Archive for June, 2011

How IMC helped complete my puzzle

June 27, 2011

At Integrate, a lot of people asked what led me to the IMC Program. I guess everyone’s reason is different, but I chose to start the program in 2010 because I was struggling to find full-time employment. I had two part-time jobs that were right up my alley (event planning and doing some PR for my local library), health benefits, and a decent salary with both jobs combined, but frankly, I was ready to move out on my own (I moved back with my parents once I graduated from college) and working two jobs just didn’t provide the stability I needed.

Neither one of my endeavors at the time could offer me full-time employment, due to budget constraints and other factors, so I looked elsewhere, going on interviews frequently but never getting a full-time offer. I was frustrated. About to turn 25, I was itching to get my own place, so I took a close look at why I wasn’t getting a job offer. I realized I had the skill set and the experience (I was three years post-grad at this point), but it seemed like everyone around me was starting to obtain additional education and I thought that might be the piece of the puzzle I was missing.

Throughout the start of 2010, I found out about the IMC program, contacted a previous IMC student ambassador, got accepted, figured out financial aid, and registered for my first course. I was all set to go – and honestly, wondering how I was going to fit in an extra commitment to my hectic life. About a month prior to starting, I got a full-time job offer at a web marketing firm. It was truly amazing timing, and I really did consider not pursuing the program – after all, my entire reason for starting the program was to find full-time employment, whether it be out of state or in my own town.

I realized that all the pieces of my “puzzle” had come together, and an advanced degree was only going to further my knowledge, network and skill set, so I decided to still begin the IMC 610 course on May 17, 2010, which coincidentally, was the first day at my new job.

Now 13 months later, I’m 5 classes in, and continuing to learn new talents thanks to the program that I can in turn, use at work, and vice versa. And because of the flexibility of the program, I can come home after a long work day, eat dinner, go to my local YMCA (or do something else fun), change into my pajamas and prepare my posts and/or paper for the week. Or sometimes, I’ll come home during my lunch break (I now live just four miles from my office) and do a final proof on a paper before submitting or read a post or two. And even sometimes, I take a little break – such as May thru August – because this year, I decided to take the summer off.

This flexibility lets me stay active my community through volunteering, attend events coordinated by my local young professionals group, go on trips when I need a fun getaway (like the one shown below), and stay late at work if needed. I can get my schoolwork done on my own schedule, which is something a traditional classroom program might not allow.

I planned a fun few days in New York City this past March and this was the view from a café I stopped at for breakfast

My story might not be your story, and maybe, you had a completely different situation that led you to the program, but as I’ve found over the past year, everyone in the IMC Program has the same mission, and that’s to help ourselves advance through education! I’ve made friends across the country and in my own backyard, which is a remarkable benefit.

All Spun Up!

June 24, 2011

Pardon me. I should have started this post hours ago, but I’ve been a little distracted. There’s a new toy on the social web, it’s called, and it may just take over my life. That’s the bad news. The good news is that every other music fan will be in the same boat, so I won’t be alone.

The concept is simple. You and your friends open up a room online and start playing music. The online space is designed to resemble a music club, with DJs on the stage and a crowd of avatars on the floor.

A room inside

When one DJ quits, anyone else can jump on up and start playing music. Everyone can vote on each song, DJs rack up points for playing crowd-pleasers, and the online chat works like any other. A catalog of songs (thousands, at least) is built right in and you can upload any of your own tracks, too.

I read a Wired article in 2009, which pointed out that Google was the algorithm-based way to find information online until Facebook came along and allowed us to share information from our own friends and family. If you think about it that way, then feels an awful lot like the humanized version of Pandora, which has thrilled listeners with its computer-generated picks for the past few years.

Let’s take that line of thought one step further: Have you played Words with Friends yet? Doesn’t most of its appeal come from the fact that you’re playing against other actual people? Would it be half as much fun to play against a computer? My guess is no.

One step beyond that and we get to the IMC Program. Computers allow us to participate, but the strength of this program rests solidly on the human interaction that takes place between students and instructors each week.

Wow, I had no idea that I was going to end up at IMC when I started this post (although I guess that is the idea with this blog). Mostly, I just wanted to tell you all about…because if I haven’t blogged again within the next few weeks…or turned in my IMC assignments…or seen my family, then someone should probably come find me there!

Integrate: What a weekend!

June 9, 2011

This weekend’s IMC Integrate Conference allowed me to have the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Being surrounded by smart, accomplished individuals who know where they’re going in life is so inspirational!

My friend Lisa (another IMC student living in Northeast Ohio) and I decided to drive to WVU together, which was a blast. I couldn’t have imagined not having her to pal around with on Friday and Saturday. Here are Lisa and I on our way to WVU!

After a three-or-so hour drive, we arrived in Brooks Hall, where most of the weekend’s events took place!

After an introductory session “Leveraging the Power of Social Media in IMC,” a welcoming cocktail party for attendees filled with socializing and networking, I realized what fantastic experiences the weekend had already brought. My favorite session by far was the graduate panel “ROI of Your IMC Degree.” This session was moderated by Professor Rebecca Andersen and featured a few of the program’s graduates. I was able to talk to Professor Andersen following the session and really connected with her. This was one person I’m so glad I met! I was in her PR Concepts and Strategy class during Late Spring and was happy to put a face to the friendly emails and comments!

Visiting Touchdown Terrace for the Keynote Speaker was wonderful, too. Not being from West Virginia, I was excited to see Touchdown Terrace simply because all the locals kept insisting it would be gorgeous – and it was!

Following the Keynote Speaker, awards were given out for the weekend’s Social Media Challenge, and Eric Proctor won a goodie basket for commenting the most on the WVU IMC blog throughout the weekend. Here is Eric and his wife Hannah!

I also got to see the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, which reminded me how awesome it is to be a part of the School of Journalism, yet, live out of state and pursue dreams of my own.

Come Fall, I’ll be in two classes taught by individuals I had the opportunity to meet this weekend, Dr. Larry Stultz and Professor Patricia Girardi.

Overall, this weekend helped me gain new knowledge along with new friends! The weekend’s festivities helped me remember that I’m a part of an exclusive group of professionals across the globe that are working to better ourselves through the WVU IMC Program – and truly, what could be more rewarding than that?

Holy @#$#. This is some good CRAP!

June 4, 2011

One of my few regrets about my experience in the IMC is that I did not juggle my schedule correctly to be able to take IMC635, Visual Information Design, which is instructed by Bill Pitzer (@newsgraphics). If you are new to the IMC program, then please let my experience be a lesson to you: start registering for electives now (repeat, Now!) and spread them out over your time in the program, instead of trying to take all of them at the end.

Lucky me, then, that Bill is here at Integrate 2011 with a one-hour session on Designing CRAP. For a graphic design novice for me, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn some basics that will help me to at least understand and discuss the art of graphic design, even if I’ll still have to leave execution to the pros.

If you’re like me, and wondering what makes CRAP good, Bill explains that the acronym stands for:

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

Bill had a great slideshow that will be available on the IMC web site soon, so I won’t bore you with a bunch of words about pictures. Instead, scroll through his Tumblr page for info on the pic below and lots of other great CRAP:

Getting personal with mobile marketing

June 4, 2011

This session features Barbara Ciaramitaro (@techademia) looking at Current Trends in Mobile Marketing

Overall goal of mobile marketing is to deliver just enough of a message via mobile so that consumers will follow-up via another channel later on

I’ve heard of SMS and MMS, but what is CSC? Guess we’re about to find out. Oh, it stands for Common Short Codes, such as the five-digit code for posting to Twitter (40404), searching Google (GOOGL), OR voting on American Idol. I’m proud to say I have no idea what the American Idol shortcode is, but then again, that’s probably why Tivo is putting the evening news in my Recommendations.

Will be looking at Bluetooth and RFID. I wonder if Near Field Communication will also be mentioned.

An informal poll shows that nearly everyone in the room has a QR-code scanner on their smartphone. Probably a skewed crowd, but it shows how quickly this technology is being adopted. This leads to a good discussion about places where QR codes can be found, which got me thinking about innovative uses. Check out for some examples, including two that are edible!

Bluetooth and RFID can pull-off location-based marketing, but consumers may leave these off in order to preserve battery life. Technological barriers may be too much to overcome for widespread adoption as marketing technologies. Not much known about NFC so far…it’s been adopted in Japan but the US market remains unclear.

We’ll close this one out with a fun fact from Barbara, which is that half of all mobile users have made a purchase in the last six months. If you’d like to know more about what was covered, check out @rward on Twitter for a great feed from this session.

Integrate in Full Effect

June 4, 2011

What an amazing experience so far!

I just went through a breakout session with Professor Robin Cobbey that was helping us understand more about social media as an outlet for market research. As I am a huge social media fan, I love to learn about how we can use these tools for researching purposes and how fun it can be at the same time!

One website that I really thought was interesting was the Google labs: Books Ngram Viewer where enter phrases into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, it displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in books. When I typed in West Virginia University and Penn State University, you can see which is found more and what the trends are in the past decades as opposed to what it is now.


I love how I am finding more tools that I can use in my research for my classes that I am in now and even for my own personal enjoyment. It is also refreshing to learn in such a casual environment where everyone is chirping in but listening to the important points that they have. In my last session I also learned different ways to use Facebook in a different way like for focus groups, to track fan size, set up a poll questions, recruit research participants, set up Facebook analytics, target market size. Here is an example of how to use Facebook:

Twitter is also a great tool for market research where you can use the search function, the advance search function, check out the latest twitter trends or the top trends for a certain year that you are looking for. While learning about social media, I was inspired to download the tweetdeck program for my Macbook which I am enjoying immensely now!

Tweetdeck program for Mac

Check out my twitter posts from Integrate 2011!



From E-commerce to V-commerce

June 4, 2011

Somehow, Professor Susan Jones incorporated my favorite things into her “E-commerce to V-commerce” presentation today: Sex and the City, Lands’ End, and the web! She’s a girl after my own heart!

She started her session by discussing avatars and giving examples of real people and the avators they choose to use. She then discussed an episode of Sex and the City involving Miranda’s passion for TiVo. See the clip here.

TiVo is a great example of Web 3.0 because it doesn’t need to be told what to do – it takes the initial settings and finds shows that the programmer might enjoy.

Lands’ End utilizes V-commerce by allowing consumers to create themselves as virtual models to try on clothes during an online purchase! How cool!

I have learned so much already and still have four sessions left! What’s up next, you ask? A panel about getting a positive return on investment from my IMC degree following graduation, led by Rebecca Andersen! Looking forward to it!

Twitter is alive

June 4, 2011

I’m in the Mobile Marketing session and will have my summary posted soon, but I just noticed that Rachael Ward (@rward) is going off with constant updates from this session on her Twitter feed, so check it out for the latest info as-it-happens.

Don’t forget to also search Twitter for #Integrate2011 in order to see the conference backchannel with lots of updates from all of the breakout sessions. Great stuff whether you’re here or at home.

Kicking off IMC Day 2 – Was it OK to ignore Second Life?

June 4, 2011

Welcome to IMC Integrate Day 2, which for me is starting with Prof. Susan Jones (@sjones9200) discussing E-Commerce to V-Commerce. I took Direct Marketing with Susan earlier this year and think that she is awesome at facilitating conversations on the online discussion boards, so I’m interested to see her work in person.

We start off by watching one of her XtraNormal movies. If you haven’t heard of XtraNormal, it allows you to type a script and have it automatically converted into an animated cartoon, complete with characters who read your script.

Two of my favorite XtraNormals were actually the first ones that I saw – comparing the iPhone to the HTC Evo. If you don’t mind rough language, then these are pretty hilarious.

Her session this morning is going to focus on virtual worlds and Web 3.0 – I know Web 2.0 through and through, but haven’t seen a definition of 3.0 yet, so this should be good

Oh, turns out she’s going to take a look at why companies and marketers have been abandoning Second Life and My Virtual Model

Taking a look at three four definitions of virtual worlds. It boils down to virtual worlds=spatially-based worlds or computerized places populated by avatars. And yes, the Wii counts! Next, Web 3.0 is defined as the Semantic Web, which harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to provide customized recommendations.

Susan recommends Donna Hoffman, Sloan School as the guru of this technology for marketers

In an interesting twist, Susan talks about Tivo and its Recommendations features as an example of the predictive technology that will become commonplace with Web 3.0. My wife and I have a Tivo and it does recommend shows for us, but it’s usually the evening news – makes me think that we are really boring people!

I’ve never used Second Life and it turns out that I’m not the only one (and probably wasn’t missing too much). The platform began to be abandoned in 2007 due to low engagement and usage, plus the fact that brand strategy was never translated to virtual worlds. @MicheleBartram gets a shout out for identifying the key reasons that My Virtual Model needed to go back for retooling – too much complexity and cost to create clothing for each avatar.

Talking about virtual trade shows, with conversation extending to virtual college campuses, virtual shopping, and even a virtual tour of the Fred (aka Mr.) Rogers Center in Pennsylvania.

Now learning about Jellyvision, which uses actors to answer common customer questions. Feels like an eLearning course, but with more personality and a less “corporate” feel.

Closing out with some more XtraNormal videos. Looks like the best use of this technology is in targeted applications for specific audiences, such as trade shows and virtual tours of actual facilities or products. Virtual worlds and shopping malls have too much of a creep factor, if there’s anyone there at all.

That’s my take, anyway. What do you think about the possibilities for V-Commerce?

Back with another session after the break.

Choices, choices…

June 4, 2011

Lisa (my IMC travel buddy) and I spent part of last night’s dinner planning which Breakout Sessions to attend on today’s Integrate schedule. Out of 20 options, we are each able to choose five sessions to attend. Talk about tough decisions!

I do a lot of social media for work, so topics such as “Use of Social Media in Marketing Research” and “How to Add Social Media to Your Crisis Communication Plan” seem beneficial. I am also excited to attend a panel discussion on how to get a positive return on investment from our newly earned degrees once we graduate.

Are you here, too, making these tough decisions about what to attend?