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  • George Franklin Presentation

    Lessons from a Veteran Lobbyist

    George Franklin, attorney and former vice president of worldwide government relations for Kellogg Company, shared war stories about his 30 years as a corporate lobbyist at our February 2nd Friday Speakers Series event. As George pointed out, most communication people don’t know much about government relations and many of us have a negative opinion of their work as lobbyists.  By the end, George made sure we all understood that lobbyists are not the enemy but instead play an important role in our democracy.

    George is on a mission to educate communications professionals and business people alike about the critical ways lobbying and government relations can help enterprises of all sizes be successful.

    His presentation focused on four key points:

    1. Government relations is foundational for business success, because, like it or not, every enterprise must deal with local, state and federal governments for permits, licenses, taxes, regulations, etc. Understanding how to work with or influence smart legislation can make or break an organization.
    1. Lobbying and lobbyists are misunderstood. “Special interests” is a meaningless term; every organization is a special interest, and lobbyists work to make sure their clients’ views are represented. Positive governmental relations can improve the quality of business outcomes and strengthen communities.
    1. Our democracy can’t function smoothly without lobbyists. They provide busy legislative representatives with the data, research, impact studies, etc. needed for smart legislation. They’re the backbone of our political process.
    1. To be successful as a government affairs professional, there is only one rule, and that is to build relationships of trust. Those relationships die quickly if lobbyists fail to provide accurate and truthful information to local, state or federal governmental representatives. The image of the unethical, crony, untrustworthy lobbyist isn’t accurate. If you operate that way, you won’t make it.

    We were lucky to get George to share his practical advice, given his schedule.  He’s very busy these days assisting producers who’d like to turn his book, Raisin Bran and Other Cereal Wars: 30 Years of Lobbying for the Most Famous Tiger in the World, into a mini-series. The concept is similar to “Mad Men,” but it centers on the lives of lobbyists in 1970s-era Washington D.C. rather than Manhattan advertising honchos.

    Maybe in the near future we’ll be further strengthening our communication proficiency by watching a hit show based on the expertise of one of the country’s best governmental affairs professionals, who just happens to hail from our own corner of Michigan.

    Thanks, George!

    Written by Kristi Droppers, Managing Director, Collective Know-How, LLC.

     

  • KVCC Bronson Healthy Living Campus

    Growing a Healthy Living Campus

    On March 10, get a behind-the-scenes look at the promotional strategy for Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s new Healthy Living Campus from Linda Depta, director of College Relations. After the talk, enjoy a tour of the Culinary/Allied Health Building!

    In this best-practice presentation, Linda will discuss marketing, branding and fundraising efforts for this one-of-a-kind, new, “healthy campus” in the heart of town, complete with a student-run restaurant and indoor farming.

    Discussion highlights include:

    • College Branding vs. Campus Branding vs. Program Branding
    • Community Collaboration
    • Fundraising
    • Implementing Campus Launches for Students and the Public
    • Promoting the Restaurant(s), Food Hub and Curriculum

    For those who don’t know Linda, you’ve probably seen her work — at KVCC or during her many years of communication leadership through in the region. Since 2010, Linda has served as Director of College Relations for Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Her tenure there includes oversight of a rebranding effort for the College and its many campuses, marketing throughout the development and launch of its latest Bronson Healthy Living Campus, and marketing and promotion surrounding the College’s 50th anniversary in 2016.

    Prior to joining KVCC, her storied career includes work in a variety of advertising and communication positions throughout the region, including Program Manager roles with WOTV and WWMT, Senior Account Executive roles at Fairfield Broadcasting and LKF Marketing, and Advertising Director of the Kalamazoo Gazette. She is a Trustee for Albion College and President-elect of The Stulberg International String Competition, and boasts a long history of volunteerism for many local boards and service organizations.

    Event Details

    The brown-bag lunchtime event starts at noon (following 30 minutes of networking). Note for this event only, the location is at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Bronson Healthy Living Campus, in the Culinary Theatre of the Culinary/Allied Health Building, 418 East Walnut Street, 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.

     

  • Supercharge Your Professional Development? Join the InterCom Board

    A few years ago, I read a post by Dan Blackmore about how quickly and significantly joining the board of a nonprofit organization can boost your career. Dan worked for International House in the Greater New York Region and was writing for Career Idealist.

    I remember thinking how good Dan’s advice was. InterCom is currently seeking new talent for our board of directors, so I dug out Dan’s article, and I am sharing his four main take-aways with you. I’ve added a local perspective.

    If you’re a communication professional in the greater Kalamazoo region and you’re looking to make your mark — on our shared profession, our community, or your own career — please consider taking a closer look at InterCom’s board.

    Dan’s Reason #1: Expand your network

    As an association that’s committed to the professional development of our members, networking is baked into everything we do. But the board’s professional outreach goes much deeper. Last year, for example, we organized two community-wide media discussions that brought news leaders to Kalamazoo from around the state. This year, we’re planning events designed to advance communication best practices for both nonprofits and the local small business community. If you want to broaden your network with community leaders, joining the InterCom board will do so quickly.

    Dan’s Reason #2: Raise your profile in your organization and profession

    I would add, “within the region.” We’re especially eager to have young professionals step into leadership positions with InterCom because they are our community’s future. We’re hopeful that — like the community leaders before them — they’ll put forth bold ideas that transform this “place” where we live and work in a way that leaves a positive legacy for generations to come.

    Dan’s Reason #3: Strengthen project and team management skills 

    As a working board, InterCom offers lots of opportunities to build specific skills such as financial management, event planning, scheduling and organizing, and other skies-the-limit special projects. You’ll also find yourself working with people from many organizations — of different sizes and with varied areas of focus — and the people who work there. Some of these folks will have complementary strengths, and some will have conflicting ones. You’re guaranteed to grow and learn.

    Dan’s Reason #4: Become a better coach

    I’ve always heard that the best way to remember what you’ve learned is to teach it. And the best way to grow is to do work that benefits others. Joining the InterCom board helps you learn and grow, and it will feel great. You’ll form career-long relationships with peers who actually “get” what you do. But there’s more to these relationships than congeniality. These are folks you’re likely to encounter in tangible ways through your work in the region. You may work for them – or they you! Almost certainly you’ll find yourself working alongside one or more of these colleagues as you leave your creative mark on our shared field and community.

    Sound like the opportunity for you? Please contact me at gretchen@kalamazoointercom.com, or call me at (269) 377-8069.

    Gretchen Johnson is President/CEO of WordPlay Marketing Communications, which 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.

  • Raisin Bran and Other Cereal Wars: 30 Years of Lobbying for the Most Famous Tiger in the World

    Cereal Wars with George Franklin

    Join us February 10 at 11:30am for a conversation with best-selling author and former Kellogg lobbyist George Franklin, who will talk business, law, lobbying and politics as our 2nd Friday Speakers’ Series guest lecturer. Franklin’s insights will touch on a broad range of relevant and timely topics from lobbyists, to fundraisers, Congress, the White House, China, South Africa, Mexico, and even Ground Zero just days after 9/11.

    George FranklinFranklin’s book, Raisin Bran and Other Cereal Wars: 30 Years of Lobbying for the Most Famous Tiger in the World, tells his first-hand perspective from inside Kellogg and Washington. He served as Vice President of Worldwide Government Relations for Kellogg Company. POLITICO says his book Cereal Wars “offers an unusually candid — and entertaining — portrayal of the central role lobbyists play in policymaking.”

    Register at https://cerealwars.eventbrite.com.

    We’ll gather to network around 11:30 and start at noon with the presentation “Lobbying – what they forgot to mention in business school.” Don’t miss this conversation with George Franklin.

    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

  • Presenting You Workshop

    Presenting You Workshop

    Our last month’s 2nd Friday event kicked off the second half of our 2016-2017 Speakers’ Series with a workshop: Presenting You. Based on the best characteristics of the most in-demand TED talks, participants explored how both interpersonal and public speaking has changed as a result of this global phenomenon. Four characteristics were identified and explored: passion, presence and authenticity, developing a succinct big-picture message and adding storytelling. Due to a personal emergency, our scheduled speaker was unable join us, so we turned to four short videos for advice. Then, we practiced. You find the slides used in the presentation here. You’ll also find bios on the speakers and two some handouts specific to TED, just for good measure.

  • this sign will accomplish nothin

    What Is Communicated In A Protest?

    This article was written by Kristi Droppers, Managing Director, Collective Know-How, LLC.

    Protests have been an everyday occurrence over the last 10 days, beginning with the inauguration and followed by the Women’s March, March for Life and demonstrations at airports against President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration and refugees. Given the chaos within just the first days of our new president’s term, we can probably expect there to be more protests from all sides.

    If you’ve ever participated in a protest or march, you know that there are lots of chants, signs, speakers, music, drumming, flags, hats, etc., and they all serve as mediums for communicating individual or collective messages. Like many, I was mesmerized by the news reports showing the thousands of signs left behind after the Woman’s March, lining the fence a short distance from the Whitehouse. They showed both the diversity of messages and the common themes woven through a one-day protest in that city alone.

    womens-march-washington-499179324-rc1a8662da60-rtrmadp

    With so many differing messages, what gets communicated?

    With a world and culture dominated by social media and electronic communication, we’ve grown used to competing messages and information overload and often are not aware of its anesthetizing capabilities. The onslaught of so much noise at a protest, like signs, chants, banners, speeches, etc., make the clarity of the message difficult or, for some, impossible to find.  News pundits have argued that they don’t see a consistent, clear message from these protests and therefore don’t know what the protestors hope to accomplish, especially if there is no singular demand or a recognized leader. Some commentators suggest that protests lacking a clear message have little impact or can be dismissed.

    Today, we can sit in the comfort of our WIFI-enabled homes and email, post, tweet, text or digitally sign a petition as our act of protest. It may be easy, but in reality this is “invisible” protest. With so many channels for communicating online, no one can find the message in the clutter, and it never feels as if our elected officials pay much attention to our petitions or email rants, anyway.

     

     Im a little upset

     

    With dizzying myriads of messaging, why protest?

    The Indivisible Guide, created by Obama staffers as a tool for resisting Trump’s agenda, has received lots of attention and commitment across the country.  People are signing up to form Indivisible groups and learning how to contact their representatives to make their voices heard. These groups are doing more than calling and leaving messages. They’re showing up at their representative’s offices in person. And their calm requests and questions are SCREAMING in the ears of their representatives.  Face-to-face human engagement is more powerful than any voice recording on a congressional representative’s messaging system. By showing up, people force the recognition that there is a message to be shared, even if it’s ignored or debated.

    The mass protests seen this past week, with hundreds of thousands of people marching for various reasons, make clear that no matter how different the signs, chants or reasons for being there, human beings are bringing themselves as the message. That’s the message that can’t be ignored or misunderstood.

    The communication of being present as a human being with others in protest sends a stronger message than signs, chants, emails and signatures on a petition. It is powerful because of the physicality of human beings coming together – real, observable, vulnerable, strong, demanding and clearly bearing one message: “We are paying attention!”

    And, that might be the most valuable signage of our times, no matter where you stand politically.

  • Raquel Binder

    TED Talks: “Presenting You” Workshop

    Join InterCom as we kick off 2017 with a workshop in place of its typical speakers’ presentation on Friday, January 13 at 11:30am.  Raquel Binder, Adjunct Professor of Communication at WMU and KVCC, will explore how both interpersonal communication and public speaking have changed as a result of TED Talks. And she’ll walk participants through a series of exercises and discussions to hone their own individual styles and stories.

    “The TED Talk phenomenon has changed the way we communicate in a variety of ways,” Binder says. “But despite enormous advances in technology, the most-watched talks often use little if any visual or audio support. A great presentation — like a great personal encounter — is about authenticity, sincerity and personal connection.”

    Binder will discuss the TED Talks format and also introduce devices such as powerful narratives, and show how they can be applied to a variety of communication settings to increase engagement with any audience.

    The “Presenting You” workshop is for professionals at every level of their career development. It’s designed for both communication professionals and those who aspire to be better communicators, Binder says. InterCom offers a relaxed and open forum where participants can learn with and from one another while having fun.

    About Raquel Binder

    With a passion for entrepreneurship and a huge creative heart, Raquel Binder blends a day job as an adjunct professor with a popular blog as a cooking and lifestyle expert. The “day” includes communication instruction at both Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, where she teaches and mentors students in Interpersonal Communication and Public Speaking. As The Make Lady, she provides ideas and instruction in cooking, crafts, and home organization.

    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.

    2nd Friday Speakers Series: Our Signature Event

    From September through April (except for a holiday evening event in December), InterCom hosts monthly bring-your-lunch meetings for members and guests. With a focus on case studies and best practices, these sessions offer direct access to industry leaders and local experts who address a range of topics essential to communication success. Each event features networking opportunities as well. Upcoming events include: best-selling author of Raisin Bran and Other Cereal Wars, George Franklin, Feb. 10; and KVCC director of marketing Linda Depta, Marketing the KVCC Bronson Healthy Living

     

  • Holiday Party Collage

    InterCom Holiday Gathering: Once Again a Great Success

    InterCom members, friends and guests filled the front area of the The Union Cabaret and Grille with warmth and good cheer on a cold Thursday night, to toast the holiday season. Kalamazoo Mall lights twinkled through the windows, and festive headgear helped keep spirits light, or at least provoked some giggles. A drawing produced some happy winners of movie passes and Frederik Meijer Gardens tickets, and the photo frame made its rounds to capture many smiles and happy memories of an evening in good company. Thank you to all who attended this event.

    Group5 Group4 Group3Group2Group1 Board Drawing

  • Marketing Technology Landscape

    Deepen digital connections, navigate the noise in 2017

    By InterCom President Gretchen Johnson

    Peruse the forecasts for marketing and public relations in 2017, and you won’t find jaw-dropping predictions. You will see a refinement of trends from the past few years, however, that we think spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y for communication professionals.

    Everything new is old again

    Think back to the effect word-processing had on publishing when it was first introduced as a desktop solution in the 1980s (Xers and Boomers, of course.) For a while, everyone was a publisher and experimentation was the rule. But eventually the newness wore off, and we stopped producing just because we could. We remembered that our core objective was to deliver information relevant to our stakeholders, and tech was relegated to the tool status it deserved.

    With the focus back on strategy, new technology today makes it both easier and more affordable to develop outstanding creative and to interact in a more meaningful way with audiences. Yes, we have more capability than ever to throw information at our stakeholders, but it is the communication pro who can tell you why one channel is better than another, how to engage that audience, and how to then drive measurable outcomes.  Put another way, now that the clamoring over new capabilities has quieted, the voice of the communication professional can once again be heard.

    2017 in short

    The biggest prediction for the year ahead can be summarized simply as deepening relationships first made possible through apps and social media. Stakeholders have come to expect a nearly individualized buying experience, which crosses from the consumer world to the world of B2B and even into nonprofits.

    The American Marketing Association puts it this way: “The customer experience will take center stage.” And the digital marketing consultants at Convince & Convert make it clear that content is the means to that end, saying, “content marketing will outshine traditional advertising.”

    This means an increased opportunity for writers and content developers. Influencers will grow in importance too. Experts with opinions and advice can establish themselves — or their clients — as market leaders.

    So what?

    If these are the trends, the real question is how can communication professionals in Greater Kalamazoo make the most of them? How can we grow our businesses and help our clients and employers increase their profitability? (And increase revenues or increase their human service impact?)

    Through InterCom, we can learn more and faster by sharing best practices with one another through networking and industry discussions.

    We’ll continue to bake networking into every event and we’re ramping up our LinkedIn group — and opening it to nonmembers — to facilitate more dialogue.

    We’ll put it into practice

    We’re adding workshops and group discussions into our lunchtime programming. This starts January 13 with our “Presenting You” workshop, led by local expert Raquel Binder.

    Real-world local examples reign

    We still believe that we can learn best from the successes — and lessons learned — of local communication pros. Our programming for the remainder of 2016-2017 offers plenty of opportunities to meet local leaders and hear behind-the-scenes insights from their amazing careers.

    Want more? Have ideas to share? Would you like to get more involved? Talk to us. Connect with me, or anyone of our board members. We’re excited about the year ahead and optimistic about all we can do together!

    Want to start a conversation on Linkedin? Click here. (Feel free to invite friends, it’s an open group. Your welcome to post your individual or company news or share your latest projects, too.)

    Marketing Technology Landscape

    Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic from the 2016 MarTech USA conference.

  • InterCom Holiday Gathering 2016

    InterCom Gathering for Holiday Cheer

    Come bid the year adieu while noshing and toasting with InterCom for our annual Holiday Gathering.

    Thursday, December 15, from 5 – 7 p.m.
    at The Union Cabaret and Grille
    125 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

    Current members, past members and anyone interested in learning about the group are invited to enjoy: networking, free hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, door prizes, and a preview of InterCom’s spring lineup for its 2nd Friday Speaker’s Series kicking off January 13, 2017.

    Upcoming events include: a workshop with WMU and KVCC adjunct professor Raquel Binder, TED: Presenting You, Jan. 13, 2017; best-selling author of Raisin Bran and Other Cereal Wars, George Franklin, Feb. 10; and KVCC director of marketing Linda Depta, Marketing the KVCC Bronson Healthy Living Campus, March 10.