Posts Tagged ‘WVU’

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.

Hello from Vegas!

June 23, 2015

Comfort zones—we all have them. Some of us break out of them more easily than others. For me, this last year has been all about stepping outside my boundaries of comfort—such as deciding to pursue a significant career change and starting the WVU IMC graduate program. Also, becoming a student blogger definitely involved moving beyond my normal level of comfort. I have never blogged before, but I’m excited to write and share some experiences!

So, as one of the new IMC student bloggers, I just wanted to introduce myself to everyone! My name is Breanna, and I am currently working on a career transition out of the Air Force and into the marketing field. While the Air Force has been a great experience (I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan, Africa, Kuwait, and multiple states in the U.S.), it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.


I have always been extremely intrigued by how businesses operate—but more specifically, how businesses develop and implement marketing programs. Every day we come into contact with different marketing programs through various communication tools such as commercials, sales promotions, social media, and advertisements. Each tool is used to send a message. Each marketing message tries to cut through the clutter and competition and attempts to make a connection with consumers. It’s all so very interesting, and I’m extremely glad that I get to develop these marketing communication skills in this IMC program.

I’m currently in my third course, and it has been a great learning experience so far. Despite the fact I have no background in marketing or business, I feel really comfortable with the class materials and assignments. So, for those of you who are interested in pursuing the IMC program, don’t worry if you have limited experience with marketing! Also, for those of you already in the program, I hope you enjoy the blog!


Snickers Does IMC Right

March 2, 2015

Snickers has done an incredible job with the You’re Not You When You’re Hungry campaign. I think it’s a shining example of integrated marketing communication.

Most importantly, the success of this campaign stems from an authentic expansion of their brand. Snickers has positioned themselves as a solution for being hungry. They are building off of their “hungry, why wait?” campaign and focusing on Snickers being a delicious treat to alleviate hunger.

What I really liked about the Snickers campaign was that it gave customers engaging content that was tailored to the platforms Snickers selected. Let’s take a quick look at how Snickers has expended their messaging across a few different platforms.

Print advertising: In their print ads, Snickers focused on showing regular, every day people doing things that were uncharacteristic for the activity they were performing. The ad below shows individuals that are unable to focus on the task at hand. These normal activities have become difficult and unmanageable because they’re hungry.


Television advertising: Many of us have seen the Snickers ads featuring Betty White and Joe Pesci portraying individuals who are, again, acting uncharacteristically because they are hungry. This idea furthers the central message of the campaign, but tailors the message so it enhances the medium. The addition of sound and motion means that simply recycling the print ads wouldn’t work.

Super Bowl Ad: In keeping with their celebrity theme, Snickers cast 70 year-old Danny Trejo to play Marcia Brady. The Washington Post considered it one of the best commercials of the game. Prior to releasing the Super Bowl spot, Snickers had a portrait of Marcia Brady painted on a building with the tag line #Whats UpWithMarcia. Over the course of a few weeks, the painters transformed the photo from Marcia to Danny Trejo. Recently, Snickers created a video of the building being painted as a kick off to their new U.S. promotion. According to AdWeek, customers can go to and post photos and videos of who they are when they’re hungry for a chance to win prizes.

Guerilla Marketing: This is probably my favorite tactic. Snickers put a photo booth on the street in Brazil. Customers entered the photo booth, had their photos taken, and then picked them up as the exited the photo booth. When they looked at the photos they were photos of other people. Again…furthering the message that you’re not you when you’re hungry.

But, did it work?

According to the 2011 Effie Awards, in the first three months of the campaign, Snickers saw global growth. In the United States alone sales volume increased 8% and single sales rose by 13.4%. Additionally, the year-on-year household penetration rose 1.8 percentage points after previously declining by 1.6.

Snickers seems to have found the prefect recipe for IMC. They started with an idea that was central to their core values and then they tailored each message to the medium they needed.

What other campaigns have you seen that resonate with you?

Taking Marketing Beyond the Marketing Department: Web Metrics

February 19, 2015

If there’s one thing that I’ve realized since enrolling in the WVU IMC program it’s that IMC is most effective when it runs through the veins of an organization. I hope this series of posts will help you gain buy-in for your marketing efforts across you organization and I hope that you’ll comment and share what is working for you, or what you’re having trouble with.

You can gain a great deal of information from Web metrics and there are many ways in which Web metrics can be used “outside the marketing department.” I wanted to share two things that worked for our organization and encourage you to share your stories.

Which app comes first?

The ID card office on our campus was faced with a challenge. They had the opportunity to develop a smartphone app, but didn’t know which one would be the best choice for the initial launch. When we got together with the department we discussed the possibility of doing a survey. A simple smartphone poll on Facebook would have provided us with preliminary information to make our decision. We have had success with surveys on campus, but we didn’t want to over-survey our audience.

As a solution to the issue, we analyzed the Google Analytics of our overall Web site and the pages that are specifically dedicated to the ID card office. From the information provided in Google Analytics we could see the numbers of viewers that accessed our content on an iPhone or Andriod phone. Using Google Analytics was faster, easier, and provided more information than a survey.

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Using Google Analytics helped us show the ID card office the importance of Web metrics, which helped gain support for further evaluating other marketing initiatives including paid advertising.

Paid ads

Again, the ID card office wanted to measure the success of a paid ad that was on the cover of a local publication. We created a unique URL in order to track the traffic. We knew it was not a perfect solution, but we also knew that it would help guide the advertising efforts of the office. The result: There were only two hits on the unique URL. That doesn’t measure awareness of the ad, but it does measure action.

Implementing IMC in your organization can be very challenging. What have you found that helps you take Web analytics “outside” the marketing department and further into the organization?

5 Reasons to Use Twitter Lists

January 28, 2015

What did I spend my Saturday night doing? Well, in between class readings and discussion posts I decided to re-organize my Twitter feed by updating my lists. I’ve used Twitter lists in the past, but my feed needed a mid-winter cleaning. I felt like I was seeing content from the same accounts all of the time and was missing great information.

If you’re new to Twitter, afraid of Twitter, or just need a reminder…Twitter Lists are a fun little feature that allow you to organize the people you follow. Twitter Lists make your life easier for a variety of reasons and my top 5 are listed below (in no particular order).

  1. Looks out for the little guy – The median lifespan of a Tweet is approximately 18 minutes. It is absolutely unrealistic to read every Tweet that flitters across your stream. Lists help organize content so that you have an easier time seeing content from people who Tweet less than every 18 minutes.
  2. Helps you find good content – A great feature of Twitter lists is that you can subscribe to lists other people make. Subscribing to the lists that your trusted contacts create helps you find more valuable people to follow.  Here’s a great WVU IMC list by Thomas Armitage.
  3. Organizes the people you follow – If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for Twitter accounts that share valuable information. I often see articles that featuring the top 50 people to follow for this reason or that reason, but after I follow them I forget why I did. Organizing the people you follow by content area allows you to easily remember why you’re following someone and what content they bring to the table.
  4. Bridges online and in-person relationships – You can also create Twitter lists for conferences that you’ve attended so that you can better manage how and where you meet people off-line. I have a list of Higher Education colleagues that I’ve meet through various conferences and events.
  5. Helps with Twitter chats – Twitter chats are a great way to build relationships online and learn more about a particular topic. Twitter lists can help organize contacts so that when you’re participating in Twitter chats it’s easier to filter information.  You’re never going to keep up with ALL the Tweets, but lists can help make the content more digestible and less overwhelming.

I will admit Twitter doesn’t necessarily make it easy to build lists. I had to go through all of the people I was following and add them to lists individually. You can do this by clicking on the gears icon and selecting add to/remove from lists. After a while, I had to take a break because I was repeatedly given error messages. The process is a bit time consuming if you’re trying to organize a large number of accounts. I highly recommend creating and adding to lists as you go.


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To view your lists, click on your icon in the top right corner of the screen.

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Twitter is a great resource and knowing how to manage it will help you get the most out of your Twitter experience.

What are some lists you’ve subscribed to?

Taking Marketing Beyond the Marketing Department: Market Research

January 15, 2015

If you’re in a position similar to mine, you’re lucky enough to be part of the marketing department, but people don’t always understand or buy into what you’re trying to accomplish.  I still struggle to share the significance of marketing with our entire organization.  I strive to make marketing something that is seen as an overall asset to our organization – instead of a department I supervise.    IMC and branding are the keys to success for the entire organization.   As members of the WVU IMC program we know the importance of market research, but how do we get the ‘higher-ups’ on board with it?  I want to share with you my ideas and experiences on how to share the value and importance of marketing, specifically market research, with your colleagues and I hope you’ll join in the discussion, too!

One of the areas this has been essential to our organization was in our employee engagement area.  Over the past three years, we’ve been able to get every department on board with creating IMC campaigns.  (My IMC binder is the proud owner of 10 marketing plans.) This year we decided that we wanted to create a section of our target audience analysis specifically dedicated to achieving a better understanding of our student employees.  One of our organizational IMC goals is to increase brand awareness in our student employees.  We have approximately 100 students employees and they tend to graduate on a regular basis.  They’re an essential target audience of ours and we didn’t have the best understanding of who they were.

In order to remedy to this situation we conducted a survey of our student employees and learned a great deal of information that helps us not only better market to them, but also schedule events that better meet their other obligations. Our HR department was concerned with the attendance at their events. The information from the survey showed that 88% of our student employees are otherwise engaged on campus (student organization, other campus positions, or both). Knowing how busy these students are helps the department better gauge a realistic attendance number for their events. It also provides the marketing department with essential tactics that improve our internal communication.

In addition to marketing and program benefits, market research can improve the value of products in the lives of consumers. Market research helped to improve the Ford Escapes by developing the kick-activated liftgate. The commercial explains that the engineer on the project grew up on two continents and noticed that people always had their hands full. So, they created a kick-activated liftgate that made loading the vehicle easier. This essential information changed the features of the vehicle to make it more appealing to their target audience. Innovations such as this helps c-level executives see how, what is traditionally viewed as “marketing information”, can be beneficial for the entire company.

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As marketers, it’s essential for us to showcase the value of marketing throughout the organization and its impact on products, services, and ideas. What have you done to help show the overall company benefit of market research?  Any advice you would like to share?

The Designful Company

December 29, 2014

A few years ago I was introduced to a fantastic book called The Brand Gap. Since then I have been making my way through Marty Neumeier’s other fantastic books. A while back I read Zag and have been picking up a book here and there between classes. I just finished The Designful Company and am very excited to start The 46 Rules of Genius.

As usual The Designful Company did not disappoint. These books are fantastic because they’re written in a causal tone and designed to be read on a short flight. They also come in very handy when working with executives on a project. Our entire staff read The Brand Gap when working on our branding study a few years ago. They’re small books, but pack quite a punch.

So, without ruining the reading experience for you, I wanted to share a few things from The Designful Company that I found very valuable.

First, let’s start with what differentiates a “designful” company from the rest.



Next, it’s important to understand why this type of atmosphere is essential to business success. Neumeier talks about a “designful” company as one that can unleash their creative collaboration skills and tackle a company’s most “wicked” problems. What’s a wicked problem, you ask? “A wicked problem is a puzzle so persistent, pervasive, or slipper that it can seem insoluable.”

Neumeier discusses how imperative it is to redefine the word “design” and think of it not as a function of the marketing or graphics office, but rather viewing everyone who tries to change an existing situation to an improved one as a designer. Being a “designful” company means creating a culture with innovation at its foundation, rather than trying to make innovation something that a company does.

The same can be said for a brand. Too many time I’ve heard companies say “we’re going to take 20 minutes to talk about branding” instead of making it the core of their organization and integrating it into all of their daily activities.

When I talk to other marketers inside and outside of higher education, I find one concern always shows up – how to get buy in from people “outside” the marketing department. How can we break down silos in order to enhance collaboration and increase productivity?   That’s the battle of IMC, right? How do we integrate all of our efforts and make a customer experience so compelling that our customers tattoo our logo on their bicep? (That might be going a little bit far, but you have to aim high.)

I think that creating a designful company helps to break down those silos. Again, it doesn’t fall into the “something you do” category, but rather the “who you are” category.  In The Designful Company Neumeier talks about connecting those silos and exploring opportunities for “cross-fertilization and creative collaboration.” The most exciting idea was that positions such as Chief Brand Officer, Chief Design Officer, or Chief Innovation Officer could be titles that those of us in this program could one day hold.

He shared the importance of adding a seat at the table that helps facilitate this collaboration and way of thinking. I am not a fan of creating absurd titles just to differentiate a company, but that’s not what this is. Creating these types of positions are paramount to enhancing a company’s culture and yielding the greatest productivity and innovation. Neumeier said, “While revolution must be lead from the top, it rarely starts at the top.”

I could write a few thousands words on the importance of creating a designful company, but I’ll share a few last words from Marty Neumeier and encourage you to pick up a copy of the book. If you do, let me know what you think!

  • Companies don’t fail because they choose the wrong course-they fail because they can’t imagine a better one
  • In a company with an innovative culture, radical ideas are the norm, not the exception
  • When the left brain and right brain work together, a third brain emerges that can do what neither brain can do alon
  • Designful leaders reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and”
  • Design drives innovation; innovation powers brand; brand builds loyalty; and loyalty sustains profits. If you want long-term profits, start with design.

It’s Not Just Business; It’s Personal, Too.

December 15, 2014

What differentiates one company from another? Services, characteristics, location? One of the top distinguishing factors is the company’s brand image. It’s not just about what the company does and what they sell; it’s about how customers view them. Some companies have customers that are so loyal they tattoo the company logo on their bodies!

If branding is so important, why is a personal brand often forgotten?

Below is a favorite quote of mine that applies not only to a company’s brand, but also personal branding.


Just like a company’s brand image, a personal brand image is not built over night. You can’t stay up all night coding a new web site, designing business cards, and reworking your resume and think that you suddenly have a brand. Like Michael Eisner said…these things are built over time.

Your brand encompasses everything about you – your skills, characteristics, personality, resume, online presence, etc. If all of those things are communicating different personalities to viewers, what does that say about you?

The two most essential things to know when starting to look at your personal brand are:

  1. You already have a personal brand
  2. You don’t get to completely determine what your personal brand is

Your brand is what other people think of you, so it’s important to put your best foot forward and make every encounter and interaction you have consistent with who you say you are. In addition to keeping that in mind, below is information I’ve collected over the last few years to help people enhance their personal brand.


Step 1:

Determine how you want to be viewed. When people think of you, what do you want them to think? Ask yourself some foundation questions.

  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What are your values?
  • What do you get complemented for the most?
  • How do you do what you do? Is it different than other people who are doing the same thing?
  • What do you want to do? What are you most passionate about?


Step 2:

Structuring you brand

  • Research
    • Who else has your name? What are other people with your name doing online?
  • Register your web site
  • Develop Social media platforms
    • How much time do you have to dedicate to building your social media presence? It’s better to do fewer platforms well.
    • Try to keep your URLs and user names as consistent as possible
    • Use one or two photos across all platforms


Step 3:

Personal branding toolkit

  • Resume
  • Business Cards
  • Social Media
  • Portfolio
  • Blog
  • Wardrobe
  • Email Address


Common mistakes in personal branding

  • Thinking your social media posts are protected or having more than one account per social media site
  • Posting the same thing to all platforms at the same time
  • Not updating social media accounts regularly
  • Placing greater emphasis on logos and imaging and not who you are and what you want


Again, your personal brand encompasses all aspects of your skills, personality, digital presence, and attitude. When looking at everything from the way you dress to the Facebook profile photo you have, do you like what it’s saying about you?

Q&A with Dr. Karen Freberg

December 9, 2014

Doesn’t INTEGRATE 2014 seem like yesterday? For me, one of the highlights of INTEGRATE was meeting Dr. Karen Freberg in person before PR Concepts & Strategy began in summer session. It marked the first time I’d met an IMC instructor before beginning class. Dr. Freberg is so friendly! If you haven’t met her, learn about her background here.

Continuing with the Q&A’s (read my interview with Dr. Larry Stultz), I thought I’d reach out to Dr. Freberg to get her input on Uber’s recent PR problems, what she considers the top three PR strategies, and what not to do in a press release.

Q: What role does public relations play in today’s IMC mix?

A: PR plays a huge role in today’s IMC mix. It’s a profession that continues to evolve along with the changes we are seeing in society with the technology advances, changes in consumer attitudes and expectations, as well as helping to address crisis situations.

In addition, we see PR play a stronger role in investing in the relationships between not only brands and their audiences, but with fellow professionals. PR is all about the human-to-human interaction as Brian Kramer has stated and it also focuses on the importance of storytelling and return on relationships within the community.

Q: Are there any campaigns – past or present – that you believe should receive more recognition?

A: This is a great question – there are so many to choose from!

I’d say that there are a few campaigns that have really struck out to me include the following: Chipotle and the Scarecrow Campaign, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke Campaign, Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign, WestJet’s Christmas Campaign, and Starbucks and Tweet-A-Coffee.

All of these campaigns have unique qualities, effective brand storytelling elements, and were able to connect with their audiences with emotion, action, and build a stronger relationship with their community.


How should Uber handle its recent PR disaster?

Q: How do you think the recent anti-journalist PR disaster will affect Uber moving forward?

A: I think this is an interesting case because Uber is a company that is either viewed very positively or very negatively – so it’s a polarizing brand right now because of their actions.

I do think that they are facing challenges right now with this particular issue and they need to adapt not only their PR actions and practices, but it really does come down to the internal corporate culture and leadership to really make the changes necessary. Time will tell to see if they address these concerns.

Q: What are the top three PR strategies?

A: Education is always a good measure, especially if you are looking at new technologies or creating awareness about a new initiative or product.

Another one that is good to do is engage with audiences through storytelling principles through content creation and curation measures.

Lastly, driving effective partnerships with credible third party endorsers, influencers, and opinion leaders is another one we see to be effective. However, PR strategies are the most effective if they are tailored for the company and audience in question – it’s all about connecting the dots.

Q: When writing press releases, what do we not want to do?

A: There are a lot of things not to do in a press release. Forgetting who you are targeting, making spelling and grammar mistakes, just using the press release to promote yourself, using jargon that is not familiar with your audience, and not including all of the added multimedia/social media content expected for press releases now.

Thanks to Dr. Freberg for answering my questions!



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