Archive for April, 2013

Don’t Forget Public Relations

April 30, 2013

As practitioners of Integrated Marketing Communications, one aspect of the marketing mix that I often see as an after-thought is what I refer to as Marketing Public Relations.  It is an integral piece of the pie and can reap measurable benefits to all sizes of organizations. And, best of all, many of the tactics are free.


Most of the time, PR is a separate department housed in the Corporate Communications group.   And, they are focused on what I label, as mentioned above, as “Corporate PR” versus “Marketing PR”.  In my opinion, Corporate PR covers investor relations, crisis management, media editorial board management and internal communications, while Marketing PR covers things like press relations, events, sponsorships and community outreach. Marketing PR is what I feels gets lost in the shuffle.  The fact is most marketing departments at medium to small sized companies simply do not have the resources to put a whole lot of effort against Marketing PR.  Sure they participate in events, set-up sponsorships but have a hard time with activation of these due to time constraints and resources.

PRBoth are very important but need to be integrated either by combining the functions, or better yet, developing a team that functions together to tell the corporate story.

Marketing PR’s value is that it can help companies that are smaller get their message out quickly and extend the promotional time period of their efforts through repeated media relations efforts and social media efforts such as blogging.  You no longer just have to launch an advertising campaign and let it run, you can create other stories around the advertising program in the form of on-going public relations.  Let’s not forget about it as an integral part of the integrated marketing mix and work with our corporate PR partners to find and execute on the value it can provide.

A Salute to the Champions of Integrated Marketing Communications

April 30, 2013

In the digital age, how well information is used may determine the commercial success of products and services. Converting legacy thinking, skills and business practices – along with legacy systems (both back office and front office) – to react to the new digital reality can determine how competitive legacy businesses can be – especially versus companies that were born digital. (Source)

The ability to bridge traditional with the new is paramount for success in today’s new era of marketing and communications. Channel orchestration and holistic messaging are the components of a lasting brand messaging approach. Many individuals and organizations from brands to NGO’s are experimenting with the multiple facets of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). However, there’s a big disparity between what happens offline and what happens online. Some might call this a disconnect. But let’s not blame the practitioner but rather the fast pace of technology change and external environmental constraints.

IMC is really for the brave of heart and those that are seeking to develop a certain set of skills relevant for global amplification.  Can we deny that consumers are inundated with sales tactics and strong advertising pitches? Of course not. At the heart of IMC, lies a special appreciation for the plethora of components that comprise the field of marketing and communications. As students and stakeholders of the WVU IMC program, I salute you. Give yourselves a pat on the back. You really are a collective of influential and dynamic practitioners of a communications toolbox that has and will enable you to craft meaningful change and global impact.

IMC provides its students with a collection of diverse skill sets and unique knowledge across a vast field of subjects including:

  • Digital Storytelling
  • Multicultural Marketing
  • Direct Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Brand Architecture
  • Creative Strategy and Advertising
  • Visual Information Design
  • Cause Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Marketing Research & Analysis

Talk about a prolific collective of valuable skills spanning some of the most critical elements of reaching consumers across a multitude of touchpoints. As technology continues to increase, sometimes starting with a digital first mindset makes plenty of sense. Especially, in an arena where mobile phones out-ship desktop PCs.

“A successful digital strategy requires a holistic approach, involving Web, mobile, social and traditional platforms.”

As the founder of Hub 81, an integrated marketing communications startup now garnering some good traction, please allow me to reiterate the importance of cohesive messaging. Yes, there are some (Actually, many!) who have yet to grasp the concept of bridging the gap between traditional marketing methods and new media. That’s where you come in. As champions of IMC, you have the ability to drive the conversation and help build the importance of channel synergy.

What we’re talking about are champions of reach across platforms, devices, and experiences.

I salute all of you. Not that it means much but it’s a demonstration of my appreciation for your efforts in increasing the spotlight placed on the field of IMC. It’s been a fantastic ride as an IMC Ambassador and to those who’ve made my experience a rich one, I thank you!

About José Huitron

Jose  is a recent Graduate of the Integrated Marketing Communications Online Master’s program at WVU. He is a champion of bold possibility and global communications impact. As the founder of Vista Hispano and Hub 81, he is focused on offering clients solutions to holistic brand strategy that spans the fields of new media, multicultural marketing, and meaningful experiences. Feel free to connect with Jose on Twitter at @josehuitron or on LinkedIn.

Unchartered Territory and The Latino Effect

April 24, 2013

“President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958, partially in response to the Soviet Union’s launch of the first artificial satellite the previous year. NASA grew out of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA), which had been researching flight technology for more than 40 years.” (Nasa, 2013)

The rest is history. To boldly go where no man/woman has gone before is a journey in bravery, positive thinking, and dynamic vision. In the race for influence and engagement, today’s marketers and communication specialists are striving for new growth and impact. Cultivating fresh land of attention and interest combined with planting seeds of reach are but a few of the many responsibilities of today’s modern day farmer of resonance. Everyone from brands, political startups, new media outlets, massive open online course platforms, and various champions of innovation to students and leaders of academia are exploring unchartered territories across a wide array of industry. What these individuals and organizations have in common is a desire for the prolific and real growth. Sometimes, during these kinds of efforts, a big fat purple elephant lies smack in clear view begging for a little love.

Imagine an opportunity in plain sight where the possibilities are real. In fact, how about a $1.5 trillion dollar sized pie of real potential? There are a few brave brands that have explored this arena of national influence and importance while others forge on without a dose of reality that lies at the very heart of IMC.

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) can be defined as “The process of developing and implementing various forms of persuasive communications programs with customers and prospects over time. The goal of IMC is to influence or directly affect the behavior of the selected communications audience” (Wikipedia, 2013).

There is a group that was recently touted as the most important swing state in American politics. But guess what? The state we’re talking about is no state at all. In fact, if it were a state it would be the size of a small country. The 16th largest economy in the world to be exact. Ahead of Turkey, Australia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. We’re talking about a population group that has more per capita spending than BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries at around $31,135.

Say hello to the burgeoning Latino market.

The U.S. Hispanic market is comprised of young individuals who embrace new technology and social media at a rate faster than that of non-Hispanics. 50,000 Hispanics turn eighteen every month. The number of Latinos in the U.S. now numbers over 50 million with approximately 32 million of them online. Furthermore, 21% of Millennials are Latino. Few of us would tend to argue the fact that Millennials are influencing major purchases of their younger and older counterparts. America is becoming increasingly diverse. Especially, when the average age of Latinos is approximately 27 making them one, if not, the youngest population segment in the United States.

Talk about a huge population segment with tremendous opportunity for real influence and growth.

But what are marketers doing? Allocating around 5% of their total ad budget. What would happen if marketers shifted their focus from business as usual to embracing opportunities for new growth via multicultural marketing? A few champions come to mind and include the likes of Tide, Pepsi, Best Buy, and Kraft. These are a few of the brands that are taking into real consideration the opportunity that is the U.S. Hispanic market.

Say “Si” to this massive and real opportunity for bottom line growth.

Blue Light Special: “Ship My Pants”

April 23, 2013

If you are a retail consumer like me, you could probably count on your hand how many times you have been to Kmart in the past five years. On the few instances I have been in the store, I almost always have a positive experience because I have the store entirely to myself, the shelves are fully stocked, and the staff is available! The only glaring negative is that the store seems to have lost their identity, passion and the blue light that made them special.

In an effort to clear up any misnomers that the brand closed their doors, Kmart made an uncharacteristic move last week to gain visibility that they offer the same shipping services as other retailers. A catchy 35-second play on crude humor video titled “Ship my Pants” has gone viral on Youtube. In just six days, since the release on April 10, 2013, the video has amassed over ten million views!

According to the Kmart Facebook Page, “You’ll ship your pants too when you see this.”


Whether you agree or disagree on this crude play on humor, this campaign might make you ship your pants, next time!

The brand is poised for a comeback, but only if the marketing team is able to integrate this strategy across all of their marketing channels. Was it a mistake to release a video alone, or do you think this is a teaser campaign for what will hopefully be an integrated marketing plan?

Hello Midterm Week

April 16, 2013

Wow! What a busy, interesting, educational and unforgettable few weeks its been. I’m enrolled in IMC636 Campaigns or as many of us refer to it as Capstone!

Entering Week 5, I’ve learned more than I could have imagined about the organization we’re creating a plan for, the American Red Cross, and our target audience for the project – millennials (my favorite generation!). Large projects can be tiring, but piecing all the parts together, like I did this weekend for our midterm assignment due April 15, can be rewarding.

I found myself reading through my 39 page Word document a few times, but not to look for typos, to reflect on the work in its entirety. It’s pretty cool to think I started with a blank Word document and it eventually turned into a project I can be proud of.

Even with working full-time and tackling a huge project, I’ve had time to enjoy some fun things!


I went to a Cleveland Indians game with my parents this past weekend


I couldn’t resist taking this photo one morning last week. Spring is here!

Have you been able to enjoy the little things during the semester? If so, tell me about them in the comment section!

What is the Marketing Purpose Behind Social Media?

April 15, 2013


The use of Social Media in the business environment has been a hot topic for a few years now.  I have been on several interviews over the past few months and, invariably, I am asked my opinion on how I would use Social Media in the position I am interviewing for or what my experience is with Social Media.  How can I help the company acquire new customers using Social Media?  The short answer is that there is no short answer to that question.   While I am an advocate of Social Media in business marketing, I think too many companies are putting too much emphasis on how Social Media can increase sales.

Coke, for example, is one of the most iconic brands in the world.  They boast over 62 million likes on their Facebook page and have 700,000 followers on their Twitter feed.  All very impressive numbers but are they making money?  According to Eric Schmidt, Coca-Cola’s senior manager of marketing strategy and insights: “We didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales.”

As a seasoned marketer and advocate of “integrated marketing communications”, companies need to understand that Social Media is only one tool in their marketing arsenal but should not be seen as a major driver of sales or leads.

When I look at all the tools I can use to market a product, I look at branding tools and direct response, sales driving tools.  Used together they enhance your brand and generate the awareness you need to get into the consideration set in the sales funnel.

I consider Social Media as a branding tool.  It keeps your brand in front of your targeted audience in a manner that allows them to engage in a conversation at a time of their choosing.  Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a WordPress blog, they enable companies to efficiently extend their brand presence in conjunction with their other marketing efforts.  I haven’t met many people that saw a Tweet from Coke and then ran out and bought a case of Coke but I do know people who have posted a Coke commercial that was re-posted so others could share in the experience.

My point is that marketers and companies should not over think what various media channels can do for them.  They all need to work together.

Capstone Survival Techniques from IMC Graduate Dain McQuarrie

April 11, 2013

Capstone might be a noun used to describe a point, element, or an event, but for IMC graduate students working diligently towards completing their M.S. in IMC, this word represents the end of a journey and the beginning of an exciting future marked by a professional designation.

With only five classes left in my academic journey and a free summer semester almost upon me, I have begun thinking about how I can prepare for my final IMC semester. Dain McQuarrie, an IMC graduate, provided me Capstone survival techniques.


Personal branding takes time to define and craft your personal mantra. With my final semester looming, I should use my time wisely to define my personal brand before branding my final Capstone project with an unresolved identity.

If you are not a designer, begin to find one who is both passionate and able to deliver strong executions that will elevate and complement your final body of work.

For Designers, brushing up on Adobe InDesign shortcuts and basic layout design principles will expedite the design process.

Attention to detail is vital when it comes to choosing the physical portfolio that will encase and bind all of your hard work. An understanding of what exists out in the marketplace is crucial because of the cost and time factors involved. Many stylistic options exist, but the execution and time involved in the binding process can make or break the final execution.

Take it from someone who graduated from design school and used a steel 13×19 grommet portfolio that was held together by extenders. You do not want to end up with a body of work that will not close because your page count ran away with you, or that you did not account for the binding margin in the design. What might seem like minor choices made in the final days/ hours of a semester may define your body of work as unprofessional.

Additional Consideration:
Binding Types


Leveraging project management tools requires a distinct understanding of the breadth of the platform. For a structured procrastinator like myself, I am always in need of tools that will help to keep me on track. Evernote is a tool mentioned by IMC graduate Jose Huitron that helped him compile all of his Capstone research.

Flipboard is a tool that I leverage that allows me to create and archive all industry articles related to Integrated Marketing into one magazine. In addition, I use Pinterest and Google Alerts as tools to archive branding and integrated marketing images and links.

During the course of your time in the program, it is only to your advantage to create your own personal digital library filled with articles that you could leverage later.

The final project during your Capstone semester will require you to look back on all the lessons you have been taught during the IMC program. If you have taken the time to print lessons and the suggested supplemental readings, begin to locate and dust off those resources. If you have not been saving content from classes, correct that behavior now by printing and archiving any and all content. One late night you will be happy that you have your highlighted notes by your side when preparing an all inclusive media plan!

Additional Consideration:
Citation Manager

One of the benefits of a final capstone project is that former students reveal their best practices. A big thank you goes out to Dain for providing his valuable insight! If you have any other tips and suggestions, please share below!

What’s new with Facebook?

April 1, 2013


One thing that I like about social media is that it’s always changing! This “like” can quickly become an “unlike” if the changes happen too quickly.

Recently, Facebook announced that hashtags could be used, just like Twitter and Instagram, and this will truly transform the social media platform! Marketers are still awaiting how open the hashtags will be and whether or not brands will be able to interact with people in this fashion. One thing we do know is that this newly announced feature will evolve over the upcoming months!

Cover photos will now be able to have a call to action, where before, no promotional copy could be used. I think this is a great move that will benefit both businesses and consumers. Now that a discount or promotion can be included in a cover photo, more people will know about it! It’s win-win!

If I look back at this post in a few weeks, these items might have changed drastically already. In a few months, I’ll most likely be thinking “I forgot hashtags weren’t always on Facebook!”

Do you love that social media is ever-changing or does it annoy you?