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  • Don’t Forget to Renew Your InterCom Membership!

    Every year, for many years we have tried to make the month of May the time when InterCom members renew their membership to InterCom.  Typically we have a small percent of members renew in May with most members renewing beginning in May through December, making it difficult to manage membership and our budget for programming.

    Online and web-based technology for managing payments has improved dramatically in the last couple of years and InterCom has just invested in STRIPE to manage our renewal and payment process.

    Here is what you need to know:

    • Our renewal system has launched June 1, 2017.
    • Because no InterCom members have joined or renewed through the new STRIPE system, the system this year will ask you to JOIN, even though as a member you are just renewing.
    • If you paid your membership last year (2016) before June 1st, you will be receiving an email at the end of May informing you that it is time to “Join” InterCom – and on June 1st you will be sent an email invoice for renewing.
    • The links in the email will take members to a payment site where you can pay with your credit card.
    • The system will send an email receipt documenting payment complete.
    • In agreement with all 3rd-pary payment applications, InterCom has no access to any financial or personal information, and STRIPE (similar to Paypal) is a certified and secure payment portal.
    • All members that paid their membership fee after June 1st of last year will receive an email seven days before their membership anniversary telling them that they will need to renew and will receive another email invoice the day their membership expires with a link to JOIN (which is a renewal)
    • The system is designed to do automatic renewals after a payment process has been entered into the system. Therefore, if you do not wish for it to auto renew, please uncheck the box.
    • All new members going forward will be processed through the automated STRIPE process.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Gretchen Johnson (gretchen@intercomkalamazoo.com) or Kristi Droppers (kristi.droppers@gmail.com).

  • WOTV in Kalamazoo with Kevin Ferrara, Operations Manager

    At this Intercom event, Kevin Ferrara, Operations Manager for WOTV discussed why they have opened a working downtown news studio in Kalamazoo. Kevin explained that the media market has changed, and WOTV wants to “break the mold”.

    He discussed “call letter confusion”, meaning over time the different stations with names that we are familiar with like WKZO, WOODTV, WZZM, WXMI evolved due to competition, changing audiences & viewing areas, consolidation, regionalism and nationalism.

    WOTV is now owned by Nexstar, who also owns WOOD and WXSP. The changing media landscape presented opportunities for WOTV, and they were urged to have a “storefront” in Kalamazoo.

    Why would WOTV have a Grand Rapids AND Kalamazoo storefront? There are a few reasons:

    1. To leverage market leadership. Everyone turns to them for severe weather and breaking news.
    2. Be localized. Instead of sending Grand Rapids staff to cover Kalamazoo, WOTV wanted local investment. They want their employees to live here and care about the Kalamazoo community.
    3. Expand community service by partnering with Kalamazoo Public Schools and community events like Art Hop.
    4. Reach both Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo audiences.

    kalamazoo-downtown-studio1WOTV’s Ryan Sterling said, “This is a start, not a stunt”. Their main focus is news, investigation, and severe weather. This is what people rely on them for and what they are known for. The prediction is that southwest Michigan can no longer support 4 stations in this market. WOTV hopes that with their new changes, they will the one that survives.

    Thanks, Kevin!

  • How to Have a Hard Conversation

    InterCom 2nd Friday Event: How to Have a Hard Conversation

    Join us on October 13 for our 2nd Friday Speakers’ Series with Larry Pfaff.

    Midwest nice isn’t a compliment. It suggests the inability to speak directly with grace and tact when difficult topics come up. Firing someone. Asking for a raise. Asking for the sale. Failing to address tough issues can hold you back professionally and may be affecting your team or organization’s ability to reach its full potential. Dr. Larry Pfaff will lead us in a workshop discussion on “How to have a hard conversation.”
     About Larry Pfaff
    Larry Pfaff, Executive, Career and Lifestyle Coach, Executive Consulting, Professor
    Larry is a licensed professional counselor, a professor, and author with master and doctorate degrees in counseling. Since 1980, he’s worked extensively in the area of career development, employee development and selection. He is a pioneer in the implementation of 360-degree feedback systems and has authored several books on the topic. He also created the SELECTPro® system, a method of conducting behavior-based interviewing of job candidates. His materials have been used at more than two hundred organizations worldwide.

    We’ll gather to network around 11:30 and start at noon with the presentation.

    Register at https://how-to-have-hard-conversations.eventbrite.com.

    We’ll gather to network around 11:30 and start at noon.

    Event Details

    The brown-bag lunchtime event starts at noon (following 30 minutes of networking) at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Anna Whitten Hall, 202 N Rose St, Kalamazoo, 49007. It is free to InterCom members. Non-member guests are asked to pay $10. Please register and pay online at Eventbrite.

    Thank you to our October Sponsors:
  • 2017-18 Season Kickoff at Boatyard Brewing

    InterCom members, friends and guests gathered in the back room at Boatyard Brewing Company to cheers the upcoming InterCom season of programming. It turned out to be a beautiful day. A drawing produced some happy winners of movie passes and Frederik Meijer Gardens tickets. Thank you to all who attended this event.

     

  • 2017 New Board Members

    Welcome New InterCom Board Members: Ema, Kelly, Gerah, and Meredith

    InterCom is excited to welcome four professionals to serve on the InterCom Board: Ema Cuturic, Kelly Durlach, Gerah Dutkiewicz, and Meredith McLean. They have already been hard at work this summer planning and supporting membership, programming, sponsorship, marketing and social media.

    Here’s a little bit about each of our four new board members…

    Ema CuturicEma Cuturic

    Ema works as an Account Manager at Roguebotic. She has a passion for creative advertising, marketing strategy, and client relations. She received her Bachelor’s in Marketing and Advertising from Davenport University. In her free time, she enjoys giving back to Kalamazoo and helping the community grow.

    Kelly DurlachKelly Durlach

    Kelly works as a Director Of Marketing And Advertising at ProSource Wholesale.

     

     

    Gerah DutkiewiczGerah Dutkiewicz

    Gerah works as a Graphic Designer at LKF Marketing. She is a creative communicator and has spent the last 16 years working with a wide range of clients to meet their various design needs and marketing goals.

     

    Meredith McLean, InterCom Board MemberMeredith McLean

    Meredith works as a Communications Coordinator at Consumers Credit Union. She is a marketing professional currently specializing in digital marketing. She brings a wide array of professional experience from website design and social media management to writing and graphic design.

     

    We would encourage you to meet these hard working professionals at our next 2nd Friday Speakers’ Series.

  • kalamazoo-downtown-studio1

    2nd Friday Speakers’ Series: WOTV in Kalamazoo

    Join us on September 15 for our first 2nd Friday (though technically it’s the 3rd Friday) Speakers’ Series with Kevin from WOTV!

    WOTV began broadcasting from its downtown Kalamazoo studio in the Comerica Building, overlooking Bronson Park, in April. We’ll learn about the station’s plans for local coverage, why WOTV felt it was important to have an office here, and how we can best work with reporters and sales staff. – Kevin Ferrara, WOTV Director of Operations

    Kevin Ferrara is the director of operations for Wood TV8, an affiliate of Nexstar Media Group since January. The station also operates the ABC affiliate WOTV 4, branded as WOTV 4 women, and a MyNetwork affiliate of WXSP TV. The company’s Kalamazoo broadcast location was one of several changes made this year. The network also added a studio inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum, in downtown Grand Rapids.

    Register at https://intercom-with-wotv.eventbrite.com.

    We’ll gather to network around 11:30 and start at noon with the presentation “WOTV in Kalamazoo.” Don’t miss this conversation with Kevin Ferrara.

    Event Details

    The brown-bag lunchtime event starts at noon (following 30 minutes of networking) at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Anna Whitten Hall, 202 N Rose St, Kalamazoo, 49007. It is free to InterCom members. Non-member guests are asked to pay $10. Please register and pay online at Eventbrite. Learn more at www.InterComKalamazoo.com/events

  • Coffee & Coffee Beans

    The Power of InterCom: A Member’s Testimonial

    This is a testimonial shared by InterCom Member, Mari Wielopolski, President and Owner at Crowne Marketing, LLC and Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Kalamazoo College. 

    My personal story of the power (and importance) of InterCom starts with a significant change in June 2014. After 35+ years in the professional work world, my marketing leadership position was eliminated. Once /I worked through my devastation, I realized I had not made any professional contacts within the city where I lived – Kalamazoo. I had been working I Grand Rapids for the past 10 years and Detroit for 17 years before that! I better get crackin’!

    Through LinkedIn, I made contact with professional women in the greater Kalamazoo area, ultimately leading to coffee with Gretchen Johnson (InterCom President) late that summer. During our coffee conversation, Gretchen invited me to InterCom. My first few “2nd Fridays” were spent introducing myself to a very accepting, inspiring group of like-minded marketers. The guest speakers expanded my thinking and broadened my understanding of several topics while wakening me to all that Kalamazoo has to offer.

    Then, one Friday, Jeff  Palmer, an InterCom member introduced his Kalamazoo College associate as our speaker, there to familiarize us with K College’s Arcus Center. I knew very little about K College and nothing about the Arcus Center but learned a lot that day.

    As a Hope College grad, I was intrigued by K’s mission so asked Jeff if he’d be open to a cup of coffee. During that exchange, Jeff offered to introduce me to the Econ/Bus Department Chair. He and I then grabbed coffee (by now, I knew a lot about the unique coffee shops all around Kzoo).  The Department Chair introduced me to the Professor teaching the majority of the Marketing courses. In the spring of 2015, she invited me to guest lecture and then assist in judging students for their term long project.

    That fall, the Marketing Professor asked if I’d fill in while she was on sabbatical sprig 2016. Of course, I jumped on it! The Department Chair asked if I’d please create an entirely new course so that if it was successful, I could teach it again after the Marketing Professor returned. Oh boy…what had I signed up to do!?!

    Well, create a class I did. And, teaching that course was one of my top 3 professional experiences. Bright, engaging students, challenging yet fun material. I loved it! And, in the fall of 2016, the Department Chair reached out and asked me to teach that course again this spring!

    ALL OF THIS IS DUE TO INTERCOM!!

    That IS the POWER and IMPORTANCE of InterCom.

    InterCom encourages members to submit short articles about trends, testimonials, or things that are happening in their communication field of business. Submissions may be sent to Gretchen Johnson at kzoogretchen@gmail.com. We encourage our members to consider leveraging our By The Way section as a way to gain both recognition for the subject and professional recognition for the member. Submissions are subject to review and approval by the InterCom Board. 

  • Final NP Survey Results Presentation

    The Results from Our Nonprofit Communications Survey

    April marked our last regular 2nd Friday lunchtime event for the 2016-2017 season. And it was a packed event! We discussed results from the InterCom and ONEplace nonprofit communications survey.

    We are currently working with ONEPlace leadership to coordinate qualitative focus groups that should help us all better understand the “why” behind the data.  We will, of course, share the results of those findings too, once we have that report.

    Look for programming in the coming year — from both organizations— to speak to some of the needs expressed by this vital social sector for our region.

    We’re excited to share the presentation from the event that can be viewed below or through this link

    Final NP Survey Results Presentation

     

  • InterCom Buy Local Event

    InterCom & Buy Local Joint Mixer @ Feed the World Cafe

    InterCom Kalamazoo is hosting the Buy Local After 5 at Feed the World Cafe on Tuesday, May 16 from 5-7 PM.

    We’re so excited to be bringing these amazing organizations together for a great night of networking, food, drinks and fun. Festivities will be held on the patio, so come and enjoy spring at a local eatery we know you’ll love!

    Buy Local After 5 hosted by InterCom Kalamazoo
    Tuesday, May 16
    5:00 – 7:00 PM

    at Feed the World Cafe
    7000 Stadium Dr #201
    Kalamazoo, MI 49009

    Appetizers supplied by Feed the World Cafe along with a cash bar.

    This event is free to members and non-members. RSVP through Eventbrite (on the link or the form below.) This event is in lieu of InterCom’s 2nd Friday Speaker’s Series.

    Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo aims to be the voice for independent businesses in the greater Kalamazoo area and to educate consumers to buy locally. It grew out of an interest on the part of local business owners and consumers to distinguish businesses that support the local economy. Since 2008, their unique community of local & independent businesses and non-profits enhance the character and integrity of the greater Kalamazoo area.

    Not a member of Buy Local? We would love for you to be our guest to network and learn about Buy Local and InterCom organizations. We can’t wait to meet you!

    Feed the World Cafe is a social impact restaurant offering fresh unique food using locally sourced ingredients. For every meal purchased at the restaurant and through catering one or more meals are provided in our community.”

  • 6-Nonprofit-Budget-Stretching

    6 Nonprofit Budget-Stretching Ideas

    By Gretchen Johnson

    InterCom will be sharing results of our recent nonprofit communication survey for the Kalamazoo region at a special 2nd Friday event April 14. As you might expect, one of the biggest challenges facing these philanthropic efforts is the need to do more good with fewer dollars.

    There are lots of arguments for nonprofits to spend more on advertising and marketing. David Pallotta made this point with his famous TED talk. But let’s face it: Few nonprofits have the resources to communicate and promote their work to the extent they’d like. There’s still a perception that “overhead” is anathema in any social venture, and, unfortunately, marketing and public awareness efforts are still viewed as “fluff” by many philanthropists. But we all know that marketing and communication actually improve an organization’s reach and impact. So what’s to be done?

    The right answer is that every organization is unique and should take a strategic look at goals and objectives to determine how best to spend communication dollars. But there are also some broad solutions for making tight dollars work harder. During my time on the client side of the desk, I once had a supplier describe me thus: Gretchen’s the only person I’ve every worked with who gets more out of her budget without making me feel like I’ve been used. (I’m paraphrasing — and cleaning that up a bit.) I’m not sure it was meant as a compliment, but it’s a badge I still wear with honor. So here are a few suggestions for making your marketing communication dollars work harder for your nonprofit (or small business, or any marcomm effort)…

    1.  Plan ahead

    One of the most effective ways to get more done with less is to plan as far ahead as is practical. If you know what print, radio, social media, etc., you need to complete in the next six months — or better yet for the year — you can save money by attacking multiple projects at once.

    Let’s look at printed materials, for example. (In the order of importance, local nonprofits rank printed materials as a fourth priority, following websites, social media and event planning.)

    Will you be doing an annual report? Newsletters? Point of service flyers or other service line handouts? An annual appeal brochure? Special mailings to donors? When you have at least a general list of what’s coming, you can plan both your content and your artwork ahead of time. You may even be able to print them on the same press.

    2.  Invest in good photography and good art

    Maybe you’re lucky, and you have creative folks on staff. If they’re not trained in design or photography, it’s worth hiring a professional to help you at least establish a framework from which to grow. Take photography, for example. Cameras today — even smartphones — make it possible to take high-resolution images. But the purpose of a photo is to communicate. If your image is soft and it’s poorly framed, a bad photo can actually detract from your purpose.

    On the other hand, you can get a lot of mileage out of professional photography. When you reuse artwork, photography, videography or even content multiple times, it reinforces your message and your brand. (Just make sure you’re clear with your supplier about usage rights.)

    We see our materials every day, but stakeholders don’t. As a rule, organizations tire of their materials seven times faster than their audience. When you can, take lots of alternative photos and video (b-roll) to use later.

    3.  Tap your vendors’ expertise and ideas

    I realized early on that the folks providing printing, photography, design and other support services knew a whole lot more than me about what they did. Printers could help me squeeze every inch from a press. Videographers often had stock content to supplement my budget — and they always knew how to organize the day to maximize the shooting schedule. I just had to ask.

    4.  Team up with your supply chain or community partners

    If you’re a human service organization, there are likely many providers who have contact with the people you serve. Look for creative ways to promote your work together. Consider a shared ad campaign or special event. It not only stretches the budget, but it can also spread the burden, enabling you to get more done with less effort.

    5.  Learn from your peers

    It may seem impossible to take time from an already hectic schedule to ask your colleagues from other organizations what’s worked for them, but this is an incredibly effective approach.

    6.  Follow nonprofit marketing blogs and sites.

    They’ll help you keep up with trends in everything from fundraising to social media to reporting results. Many of them offer free tip sheets, e-books and other resources. Here are a few to check out:

    Both ONEplace and InterCom offer regular gatherings for networking and casual discussion. They’re usually free or charge a nominal fee only, and you can learn from the best practices of others. Like a campaign they’re running? Asking them what worked and what didn’t. Who’d they use? How long did it take? What might they do differently next time? Not only will you learn, you’ll help them think through the experience and be better prepared for their next project.

    Gretchen Johnson is President of InterCom and President/CEO of WordPlay Marketing Communications. WordPlay specializes in helping individuals and organizations develop messages and tell powerful stories. A common thread among clients is their desire to reach higher — and connect with and engage their stakeholders — for the purpose of creating lasting and positive change.