Posts Tagged ‘Integrated marketing communications’

Q&A with INTEGRATE Speaker Joe Cohen

May 31, 2016



Joe Cohen is the Senior vice president of communications for KIND Healthy Snacks. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for the student blog, you can also read more about Joe here.

Q1. Last year #kindawesome set out to engage customers in acts of kindness, tell us how this program came to be?


At KIND, we’re always seeking new and creative ways to make kindness a state of mind. It’s been that way since 2004 when our founder Daniel Lubetzky launched KIND and the company immediately became a pioneer in both the healthy snacking and purpose-driven brand categories.

In 2013, we first introduced #kindawesome as a program to empower our team to spot and celebrate acts of kindness happening around them. When a team member witnesses a kind act, big or small, we give the person a #kindawesome card that they can redeem online for KIND Snacks as a “thank you” for being kind along with a #kindawesome card to pay it forward.

Last year, timed to World Kindness Day on November 12, we scaled up the #kindawesome program by creating digital versions of the cards to empower our fans to help in spotting and celebrating kindness. Simultaneously on World Kindness Day, our team brought to life KIND acts all over the country through regional activities like spreading the importance of kindness in preschools and delivering care packages to the elderly.  The campaign became the most expansive grassroots activation in KIND’s history and a great moment in our ongoing effort to recognize and celebrate kindness.  

Q2. Does KIND use influencers, if so please tell us a little bit about that?

KIND has an incredibly passionate base of fans and this includes influencers ranging from actors and athletes to health and wellness experts to social media stars.  When it comes to formal influencer partnerships and programs, we only work with individuals who we know to be fans and supporters of KIND – it’s very important to us that every influencer relationship begins with an authentic passion for our brand.

Q3. Recently the FDA has been looking at the definition of healthy snacks, would you tell us about KIND’s involvement in the conversation surrounding this topic?

To begin, we commend the FDA for its decision to reevaluate the regulatory definition of healthy which was introduced with the best intentions more than twenty years ago but has since become outdated.

The announcement that the FDA will reevaluate healthy generated a great deal of conversation in the media, as well as the health and nutrition communities, as did the agency’s affirmation that KIND can use healthy on our wrappers again – just as we had it before – in connection with our corporate philosophy but not as a nutrient content claim.

KIND’s involvement in this conversation began more than 13 months ago when we received a warning letter from the FDA asking for us to remove the term healthy from the back wrapper of four KIND bars, and that also pointed to a number of items that have since been corrected.   We quickly brought our packaging to compliance while at the same time studying the regulatory definition of healthy.  We learned that the current standard was introduced when the benefits of consuming “good fats,” like those in nuts (a key ingredient in many KIND Snacks), were not fully understood.  Under the regulation, foods like fat-free chocolate pudding and children’s sugary cereal can bear a healthy nutrient claim but foods like nuts and avocados can’t.

None of this made much sense to us, so last December we filed a Citizen Petition with top health and nutrition experts respectfully calling for FDA to update its guidance.  Since KIND filed the Petition, momentum has been building. From leading nutrition experts to Senators and members of the House of Representatives, there is a rising call to update the regulatory definition of healthy.

Our team continues to maintain an open and collaborative dialogue with the FDA and, while we know it will take time, we are optimistic that the regulation will be updated to better align with current science and existing dietary guidance.

Q4. You’ve been at KIND for almost two years, prior to that you spent 15 years at a PR agency. What differences did you see between agency PR and in-house PR? Were there any surprises?

Whether you are in-house or at an agency, the core tenets of communications remains the same.

There are, of course, differences.  One of the aspects that I loved about agency life was the creativity and adrenaline rush that came with managing multiple accounts and teams, and the thrill of the competition when pitching new business.  Additionally a big part of the reason why I stayed in the agency game for so long was the great culture and team in place at MWW.

Working on the in-house side is also very deeply rewarding, particularly at a company like KIND where I am helping to promote an incredible product and advance a social mission that resonates very deeply with me.  Additionally, part of what I like about working on the corporate side is that you’re able to go much deeper and understand the nuances and intricacies of the business at a level that just isn’t possible when working within an agency.

Regarding surprises, I had heard that the pace of working in-house versus at an agency is much slower and more methodical.  This isn’t necessarily the case at KIND which has a fast-paced and highly creative environment.  The day also happens to go by quickly when you love the work and the people, and at KIND I’m fortunate to have both.


Q5. Earlier this year you received the Philip Dorf Award, which honors individuals who lead, guide and selflessly counsel and stimulate the careers of PR professionals. Congratulations. What advice do you bestow on young PR practitioners or those just graduating?

I’ve been privileged to have had incredible mentors like MWW CEO Michael Kempner, ConAgra CCO Jon Harris and KIND CEO Daniel Lubetzky, who have had a profound impact on my growth as a person and as a professional.  My advice to young professionals is to actively seek, adopt and embrace mentorship experiences.  Identify individuals who you find to be impressive and admirable and make a proactive effort to get to know and learn from them.  Also, look for ways to extend your network. Get involved in groups like PRSA where you can meet and learn from new people, expand your skill sets and broaden your perspective of your industry.


Q6. What changes do you see within the PR practice in the next five years?

The profession itself will become increasingly competitive as more enter the field.  Communications pros will be challenged to continually refresh and enhance their skill sets and knowledge base or risk being left behind as the media and business landscape continues to remain in a near-constant state of evolution.

Additionally, the lines will continue to blur between the disciplines and there will be less traditional PR firms and more integrated marketing shops – this will also extend to the way PR is housed within corporations.  Continuing education will be essential and communications professionals who today are deepening their expertise in brand marketing, integrated marketing and data and analytics, will be better positioned for success.

Q7. Please share a favorite quote or person who inspires you?


“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” – L.P. Jacks, an English educator, philosopher and Unitarian minister

From the Campaign Battlefront

April 19, 2016


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.

sneak peek

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.

IMC & Higher Education-Do They Mix?

February 23, 2016


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How can the WVU IMC program benefit those who work in higher education?

Throughout my time in the IMC program, many people have asked me why I chose the program and how it relates to working in higher education. By asking this questions, most of these people were trying to ask whether or not the degree had value in the job market and if I could apply my knowledge in my chosen career path.

Well, I can attest that the IMC degree is highly valued and in need in the higher education field! I currently work for a small, undergraduate college in Virginia as an Admissions Counselor, but my IMC education has benefited me in my role in so many ways. The IMC program contains so many different forms of communication that play vital roles in any kind of business. I love higher education and marketing! Being able to combine my passions throughout some of my IMC classes has made the program a standout in my eyes.

Higher education institutions need people to manage social media accounts and campaigns, create press releases, analyze website and social media data, create appealing advertisements, and much more in the marketing communications field. That’s where the IMC degree comes in! I see the IMC program producing students who are described as a “Jack of all Trades”.

Throughout my time in the IMC program, I have been able to take away something from each class that can be used in a college administration profession. Some key takeaways I have found through the program include:

  • Being able to create marketing plans for your institution in your courses (One of my favorite things about the program!)
  • Learning how social media impacts college students and incoming students
  • How to effectively and efficiently present a pitch for new marketing or business plans
  • How to communicate within an organization and with external partners
  • Discover new tools that you can use in your strategies
  • Conduct research for your institution in regards to marketing and advertising
  • And learning alongside other higher education marketers

If you’re working in higher education marketing or interested in any field that requires  marketing communication, the WVU IMC program may be the program for you!

It is never too late…

February 16, 2016


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:

GM Social Media Command_center_Feb_2016_2


2-7-2016 Buick Superbowl Command Center photo_3

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.



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?

Brand Equity

September 24, 2015


I’m excited to say that I’ve just finished my third class in the IMC program—IMC 613 Brand Equity Management. Time is flying quickly, and I have learned a lot so far!


The final project for IMC 613 was a brand audit.  A brand audit examines a specific brand’s strengths and weakness and its position within the marketplace. To conduct a brand audit, you need to study how the business manages and positions the brand portfolio and how consumers’ view that brand. Additionally, you need to examine the competition. By conducting this research and analysis, you can uncover what opportunities exist for the brand and what improvements need to be made.

Through the final project, I learned what a brand audit can help you discover about a brand. These are a few examples of the type of information I uncovered when I conducted a brand audit on a challenger brand:

  1. The disconnects between the company’s view of its brand versus the actual customer perceptions of the brand
  2. Unnecessary product/line extensions
  3. Inconsistencies amongst the brand’s marketing and positioning efforts/programs
  4. A lack of a strong, unifying brand mantra
  5. Sources of the brand’s strengths
  6. The target audience’s actual feelings and thoughts about the brand’s products and the competitor’s products

As you can see, the information gained from conducting a brand audit proves to be extremely useful for a business. If you took the class, do you have any experiences with conducting your brand audit project that you wish to share?

Creating Content on the Go

August 3, 2015



As marketers, we are often responsible for creating new content that is visually appealing. I recently stumbled upon an app called Enlight that allows users to edit photos on their iPhone or iPad. Enlight has several attractive features that you can find in other apps, but combines them into one easy to use app. I like to think of it as PhotoShop for your phone. While the app does cost $3.99 in the app store, it is well worth the cost! This app is great for people who work with social media and those who work on the creative side of marketing. Some of the features include:

  • Filters
  • Adding decals and text to photos
  • An “Insta Fit” feature for those photos that won’t normally fit
  • Frames and collages
  • Paint and drawing effects
  • Reshaping effects to alter the image and create some abstract art
  • Cropping, refitting, and adjusting the exposure, colors, and clarity

Here are a few examples of work from the Enlight website:

Enlight DecalsEnlight Painting Enlight Cropping

Those are just some of the features available with Enlight. This app really comes in handy when you’re traveling for work or don’t have access to a computer and need to create a new photo to use for a post or advertisement. I definitely recommend it for all you Instagram lovers out there! Whether your job requires you to work with graphics and design or if you just love to share and edit photos, Enlight is a great tool you should add to your app collection!

5 Tips for a Successful Fall Semester

July 27, 2015

I hope you are all enjoying your summer and getting excited about the upcoming fall semester!  At the risk of appearing to rush into the 2015-2016 school year, I wanted to share a few tips to start thinking about to ensure success this fall.

1.  Order your textbooks early

There’s nothing worse than waiting on your textbook to arrive while your first assignment’s due date is looming (okay, there are several worse things that can happen, but just thinking about this does make me sweat).  Avoid the stress by ordering your textbooks early using your preferred method, and thank yourself when it arrives prior to the first day of class.

*Hint: the deadline to use financial aid for course books is August 4! Details on STAR.

2.  Explore eCampus

Once your courses have been made available on eCampus, take some time to browse the course content, messages from your professors, and posted resources.  Then, read the syllabus.  And after that, read it again.  Familiarize yourself with the intended learning outcomes, assignment schedule, and grading process, and take time to brainstorm what you will be able to bring to the conversation.  Entering a class with a firm understanding of the course structure is a sure-fire way to begin the semester on the right foot.

3. Create a schedule

Life is a balancing act, and some elements hold more weight than others.  Juggling work, school, family life, etc. will require some prioritization and much organization.  A new year is a new opportunity to approach the semester with a plan.  Consider all due dates listed for each course and develop a cadence that suits your lifestyle.  Leave room for flexibility and the inevitable fact that things come up, but do your best to commit to your plan.

4.  Set goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”  -Tony Robbins

I don’t think I need to stress the importance of this one.  Setting goals is crucial in attaining success.  This semester, decide what you want to get out of the courses you’re taking.  Write these goals down, or perhaps even mention them in your introductory discussion post.  Documenting goals is the surest way to keep yourself accountable for them. Whether it’s to achieve a particular grade, apply concepts to your current work, or bring meaningful insight to the table, be sure that your goals meet the SMART criteria:






5.  Make connections

During the first week of class, be sure to carefully read through your peers’ introductions and draw any connections you can, and share enough about yourself to give others the opportunity to do the same.  Finding common ground with those you’ll be working with for nine weeks is an excellent way to lay a solid foundation for future discussions.  Thoughtfully drawing back to references made in the introductory forum will surely enhance the conversation and pave the way for networking beyond the confines of the [virtual] classroom.  Apply this same concept with your professors, as they continue to be excellent resources long after the semester’s end.

What advice do you have for easing into a new semester?  Share your tips here!

A Few Final Tips for the WVU IMC Program

July 15, 2015

kat shanahan wvu imc reed college of media


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

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

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

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

All the best,


Take Time for Yourself

July 14, 2015

Hi everyone. It’s hard to believe summer is here and flying by! It’s also hard to believe that I’m almost at the end of my 7th course in the IMC program. Last night I realized just how much I’m looking forward to the break in between summer and fall sessions and that’s what this post is about.

Working a full-time job, having a home and family can sometimes be daunting and takes a lot of time and energy. Add a master’s program with its reading, research and writing papers to that mix and it can become overwhelming at times. One thing I’ve learned (and it took me about 3 classes) was that you need to set aside some time for yourself each week.

I typically take one evening off through the week and one day on the weekends from reading or writing. I might check the discussion board and write a quick response to a classmate or see if the professor has posted anything in the main area, but those two times a week are set aside to do other things, such as visiting with family, paying bills (not relaxing), and watching TV, going to bed early, whatever it is that makes me happy.

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Saturdays are my day off from doing more than checking the discussion board and writing quick responses. I typically try to do that while I’m having my morning coffee so the rest of my day can be spent doing other things. For me, working around the house or going for a ride on the motorcycle or four wheeling are the things I fill my Saturday with. It’s just enough of a break in the week that I can get my head back into studying on Sunday afternoons/evenings and then starting the next week’s assignments.

The other thing that I have found by doing this is it makes it easier for my family and friends. I’m fortunate to have a great support group, but people know when I’m available and when I’m not. Obviously, if there is an emergency and someone needs me, I would go, but otherwise, everyone knows if they want to plan something fun for us then the days to do it are Wednesday evenings and Saturdays.

When I first started the program, I spent every available moment outside of working and before going to bed at night reading and researching for class assignments. I felt that if I took any time to do something fun, I was going to let myself down in the program. What I have found is that by taking the evening in the week and the day on the weekends has actually made me more focused on assignments and I am enjoying the entire process more. I know everyone is different and will find their own way of going through the program, but my routine is something I have found makes it work better for me.

Understanding Consumer Habits

July 9, 2015

One of my reoccurring goals is to read two books every month—one book that will help me professionally and one book that will entertain me. This last month I read a book called Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products by Nir Eyal. This book was extremely applicable to marketing, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts on it.


As marketing students, we know that consumer habits can be a huge competitive advantage. Habits are acquired behavior patterns and are formed by performing an action on a frequent, regular basis. Since they are done so often, habits sometimes become automatic and don’t require much thought. Many companies—especially those selling products with short re-purchase cycles—attempt to get consumers to form a positive habit or a regular routine with one of their products.

…So, what formula are the successful companies using to build habits and routines with their customers?

The book Hooked covers the 4 main steps of building habits with consumers. The author calls these steps the “Hook Cycle”: trigger, action, reward, and investment. A consumer must go through these steps multiple times in order to form a habit. A trigger can be any external or internal que that motivates a consumer to buy/try a product or service. An action is what behavior the company wants the consumer to do—this can range from simply clicking a “Find Out More!” button to actually buying or using the product.  Once a consumer performs the action, a reward of some sort is expected—such as a positive experience. Then after the reward, a consumer may choose to invest more time or money into the product or service.  If a consumer begins to invest, it increases the odds that the consumer will go through another round of the “Hook Cycle.” The book goes into great detail to explain these steps—it’s definitely a good read! (Also, I wanted to explain that consumers must positivity benefit from going through the Hook Cycle and building a habit—otherwise, this could become more of an addiction and could be considered unethical. Remember the main objective should aim at building positive, trusting, and engaging relationships with customers).


I feel that this information is very applicable to marketing. A marketing campaign for a product or service should be designed with these steps in mind. For example, marketing efforts are extremely applicable during the trigger phase. Marketing tools such as advertisements, commercials, free samples/trials, and social media posts can create triggers, which are especially important if it is new product that is being introduced. These exposures of the product are external cues and need to be designed to motivate and/or remind people to try or use the product.

Another aspect where marketing could be integrated into the cycle is the reward phase. Brand positioning and marketing efforts should communicate what the reward is: social status, a fun experience, saving money, decreasing boredom, etc. Marketers should know their customers well enough to know what types of rewards will be useful and relevant….Do you have any other examples of how marketing efforts could be integrated into this “Hook Cycle?”


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