Archive for the ‘IMC in practice’ Category

Secrets to Starting Your Own Agency: Agency Owners Tell All Part I

March 30, 2017

Marily-Agency-1

Marilyn Heywood Paige shares the real-world application of IMC in marketing agencies.

Not into 9 to 5? Thinking about starting your own marketing firm? Before you jump in, ask yourself if your primary desire is to practice integrated marketing communications (IMC), or if you love the idea of running a business and managing others who practice IMC.

When I graduated from WVU’s Integrated Marketing Communications master’s program, I started my own marketing consulting firm. Within two years of launching, I merged with a larger full-service marketing agency in Denver and never looked back. In my short stint as an agency owner, I learned that there’s a huge difference between running an agency and working in one. They require very different skill sets. So, while I liked utilizing the skills, I’d acquired in the IMC program, using them accounted for just 30% of my day as an agency owner. The rest of the time was spent networking, selling, managing vendors, billing, and accounting—things I didn’t especially want to do. I learned that I didn’t want to run an agency, I wanted to work in one.

If you’re not sure if you want to go solo, or if you’ve decided it’s the right path for you, here are words of wisdom from agency owners to help you understand more about running your own agency.

So You Want To Start A Marketing Agency

I polled successful agency owners from around the country (and a few in the UK) on what their biggest lessons were in their first year running their agency. There were a few themes they all had in common, so here is the summary of their wisdom on finances, charging for your services, and demonstrating your value to the client. In my next blog, I’ll reveal what they had to say about hiring employees and getting clients. Learn from their mistakes and shorten your pathway to profits.

Finances

Many agency owners I polled outlined the need to get your finances in order and not just hope it all falls into place.

Be Strategic

agency1

“The biggest lesson I learned was how important it is to be lean and strategic with spending and ALWAYS aware of your financials. Without your arms around your financial situation, you’re not able to make informed decisions, flex/spend/save where you need to and ultimately, you’ll put yourself out of business.”
Karen Cummings, founder, Radiant Marketing

agency2

Dave Hartshorne, director and digital consultant at dijitul in the UK concurs. He says, “Get your finances in order, and the rest will take care of itself. Management and accountancy software should be implemented into the business before you even start talking to customers.”

Charging for Your Marketing Services

It’s one of the hardest things to do, and the most necessary. Knowing what to charge is difficult, and many first-year owners struggle with it.

Be Confident in Your Abilities

agency3

Will Coombe, Co-founder of Sharpe Digital an SEO company in Central London said, “In the beginning, we did not value our time enough. Looking back, there was a lack of confidence to set our fees high. This attracted the wrong kind of client and meant we were taking on too much work for not enough compensation, all leading to stress and a lack of growth.” His advice is to, “Have the confidence to charge more. If the service your agency is offering is truly exceptional and delivers value to your client, set your fees higher than the market average. This will qualify the prospective client and mean you can do a better job for more pay when they work with you.”

Coombes said it well. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that if you don’t charge much, your client won’t value your service, no matter how good you are.

Do More Than Good Work

Many new agency owners think that if they just deliver a good service, customers will appreciate the work, referrals will come, and the business will flourish. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Show Your Worth

agency4

Toby Danylchuk, co-founder of 39 Celsius in San Diego had extremely sage advice. He said, “Never stop proving the financial value of your work to current clients. You are a line item expense, and if you can’t prove the value of your work, the client will leave. For example, ‘Here’s how many leads we delivered this month at an average cost of $x per lead – this led to $x of revenue. Or ‘We improved the conversion rate on the site by x% which increased sales by x.’ “

Danylchuk continued, “If you can’t demonstrate what the economic value is of the work you are doing for your clients ongoing, they will either judge your work as a cost not worth continuing with, or competitors will pitch them, and they will run off to be someone else’s client. Never stop selling your value!”

Danylchuk is dead right. There are hundreds of digital freelancers and agencies in any given metro area and thousands across the country with whom you will compete. Clients often suffer from shiny object syndrome, a condition which makes them think that someone else has the magic bullet, so they are too often easily lead astray.

So how can you, the newly-minted college grad, compete? By doing your research and taking their advice. I will cover agency owners’ tips on hiring employees and getting clients in the next blog.

You can start your own agency. You just need to be smart and informed about it. Stay tuned for more great insights from successful agency owners who started from where you are now.

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.

Other articles by Marilyn Heywood Paige

March 16, 2017

Jenn-Cartmille

Jenn Cartmille is expected to graduate in December 2017. She currently resides in Columbus, Ohio, where she is the Marketing Manager for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. 

If you’re anything like me, the thought of going back to school while working full time can be overwhelming. It’s easy to be flooded with notions that it will be impossible to balance work and school, the ROI will be minimal, and the ultimate question, “How does this apply to my career goals?”

I get it, I had all those thoughts plus some when I researched graduate schools. My undergraduate program and internship experience placed me in a favorable position upon graduating in 2011. However, as I immersed myself into the “real world” and began the professional journey, it became clear that my career was taking me down a path I hadn’t originally intended.

You see, I was focused in communications and PR but, welcomed opportunities that led me toward marketing.  I soon developed a passion for content marketing, brand management, and how organizations can take an integrated strategic approach to marketing.

Upon discovery of the IMC program, it was obvious that WVU understood the importance of working while obtaining your degree and all those worries in regard to graduate school washed away. Funny how that happens when the right fit comes along. Speaking of the right fit: Soon after being accepted into the program, I took a job at the Greater Columbus Sports Commission (Sports Commission) as Marketing Manager. A new position for the organization, my role was designed to focus on brand-elevating and client-relevant marketing strategies.

Talk about new beginnings.

The Sports Commission is a non-profit whose vision is to transform Columbus into one of the world’s best sports destinations.  We bid on sporting events to drive tourism to the city. Once Columbus lands a sporting event, it is our job to service the event and make sure people, both locally and outside the city, attend the event. In addition to those portions of our job, the marketing department supports the Sports Commission brand.

Fast forward (almost) two years and I’m nearing the end of my graduate journey. As I reflect on these past couple years, I can say without hesitation that I would not have been as successful at the Sports Commission without this master’s program.

I have used the Sports Commission as a “client” in numerous classes, which in return has been a catalyst for the development of the organization’s IMC plan and its first marketing campaign that isn’t event-driven. Additionally, a website redesign is set to launch in June, a focus on in-house content marketing, dedicated efforts to web and social media analytics, all of which have transformed the way we approach our vision. The coursework and WVU professors have all been part of that journey with me as they’ve guided, critiqued, and pushed me to be the best marketer for the Sports Commission.

There are so many benefits to the IMC program and I could happily list them over a cup of coffee any day. However, if you leave this blog post with any piece of information, I hope it is this: The IMC program provides the tools for taking a holistic approach to how marketing, communications, PR, business development, events, and operations all fit into one to support and accomplish your company/organization/brand’s goals.

And for that, I will calculate the ROI on the IMC program for the remainder of my career because it will continue to prove its worth well into the future.

Three Challenges of Transitioning from College to Career (And How to Crush Them)

February 9, 2017

Marilyn-College-to-Career.png

One of the toughest things college students face is the transition from university life to full-time work. The hours are different; the expectations are more challenging, and you often don’t have your best friends around anymore to help ease the stress.

Here are the top three challenges you’ll face in your transition to the work world and how to combat them.

Working 9 to 5

Having to be somewhere five days a week, eight hours a day is a big adjustment. You’re used to making your own schedule, blowing off class when you feel like it, and having a week off for spring break. No such luxuries in the work world. It’s a different schedule altogether.

marilyn1

I’ve had new grads come to work for me who confessed that sitting in front of a computer all day was hard for them. They just weren’t used to having to stay in one place all day. It’s understandable, but you don’t want to look like a slacker who can’t handle a desk job. So how can you maintain your sanity?

Take a Walk

Get out at lunch and walk. Ditch your cell phone and go electronics-free for thirty minutes. Take micro-breaks and walk the stairs in the building. Just getting your heart beat up and a change of surroundings will help.

marilyn2

Run Errands

Tell your boss you need a change of pace now and then. If there’s errands to run, parking meters to plug, lunch for the employee meeting to pick up, offer to do it. Not because you’re the lowly recent grad, but because you need to get out.

Smartphone Withdrawl

Unless your gig is to be on Snapchat all day, you’re going to have to curtail your texting and social media on the job. Yes, you can probably get away with a fair amount of online connecting throughout the day, but the price you pay is that you’re never completely engaged at work. It creates a never-ending bad feedback loop.

marilyn3

If you always have part of your mind on your Snapchat feed and your friends’ texts, you’re never 100% committed to your job. The inability to focus will produce lackluster work, and  you won’t fully connect at work so that you can make a difference. There are plenty of studies that prove that the constant distractions and inability to focus will cost you plenty in your career.

Restrict Your Cell Phone Use

Leave your phone in your car when you go to work. I can hear you screaming from here, but just try it for a week and see how your productivity at work improves. Yes, you’ll initially feel naked without it, but the constant need for social media assurance is killing your ability to focus on the job. If you haven’t seen Simon Sineck’s video on millennials and their devices, it’s a must-see. He artfully outlines how the constant interaction with your phone is undermining your ability to relate to others and make an impact at your workplace.

After you’ve successfully weaned off the constant device checking, bring the phone into the office and leave it turned off in a desk drawer. Schedule three times a day when you will check it and stick to the schedule. Turn it off in between those times. Over time, you’ll stress less about what you’re missing and be more successful at work.

Assignment Expectations

When you handed in an assignment at school, you knew if it was an A paper or a this-will-get-me-a-C paper. Moving into the work world is challenging because there are no C’s. You have to hand in A’s all the time, or you’ll soon be branded as the weakest link. If you hand in enough below average work, you’ll be looking for another job in short order.

marilyn4

Ask For Clarification

When you get a task at work, be sure to ask when it’s due and what the expectations are around it. Who is ultimately going to see the work? The CEO or an intern? Who else is counting on your contribution and how will it affect their ability to do their job? And always, always make sure you understand why this particular assignment is important. If you don’t, you may mistake something critical for busywork and cost the company money and possibly yourself a job.

No Task Is Too Small

I had a recent college grad who was assigned to upload products into a client’s website. She forgot to keep checking on the upload, and the software got stalled at product #300 out of 10,000. She didn’t notice the error all day. To her, it seemed like a boring, menial task but to the client, whose website she was supposed to update, it meant products available in an overcrowded warehouse that couldn’t be sold. It was a big deal to them. When we took her to task for her lack of attention to the assignment, she got offended and handed in her resignation. She saved us the trouble of firing her. What you do at work, no matter how small it seems, it matters. Treat it as such.

It is tough to go from classes to career. It’s a whole different set of rules and expectations. You may find it exhilarating; you may find it overwhelming. Keep in mind that every college grad you’re working with has been there. Be honest about your adjustment worries and ask for help.

Working for Yourself

And if you’re thinking that 9 to 5 and working for someone else isn’t for you, on March 30th and April 6th I’ll be sharing what agency owners around the country and in the UK learned in their first year of running their own marketing firm.

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.

Other articles by Marilyn Heywood Paige

Five Ways IMC Prepared Me For Agency Work

January 26, 2017

marilyn_heywood-5_banner

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

picture1

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.

Getting Ready for the Spring Semester

January 12, 2017

Spring-Semester.jpg

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.

Notes.

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.

Mentor and Be Mentored.

December 14, 2016

mentor

Beliefs about mentorship are drastically shifting. Mentorship is no longer focused on guiding those “below us” on the totem pole. It is now focused on using our own expertise to teach those around us, helping them to flourish and prosper. With this idea of mentorship in mind, it is safe to say, regardless of our ages, titles or years of work experience, we each have something we can learn from one another.

Mentorship is about building a mutually-beneficial relationship between two individuals through which both parties are collaboratively learning and growing. That being said, you are never too young or too old to have a mentor, or maybe even a “board” of mentors. So, if you haven’t already, start now!

Finding the Perfect Mentors

  1. Understand your needs as a mentee.

There are many different kinds of mentors; there are coaches, connectors, cheerleaders and challengers, just to name a few. When searching for a mentor, it is important for you to understand your needs and goals, and seek a mentor that will help you fulfill them.

  1. Pursue someone who is your opposite.

Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, those that differ from you can often offer you the most diverse knowledge and most insightful advice. For instance, a big trend in today’s business world is reverse mentoring, when Baby Boomers their opposites, Millennials, as mentors.

  1. Don’t be so focused on a person’s title.

Alexa von Tobel, the CEO and founder of LearnVest claims, “It’s about the person, not their position.” When searching for a mentor, take into consideration a person’s experiences and expertise, not just their title.

Being an Awesome Mentor

  1. Set relationship expectations.

Sit down with your mentee at the beginning of your relationship and discuss expectations. This will ensure that you are both on the same page. Express to your mentee that you will do all you can to help them achieve their goals, but be sure to NEVER make a promise that you can’t keep.

  1. Be invested in your mentee.

Show interest in their lives, ask questions, celebrate their achievements and, most importantly, LISTEN! These gestures and actions, no matter how small, will strengthen the bond you have with your mentee and enhance your relationship ten-fold.

  1. At all times, be honest.

Just as in any relationship, honesty is key! No matter what the issue or question, provide your mentee with honest, not sugar-coated, advice. Also, do not be afraid to admit your mistakes and failures, as you have learned from them, and they can help your mentee learn too.

Positioning Yourself For An Agency Job Even If You Have No Experience

November 29, 2016

heywood_part1.jpg

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

How To Land Your First Job at A Marketing Agency: A Two Part Series

Part I – Positioning Yourself For An Agency Job Even If You Have No Experience

advertising-agency

You have a shiny new IMC degree that you’re pumped to put to good use. However, the jobs you’re qualified for are so entry level you fear you’ll poke your eyes out every day at work. While you may have the knowledge, you don’t have experience in the field. So what do you do to snag your dream job in a marketing agency? Here are five ways to position yourself to get your first agency job.

  1. Create an Online Portfolio

    Even if you aren’t a web developer or a designer, having an online portfolio will differentiate you from other candidates. While you’re at it, make sure your resume looks like a convincing marketing piece as well. There are tons of templates available for both print and online resumes and portfolios. Find one that works for you.

    If you’re afraid of not having anything to put in your portfolio, read on.

  2. Take Initiative

    It’s never too early to start putting your marketing degree to work. Belong to a church? Ask them if you can take over their email newsletters. Have a hobby you’re passionate about? Write a blog about it. Are you a member of an association or club? Build their website, shoot a video for them, or take over their Facebook page. Whatever skills you have in marketing, find a way to demonstrate them. Keep logs of your efforts, and wherever possible, have metrics to show your efforts helped the organization.

    Being able to display that you have done marketing work even as a volunteer will help a hiring manager see your passion, initiative, and ingenuity. It’s also the stuff portfolios are made of, so get busy.

  3. Practice Writing

    If you didn’t major in English, you probably weren’t tasked with writing a lot in college. Marketing requires mad writing skills, so if you don’t already have near perfect grammar and sharp writing skills, start reading marketing copy and trying to emulate it.

    What is marketing copy? Blogs, white papers, email newsletters, magazine ads—anything that is positioning a product or service is marketing copy, and you need to understand how it works and how to create it. Google it; find books on it; scour the internet for good examples of each type of writing. Then practice writing your own comparable pieces. If you want to dive in and learn to write copy, visit CopyBlogger.com. They have one of the best online learning hubs for copywriting. Even if you aren’t writing for an actual client, if you have solid writing samples in your portfolio, you will be far ahead of other prospective candidates.

  4. Get Certified

    The more skills you can bring to the table that are useful to an agency, the better chance you have of being hired. Just about every digital agency works with Google AdWords and Google Analytics. If you are certified in either one or both, they will see you as someone that they can get value from starting day one. Google offers free training online, and there are other places around the web that have courses to help you pass Google’s certification tests. It takes an investment of time but is well worth the effort.

  5. Be Teachable

    There is nothing wrong with being inexperienced. Everyone was at some point. Being teachable and willing to do the work to become an expert in your field is one of the most attractive qualities in a new hire. Having writing samples and Google certificates will be proof of this. Showing how you consistently asked for more responsibility at school and at prior jobs goes a long way too. Even if none of your work experience is related to marketing, demonstrating that you took on new projects and saw them through, can differentiate you from other candidates.

If your dream job is in an advertising or marketing agency, these five tips will get you closer to achieving it.

In part II of this series, I will give you tips on using old-school tactics to get your foot in the door to land an agency interview.

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.

The Rock, Paper, Scissors Guide to Instagram

November 14, 2016

Jen-Jones.jpg

What do The Rock (a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson), National Geographic, and a St. Paul, Minnesota-based custom knife shop have in common?

At first glance, the world’s highest paid actor, a venerable magazine outlet and a one-man knife shop might not have much in common. But they are united by their leading edge use of a popular photo- and video-sharing social media platform. In other words, all three are killing it on Instagram.

The Rock

The Rock’s Instagram stats are beyond impressive. He’s got nearly 69 million followers and his posts regularly receive hundreds of thousands of likes. He posts candid photos and videos from his movie shoots, at home playing with his infant daughter, in the gym, hanging with other celebrities, interacting with fans, and even surprising kids whose Make-A-Wish wish is to meet The Rock. Whatever you think you know about Dwayne Johnson, if you follow his feed for awhile, you’re in for some surprises. Through Instagram’s small screen, the Rock comes across as a multi-dimensional man (actor, fitness enthusiast, Dad, son, community-minded professional, entrepreneur, and savvy business man) and the face of a powerful brand.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-8-58-07-pm

Paper (as in Magazine)

National Geographic (natgeo) has embraced Instagram as the modern way to do what it’s always done – share its passion for science, exploration and storytelling to help change the world. The feed is every bit as extraordinary as the images the magazine is known for, but the bite-size content is now accessible, free to all, and currently followed by more than 62 million people. Following the feed is a little like going on a “Choose Your Own Science Adventure.” The images are captivating and inspiring, and the captions (often penned by photographers) help followers appreciate the global, cultural or scientific context of the images.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-9-04-08-pm

Scissors (OK, they’re knives, technically)

WORKERMAN (wkrmn) is a one-man operation in St. Paul, Minnesota that makes really, really cool pocket knives. If you’re one of WORKERMAN’s enthusiastic following of 15,000 and counting, then you already know the brand stands for one-of-a-kind design, handmade products and high quality craftsmanship. Follow the feed and be prepared to develop a desire to own your own WORKERMAN creation…or two, or three. What I like best about this feed is that the brand doesn’t follow any set content rules. Instead, the posts are a genuine reflection of what’s happening in the shop that day: new knives ready for sale, videos that show the knives or the maker in action, and regrams of fan photos.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-9-11-43-pm

On the surface, these three brands are wildly different. But they share 5 key methods for successful brand-building on Instagram:

  1. Give your followers a peek behind the curtain. Invite your fans into the real life workings of your operation. Let your followers in on what it really takes to get your product on the shelf, how you celebrate success, what projects or products you’re most excited about, or your works-in-process.
  1. Be real. Let your brand personality or business culture come through in your posts. Use images and language that paint a realistic picture of your brand. If someone followed your stream for 2 months and then walked into your shop or office, would they feel a connection between the “voice” of your Instagram feed and the reality of meeting you or your team?
  1. Have fun. The Instagram platform is a visual playground, so let your brand play. People scroll through Instagram when they want a quick mental break. Use images and write captions to inspire and amuse your followers.
  1. Mix It Up. There’s a lot of talk about creating a consistent feed, but as we see from these three brands, your posts don’t all have to look and feel the same, they just need to look and feel like your brand. Make use of the platform’s key features to let you brand shine in still images, videos and in Stories.
  1. Give credit where credit is due. Tag team members, creative partners, collaborators and fans when mentioning them in your posts. Regram (share) posts that mention your brand. Nobody wants to see a stream that is 100% self-serving, so make sure some of your posts are about sharing the love.

Which of these Rock, Paper, Scissors methods are you already using? And which will you try next?


Jen Jones is currently a graduate student at West Virginia University in the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program. She is the founder of Whip-Smart, an IMC firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This post originally appeared on her blog, Whip-Smart Marketing

Election ’16: The Power of Emerging Media

November 7, 2016

election

With the 2016 election upon us, the political phone calls, flyers in the mail, and online advertisements from candidates hoping to win your votes are in full swing. No matter what political party you identify with, it is important to exercise your right to vote! With that in mind, it has been four years since the last election and the use of emerging media to encourage Americans to vote has grown exponentially.

Not only have emerging media platforms such as social media provided the public with easier access to the stances of the political candidates, but it has played a large role in encouraging those who do not believe that their vote counts to head to the polls. For over 20 years, Rock The Vote, a nonprofit organization, has focused their efforts on using popular culture to encourage Americans to vote- specifically millennials. For many young Americans, registering to vote can seem like a confusing and intimidating process. Rock The Vote takes the mystery out of registering and provides voters with all of the information they need come election day from what to bring to where their voting location is.

This year, Rock The Vote teamed up with American Eagle Outfitters as part of their #WeAllCan campaign. The campaign encourages Millennials to be independent, embrace their unique style, and use their voice to encourage change. American Eagle Outfitters released a small line of clothing in conjunction with Rock The Vote to help spread awareness of the organization. Additionally, Rock The Vote not only has television advertisements, but are very active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook promoting the importance of activism and voting. Rock The Vote understands that one of the most prominent ways to reach consumers in today’s society is through the emerging media outlets such as the internet and social media. In doing this, the stigma around voting as being difficult and pointless has begun to disappear, making the appeal of voicing your opinion much greater.

capture
American Eagle Outfitters merchandise with in conjunction with Rock The Vote. (Image from rockthevote.com)

The power of emerging media to encourage activism and change is truly significant and we often underestimate the power of a simple Tweet or Instagram photo. Through emerging media outlets, Americans have been given access to a wealth of information on the 2016 election and have been encouraged to use their constitutional rights to voice their opinions. Emerging media outlets such as social media are no longer just for updating friends and family on your vacation or snapping a photo of your breakfast. These outlets have become platforms for empowering Americans young and old alike to stand up for their beliefs and get involved.


Kristen Cosner is currently a graduate student at West Virginia University in the Integrated Marketing Communications master’s program. This blog post originally appeared on her blog Artistry & Elegance

The Real Function of Hashtags

October 31, 2016

robin-rectenwald

How many of us trendy marketers have used hashtags to promote our brand or used hashtags just to use funny or popular phrases such as #sorrynotsorry, #nofilter, or #yolo?

In reality, how many of these hashtags did you actually follow or look up after using them? If you’re like me, then probably never. If you’re like me, you probably used the hashtag to be trendy and funny, like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the real purpose for hashtags. Hashtags are meant to categorize messages so people interested in that topic can follow it. After attending my first major communications conference this weekend, I now realize the real function of hashtags and how powerful they can be.

I had a very lucky opportunity to go to the 2016 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference held in Indianapolis. Like any other event I’ve been to, there were signs posted everywhere and reminders in the program to use the hashtag #PRSAICON. Normally my gut reaction of seeing these hashtags at events are, “Ya, okay, maybe.” To me, I always thought that this was just a branding technique for the company to raise awareness about them. I never thought of it as a genuine call to action that could benefit me.

However, after hearing from some of the most brilliant speakers and communications professionals, I decided to join the Twitter trend at the conference. I wanted my friends and family to know that I was sitting in the audience listing to stories from Derrick Kayongo, Founder and CEO of the Center for Civil and Human rights, Captain Scott Kelly, Astronaut and United States Navy Test Pilot, Theresa Payton, former White House Chief Information Officer, and many more. Why not join the fun and use the hashtag?

Not only was I able to gain new followers and increase the number of likes and retweets for my own posts, but I was able to connect with people at the conference that I never got the chance to meet in person. With hundreds of attendees from all over the world, six keynote speakers, 81 breakout sessions and variety of other networking and professional development workshops over a short span of two and a half days, it was impossible to hear and see everything I wanted. Thanks to the event hashtag, #PRSAICON, I was able to follow along with the other tweets that shared photos, PowerPoint presentation slides, memorable quotes and entertaining GIFS. This hashtag made me feel like I got a piece of all of the sessions and I was able to participate in live conversations.

For this reason, I encourage marketers to think about how you can use emerging media to genuinely create opportunities that will benefit your audience, not just your brand. For those of you that have ran successful engagement campaigns, please feel free to share some some tips with us!


Robin Rectenwald is a marketing & communications professional based in Pittsburgh, PA. She is currently a student at West Virginia University in the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program. Check out her blog, Trendy Marketers, for more of her posts.