Happy Holidays!

December 24, 2016 by

Dear IMC Friends and Family,

We hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday!


Mentor and Be Mentored.

December 14, 2016 by


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.

How to Get An Interview at a Marketing Agency

December 5, 2016 by


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 II – How to Get An Interview at a Marketing Agency


In part I of this two-part series, I outlined five ways to position yourself for an agency gig even if you don’t have any marketing experience. After reading it, you may have thought, “That’s great except how do I get the interview in the first place?” It’s a fair question. Without experience, how will you get your resume through the HR software? The answer is, you don’t. You have to go old school on their asses. You have to pull out tactics from back in the day and use them like you have been doing them all your Millennial life.

Use Snail Mail

If you were creating a marketing campaign for a client, you would use your IMC knowledge and create a multi-channel effort. While the digital channels may be most in your comfort zone, snail mail gets through because it’s unexpected.

Create a direct mail postcard campaign with yourself as the featured product. Assemble a targeted mailing list, write the copy, design the piece, (or have it professionally designed) optimize the offer and the call to action.

Remember your IMC lessons on frequency and reach and send the same or a slightly different version of the postcard every month to your targeted mailing list of hiring managers at different agencies. Show them that you are a true IMC practitioner and include your social media profile and the web address of your portfolio on the postcard.

Network Like You Mean It

There are advertising and marketing associations all around the world where you can meet other marketing professionals. Use these associations’ websites to find events in your area that you can attend. Show up to at least two events with your perfected 30-second elevator pitch and your resume. Make it a goal to meet and talk with at least ten people and to ask each of them if they know of any agencies who are looking to hire entry level candidates. Follow up on every lead you get.

Ask For An Informational Interview

An informational interview is a twenty to thirty-minute interview that you initiate to gather information on an organization, industry or role within a company. It is not a job interview. Informational interviews are a tool to help you meet people in the industry you are targeting to learn more about their job, their challenges, and what they are looking for in new hires. You can use LinkedIn to research agencies and their personnel to develop a wish list of people you want to talk to. If you subscribe to LinkedIn Premium, you can send messages to people you don’t know.

The trick to informational interviewing is to make it clear that you are not looking for a job, but that you are gathering information about the industry, company or role so that you can make informed career decisions. Coming from this angle takes the pressure off the potential interviewee and makes them more open to helping you. (You can find great how to’s on getting an informational interview, preparing for it, and conducting one like a pro at themuse.com).

Be Tenacious

Jamie T. of Fort Collins, Colorado started looking for agency work in her junior year of her undergraduate marketing program. She emailed, and cold called dozens of agencies to secure a summer internship. The one agency she was most attracted to didn’t return her calls, and when she finally got someone on the phone, they weren’t all that interested and put her off. (Okay, it was my agency, and we initially blew her off.) Jamie didn’t give up. She kept asking the owner of the firm (my boss) for an opportunity until he finally said yes.

Perseverance won the day. Jamie got her agency internship and when she graduated from school the following summer we offered her a full-time slot in our firm.

If you’re short on experience, it can be difficult to get an interview at a marketing agency. But if you use these old-school tactics, you’ll stand out and likely get a hiring manager’s attention.

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.

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

November 29, 2016 by


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


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.

Put Humans Back Into Your Storytelling

November 21, 2016 by


In a world where we count followers, clicks, users and bloggers, it can be hard to forget that there are humans behind those screens. As we continue to use various forms of technology to communicate with our audience, we need to think of our emerging media platforms more like a campfire as opposed to screens.

In other words, stop grouping your hundreds or thousands of followers into one and instead, start thinking about them as individuals. What do individuals want to hear from your brand? Last year, the Brand Storytelling Report found that there is still a high demand for storytelling and that these stories should feature REAL people. See the infographic below summarizing its key findings.


Last week, I gave tips on how to incorporate emerging media into your marketing & communications plan. This week, I’m sharing three tips on how to add quality content that your customers actually want to see and read.

Stay grounded. Remember where your company came from and what your founders did to make it a unique and successful business. Learn about your history. Talk to your past and current employees and share with your customers this part of your story. Customer want transparency and honesty. Why not share your company’s history, its people and what makes it so unique?

Storytelling has always been a part of human civilization. While today we get our fair share of storytelling from entertainment such as books, movies and tv shows, these stories all contain common elements that every great story should have:

  • Humans (characters): Every story introduces a protagonist, which the audience slowly learns about throughout the course of the story. Your brand’s story should also feature a human or two.
  • Action (plot): There wouldn’t be a story if it didn’t have some type of exciting plot or action for the audience to follow along with. What are the humans doing in your story? Is it interesting? Is it genuine? Don’t make the action all about your brand. Make it an interesting story that people will want to hear, read or watch.
  • Solution (the end): This is the part where marketers can really be creative to find an authentic way to tie your brand to the story, whether it is offering a solution, an answer or maybe just a means. I was recently reminded of an incredible example at West Virginia University’s INTEGRATE conference in Chicago. Remember Extra Gum’s #GiveExtraGetExtra campaign? Take a look at the ad that literally brought tears to eyes, as any great story has the power to do.

Whatever story you pick, this story should ignite a powerful emotion that will make people want to act. In the example above, the message was to “Give Extra, Get Extra,” or encourage people to buy and share the gum. Or, maybe your brand wants to use emerging media to create an experience for your customers. Whatever you want your call to action to be, make sure that it is powerful enough to emotionally affect people. This is where marketers will really see results.

Have you created a human story that really resonated with your audience and sparked action? Take a seat at the “digital campfire” and share it with us!



November 16, 2016 by


INTEGRATE Chicago featured six industry speakers: Bryan J. Bennett, Clarissa Beyah-Taylor, Andy Crestodina, Andrés Ordóñez, Hugo Pérez and Joseph P. Truncale. Although all practice in similar fields, their presentations were diverse and each, in my opinion, offered one clear takeaway for attendees.

Andrés Ordóñez from BBDO Energy kicked off INTEGRATE Chicago with a session focused on the creative process. Ordóñez pulled from his work with world-renowned clients, such as Pepsi, Orbit and Extra, and explained the key to creating a thought-provoking and viral-bound campaign. He claimed, as marketers and creatives, we must distance ourselves from our work and ask one simple question: “Would I share this?”


Takeaway #1: Always put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and constantly ask if you would share the content you are creating.

Following Ordóñez was Hugo Pérez of the Zeno Group, who focused on effective content storytelling. Through his use of props and video, as well as anecdotes about his prior experiences, Perez explained the importance of creating connections with those in your target market. He called this creating a “common thread.”


Takeaway #2: Creating a “common thread” between your brand and its target consumers makes storytelling easier and your brand more authentic.

  1. Bryan Bennett, author of “Competing on Healthcare Analytics,” was INTEGRATE Chicago’s third presenter. His session focused on five steps to better customer management. Through these five steps, Bennett emphasized the importance of segmenting consumers by purchase behavior and understanding customer lifetime value. He explained, “people respond when you talk to them in the context of what they are looking for.”


Takeaway #3: Focus on the consumers that are of value to your product. Don’t waste energy and company resources “chasing customers with no value.”

Clarissa Beyah-Taylor from Exelon was next to take the stage. Her session, titled “Breaking Through: Key Elements to Career Navigation,” concentrated on personal branding, more specifically, how to make yourself stand out in a crowd. Beyah-Taylor discussed the power of developing and understanding your personal brand, as well as being authentic and networking whenever possible.


Takeaway #4: Everyone is going to have a resume and a cover letter. Focus on what will set you apart and use that as a staple in your personal brand.

Andy Crestodina, co-founder and strategic director of Orbit, channeled his experiences with interconnected content to discuss search engine optimization, blogging and social media strategies. Crestodina explained that great content marketing is like a spider’s web—interconnected. He also claimed that including others in your content can improve optimization levels.


Takeaway #5: Social is viral! Include other people in your content, because “an ally in creation is an ally in promotion.”

Closing out the event was Joseph P. Truncale, CEO of the Public Relations Society of America. His session, which focused on the public relations industry, discussed the changing requirements for today’s professionals. He explained that, as the industry and technology changes, jobs are becoming more diverse and less focused on traditional public relations functions.


Takeaway #6: Although technology is important, do not forget the power and significance of relationships in communication-related fields.

The Rock, Paper, Scissors Guide to Instagram

November 14, 2016 by


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.


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.


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.


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

IMC Takes Over Chicago

November 11, 2016 by


Having never been to Chicago, I was really excited when I found out that we’d be taking INTEGRATE to the Windy City this year. And Chicago didn’t disappoint. I had deep-dish pizza, walked the Magnificent Mile and saw The Bean.


Were you actually in Chicago if you didn’t take a picture with The Bean?

During the months and months of planning for the event, it felt like the conference would never be here, and then all of a sudden we were in Chicago. Well not all of a sudden exactly. We drove. Yes, you may take a moment to praise the IMC team for their sainthood now. The drive wasn’t actually that bad, but it is never fun being in a car for 9 hours twice in the span of four days. But, I had a blast in Chicago and at INTEGRATE Chicago. I was able to meet current students, graduates, instructors and friends of West Virginia University—and that made being in a car for over 18 hours completely worth it.

I chose to work in higher education because it’s a passion of mine. But as I progress in my career, I realize that it’s not just the industry I like. For me, it’s the people. It’s hearing students and alumni talk about the impact an institution has had on their lives. It’s the connections that I’m able to make and the small impact I make through helping people tell their stories and inspire others.

We always promote how beneficial INTEGRATE is for our students, alumni and faculty, and


Here we all are after INTEGRATE Chicago.

how they can come away with the latest IMC strategies and techniques because it’s true. What we don’t really say is why it’s so beneficial for us, the IMC team. It gives our work meaning to see people come together, learn and enjoy themselves. Yes, INTEGRATE is exhausting. Yes, I often feel like a zombie after. But seeing and interacting with students, alumni and faculty reminds me why I do what I do, and for that I’m grateful.

So thank you to everyone who came to INTEGRATE Chicago, not only because you made us have a successful event, but because we like to see you. And thank you for keeping us passionate about what we do.


Ally Kennedy is the communications manager for WVU Reed College of Media’s online programs. 

Election ’16: The Power of Emerging Media

November 7, 2016 by


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.

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 by


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.