Archive for July, 2016

July IMC Monthly E-News

July 29, 2016


WVU IMC Friends and Family,

Every month we pull together IMC program news and deliver it to your inbox. Below is the July 2016 edition.

If you have news that you’d like to share, please send it to Ally Kennedy at

Program News

Student/Graduate News

  • Joe Factor (’15) accepted a position with Capella University as a market produce manager. He is also pursuing his Ph.D. in business management with a specialization in marketing from Capella University.
  • Sarim Raziuddin is now a marketing specialist in charge of U.S. Tradeshows and Canadian Business at Equity Lifestyle Properties.
  • Seth Fogle (‘11) joined Brenton Productions as director of sales & marketing.
  • Tracy Gould (’10) is now director of marketing and communications for NC REALTORS in Greensboro, NC. She also is a professor at High Point University, teaching three courses each semester on the principles of marketing and social media marketing. Gould led a workshop on content marketing in Miami, FL at the national REALTORS Communications Directors Summit. She also achieved certification as a Certified Professional Services Marketing (CPSM) in June.
  • Erin Grubbs (’14) accepted a marketing specialist position focusing on content marketing for SunGard K-12.
  • Francie Williamson (’10) is now a communications specialist at The Stanley Foundation in Muscatine, Iowa.

Faculty News

Blog Entries

The Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation – Challenge Accepted

July 26, 2016


“Who is Pearl S. Buck?”  That was nearly everyone’s response to me when I mentioned that I’m doing my capstone for the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation.

West Virginia University (WVU) gave us Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduates a unique choice between two clients for our final capstone course this particular semester: choose-your-own client or the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation.

Now, I’ve heard of Pearl S. Buck before.  Back in middle school, I read her Pulitzer prize winning novel, “The Good Earth,” with my entire class.  So when I started getting blank stares from friends and family when I mentioned Buck’s name, I was slightly baffled. I realized that I would have a challenge ahead of me.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer and nonprofit employee, I knew how challenging it could be for small, local nonprofits to get the resources they need to sustain themselves.  Choosing the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation capstone course seemed like an amazing opportunity for me to utilize my experience and knowledge of IMC to make a direct impact on a struggling nonprofit.  Plus, I thought that the course would be a slightly easier because the client already had clear goals they wanted us to accomplish. Let me tell you, this course was far from easy.

The Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation had some unique challenges that called for some creative marketing solutions. For example, the Foundation wanted to bring more visitors to the Birthplace, however, the Birthplace was located in a town with no restaurants, hotels or decent cellphone service.  Couple that with the fact that almost everyone I talked to hasn’t heard of Pearl S. Buck…and, oh yeah, you only have a $15,000 budget. Ladies and gentlemen, I now present you with your most challenging client!

Surprisingly, even after learning about all of these obstacles, I didn’t find myself stuck in a rut dreading the course. Instead, the challenges motivated me to find practical solutions that the Foundation could use in order to achieve their goals.

I spent a good twenty hours per week for eight weeks developing my IMC plan for the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation while working full time as a communications consultant. I learned everything there was to know about Pearl S. Buck, the Birthplace Foundation, the tourist industry in West Virginia, the Foundation’s “competitors”, you name it.  While it was one of the hardest and most stressful points in my life (coming up second to my two-year stint with the Peace Corps), I learned two things:

  1. Challenges drive creativity, and
  2. Sometimes, all you need to do is apply common solutions to different problems.

For some of their goals, all the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation needed was a trifold brochure and more robust content on their social media platforms.  For others, it seemed that they could really benefit from strengthening partnerships they already had with specific organizations. Not everyone needs an app or interactive, mind-blowing website to be a successful.  If the WVU IMC graduate program has taught me anything, it’s that you need to put the right messages in front of the right audience at the right time in the right place.

More than one hundred pages later, I am finally finished with my IMC plan for the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation and have been invited to present my plan to the Foundation’s board members in the beginning of August.  The entire course has been a tough, yet wonderful learning experience that will, hopefully, help the Birthplace grow into a tourist hot-spot.  I can’t wait to go visit it one day.


Genevieve Williams is a recent graduate of the WVU IMC master’s program with a BFA in Advertising Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Her two-year Peace Corps service as an Education volunteer in Rwanda and experience working as the Marketing and Communications Specialist for the nonprofit, ForKids, has helped her develop a unique perspective that she carries with her into the marketing and communications field.  Genevieve currently works as a Communications Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton out of Norfolk, VA, creating graphics, video, press releases and social media content for her corporate clients.



The Cross-Cutting Intangible We All Need To Master: Improving People Skills

July 18, 2016


How we are treated by others is an intangible we all notice and remember. Those of us who teach and learn in the WVU IMC program should strive to set the bar higher with our people skills and integrate this valuable philosophy into all of our courses – both personally and professionally.

I was reminded this week of the importance people play in communications and advocacy by some colleagues in the profession. I host the monthly in-person meetings of the PRSA-National Capital Chapter Professional Development Committee at our downtown Washington, D.C. Asher Agency office. A dozen of us from all walks of life in PR were brainstorming topics for upcoming panel discussions we host, and an enlightened colleague suggested a session on how to improve relationships and marketing/communications objectives by honing our people skills. This is something that has been at the top of my mind for a long time, and I quickly seconded the idea.

The response was unanimous from the group, which included both women and men, young and old, as well as junior account executives and senior vice presidents. I was more than heartened to have my colleagues confirm the need to elevate people above technology, data and dollars.

We live in a world of persuasion and passion, and person-to-person communications from a trusted source – or word of mouth marketing — is hard to beat.

When we think about the importance of people and how we act toward our colleagues and strangers each day, we are reminded that we can and should do a better job with our people skills and offer comfortable scenarios for communicating more effectively.

Recently I needed to update a list of Congressional staffers who handle health and nutrition and I ran into a brick wall.  When you call a U.S. Senator these days, you get a recording of the Senator (the system is paid for with taxpayer dollars) thanking you for calling to share your viewpoint. It is nearly impossible to get through to a staff person; instead, they want you to leave a message and go away.  Luckily, the U.S. House members still have a person answering their phones and responding to specific questions related to Congressional business.

I hear more and more stories of bosses who write an email to say thank you, good work or offering feedback to a team member two doors away in the office. How much more effective if would be for that leader to get out of his chair to personally visit with his colleague and offer constructive feedback. And, maybe take time to ask about the new home, well-being of their children or about hobbies.

I love how technology has significantly improved communications and advocacy effectiveness and outcomes. But I also need to be reminded of the value in conveying information in person, writing a personal note, sending a thoughtful gift to mark a special occasion and joining people for breakfast, coffee, lunch or a drink after work.

Both personally and professionally, we all need to remember people are at the heart of our true success.

The one intangible we all need to master is improving our people skills!

Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency ( and teaches Public Affairs IMC 638 in West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.

Connect with Mike at>; @hillrat1156 or on LinkedIn.

Unexpected, Difficult, Rewarding

July 12, 2016


In three words I can describe my Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC 610) experience: unexpected, difficult and rewarding.


I never imagined myself enrolled in an online graduate program. I am a personable and engaged student that loves face-to-face interaction with my professors and colleagues, and I did not think an online program could provide me with a satisfying experience. IMC 610 showed me that I was wrong.

My IMC 610 class was extremely responsive; students created insightful posts, challenged their classmates with intriguing replies and provided diverse perspectives on questions posed. In an odd way, through my classmates’ posts, I got to know each of them on a deeper level by understanding their points of view, interests and prior experiences. Honestly, by the end of the course, it felt as though I got to know my classmates better than I would have in a traditional setting.


IMC 610 challenged me in ways that I have never been challenged before. Not only did I have to learn to manage my time effectively in order to complete my discussion posts, responses, papers and readings, but I also had to learn how to “think for myself.” I know that sounds stupid, but here is what I mean…

In this class, I learned how to interpret materials, develop opinions on them and reinforce my opinions with supplementary materials, validating my arguments. This required a lot of introspective thought, something with which I was not extremely familiar. Although this was difficult at times, it helped me learn more about both integrated marketing communications and myself as a communicator.


I have to say, the rewarding feeling that accompanied submitting my final project and completing IMC 610 was phenomenal, but this was not the only time during the term in which I felt fulfilled.

After each assignment, my professor offered constructive criticism. It was really great to hear that I was understanding the week’s material and applying it in a productive way, but it was even better to hear her suggestions and apply them to better my campaign. By the end of the course, I had completed an entire integrated marketing plan; something I never thought I would be able to do, and something I never would have been able to do without the help of my instructor.

Overall, my first graduate-level class was fulfilling, surprising and difficult to say the least. The quality of learning was insurmountable and the “classroom” interaction was superb. I can honestly say that I cannot wait to see what adventures future courses hold; keeping in mind that WVU’s IMC program is not for the faint of heart.