Posts Tagged ‘Integrated marketing communications’

Top resources for IMC students

August 11, 2016



I asked IMC faculty what resources they recommend to IMC students, and this is what they had to say! I hope this list is useful to you. And, if you have any resources you’d like to add, let me know in the comments🙂.

Industry news:

All about social media:


All things digital, technology and trends:






Ally Kennedy is the communications manager for WVU Reed College of Media’s Online Programs. She earned her master’s degree in communication from Duquesne University and her bachelor’s degree in English from Washington & Jefferson College.

Twitter Hashtags Enhance Asher Media Placements and Amplify Reach of Key Client Messages

August 4, 2016


The past two earned media assignments I led for clients were enhanced significantly by the use of Twitter hashtags.

As part of the media outreach strategy, Asher Agency recommended using a Twitter hashtag (one was in place and the other we created) to give all stakeholders and our agency’s staff a rallying cry to tweet, retweet, like and reply to others about the key messages and calls to action.

We started promoting the use of the hashtags early in the planning process, reminded allies throughout the media pitching phase and used it often in thanking reporters and publications/networks that ran our stories.  The hashtags also helped easily track media coverage and created a healthy dialogue that continued well after the issuance of the news releases.

My Asher colleague in both projects, Faith Van Gilder in our Fort Wayne, IN, office, tweeted photos and messages both during the media conferences and throughout the day. She also forwarded photos with suggested tweets to client stakeholders during the day for them to post on social media. Asher’s experienced digital team tracked the results online and supplied the analytics below as part of the project summary.

American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index – #FitCityIndex

At 12:01 a.m. May 18 the ninth annual American Fitness Index (AFI) was released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc.  Washington, D.C., closely followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver, were the three fittest of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

The annual AFI data report —– has proven to be a valuable assessment and evaluation tool to educate community leaders on the importance of key indicators of physical activity. Leaders can then focus on policy, systems and environmental change strategies that are evidence-based and create sustainability for the community.

Therefore, media coverage and community engagement using the annual AFI results has grown each year. USA Today, The Washington Post, the Today Show, all television networks, the Weather Channel, local newspapers and websites, broadcast networks, IHeart Radio, and dozens of health/fitness and business websites, academic institutions and others digest the AFI and report its diverse conclusions and recommendations.





National Physical Activity Plan Alliance – #ActivityPlan2016

The new U.S. National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) was unveiled April 20 at the National Press Club, building upon the initial plan that the NPAP Alliance released in 2010 as a roadmap for actions supporting and encouraging physical activity among all Americans.

Russell Pate, Ph.D., chairman of the nonprofit NPAP Alliance, presented the plan, which was validated by speakers from the American College of Sports Medicine; American Heart Association; Tennessee Department of Health; President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition; Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute; and Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic gold medalist. All of these people and organizations enjoy a huge social media presence and followers.

The website offering the full 2016 National Physical Activity Plan — — lists the #ActivityPlan2016 hashtag that continues to be utilized in discussions about the plan, its elements and utilization. We webcast the Press Club release event, so that triggered questions from the media and general public using our hashtag.  It greatly enhanced our media coverage from the new release and our pitching the story. Our partnering organizational partners and representatives from nine societal sectors – business and industry; community recreation, fitness and parks; education; faith-based settings; health care; mass media; public health; sport; and transportation, land use and community design — all leveraged the hashtag to share their participation in the new U.S. physical activity plan. The hashtag usage ramped up again as we organized a standing-room-only Congressional briefing to share the new U.S. plan and promote Members of Congress committing to employ physical activity policies on Capitol Hill.





For all of these reasons, we strongly encourage the use of Twitter hashtags as an essential component of promoting news announcements, communications and advocacy campaigns and events. #ashernewsandblog

————————————————————————–Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency ( and teaches a master’s level course in Public Affairs for West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program. Connect with Mike at,@hillrat1156 or on LinkedIn.

Unexpected, Difficult, Rewarding

July 12, 2016


In three words I can describe my Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC 610) experience: unexpected, difficult and rewarding.


I never imagined myself enrolled in an online graduate program. I am a personable and engaged student that loves face-to-face interaction with my professors and colleagues, and I did not think an online program could provide me with a satisfying experience. IMC 610 showed me that I was wrong.

My IMC 610 class was extremely responsive; students created insightful posts, challenged their classmates with intriguing replies and provided diverse perspectives on questions posed. In an odd way, through my classmates’ posts, I got to know each of them on a deeper level by understanding their points of view, interests and prior experiences. Honestly, by the end of the course, it felt as though I got to know my classmates better than I would have in a traditional setting.


IMC 610 challenged me in ways that I have never been challenged before. Not only did I have to learn to manage my time effectively in order to complete my discussion posts, responses, papers and readings, but I also had to learn how to “think for myself.” I know that sounds stupid, but here is what I mean…

In this class, I learned how to interpret materials, develop opinions on them and reinforce my opinions with supplementary materials, validating my arguments. This required a lot of introspective thought, something with which I was not extremely familiar. Although this was difficult at times, it helped me learn more about both integrated marketing communications and myself as a communicator.


I have to say, the rewarding feeling that accompanied submitting my final project and completing IMC 610 was phenomenal, but this was not the only time during the term in which I felt fulfilled.

After each assignment, my professor offered constructive criticism. It was really great to hear that I was understanding the week’s material and applying it in a productive way, but it was even better to hear her suggestions and apply them to better my campaign. By the end of the course, I had completed an entire integrated marketing plan; something I never thought I would be able to do, and something I never would have been able to do without the help of my instructor.

Overall, my first graduate-level class was fulfilling, surprising and difficult to say the least. The quality of learning was insurmountable and the “classroom” interaction was superb. I can honestly say that I cannot wait to see what adventures future courses hold; keeping in mind that WVU’s IMC program is not for the faint of heart.

Navigating today’s KIND of media environment

June 16, 2016


Today’s media environment is rapidly changing. At the rate that technology is advancing, today’s channel of choice could be tomorrow’s old news. This is both exciting and nerve-wrecking for marketing communications professionals.

Opportunities to reach target audience members are growing; however, if we are not prepared to navigate a continually adapting media environment, our efforts will most likely fall flat. Joe Cohen, Senior vice president of Communications for KIND Healthy Snacks addressed this topic, as well as many others, in his session at #INTEGRATE16.

During his session, Cohen discussed six points in relation to today’s media environment.

  1. Increased segmentation and competition: As more media channels emerge, each must become more specialized in order to retain an audience. This also means there is more competition among media for consumers’ attention.
  2. News in real time, all of the time: Social media, social media, social media. Social media makes news instantaneous. As marketing communications professionals, we must embrace and utilize this to the best of our abilities.
  3. Clickbait headlines: Marketing communications professionals must “fight” for the attention of consumers. One way to win over consumer attention is through eye-catching, intriguing headlines.
  4. Decline of print media: Consumers are now relying more on digital media, instead of print media, as sources of information. We must adapt to this change in order to continue reaching our audiences.
  5. Citizen journalism: Today, anyone can be a journalist; anyone can be considered an “expert.” No degree or prior experience is needed.
  6. The rise of the influencers: As a continuation of the previous point, marketing professionals must realize that everyday individuals are not only becoming the world’s journalists and “experts,” but they are becoming some of the most powerful influencers. These influencers can make or break products and brands.

According to Cohen, understanding and remembering these six points will help you navigate today’s media environment. I believe that it will also help you prepare for the changes to come.

Yesterday it was newspapers, today its social media. What’s next? Although we have our suspicions, no one can ever be sure; however, if we keep an open mind and embrace media adaptations as they occur, marketing communications will continue to be an integral and influential part of today’s world.

Consumer Insights and Content Creation

June 15, 2016


Whether or not you admit your HGTV, Food Network or Travel Channel obsession, Julie Link and Greg Stroud know exactly why you’re hooked: they’re the ones gathering consumer insights in order to make marketing decisions and create content. Their job is certainly no easy task.

At HGTV and DIY Network, Greg is the Former Vice-President of Programming Integration and Julie is the Director of Research and Consumer Insights. As they found out, when you’re company is not hitting its mark, sometimes a complete rebranding is necessary to fix the problem.

How do you go about rebranding? Simple – by watching trends, commercials and, most importantly, the target audience you are trying to reach.

In order to really connect with your consumers, Julie and Greg suggest “learning in the moment” and immersing yourself. By going “all in” among the audience you wish to reach, you’ll not only know your customers/viewers, but you will:

  • know their style,
  • give them a reason to participate and
  • have a story to tell.

Once you know your consumers and have developed a creative way to reach them, you must pitch your idea to your team. By getting your hands dirty so to speak, you will be able to develop materials that help your team better understand what your idea is all about. It will also allow you to present information in an innovative and engaging way that allows your team to actively participate in the creative process.

Julie and Greg suggest presenting information to your team as if you are presenting it to an external client. By making your target audience the driving force behind the campaign, and introducing an element of fun into the mix, your ideas will resonate with the team and satisfy your target audience.

Building the right kind of audience to attract national advertisers is also crucial, because a lot of companies make a majority of their money from advertising sales. This means watching trends and noticing consumer characteristics and patterns that correlate with these trends.

The question then becomes whether people are buying products in response to trends or are trends emerging in response to influencers in the market? As Julie and Greg point out, a trend is often not a material object but a popular idea that it represents. People become attached to brands/companies/products because of the ideals and experiences they represent.

Thus, perhaps the best consumer insights come from when you become part of the target audience you’re trying to reach.

Keeping Consumers “Lovin’ It!”

June 15, 2016


I have seen the McDonald’s menu grow and change dozens of times. When I visit McDonald’s while traveling, there are always differences in the restaurants’ menus. I never really understood these changes and differences until attending #INTEGRATE16.

While at #INTEGRATE16, I attended a session featuring Mel Windley, James Nice and Jeff Monfort. Windley is the Executive Vice President of Fahlgren Mortine, working primarily on accounts for the McDonald’s Corporation. Nice is a Marketing Manager for the McDonald’s Corporation in the Ohio Region, and finally, Monfort is a McDonald’s franchisee who owns six restaurants in the Ohio Region. Together, these men discussed McDonald’s successes, attributing its victories to teamwork and audience insight.

The success of any business depends on its ability to serve its customers. McDonald’s uses audience insights from local, regional, national and global markets to ensure consumer satisfaction. The #INTEGRATE16 trio explained that in order to satisfy as many customers as possible, McDonald’s must consider what is right for the brand and the consumer in a particular marketplace; that’s why campaigns like “Nocturnivore,” and “#Macithappen,” are only seen by subsets of the company’s global market.

In order for regional campaigns to prosper, and McDonald’s restaurants to flourish, teamwork is essential. Windley, Nice and Monfort describe it as the “three-legged stool,” through which the brand, the operators and the suppliers/partners (the legs) must support the consumers (the seat). Without proper teamwork, and each leg polishing it’s part of the company’s iconic golden arches, the consumer would be dissatisfied.

Based on its consumers’ desires, McDonald’s now offers breakfast all day. It has developed new menu items and enhanced its current offerings. It has even implemented different menus in different locations. But, what’s next?—That is up to you, the consumer.

Getting the Wind Behind Your Sails: Pirate Ships and Propelling Brands

June 9, 2016


Although officially titled a Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer at the company Brains on Fire, Geno Church considers himself more of a “WOM (word of mouth) Cupid” and a “pathfinder” for his company’s clients. After attending his session entitled Welcome to a Brave New World, it’s not hard to see why: he’s charismatic, passionate, hilarious and innovative.

Throughout his session, Geno artfully equates the aspects of marketing to piratehood. He says that by being engaged in stories, we help things live on through mythology, symbolism and sharing. Effective marketing has to tell a relatable story that is better than all of the other stories, otherwise it won’t win over consumers. For word of mouth marketing, companies have to start with people first, as they are the center of any successful WOM campaign. Geno states that to really draw in and engage consumers, you have to “help them be what they want to be” and make their purpose your purpose. To really identify with the customer, it is important to take on their values and beliefs as your own.

Geno continues by comparing the mythology of piratehood to the mythology of a brand: you must love the brand you’re working with in order to get consumers to love the brand and lifestyle associated with it. In this sense, if consumers love your brand and its stories, it will become a “shared ship;” consumers will not only jump on board but will encourage others to do the same. Eventually, with enough positive word of mouth marketing from everyday consumers who love your brand, your “shared ship” will become a “self-driven” ship. If not, your consumers will sense doubt and either mutiny or abandon the ship.

But how does all of this word-of-mouth marketing (or WOMMology, as Geno calls it) work? He says there are three parts:

  1. Functional
  2. Social
  3. Emotional

The functional part of WOMM serves as the nuts and bolts “stuff:” shared information and factual knowledge that helps consumers to gather more information and make decisions. It is vital as it is the centerpiece of WOMM. The second part, social, usually involves social signaling, or how a brand as well as consumers showcase their uniqueness. Last, but not least, is the emotional factor: if the brand does not elicit the correct, “balanced” emotional response, people will not talk about it. This means the marketing showcased has to provoke enough of a response, either good or bad, for people to want to bring it to another person’s attention. As Geno puts it: if someone thinks “This is okay”, they are pretty unlikely to talk about it on their own.

Just like pirates sailing on a ship, Geno encourages us both as Integrated Marketing professionals and consumers, to inspire and encourage exploration. He reminds us that just because customers buy something, that doesn’t mean their loyalty or trust in that brand is set in stone. And, just like a pirate raising his telescope to search for unchartered land or another ship to raid and take over, don’t be afraid to take risks and look beyond what is directly within plain sight.

Reflecting on #INTEGRATE16

June 8, 2016


As an undergraduate, I studied public relations. To supplement my classroom education and gain real-world experience, I joined the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Through this organization, I attended a variety of conferences from Portland, Oregon to Austin, Texas and everywhere in between. After attending seven conferences with PRSSA, I thought I had an idea of what INTEGRATE would be like, but I could not have been more wrong.

As a conference attendee, you see the finished product. It’s like going to the theater to see a movie; you do not witness or understand what goes on behind the scenes. Yes, throughout my undergraduate years, I helped plan meetings, activities and conferences, so I had an idea of the work required to plan and execute a successful event; however, I never planned anything of this magnitude.

I started work as a graduate assistant with the Reed College of Media and its Integrated Marketing Communications program just three weeks ago. Since my first day on the job, the word INTEGRATE was engrained into my memory. I was told it was “Beason season,” (Nicole Beason is the lead conference planner.) and that I would do nothing but live and breathe INTEGRATE until June 5, 2016.

Throughout my first two weeks as a graduate assistant, I helped with small conference tasks like alphabetizing name badges, assembling gift bags and picking up prizes. I also had an opportunity to help plan the social media challenge. Although I knew my role in planning the INTEGRATE conference was small, I began to feel some ownership in the event and a stake in its success.

As the first day of #INTEGRATE16 approached, I was excited, nervous, anxious; just a ball of emotion. I was excited to meet professors, graduates and fellow students. I was nervous to mess something up, and I was anxious for the conference to start. When day one of INTEGRATE commenced, I wanted to help in any and every way possible, and I was, happily, put to work.

Working an event, especially a conference the size of INTEGRATE, is extremely draining. Honestly, I did not realize the amount of planning that this conference required until I arrived at West Virginia University’s Media Innovation Center on June 3, 2016. Every detail of the event was planned, from where food was coming from to when speakers were arriving to what color chairs were to be placed in each row. Everyone in the office moved in harmony, like one well-oiled machine.

As a graduate assistant, I did my best to follow suit; however, every once in a while, I liked to step back and watch. From my observations, I learned the power of teamwork, the importance of preparation and the true purpose of coffee. Overall, my first-ever INTEGRATE conference was spectacular. The speakers were awesome! The attendees were great, and this all served as a comforting reinforcement that integrated marketing communications is the right career path for me.


My “Integrated” Experience

June 8, 2016


I have to say, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I learned I would be working #INTEGRATE2016. I thought that maybe it would be a more intense version of a Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference – but as it turns out, it was so much more.

Once I got over the hump of having to wake up at 5:30 a.m., and be somewhere at 6:30 a.m., it was a whirlwind of energy and activity that reminded me why I chose the Integrated Marketing Communications program at West Virginia University. Not only are my coworkers, faculty and student body intelligent, friendly and passionate, they are like a second family. Working an event is hard – but when you work with great people, it makes the work fun.

As for the conference itself, the speakers’ passion and knowledge were unparalleled. They gave amazing insight into not only the industry, but the WVU IMC program as well. When a professor’s enthusiasm not only matches but further ignites yours, it reaffirms your decision in your field. That’s exactly, at only three weeks into the program, how I felt during my first day of the conference.

Even as I worked the conference and managed social media during the sessions, I was learning and having a fantastic time. The sessions I attended were not only captivating, but entertaining and full of personality. It was a great experience to finally be able to meet, face to face, and connect with professors (and other students) I have only been able to interact with via email and discussion boards.

I learned from Matthew Pye about sweetening your market efforts to stand out; was motivated to do more and think outside the box by Geno Church; and Whitney Drake taught me about turning blunders into homeruns through Chevy’s #TechnologyandStuff. I didn’t realize how much I had left to learn until I walked out of the sessions I attended. It’s a fascinating and humbling experience.

To say attending INTEGRATE is crucial is an understatement. I not only learned so much, but I was able to engage with faculty and professors and gain a better understanding of their teaching methods. If I get the chance to attend another INTEGRATE conference, I will be there in a heartbeat – and I encourage my fellow classmates to do the same!





Make your integrated marketing efforts so sweet, it’s like they were “Just Born” today

June 4, 2016


In today’s day and age, information is EVERYWHERE! From television and radio to billboards and magazines, products and services are constantly being advertised, and, frankly, people are becoming desensitized. So, in a world of advertising-overload, how can you make your company stand out and leave a lasting impression with its audience?

Matthew J. Pye, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Just Born Quality Convections, addressed this question during his session at West Virginia University’s 2016 INTEGRATE conference. Pye faced this issue first-hand while working for Just Born, maker of the iconic Peeps, Mike & Ike’s and Hot Tamales. He says, in order to make your company and its products stand out in a crowd, you must learn to leverage three things.

1. The power of partnerships
Together, everyone can achieve more! To be successful, partnerships must optimize the strengths of each party to create win-win situations.

2. The power of public relations
Although advertising sustains brands, it’s public relations that builds them. Utilize any and all public relations and publicity to create buzz about your organization and its products.

3. The power of branding
You and your company’s employees should be your biggest brand evangelists. With that being said, to be successful, start your branding efforts from within.

By successfully leveraging the power of partnerships, public relations and branding, your company will undoubtedly stand out among its competitors. In the words of Matthew J. Pye, if you are ever having trouble, just remember to K.I.S.S.—Keep It Simple Stupid!

For someone like me, who is contemplating a career in corporate communications and branding, this session was extremely enlightening. To hear from someone who has worked with an iconic brand like Peeps, was a treat sweeter than the candy itself.

-Megan Bayles


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