Archive for September, 2011

IMC at its best

September 29, 2011
Andy speaking at a previous CCFA event

Throughout the past few months, I’ve been helping out a friend and her son raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). My friend, Jenn, and her son, Andy, are involved with the organization because Andy has Crohn’s Disease. He was diagnosed two years ago and in the past, I’ve helped him write a speech or two when he talks to groups about his illness. He’s an interesting kid who isn’t embarrassed about sharing his story with others.

Each year the Northeast Ohio CCFA chapter does a charity walk called Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis, and this year, Andy is the Local Hero. He’s been featured on their website and in print materials promoting the walk. Jenn had asked me to put together some marketing information to give to friends and family showing them where and how to donate. I was beyond thrilled to help out. Early on, we set a $1000 goal for the event.

Over the past few months, we beefed up his website, made a handout, sent out a few press releases promoting his fundraising efforts, and posted information on Facebook. And you know what? We met our goal. In fact, we’ve doubled it with a few days to spare. I’m beyond happy to see the numbers and know that at the walk this weekend, we’ll be one of the top fundraising teams. Andy will get to speak at the event and I’m excited to listen.

What has really made this event special is that I put skills I’ve learned in the classroom to use. I used emerging media to promote the walk, developed creative strategies to design handouts, and was able to get Andy featured in local newspapers through public relations efforts.

Could this fundraising event been successful without these endeavors? Sure – Andy has an amazing story which inspires many (including me!). But without the tactics behind our efforts, I don’t think as much money could have been raised and we couldn’t have educated as many people.

I’ll be one happy person at the walk this weekend knowing that my time in the IMC Program has already affected others!

All Coming Together. . .

September 28, 2011

As I reach the last few months of my time with the West Virginia University IMC program, I tend to reflect on the aspects of the program that have been valuable to me and how I can benefit in the future from them. One of the most important aspects of the program and which drew me to it in the first place was how the program gets students together to connect and be involved on a regular basis. Whether it be class discussions, conferences, or the guest speaker series, the IMC program has always tried to engage students in topics surrounding the curriculum and related issues.

Michael Fleischner

This past week, I had the great opportunity of attending the Online Speakers Series presented by the WVU IMC program, which featured the expertise of Michael Fleischner, the President of and the SVP of Marketing and Achieve3000. In addition to talking about the benefits of search engine optimization, Michael allotted time for the students to ask any questions that they have had regarding SEO. In the IMC field, Michael emphasized how important that this concept is becoming and how much it has been growing over the recent years. If you weren’t fortunate enough to be able to attend Michael’s excellent presentation, you can watch the presentation here:

Make sure you also check out Michael Fleischner’s Blog on all the latest trends and information in marketing.

It is wonderful how students from all over the world can connect with an IMC professional and gain knowledge from the comfort of their own home. While attending speakers in person is always important, the busy lives that we live today sometime do not always allow time for these types of events. With this series, it is possible to sit at your desk at home and gain the knowledge without having to leave your family for the evening. As a huge sports fan, I am really excited for the next speaker, Brad Wurthman, who is the Assistant Athletics Director of Marketing Development
at the University of Cincinnati. My ultimate goal in this field is to work in some type of sports setting and I am really looking forward to what he has to say about his career.

Patti Stanger

One of the topics that I have been working with this week in my Applied Public Relations course is the one of crisis communication. It is something that I hear about every day in the news – how some celebrity slipped up and said something wrong or a brand is accused of not being politically correct. For example, I was reading about how the Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger was taking a lot of heat for her comments regarding Jewish people, gay men, and women being intelligent. The one comment that really struck me was that she believed intelligent women should dumb it down in order to get a man. Really? Is she serious?

I would think that as a woman herself she would know better than to think this way and to encourage women to belittle themselves to men. What many fail to understand is that not only is Patti representing herself but also she is representing the Bravo name. When Bravo was asked about the comments, they did not support her and said they regret the comments that she had made. They stated that the comments do not reflect the network’s beliefs and apologized for any offense that she may have caused anyone. It seems like they had to prepare a crisis communication plan in order to have their ducks in a row before someone called to get a comment from them.

This week in my Applied Public Relations class, I had to prepare a crisis communication plan to put into place for the Baltimore Humane Society if the spokesperson had been accused of illegal drug use. One of the tools that my professor, Shelly Stump, gave us to use in this assignment was a website that outlined what a crisis communication plan should look like. If you want to check it out, it has some great advice and information on how a company can prepare one and what to make sure to include. Crisis Communication Plan Outline

Hearing these comments on the news about Patti Stanger really reminded me about this class and how important it is to have a plan in place in case of these mishaps happen to your brand or organization. Almost every day I see things in the media that relate to what I am discussing in my IMC classes and I feel like I have so much more knowledge when hearing about these stories.

To see more on the Patti Stanger mishaps, check out the story here: Patti Stanger Story

As for my home life, my new house is almost done and we are starting to pack to move to the Baltimore/Washington area. Its very exciting to think about this new chapter in my life and I know that all the the tools and knowledge that I have gained in the past two years in this program will be very beneficial to me in my career to come!

Hope to see you all at the next online speaker series!

Until next time!


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Using the Right Tools Makes a Big Difference

September 13, 2011

One of the most attractive benefits of the IMC program at WVU is the flexibility it allows when integrating your educational endeavors into an active life. As my fellow student ambassador Amy mentioned in her recent post, you can work on classwork anywhere. The ability to work on class assignments on the sidelines of the soccer field or a band rehearsal are a definite plus. By developing an integrated workflow I am able to work on course work at home, work or on the go. Here are a few tools that I’ve found invaluable as an IMC student.

Microsoft Word
My good friend and recent IMC graduate George Cici clued me in early to the Citations feature in MS Word. Using the Citation tool I enter the information for my references and it stores the reference in the Citation Source Manager. You can select APA style and the type of reference (website, article in a journal, book, etc) and Word will insert the reference in your document. You can also include your list of references at the end of your document by inserting the bibliography. It makes it much easier to follow correct APA style when working on assignments. I also draft and edit my all my discussion posts in Word because of this worthwhile tool. If you’re not familiar with this handy feature look in the help section of your current version for more information.

Evernote is an awesome tool for storying the  information I gather while performing research for my discussion posts and assignments. Not to mention all the personal information I am able to maintain. I even drafted this blog post in Evernote.

Evernote is a free service that allows me to clip information from the web, attach files and create notes that are then available from my web browser, desktop and smartphone. More advance features are available by upgrading to a pro account. The videos below explain the service better than I can.

Dropbox is a file syncing, cloud storage service that allows me to access my files from any computer and my smartphone. I save my Word docs in Dropbox so that I’m able to work on my assignments on my work PC or at home on my Mac. You can also give others access to your Dropbox folders for easy file sharing.

A basic Dropbox account is free and gives you 2GB of storage.  You can upgrade your storage space by signing up with your MIX account and getting friends to sign up. You can upgrade to a paid account for more storage as well.

By utilizing these tools I’ve been able to develop a workflow that allows me to do my class work almost anywhere I have access to a computer whether it’s a PC or Mac. While I’m on the run I also have access to these tools from my smartphone.

If you aren’t familiar with these tools I encourage you to check them out. Maybe you know of a tool that would benefit me and other students.

Are there other tools you’ve found useful as an IMC student?

IMC on the half shell

September 12, 2011

The Walrus and Carpenter has received national attention

Here in this little corner of Seattle known as Ballard, USA, the local bumper stickers remind us that this is simply a “sleepy little drinking village with a fishing problem.” So, imagine our surprise when one of the newest restaurants in town garnered a mention in the New York Times and showed up on the Best New Restaurants list in Bon Appétit. With my parents visiting from Tennessee, I figured this oyster bar would be the perfect place for a relaxing lunch on their last day in town. Perfect! Except they aren’t open for lunch.

I hopped online to check out the reviews on Urbanspoon and came up with another option: a waterfront restaurant that I would have guessed was just a tourist trap where you pay for the view. The 90% positive rating suggested otherwise and, sure enough, we had a great lunch complete with a dozen fresh, delicious oysters.

Accolades from a newspaper or magazine still mean something, to be sure, but a decade ago they would have been virtually the only source of information or opinion about restaurant quality and service. A week ago, we had Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and OpenTable. Yesterday, Google announced it’s joining the fray with its acquisition of Zagat. Popular opinion can now guide our restaurant choices whether in a big city like Seattle or a small town like Connell, WA (pop. 5,150).

Yelp helped us to find this excellent small-town diner while traveling last month

The question is: what will guide us to the most useful, reliable source of information? If Urbanspoon is a review database that also takes reservations and OpenTable is a reservation service that also features reviews, then which is the best source of information for planning your next meal out of the house? Bottom line: if you worked for one of these services, how would you differentiate yours from all of the others?

As a student in the IMC@WVU program, you’ll have the opportunity to answer questions like this from a variety perspectives and using the entire spectrum of IMC tools: research and analysis, customer behavior, creative strategy, storytelling, and more. If you’re already in the program, what types of challenges have you tackled for a local, national, or global brand?

Back to School and Football Season!

September 7, 2011

One of my first WVU football games with 3 Sigma Kappa sisters

Now that school is back, it can only mean one thing: FOOTBALL! Not only as a current WVU IMC student but an undergraduate alumni from WVU as well, my favorite social activity as a mountaineer is the football games. There is nothing like walking in Morgantown and seeing tons of family, friends, and fans of the best school in the world.

This will be my last season living in Morgantown during football season, but I plan on coming back every year for many games! There is no way that I could move away and never come back to see my team. It is one of those experiences that you will remember for your whole life and treasure all of the times you spent with your fellow Mountaineers.

Now this early fall semester I am taking two courses: Multicultural Marketing and Applied Public Relations. Both of these classes I feel will be very beneficial in my career as an IMC professional. Multicultural Marketing will be a class I will use just in living in a metropolitan area in the country. The Baltimore Washington area is very diverse and there will be many different cultures that companies are looking to market towards.  I hope to learn a lot this semester in the course from my professor, Dr. Gyongyi Konyu-Fogel, and also from my classmates.

My other course is Applied Public Relations which will expand on what I have learned in my PR Concepts and Strategies class that I took last year. We have started writing about a non-profit organization of our choice and as a passionate animal lover, I chose to look into the Humane Society of Baltimore. I am glad that I am learning from the Advising Director of the IMC program, Professor Shelly Stump. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the 2011 Integrate Conference and it is great to finally be working with her in class.

Our new home is a work in progress

While learning from my professors and classmates, I am also going through the phase of being a first time home buyer. My husband and I just purchased a house in the Howard County, MD area and are looking to move in during the month of November. As you can see, it is still in its beginning stages and has a lot more work left to do.

But my husband and I have been traveling back and forth from Morgantown to Baltimore deciding all of the things that go with buying a new home. I am really enjoying being able to completely design our house instead of having to purchase a home that has previously been built.

It is a very exciting time and I look forward to using the concepts that I am learning throughout the semester when starting a new job in Baltimore. There are so many great topics that have been able to learn about and can’t wait to talk about them in my interviews.  My main focus now is finishing my masters degree, getting ready to move, and enjoying my family and friends in Morgantown before we leave!

Lets Gooooooooooooooo Mountaineers!!

Until next time!


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The final days of summer gone by

September 7, 2011

Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer in the U.S. Kids are heading back to school and sports activities are in full swing. The IMC fall semester is now two weeks underway and I am finally adjusted to writing posts and papers again. The past two weeks have been spent completing the final activities on our summer fun list. Since I am in Social Media and Marketing (IMC 641) class this fall, I have been paying extra attention to the social media sites for every business/event/activity since classes started. One particular event on our list struck me in its use of social media:

Nelson’s Ice Cream Shop in Stillwater, MN

Ice Cream at Nelson'sNelson’s is a small old fashioned ice cream shop located on the very east side of the twin cities, just on the border to Wisconsin. People have driven 40 miles to get this ice cream. Why?  Because you get a serving size that is likely bigger than your head and it only costs $3-$4. ‘Nuf said! The cones in the picture are a child-size. Imagine what a single, double, triple or lumberjack size looks like!

As we were in route from the park to the ice cream shop, I googled directions on my iPhone. I noticed that their facebook page was the first thing that came up in the search. Curious, I took a look and found that this small little ice cream shop has over 11,000 ‘Likes’ on their page. Yes, that may not seem like much, but keep in mind this is a town of just 18,000 people. But even more impressive is the amount of dialogue on their facebook page. People are posting comments, answering questions and taking their pictures outside the ice cream shop and tagging them on facebook. They also have YouTube videos which have gotten hundreds of hits (like their Lumberjack Ice Cream Eating contest – 5 softball size scoops of ice cream). They also are on FourSquare with a few hundred check-ins. What better way to spread the word about your business than to get your clients to do it for you over the social web. Facebook certainly is a prominent place to be if you are in the B2C space.

I am always impressed to see small businesses that likely have minimal marketing efforts succeed at something like Social Media. Of course in the IMC641 class on Social Media and Marketing, we would dive deeper into the strategy behind using Social Media for this little ice cream shop and how they could really leverage it for their business.

Without getting too in-depth into the topics covered in IMC641, here are a few tips if your are exploring whether social media is right for your business:

  1. Is your target audience using social networks? Which ones? Can you reach them there?
  2. Will it help you achieve your goals?
  3. Do you have enough time and resources to do a good job?

(By the way, if you are still looking for a graduate program in Marketing, the IMC program offered by WVU provides an excellent program with courses that are completely up-to-date and relevant to the marketing environment today.) 

Your turn
Do you have any awesome examples of small businesses using social media effectively? What struck you? Leave a comment below – I’d love to check them out.

Rewarding Yourself in the IMC Program

September 2, 2011

I’m curious to see what my fellow IMC friends do to reward themselves. After all, most of us are working full-time, attending school, and have other commitments. We’ve all got to have a little fun!

This past week, I had plans get canceled on Tuesday night, so I spent the night at home writing my discussion board posts. Yep, my initial discussion board posts, as well as all 4 responses to my classmates. Although I had an unusual burst of energy and was totally up for the challenge, I must say, doing all my posts in one night is a rarity for me. I usually spread out my posts and do one per night, Tuesday thru Friday, because I feel more refreshed doing my writing a little at a time.

But on Tuesday night, I was so proud of myself that I texted my fellow Northeast Ohio IMC student, Lisa, who said she had completed her initial post the previous Saturday! I’m a slacker!

I was very happy to have a majority of my school work done by Tuesday night. This freed up my Wednesday and Thursday nights to have some fun.

Wednesday night I played tennis for the first time during the week in quite awhile. I usually play on Saturdays, but this week, having school work out of the way, I was able to attend an additional drill session. On Thursday night, I saw Bridesmaids (I know, I’m a few months behind on that one) at our local dollar theater.

This week taught me the importance of time management in the graduate school balance. These rewards were meaningful to myself, and neither one was expensive or anything I’d regret (like food or a trip to the mall). I must say – I think I’m going to try and knock out future posts in the same fashion I did this week. Because I really could get used to some Wednesday night tennis and dollar movies!

How do you reward yourself for juggling it all?