INTEGRATE.



“As a WVU IMC student, there are several things that you have to do. You have to communicate weekly on the discussion board, you have to take capstone, and you have to go to INTEGRATE. It is the conference where you build your foundation for networking with fellow classmates, professors, as well as building your professional network. I would recommend this conference to current students as well as graduates.”

– Jessica Garrett Modkins
Graduated Fall 2014


INTEGRATE wasn’t just about learning from some of the industry’s best, but also allowed me to network with other professionals and meet my classmates face-to-face.  It is a great opportunity to build bonds that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to build.

Colin Haas
Graduated Spring 2015 

“Prior to attending INTEGRATE, I felt somewhat disconnected socially from my classmates & professors. After INTEGRATE, I felt connected to a group of individuals that I could learn and grow from past the point of graduation. It is because of INTEGRATE that I have formed relationships with people who have left a direct impression on both my professional and personal life.”

– Laura Pearson
Graduated Summer 2014


“Last year was my first time at INTEGRATE. Conference alumni set my expectations high as they lauded the experience, and I understood why once I attended. Between having the opportunity to listen to industry professionals– including former classmates, meet instructors who I’d only spoken with online, and network with new acquaintances, I found INTEGRATE educational, connective and motivational.”

– Rebecca Olsavsky
Graduated Spring 2015 

“While INTEGRATE is an opportunity to connect with classmates and professors – it isn’t just for IMC students! I have the opportunity to attend many different Marketing/Communications conferences throughout the year and this is always one of my favorites. INTEGRATE gives IMC professionals access to relevant content presented by engaging speakers that are available to connect and discuss following their sessions. I’m very much looking forward to attending INTEGRATE 15.”

– Sarah Shank
Graduated Spring 2015 



Paul Roetzer – Founder & CEO of PR 20/20 and Author
Marcus Sheridan – Inbound Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Author of The Sales Lion blog
Lisa Nirell – Chief Energy Officer for EnergizeGrowth® and founder of Marketing Leaders of DC™
Steve Radick – Vice President and Director of Public Relations for Brunner
Melanee Hannock – Senior Vice President of Marketing for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Andy Flick – Director, Midwest Promotion, RCA Records/Sony Music Entertainment
Scott Cuppari – Global Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Freestyle
Diane Centeno – Vice President of Marketing for SeaWorld & Aquatica
Rod Brooks – Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company
Patti Girardi – Vice President of Marketing & Creative Services, Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services
Cyndi Greenglass – Founding Partner and Senior Vice President, Diamond Marketing Solutions
Duane Dub – Retired Global Senior Marketing Manager in IMC, IBM
Sharon Martin – Vice President of University Relations, West Virginia University
E. Gordon Gee – President, West Virginia University

Featured Topics 

• The Metrics That Matter: How To Build Performance-Driven Marketing Campaigns
• Marketing To Generation Z
• Creating Demand For Your Brand
• How To Avoid The Content Marketing Arms Race
• They Ask, You Answer: A Revolutionary Sales And Marketing Strategy For The Digital Age


Discounts for #Integrate15 are still available! Students and graduates can enter code “IMC2015” at checkout for an additional discount. Register now.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at #Integrate15!

The Intranet: An Essential (But Sometimes Overlooked) Component of Employee Engagement

May 4, 2015 by

Employees are not only the face of a company, they are the company. Employees can be trusted brand ambassadors, and it’s vital that a company’s employees are included in and given avenues to be involved in company communications. However… with so many competing priorities, active internal communication efforts often get pushed to the wayside, and they shouldn’t! Companies must remember that when employees love their job, it shows, and the ripple effect of that honest and organic company adoration can be greater than any pre-planned marketing campaign.

An Intranet is a great place to start! It’s a venue built to provide staff with news and upcoming events as well as allow for employee interaction. While a company Intranet can be an amazing employee engagement tool, unfortunately, many companies allow their Intranet to be an afterthought to external communication efforts. From the employee perspective, we all have experienced an ineffective Intranet. Not only does it not engage you, but it can also be a labor intensive, jargon-laden, top-down static-content filled monster. But when built and used correctly, a company Intranet can be an important venue for employee collaboration and communication.

Does your company need to take another look at its Intranet strategy? If so… keep reading, this post is for you!

Get started by listening to employees. It is important for companies to periodically do a “pulse check” with employees to help select and then effectively use the most appropriate communications channels– be it the Intranet, face-to-face meetings, newsletters, or social networks. Employers must pay attention to what works effectively within their own organization. As communicators, the phrases, “know what the audience wants” or “know where the audience is” are used when building any outreach strategy. The same questions apply for any Intranet manager, except in this case; the “audience” is the employee. In order for an Intranet to be successful, it is essential that companies understand the needs and wants of employees.

Then develop a team. Along the lines of being an afterthought, a pitfall for many companies is having only ne person in HR, Marketing or Communications manage the Intranet alone. Much like anything else in IMC, building an effective Intranet takes resources. The Intranet team should be comprised of a cross-section of employees from nearly every department. In fact, in 2014, the average intranet team size was 16 members!

Work on an Intranet is never truly finished, and too often, companies build an effective Intranet and then it dies due to lack of updated content and technology. Like with any social media channel, it is essential to continue to add and update content on a regular basis in order to keep people engaged. Companies can also engage employees in publishing content, which even further expands the Intranet team and helps to build employee ownership.

Incorporate new tools and think “CONTENT”. The goal of an Intranet is to make engagement and participation easy for employees. Some key Intranet tools include:

Creative Content: Follow the rules of external communications! Intranets should be filled with short and easy-to-read text along with multi-media videos and photos. Compelling content can include everything from training materials and resource links to bullet points, interactive company manifestos and storytelling. Homepages must be dynamic, engaging and ever changing. The Intranet should showcase information that is relevant to topics being discussed across the company, as well as tailored to the individual.

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Personalization and Customization: Move beyond the dreaded list of employee photos and instead, allow employees to connect with one another, upload profile information and add interests and skills. Connective features that link the Intranet to social media networks like LinkedIn can make it easier for employees to participate.

Communications and Feedback: Allow readers to react to and interact with the content, either through feedback, comments or liking a page. Top Intranets, allow employees to provide feedback instantly via comments or like/rating systems. This can help companies learn what types of content are most important to their users as well as allow for employee engagement and ownership.

Quality Search: Ineffective search is one of the biggest criticisms users have of any poorly designed website or Intranet. Having a powerful, intelligent search allows employees to access what they are looking for quickly and efficiently.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition: With a peer-to-peer recognition tool, the ability to thank those who go the extra mile is put in the hands of colleagues rather than just supervisors. Small thanks can often be a stimulus to keep employees working hard. Allowing employees to thank one another also encourages interaction.

Reflect Company Culture: While the intranet is primarily a ‘tool’ for getting work done, it should also be used to express the company culture, mission and values. The Intranet can help everyone in the company understand the company brand and how they fit into it.

Then put it together and what have you got? A great Intranet!

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If you are looking for inspiration, one fantastic example comes from National Geographic who, in 2014, was named the creator of one of the world’s 10 best Intranets. Their rebuilt Intranet allowed National Geographic’s 2,000 employees to interact with one another using real-time information exchanges and social collaboration tools.

The new National Geographic Intranet is highly visual, social and content-relevant. It has made employee collaboration easy and exciting. The new Intranet design opens information-sharing and content ownership to the entire user population at National Geographic. The site also effectively conveys the culture and history of the company through stunning photography and storytelling.

Since the redesign at National Geographic, about 70 percent of the staff uses the intranet at least twice a day to catch up on news or use resources such as the company directory. More than two thirds of the employees have updated their directory profiles and the venue has become a great tool for skill sharing within the organization and helping employees to connect.

Think of a new Intranet as “paying it forward” – it’s a worthwhile investment in the future of a company. It’s a tool that unites employees and opens information-sharing. Additionally, by allowing for employees to take ownership of content and personal profiles, employees will be more likely to visit and use the site more often as well has have a deeper investment in the organization, its mission and each other.

Three Quick Creativity Tips

April 30, 2015 by


Creativity can be challenging. Hard deadlines and client needs aren’t always conducive to the creative process. I’ve learned a lot about my creative process since beginning the IMC program. There are dozens of tips and tricks that can boost your creativity, but I wanted to share my top three with you.

  1. Learn and trust your creative process. This was especially difficult for me to understand. I was very focused on deadlines and setting aside a specific amount of time for homework that I wasn’t allowing myself to move through my own creative process. It took me a while to understand what my creative process was and what I needed to do to allow myself to be creative. It’s not always easy to allow yourself to move naturally through the process, but it’s important to try to trust you instincts. When I first started the program I would carefully set aside time to do homework. (I’m the kind of person that plans out my free time.) Now I know that in order to produce my best work, I need to let my brain “digest” it for a day. I usually write papers, edit photos, and do my design work in a time frame that allows me to revisit it the next day. I still work to set   aside time, but I understand that it may change and evolve as the project does.
  1. Take a break! Part of the creative process is knowing when you need to walk away and take a break. Getting away from what you’re working on refocuses your brain and allows inspiration to hit. Try going for a walk, reading a book, getting coffee, or taking a nap to free up your brain. (Naps can be very powerful things!) Research suggesting that you start to lose efficiency if you work on something for more than 90 minutes at a time. If your creative process dictates that you work well under pressure, you may want to schedule a short break so you don’t lose steam!
  1. Accept Feedback. Asking for feedback can be challenging. What if you have to start over? What if the message is confusing? What if I run out of time? All of these thoughts can prevent us from asking for and incorporating feedback into our work. Feedback can be very helpful in further developing ideas and expanding on what you’ve already accomplished. Build time into the process to get feedback. Plus, the nature of our industry is that you’ll never be working on an entire project by yourself. Learning to accept feedback now will help you be more successful at work.


Everybody’s creative process is different and it’s important to take time to understand yours. What other creativity tips have you found?

Image created by Heather Zeutzius

Join the #AgencyBlueprint Virtual Book Discussion

April 20, 2015 by
Are you trying to disrupt and transform the marketing services industry?  If so, you need to join the #AgencyBlueprint virtual Skype book discussion on 4/28 at 8:30 p.m. EST. I will share key insights from The Marketing Agency Blueprint: The Handbook for Building Hybrid PR, SEO, Content, Advertising, and Web Firms by #Integrate15 speaker, Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer), with attendees.

This event is part of an interactive series focused on empowering IMC professionals through thought leadership discussions, marketing technology analysis and creative collaboration.

When: 4/28 at 8:30 – 9:30 PM EST
Where: Skype
Please join the #AgencyBlueprint Skype discussion!
Direct message me (@Julie_Long_) for complete login details.

Please note that early INTEGRATE full-conference registrants may receive Paul’s latest book The Marketing Performance Blueprint at the conference next month.


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