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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?


A Few Final Tips for the WVU IMC Program

July 15, 2015

kat shanahan wvu imc reed college of media


I feel like I’m forgetting something. I keep reaching for my computer thinking that I have copy to write, an ad to design, or a budget to adjust. The reality is that I’m not missing anything. My final IMC campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is uploaded and in the mail.

I’d be lying if I told you submitting the campaign was all sunshine and puppies. I needed a reality check after I submitted it because I was worried that someone was going to steal the mailbox…yes…the entire mailbox. Putting everything you have into a campaign for roughly nine weeks takes a toll on you. I’m still working on processing the fact that I’m actually done, but as I reflect on my 3 years (90 weeks of class) in the program I wanted to share what I learned.

  1. Plan, but don’t over plan. I LOVE to plan.  I’m the kind of person that enjoys planning their free time. When I started the program I went through and planned out my entire schedule. I picked and scheduled all of my classes including my electives. While planning my academic future was beneficial, as I moved through the program my areas of interest changed. As I learned more about different areas of IMC I wished I could go back and change some of my electives. I will say it’s a good idea take your electives when they’re offered (because they’re not offered every term), but keep in mind that your interests may change over the course of the program.
  2. Remember why you’re doing this. Prior to enrolling in the WVU IMC program I told a friend of mine that I would never get a master’s degree. As I started to change my mind I looked at the WVU IMC curriculum and my mouth started watering. I fell in love with the content and immediately made connections between what I was doing at work and what was being offered in classes. I started this program because I wanted to grow as a professional. I didn’t start the program to earn As in all of my classes. It can be easy to get wrapped up in grades and making sure you get a 10/10 on discussion posts, but that’s not why we are here. Think back to your undergraduate days. Do you remember every single assignment in which you didn’t earn the grade you wanted? You’ll forget about grades, but you won’t forget about putting in the work and getting everything you can out of your time in the program.
  3. Get to know your professors: When I met Prof. Sader for the first time at INTEGRATE 2015 he told me that I worried too much. He was 100% correct. He also told me that he was there to be a mentor for me and not just give me a grade. He encouraged me to reach out with questions or problems. Professors actually want to help you grow as a professional. I didn’t take advantage of that enough while I was in the program. They want to get to know you and help you learn everything you can. Take advantage of that because you may not be able to find those resources elsewhere.
  4. Go to INTEGRATE! This is a big one. My entire graduate experience changed when I went to INTEGRATE. The second I stepped on campus I felt like a Mountaineer. You can’t get that feeling unless you visit campus. INTEGRATE is a fantastic conference. You get to meet classmates, build relationships, and talk to professors and program administrators, while hearing from amazing industry professionals. The first year I went I traveled by myself and knew no one in the program. Now, I’m in a book club with WVU IMC alumni and get to talk marketing with them every month. You never know who you’ll get to meet and connect with, so take advantage of it!
  5. Fill out course evaluations. I know this sounds like a plug on behalf of the program, but I promise you it’s not. My life motto is that I can’t complain about things I have the power to change but decide not to. So I either stop complaining or step up and do something about it. We have the power to implement positive change in the program, but change cannot happen if we don’t use the right channels.
  6. Develop your voice and personal brand. I’ve already shared my thoughts on personal branding, so I won’t bore you with that again. But, I will say that this is the time to experiment with your voice and your style. Use this as an opportunity show your style in a professional way.
  7. Develop and trust your process. In the program you’ll write roughly 99 discussion posts, 400 responses, 70 papers and 1 enormous campaign. Start to develop and trust your writing process. This took me a long time to develop and I’m still working on it. But here’s what I know
    1. I need to spit out a first draft before doing anything else (The Ugly First Draft if you’re an Ann Handley fan, which you should be.)
    2. I need to re-read things the next day
    3. Most of the time, I get a second opinion
    4. I need to cut myself off – If allowed, I will read and read and read until the absolute last minute. At some point, I need to stop overanalyzing and hit submit

I’m sure if I sat here long enough I could come up with 100 more things to keep in mind, but that I think it’s time to wrap things up.  If you’ve made it this far I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading my thoughts over the past few years and thank you for sharing yours. To all of you in the program – best of luck. You can absolutely do this and you will be a stronger marketer for it. Reach out to alumni if you need anything, we are nerdy marketers who love to connect with students in the program.

All the best,


Navigating the Zero Moment of Truth with Paul Roetzer & Marcus Sheridan at #INTEGRATE15

May 30, 2015

What’s become clear is that marketers today face challenges that we have never faced before.  We are pulled in varying directions, asked to do more with less, and essentially pave our own way in the job market.  As Scott Cuppari said, “The marketing landscape has changed more in the last two years of my career than in the previous 18.”  With all of that nagging at our minds 24/7, how do we rise to the challenge?

Paul Roetzer, Founder & CEO of PR 20/20 and author, touched on a number of different ways in which we, as marketers, can better take advantage of these changes and move in a direction that helps us better adjust to the changing marketing landscape.

Paul communicated great strategies that will help marketers better build relationships with customers before they reach the moment of purchase.  Communicating with customers during the Zero Moment of Truth (during their research phase before they actually make a purchase) helps marketers build relationships and create top-of-mind awareness.  Transitioning out of a disruptive manner of marketing and into a more cohesive and collaborative process helps to build relationships with customers.

What this relationship does is build trust.  Marcus Sheridan, Inbound Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Author of The Sales Lion blog, says the focal point of successful marketing and customer engagement is trust.  Eliminating customer fears and accommodating those that are interested in your company (instead of yourself) prevents you from “being the K-Mart” of your industry.

So, how do we create these relationships in the Zero Moment of Truth?  Address your elephants. Marcus Sheridan spoke about owning the conversation happening online about your industry.  Embrace honesty, embrace transparency, and own the conversation.  Find customer concerns regarding price, problems, and competitors and create content that addresses these concerns.  This not only causes the customers to trust you, but you set the foundation for building successful relationship before they even contact you directly.  Companies become thought leaders, which adds value to the relationship.

An important concept in regards to content marketing is that businesses can no longer count on consumer ignorance as a marketing strategy.  Customers will find the “elephants” and if you don’t address them honestly and transparently you will lose out on the conversation.  Owning that conversation and being honest about who you are and what you do can put you ahead of your competitors.

What actionable items can you implement tomorrow that impact the Zero Moment of Truth?

Customizing the customer experience ecosystem with Scott Cuppari at #INTEGRATE15

May 30, 2015
More and more companies are being asked to build relationships with their customers, but what happens when you take that relationship a step further?  #INTEGRATE15′s Saturday opening keynote, Scott Cuppari Global Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Freestyle, gave us a little insight into what it’s like to not only create a cohesive and engaging customer relationship, but to build a customer experience ecosystem that personifies your brand.


Scott encouraged us to not stop at a destination, but think about what that destination may mean for our experience ecosystem.  If you’re directing a customer to a billboard, web site, mobile app, or web banner…what happens next?  What is the next option or action that takes the customer from completing a mutually beneficial transaction (purchasing, downloading, etc.) to going on a brand journey.  Essential…now what? What’s the authentic message that fits with your brand?




What is the take away from that experience?  More importantly, taking customers on a journey requires that you tailor your message to your brand and the medium.  If customer’s can’t digest the information when they get there, your company is missing an opportunity to bring them along on the rest of the journey.  As Scott said, “It’s not enough to do something well, you have to customize it.”


As marketers we need to think about creating a personalized journey for customers in our experience ecosystem because that’s what will turn them into brand advocates.


What steps will you take?

Great Tweets from #INTEGRATE15

May 30, 2015

I think it’s safe to say that #Integrate15 brings out the Top Tweeter in all of us. This year was no different. The combination of selfies with President Gee, great presentations, and the social media contest propelled Tweeting to a whole new level, which included a top spot on the local trending charts. Fellow blogger Julie Long and I went through and found a few Tweets that really captured the conference experience.



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We hope you found some of these valuable! Thank you to all of the conference Tweeters for helping share information.  What was your favorite part of #integrate15?

Three Quick Creativity Tips

April 30, 2015


Creativity can be challenging. Hard deadlines and client needs aren’t always conducive to the creative process. I’ve learned a lot about my creative process since beginning the IMC program. There are dozens of tips and tricks that can boost your creativity, but I wanted to share my top three with you.

  1. Learn and trust your creative process. This was especially difficult for me to understand. I was very focused on deadlines and setting aside a specific amount of time for homework that I wasn’t allowing myself to move through my own creative process. It took me a while to understand what my creative process was and what I needed to do to allow myself to be creative. It’s not always easy to allow yourself to move naturally through the process, but it’s important to try to trust you instincts. When I first started the program I would carefully set aside time to do homework. (I’m the kind of person that plans out my free time.) Now I know that in order to produce my best work, I need to let my brain “digest” it for a day. I usually write papers, edit photos, and do my design work in a time frame that allows me to revisit it the next day. I still work to set   aside time, but I understand that it may change and evolve as the project does.
  1. Take a break! Part of the creative process is knowing when you need to walk away and take a break. Getting away from what you’re working on refocuses your brain and allows inspiration to hit. Try going for a walk, reading a book, getting coffee, or taking a nap to free up your brain. (Naps can be very powerful things!) Research suggesting that you start to lose efficiency if you work on something for more than 90 minutes at a time. If your creative process dictates that you work well under pressure, you may want to schedule a short break so you don’t lose steam!
  1. Accept Feedback. Asking for feedback can be challenging. What if you have to start over? What if the message is confusing? What if I run out of time? All of these thoughts can prevent us from asking for and incorporating feedback into our work. Feedback can be very helpful in further developing ideas and expanding on what you’ve already accomplished. Build time into the process to get feedback. Plus, the nature of our industry is that you’ll never be working on an entire project by yourself. Learning to accept feedback now will help you be more successful at work.


Everybody’s creative process is different and it’s important to take time to understand yours. What other creativity tips have you found?

Image created by Heather Zeutzius

What’s In Your Pocket?

March 31, 2015

Picture this: You’re perusing Twitter and find a great article. You open the link and think to yourself that you’ll read it on your lunch break. Your lunch break finally comes and something else requires your attention. The next thing you know it’s the end of the day you never got around to reading your article, but you shut down your computer and lost the link. Sound familiar? This happened to me nearly every day…until I got Pocket.

Pocket  is a great little app that you can put on your smartphone, tablet, and your browser to keep track of the articles that catch your attention, but you don’t have time to read. When you come across great content that requires further investigation simply click on the Pocket icon on your browser and tag the content for easy sorting and categorizing.


After that you can view the content on any of your devices when it’s convenient for you. I find Pocket extremely useful at conferences and during Twitter chats. These fast-paced learning opportunities can be further enhanced by categorizing content in Pocket.

The other feature of Pocket that I really like is the tagging feature. I can easily organize content by a variety of tools. I find Pocket to be a great way to organize articles that professors and students share in class so I can go back and revisit them later.


You can also integrate Pocket with more than 500 other apps including Flipboard, Zite, and Evernote and log in on any of your devices to read the content later. It’s a great way to stay organized and up-to-date on great content. If that sounds like a process that would work for you, check out Jamie Todd Rubin’s process(more…)

Advice On Surviving Two Classes Per Term

March 19, 2015


The beauty of the WVU IMC program is that you can select a plan that best fits your needs. For me, that was taking three classes a year – one in the spring, one in the fall, and one in the summer. Sure, I had weeks of downtime in between that meant it would take me fours years to complete the program, but that was the best route for me with tuition reimbursement and work schedules. I was pretty happy with my plan and things were going smoothly. Then, I got an email from WVU saying they were changing the course requirements and I could graduate sooner. I was very excited, but it meant taking the capstone in late fall, which would be extremely challenging with work and other commitments. So, I made the decision to take two classes in early spring so I could take the capstone in the summer. It was a difficult decision, but it was the right one.

Taking two classes for the first time can be very difficult. So, I wanted to share a few tips that worked for me and some wise words from our classmates. If you’re taking two classes this term, I wish you all the best and hope that you’ll find these tips helpful. For those of you that are digging in and taking two classes every term – you’re amazing and I’d love to see how you do it, so leave a comment!

Wise Words From Classmates

  • “I have doubled up twice now, and the biggest tip I can offer is time management! Be prepared that you will probably have to work on your classes everyday (or almost everyday). Thus, it is important that you plan ahead and schedule your time wisely, so you don’t get overwhelmed or burnt out. It often looks very overwhelming when your classes first start, but I just take it one day at a time, and do a little bit of work on classes each day. It makes things much more manageable and less overwhelming!” – Jamie Huggins
  • “I’ve doubled up 3 out of my 4 semesters (I don’t take summer classes). Tips: be sure to set aside time for each class during the week. I found I’d write my discussion post for one class on Monday and the other class on Tuesday to keep them separate. I would write down whom I had responded to in each class to ensure I was responding to the correct number of DPs weekly. I also utilized other IMC members to figure out which classes to take together so that I wasn’t completely overloaded. I generally write my papers on Sunday, which makes for a really crappy weekend, but it means Monday I can start fresh on the next week’s assignments. I hope these help others!” – Ashley Noland
  • “ I doubled twice. Time management is key. Alternate during the week and focus on one class per day. Otherwise you can get confused by the discussion post topics. Don’t stress if you can’t read every single class discussion post. Double check your assignment submissions. But if you accidentally upload the wrong assignment to the wrong class, immediately contact your professor. They are usually pretty good about it.” – Kristi Hansen  ( I can attest to this.  I was trying very hard to avoid doing this, but inevitably it happened.  My professor completely understood.)

 My  Schedule

I agree with everything these wise ladies have said. It took me a while to get in a groove with how to balance both classes, but in the end here’s what my schedule looked like:

  • Monday: Write discussion board posts for both classes
  • Tuesday: Start Class 1’s assignment
  • Wednesday: Respond to all discussion board posts for each class
  • Thursday: Start Class 2’s assignment
  • Friday: Finish any discussion posts that weren’t done or work on assignments (In the rare event that there were no assignments that week, this was a treasured night off)
  • Saturday: Class 1’s readings for next week and assignment
  • Sunday: Class 2’s readings for next week and assignment


One key element for me was to take a break on Monday and Wednesday nights between working on materials for each class. That would allow me to clear my head so I didn’t get confused. I started the term using Kristi’s method of working on one class each day, but I wanted to keep up with my classmate’s posting on the discussion boards. Doing both discussions on Monday helped me participate more in the conversation. It will be different for every class, but I had some very interactive discussion boards this term! For the assignments and readings I found it very beneficial to work on one class per day, so I didn’t get confused.

If you have more tips on surviving two classes per term I would love to hear them! Also, feel free to check out this previous post on organizing files in case you need a little inspiration for the upcoming term. Good luck with classes this term!


Snickers Does IMC Right

March 2, 2015

Snickers has done an incredible job with the You’re Not You When You’re Hungry campaign. I think it’s a shining example of integrated marketing communication.

Most importantly, the success of this campaign stems from an authentic expansion of their brand. Snickers has positioned themselves as a solution for being hungry. They are building off of their “hungry, why wait?” campaign and focusing on Snickers being a delicious treat to alleviate hunger.

What I really liked about the Snickers campaign was that it gave customers engaging content that was tailored to the platforms Snickers selected. Let’s take a quick look at how Snickers has expended their messaging across a few different platforms.

Print advertising: In their print ads, Snickers focused on showing regular, every day people doing things that were uncharacteristic for the activity they were performing. The ad below shows individuals that are unable to focus on the task at hand. These normal activities have become difficult and unmanageable because they’re hungry.


Television advertising: Many of us have seen the Snickers ads featuring Betty White and Joe Pesci portraying individuals who are, again, acting uncharacteristically because they are hungry. This idea furthers the central message of the campaign, but tailors the message so it enhances the medium. The addition of sound and motion means that simply recycling the print ads wouldn’t work.

Super Bowl Ad: In keeping with their celebrity theme, Snickers cast 70 year-old Danny Trejo to play Marcia Brady. The Washington Post considered it one of the best commercials of the game. Prior to releasing the Super Bowl spot, Snickers had a portrait of Marcia Brady painted on a building with the tag line #Whats UpWithMarcia. Over the course of a few weeks, the painters transformed the photo from Marcia to Danny Trejo. Recently, Snickers created a video of the building being painted as a kick off to their new U.S. promotion. According to AdWeek, customers can go to and post photos and videos of who they are when they’re hungry for a chance to win prizes.

Guerilla Marketing: This is probably my favorite tactic. Snickers put a photo booth on the street in Brazil. Customers entered the photo booth, had their photos taken, and then picked them up as the exited the photo booth. When they looked at the photos they were photos of other people. Again…furthering the message that you’re not you when you’re hungry.

But, did it work?

According to the 2011 Effie Awards, in the first three months of the campaign, Snickers saw global growth. In the United States alone sales volume increased 8% and single sales rose by 13.4%. Additionally, the year-on-year household penetration rose 1.8 percentage points after previously declining by 1.6.

Snickers seems to have found the prefect recipe for IMC. They started with an idea that was central to their core values and then they tailored each message to the medium they needed.

What other campaigns have you seen that resonate with you?