Archive for June, 2016

WVU IMC June Monthly E-News

June 29, 2016


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

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


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?

Navigating today’s KIND of media environment

June 16, 2016


Today’s media environment is rapidly changing. At the rate that technology is advancing, today’s channel of choice could be tomorrow’s old news. This is both exciting and nerve-wrecking for marketing communications professionals.

Opportunities to reach target audience members are growing; however, if we are not prepared to navigate a continually adapting media environment, our efforts will most likely fall flat. Joe Cohen, Senior vice president of Communications for KIND Healthy Snacks addressed this topic, as well as many others, in his session at #INTEGRATE16.

During his session, Cohen discussed six points in relation to today’s media environment.

  1. Increased segmentation and competition: As more media channels emerge, each must become more specialized in order to retain an audience. This also means there is more competition among media for consumers’ attention.
  2. News in real time, all of the time: Social media, social media, social media. Social media makes news instantaneous. As marketing communications professionals, we must embrace and utilize this to the best of our abilities.
  3. Clickbait headlines: Marketing communications professionals must “fight” for the attention of consumers. One way to win over consumer attention is through eye-catching, intriguing headlines.
  4. Decline of print media: Consumers are now relying more on digital media, instead of print media, as sources of information. We must adapt to this change in order to continue reaching our audiences.
  5. Citizen journalism: Today, anyone can be a journalist; anyone can be considered an “expert.” No degree or prior experience is needed.
  6. The rise of the influencers: As a continuation of the previous point, marketing professionals must realize that everyday individuals are not only becoming the world’s journalists and “experts,” but they are becoming some of the most powerful influencers. These influencers can make or break products and brands.

According to Cohen, understanding and remembering these six points will help you navigate today’s media environment. I believe that it will also help you prepare for the changes to come.

Yesterday it was newspapers, today its social media. What’s next? Although we have our suspicions, no one can ever be sure; however, if we keep an open mind and embrace media adaptations as they occur, marketing communications will continue to be an integral and influential part of today’s world.

Consumer Insights and Content Creation

June 15, 2016


Whether or not you admit your HGTV, Food Network or Travel Channel obsession, Julie Link and Greg Stroud know exactly why you’re hooked: they’re the ones gathering consumer insights in order to make marketing decisions and create content. Their job is certainly no easy task.

At HGTV and DIY Network, Greg is the Former Vice-President of Programming Integration and Julie is the Director of Research and Consumer Insights. As they found out, when you’re company is not hitting its mark, sometimes a complete rebranding is necessary to fix the problem.

How do you go about rebranding? Simple – by watching trends, commercials and, most importantly, the target audience you are trying to reach.

In order to really connect with your consumers, Julie and Greg suggest “learning in the moment” and immersing yourself. By going “all in” among the audience you wish to reach, you’ll not only know your customers/viewers, but you will:

  • know their style,
  • give them a reason to participate and
  • have a story to tell.

Once you know your consumers and have developed a creative way to reach them, you must pitch your idea to your team. By getting your hands dirty so to speak, you will be able to develop materials that help your team better understand what your idea is all about. It will also allow you to present information in an innovative and engaging way that allows your team to actively participate in the creative process.

Julie and Greg suggest presenting information to your team as if you are presenting it to an external client. By making your target audience the driving force behind the campaign, and introducing an element of fun into the mix, your ideas will resonate with the team and satisfy your target audience.

Building the right kind of audience to attract national advertisers is also crucial, because a lot of companies make a majority of their money from advertising sales. This means watching trends and noticing consumer characteristics and patterns that correlate with these trends.

The question then becomes whether people are buying products in response to trends or are trends emerging in response to influencers in the market? As Julie and Greg point out, a trend is often not a material object but a popular idea that it represents. People become attached to brands/companies/products because of the ideals and experiences they represent.

Thus, perhaps the best consumer insights come from when you become part of the target audience you’re trying to reach.

Keeping Consumers “Lovin’ It!”

June 15, 2016


I have seen the McDonald’s menu grow and change dozens of times. When I visit McDonald’s while traveling, there are always differences in the restaurants’ menus. I never really understood these changes and differences until attending #INTEGRATE16.

While at #INTEGRATE16, I attended a session featuring Mel Windley, James Nice and Jeff Monfort. Windley is the Executive Vice President of Fahlgren Mortine, working primarily on accounts for the McDonald’s Corporation. Nice is a Marketing Manager for the McDonald’s Corporation in the Ohio Region, and finally, Monfort is a McDonald’s franchisee who owns six restaurants in the Ohio Region. Together, these men discussed McDonald’s successes, attributing its victories to teamwork and audience insight.

The success of any business depends on its ability to serve its customers. McDonald’s uses audience insights from local, regional, national and global markets to ensure consumer satisfaction. The #INTEGRATE16 trio explained that in order to satisfy as many customers as possible, McDonald’s must consider what is right for the brand and the consumer in a particular marketplace; that’s why campaigns like “Nocturnivore,” and “#Macithappen,” are only seen by subsets of the company’s global market.

In order for regional campaigns to prosper, and McDonald’s restaurants to flourish, teamwork is essential. Windley, Nice and Monfort describe it as the “three-legged stool,” through which the brand, the operators and the suppliers/partners (the legs) must support the consumers (the seat). Without proper teamwork, and each leg polishing it’s part of the company’s iconic golden arches, the consumer would be dissatisfied.

Based on its consumers’ desires, McDonald’s now offers breakfast all day. It has developed new menu items and enhanced its current offerings. It has even implemented different menus in different locations. But, what’s next?—That is up to you, the consumer.

Getting the Wind Behind Your Sails: Pirate Ships and Propelling Brands

June 9, 2016


Although officially titled a Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer at the company Brains on Fire, Geno Church considers himself more of a “WOM (word of mouth) Cupid” and a “pathfinder” for his company’s clients. After attending his session entitled Welcome to a Brave New World, it’s not hard to see why: he’s charismatic, passionate, hilarious and innovative.

Throughout his session, Geno artfully equates the aspects of marketing to piratehood. He says that by being engaged in stories, we help things live on through mythology, symbolism and sharing. Effective marketing has to tell a relatable story that is better than all of the other stories, otherwise it won’t win over consumers. For word of mouth marketing, companies have to start with people first, as they are the center of any successful WOM campaign. Geno states that to really draw in and engage consumers, you have to “help them be what they want to be” and make their purpose your purpose. To really identify with the customer, it is important to take on their values and beliefs as your own.

Geno continues by comparing the mythology of piratehood to the mythology of a brand: you must love the brand you’re working with in order to get consumers to love the brand and lifestyle associated with it. In this sense, if consumers love your brand and its stories, it will become a “shared ship;” consumers will not only jump on board but will encourage others to do the same. Eventually, with enough positive word of mouth marketing from everyday consumers who love your brand, your “shared ship” will become a “self-driven” ship. If not, your consumers will sense doubt and either mutiny or abandon the ship.

But how does all of this word-of-mouth marketing (or WOMMology, as Geno calls it) work? He says there are three parts:

  1. Functional
  2. Social
  3. Emotional

The functional part of WOMM serves as the nuts and bolts “stuff:” shared information and factual knowledge that helps consumers to gather more information and make decisions. It is vital as it is the centerpiece of WOMM. The second part, social, usually involves social signaling, or how a brand as well as consumers showcase their uniqueness. Last, but not least, is the emotional factor: if the brand does not elicit the correct, “balanced” emotional response, people will not talk about it. This means the marketing showcased has to provoke enough of a response, either good or bad, for people to want to bring it to another person’s attention. As Geno puts it: if someone thinks “This is okay”, they are pretty unlikely to talk about it on their own.

Just like pirates sailing on a ship, Geno encourages us both as Integrated Marketing professionals and consumers, to inspire and encourage exploration. He reminds us that just because customers buy something, that doesn’t mean their loyalty or trust in that brand is set in stone. And, just like a pirate raising his telescope to search for unchartered land or another ship to raid and take over, don’t be afraid to take risks and look beyond what is directly within plain sight.

Reflecting on #INTEGRATE16

June 8, 2016


As an undergraduate, I studied public relations. To supplement my classroom education and gain real-world experience, I joined the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Through this organization, I attended a variety of conferences from Portland, Oregon to Austin, Texas and everywhere in between. After attending seven conferences with PRSSA, I thought I had an idea of what INTEGRATE would be like, but I could not have been more wrong.

As a conference attendee, you see the finished product. It’s like going to the theater to see a movie; you do not witness or understand what goes on behind the scenes. Yes, throughout my undergraduate years, I helped plan meetings, activities and conferences, so I had an idea of the work required to plan and execute a successful event; however, I never planned anything of this magnitude.

I started work as a graduate assistant with the Reed College of Media and its Integrated Marketing Communications program just three weeks ago. Since my first day on the job, the word INTEGRATE was engrained into my memory. I was told it was “Beason season,” (Nicole Beason is the lead conference planner.) and that I would do nothing but live and breathe INTEGRATE until June 5, 2016.

Throughout my first two weeks as a graduate assistant, I helped with small conference tasks like alphabetizing name badges, assembling gift bags and picking up prizes. I also had an opportunity to help plan the social media challenge. Although I knew my role in planning the INTEGRATE conference was small, I began to feel some ownership in the event and a stake in its success.

As the first day of #INTEGRATE16 approached, I was excited, nervous, anxious; just a ball of emotion. I was excited to meet professors, graduates and fellow students. I was nervous to mess something up, and I was anxious for the conference to start. When day one of INTEGRATE commenced, I wanted to help in any and every way possible, and I was, happily, put to work.

Working an event, especially a conference the size of INTEGRATE, is extremely draining. Honestly, I did not realize the amount of planning that this conference required until I arrived at West Virginia University’s Media Innovation Center on June 3, 2016. Every detail of the event was planned, from where food was coming from to when speakers were arriving to what color chairs were to be placed in each row. Everyone in the office moved in harmony, like one well-oiled machine.

As a graduate assistant, I did my best to follow suit; however, every once in a while, I liked to step back and watch. From my observations, I learned the power of teamwork, the importance of preparation and the true purpose of coffee. Overall, my first-ever INTEGRATE conference was spectacular. The speakers were awesome! The attendees were great, and this all served as a comforting reinforcement that integrated marketing communications is the right career path for me.


My “Integrated” Experience

June 8, 2016


I have to say, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I learned I would be working #INTEGRATE2016. I thought that maybe it would be a more intense version of a Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference – but as it turns out, it was so much more.

Once I got over the hump of having to wake up at 5:30 a.m., and be somewhere at 6:30 a.m., it was a whirlwind of energy and activity that reminded me why I chose the Integrated Marketing Communications program at West Virginia University. Not only are my coworkers, faculty and student body intelligent, friendly and passionate, they are like a second family. Working an event is hard – but when you work with great people, it makes the work fun.

As for the conference itself, the speakers’ passion and knowledge were unparalleled. They gave amazing insight into not only the industry, but the WVU IMC program as well. When a professor’s enthusiasm not only matches but further ignites yours, it reaffirms your decision in your field. That’s exactly, at only three weeks into the program, how I felt during my first day of the conference.

Even as I worked the conference and managed social media during the sessions, I was learning and having a fantastic time. The sessions I attended were not only captivating, but entertaining and full of personality. It was a great experience to finally be able to meet, face to face, and connect with professors (and other students) I have only been able to interact with via email and discussion boards.

I learned from Matthew Pye about sweetening your market efforts to stand out; was motivated to do more and think outside the box by Geno Church; and Whitney Drake taught me about turning blunders into homeruns through Chevy’s #TechnologyandStuff. I didn’t realize how much I had left to learn until I walked out of the sessions I attended. It’s a fascinating and humbling experience.

To say attending INTEGRATE is crucial is an understatement. I not only learned so much, but I was able to engage with faculty and professors and gain a better understanding of their teaching methods. If I get the chance to attend another INTEGRATE conference, I will be there in a heartbeat – and I encourage my fellow classmates to do the same!





Make your integrated marketing efforts so sweet, it’s like they were “Just Born” today

June 4, 2016


In today’s day and age, information is EVERYWHERE! From television and radio to billboards and magazines, products and services are constantly being advertised, and, frankly, people are becoming desensitized. So, in a world of advertising-overload, how can you make your company stand out and leave a lasting impression with its audience?

Matthew J. Pye, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Just Born Quality Convections, addressed this question during his session at West Virginia University’s 2016 INTEGRATE conference. Pye faced this issue first-hand while working for Just Born, maker of the iconic Peeps, Mike & Ike’s and Hot Tamales. He says, in order to make your company and its products stand out in a crowd, you must learn to leverage three things.

1. The power of partnerships
Together, everyone can achieve more! To be successful, partnerships must optimize the strengths of each party to create win-win situations.

2. The power of public relations
Although advertising sustains brands, it’s public relations that builds them. Utilize any and all public relations and publicity to create buzz about your organization and its products.

3. The power of branding
You and your company’s employees should be your biggest brand evangelists. With that being said, to be successful, start your branding efforts from within.

By successfully leveraging the power of partnerships, public relations and branding, your company will undoubtedly stand out among its competitors. In the words of Matthew J. Pye, if you are ever having trouble, just remember to K.I.S.S.—Keep It Simple Stupid!

For someone like me, who is contemplating a career in corporate communications and branding, this session was extremely enlightening. To hear from someone who has worked with an iconic brand like Peeps, was a treat sweeter than the candy itself.

-Megan Bayles

INTEGRATE16 Video: Advice for Young Professionals 

June 4, 2016


I’ll be honest with you. I was a little nervous about coming back this year for INTEGRATE. My first two trips to WVU brought outstanding presentations from Paul Roetzer, Marcus Sheridan, Scott Cuppari, Elliott Nix, Lee Odden, Bill Oechsler, Gini Dietrich, David Higdon, and so many more. With everything going on this year I didn’t have as much time to research the speakers, connect on social, or even find out which of my colleagues from class would be attending.

I was nervous that I wouldn’t get as much out of the conference this year. That hesitation paired with the fact that I was a recent graduate and not a current student made me wonder if attending the conference was going to provide me with the same refreshed, renewed, and excited attitude I’d found in previous years. I’ve always thought of INTEGRATE as my group therapy session – a place to network with likeminded marketers that inspired and challenged me.

I can safely say that for the first time in my life I was wrong. Well, maybe not wrong – despite my nervousness I figured I’d get something of value out of the conference – but as I wrapped up day one I knew this conference would be right on par with the last two years. As I listened to the speakers, reconnected with faculty, and chatted with colleagues, I couldn’t help but wonder what the next step was. So, I asked a few conference attendees about what they would do differently if they had the chance to go back and do it again.

“If you could go back and give yourself (as a new-ish professional) once piece of advice what would it be?” 

As always, I was inspired and comforted by their answers. After sitting down with Geno Church, Karen Freberg, and Mike Kohler, I not only felt inspired, but a little less crazy. Listening to their stories helped me realize that other professionals have faced the same challenges I was facing. Plus, their words of wisdom and outstanding advice gave me some ideas on how to turn things around. Check out this short video capturing their answers.

With that, what would you do differently? What advice/life lessons do you have to share?