Archive for January, 2017

Five Ways IMC Prepared Me For Agency Work

January 26, 2017


Marilyn Heywood Paige shares the real-world application of IMC in the agency setting.

Wondering how your IMC program compares to work in the real world? Read on to discover five ways that WVU’s IMC Master’s program will prepare you to succeed in a marketing agency.

Multiple Weekly Deadlines


You may groan at how many papers there are to write every week. (I know I did.) I took two courses at a time, so the pace of the work was vigorous. The assignments were very challenging, and juggling two classes meant there were multiple deadlines every week.

Agency work is pretty much the same. At any given time, I have twelve to twenty clients relying on me to deliver results. In a busy week, I can deliver a finished project to a client every day.

There Is No Late

There were many nights I was stressed out during my degree program and worked feverishly to get my assignment in on time. Turning in a paper late meant a grade of zero, so there was no late. Ditto for agency work. Clients don’t care if you have the flu or picture2overslept. If their newsletter doesn’t get out on time, or their website isn’t finished when you promised it, they will no longer trust you. They will soon be looking for another agency, and you get a zero on your paycheck. And honestly, it just feels bad when you can’t meet your client’s expectation, so you learn to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to avoid that scenario. (You also learn to manage your client’s expectations more effectively, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Writing and Grammar Matters

There is War and Peace amounts of writing in the IMC program. Between class discussions and papers, it’s a ton of writing every week. Add to it that APA style is not just encouraged, it’s enforced, and you have a fairly strenuous demand on your writing skills.

Other than having to provide copious citations, the amount of writing in IMC is comparative to the writing I have to do at my agency. Between emails, proposals, blogs, picture3websites, white papers, media releases, and social media posts, I can write 5,000 – 10,000 words a week.

And yes, APA style and grammar matters. When you are being paid to write for a client, you are representing their brand, so bad grammar, misspelling, or misquoting a source is a big deal. Plagiarism has even worse consequences. If you copy and paste an article from a website and put it on your client’s site, Google will lower their SEO rankings and possibly penalize the website. Just like in school, don’t steal someone else’s words without citing it or adding a backlink.

Capstone Course

Perhaps the most valuable course of all was the Capstone because that’s where you get to put all the pieces of your coursework together and demonstrate your competency in each.

Being able to see a brand from the complete 360 will make you unique in your field. There are endless numbers of specialists and experts of particular channels. However, few of our peers have true proficiency in evaluating an entire brand and knowing how to drive results in an integrative process. Working at an integrated marketing agency, I use the skills I learned in my program and the Capstone course every day.

Continuous Learning

Every week there were handouts and textbook chapters to read for class. The program’s accelerated pacing necessitates constant reading.

Agency work is similar in that marketing channels are constantly evolving. I have to stay up on what’s happening in social media, e-mail marketing, marketing automation and other channels if I want to remain competitive with other agencies. I never want a client to ask me about a tactic I’ve never heard of, so I read. Often.

If you’re thinking about working in an agency when you finish your IMC degree, the program is a great way to prepare for the demands of client-based work. You can read more about how to get an interview at an agency and how to land an agency job if you have no experience.

Marilyn Heywood Paige is the Vice President of FiG Advertising and Marketing in Denver, Colorado. She earned her Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University in 2013.

Make Advocacy Great Again

January 19, 2017


 Joshua Habursky is the Director of Advocacy at the Independent Community Bankers of America and Adjunct Instructor in the Reed College of Media teaching the strategic social media course. Habursky is also the Founder/Chairman of the Grassroots Professional Network (GPN), which is a group that hosts events and webinars for advocacy communications professionals. GPN recently put on an event on communicating and advocating before the new Presidential administration. Here is a recap of the event.

In mid-December, the Grassroots Professional Network convened a powerhouse panel of lobbyists and communicators on the politically-active George Washington University campus to offer grassroots advocacy professionals meaningful insights on the prospects for the Trump Administration and Republican Congress in the first 100 days and beyond. I’d like to share some of their views and encourage you to watch it online, if you were not able to be there.

The first 100 days of the new administration will mean big changes for those at the forefront of grassroots, grasstops and advocacy. The event featured experts in government relations from a variety of fields for the fourth installment of the CQ Roll Call lunch and learn series produced by the Grassroots Professional Network (GPN) and hosted by the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.

Tony Gnoffo, policy editor at CQ Roll Call, moderated the lively discussion among the following panelists:

Rich Gold – Partner at Holland & Knight
Gloria Story Dittus – Chairman of Story Partners

Howard Marlowe – President of Warwick Group Consultants
David Lusk – CEO/Founder of Key Advocacy
Mike Fulton – Director of Public Affairs & Advocacy at Asher Agency

The consensus was the growing list of promised or must-do legislative and regulatory objectives will be “nearly impossible” in the first year, let alone the action-packed first 100 days. Funding the federal government for the remainder of the year, a much-desired infrastructure bill, comprehensive tax reform, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, confirmation of a new Cabinet and vacancy on the Supreme Court, and raising the debt ceiling would be formidable in the first term, according to the panelists who brought more than a century of experience to the audience.

The panelists offered hope and optimism for the next two years, but encouraged the grassroots community to “go beyond the beltway” to find authentic voices with incredible storytelling capabilities to resonate with new federal leaders and policy makers. They unanimously agreed that Donald Trump’s successful tactics online and hosting rallies locally are resonating with the American people and offers opportunities to build bridges in key Congressional districts and states.

The role of coalitions was emphasized as a cost-effective tool to show breadth of support for issues backed up by local voters who can communicate to their members of Congress. The election results signify a shift from a non-profit, community-based grassroots focus to one appealing to government that will be managed and operated like business units.

The feeling of the panelists is Donald Trump has selected senior vice presidents to run each federal agency under his leadership as CEO in order to bring about change sought by his supporters. They said that business model approach with Republicans controlling the White House and both houses of Congress may not be enough if legislation cannot be drafted, compromised on and enacted with the backing of the American people. Cultivating local and state influencers will be a key, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan being in step with President Trump.

With the hefty “to-do” list awaiting Congress and the Administration, the panel warned that there will be little room for dissension and controversy in the GOP and among conservative Democrats they need to bring about action.

It was pointed out multiple times that it will be far easier to mount opposition campaigns to Trump’s repeal, restore and replace objectives. Effective challengers to President Trump’s policies were identified as conservative Democrats and long-time safe Republicans such as: Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Bernie Sanders,  John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Rand Paul, Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins and Dean Heller. With only a 52-48 margin of seniority in the U.S. Senate, the panel encouraged focus on those who could help or hinder reaching cloture at 60 votes.

They encouraged grassroots advocates and fellow lobbyists to not ignore freshmen Senate and House members, many who have served with distinction in the House or in state governments.

Panelists felt that non-traditional Rust Belt voters and individuals cultivated by all political parties through grassroots would remain active (if engaged properly with solid content and tactics) in the first year of the Trump Administration. It is incumbent on grassroots professionals to educate their networks on the issues, work on key messages with anecdotes that resonate, develop a rich content calendar and leverage authentic voices in their upcoming campaigns.

I am very excited about this time of massive change and opportunity, and I can assure you that GPN and its leaders and members will be leading the way.

The session is available for viewing on YouTube at


Connect with Joshua at

Getting Ready for the Spring Semester

January 12, 2017


I am a bit of an organization junkie.  I keep labels in stock. I have more post-its than is safe. Organization and planning orders my world.

After I joined the IMC program, I realized that my time had come. It was time to set up the best study plan the world had ever seen.  How else is everything supposed to get done in addition to my schoolwork?

Here are my top six tips for students preparing for a new semester:

Get a planner.  

Some people like paper planners, and some people prefer digital planning systems.  Figure out which will work best for you and then use it.  Write it all down, or enter it all.  Set up reminders, sticky notes, and notifications that you think will help. Keep a running to-do list that gives you a snapshot of your week.

Print out your syllabi for each class you take.

I know printing out anything for an online system seems a little strange, but trust me on this one.  You never know when you’ll need a quick check on some requirement and *gasp* NO WIFI.  True story.  Print out the syllabus and keep it handy.

Write down everything.

Here comes the planning part. Write down everything.  Write down deadlines. Write down when you’re going to work on every part of the assignments.  Write down when you have family obligations or big projects at work so you know that they are coming.  That IMC project may take more time than you think; planning it all out will give you a better idea of when you can do everything.


Take notes while reading for a quick reference for later. Jot down things you find interesting or something you’d like to learn more about later. It comes in handy when you’re writing your discussion board posts or working on a paper.

Keep it together.

I use a 3-ring binder to keep my syllabus and notes for my classes.  I have sections for my to-do list, notes, research articles, and even websites to use. Keep it all in one place.

Email any questions.

If you have questions about anything for your class, be sure to email your professor early.  Don’t wait for the day of the assignment.  Get clarification for any assignment requirements you don’t understand or ideas you have trouble with from the lessons.

Achieve Your Grad Dream in 2017

January 5, 2017



New Year’s resolutions are a chance to start over, begin or simply try something new. The start of 2017 signals the time to make a change. For many people, New Year’s resolutions are not the easiest goals to attain. However, with small steps and strong willpower anything is possible. If your New Year’s resolutions include going back to school, having a successful semester or completing graduate school, here are some easy steps to help you excel.


  1. Planning to go back to graduate school

Now is a good time to start the application process. When choosing a start date, consider how graduate school will fit into your current lifestyle. If work tends to be less demanding in the summer, that could be a better start date than the traditional fall semester. In addition, look into the types of classes you will be taking and how you can apply them to your current job or future career aspirations. When I first considered the Integrated Marketing Communications program at WVU, I enjoyed the wide array of classes that matched my interests such as digital storytelling, public relations and social media. Once you start the application process, don’t be afraid to reach out to your campus contact with any questions or concerns. Also, family and friends make excellent proofreaders for your personal statement. (As well as a strong support system throughout grad school!)

  1. Preparing for a successful semester

The key to success is being prepared and developing a work-school-life balance that works best for you. Once you get into a routine with discussion posts, responses, papers and editing the semester goes much more smoothly. Pro tip: It doesn’t hurt to have a planner or organizer handy to write down your school routine until it becomes natural.


  1. Graduating from the IMC program

Whew! You did it! If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to graduate with your M.S. in IMC you are less than a year away from achieving that goal. As you begin this year, stay focused on your last few classes and try to do some early research for capstone. Capstone is your chance to showcase everything you have learned throughout the program and a bit of your personality with your selected client campaign.


New Year’s resolutions can seem daunting at the start of any year, but if you take them step by step they become manageable ways to achieve your dreams.