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.
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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.
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!
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.
By Gretchen Johnson, President of InterCom and Owner of WordPlay Marketing Communications
My daughter bought me a coffee mug last year that extolls a deeply treasured personal goal of mine: “Do more of what you love!” Whether it’s work, family time, travel or tennis, I strive to enjoy the experience and not stress about the minutia. Thanks to technology, I can! Following are my favorite apps for saving time, staying on top of projects and commitments, and maintaining my home and business records.
A workspace for everything.
Cost: Free for Basic, $34.99/year for Plus and $69.99/year for Premium
Save articles and web pages to Evernote with a single click. When referencing sources, the information is at your fingertips. You can also enter information by keying it in, dictating it or snapping photos. With a bit of organizing tags and titles, it is easy to retrieve anything you’ve stored with a simple search. Evernote digitizes photos and scans, and the information becomes searchable. It works across platforms and can serve as a shared workspace for groups. I file travel itineraries, tickets and confirmations on Evernote and breeze through airport and hotel check-ins. A few minutes of waiting almost anywhere can be used for billable projects.
Digital time clock for tracking billable hours
Cost: $9.99 one-time fee with upgrades available
On-Core Time Master is a handy phone app that lets me start and stop a time clock for every client project. At the end of a billing cycle, it tells me who to bill and for what. Though I don’t use its extended capabilities, it also offers electronic invoicing. It reports in cvs or pdf formats. Manage the system from Time Master Central on your Mac or PC.
Effortlessly track business mileage.
Cost: $5.99/month or $59.99/year
Download MileIQ and it operates in the background of your smartphone. At the end of the day or week, tap the app and it displays your unfiled trips. Swipe left for personal and right for business. Added features allow you to automatically categorize repetitive outings, add notes, add receipts or organize by client or project. When you’re ready to report your trips — weekly, monthly, quarterly or only at tax time — a cvs or pdf file neatly summarizes your travel and lets you plug in additional detail. MileIQ saves enormous time and frustration when preparing tax files. I don’t drive a lot for business, and it easily pays for itself.
Free basic version. Premium access is $29.95/month or $139.95/year
Grammarly checks for some 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. It catches redundancies and overused words and phrases. With its plugin for Safari, it also proofs my work online in apps like Gmail, Facebook, and Linkedin. It also boasts a plagiarism checker, just in case. The paid version is integrated into my operating system.
Organize receipts and records
Cost: $5.99 to $24.99/month
I add Neat with some reservation. I began using this software when it was an out-of-box solution and didn’t require a subscription. I’m struggling a bit with the transition. But I have to admit; it’s a fabulous system for organizing records and receipts for easy access and simple reporting. I throw receipts into a pile and scan them periodically – not as frequently as I should. At the end of the year, it is easy to queue and save expense reports for my tax accountant. And paper clutter is virtually eliminated.
By Janet Veach, Marketing Administrator, Advia Credit Union
No one really expected Donald Trump to beat Hilary Clinton in what seemed like the longest, nastiest and most divisive presidential campaign in recent American history. Just three days after the election, InterCom welcomed WMU Professor and Chair of Political Science John Clark to our November Second Friday Speaker Series, where he helped members and guests make sense of an unsettling campaign season and the surprising election results.
John agreed with our national news coverage that a nationwide desire for change drove Americans to elect a candidate who was a political outsider, politically incorrect and a former reality TV star who upended all of society’s norms and conventions.
John’s takeaways from the election cycle:
1. Suspend for a moment who won and who didn’t.
Not much happened in this election cycle that wasn’t expected — including a tight race. Twice in the last five election cycles we have had a candidate win the popular vote but lose the electoral college vote. It’s also very difficult for a candidate from the same party as the incumbent to win the White House. Voters typically shy away from the party currently in power and with Obama in office for eight years, Hillary had an uphill climb in this campaign.
We reward our politicians for self-interested behavior during an election and we don’t reward them on public policy decisions and for doing what’s right for the country between elections. The American public puts too much emphasis on the election itself, when it’s what happens between elections that matters.
2. This election wasn’t about public policy but about identity.
Both candidates were appealing to different identities and emotions. For professional women, it was a very big deal to vote for the very first female president. While Hillary appealed to women, minorities and young people, Donald dominated among white voters, especially non-college educated men who feel they have been left behind and out of the conversation.
This population, due to social or economic dislocation, used to have a certain status in the world and they have lost that status. Despite being politically incorrect, Donald spoke to these men and connected on an emotional level. He is a New Yorker, yet he resonated better than any candidate who didn’t share their background.
Republican candidates also do very well in rural areas where fewer people live. In rural counties, where there are fewer educational and job-related opportunities, people tend to vote more Republican. Many of the people who voted for Trump also weren’t interested in policy issues. Conversely, those who live in college towns have access to more opportunities and tend to be more Democratic. For example, Kalamazoo County – home to WMU, Kalamazoo College and KVCC – voted Democratic.
In Michigan, when the final tally came in the morning after the election, Trump had edged out Clinton by about 15,000 votes. It’s the first time Michigan has gone red since the election of 1988.
Apathy towards both candidates kept many people away from the polls.
3. Both parties are in disarray.
The Republicans have been in disarray since they took control in 2010. Now they have a president who is a marginal Republican and who is at odds with their party. Of note were the partisan results – it was the first time ever where in the states Hillary won, Democratic candidates also won; where Donald won, Republican candidates won in those states as well.
John concluded by saying that the campaign has left the American people with a challenge: We need, as a society, to decide and define what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable behavior on the national stage. We need to expect everyone to model the behavior we define.
A challenge for communicators
As a society, we are confronted with the challenges of getting real and accurate news in a fast-changing media landscape. Now that we get to choose the news that we prefer through social media channels and digital news sites, based on our individual philosophies and views, we can’t count on receiving the same message as our neighbors. We have lost the foundation that used to bind us together as a community on how we perceive the world. As professional communicators, this presents unique challenges. We were left with the question, “How does society get on the same page to understand the world?”
InterCom recently welcomed Jessy Wilson of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo to our board of directors. Read on to find out more about her and what brought her to Kalamazoo!
A Millennial’s Perspective
By Jessy Wilson
Having grown up in a small town in Southwest Michigan, I was well aware of the existence of Kalamazoo, but that’s about it. I had no idea how truly special this community is. It doesn’t take long to learn that Kalamazoo is rich in culture, diversity, philanthropy and so much more. Read more
By nearly every measure, the 2016 presidential election is one for the record books.
Just three days after voting takes place, InterCom will host a discussion of the results with John A. Clark, Professor and Chair of Political Science at Western Michigan University for their 2nd Friday Speakers’ Series on Nov. 11 at 11:30 a.m. at KVCC’s Anna Whitten Hall. Read more
While most of the InterCom members and guests who attended the October lunchtime Speaker Series program had at least a rough idea of the value and communication potential of graphic design, our speaker, Mark DeYoung, was able to define and clarify some vital principles and bring us up to speed on current trends.
He brought extensive credentials to this topic: DeYoung earned a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MFA from Michigan State University. He has worked as a designer and educator in the U.S. and Europe, in industry and for service organizations, and is currently teaching graphic design at KVCC while also working with his own company, MJ DeYoung Design and with the experimental design collaborative he founded, Jumping Dog Design. Read more
Communicating simply and effectively has never been more important or harder to achieve as the amount of human knowledge doubles every 13 months. As a result, the role of visual communication has never been more vital.
“Designers are being asked to do more than amplify an organization’s message,” says Mark DeYoung, a graphic arts instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Center for New Media. “They’re tasked with solving problems. Designers today must be more accurate, and their solutions are typically much more involved than in the past.”
DeYoung will explore the changing world of design — and design as a driver of change —at InterCom’s 2nd Friday Speakers’ Series on Oct.. 14 at 11:30 a.m. He’ll introduce the concept of service design and discuss the service-learning course he has developed for KVCC, called Design Crew. Read more
Before Internet 2.0, consumers were force-fed their marketing on a one-way street. Here it is, come and buy it. As we all know, that changed and now the consumer calls the shots. This was similar to the beer industry in the 1970s. After prohibition, only 300 breweries emerged to renew their brewing. More than 800 breweries died during that dreadful time. Between 1933 and 1982, about 700 breweries were reduced to close to 50. Your choice of brew was very limited. Read more