Emerging Media and How it Relates to Reaching Me and other Millennials in Our Digital Space

August 25, 2016 by



I am a millennial.

I have spent a lifetime trying desperately to avoid labels that sought to group me into neatly defined categories used to describe millions of other individuals because I have always felt I was a complex individual that one term could not begin to accurately describe. Rather than fit in to any social, political, or religious groups, I sought to form my own opinions and beliefs and ultimately exist as an individual capable of unique thought.

Yet, despite an early effort to distance myself from the term, I have come to grips with the fact that I am undoubtedly a millennial. Aside from having a birthday that fits in neatly with the years used to define the generation, I am inevitably drawn to technology (the newer the better!), socialize frequently in digital spaces (and need said digital spaces available at a moment’s notice), and have a strong set of social values of which I refuse to compromise. While I can try as much as I want to avoid the term “millennial”, the aforementioned traits all fit in neatly with the typical depictions of the generation.

So, whether I like it or not, I am a millennial. And as an aspiring marketer, I can recognize the difficulties with trying to reach an audience of individuals just like me.

Like many others in my generation I have cut the proverbial cable cord, opting instead to consume television programming via a sort of à la carte-style programming in which I choose shows to watch on a streaming network such as Netflix or Hulu Plus without subscribing to literally hundreds of channels I would never watch via cable or satellite service. Streaming music via Spotify allows me access to thousands of songs without having to listen to repetitive radio programming. The Internet allows me all the access to news and entertainment articles I could ever possibly read without having to pay for any sort of print subscription. Even better, with the rapidly advancing technology found in mobile phones, I can do all of this from my fingertips with my smartphone.

So, for those marketers out there seeking to include me in their target audiences, they are going to need to reach me in my digital space.

This is where understanding how to utilizing emerging media as part of the marketing mix is incredibly important. In 2016, millennials have finally begun to outnumber baby boomers and have become the largest generation in the United States. For any business to survive, digital marketing is now a must, and not just to reach millennials like me. More than 80% of those under 64 are now connecting to the Internet:


More impressive, 73% of the population accesses the Internet at least daily:

Three-quarters of Americans go online at least daily

This is likely not shocking information to anyone, but in a sense it sets the tone for a discussion about emerging media, as it is impossible to hold that discussion without the Internet. Knowing that 73% of the population accesses the Internet daily is only a pice of the puzzle, however.

It used to be a bit simpler. A home computer was once needed to connect to the Internet, but consumers today utilize all sorts of devices to stay connected. We millennials like our gadgets, and as such the market has provided us with ways to utilize smartphones and tablets, and even now wearable gadgets like watches, bracelets, and eyewear to access the Internet. These separate devices all come with their own intricacies, but a clever marketer can utilize any of these devices to their advantage to reach us while we use these devices. More importantly, a clever marketer will find ways to use these technologies and hold a conversation with us.

This is where social media can, and should, play a major role. Social media has exploded over the last decade, and it use has been widely adopted by most generations, and heavily by us millennials. The variety of platforms to utilize, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and countless others, has allowed for a variety of methods to carry out a conversation online, and marketers should absolutely use this to their advantage, especially since many can access their favorite social media networks anywhere they go. There is an average of 12 new mobile social media accounts that are created every second, which represents a staggering technological reach.

All of this only begins to scratch the surface of emerging media, especially considering that technology keeps advancing at a rapid pace. Recent technological trends that millennials such as myself will continuously adopt these new technologies, so each new connected device represents an opportunity to further a marketing conversation.

In the coming weeks and months, I will continue a discussion of emerging media and how they can be, and are best being utilized by brands to market to their audiences, and specifically how such a “difficult” consumer such as myself can be reached in a digital space.

-John Conforti

John Conforti is an IMC student currently in IMC 619 Emerging Media & the Market. This blog post originally appear on his blog Reaching Me in My Digital Space. Check out his blog in the future for more of his posts!

Succeeding in the IMC program: I asked, they answered.

August 16, 2016 by


It’s that time again—the start of classes. We hope you have a great semester, and to help you do that, I asked a few grads their advice about what it takes to succeed in the IMC program. Here is what they had to say!


“In my experience, the IMC program is a very different program for each student; while Headshotsome people can finish in under two years, others find it difficult to double up on courses for multiple semesters to accomplish graduation as quickly as others. My advice is to do what works for YOU, your work load and your family. Don’t try to go off of anyone else’s timeline or compare your journey to that of another student. As I always like to say, ‘Keep your eyes on your own paper.’ :)”

-Mel Moraes ’14, Digital Marketing with UPMC


“I would recommend that students become active participants in their classes. I was very IMG_4651.jpgactive on the discussions boards, and it helped me gain more knowledge about the industry as a whole—and allowed me to succeed in all of my classes. Also, don’t be afraid or nervous about challenging yourself with classes that are not familiar to you. I took three electives that I knew would broaden my skills in marketing communications. This program helps you become a better professional with skills that are applicable to a wide variety of marketing communications positions.”

-Ryan Nolan ’16, Global Public Relations Program Manager, Johnson Controls

“One of the advantages of the WVU IMC program is the diversity of the students and professors – geographically, professionally and personally. You will meet some amazing

IMG_5851.JPG and inspiring folks. And while you may only spend 8 weeks with them, try to get the most out of that time. Connect with them on social media and work at keeping the relationships going. It’s easy to just focus on getting your assignments and discussion posts done, especially when you have a demanding job and busy personal life. But take the extra time to build those relationships with your peers in the program.”

-Andrea Joliet ’16, Director of Corporate Communications, Akron Children’s Hospital


“Remember that the expectations in graduate school are more similar to those in the ‘real world’ than those in previous schooling and undergrad. Succeeding at this level if all about exceeding expectations. I often tell students that doing what is required is a C in grad school, doing it well is a B and being among the best in the class earns you an A. Keeping this in mind as you approach assignments and discussions is the best advice I can offer.”

-Matthew Cummings ’06, Assistant Director of Online Programs, WVU Reed College of Media

“There is so much opportunity available to students in the IMC program, but you have to make the decision to dedicate yourself, and take the commitment seriously. Because all Unknown.jpegof the IMC courses have the same weekly schedule, you only have to adjust your personal habits once to get in the routine. For me it took about four weeks to acquire new habits and get accustomed to the schedule. At that point it became a lifestyle. Staying organized and on task is important in any graduate program, but perhaps more of that burden falls on the student when the program is online. When I started the program, a fellow classmate suggested I open an Evernote account. That proved to be great advice and helped to keep all of my research organized. You will want to save all of your research so that you can refer to it for multiple courses throughout the program, and for the capstone.”

-David Hazelton ’16, Design Director, ProShare Advisors, LLC

Top resources for IMC students

August 11, 2016 by



I asked IMC faculty what resources they recommend to IMC students, and this is what they had to say! I hope this list is useful to you. And, if you have any resources you’d like to add, let me know in the comments🙂.

Industry news:

All about social media:


All things digital, technology and trends:






Ally Kennedy is the communications manager for WVU Reed College of Media’s Online Programs. She earned her master’s degree in communication from Duquesne University and her bachelor’s degree in English from Washington & Jefferson College.

Twitter Hashtags Enhance Asher Media Placements and Amplify Reach of Key Client Messages

August 4, 2016 by


The past two earned media assignments I led for clients were enhanced significantly by the use of Twitter hashtags.

As part of the media outreach strategy, Asher Agency recommended using a Twitter hashtag (one was in place and the other we created) to give all stakeholders and our agency’s staff a rallying cry to tweet, retweet, like and reply to others about the key messages and calls to action.

We started promoting the use of the hashtags early in the planning process, reminded allies throughout the media pitching phase and used it often in thanking reporters and publications/networks that ran our stories.  The hashtags also helped easily track media coverage and created a healthy dialogue that continued well after the issuance of the news releases.

My Asher colleague in both projects, Faith Van Gilder in our Fort Wayne, IN, office, tweeted photos and messages both during the media conferences and throughout the day. She also forwarded photos with suggested tweets to client stakeholders during the day for them to post on social media. Asher’s experienced digital team tracked the results online and supplied the analytics below as part of the project summary.

American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index – #FitCityIndex

At 12:01 a.m. May 18 the ninth annual American Fitness Index (AFI) was released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc.  Washington, D.C., closely followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver, were the three fittest of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

The annual AFI data report — http://americanfitnessindex.org/report/– has proven to be a valuable assessment and evaluation tool to educate community leaders on the importance of key indicators of physical activity. Leaders can then focus on policy, systems and environmental change strategies that are evidence-based and create sustainability for the community.

Therefore, media coverage and community engagement using the annual AFI results has grown each year. USA Today, The Washington Post, the Today Show, all television networks, the Weather Channel, local newspapers and websites, broadcast networks, IHeart Radio, and dozens of health/fitness and business websites, academic institutions and others digest the AFI and report its diverse conclusions and recommendations.





National Physical Activity Plan Alliance – #ActivityPlan2016

The new U.S. National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) was unveiled April 20 at the National Press Club, building upon the initial plan that the NPAP Alliance released in 2010 as a roadmap for actions supporting and encouraging physical activity among all Americans.

Russell Pate, Ph.D., chairman of the nonprofit NPAP Alliance, presented the plan, which was validated by speakers from the American College of Sports Medicine; American Heart Association; Tennessee Department of Health; President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition; Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute; and Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic gold medalist. All of these people and organizations enjoy a huge social media presence and followers.

The website offering the full 2016 National Physical Activity Plan — http://www.physicalactivityplan.org/index.html — lists the #ActivityPlan2016 hashtag that continues to be utilized in discussions about the plan, its elements and utilization. We webcast the Press Club release event, so that triggered questions from the media and general public using our hashtag.  It greatly enhanced our media coverage from the new release and our pitching the story. Our partnering organizational partners and representatives from nine societal sectors – business and industry; community recreation, fitness and parks; education; faith-based settings; health care; mass media; public health; sport; and transportation, land use and community design — all leveraged the hashtag to share their participation in the new U.S. physical activity plan. The hashtag usage ramped up again as we organized a standing-room-only Congressional briefing to share the new U.S. plan and promote Members of Congress committing to employ physical activity policies on Capitol Hill.





For all of these reasons, we strongly encourage the use of Twitter hashtags as an essential component of promoting news announcements, communications and advocacy campaigns and events. #ashernewsandblog

————————————————————————–Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency (www.asheragency.com) and teaches a master’s level course in Public Affairs for West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program. Connect with Mike at mikef@asheragency.com,@hillrat1156 or on LinkedIn.

July IMC Monthly E-News

July 29, 2016 by


WVU IMC Friends and Family,

Every month we pull together IMC program news and deliver it to your inbox. Below is the July 2016 edition.

If you have news that you’d like to share, please send it to Ally Kennedy at Algilmore@mail.wvu.edu.

Program News

Student/Graduate News

  • Joe Factor (’15) accepted a position with Capella University as a market produce manager. He is also pursuing his Ph.D. in business management with a specialization in marketing from Capella University.
  • Sarim Raziuddin is now a marketing specialist in charge of U.S. Tradeshows and Canadian Business at Equity Lifestyle Properties.
  • Seth Fogle (‘11) joined Brenton Productions as director of sales & marketing.
  • Tracy Gould (’10) is now director of marketing and communications for NC REALTORS in Greensboro, NC. She also is a professor at High Point University, teaching three courses each semester on the principles of marketing and social media marketing. Gould led a workshop on content marketing in Miami, FL at the national REALTORS Communications Directors Summit. She also achieved certification as a Certified Professional Services Marketing (CPSM) in June.
  • Erin Grubbs (’14) accepted a marketing specialist position focusing on content marketing for SunGard K-12.
  • Francie Williamson (’10) is now a communications specialist at The Stanley Foundation in Muscatine, Iowa.

Faculty News

Blog Entries

The Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation – Challenge Accepted

July 26, 2016 by


“Who is Pearl S. Buck?”  That was nearly everyone’s response to me when I mentioned that I’m doing my capstone for the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation.

West Virginia University (WVU) gave us Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduates a unique choice between two clients for our final capstone course this particular semester: choose-your-own client or the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation.

Now, I’ve heard of Pearl S. Buck before.  Back in middle school, I read her Pulitzer prize winning novel, “The Good Earth,” with my entire class.  So when I started getting blank stares from friends and family when I mentioned Buck’s name, I was slightly baffled. I realized that I would have a challenge ahead of me.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer and nonprofit employee, I knew how challenging it could be for small, local nonprofits to get the resources they need to sustain themselves.  Choosing the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation capstone course seemed like an amazing opportunity for me to utilize my experience and knowledge of IMC to make a direct impact on a struggling nonprofit.  Plus, I thought that the course would be a slightly easier because the client already had clear goals they wanted us to accomplish. Let me tell you, this course was far from easy.

The Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation had some unique challenges that called for some creative marketing solutions. For example, the Foundation wanted to bring more visitors to the Birthplace, however, the Birthplace was located in a town with no restaurants, hotels or decent cellphone service.  Couple that with the fact that almost everyone I talked to hasn’t heard of Pearl S. Buck…and, oh yeah, you only have a $15,000 budget. Ladies and gentlemen, I now present you with your most challenging client!

Surprisingly, even after learning about all of these obstacles, I didn’t find myself stuck in a rut dreading the course. Instead, the challenges motivated me to find practical solutions that the Foundation could use in order to achieve their goals.

I spent a good twenty hours per week for eight weeks developing my IMC plan for the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation while working full time as a communications consultant. I learned everything there was to know about Pearl S. Buck, the Birthplace Foundation, the tourist industry in West Virginia, the Foundation’s “competitors”, you name it.  While it was one of the hardest and most stressful points in my life (coming up second to my two-year stint with the Peace Corps), I learned two things:

  1. Challenges drive creativity, and
  2. Sometimes, all you need to do is apply common solutions to different problems.

For some of their goals, all the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation needed was a trifold brochure and more robust content on their social media platforms.  For others, it seemed that they could really benefit from strengthening partnerships they already had with specific organizations. Not everyone needs an app or interactive, mind-blowing website to be a successful.  If the WVU IMC graduate program has taught me anything, it’s that you need to put the right messages in front of the right audience at the right time in the right place.

More than one hundred pages later, I am finally finished with my IMC plan for the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation and have been invited to present my plan to the Foundation’s board members in the beginning of August.  The entire course has been a tough, yet wonderful learning experience that will, hopefully, help the Birthplace grow into a tourist hot-spot.  I can’t wait to go visit it one day.


Genevieve Williams is a recent graduate of the WVU IMC master’s program with a BFA in Advertising Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Her two-year Peace Corps service as an Education volunteer in Rwanda and experience working as the Marketing and Communications Specialist for the nonprofit, ForKids, has helped her develop a unique perspective that she carries with her into the marketing and communications field.  Genevieve currently works as a Communications Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton out of Norfolk, VA, creating graphics, video, press releases and social media content for her corporate clients.



The Cross-Cutting Intangible We All Need To Master: Improving People Skills

July 18, 2016 by


How we are treated by others is an intangible we all notice and remember. Those of us who teach and learn in the WVU IMC program should strive to set the bar higher with our people skills and integrate this valuable philosophy into all of our courses – both personally and professionally.

I was reminded this week of the importance people play in communications and advocacy by some colleagues in the profession. I host the monthly in-person meetings of the PRSA-National Capital Chapter Professional Development Committee at our downtown Washington, D.C. Asher Agency office. A dozen of us from all walks of life in PR were brainstorming topics for upcoming panel discussions we host, and an enlightened colleague suggested a session on how to improve relationships and marketing/communications objectives by honing our people skills. This is something that has been at the top of my mind for a long time, and I quickly seconded the idea.

The response was unanimous from the group, which included both women and men, young and old, as well as junior account executives and senior vice presidents. I was more than heartened to have my colleagues confirm the need to elevate people above technology, data and dollars.

We live in a world of persuasion and passion, and person-to-person communications from a trusted source – or word of mouth marketing — is hard to beat.

When we think about the importance of people and how we act toward our colleagues and strangers each day, we are reminded that we can and should do a better job with our people skills and offer comfortable scenarios for communicating more effectively.

Recently I needed to update a list of Congressional staffers who handle health and nutrition and I ran into a brick wall.  When you call a U.S. Senator these days, you get a recording of the Senator (the system is paid for with taxpayer dollars) thanking you for calling to share your viewpoint. It is nearly impossible to get through to a staff person; instead, they want you to leave a message and go away.  Luckily, the U.S. House members still have a person answering their phones and responding to specific questions related to Congressional business.

I hear more and more stories of bosses who write an email to say thank you, good work or offering feedback to a team member two doors away in the office. How much more effective if would be for that leader to get out of his chair to personally visit with his colleague and offer constructive feedback. And, maybe take time to ask about the new home, well-being of their children or about hobbies.

I love how technology has significantly improved communications and advocacy effectiveness and outcomes. But I also need to be reminded of the value in conveying information in person, writing a personal note, sending a thoughtful gift to mark a special occasion and joining people for breakfast, coffee, lunch or a drink after work.

Both personally and professionally, we all need to remember people are at the heart of our true success.

The one intangible we all need to master is improving our people skills!

Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency (www.asheragency.com) and teaches Public Affairs IMC 638 in West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.

Connect with Mike at cmfulton@mix.wvu.edumfulton@mix.wvu.edu>; @hillrat1156 or on LinkedIn.

Unexpected, Difficult, Rewarding

July 12, 2016 by


In three words I can describe my Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC 610) experience: unexpected, difficult and rewarding.


I never imagined myself enrolled in an online graduate program. I am a personable and engaged student that loves face-to-face interaction with my professors and colleagues, and I did not think an online program could provide me with a satisfying experience. IMC 610 showed me that I was wrong.

My IMC 610 class was extremely responsive; students created insightful posts, challenged their classmates with intriguing replies and provided diverse perspectives on questions posed. In an odd way, through my classmates’ posts, I got to know each of them on a deeper level by understanding their points of view, interests and prior experiences. Honestly, by the end of the course, it felt as though I got to know my classmates better than I would have in a traditional setting.


IMC 610 challenged me in ways that I have never been challenged before. Not only did I have to learn to manage my time effectively in order to complete my discussion posts, responses, papers and readings, but I also had to learn how to “think for myself.” I know that sounds stupid, but here is what I mean…

In this class, I learned how to interpret materials, develop opinions on them and reinforce my opinions with supplementary materials, validating my arguments. This required a lot of introspective thought, something with which I was not extremely familiar. Although this was difficult at times, it helped me learn more about both integrated marketing communications and myself as a communicator.


I have to say, the rewarding feeling that accompanied submitting my final project and completing IMC 610 was phenomenal, but this was not the only time during the term in which I felt fulfilled.

After each assignment, my professor offered constructive criticism. It was really great to hear that I was understanding the week’s material and applying it in a productive way, but it was even better to hear her suggestions and apply them to better my campaign. By the end of the course, I had completed an entire integrated marketing plan; something I never thought I would be able to do, and something I never would have been able to do without the help of my instructor.

Overall, my first graduate-level class was fulfilling, surprising and difficult to say the least. The quality of learning was insurmountable and the “classroom” interaction was superb. I can honestly say that I cannot wait to see what adventures future courses hold; keeping in mind that WVU’s IMC program is not for the faint of heart.

WVU IMC June Monthly E-News

June 29, 2016 by


WVU IMC Friends and Family,

Every month we pull together IMC program news and deliver it to your inbox. Below is the June 2016 edition.

If you have news that you’d like to share, please send it to Ally Kennedy at Algilmore@mail.wvu.edu.

Program News

Student/Graduate News

  • Melissa Glass (’14) is now a consultant on the integrated marketing team at AARP in Washington, DC.
  • Mel Moraes (’14) accepted a position in digital marketing with UPMC.
  • Kimberly Conrad (’11) accepted a position as assistant professor marketing at WV Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, WV. This is her first fulltime teaching position.
  • Holly Barringer (‘12) accepted the position of marketing manager, global experiences and events at National Geographic.

Faculty News

Blog Entries

Get to Know the Online and Offline Makeup of the IMC@WVU Community

June 28, 2016 by


On the West Virginia University campus current students, faculty, and graduates of the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program gathered at the new state-of-the-art Media Innovation Center at Evansdale Crossing to network, learn and discuss the latest integrated marketing communication strategies and trends.  Each year, the conference continues to provide attendees unparalleled access to thought leaders and influencers. I have attended many professional development events and the conversations generally end at the close of each session. At INTEGRATE the speakers encourage attendees to ask questions after their presentations and the dialogue even continues during periods of transition. I met the first speaker Geno Church, Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer Brains on Fire ad agency, on the shuttle ride to the campus. You generally would not get this kind of access to the presenters at other industry events. It would be apparent to any outside observer attending this event or following the #INTEGRATE16 hashtag that this community is engaged, passionate and focused on helping others reach their professional development goals. Many graduate programs end after you walk across the stage. With IMC, you join a community when you become a graduate student in this program.


It would make sense that if you want to join a community you would probably start with researching the market. One way to understand the social makeup of a community is to find out about the existing members interests and passions. What naturally occurring tribes do you think exist within the WVU IMC online community (@wvuimc)? The data presented in the audience visualization was run over a month long period (04/25/16 – 05/25/16) using the Affinio – Marketing Intelligence Platform.


The interests and passions (shown above) segment this community into eight distinct tribes: Digital Strategists, News + Entertainment, Public Relations, General, Integrated Marketing, WVU Community, Mountaineers, Virginia.

For example, how does the PR tribe self-describe on Twitter and where are they located?




Even though this program is entirely taught online, you might be surprised by how close you are geographically connected to another fellow student, alumni or faculty of the program. Take a look at this interactive Google map below to check out the locations of individuals affiliated with this community.


To learn more about marketing intelligence that leverages the social graph please connect with the Affinio team.

How could you use this type of audience data in your next marketing campaign?


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