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  • Linda Depta at KVCC

    Seeds of Change: Bronson’s Healthy Living Campus

    Linda Depta, Director of College Relations at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, treated InterCom to a sneak peek of their Bronson Healthy Living Campus on March 10: both figuratively and literally.  The lunch program, held at their new Culinary/Allied Health Building, allowed attendees an insider’s view of the creation and corresponding marketing campaign of this unique venture.

    Her presentation focused on these key areas:KVCC Materials

    • KVCC rebranding campaign. Linda discussed how a skeleton crew and an outside agency rebuilt their brand six years ago, from the ground up. Next challenge: We want to build a new campus.
    • The issue: Kalamazoo, and more importantly, the world is in a health crisis. Lack of healthy foods and poor dietary choices lead to multiple health issues and a decreased quality of life. In Kalamazoo County, 63% of adults are overweight or obese.
    • The response: KVCC partnered with Bronson Healthcare and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in 2013. Together, they created the Bronson Healthy Campus to boost urban revitalization, community health and workforce development through sustainable food education, training, production, distribution and preparation. In other words, they took to heart the notion that food is medicine. Their purpose video can be viewed here.
    • The campaign. Linda walked us through the capital campaign and the marketing support needed to convince our community that this issue needed to be addressed – keeping in mind that nobody had ever created a mission like this before.  The BHLC is the first in the nation to offer these kind of solutions, with these resources and programs, in this type of academic setting.
    • InterCom CrowdThe results. The three-building campus is up and running with most of its needed money raised and in place. Classed are full, the indoor farm is growing and the student-run restaurant is open for business. The marketing efforts paid off, on time and on budget.

    Dessert: After the presentation in the culinary theatre, Linda took interested attendees on a guided tour of the Culinary/Allied Health Building. In-house brewing, state-of-the-art industrial kitchens, a medical simulation room, and a working stationary ambulance were all part of the journey. We left with heads full of knowledge and hearts full of passion, and with bellies rumbling in anticipation of partaking in delicious healthy-living cuisine when the campus café’s and restaurants open again in the fall.

    By Curtis Cunningham, Vice President, Lawrence Productions. Decades-long InterCom member.

  • Local Nonprofit Communications Trends

    What marketing and communication issues are keeping local nonprofit leaders up at night? What are their top marketing goals? How do these organizations compare to nonprofits nationally?

    These are a few of the questions InterCom and ONEplace sought to answer with a Kalamazoo Area Nonprofit Marketing/Communications Survey completed in February. The results of that survey and possible implications for both the nonprofit and communication industry sectors will be discussed at InterCom’s 2nd Friday Speakers’ Series on April 14. This special event is FREE and open to the public.

    “Kalamazoo is widely recognized as a generous, philanthropically minded county,” says Gretchen Johnson, InterCom president. “Private giving drives our quality of life, meeting crucial human service needs, providing financial and educational support for students of all ages, and even making the arts possible — from theatre to dance, music and so much more. The success of the nonprofit organizations that carry out this important work depends on effective marketing and communication. We believe it is imperative for our members to understand as much as possible about these organizations. We also believe we have experience, insight and expertise to share.”

    Nonprofits are also an important economic driver for the region. According to a 2016 survey by the Michigan Nonprofit Association, this industry sector includes more than 1,200 nonprofits in Kalamazoo County. Nearly 22,500 people work in nonprofits here, and these organizations generate a combined annual revenue of $2.7 million (as of 2014).

    “A community’s success is reflected in the capacity of its nonprofit sectors,” says Thom Andrews, director of ONEplace, a capacity building organization offering resources and services to nonprofits in Kalamazoo County. Andrews said the survey results are already playing an important role in helping his team develop programming for the many area nonprofits that have come to rely on ONEplace as the education arm of the funding community.

    At the April 14 event, InterCom members will lead participants through small-group dialogue. Communication professionals will have the opportunity to hear from nonprofit leaders about vital needs for their organizations — while nonprofit professionals learn marketing tips and best practices from area communications experts. The event is free and open to the public.

    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. This session only is open as a free event to the public. Guests, however, are asked to register online at Eventbrite. Learn more at InterComKalamazoo.com: Events.

  • 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