Archive for April, 2014

Who tells your story?

April 29, 2014

“The problem with television is the picture.” – Bill Mosher


I never expected a documentary producer to say those words, so imagine my surprise when PBS Visionaries Producer, Bill Mosher, said them in front of a captive audience.  The discussion of the conference was storytelling and his comment slapped me in the face as I evaluated how we tell our story at the university center.  After watching amazing storytellers captivate an audience and nearly bring everyone to tears with their voice alone, I started to think he was right.  Reading, writing, and listening all leave room for the imagination of the participant.  Suddenly, the participant becomes part of the experience.  They fill in the blanks with their own memories, experiences, and ideas, and the story becomes real to them.  I began to wonder if we were spoon-feeding our audience a story that we wanted to tell, but they didn’t want to hear.

When I think of the stories that I remember and the experiences I share, I do so because they have significant meaning to me.  As marketers and storytellers, it is our responsibility to share the things that we do in a way that makes people want to talk about them.  Every experience a customer has with a company, product, service, or organization helps build a brand and tell a story.  The goal of marketing isn’t to teach customers to regurgitate a scripted story, but to make them feel like valued partners who share the story because they want to.  Isn’t that the goal of learning? I still believe that as marketers we are educators and we should be empowering the people we are marketing to (teaching) to be our advocates – not memorize the correct answers.

When you’re telling your story, are you leaving room for the customer?

Morgantown Field Guide For INTEGRATE 2014

April 23, 2014


Last year, I designed a field guide to help first time students to WVU navigate Morgantown. (I will disclose that I am by no means a native of West Virginia, but the listed  attractions are places I have visited since I first began attending Integrate back in 2012.) Since your time in Morgantown will be limited, what attractions are you going to visit as part of INTEGRATE weekend? If you have been to INTEGRATE before, what destinations outside of the campus will you try to visit? Comment below and help me add to the INTEGRATE 2014 Field Guide.

Watch your tone.

April 22, 2014

It’s not uncommon for me to save two or three versions of the same photo while editing. Even on the simplest subject, a change in contrast or saturation can really impact the overall mood of the photo.

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Tone is something that, as IMC professionals in various pockets of the field, we all implement differently. While a photographer may rely on lighting, a graphic designer on typeface, a copy writer on word choice, and a brand manager on media channel selection, all leverage tone as a tool for their craft.

As a reporter, I find that my lead sets the tone for a story.

Whatever the medium, a tone can produce results if it resonates with the audience. Analytics firm Curalate studied more than 8 million Instagram images to discover that those with a blue tint received 24 percent more likes than other colors.

Here’s my question: Is leveraging tone an art or a science?


#ACUI14 in Orlando

April 4, 2014

I was very excited to attend the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) 2014 Annual Conference in Orlando, Fl. as part of my professional development plan this year. This year marks the 100th anniversary celebration and what better way to celebrate than with great friends, excellent ed. sessions, fantastic keynote speakers, and the sunshine that (I am sure) is on its way to the midwest soon? I know we’re getting a little lengthy with this post, but there were so many great things I wanted to share with you during this five day conference! Buckle up and here we go!photo

I am a firm believer that the keynotes and ed sessions of a conference make or break the experience.  This year’s planning team really had their work cut out for them because they were not only planning the conference, but they also worked  with the 100th Anniversary Team to create an extraordinary experience for conference attendees.  The keynote selections at this conference were some of the very best I’ve seen.  The conference kicked off with a keynote by Jeff Salingo who addressed the role of the college union and the value of an undergraduate degree.  He shared great thoughts challenging our view of a traditional college experience.  Next, the planning committee incorporated one of my favorite sessions from last year, ACUI Talks.  If you ever have to plan a conference, I highly recommend incorporating this into your theme.  ACUI Talks was our version of TED Talks.  There were four keynote speakers who shared their perspective on storytelling for about 18 minutes each.  There were speakers ranging from David Coleman, the Dating Doctor, (who shared the most incredible personal stories) to Bill Mosher (who directs the PBS special, Visionaries).  Each presenter brought their own unique view on the importance of sharing our story.  This session got me thinking about how well we tell our story at the University Center, specifically in the Graphics & Marketing department.  Our story is what sets us apart from every other organization, business, and company on the planet.  It should be the foundation of our brand and radiate through all of our messaging.  I think that at times we get caught up in the “sell, sell, sell” aspect of business and forget that who we are and what we do matters.  Are you doing a good enough job telling your story?  The conference also facilitated a panel discussion between four university presidents and surprisingly three of them were women.  It was inspiring to hear their stories and life experiences.

The last keynote presentation was Laura Ling who is a journalist who was held captive in North Korea.  Again, her session focused on storytelling, but also on hope.  Both topics were themes throughout the conference.  As I was sitting in an educational session by a friend of mine, I began to think…how many times do we put out ideas and projects with the hope that they work?  At times, we got too caught up in budgets and numbers and analysis and forget that we need to believe in the ideas that we have.  I am completely in favor of analysis and research however; there comes a point where we have to stop and say, this is the right thing…I believe this is going to work.  The theme of the conference reminded me of an interview I saw a while back that said if you don’t believe in your ideas, how do you expect others to do so?

I’d like to share so many more of stories that were told by keynote speakers, but I just would not do them justice.  I highly recommend you look them up if you’re in need of a conference keynote speaker.  Finally, I’d like to share with you a few of my take-aways from the conference.

  • Do something that you’ve never done.  When I went to the conference, I had my entire schedule planned out thanks to Guidebook (an interactive scheduling app that lets you create your own conference schedule based on the one provided by the conference.  LOVE IT)  However, it occurred to me that I had picked every technology, marketing, and supervisory session out there.  I wasn’t doing anything new, I wasn’t pushing myself to learn new things.  So, after much researching and planning before the conference, I changed most of my schedule and attended sessions I would have never thought to attend before.
  • Push yourself to be a well rounded professional.  One of the members of the presidents panel said that you need to have a diverse portfolio.  Again, push yourself to meet new people and try new things to broaden your horizons.  Part of the reason that I get so excited to attend ACUI is because I didn’t go to school for Student Affairs.  Conferences are a great way to supplement your professional development.
  • Find a mentor! This doesn’t have to be someone that you have immediate contact with on a daily basis, but select your list of people that you can call no matter what for advice and an impromptu therapy session.
  • Under promise-over deliver, don’t hold a grudge, forgive quickly, and don’t settle.  All of these were extremely wise words from a university president that we often forget when life gets busy.

What do you take into consideration when designing your professional development plan? What are your must attend conferences?

Help INTEGRATE Speaker Gini Dietrich Spread the Message that #SpinSucks

April 1, 2014

INTEGRATE 2014 will be kicking off in roughly two months with not to be missed breakout sessions and featured speakers! Being held in an intimate academic setting affords you, the attendee, the opportunity to directly interact with IMC thought leaders. As a two time conference attendee, I encourage you to become part of the discussion early and often on the issues that directly impact your industry, career, and academic future. Make this weekend an annual event where you completely devote yourself to IMC professional development. What you will take away will be more valuable than the financial and personal commitment you will have to exert to make it out to Morgantown during the weekend of May 30th-31st.

Looking at the schedule, one of the featured speakers that I am most excited to see this year is Gini Dietrich, founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm.


Gini Dietrich


Gini’s name first crossed my path when I first began to curate an integrated marketing board on Pinterest. The book she co-authored with Geoff Livingston titled, Marketing in the Round graced my IMC search field. From that pin on, I become a follower.
Spin Sucks
In preparation for the release of her new book, Gini posted an opportunity to her followers on to become ambassadors of the book. She had over 800 responses and her team narrowed down the applicant list to 160. I entered my name into the pool and was selected as a Spin Sucks ambassador and was afforded the opportunity to read the book in advance of the release!

If you are looking for a holistic guide to navigating the PR field, this book should be considered your bible. I found Gini’s perspective refreshing and I trust her claims and examples because they are backed by a PR/IMC  professional who has all the necessary industry credentials and accolades.

Outside of academic material, which can often be too cerebral, outdated, or action-oriented, this book exceeded my expectations. As an avid business book reader, this book has tips and tricks that I have not used or heard of yet. A few of my favorite tips and tools included: Talkwalker Alerts, Manage the Content Scrapers, and Livefrye.

In regards to the specific field of IMC, this book will resonate even with students, like myself, who do not have a traditional PR background. If nothing else, you will better be able to appreciate a field that has disdainfully been labeled as a spin producing factory. At the conclusion of the book, I was distinctly left with the impression that Gini is trying to help the PR industry take back the field (minus the spin) by redefining the future of the industry.

If I have not been able to convince you to start to follow Gini, she will sway you better with the award winning thought leadership content she shares on social media. Just Google her name and you will see the full list of industry accolades that she and her team have been able to achieve without the use of spin! After all, spin really does suck.


Linked In


I hope you were one of the first 50 registrants for INTEGRATE 2014. I heard that you will be receiving a complimentary copy of her book! If you did not sign up in time, her book is available both in print and in electronic formats from your trusted fine retailers. If you purchase the book before April 5th and email Gini
( | Subject Line: I Bought Spin Sucks!) a receipt she will send you free ebooks and webinars. She continues posting even more content.

If you have read her book, help spread the message that #SpinSucks across your social channels.

Since we are about two months away from the conference, you still have time to read Spin Sucks! Come prepared for a lively discussion at INTEGRATE, just make sure to leave any and all spin at home. See you at INTEGRATE 2014!

Comment below and let me know if I will see you there!