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.
All posts in What you missed
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.
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?”
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
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
InterCom’s May 19 evening program, Breaking the News: Part One, sparked a lively conversation on the challenges of getting effective local news coverage in a fast-changing media landscape. Representatives of regional media outlets, including Michigan Radio, the Battle Creek Enquirer, WMUK, Issue Media Group and Bridge Magazine explained their missions, coverage and especially funding hurdles, and began trying to answer the many questions raised by highly engaged attendees. (If you missed it, here’s Public Media Network’s video of that night.)
Even as the May program was being planned, we started getting calls for a follow-up program answering some of the questions raised, and exploring solutions. Breaking the News: Part Two on Aug. 25 brought about 50 people together, including representatives of a dozen local news outlets, for a lively World CafÃ©-style roundtable session to tackle the challenges raised in Part One.
The number and variety of organizations handling local news was impressive and eye-opening. They included John McNeill, News Director of Midwest Communications (radio stations WVFM, WKZO, Z96.5, The Touch, and The Fan Sports); Stephen Williams, General Manager, and Andy Robins, News Director of WMUK; Steve Ellis, Publisher of Spark and South County News; Kathy Jennings, Managing Editor of Second Wave Southwest Michigan; Marie Lee, Editor and Vice President of Encore and FYI magazines; Steve Raceme, General Manager and Robin Griffin, Editor of Vineyard Press, Inc. (The Courier-Leader); Darlene Mohr, Publisher/Editor and Michelle Morgan, Events Manager of Women’s LifeStyle Magazine; Glen Dillon, WMU Assistant Director of Student Media, YBOT, Western Herald and WIDR; Shannon Long, Company Representative, Welcome Home Magazine; Ashley Berens, Marketing and Promotions Coordinator, Public Media Network; and Jackie Merriam, Publisher, Good News Paper.
Two media entities were assigned to each of the six round tables, which were filled out by potential advertisers, professional communicators, and people “who value an informed community, as the invitation stated. The meeting was facilitated by Kristi Droppers of Collective Know-How LLC (also an InterCom board member), and began by having each table’s media representatives introduce themselves and with the help of the table, define their mission, which was then presented to the group at large.
Then Ms. Droppers instructed each group to engage in a BMW: a brief (timed) Bitch, Moan and Whine session. Each table listed grievances and had a chance to present them to the group. It became clear that several issues were common to every medium: funding topped the list, to nobody’s surprise.
Then, after a short break, all attendees were encouraged to swap tables and begin to explore solutions to the problems just identified. In this session, we noted the trend to expand across media to increase coverage, and to save money through online versus print publishing. It was agreed that funding for quality journalism was the toughest nut to crack in every case, and it has been difficult to replace the traditional advertising-supported funding model. Suggestions included philanthropic giving and the development of a cooperative with membership fees. All agreed that we had only begun to scratch the surface as the session ran past its scheduled end time.
Thank you to all who participated! We look forward to presenting a compilation (Media Landscape Map) of all the information gleaned from this stimulating community discussion: Stay tuned!
Jan Underhill is an InterCom board member and principal of J.R. Underhill Communications, offering marketing, graphic design and branding since 1980.
As we edge toward the end of summer and the beginning of InterCom’s 2016-2017 programming, we wanted to take a brief peek back at the past year.
It’s not just what you know
The goal of our 2nd Friday Lunchtime Speakers’ Series is to combine best practices with an introduction to the people and organizations that drive the region. Member feedback suggests last year may have been our very best series of programs ever. Of course, you may want to reserve that opinion until next year!
Who we met and what we learned:
Tom Vance, Marketing Communications Officer at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, shared best practices in rebranding with a case study on the 85-year-old foundation, which has been nationally recognized for its philanthropy.
Chris Praedel, Director of Alumni and Donor Experiences, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Western Michigan University, told us how to delight stakeholders through amazing event experiences ” with ideas for every budget and team size.
RenÃ©e Newman, Discover Kalamazoo’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, detailed their successful Give a Craftâ„¢ Beer Trail passport program. From this, we learned strategies for working across an industry or business cluster to leverage the success of many by working together.
Josh Cook, co-founder of Green Door Distilling, shared the start-up’s story and told us how social media, connecting their company’s brand to local history and being authentic were the secrets to their success.
Sheri Welsh, president of Welsh & Associates‘ executive search and professional recruiting services firm and the founder of KzooConnect.com, told us how she uses storytelling to build her corporate brand and recruit top talent to the community.
LKF Marketing president Heather Isch, who acquired LKF and stepped into its top leadership role in December 2015, sat down with InterCom members at our April meeting for a private roundtable discussion of the changing advertising and marketing industry.
In May, we headed into uncharted territory with Breaking the News Part One, a community forum on Michigan’s shifting media landscape and its effect on local coverage. A highly engaged audience enjoyed insightful dialogue among our panelists: Michael Mac McCullough (Battle Creek Enquirer), Andy Robins (WMUK), David Zeman (Bridge Magazine), Sarah Hulett (Michigan Radio) and Paul Schutt (Issue Media Group). Anna Clark of the Columbia Journalism Review moderated the event. (We’re excited for the Aug. 25th follow-up, Breaking the News Part Two, where roundtable discussions will focus on local news coverage in Greater Kalamazoo. There’s still time to register at Eventbrite!)
New partnerships, special events
We also increased our focus on regional partners to cross promote and drive access to groups who share community-based goals and objectives for their members. To that end, we worked with Buy Local ” InterCom is a proud member ” StartUp Grind and Kalamazoo Social Media Week. In the coming months, we anticipate shared efforts with ONEplace, too. ONEPlace is the region’s center for nonprofit service, support and leadership development.
If you’d like more information on any of these lunchtime events, check out What You Missed on our news feed here.
Photo: “Couple in front seat of car with a baby in between looking out the back window,” Kentucky, 1972; William Gedney Photographs and Writings; Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Most communication professionals don’t skip the commercials. And when we get a chance to binge on them in the name of work, it’s like the computer geek tasked with testing the latest online game. InterCom’s final lunchtime event of the 2015-2016 season was a lot like that.
On June 10 we watched the world’s best commercials from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity at Azon’s international headquarters in Kalamazoo. These mini stories told in creative ways always spark our imaginations with inspiration from great creative geniuses around the world. There were three distinct trends this year that appear to be driving the most successful ad campaigns. These are the lessons we took with us. They’re important for anyone trying to effect change through a marketing or advertising initiative ” whether you’re selling a product, trying to get elected, raising money or raising awareness.
Commercials are no longer designed for TV alone. The best at Cannes were distributed through social media, web, print and other channels. And each platform required telling the story is slightly different ways.
Great agencies have found that broad distribution combined with engaging creative is a key to audience engagement. (A recent report by IAB, Kargo and? Refinery29 found that nearly three-quarters of marketing and media agency executives believe improving the user experience is a top goal). When the consumer controls his or her experience across multiple platforms ” as they do today in unprecedented ways ” varying placement is the only way to reach an audience. It was clear that the Cannes winners understood where and how to reach their markets in a way that drove results.
The needle moved
Cannes winners provided insight into their campaign goals. They shared their creative intent and talked about how their commercials achieved those ends. This was a nice reminder that even the most ingenious ideas are only as good as the results they drive. Despite the increasing complexity of media buying, ROI remains king.
Innovation and ideation
Most of the commercials featured social and product innovations. They solved problems and addressed needs in creative ways: Making bikes visible at night with a spray. Detecting shark threats with satellite data. Highlighting the lack of blood donors in Romania by deleting the color red from TV news broadcasts. This may be more a reflection of the culture within which the campaigns were judged than the strategy and execution of the commercials themselves. But it’s an interesting theme to note. The audiences we seek to reach are, after all, experiencing the same culture shift
If you couldn’t join us for this year’s encore InterCom lunchtime event, we hope you’ll mark your calendar for June 9, 2017. (Our 2nd Friday events are always free to members. Join or renew your membership for 2016-2017 now!) Thanks to our host Nancy Peterson of Azon for the use of the room, and for providing a wonderful lunch.
See you all Aug. 25 when we gather for Breaking the News Part 2, REVEALED: Best ways to get a story covered in Kalamazoo.
For an institution with serious trust issues, the news media still has plenty of supporters willing to gather and ask what the hell is happening.
Journalism has struggled for years in the face of industry consolidation, new technologies and declining revenues that decimated newsrooms. The hometown daily has all but vanished. Electronic media remain, though their immediate nature limits the broader, thoughtful analysis, the public forum and the community record that were once the hallmarks of local journalism.
For consumers, there’s a nagging sense that we’ve lost something precious, and we aren’t sure what will take its place. That’s the starting point for a conversation.
Breaking The News attempted just that.
The event drew about 60 people”journalists, communicators, marketers and other interested folks”to hear from a panel of media experts about the state of local journalism. Held May 19 at Western Michigan University’s Fetzer Center, the gathering was sponsored by InterCom, an association of communication professionals.
The panelists were Sarah Hulett, assistant news director Michigan Radio (NPR); Michael McCullough, executive editor and content strategist, Battle Creek Enquirer; Andy Robins, news director, WMUK (NPR); Paul Schutt, co-founder, Issue Media Group; and David Zeman, senior editor, Bridge Magazine. The panel was moderated by Anna Clark, Midwest correspondent for Columbia Journalism Review.
Breaking The News sparked a robust discussion. I can’t do justice to the many insights shared, but here are a few takeaways:
Print can’t be the primary source for news anymore.
It’s too expensive, less efficient, and it rarely has the staff and budget to do it well. Those days are gone, and they’re never coming back, said Robins. He added that his radio station is trying to fill the gap by investing in its news department. Still, Robins admitted that radio and TV can’t cover the news as deeply as a well-staffed, resource-rich newspaper could.
Local news gets covered, but it’s harder to find.
Where once you could pick up your hometown daily and get all the local, state, national and world news you wanted, as well as analysis and community perspective, now you must look to multiple vehicles”broadcast outlets, online tools, magazines, forums, and yes, the local newspaper. Schutt pointed out that the relationship between media and consumer has become transactional. That said, McCullough welcomes the competition. When you talk about the impact of new technology, it’s introducing competition to journalism that used to be the norm, he said.
No money, no news.
Like it or not, local journalism depends on a steady stream of revenue. It might be nice to click on a link and read a story for free, but newsrooms can’t run forever on an empty stomach. That reality is prompting much more interaction between the news and business sides of media. What was once a wall between them has become, by necessity, more like a four-foot fence where the neighbors can talk, said Clark. The two sides are searching for ways to monetize their work”a solution that the industry as a whole hasn’t yet fully developed.
Competition and funding challenges can create ethical conflicts.
Choosing what and how to cover news is dictated by more than just its perceived newsworthiness. Michigan Radio’s Hulett warned that outside funding sources bring agendas that require a careful journalistic balance. In a previous blog, I shared my own conflicted feelings about sponsored content in news media. And there’s the simple fact that few media have the resources to cover everything worth covering. The future will continue to put news outlets in an ethical and business balance that’s constantly wobbling.
The biggest risk to local journalism is the loss of its community connection.
That’s already happened in some places. Schutt noted the emergence of news deserts in communities across the country”a trend that’s on the rise, prompting some governments and groups to take advantage of the lack of news oversight, said Clark. Added McCullough, That connection to your community is the strongest, most important thing you have. I guard it jealously.
The future remains a question mark.
What didn’t get addressed at Breaking The News was where this is headed. There were hopeful signs”increased resources for some outlets, innovative approaches to connecting with community and providing thoughtful analysis. But uncertainties remain”the struggle to generate revenue, the continued contraction of newsroom staff, the focus on clicks over meaningful news. I’m hoping this will be part of the next panel discussion, slated for Aug. 25.
Perhaps the most promising part of the event was the shared desire by so many for a strong Fourth Estate, and a heartfelt commitment to seeing that happen.
Taking over one of Kalamazoo’s oldest locally owned and run advertising agencies is no small feat. But that’s exactly what Heather Isch did back in December of 2015.
Heather spoke to InterCom at our April lunch about her agency’s transition, their niche business, pathways for success and the future of advertising. Heather, the new president and owner of LKF Marketing, held a cozy roundtable discussion about traditional and digital advertising sans any digital support. Communication was served up old school with good old fashioned conversation.
The agency started as Lawton, King and Fricke in 1989 with three partners: Brian Lawton, Charlie King and Carol Fricke. Nine years later, Carol Fricke took sole ownership and christened the company LKF Marketing, Inc. Heather Isch joined in 1998, served as Vice President for nine years and purchased the company in 2015. With new ownership came a new address. After spending more than 26 years at the Rose Street Market, the LKF crew made the move to the Main Street East building off of East Michigan in downtown Kalamazoo.
As with all businesses, we have to adapt to and apply new technology. When Heather first joined LKF she asked what they were doing with the internet. Their answer was, Nothing. Do you know anything about it? This was the launch pad for the digital-based success LKF enjoys today. Through trial and error, they found their niche. They continue to be a full service ad agency but combine creative, strategy and technology under one roof.
One of the keys to their success is sticking with B-to-B clients, but not limiting themselves to one industry. Their philosophy is good marketing and good strategy work, no matter what industry you’re in. They tend to shine in businesses that are technology-heavy, have challenging sales channels and have complex marketing issues. This includes clients in the fields of finance, economic development, environmental consulting, health care, government and non-profits.
Key Discussion Takeaways #1: Good Programmers are tough to find and keep in Kalamazoo.
One of LKF’s main services is building websites and driving traffic to them. With good strategy and design comes programming. Yet with a local programmer unemployment rate of 2%, good programmers are tough to find in our region. I have a job listing for a PHO programmer on our website, stated Isch. We never take it down.
One of their latest digital challenges has been cyber security. They’ve gone from solving fun marketing challenges to all of this crazy cyber stuff. Clients want their sites to bring them customers, not thieves. Luckily, they just hired a programmer who will oversee PCI Compliance and allow the rest of their team to do what they love to do¦ which is marketing, not IT.
Key Discussion Takeaway #2: Culture is king. Work hard, play hard.
With a tip of the hat to former owner Carol Fricke, Heather detailed how one key to attracting and retaining good team members is building an exciting work culture. Work hard, play hard isn’t just a motto, it’s a way of life. They’ve always had an agency that did whatever it took to get the desired results for their clients, but they had fun doing it.
It’s not unusual to come to their office and see dogs running around (It happens every other Friday). They also stop working at 4:30 on Friday, get everyone together, have a cocktail and decompress before they part for the weekend.
On a serious note, about four years ago they started implementing E.O.S. or Entrepreneurial Operating System. Founded by author Gino Wickman, the E.O.S. model provides a visual illustration of the six key components of any business that must be managed and strengthened to be a great business. This model applies to big and small businesses alike, in any industry.
E.O.S. gave us access to a lot of tools to run our business and help solidify our culture, Heather explained. Work Hard, Play Hard became a set of core values that helps them hire, review and, if needed, fire team members. Somebody may have all of the right skills, but they may not share the same core culture. If they don’t have those cultural values, they are not going to fit on our team very well. These standards help stop the revolving door of employees that plague some companies. Most of the LKF team has been there for more than 10 years. Longevity also runs with their clients as well. The average client tenure in the agency world is two and half years. LKF has a list of loyal clients that have been with them for 15 to 20 years.
Key Discussion Takeaway #3: Clients are good, good clients are better.
LKF’s passion statement is assisting the people in their family to thrive. Family is defined as the employees, the employees’ family and to no lesser degree, their clients as well. However, not just anyone can join the family.
A key to having a great client relationship is avoiding potential cultural differences and misunderstandings down the road. LKF can be picky about the type of clients they seek. They built a profile client list. These clients should have certain desirable characteristics in order to fit into the family. One key element is seeing LKF as a partner, not just a vendor. Another is clients looking for a long-term relationship and seeing LKF as an extension of their own marketing department. It is better to shy away from a potential bad relationship at the start t than to find disaster six months down the road.
It was clear to all who attended Heather’s talk that LKF’s third act is just beginning, and their journey is definitely headed down the right path.
By Curtis Cunningham, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Lawrence Productions.