Archive for the ‘Student Life’ Category

Why Do We Go To School?

April 27, 2016

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Why do we go to school? There are many answers to this question…. We go to better ourselves, to stay connected to trends, to make more money or to teach. Ultimately the answer should be… “we go to school to learn.” In the era of trophies for everyone, it seems we have lost sight of learning. Learning means you will not have a perfect score; you may not get an “A” and you will most definitely have to work hard, otherwise you are not really learning.

I must admit, in the throes of school there were moments when I was extremely frustrated when I did not receive a perfect score. There were a few classes where I racked my brain until I wanted to dump my laptop on its head and throw my books out the window. But the one thing that kept me going was the fact that I was growing. I was challenging myself to learn and do something different, something that did not always come easily.

Capstone was no different. In our weekly discussions, I completely missed the media objectives and did general objectives. I reviewed previous work and the objectives I had done were not focused on media, they were campaign or PR objectives. I was pretty hard on myself. It was the end of the program, how could I possibly get that wrong, after all I have learned? Then my professor said something, “I wish students weren’t so focused on the grades, but on the learning process.” I was suddenly reminded that even after two years, I am still learning.

Cheers to all of us for making this huge investment and a reminder that we all should strive to be learners even when we have reached the finish.

From the Campaign Battlefront

April 19, 2016

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Rest assured, I am not writing a post about the 2016 election (you’re welcome). Rather, I’m reporting on my own mêlée: the exhausting, empowering, sometimes petrifying, but mind-blowingly rewarding human experience that is IMC 636 Campaigns. These last seven weeks and beyond have challenged me in more ways than I could have imagined, but I am seven days away from sending off what has become my most prized piece of work and alas, I can [almost] see the light at the end of the grad school tunnel.

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Sneak peek!

For those of you who have achieved your MSIMC degree, perhaps you’re having flashbacks to those final days of scrambling, and for those who have yet to experience it, strap in. I know I’m making 636 sound like some untamable beast, but I assure you that this has been the most gratifying course of my college career. Today, between working full-time, building my IMC campaign, and teaching yoga on the side, I’ve somehow managed to find a free moment for reflection, and this is what I’ve realized:

The phrase, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” is a sham. I entered into this program because I love marketing communications, and I suspect that I share this passion with many of you, but I think that we can all agree that it will never not be work. This program, let alone this profession,  is undeniably challenging, and it requires large amounts of attention on a nearly daily basis. But what keeps us in the game is that feeling of pride after a job well done.

I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing IMC for the past month and a half, and not because I have to, but because I want to. Something shifts in you during the capstone course; the more effort you put into your campaign, the more effort you want to put into it. In the dwindling days between me and this due date, I genuinely look forward to sitting down at my computer to continue construction of my personal masterpiece. I’m reveling in the chaos, and that’s how I know I’m doing what I love. So, instead of aiming to never work a day in your life, aim to find something you love so much, you’re willing to work your ass off for it.

Have you considered INTEGRATE 2016 and IMC 621?

March 31, 2016

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Spoiler Alert…. This is my hard sell (I am not a spectacular sales person, so pun intended) for INTEGRATE 2016 and IMC 621 (the professor and curriculum are updated for 2016). I understand there are a lot of electives and we are in a digital program, however sometimes real-life connections and a class that was not on your agenda are worth the risk.

As many of you know, WVU is hosting INTEGRATE conferences in multiple locations. However, the flagship event is hosted in Morgantown and IMC 621 ‘Current Topics in IMC’ is centered around INTEGRATE 2016. Check out WVU’s 31 reasons to #attendINTEGRATE.

My journey to INTEGRATE started at DTW, continued through PIT and on to Morgantown:

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The conference is well organized, moves quickly and provides you with information that you will be able to draw upon in future classes. Personally speaking while attending, I was able to use information that Scott Cuppari shared regarding Coca-Cola’s age limit for advertising in IMC 619.The collaboration and participation across faculty, administration and students was amazing; #integrate15 even trended locally and shows the impact this group has in the social space.

Beyond just the conference agenda, for those of you curious around the expectations of Capstone, I highly recommend the overview that kicks off INTEGRATE. Those in 621 followed the Capstone prep with a class meeting. So why am I making a hard sell of INTEGRATE and IMC 621? INTEGRATE has a plethora of content that I would never have discovered before IMC 621; what grad student has time to watch that, unless it is part of your class?

Social and digital media are excellent, but real life connections still matter. Having the WVU IMC program online is probably the only way I would be able to complete my Master’s degree. But the ability to make real world connections with classmates, faculty and teachers was tremendously helpful.

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Talking and spending time with people can dramatically change your impression of them, particularly if the only other interactions you have had are through their written words. What’s not to love about attending a great conference, as part of a class where you learn and discover excellent integrated marketing messages from analytics, to direct marketing and everything in between?

Understanding their backgrounds, jobs and families outside of what you have seen or read online is an important component to interpersonal connections. In addition, most of my relationships with the Professors did not extend beyond our classes, so being able to spend time learning about their careers and the classes they teach is very impactful. Had I not been so far into the program, I probably would have changed some of my electives based on those discussions.

Real world connections are not just good for our brains, they are good for our health too. “When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other. It’s micro-moments like these, in which a wave of good feeling rolls through two brains and bodies at once, that build your capacity to empathize as well as to improve your health” (Matter, 2013).

Reference
Matter, G. (2013, March 23). Your Phone vs. Your Heart. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/opinion/sunday/your-phone-vs-your-heart.html?_r=1.

It is never too late…

February 16, 2016

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Greetings fellow IMCers, my name is Whitney. I work at General Motors in their social Center of Expertise (think governing body) as well as managing the US social care team. Here is a look at our social media command center:

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Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with great brands such as P&G, 3M, T-Mobile, Children’s Place, Budweiser and Ford.

I live in ‘Pure Michigan.’ I’m married to an engineer and car lover and we have 4-year-old twins.

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There is no denying how much work you must put into grad school. As I near the finish line with Capstone starting in March, I thought I would share my top five tips:

  1. Plan Ahead, Don’t Wait. If it is due on Monday, plan to finish it on Sunday. If it is due on Wednesday, finish it on Tuesday. There are so many things that come up including work, family, even the opportunity to go to a concert. If you aren’t ahead, you are behind. Why Buy: there were nights where I just fell asleep from exhaustion. I’ve traveled to China, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, India and Dubai during this program; you can do it.

 

  1. Ask Questions. Whether it is an assignment, an interesting article or a fellow student’s career, ask the professors and your fellow students’ questions. Why Buy: there were two assignments in this program where I was docked points for information that was actually contained in my papers. Once I asked, the teachers reviewed and revised my grades. Everyone is human.

 

  1. Own your schedule. Know what classes you want to take and when they are offered. Understand when the Capstone is offered and how that impacts your schedule. Research professors. Have the section number and a back-up ready when it is time to register. Log-on as soon as the schedule is open regardless of what time zone you are in. Why Buy: I enrolled for one semester while sitting at an outdoor restaurant in Singapore. I am graduating exactly two years after I started.

 

  1. Don’t expect As, Earn them. Grad school is hard work and should be a competitive environment. Why Buy: in most companies, they have their own rating system for performance reviews.

 

  1. Talk about the WVU IMC program. From your colleagues, friends and family, talk about what you are learning. You never know where the conversation will take you. Why Buy: having pride in the program helps balance the times when you would rather have been doing anything but homework.

 

Whether you are at the beginning of your IMC journey or the end, what tips would you share?

Flex that Creative Muscle—Work out your Imagination!

September 15, 2015

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I’m a runner. More often than not, you’ll find me running countless laps around my neighborhood right after work. But, I didn’t always enjoy running. In fact, I used to be very bad at it. Back in high school, I would struggle to complete a mile in less than 15 minutes. However, after many years of conditioning and long runs, I have no problem running 5+ miles! Years of daily, hard aerobic workouts paid off, and now my mile time is around 8 minutes.

I believe it is also equally important to actively “work out” your mind. Depending on the type of mind exercises you do, you can improve your creativity and/or analytical thinking. As members of the marketing field, we need both creative and analytical thinking skill sets. So, why not set aside time to work out our minds so that we can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our creative and analytical thinking?

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Specifically, since I am currently in IMC 615 Creative Strategy, I want to focus on how to improve creativity. I wanted to share a few things that I personally do to exercise my mind. These “mind exercises” have helped me to become more creative and imaginative:

  1. Change your mindset. Switch from a “I can’t” way of thinking to a “what if?” mindset. This allows you to see a problem or a certain aspect of life from new and different angles.
  2. Daydream. There is no set way to daydream, but you should practice doing it. Personally when I daydream, I like to think of “what if’s” and turn them into detailed story plots. Therefore, daydreaming allows my mind to get better at creating stories and characters. In fact, storytelling has become very easy for me, because I daydream so much.
  3. Try something new. Break away from your routine. I like to take a Saturday trip once a month to visit a new place or State Park. Doing this opens my mind up to new experiences and new scenery.
  4. Immerse yourself in art—movies, paintings, music, sculptures, dances, theater, and novels. This allows you to see and experience other people’s perspectives and ways of thinking.
  5. Learn about other cultures and try to interact with people from those cultures. Many of us have narrow scopes and perceptions about the world; I know I did before I began traveling the U.S. and the world with the military. In fact, I once traveled to Africa for a month, and that experience opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and creativity. They had completely different lifestyles and artistic styles!

What about you? Do you have any specific “mind exercises” you do to improve your imagination and creativity? Please share!

Hello from the City that Never Sleeps

July 2, 2015

Hello everyone!

Hope everyone is having an amazing week so far. We are a few weeks away from the end of the first summer session, the 4th of July holiday is coming up and overall summer is officially upon us. Time for some good R&R, and vacation time with family and friends. I personally am looking forward to spending the 4th of July weekend with friends in Lake Tahoe. I hear its really beautiful down there, and this would be my first time in San Francisco so I’m looking forward to the experience.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself. My name is Yvonne Unubun, I live in New York and work in digital marketing at an ad agency called Razorfish, as an account manager. I have a Bachelor’s in Communications from City University of New York’s City College with a concentration in advertising and public relations. In my downtime, which is scarce these days with school, you can find me catching up on some of my favorite TV shows – Nashville, HTGAWM, Grey’s Anatomy, or exploring New York City and the many attractions and fun things it has to offer all year around.

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Top – bottom: US Open, Walking the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny summer day.

I am currently in my third class of the IMC program and so far I’ve taken Introduction to IMC, Brand Equity Management and right now I’m taking market research and analysis. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I began the program in January of this year. I had originally taken one class at a different IMC program here in New York, but seeing as the program was in a 100% classroom setting it was really tough having to leave work early to commute to class, and then begin the journey back home. Three classes in I have to say although convenient in the sense of not having to physically be in a classroom, online learning is serious business. Between the weekly readings recommended by the professors, reading chapters from the assigned text, weekly discussion posts/responses, and weekly assignments there’s a lot to keep you on your toes throughout the week. However with time you are able to figure out a routine that works for you and your schedule.

As a student ambassador, I look forward to sharing my experiences throughout the program with you all. Also, I’ll be sharing interesting articles, industry news, outstanding marketing campaigns or fun facts about brands, and companies. Feel free to reach out with any questions or suggestions of what you would like for me to blog about.

You can reach me at Yvonne.Unubun@gmail.com.

INTEGRATE 2015: Speaker Profile – Steve Radick

March 23, 2015

“Integrated marketing can’t be a mandate. It has to be a mindset.”
– Steve Radick VP, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh 

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The tweet-worthy quote Steve shared with me in the interview below highlights the quality of thought leadership content that will be shared with attendees at the INTEGRATE conference.

Registration is still open. However, early bird rates end on March 31st.

@Julie_Long_: On your blog you stated, “Integrated marketing involves a lot more than simply bringing the SEO guy to the meeting.” How do you define IMC and who should be attending meetings?

@sradick: There’s this misperception in the industry that integrated marketing means having a bunch of boxes on an org chart. Just because you have a Director of Search, and a VP of Media, a Director of PR, a Senior Social Media Strategist, and a User Experience Czar doesn’t mean that you’ve got an integrated marketing agency. You’re actually more likely to have an old-fashioned game of Hungry Hungry Hippos on your hands – everyone’s scratching and clawing to get more money and power for their respective discipline. Integrated marketing is about more than giving each department a seat at the table – it’s about making sure the people in those seats are more concerned with the business than themselves.

If you focus only on involving people because of where they are on the org chart, you’ll get people who build from the bottom up. That is, the social media guy thinks social media will solve everything. The paid media guy wants a paid media solution. And so on and so on. You end up with a bunch of strategies and tactics that someone then has to cobble together into a single, coherent strategy. Shouldn’t we instead strive to build strategies from the top down? Get the people in the room who are focused on meeting the business objectives first, not his or her line of business. Integrated marketing can’t be a mandate. It has to be a mindset.

@Julie_Long_: At INTEGRATE 2015, your presentation will be focusing on the arms race currently taking place in content marketing. Can you tease us with any of the topic areas that will be discussed?

@sradick: Just like the hammer in search of a nail, marketers are spending more and more of their time and energy reducing every conversation, article, and photo to a piece of data, all in an effort to maximize their ROI and deliver the most eyeballs at the lowest price. There was a time wayyyy back when, in 2010, when content marketing best practices were to write a blog post and post to Facebook 3-4 times a week. As more content was created, it became harder and harder to stand out though. Marketers took this as a challenge and figured that the best way to solve this problem was to pump out even more content. The more you post, the more chances there are of people seeing it right? Instead of a world where brands created content that solved problems, added value, or created deeper relationships with customers, we created a world where more simply equals better. That’s why there’s so much spam and so many banner ads. It’s easier to spam a million people in the hopes that 1% of them will click rather than creating something valuable for 50,000 people where 20% will click. Where does it stop?

Content marketing gives us the opportunity to rethink how brands market themselves for the better – if we can stop ourselves from trying to game the system and instead think about how to best optimize our relationships with our customers.

@Julie_Long_: Students/Alums: Submit one career advancement question for Steve and the winning question will be personally answered by him at INTEGRATE.

Post your question in the comments section below.

 

A special thank you goes out to Steve for taking the time to provide his thoughtful contributions to this article.

Online Student Life: The Importance of the Furry Study Buddy

February 11, 2015

Student life is a little different at a 100% online program like WVU’s IMC. We connect virtually through Linked In profiles and we might follow each other on Twitter, but there’s no student union to foster classmate comradery. Each course begins with an introduction post – tell us about yourself, what brought you to the program and what you hope to get out of the course? As a common closing statement a lot of students mention their families and furry study buddies. Student comradery bubbles up when we can bond over rescue dogs and typical cat antics.

So this is a post dedicated to the dogs and cats (and even a horse!) that are the loyal, late-night companions of current and recently graduated IMC students.

Add a comment below about your furry study buddy and email me [jvlink@mix.wvu.edu] a photo so we can round up some more photos of furry honorary students.

Stephanie & Roscoe

Stephanie Marchant and Roscoe

Meet Roscoe… Roscoe P Kitty Cat… or as we refer to him around here – RPKC. He has been one of two furry study buddies throughout the IMC program that kept me motivated with purrs of pride, head bumps of encouragement, and the occasional face of disinterest to keep me grounded and focused on school and not how adorable he is. Which is hard, because he is.


Andrea & Kicks

Andrea Blanton and KicksThis is my study buddy, Kicks! I adopted him from the animal shelter almost two years ago and he has been with me throughout my entire IMC journey! He likes to help me with my courses by laying on my books, carefully watching me edit my papers, and sitting right in front of the tv so I don’t get distracted!


Marie, Silas & Jericho

Marie Carly and Silas JerichoThese are my study buddies… Silas (left) and Jericho (right). They’ve helped me through undergrad and now my time in the IMC program! They’re great at distracting and helping me relax when I’m frustrated with an assignment. Oh… and they’re super cute and soft… so I mean- cuddling with them while writing a paper makes the whole homework thing a lot easier.


Rachel & Meeko

Rachel and MeekoThis is Meeko. She insists I get my homework done quickly so I can give her pets, belly rubs & kisses. She also makes me laugh when I’ve hit a wall with studying. Usually because she’s running around the house in a manner similar to parkour.


Sara & Charlie

Sarah and CharlieMeet Charlie, my one-year-old German Shepherd. He’s a rescue smile emoticon I’ve had him for four months now. Charlie makes sure I never go without a break from homework. He gets “paws on,” and he helps me by removing my laptop from my lap and inserting himself. He’s 80lbs, 26″ at the shoulder and still growing. He’s half my grocery bill. Oh, and he knows German commands. Besides the nuisance of having dog hair everywhere, he is the joy of my life.


Kelly & Capt. Jack

Kelly and Capt JackMeet Capt. Jack…as you can tell from the picture he always right there to give me help when I need it! (except when he is in the plants knocking them all over the floor) With that being said, I love him so much and I’m so thankful I adopted him this past November


Tyler & Nyla

Tyler and NylaThis is Nyla. After I finish an assignment, she’s there to offer overwhelming positivity. Although, if the program wasn’t online, I’m sure she’d still try to eat my homework.


Mary & Molly

Mary and MollyFrom 610 through 636 Molly was my constant and faithful companion. I would get stuck into my IMC books and she would be right there at my feet.


Lauren & Nora

Lauren and NoraNora is our little rescue that we adopted this fall. She’s still learning that my MacBook isn’t a pillow so I usually have to keep her in a separate room while doing DPs. There’s no more rewarding feeling than coming out once I’ve turned everything in and cuddling with this little lady.


Kate & Skye

Kate and ShyeMeet Skye, our rescue Aussie mix with bright blue eyes and adorable ears. She spends most nights laying next to me while I pound away at my keyboard only to occasionally close it on my hands as a reminder she needs love too. She’s been with me most of the program, and is pretty excited for me to finish in December so I can spend more time giving her belly rubs and treats.


Brittany & Austin

Brittany and AustinMeet Austin: He may be a little bigger than your average furry friend, but he snuggles just the same!


Carisa & Hodor

Carisa and HodorHodor thinks studying via osmosis is worth a shot.


Julie & Ruby Sue

Julie and RubyMy Boston Terrier, Ruby, is my 12-year-old IMC sidekick as she is my loyal foot-warmer and late-night companion. Here she’s basking in the midnight glow of the desk lamp. She’s survived my single days, newlywed phase, two children and now a Masters degree. Someone get this pup her own jar of peanut butter – she’s mastered companionship and deserves a treat! Any guesses on the movie character for whom she’s named?

Let us know about your furry study buddy!  We’ll post again with some more pics.

Seven things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program

May 1, 2014

It’s hard to believe that I started this journey to get my Master’s Degree three and a half years ago and it’s about to end in less than two weeks! I have learned A LOT in the last 3.5 years — about marketing yes, but also about endurance, time management, writing, research, and myself. Some of these lessons I picked up early on, and others only more recently. But all of them are things I wish I had learned a bit sooner. So here it is. For all of you who are just getting started in the program (and even those of you who have been with it a little while), here are seven (because five was too few and ten was too many) things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program.

1. Time management takes on a whole new level in the IMC program. No matter how good you think you are at time management, you will find yourself hitting that submit button with only seconds to spare at least once per semester. At first I thought maybe it was just me. But then I started connecting with some of my classmates offline and found out I wasn’t alone! Even the most dedicated and disciplined of classmates has had a week or two (or 9) when they have found themselves working feverishly on Monday night only to click that upload button at 11:54 p.m. I don’t recommend doing this a lot (I personally have had way too many close calls), but cut yourself some slack if it happens every once in a while. And know that Murphy’s Law will prevail and those assignments that you think won’t be such a big deal will end up taking you twice as long to get done! So try and start early as often as you can to save yourself the stress.

Calvin and Hobbs on procrastination

We all find ourselves hitting the submit button at 11:54 at one time or another.

2. Quality sources make all the difference! As I progressed through the program I learned from each professor which trade publications and sources they favored for quality information when doing research. Some of these I subscribed to early-on and used throughout the course, others I only discovered late in the game and I wish I had thought of them sooner. So, here are a few that I recommend you sign-up for now: AdAge, AdWeek, PR Week, DM News, Pew Research, and MarketingProfs. I also highly recommend you take advantage of the online library databases for accessing journals and competitor/industry information. They’re free and they will give you information you will not find in a Google search. I’m sure there are more that classmates can recommend, but those are the gold standards that have helped me through many a discussion board post and weekly paper!

3. INTEGRATE is awesome. Seriously. You should go! At least once. I almost didn’t go last year and changed my mind at the last minute and I’m so glad I did. Not only were there some great sessions, but it was the first chance I had to meet classmates and professors in person and see the WVU campus. It made me feel so much more connected to the program. I only wish I had gone sooner.

Evernote on an iPad

Evernote helps me work on school work from any place or device.

4. Empower yourself to be mobile. I think I was about 3 semesters into the program when I read a blog post by Kevin that talked about some of his favorite tools that helped him find success in the IMC program. It was the first time I had ever heard of Evernote. It has since become one of my favorite go-to programs for school, work and personal life. Using a tool like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote allows you to save your research, and even write your discussion board posts or papers in one place, but access it from any device. So whether you’re in your office at your desk, sitting on the couch at home with your iPad, or even on your phone while waiting for your kids to finish their piano lessons, you can sneak in a little work and pick right back where you left off at the next opportune moment.

5. Every professor is different. It’s true. No matter how consistent the program is (and trust me, it’s pretty darn consistent compared to others I know about), or how standardized the syllabus, each professor is going to communicate differently and grade differently. They are human, after all! Yet for some reason I’ve seen a lot of classmates get very upset by this fact. Were your undergrad professors all the same? I highly doubt it. I know mine weren’t. You will have favorites and some that kick-your-butt! And there may not be consensus on this by your classmates…so just because your friend said they loved Professor so-and-so doesn’t mean you will. All I can say is accept this fact now and it will save you a lot of disappointment and frustration down the road. For my part (and I have nothing to gain by saying this since I’m pretty much done with the program), I found all of my professors to be reasonable and fair.

6. Connect with classmates outside of Blackboard. It wasn’t until very recently that I got invited to a Facebook Group for IMC students, that was created by a classmate (and is not officially affiliated with the IMC program). This has been one of the best discoveries of the last 3 years because it has allowed me to “meet” people I’ve never had class with, ask for suggestions, tips and recommendations relating to certain classes, share ideas, commiserate about our lack of a life on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and just in general talk…you know that thing you did in the hallways when you were in undergrad? The stories that got shared around the lunch table or in the lobby of your dorm room? That stuff is missing when you’re in an online program. But thanks to social media there are ways to connect with colleagues outside of class. Whether it’s through Facebook, LinkedIn or even email, I highly recommend you get connected to other students outside of the Blackboard classroom! In fact if you’re interested in joining the Facebook group let me know!

7. At some point you will want to quit. OK, maybe this won’t happen to everyone, but I know that a good majority of the people I’ve met through the program have contemplated it at least once before they finish. And some even do quit…for a semester or two. Whether your personal life changes, your work life gets too hectic, or you just plain need a break, at some point you may find yourself wondering – “Can I really keep doing this?” The answer is YES! Yes, you can, even if you have to take a break — don’t give up! You will be so glad when you cross that finish line.

IMC During a Trip to the Windy City

August 27, 2013

Last weekend I went on a mini-vacation to Chicago before classes started again.  I don’t know where the time went between classes, but it was good to get out of town and get refocused!  During the trip, I couldn’t help but think of the many levels of IMC happening in the various locations we visited.

One of the great sales promotions we took advantage of was the Chicago City Pass.  We were able to skip lines, gain admission to a variety of locations, and get a discount on food and other items.  Because of the City Pass, we visited locations we would have ordinarily skipped.  Most locations had great signage and made customers feel like a VIP with City Pass access.  Prior to purchasing the City Pass, I looked for reviews via social media.  As with most products or services, there were mixed reviews.  Some locations treated the City Pass differently.  All locations followed the guidelines however, there were inconsistencies in customer service.

Overall, I noticed the glaring differences in customer service across locations in the city.  At times, we were even ignored by sales associates.  It seemed as though some of the locations were unaware of the impact customer service has on a brand.  As I traveled through the Skydeck, Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, the John Hancock Observatory, and Navy Pier, I couldn’t help but think about the layering of branding that occurs.  Customers will form opinions about the initial location.  For example, we had a great time at the Shedd Aquarium, but a less than desirable time at the Skydeck.  Those experiences impact the brand of those two facilities.  Both of those locations we visited because wephoto(2) had the City Pass.  So those experiences impacted our opinions and feelings about the City Pass.  We loved our hotel and the Hancock Observatory, but were not pleased with the service at the restaurant we visited on Navy Pier, and I got very tired of having our photo taken at every location we visited.  Those experiences impact how we talk about our overall trip and the city of Chicago.

I also see this “nesting” at work.  I work in a student union, and our customers view what happens in our building as being the responsibility of our organization.  If a student has good or bad food, they associate that with our union, even though dining services is a separate entity.  It is not in our best interest for us to try to make those differentiations.  So, we all work together for the greater good, the brand image of the union.

Our overall trip to Chicago was great and there were a lot of consistencies working toward the brand image of the city while maintaining the individuality of the locations we visited.  The architecture was beautiful and many of the locations we visited had similar banners out front (tying the museums together) and consistent imaging for the City Pass (which helped customers easily utilize it).

Consistency is always key in IMC and branding.  Take a look at Disney.  They strive for each customer, no matter which part of Disney they visit, to have the same experience.  When you get off the plane, when you call the front desk, when you visit the locations, each person says, “Have a magical day.”  These tactics have helped create Disney’s brand.  I don’t think the city of Chicago needs to develop a similar style however, each level (the city, the City Pass, the individual locations) should strive for consistencies.  That’s what customer service and identity standards are for after all!

What are your experiences with “nested branding?”  Any other cities, multi-location companies out there very successful?


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