Posts Tagged ‘Integrated marketing communications’

IMC Reflections

December 4, 2017

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

The good news: I have completed the Integrated Marketing Communications Program at WVU and I am so glad I decided to do so.

The bad news: marketing is ever changing and the minute you stop learning, you stop succeeding. By the time I cross the stage to accept my diploma there may be a new tactic yielding results.

To celebrate the end of my studies, I decided to dust off this marketing blog for some reflections on my time spent in the program. And because I don’t know what to do with my extra time. And I did take my sweet time…2.5 years to be exact. That’s the beauty of the program, you complete it on your own time. Through international travel, an organization change, an engagement, a relocation from DC to Orlando, and a promotion – my time spent in the program was eventful to say the least.

Here are some of my tips for current or prospective students:

  1. If you fake it, you won’t make it. Read the course material. Don’t act like you know what you’re talking about…you don’t. If you did then you would be the teacher and not the student.
  2. Don’t take the easy way out. One day when I was groaning about leaving work to go write a paper and my previous boss gave me a piece of advice that stuck with me: “make sure you learn something.” She was so right. This program was an investment in myself and if I didn’t take the time to understand, learn, and evolve then I would be doing myself a huge disservice.
  3. Agree to disagree. Some of my most insightful lessons came from fellow students challenging points I made. Another advantage of the program is that students are all involved with marketing in different capacities and bring many perspectives. You’ll hear different approaches, viewpoints, and ideas and they all add up to becoming a stronger marketing professional.
  4. You don’t have to be perfect. I made it all the way through the program with a 4.0 (humble brag) until my final class. As graduate students, you are expected to submit quality work that’s free of grammatical errors or lack of research. You need to prove your knowledge. However, life happens. Some weeks are harder to balance than others and that’s okay, manage your time and stay caught up but don’t feel a “B” is any less valuable than an “A.”
  5. Do it for yourself. Don’t enter the program for anyone other than yourself. Not for your organization, not for your parents, not to say you did. You’ll hate every step of the journey if you only have your eyes on the end. You’ll emerge a stronger, smarter marketer and you alone will steer your next direction.

-Megan Keating


Megan Keating is the director of marketing for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

 

IMC Capstone Q&A with Instructor Archie Sader

October 3, 2017

Q: Tell me a little bit more about the structure of the campaign.

A: An IMC campaign is a complete plan describing the details of your proposal to utilized multiple marketing communications vehicles in an integrated fashion to accomplish specific marketing goals. The key sections of the campaign plan include:

  • Marketing Goals
  • IMC Campaign Objectives
  • Target Audience Definitions
  • Marketing Research Findings
  • Integrated Communications Strategy Statement
  • IMC Campaign Budget and Justification Based on Proposed Goals
  • Media Plan Details
  • Creative Executions
  • Explanation of How Results Will Be Evaluated

Q: How can this class be of value in my future?

A: A well-developed IMC campaign plan will serve you well throughout your career.

You may find that your present employer needs an IMC campaign plan. Very few people have the understanding of our discipline needed to develop a thorough plan. Your employer will welcome, appreciate and value your work. You will have new respect with your current employer.

You may want to work for a specific firm or in a specific industry. Developing a campaign plan for a firm in the industry of your choice will open doors for you in that field.

You may be an entrepreneur or be seeking to start your own firm in the future. Learning the discipline of IMC campaign planning will enable you to develop an effective campaign plan and grow your business successfully.

 Q: How does this class differ from the other classes in the IMC program?

You will be expected to utilize and apply materials from all previously completed IMC courses. Save your notes and textbooks from these courses. And, you will be expected to search for materials in the WVU online library. It is impossible to present all needed materials in our course weekly lesson notes. You will have to take the initiative to find the information needed to develop an effective campaign plan.

Q: How do I choose a client?

If you think marketing communications can be improved at your present organization, your current employer might make for an ideal client. You should keep in mind, however, that a campaign plan with a minimum budget of $250,000 for twelve months must make sense.

If you would like a future position with a specific firm or in a specific industry, choosing a firm in that industry will greatly improve the receptivity of your application for employment in that industry. It is helpful to show potential employers that you have done your homework about that firm and its competitors.

You may have a hobby or interest that is very meaningful to you. It might be art, gardening, sports or one of several others. Choosing a firm in that area may enable you to do your best work.

You may be planning a career in the not-for-profit area. Choosing an organization in this area will be instrumental in your career advancement efforts.

 Q: What level contact, within the company, is needed to complete the campaign?

Having client contact can be instrumental in the development of a successful campaign plan. Your contact can help you establish your marketing goal, present meaningful input on the firm’s background and will agree to review your completed plan. Many executives are extremely busy and have little time to spare. Others have privacy concerns that limit the information to be shared. This is not usually a problem when choosing your present employer as your client. If you choose another firm, however, make several attempts to get a marketing manager or marketing director to agree to spend a few minutes on the phone with you.

Q: What are the requirements around the client proposal?

Your client proposal should include the following information:

  • Organization Name
  • Industry
  • Location
  • Marketing Goal
  • Primary Target Audience
  • IMC Campaign Budget
  • Reason for Choosing this Client

Archie Sader is an adjunct instructor for the West Virginia University Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program and teaches IMC 636 – Campaigns. 

IMC 610 Q&A with Instructor Bonnie Harris

September 21, 2017

Q: Why IMC? 

A: As the number of messaging channels continue to grow, we need a better approach to help reach customers and cut through the “clutter.” In addition, we need a cost effective way to unify the brand message across an increasingly disparate media landscape.  Integrated marketing communications is rapidly becoming the marketing methodology of choice for those reasons. Understanding the components of IMC and knowing how to structure objectives, strategies and tactics for an IMC campaign is critical for marketers today if they wish to succeed.

Q: How is the class structured? 

A: Although it is an online course, the class is structured to promote as much interaction between the professors and other classmates as possible. It involves a discussion forum each week on a specific topic, lessons and required readings, interactive modules, and even one or two live sessions.

Q: What can I expect to learn in this intro course? 

IMC 610 introduces the basic components of integrated marketing communications in terms of paid media, owned media, earned media, audience selection and measurement. The class also helps students prepare for the rigors of graduate school, and learn how to use and implement all the tools provided by the WVU IMC program.

Q: What value does this class bring?

A: Graduate school is vastly different from undergraduate curriculums in that the student is required to develop their own unique point of view, and substantiate that “voice” with credible sources.   IMC 610 is the introduction to the IMC program and really helps students make that transition. In this class, students are introduced to the cornerstones of this graduate program including critical thinking, creativity, combining theory with actual practice, and of course collaborative learning.


Bonnie Harris is an adjunct instructor for the West Virginia University Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program and teaches IMC 610 – Introduction to IMC. Harris is an IMC consultant who has designed and implemented IMC strategies for clients across the United States.

Agency vs. in-house communications: One career, two different worlds

September 5, 2017

People always ask me, “Which do you like best – agency or in-house?” Or, I find myself in talks with a recent graduate who will be on the fence and wants help weighing the pros and cons of each. No one wants to potentially miss anything happening on “the other side.”

As someone who has worked in agency, done a fair amount of independent consulting and has also worked in corporate communications – I can say, you gain rich experience in each and both can be equally rewarding.

In my experience, below are some of the contrasts.

Breadth versus depth of work

In the agency and consulting world, you get a wide range of experience working with different clients who make up different sizes and industries. While you may not become an expert in any one industry, this side of the business allows you to explore a breadth of PR, cultivate media relationships across a variety of beats and discover what you enjoy most. On the other hand, corporate communications offers PR pros a deep understanding of one brand and its assets. The good news? These folks become brand and industry experts. The bad news? You could get pigeon-holed in an industry that you don’t want to work in forever.

“In my view, there is a ton of upside to working in-house. The team is completely focused on common goals, you become more experienced in one industry and you can focus on just doing great work versus billing time,” said Scott Castleman, TransCanada.

Doing what you love.

Unfortunately, not all clients (and industries) are created equal. You may be extremely passionate about telling one brand’s story and fired up about advocating for a specific issue/cause, while you’re not so jazzed about another client’s work.  A pro in corporate communications is, you have the opportunity to seek out an industry or issue that you’re passionate about and put all of your energy into it every day.

The “team” can look very different.

One of the great advantages to working at an agency is being able to bounce ideas off of fellow creatives who understand what you do. Whether you’re testing different messaging, thinking-thru a crisis response or vetting a media pitch – you have a team of communications professionals you can learn from and who can offer valuable feedback. Often times, collaboration with other seasoned PR pros is harder to come by in-house. Your colleagues might be all very smart people at their jobs but when it comes to marketing communications – they just don’t get it (and that can be frustrating at times). The product itself can also be less quality, not having the benefit of collaborating with other, like-minded professionals. As the old saying goes, ‘two heads are better than one!’

“Many strategic communications students or new grads start in agencies where teams of skilled professionals and a solid manager can test their capabilities and determine strengths…That leads to advancement within one’s agency or leaping to an in-house position. This is the career path I see most often,” said Mike Fulton, The Asher Agency. 

Getting the greenlight.

At an agency, waiting to get client approval on every single landing page, ad, story angle, speech, op-ed, etc. can mean deadlines getting pushed back. However, based on my experience working in-house, getting sign off from legal, execs and IT is easier and much quicker.

To sum it up from my point of view – if you like specializing in something and prefer more structure, in-house communications may be the best option. On the other hand – if you dig more variety in your work, then agency is the way to go!


A 2011 graduate of the IMC Program, Bridgette Borst Ombres is a former television news reporter turned PR and marketing professional with a decade of experience working in the communications field across agency, corporate and nonprofit sectors. Bridgette is the director of marketing and communications at a tech company in Pittsburgh and also consults for a variety of businesses.

She is a member of PRSA Pittsburgh, serves on the TEDxPittsburgh committee, the co-founder of Not Your Mama’s Book Club and volunteers as a mentor at WVU Reed College of Media.

Education for the Traveler

August 14, 2017

I never knew how much the world had to offer until I stepped into it and decided to live. For sure, everyone has their own idea of living— some aspire to have the white-picket fence and a home filled with a family, while others, like me, have decided to break away from the ordinary and travel with an uncertainty that is fueled with the idea that everything will workout in the end. In 2011 I did something almost unthinkable for a hometown girl from Kentucky, I became an expatriate. America will always be home, but the world has been calling me, and I can’t shake off the need to answer.

Since moving abroad the amount of history that I have seen with my very own eyes and have touched with my very own hands is countless. I am able to do all of this because I made the decision to become a certified TESOL teacher, which means I teach the English language to those who want to learn it. Teaching English abroad has been the most rewarding job I have ever had, but two years ago I decided I wanted to start making a change and that’s when I discovered the IMC program at WVU.Picture2

Working on my master’s degree while living abroad has been great! Don’t get me wrong, it can be very challenging, but that’s the best part. It makes me get out of my comfort zone and explore my community. I am currently residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and being able to experience the culture and how IMC comes into play has been such a learning experience. The culture here is very different than what I grew up knowing and being able to understanding that and use it throughout the IMC program has allowed me to bring a new dimension to my class discussions and papers.

Throughout the program I have noticed several differences in advertising, but the one that stands out to me the most is the lack of women in advertisements. Women’s body parts are not allowed to be out on display, so getting creative on how to advertise is a must, especially if you’re selling women’s clothing. Another hot topic is the fact that women can’t drive here, regardless of personal opinions on this matter, as a student who is studying IMC I have found that women in this country have really utilized social media in order to work from home and some have become very successful.

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I typically get the same questions about living in Saudia Arabia. Is it safe? Do you have to cover your body? Is the food good? I always answer with, Yes, I feel extremely safe here. Yes, I have to cover my body by wearing an abaya. There are times I cover my hair and times I don’t. It is not compulsory for me to cover my hair, but a vast majority of the people living here do wear a hijab (head covering). If you’ve never had Middle Eastern food, you’re missing out! However, Riyadh is home to almost any western restaurant you can think of. This city is full of expats, so the food choices are endless.

I am still not done traveling, as you can see I’ve only dipped my toes in the water, but I do like that I will have a career path that’s different than teaching when I decide to try it out. I may even take my IMC degree with me into the education field. Being an ESL teacher has allowed me to travel and see the world and to meet the most amazing people along the way. It is because of my lifestyle I even discovered the IMC program. For that I am grateful.

I implore you to step out of your comfort zone and travel, the world is beautiful.


Milinda Gray is currently a TESOL teacher in Saudia Arabia, and she is a student in the Integrated Marketing Communications master’s program at WVU. 

Integrated Experiences

June 15, 2017

Kelsey-Berg

After a long anticipated wait, the day had finally arrived. I was headed down to the small town of Huntington, WV to attend INTEGRATE West Virginia. As I drove into town, I got butterflies and was so excited to attend my first INTEGRATE conference. You hear from everyone who has ever gone that the conference is outstanding, but you don’t quite believe it until you’ve experienced it. Now, I am one of those people saying just how outstanding the conference was.

From my first step into the door, the team welcomed me and introduced themselves. Finally being able to put names to faces was a relief and comforting in a way. It was special to know I had been working with some of these individuals for over two years and I finally was presented with the opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level rather than through our digital exchanges.

From that moment on, I was hooked. Networking opportunities left and right surrounded by captivating breakout sessions just made the whole experience memorable.

With each and every session I was in, I was able to walk away with a minimum of at least three ideas or concepts that could help me in my professional life today. Whether it was a trick with content or an idea with creative, each piece built up a pretty impressive puzzle by the end of the weekend.

The speakers proved to be some of the best in the industry. With the numerous awards to their names and countless nationally recognized campaigns, I was engulfed with every story and piece of information they told. Not only were they great to listen to, they all had wonderful senses of humor making the hour sessions fly by!

To me, however, the most rewarding aspect of the conference – networking. As you walk in, you instantly look around to put some names to some faces. You recognize a few professors and maybe a student or two you have had class with but once things get moving, you become the fastest friends with so many of these classmates and alumni. Getting to know more about conference attendees’ careers and how they are intertwined in the marketing communications web is so interesting and you truly learn so much. In addition to that, you make lifelong friends both personally and professionally.

If you haven’t been to INTEGRATE yet, I would highly suggest it. One of the best conferences I have literally ever been too given the quality of content and the opportunities to build your skill set and relationships with other marketing communications professionals.


Kelsey Berg is a current student in the WVU IMC Program. She is the marketing content coordinator for FootJoy. 

Why You Should Attend the INTEGRATE Conference

June 13, 2017

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After attending the recent 2017 INTEGRATE West Virginia Conference in Huntington, West Virginia, I started thinking about the many benefits of attending industry conferences, specifically those in marketing and communications. If you think about it, you get to visit a new town (if it’s held outside of your area), meet industry leaders, receive great content and network with a bunch of other folks in your field.

Presented by West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) graduate program, the INTEGRATE West Virginia Conference was designed to offer strategic communicators and marketing professionals access to the latest IMC techniques and strategies. Through the presentations and chats led by inspiring industry leaders, INTEGRATE is designed to be a “learn it today, apply it tomorrow” type of conference.

An additional bonus for those of us currently enrolled in the IMC graduate program was the opportunity to meet some of the program’s professors at the conference. Since the IMC program is all online, meeting some of the professors in person really helped further personalize the program experience for me.

In addition to the bonuses I mentioned above, here are some of the reasons I encourage everyone in the marketing industry to consider attending the INTEGRATE conference.

Networking opportunities. Whether you’re new to the professional realm or a seasoned veteran, networking is very important to continued growth in your field. The world of marketing communications is an ever-changing one, so conferences like INTEGRATE are a perfect place for marketing minds to come together and learn from one another. Making and maintaining these connections is now easier than ever with the INTEGRATE conference’s use of the event management mobile app, Bizzabo, which has a built-in LinkedIn feature to allow the possibility of connection of all the registered attendees of the conference. So even if you didn’t get that business card from someone you met at INTEGRATE, you can go back into the app and find their LinkedIn profile.

Opportunity to see old friends, colleagues and classmates. I won’t pretend I’m not biased for saying this, but I do truly believe that the WVU Reed College of Media, formerly P.I. Reed School of Journalism, is one of the best schools for connecting its students, graduates and professionals in the industry. The INTEGRATE conference attracts people much like the ones I had the privilege of meeting or studying with the few short years ago during my undergraduate experience. Case in point: running into my former classmate and soon-to-be Data Marketing Communications graduate program grad, Alex McPherson. Getting to catch up with a fellow alum was just part of the awesome experience I had at INTEGRATE. So, definitely check it out. You might run into some of your old classmates there!

Great content and recommendations. During the first day, Amanda Todorovich, director of content marketing at the Cleveland Clinic, gave a great presentation titled “How to Build a Killer Content Marketing Strategy” that covered anything and everything from metrics and how to use them effectively, to the importance of knowing exactly who your audience is. She talked about how content creation should be pleasurable, like eating ice cream. She went on to say that it shouldn’t be a chore, like sweeping your floor, but rather like the act of preparing (toppings, toppings, toppings!) and eating ice cream. She credited this clever analogy to the podcast “Unthinkable: Exploring How to Use Intuition to do Better Work” and recommended we all go listen to a few episodes. Host Jay Acunzo shares his weekly narrative of how to break from the conventional way of thinking and start trusting your intuition. He interviews bloggers, small business owners, and many other creatives who are really successful at thinking outside of the box. I’ve already listened to three episodes, so major shout out to Amanda for helping make my morning commute more productive!

Motivation and inspiration. I walked out of the INTEGRATE conference with a notebook full of bold and underlined words and phrases that are still pinging around in my head a week later. Here are a few of the insights I picked up from the amazing industry leaders.

  • Define a strategy and stick to it. Cleveland Clinic’s Amanda Todorovich spoke to this during her presentation about building a strong content marketing strategy. She went on to talk about how sticking to a strategy makes it easier to see what not to post, share and spend wasted time on. The simple act of creating a strategy isn’t nearly as important as sticking to it.
  • Ask “What’s next?” In her presentation about the reinvention of the digital video model, Teads.tv’s Head of Client Solutions Jen Sangrid spoke specifically to the constantly changing way we view videos and how important it is to always be looking forward. She talked about the importance of understanding what people want and how they want to view it. By paying attention to certain viewing metrics, marketers should always be asking, “What’s next?”
  • Don’t just be a marketing person; be a marketing and data person. While not a direct quote, I really liked Coca-Cola Freestyle Global Marketing Director and West Virginia native Scott Cuppari’s point about the importance of understanding your company or organization’s metrics. Make the effort to fully understand what the metrics can mean to your day-to-day and let them help you forecast your next marketing move.
  • To be a leader, you must be real and vulnerable. Verizon Senior Executive Communications Manager Lauren Tilstra spoke about the importance of delivering an authentic message. Today’s audience is looking for the genuine truth. They have instant access to the personal lives of executives, CEOs, celebrities and pretty much anyone willing to share their life on social media. This access means that what the company or organization does and how it’s senior leadership and members portray themselves on social media should jive. If they don’t marry up, audiences will immediately pick up on that. Tilstra emphasized the importance of owning up to mistakes. This shows vulnerability and realness and can really help the perception of the audience.

I highly encourage anyone in the marketing communications industry to consider attending the next INTEGRATE conference to be held in Houston, Texas on October 19-21. I can guarantee this conference will provide invaluable experience and content to help you continue to grow in your career.


Bailee Miller is a current student in the WVU IMC program, and she earned her bachelor’s degree from the WVU Reed College of Media.

INTEGRATE WV

April 27, 2017

 

INTEGRATE-WV

THE DEFINITION OF INTEGRATE

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word integrate in the following manner.

Integrate: to make a person or group part of a larger group or organization

You are probably wondering why I am giving you a vocabulary lesson, but I promise, I have a point!

The first IMC Weekend took place in 2005. The event was founded to bring together WVU IMC students from across the country. It was intended to unite students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet one another. It was meant to make them feel that, even though they study online, they are, and will always be, part of the Mountaineer family.

The success of IMC Weekend warranted its continuation. In 2011, IMC Weekend transitioned into a full marketing communications conference. That’s when INTEGRATE was born!

The first INTEGRATE conference was held in Morgantown, West Virginia. Since then, it has traveled to multiple cities throughout America; cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and, soon, Huntington, West Virginia. The conference, which once attracted only WVU IMC students and faculty, expanded its audience and began drawing marketing communications professionals from all industries.

First you got a vocabulary lesson, and now a history lesson? What’s next?

The point is, despite its changes, the definition of INTEGRATE remains the same. INTEGRATE is a chance for marketing communications professionals to gather, learn, share and grow, both individually and as a collective unit. That is something that will never change, regardless of Merriam-Webster’s updates.

This year, we’ve teamed up with Marshall University to bring you INTEGRATE West Virginia. INTEGRATE West Virginia will take place June 2-3, in Huntington, West Virginia. This year’s conference will feature Andy Azula, senior vice president and executive creative director at The Martin Agency, as its keynote speaker.  For more information about the conference, or to register, please visit integrate.wvu.edu. Contact Megan Bayles, public relations and marketing graduate assistant, at mebayles@mail.wvu.edu, with any questions.

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

March 30, 2017

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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

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“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

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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

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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

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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.