All posts in What you missed

  • 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


  • 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.

  • 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.


  • 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.

  • 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

  • John Clark

    Take-aways from the 2016 Campaign

    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?”

  • Mark DeYoung

    Why graphic design works and how to harness the power of participatory design

    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

  • How a 15-gallon soup kettle launched a revolution

    Bell’s Beer: How a 15-gallon soup kettle launched a revolution

    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

  • Local media, lively roundtables animate Breaking the News: Part Two

    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 Café-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.

    BTN2 REDO 2

    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.




  • Looking back on the great 2015-2016 InterCom Season

    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.

    Daniel Proczko, founder of the young mobile marketing startup MyPocketMarketing, shared insights into mobile outreach using InterCom’s new website as the basis for discussion.

    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.

    Renée 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, 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.

    We have another amazing lineup of speakers, topics and exclusive shared experiences planned for InterCom members in the coming year! Don’t miss a thing! Join or renew your membership today.

    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